Monday, December 21, 2009

Random Bits as the year ends...

I admit it. I have been quite apathetic when it comes to updating my blog. Never fear, I have a family site that I has been equally ignored.

I could say that I have had a holiday parties, shopping, and so forth that has kept me from you, but that would really be a lie. Truth be told, I am a homebody. We aren't really the present buying type, or I've had it easy because we draw names so buying for one person is just plain cake. I don't know what "and so forth" would be, but you can guess that I am probably not doing that either.

"and so forth"...maybe that's laundry. I'm always doing that around here.

Can I blame it on my obsession with watching "The Sing Off"? I can't get enough of that show.

In any case, I am still around. Pregnancy #3 is working along just fine, with the exception of a little heartburn. If you know me you might be surprised to hear that I gained 8 lbs since my last visit a month ago. Um, yeah. Considering that I hadn't gained anything so far it came as a little bit of a shock to yours truly. I still work out daily so maybe it's all muscle. After all, muscle weighs more than fat right?

That's what I tell myself anyway.

I wish everyone a peaceful end to 2009. 2010 is just around the corner and I for one am really excited to see what might happen.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

PW knows her stuff

Please forgive me, this post doesn't have an original recipe by me in it. But, I have some fun cookie pics that I just had to share.
I made some Chanukah goodies last week for the sous chefs to take to preschool.

I also made superhero cookies. I think they turned out pretty okay, what do you think?

And, I FINALLY used my new Pioneer Woman cookbook! Wahoo!!
I made the Whiskey Cream good.
Like my choice of whiskey??

I also made the cinnamon rolls. These my friends are deadly.

I hope everyone is having a great week!
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Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Vegetable and Swiss Cheese Gratin

Lately I have been on a mushroom kick. I chock it up to pregnancy because usually mushrooms are not the first things that I rush to cook with. I know that I have mentioned it before, but really, I could take or leave them. They have to be cooked just right, not too much to the point of mush and not too little because raw mushrooms and me...yeah we aren't big pals. I've got a thing with textures for sure. Plus anything that is called "fungus" just makes me kind of leery from the start.

I'm seeking help.

Part of my hope in getting over some of my food aversions is to cook using them often. And luckily mushrooms around here have been on sale. It's like a sign!

This meal uses another cheese that I don't normally rush to use, which is swiss. The result was an awesome dish that tasted even better the next day reheated. In fact, I am eating a little bit now as I watch the season finale of Top Chef. Multi-tasking at it's best, right?

Vegetable and Swiss Cheese Gratin
6 medium-size potatoes (I used yukon golds)
3 cups broccoli
6 stalks asparagus, cut into thirds (use more or less, this is just what I had)
1 cup green onions, chopped
1 tbsp butter
8 oz sliced mushrooms
16 oz shredded swiss cheese
salt and pepper

In a large sauce pan, place the potatoes and add enough water to cover. Bring to a boil and let bubble for 15-20 minutes, or until the potatoes are just fork tender. Remove the potatoes from the water and set aside to cool. Once cooled, slice the potatoes into 1/4 inch slices.

Return the water (add more if you need) to a boil and add the broccoli and asparagus and blanch for 2 minutes. Remove from the water and set aside.

Meanwhile in a medium non-stick skillet, saute the mushrooms and green onions in butter until the mushrooms are cooked and the water has evaporated.

Spray a 9by13 pan with cooking spray. Layer the bottom with half of the potatoes. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Sprinkle over 1/3 of cheese. Layer mushroom mixture, then green veggies. Sprinkle again with salt and pepper. Add another 1/3 of cheese, then the remaining potatoes. Salt and pepper again. Cover with remaining cheese.

Bake in 350° F oven for 30 minutes until heated through. Turn the heat on to broil and leave the gratin under the broiler until the top is golden.

Serve with a salad and enjoy!

Monday, December 7, 2009

It's never too late for Pumpkin Cheesecake

SO, have you missed me? I feel like I have kind of fallen off the blogosphere radar (if there is such a thing). Broken ac adapter aside, I've just been plain busy lately. My evenings have been filled up and by the time I have time to blog, the joy of it just kind of goes away and I find myself struggling with what to say and how to say it.

What's a gal to do?

I realized today that I have about 25 started and never finished blog entries....perfect!

I had this one started and thought I would post it once I had a picture from our Thanksgiving feast. I know that it is a little late for fall baking now, but save it for next year. Trust me, you'll love it.

When fall holiday baking rolls around, I am not usually that excited. Pumpkin, the ingredient sought after and loved by many, is just not my bag, baby. No idea why, but really I am not a fan of squash products. I think it has something to do with the texture. Nevertheless, if I am going to use pumpkin, it has to be paired with cream cheese. Remember my mini pumpkin cheesecakes? Well, it was early in my blogging days, so I'm okay if you don't.

This is a great cheesecake that comes together easily. It does require extra time (it sits in the oven as it cools down) so if you make it, the day or two before you need it is best.

Pumpkin Cheesecake with Gingersnap crust

For the crust
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 cups gingersnap cookie crumbs (about 20 or so cookies)

For the filling
3/4 pound cream cheese, softened

3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
5 large eggs, at room temperature
1 can pumpkin puree
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. In a small bowl, combine the butter with the gingersnap cookie crumbs. Press into the bottom of a buttered 10-inch springform pan.

Bake for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on a wire rack.

For the filling:
In a large bowl, on the low speed of an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese until very smooth. Gradually add the sugars. Add the eggs, one at a time. Add the pumpkin purée and mix until just blended. Scrape the bowl several times during the mixing process with a rubber spatula to ensure everything is being incorporated well. Stir in the heavy cream and cinnamon.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and set the pan on a baking sheet. Bake until the edges are set, about 1 1/4 hour.

At the end of the baking time, turn off the heat and open the oven door slightly, and cool the cake in the oven for 1 hour before removing. Cover and refrigerate for at least 12 hours or overnight.

Once ready to serve, remove from the cheesecake tin.

The first time I made this, the cheesecake didn't crack at all. This time, there was a big crack right down the center, go figure. No matter, just cover the cake with delicious homemade whipped cream!

For the sweet vanilla whipped cream
2 cups heavy cream
2 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Place all the ingredients in a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and whip together until soft peaks form.

Top your cheesecake and enjoy!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Things that do not go together...

A lap-top and a toddler who loves to play with it.

And before you ask, yes it was closed and no it wasn't even on.

This is the second time that this has happened.

I'll get back to ya...promise. Now I've gotta finish 100 other random tasks before the battery dies.