Monday, September 28, 2009

Simply Elegant!


ALMOND CHEESECAKE

WOW! Just lovely, aren't we?

This cheesecake is so easy, but the reward is great. Rich, decadent, and utterly divine...a perfect addiction (ha! a typo...but I'll leave it, because it will probably be true!)....the perfect addition to your Holiday dessert table.

I posted this as a sugar free version in my other blog - but we don't mess around here at Stick to Your Hips! Fully fatted cream cheese, and real sugar is the way we roll. (If you want the more figure-friendly recipe, you'll find it here. It's just as good, and no one will ever know it's sugar free...guaranteed!)

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Crust:

Vegetable cooking spray

1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs

1/4 cup ground almonds

1/3 cup butter, melted


Filling:

Four 8-ounce pkgs cream cheese, softened

1 1/4 cups sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons almond extract

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

4 eggs

1/4 cup heavy whipping cream

1 tablespoon flour


Topping:

2 cups sour cream

1/4 cup sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract


Cherry Topping:

1 can cherry pie filling

2 tablespoons Amaretto or Amaretto flavored syrup such as DaVinci or Torani

.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Spray a 10 inch spring-form pan with vegetable cooking spray and place on a baking sheet.

In a medium bowl combine the cracker crumbs, almond flour and melted butter. Press into the bottom of the prepared pan. Bake for 10 minutes. Allow to cool while making the filling.

In a large bowl whip the softened cream cheese until smooth. Beat in the sugar, vanilla and almond extracts. Beat in the eggs one at a time just until blended. Beat in the heavy cream and flour just until combined.

Pour into cooled crust and bake for 1 hour or until set on the edges and jiggly in the very center 2-inches. Keep oven on.

In a small bowl whisk together the sour cream, 1/4 cup sugar, and vanilla extract. Spread to the very edges of the baked cheesecake. Return to the oven for 5 minutes.

Allow to cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Run a sharp knife around the edge and cool completely BEFORE removing the sides of the pan. Wrap tightly and chill overnight.

In a small bowl combine the pie filling and the amaretto of syrup. Pour over entire cake just before serving, or spoon on individual slices, if preferred.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Nuttier than...well...just about anything!


NUTTY GRANOLA

I LOVE THIS GRANOLA!!

The combinations are absolutely endless and you can add, or subtract till you're...NUTS!

Okay...enough with the puns. But it's so good. I have a huge, pretty glass container of it on my counter at all times. Almost. It empties quickly...but it's easy to mix up and freezes great, if you need to do that.

This makes a lot - but sometimes I double the batch because it's not double the work. Stored in the freezer in ziploc bags it's ready and waiting when you are!

Sprinkle on yogurt, use as a crust for fruit crisp, eat out of hand, or in a big bowl of icy milk, or make into trail mix with added M&M's or dried fruit - any way is fabulous.

My dad used to make the granola in our house...brings back great memories of him in the kitchen. He-man baker...yep, he was. I miss those days, but can relive them through every batch. As my house wakes up to the smell of cinnamon and maple syrup and the toasty scent of nuts and oats, it sends me straight back to childhood.

I hope this becomes a favorite in your house, too...


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I have one of the BIG stainless bowls - two and a half feet across, maybe. I mix it AND bake it in that - works great. I'm not kidding when I say it makes a LOT. Halve the recipe if you don't want to OD on granola!

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Vegetable Cooking Spray
6 cups
old-fashioned oats OR 3 cups old-fashioned and 3 cups quick
1 cup almonds (sliced, or slivered)
1 cup cashew halves OR macadamias (roasted, salted)
1 cup sunflower seeds (raw or roasted)
1 cup peanuts (roasted, salted OR honey or toffee roasted)
1 cup pecan halves
1 cup coconut
1 cup wheat germ
1 cup sesame seeds or flax seeds
1 cup vegetable oil
6 tablespoons butter
1 cup brown sugar OR
combo of white and brown
1 cup honey or maple syrup (pancake syrup is fine)
1 cup peanut butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract (try almond or maple or...)
2 teaspoons cinnamon

Preheat oven to
275 degrees.

In a large bowl, coated with vegetable cooking spray, combine oats, almonds, cashews, sun seeds, peanuts, pecans, coconut, wheat germ, and sesame or flax seeds. In a small saucepan, over medium heat, stir together until melted the oil, butter, brown sugar, syrup or honey, peanut butter, salt, vanilla, and cinnamon. Pour over the oat mixture and stir very well, until all is coated.

If the bowl you are mixing it in is metal put it directly into the oven. (Spread it up the sides so more of the surface is getting toasted.) If not, spread mixture into a large roasting pan or a large baking sheet. (May have to bake in two batches if using a baking sheet.) Place in oven and bake, stirring every 25 minutes, until golden brown and the oats lose their 'raw' taste. (Takes 2 1/2 hours or longer when I use the bowl. The pan will be more like 1 1/2-2 hours.)

**A half batch won't take as long to bake. The thinner it's spread out, the faster it toasts.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Don't be a scaredy-cat, doggone it! Make elephant ears!


ELEPHANT EARS

Remember going to the fair - the scones, the cotton candy, the hot dog on a stick...

My very favorite though, will always be the elephant ears - simply for the memories.

When my daughter was about 3 or 4 years old we were at our big state fair. We'd had plenty of the other healthy stuff - you know , corn dogs, three or four kinds of burgers and mountains of curly fries - and were going for some dessert. Okay... dessert in yet one more form!

We asked girlie if she'd like an elephant ear. Now, this is a kid who is very literal, even as a grown woman...but back then...WOW.

The look on her face....

Imagine being asked to taste the most disgusting thing you can think of....she just had as far as she was concerned.

Poor little lamby!

This recipe is actually from my youngest daughter and is so easy it's ridiculous. You can make them as big or little as you want, and in any shape. Traditionally topped with cinnamon-sugar, but equally scrumptious with jam or honey. (I made them about 4 inches across. Of course, bigger - the size of a dinner plate - they actually look like...well...elephant ears! Imagine that...)


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2 cups flour
4 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons butter, melted
2/3 cup milk

Toppings: melted butter, cinnamon-sugar, powdered sugar, jam, honey

In a large pot heat 1 inch vegetable oil over medium heat. (Turn down if it starts to smoke.)

In a medium bowl stir together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Stir in the melted butter and milk just until combined. On a liberally floured counter or board gently knead the dough 10 times. Pat and roll out into 1/8th inch thickness (or as thick as pie crust). Cut into any shape or size.

Test oil with a small piece of dough...it should sizzle and start turning brown with in 20 seconds or so.

Drop 3-4 pieces into the hot oil and turn when golden brown. Drain on wire rack or on brown paper or paper towels. Brush with melted butter and sprinkle with sugar or spread with jam.



Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Wake up, Sleepy Head...


Special-Morning Coffee Cake

Snoozing along, under a warm quilt, snug as a bug and oblivious to the world...when the sweet scent of sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla gently wakes you.

Yawning and stretching, gratefully accepting a cream-laced, steaming cup of coffee and sinking into the generous pillows behind your back.

A gorgeous tray is lovingly placed over your lap and the site of golden, melting butter atop a wedge of cloud-like cake - melted nuggets of brown sugar and spice sunk into it's depths, greets you.

Ah, Heaven on a lazy Sunday morning!

Now, if only we could find a benevolent baker and server to bring to life this fabulous dream....


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Vegetable cooking spray
1/4 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 1/2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg
3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup milk
1 1/4 teaspoons vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat an 8x8 inch baking pan or a 9-inch springform pan with the cooking spray and set aside.

In a small bowl, with a fork, mash together the softened butter, 1/4 cup flour, brown sugar, sugar, and cinnamon. (It will be more creamy instead of dry like a traditional streusel. But this will cause the clumps to fall into the cake instead of sit on top. Yay!)

In a small bowl combine the 1 1/2 cups flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl beat the egg and sugar until fluffy. Beat in the melted butter, milk, and vanilla. Add the flour mixture all at once and stir together just until incorporated. Don't overmix.

Pour into prepared pan and dot the surface with the brown sugar mixture. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until moist crumbs cling to a toothpick inserted in the middle. Best served toasty warm.



Thursday, September 10, 2009

You spicy little thing, you!


GINGER-MOLASSES COOKIES

Pour yourself a cup of Chai tea and slip one of these beauties onto your saucer - sit back, soothe your soul, and overdose on spices. The perfect way to spend a drizzly almost-Autumn afternoon.

My husband's favorite cookies are anything molassesy and gingery - so I couldn't wait to try these.

I have to thank the Del Sisters for the inspiration on this little sweetie. Soft, very gingery, rich, and just-right-sweet, these are really pretty FABulous!

I added brown sugar for moisture, thought I had whole wheat flour, but didn't, so used all white, and chilled the dough for 30 minutes to keep them from spreading all over creation. I really wanted a soft, chewy cookie this day instead of a crispy one.

These did not disappoint. Kind of chewy on the outside, but fluffy and cakey on the inside.



(I love to make BIG cookies - the bigger the better...and this seems to suit my family just fine.

At least no one has ever said, "Sheesh, mom...make smaller cookies, for gosh sakes." Nope. Have not once heard those words.)

UPDATE! - It's been a week and a half since I made this batch and kept them wrapped. They get better and BETTER as they age!! So moist, and the spices get more pronounced.

I think this may be my favorite molasses -ginger-spicey cookie ever. So far. For now....

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1/2 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup cream cheese, softened (I used reduced fat...worked great)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg
1 tablespoon water
1/4 cup mild molasses
2 cups flour
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

In a large bowl beat the butter, cream cheese, sugar, and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg, water, and molasses.

In a small bowl combine the flour, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, soda, and salt. Add all at once to the butter mixture and beat just until combined. Cover and chill dough for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Drop dough by a tablespoon or 1/2 cup - I don't care! - onto a baking sheet and sprinkle with sugar. Bake for 10-12 minutes depending on the size, or until just set. (I made almost-1/3-cup size and baked for exactly 12 minutes. Perfect! I also re-sprinkled with sugar while still hot...just cause.) Cool on a wire rack.

I got 16 big, thick cookies.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Cake Emergency?



MAYONNAISE CAKE

My mom passed away almost 4 months ago, and I was fortunate enough to get to go through all of her cookbooks. A bittersweet task, for sure.

After all...my love of cooking, and especially baking, came directly from her kitchen. Growing up and being without extra cash for groceries other than beans, potatoes, and protein, dessert was a once-a-week specialty item, if that. (The cookie jar, however was continually full to the brim. Apparently cookies were not considered dessert. I'll not argue the point...a higher authority has spoken...we'll leave it be.)

Mom had shelves and shelves of books. I quickly learned - leafing through them - that tucked inside each would be several handwritten recipes, or clippings, or tearing-out-of-magazines, and I was discovering what her favorite types of dishes, or secret passions, were:

Zucchini - a whole sweet little notebook filled with recipes taped to the pages. Mushrooms - big circles around every recipe that contained them. Bread - yeast, mostly - gorgeous, giant, country loaves, or dainty rolls that looked like birds.

And amongst all the traditional Betty Crocker, Better Homes & Gardens, and every single Taste of Home ever published were scattered cookbooks picked up from all the places she traveled. Far or near - from Texas to Massachusetts - she snatched one up. Often times, two. And within a few days back from her vacation, I'd get a package in the mail. A loving gift to a fellow cook.


I brought armloads of them back to my house and found one from Sturbridge, Mass. Inside was a recipe for mayonnaise cake. I'd heard of this, but had never made one, so yesterday was the time.

I changed it a little - added some chocolate chips, coffee crystals, and a touch of cinnamon. It's very moist and definitely unique. I have a favorite chocolate cake recipe, and nothing will ever usurp it...so this will be a "snack cake" and it will know it's place - but shall show up, cooling on my counter, several times in the future, I'm sure! (Hon called it Brownies - whatever...doesn't matter in the least!)

What I found entertaining was the commentary beneath the recipe: "This is a wonderful cake to make if you don't have eggs and need a cake for an emergency."

I love it.

Finally, someone is ready to admit there is such a thing...and thankfully, gave a solution to remedy it!!

So...for YOUR next cake emergency - here ya go...

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Vegetable cooking spray
1 cup mayonnaise
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon instant coffee crystals
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup water OR 1 cup leftover coffee, but omit the crystals
3 tablespoons chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat a 9 inch baking pan with cooking spray and set aside.

In a large bowl whip the mayonnaise, sugar, and vanilla until fluffy. In a small bowl combine the flour, cocoa powder, coffee crystals, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. Alternately add the flour mixture and the water to the mayo mixture, beating well after each addition. Fold in chocolate chips.

Pour into prepared pan and bake for 25-35 minutes or until large moist crumbs are attached to a toothpick when inserted in the middle. Cool on a wire rack and frost if desired.

I served it with Chocolate Whipped Cream: 2 cups sweetened whipped cream with 2 tablespoons chocolate sauce stirred in.






Sunday, September 6, 2009

Sweet Summer!


FRESH STRAWBERRY CHEESECAKE
(No-Bake)

Oh, good gosh...I thought I'd put this on the blog earlier this summer. I hope you can still find strawberries, but if not, and you want to make this, try ANY other fresh fruit.

Absolutely gorgeous, with a filling that's light and fluffy, not dense or cakey like a baked cheesecake.

I say it's no-bake, although I did use a pastry crust. A graham cracker or cookie one would be just as great.

Life doesn't get much better! Seriously...if it does, tell me how!

If you're looking for a no-sugar-added version of this very recipe...I have it HERE.

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One pastry pie crust, baked and cooled completely OR graham crumb crust, baked, cooled
2 cups heavy whipping cream
OR One 8-ounce container Cool Whip, thawed
Two 8-ounce pkgs reduced-fat cream cheese, softened
1 1/4 cup powdered sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
2 cups chopped fresh strawberries
Enough whole berries, cut in half to cover the pie
1/3 cup strawberry jam, melted
If using heavy whipping cream, in a medium bowl, beat cream and into soft peaks and set aside in the refrigerator.

In a large bowl, beat cream cheese until smooth. Beat in sugar, vanilla, and almond extract. Fold in whipped cream
OR Cool Whip and chopped strawberries. Spoon and mound filling into cooled crust. Garnish with strawberry halves.
Brush melted jam over berries and chill until set. Cover loosely and store in fridge.


Friday, September 4, 2009

Speak French to me...



PLUM CLAFOUTIS

Silk pajamas, gauzy curtains, a sweet morning breeze through the window...a sleeping kitty, a captivating book, a cup of coffee laced with cream - and a gorgeous Clafouti studded with ruby jewels...sigh...

I'm not sure if it's supposed to be a dessert, but I like it for breakfast. With a little warm cream drizzled over - what a way to start the day!

I've taken out some of the heavy flour and added satiny sour cream for a lighter, softer, richer version. So, so fabulous!

Any fruit is welcome to star in this recipe. Berries, pears, nectraines - whatever your little heart desires.


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Vegetable cooking spray
2 eggs
1/3 cup + 2 tablespoons sugar, divided
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
3 tablespoons flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup sour cream
1/3 cup milk
3-6 plums - depending on the size
3 tablespoons butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat six 4-ounce ramekins, or a pie plate with cooking spray and set aside. (If using ramekins, place on a baking sheet.)

In a large bowl whisk the eggs with the 1/3 cup of sugar until combined. Whisk in the vanilla and almond extracts, flour, and salt until smooth. Whisk in sour cream and milk. Set aside to rest for at least 10 minutes.

Cut plums in half and remove pits. You may quarter or dice them or leave each half whole. Place enough in each ramekin to cover the bottom. Divide the egg batter amongst the cups and bake for 20-25 minutes (30-40 minutes for a pie plate) or until set. (They will be pale.) Remove from the oven and turn on the broiler.

Drizzle the melted butter over clafouti and sprinkle with the reserved 2 tablespoons of sugar. Return to the oven, under the broiler, for 1-2 minutes or until golden brown. Serve warm.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Gimme some sugar...




SUGAR DONUT MUFFINS

I have to give a sweet thank-you to Karly at Buns In My Oven for inspiration of these delicious gems! There are lots of versions out there, but I happened upon hers.

Moist, cakey, slightly spicy, buttery, and rolled in sugar - I mean, really, now...how much more wonderful do we need?!

I agree with Karly - these are better as they sit. They get more dense and do have the feel of a cake donut.

I added a little lemon zest, but didn't have fresh nutmeg to grate - GASP (forgot to make my order from Penzey's one of my favorite places on earth!) so I used mace. Subtle, but very good. And I left off the cinnamon...but the butter was flowing freely.

Life is delectable!



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3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1 1/2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg or mace
3/4 cups milk
1/4 cup oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon lemon zest
1/4-1/2 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat 24 mini muffin cups or 12 regular-sized muffin cups with vegetable cooking spray and set aside.

In a large bowl beat the sugar and egg until light and fluffy. In a small bowl combine the flour, baking powder, salt, and spice. In another small bowl whisk together the milk, oil, vanilla and zest.

Add 1/2 of the flour mixture to the sugar mixture and stir just till combined. Stir in 1/2 the milk mixture and stir to combine. Repeat. Don't overmix.

Divide among muffin cups and bake for 12-17 minutes, depending on the size, or when moist crumbs are attached to a toothpick when inserted in the middle.

Allow to cool for a few minutes and dip tops (or the whole thing!) into the melted butter. Let absorb for a couple minutes and then roll in sugar. Cool completely. Store in an airtight container or wrap in plastic wrap.