Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Carrot Cake Cheesecake

I am not a big cheesecake lover, but I love making cheesecakes. I really like the ability to mix and flavors and *usually* come out on the other-side with a delicious dessert. 

On Easter, I normally make a cheesecake for our family to enjoy. However, I am always torn between cheesecake and carrot cake. Why not make both you ask? I would if I wanted to have a ton of leftover and it might possibly go to waste, and nobody wants that! 

I came across this recipe for Carrot Cake Cheesecake and loved the idea.  The main selling point for me was that there is no crust. making the crust of a cheesecake is one of my least favorite parts of the process and the idea of a cake/cheesecake combo sounded delicious. The recipe also calls for applesauce and I was able to pull some of our homemade cinnamon sauce from the freezer. The original recipe also called fror a cream cheese frosting on top of the cheesecake. I totally forgot to make this, but I do not think the cheesecake needed it.  

My family went nuts for this cake and loved the ribbon of cheesecake swirling in to create a delicious and rich treat- perfect for a holiday. Kellen was not a fan of the texture of the cheesecake, but loved the cake portion, but the rest of us thought it work great. I was initially worried that the cake would over bake, but thankfully if was perfect. 


Carrot Cake Cheesecake
from Cooking Classy

Cheesecake Mixture
2 (8 oz) packages cream cheese, softened 
2/3 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp all-purpose flour
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup sour cream

Carrot Cake
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 cup canola oil
1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
2/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/3 cups finely grated carrots

Topping
2 oz cream cheese, softened
1 Tbsp butter, softened
1 1/4 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp sour cream
1/2 tsp vanilla extract


Instructions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9-inch springform pan and set aside.

For the cheesecake mixture:
In a mixing bowl, whisk together sugar and  flour until well combined. Add cream cheese and using an electric hand mixer set on low speed, mix together cream cheese and sugar mixture until smooth. Mix in eggs one at a time. Mix in sour cream. Forcefully tap bowl against countertop  to release air bubbles. Set mixture aside.

For cake: 
Rinse beaters clean. In a separate mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. In  a separate large mixing bowl, add oil, applesauce, sugar, brown sugar, eggs and vanilla. Mix using electric hand mixer set on low speed for 1 minute. Slowly add the dry ingredients and mix until well blended. Add carrots and mix until evenly distributed. 

To assemble cheesecake:
Pour 1 1/2 cups carrot cake mixture into buttered springform pan and spread into an even layer. Dollop about 1/3 of the cream cheese mixture by the spoonfuls over carrot cake layer (don't spread or swirl). Spoon remaining carrot cake mixture over cream cheese layer, then finish by drizzling by the remaining cheesecake mixture over carrot cake layer, working to cover all of the carrot cake mixture . Bake in preheated oven 60 - 65 minutes, until center portion only jiggles slightly and tenting with aluminum foil at 40 minutes to prevent excessive browning (I did not do this and did not have excessive browning). Remove from oven and allow to cool fo 1 hour. Cover with foil and chill over night.

For the topping (I did not use topping, but included in case you would like to):
In a mixing bowl, using an electric hand mixer, whip together cream cheese and butter until smooth. Add remaining topping ingredients and mix until pale and fluffy, about 4 - 5 minutes. Spread evenly over cheesecake then chill cheesecake in freezer for 20 - 30 minutes. Sprinkle edges with chopped pecans. 

Monday, April 28, 2014

Weekly Meal Plan 4/28 - 5/4

Happy Monday! 

Ron and I had a fun, and unexpected, weekend in Milwaukee. Ron was originally going with a friend to the Brewer game, but his friend had to cancel and your truly went to the game.  I haven't been to  a baseball game in about ten years (I am more of a football fan), but it was a lot of fun! Ron and I were sitting in a heavy foul ball section and that made things fun. During the 4th inning we went to get nachos and beers and a foul ball landed in my seat. Apparently, it rolled on the ground until someone grabbed it. I blame the insanely long line for nachos...... 

Later that evening we went our for drinks and had a blast. It was so nice for Ron and I to just get away. The next morning we grabbed brunch at Wolf Peach and it was amazing. I had baked polenta and eggs with roasted mushrooms, ham and scallions. We also shared creamy potato latkes.  I checked out their dinner menu online, and we will be making another visit next time we are in Milwaukee. 

My parents were kind enough to bring Kellen to Door County with them on very short notice and he had a wonderful time being center of attention all weekend.  After he was dropped back home we enjoyed a pizza and vegged out watching the new Game of Thrones. 

This week we have our normal weekly things: work, school, volleyball.  However, this weekend we are heading to Door County to watch my sister-in-law run the 1/2 marathon! I am really excited because she has been working her butt off towards her goal of a full marathon in the fall. 

Here is what is on tap: 

Monday: Bacon Pieorogie Bake and Salad
Tuesday: Jack and Coke Steaks, Mashed Potatoes and Grilled Asparagus
Wednesday:  Out
Thursday: Spicy Lemon Lime Grilled Chicken, Roasted Red Potatoes and Green Beans
Friday:  Out for Thai
Saturday: Door County
Sunday: Million Dollar Spaghetti Casserole, Garlic Bread and Salad

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Father's Day Pork Chops

Ron and I love pork chops and have had my eye on this recipe for breaded pork chops from So Tasty, So Yummy for sometime now. I loved the idea of the fresh lemon and herbs in the breading. I made this for a Sunday dinner and served Potatoes Au Gratin with fresh green beans alongside the pork chops. Ron and I both really enjoyed this recipe. I loved the fresh flavors of the citrus and herbs. I think this would also be a delicious breading for chicken breasts if you prefer those over pork chops.  I am not a very seasoned at breading meat because we do not eat it a lot at home.  I wasn't able to get my chops as thin as I would have liked for frying, but am going to try it again because this was so tasty. 

Tonight is volleyball night and I am always excited to get out and play. We are very lucky to have my parents watch Kellen so Ron and I can get out and have a little adult fun. Our team has been playing together for a few years now and it is always a blast to be with everyone. This summer we are moving to the outdoor courts and I am excited for a little sunshine! 


Ingredients

4 Boneless pork chops, pounded to 1/2 inch thickness
½ cup red wine vinegar 
½ cup all-purpose flour 
1 large egg, beaten 
1 cups Panko
Zest from half a lemon 
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme 
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano 
5 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper 


Instructions

Arrange pork in a single layer in a large baking dish and cover with vinegar. Let sit 1 hour at room temperature. Set up your dredging stations: one small  dish with flour; one with eggs; and one with Panko, zest, thyme, and oregano. Heat a large cast-iron or heavy nonstick skillet over medium heat and add olive oil. Season each chop generously with salt and pepper. Dredge each chop first in the flour, then in the egg, then in the Panko mixture; make sure they coat the sides as well as the tops and bottoms. Heat the oil over medium high heat in a large skillet. Fry the pork chops until crispy and cooked through, about 4 minutes on each side.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Oreo Truffle Brownies

At Christmas, I usually end up making a few batches of Oreo truffles. Both sides of our family absolutely loves them! Josie, author of Pink Parsley,  posted this recipe for Oreo Turffle Brownies and I knew I needed to give them a try. I made them for Easter to bring to our family celebrations and everyone loved them!  I do not make brownies very often at home because it is normally just Ron and I (a little for Kellen too) eating them. However, on holiday I like to splurge and make something delicious to share.  

These brownies are fantastic!  They are so rich and decadent, but it is hard to eat just one. Ron claimed some of the leftover to share with his friends at his lab, but the rest is for me.....

If you are looking for an amazing brownie recipe that will impress give these a try.... they are amazing. 


Ingredients

1 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
2 cups granulated sugar 
4 large eggs 
1 tsp vanilla extract 
½ cup cocoa powder 
1 ⅓ cups all-purpose flour 
½ tsp salt 
30 Oreo cookies
6 oz cream cheese, softened to room temperature 
1 cup heavy cream or half-and-half
10 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips


Instructions

Preheat oven to 350° F and line a 9x13-inch baking pan with aluminum foil, leaving a little extra to hang over the two long sides. Spray with cooking spray and set aside. 

Cream butter and sugar together with an electric mixer until light and fluffy.  Add eggs one at a time, and mix well, scraping down the bowl if necessary.  Add vanilla, salt, cocoa, and flour.  Mix until just combined, being careful not to over mix.


Pour batter into the prepared pan and bake for 20-30 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.  Allow Brownies to cool completely. 

While the brownies are cooling, make the Oreo truffle layer. Add cookies to a food processor and pulse till crumbs are fine. Add cream cheese and process till smooth. 

Once brownies are completely cool, carefully spread the Oreo truffle layer over brownies with a spatula- this doesn't have to be perfect, since it will be covered with ganache.

To make the ganache, heat the cream in small saucepan over medium heat until it is simmering.  Meanwhile, place the chocolate chips in a bowl.  Pour the hot cream over the chocolate, and whisk until the chocolate is melted and smooth.  Pour the ganache over Oreo layer and spread with an spatula. Chill in the refrigerator until fully set.  To slice and serve, lift the brownies out of the pan using the foil overhang, then use a sharp knife to cut into small squares. Keep refrigerated between serving. 

Weekly Meal Plan 4/21- 4/27

Happy Monday! 

This weekend was busy but fun! 

On Friday, we laid low and watched Indiana Jones: Temple of Doom. I forgot how much I love that movie. It is not my favorite Indiana Jones, that honor goes to Last Crusade, but it is still awesome.  On Saturday, I wanted to go to the egg hunt, but the weather was a little crappy.  However, we waited a few hours and were able to walk to the park for some fresh air.  Kellen loved the bridge and thought jumping to making it shake and bounce was the best. He also went down the slide, but wanted to make sure Mom and Dad were close.  I love that as he gets older his independence and confidence are growing.  At the park, he did not want us helping without him asking, but did not want us far out of reach....just in case.  Sunday was great fun for all of us because we got to hang out with out families for the holiday. The bunny also visited Kellen for the first time. He received a few chocolate covered graham crackers, jelly beans, bubbles and a few books. The kids are so cute together and I loved watching them run around.  At Ron's parents, his mom cooked a delicious meal and I helped my dad cook at my parents house..... delicious! I also added to the spread with Oreo truffle brownies and carrot cake cheesecake. 

Hope everyone had a great weekend! Here is what is on tap:

Monday: Cheeseburger Soup and Bread
Tuesday:  Garlic Butter Baked Salmon, Roasted Potatoes and Salad
Wednesday: Out for Volleyball
Thursday: Tater Tot Casserole and Green Beans
Friday:  Crabcake Sandwich, Potato Wedges and Green Beans
Saturday: Out
Sunday: Out for Thai

Monday, April 14, 2014

Weekly Meal Plan 4/14 - 4/20

There is snow on the ground.....SNOW!  

Yesterday we were grilling steaks, and today it is blustery and snowy. Go away ol' man winter because you are not wanted. Rant over...unless there is another snow storm...I will rant again. 

This weekend was really fun and low key.  Ron and I bummed around on Saturday and enjoyed end end of True Detective. I heard rumors that season 2 might have Brad Pitt??  Sunday I have a wing date with some lovely girlfriends and a trip to Costco. Ron and I finished the weekend grilling with my parents. Kellen was thrilled to be center of attention and showing off his new tricks (climbing into a chair) to his grandparents. 

This week is a little busier, but filled with fun stuff. Tonight we are going to a fundraiser for our friend and State Assembly member.  We also have volleyball this week and I am taking a photography class on Thursday evening.  

Have a wonderful week! 

Here is what is on tap:

Monday: Pizza
Tuesday: Breakfast For Dinner: Scrambled Eggs, Hashbrowns, Bacon and Pancakes
Wednesday: Spicy Pork and Asparagus with Chili and Brown Rice
Thursday: Picking up Subs
Friday:  Chile Spiced Shrimp Tacos with Avocado SalsaHomemade Refried Beans and Yellow Rice
Saturday: Eggs Hunt and Cheeseburger Soup
Sunday:  Happy Easter! Lunch at Ron's parents and Dinner with my parents.

Treats: Pastel Deviled Eggs, Peep Lemon Krispies, Carrot Cake Cheesecake and Oreo Truffle Brownies


Sunday, April 13, 2014

Spinach, Tomato, Basil and Ricotta Stuffed Chicken

Time for April Secret Recipe Club!

Secret Recipe Club

This month I received the blog Flavors by Four.  There were tons of wonderful recipes to pick from.  This red wine risotto sounded amazing, but I ultimately decided to make  Spinach, Tomato, Basil and Ricotta Stuffed Chicken.  The recipe sounded perfect and easy for a hectic weeknight.  The recipe is super easy and I only made a very small modification to the cooking method. The originally recipe called for the chicken to be briefly pan fried before going into the over to bake. I just baked the chicken and increased the baking time slightly.  Ron and I loved this chicken recipe! The fresh basil and fresh grape tomatoes are what really make this dish. The breading is nice and crunchy and full of flavor as well.  I also think this would be wonderful with a little fresh tomato sauce drizzled over the top. 

Thank you for a fantastic new recipe! 


Ingredients

 Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts (4-5)
15 oz Ricotta Cheese 
1/3 Cup Grated Parmesan Cheese 
1/2 Pint Grape Tomatoes, halved
2 Cloves of Garlic, minced
1 Cup Baby Spinach, chopped and stemmed
10 Fresh Basil Leaves, finely chopped
2 Cups Panko Bread Crumbs
2 Tbsp Italian Seasoning
2 Eggs 
Salt and Pepper


Instructions

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. 

In a large bowl,  combine ricotta, tomatoes, and Parmesan cheese, spinach and basil. Gently mix until fully combined. 

Salt and pepper both sides of each chicken breast. On a cutting board carefully make a slit in the largest section of each chicken breast. Fill each chicken breast with the ricotta mixture. Mix the breadcrumbs and Italian seasoning in a shallow dish. Put the eggs in a bowl and scrambled them with a fork. Carefully dip each breast in the egg followed by the panko making sure to cover the sides and the top, shaking off any excess. 

Bake in the oven for 45-50 minutes uncovered.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Tortellini Primavera

Is it crazy that I haven't eater tortellini in years prior to this meal?  Truth is I never cared for it much because it was meal I ate prior to coming down with a nasty bug as a child. It only took 25 years to get me back on board with it. 

I saw this recipe for Totellini Primavera posted on Pioneer Woman's site and thought it sounded amazing. I was initially surprised because I tend to bypass any and all tortellini recipes. However, since it tickled my fancy, I put it on our meal plan. The recipe has all of our favorite things: pasta, cheese, fresh veggies, ham and wine....what is not to like? 

One thing that is really fantastic about this recipe is that it is super quick to put together and only requires a little chopping- perfect for a weeknight.

 It is also a fantastic way to use any leftover Easter ham in a few weeks

The verdict: It was delicious! I am so happy I went back to this pasta because I really enjoyed it. The flavors of the veggies with the light creamy white wine sauce are so good!  The ham gives a nice salty flavor and paired with the sweet basil is perfect. 

This weekend we don't really have any plans.  Tonight I am hoping to grill if the rain holds off, Saturday I am bringing m car into the shop (blah) and Sunday is for relaxing and a chicken wing get together with a couple of my girlfriends.  

Have a great weekend! 


Ingredients

1 Tbl Butter
1 Tbl Olive Oil
1 Small Onion, Finely Diced
2 cloves Garlic, Minced
2/3 cup Diced Carrots
1 cup Cauliflower, Broken Into Small Pieces
1/4 cup White Wine
1/4 cup Chicken Stock
1/3 cup Heavy Cream
1/2 cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
 Salt And Pepper, to taste
8 whole Basil Leaves,Chiffonade
3/4 cups Cooked Ham, Diced
1 cup Frozen Peas
1 pound Cheese Tortellini


Instructions

Cook tortellini a couple of minutes less than package directions call for. Drain and set aside.
Melt the butter with olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic and stir to cook for 2 minutes. Add the carrots and cauliflower, stir, and cook 3-4 minutes. Add wine and stock.  Cook for an additional 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in cream and Parmesan.

When the mixture is hot, stir in peas, ham, salt, and pepper. Allow them to heat up in the sauce for about 3 minutes. When the sauce is hot, stir in the tortellini. Season with salt and pepper, if needed. 

Monday, April 7, 2014

Weekly Meal Plan 4/7 - 4/13

Happy Monday!

This weekend was lots of fun and crazy in terms of weather!

Friday started off with an all day snow storm.  However, non of the snow stuck because it started to get warmer though out the day. By Sunday, it was 58 degrees. Welcome to Wisconsin.

Friday night was for relaxing and playing. On Saturday, Ron had lab, Kellen and I had lunch with my parents, we took a family walk while a big pot of chili simmered all day on the stove.  It might be my last pot for awhile so I made an extra large batch so we could freeze a bunch.  We also watched the Badger game and are sad to see the season done. However, it was a fantastic game. I am a Kentucky fan after a Badger fan and am very excited to see them play for the championship too!

Sunday we had a family play day with our friends at the zoo. It was our first trip of the season and we got our zoo season pass to future visits.  Ron and I had wings for lunch while Kellen slept and we had left over chili for dinner.  Ron and I have been loving True Detective on HBO.  We just discovered the first season after buying the channel for Game of Thrones.

This week I am meeting my friend Emily at a new restaurant in Green Bay. It is in the place of an old favorite of mine that  sadly went out of business. I have hear great things about this place and am excited to try it!  ?We also have volleyball on Wednesday which is always a blast and are grilling on Friday night.  We have nothing planned this weekend (besides a wing date with a few girlfriends) and I am hoping to get Kellen to the park for some sunshine and playtime.

Have a great week! 

Monday: Spinach, Tomato, Basil and Ricotta Stuffed Chicken, Wild Rice and Salad
Tuesday: Out with My Friend Emily to Chateau De Pere
Wednesday: Out for Volleyball
Thursday: Tortellini Primavera and Salad
Friday: Grill Out: Brats, Potato Salad, Baked Beans Cottage Cheese and Salad
Saturday: Father's Day Pork ChopsAu Gratin Potatoes and Green Beans
Sunday:  Wing with Girlfriends at Legend Larry's 

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

5 Ingredient Meatloaf

Oh my gosh.....I think spring is on the horizon! 

We celebrated with a trip to the sanctuary on Sunday.  Kellen thought it was amazing and it was so fun to watch him smile ear to ear. Here are a few pictures of our outing:


Following our busy afternoon a comforting meal was needed.  Ron and I love meatloaf and love putting together new recipes. I had heard of using Stove Top in meatloaf before, but wanted to create my own spin.  We do not normally use Stove Top, but the flavors worked fantastic for a quick meatloaf recipe. In addition to the stuffing mix, we used eggs and ketchup. The meatloaf was delicious  and the glaze was perfect sweetness.  Kellen also enjoyed the meal, but I think the peas were his favorite! Ron declared that this was his favorite meatloaf we had made so far. This is a pretty big deal since it beat his favorite blue cheese and bacon meatloaf! 

Happy April everyone! 


Ingredients

3 lbs lean ground beef
1 box traditional sage Stove Top stuffing mix
2/3 cup ketchup
2 eggs, beaten

for glaze:
3 Tbl ketchup
1 Tbl brown sugar


Instructions

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.

Spray a 9x5 loaf pan lightly with cooking spray.  In a large bowl, mix beef, stuffing mix, eggs and ketchup gently with your hands. 

Place meatloaf mixture into loaf pan.  Press down to insure it is sitting evenly without any air pockets in the pan. Cover with foil and bake for 1 hour.

While the meatloaf cooks, mix ketchup and brown sugar together. After 1 hour cook time, remove foil and evely spead ketchup mixture on the meatloaf. Leave uncovered and cook for an additional 10 minutes.

Allow meatloaf to rest for 5 minutes after removing from the oven. Slice and enjoy.