Sunday, December 30, 2012

Apple Cinnamon Scones



      It's the end of the year already, can you believe it?! It seems that whenever I look ahead things seem to take forever, but when I look back time has flown by. But such is life. I guess that just is another reason to appreciate the times that you're in and not wish it away. Anyway, I hope that everyone has passed a great year, remembering the good times and learning from the not-so-good. I made three resolutions this year: one, learn how to french braid my hair, two, use an entire tube of chapstick, and three, lose weight. Well I made 2/3 of those resolutions basically come true so I guess it's a technical success. I succeeded in french braiding my hair twice, but I'm not good at it enough to say I know how to do it. However, I am really good at fishtailing my hair now so I'm going to call this reslution a success. I also used an entire tube of chapstick without washing it or losing it! That is a huge success for me because I always lose or was them. So that's my two out of three. Admittedly, I didn't lose any net weight. I gained a little, but I also re-lost that bit so in the end I'm the same. So, like everybody else, I'm going to try it again next year. Here's to being healthy! Maybe I'll make some more apple-cinnamon scones. I liked these ones better than the pumpkin scones I made earlier, though those were good as well. They're filled with flour, but the apples and cinnamon make them healtheir, right? But I'm not one to care too much about flour in things--it's all about moderation for everything. And in this next year, that's what I'll be practicing again. =)


Apple Cinnamon Scones
recipe slightly adapted from kingarthurflour.com


Ingredients
  • 2 3/4 cups flour
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup cold butter
  • 2 cups apple chunks (about two medium apples chopped into 1/2" or so pieces)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1/2 cup applesauce (I used homemade stuff which was already very cinnamon-y)
  • extra sugar and cinnamon, plus a little bit of milk for brushing



Directions
--In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, and spice.

--Cut in the butter with a pastry cutter. Having some large chunks is okay.

--Stir in the apple chunks.
--In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, vanilla, and applesauce. Stir the wet mixture in to the dry mixture until everything is moistened and everything is evenly incorporated.

--Separate the dough into two equal parts, forming each into circles, about 3/4" thick and 5" or so in diameter.

Note: The above picture shows a scone made from one large circle instead of two smaller ones. It still tasted great and baked fine, but when I lifted the scones up they wanted to break in half from the extra weight, probably because of the large apple chunks I made. So I would definitely recommend making two small circles.

--Place the circles on a parchment-lined baking sheet.

--Brush the top of the circles with milk and then sprinkle with some coarse sugar and cinnamon.
--Using a cold knife, slice each circle into 6 wedges, then gently pull the wedges away from each other, about 1/2" between each side.
--Place the pan of scones in the freezer for about 30  minutes. This allows for a flakier texture after baking because the butter rehardens, then melts in the oven to create pockets in the scones.

--Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 425°F.

--Bake the scones for 18-22 minutes until they're golden brown. The edges of the scones shouldn't look "wet" still.

--Let cool a minute or two and then serve the scones warm. They're good completely cooled too, but best when fresh. They can be stored in a Tupperware for several days.






Happy Baking and Happy New Year!
--H

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Cranberry Eggnog Bread


       It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas . . .everywhere you go . . . but the prettiest sight to see is the home baked goods that will be . . . made by you and not a store. =) It's true! Even if you're not that great of a baker or are just starting to learn, anything that you take the time to make is doubly appreciated. In my experience, people are more impressed when you take extra time out of your day when you do something special for them than if you buy an ill-thought-out gift. Think about it from your own perspective: do you remember every little thing you've received for Christmas, or do you remember the way people made you feel around the holidays? Myself, I remember certain gifts that I just had to have, and I appreciated getting them for sure, but now I find what is more important was and is the relationships I have with the people I care about. I still want my gifts, though. I'm a selfish hypocrite! Haha.
       But I will still bake of course--it's an addiction. And after all, it is apparently the season meant for baking. Last year I posted Rolo Pretzel Bites and Eggnog Cheesecake Bars. This year I'm putting another Eggnog recipe on the table: Cranberry Eggnog Bread! I don't get a whole lot of baking opportunities this month, so I was sure to search for something that I considered unique and I found it here. I was debating on not adding the cranberries to the dough, but I'm glad I did. Not only did they add pops of pretty color throughout the loaf, but they also add pops of sweetness. This was a good thing because the bread itself was only subtly eggnog-y. If you want a strong eggnog flavor definitely use the glaze, which is fabulous by the way. I used what I had left over for spreading on actual slices of bread. Mmm, it's definitiely starting to taste like Christmas at my house now, too.


I took this picture after I first drizzled the glaze over the bread . . . mmm, puddles of deliciousness.





Cranberry Eggnog Bread
Barely tweaked recipe from Creations by Kara


Ingredients
  • 1 package (1/4 oz.) active dry yeast
  • 1/4 cup warm water
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 1/4 cups eggnog (alcholic or otherwise)
  • 1/4  melted butter
  • 3- 3 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries (I used Craisins)


       For the Glaze:
  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1-2 Tbsp eggnog
  • dash of freshly grated nutmeg


Directions
--In a medium or so sized bowl, combine the yeast and a 1/4 cup of warm water (about 110-115 degrees). Let this stand for about 10 minutes while the yeast gets nice and frothy. Then add the sugar, salt, nutmeg, eggnog, melted butter, and 1 1/2 cups of the flour--mix until thoroughly combined. There should be little to no lumps.

--Add the Craisins to the mixture, then add a half cup of flour at a time until a soft dough forms.

--On a lightly floured surface (remember you can always add flour but you can't take any away from your dough) knead the dough until smooth.

--Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl and cover the bowl with a towel. Let the dough rise in a warm, draft-free place for about 30 minutes.

--Decide how you want your braid to look. I braided mine like a zipper. To find out how, go here. You can either have one large loaf, or two smaller loaves. I opted for a large loaf this time. After you've let the dough rise, separate into strands and braid your bread as desired, making sure to pinch together and tuck under the ends.

--Place the braid on a large, greased baking sheet and let rise until it has doubled in size, about an hour this time.

--Bake at 350° for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown.

--Try and let the bread cool for the most part if you can help it.

--If using the glaze, mix the powdered sugar, eggnog, and some freshly grated nutmeg until completely smooth. Then dizzle it all over the braid. You'll probably have leftover glaze, I did.



Merry Baking!
--H

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Mint Chocolate 2 Bite Brownies



And so the holiday season is upon us full swing. Starbucks has red cups, Christmas decorations have decked every conceivable hall, and delicious treats, homemade or otherwise, are everywhere. Not only did we just finish thoroughly stuffing ourselves with turkey and mashed potatoes but now we trudge head long into another month of holly and jolly that threatens to expand your belt by two notches. You may wish to rationalize your indulgence with the premise that the goodies of the season are only around for a short 31 days so why not enjoy them all. But that only leads to guilt and a broken New Year’s resolution 32 days later. So how do you stay sane when you are bombarded with twinkling lights and crooning carolers while visions of chocolate covered everything dances in your head?


With will power.


Yeah who am I kidding? Nobody has will power in December. More realistically you do it by indulging on those morsels that have the most meaning to you: a special cookie or cake that your grandma always made, eggnog by a roaring fire with your honey, or these little mint chocolate 2 bite brownies.  They taste decadent, they look like you spent hours crafting them, but they are quick and healthy and your mind will never know the difference.


Mint Chocolate 2 Bite Brownies
Adapted from: chocolatecoveredkatie.com

1 C walnuts
1 1/3 C pitted dates
1 tsp vanilla
5 T. cocoa powder (I used Hershey’s Special Dark and they were intensely chocolateJ)
½ - 1 tsp peppermint extract (depending on how minty you want them)
Pinch of salt (about 1/8th of a tsp) 

Put everything in a food processor and blend a way until it resembles fine crumbs. Pour into a pan, bowl, or mini muffin tins, which is what I did. Press the mix together with your hands really well before you press them into the pan. This helps everything mingle together really well and hold its shape. 

You could easily scoop these into balls with your cookie scoop and then roll them in cocoa powder for mock truffles. What a way to unwind after a day of Christmas shopping at overcrowded stores; at least your waistline with thank you even if your checking account won’t.
Enjoy the holidays homemade!
~LL

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Pumpkin Scones




       My sister just posted a recipe for some really tasty Baked Pumpkin Doughnuts, and here I am again with another  pumpkin recipe. Though I've heard that some people get irritated by the abundance of pumpkin-related-everything during the fall season, deep down I'm sure they secretly love everyone else's obsession. So here I am to indulge said obsession and offer a recipe for Pumpkin Scones! Scones actually originated in Scotland in the early sixteenth century, but now have become most associated with England--where they are pronounced "scawns" as in "gone." According to foodreference.com, the ritual of having scones during afternoon tea began when Anna, the Duchess of Bedford (1788-1861), had servants bring her various teas and sweet breads, among which included scones. She loved them so much that she ordered them every afternoon, thus influencing the afternoon tea tradition as well as a new harboring for the love of scones.
       What makes scones different from other biscuits or quick breads is that the leavening comes from baking powder and not yeast. (Originally they were not made with baking powder because it wasn't widely available, and scones were flat. Once baking powder was widespread, it quickly became a key ingredient in scones.) The love for scones has now spread globally and each country imparts its own special variations--sweet and savory. Today, I offer you a sweet version. But do not be deceived, these are not sweet as a cookie would be. Instead, think of a biscuit which has a slight sweetness to it--that is what these particular scones are like--perfect for accompanying a cuppa. I should also note that the pumpkin flavor in this recipe is not overwhelming; rather, I would describe it more so as a slight aftertaste, noticeable after the initial wave of spices retreat. At least that is how they are when fresh. Afer sitting for a while, the pumpkin flavor seems to settle in more.





 

Pumpkin Scones
recipe from kingarthurflour.com


Ingredients
  • 2 3/4 cups flour
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/2 cup cold butter
  • 2/3 cup canned pumpkin (about a 1/3 of a can, if you were wondering)
  • 2 large eggs
  • milk (for brushing)
  • extra sugar and cinnamon (for sprinkling)

Directions
--In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and allspice.

*May I just note that even though I harped on the historical importance of baking powder in scones I still forgot to use it! So your scones may turn out a little fluffier than what I have pictured. Just know that they still taste good without it.* =)

--In a different, smaller bowl, whisk together the pumpkin and eggs until smooth.

--Cut up the cold butter into cubes and cut them into the dry ingredients (your large bowl) with a pastry cutter until all the butter pieces are approximately pea sized or so.

--Add the wet ingredients (small bowl) to the dry ingredients (large bowl) and stir them together as best you can. Everything should be moistened and able to hold together; I used my hands towards the end.

--Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Separate the dough into two parts, round them into flat disks (about 5 inches diameter, 3/4 inches thick), and place them on sheet.

--Brush each disk with milk and then sprinkle some sugar (coarse is best if you have any; I didn't) and some cinnamon (not too much otherwise it will easily burn).

--With a cold knife, slice each disk as you would a pizza, and then pull out the wedges from each other, about 1/2 inch apart on each side.

--Now transfer the scones to the freezer for about 30 minutes to firm up the butter. This allows for the best texture and highest rise from the scones. (A fridge works fine as well, just let them chill longer.)

--Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 425°F.

--After chilling, bake the scones for 22 to 25 minutes, or until they're golden brown. An inserted toothpick should come out completely clean. The edges of the scones shouldn't look doughy.
--Preferably serve scones warm as this is when they taste the best, but they taste good cooled as well. Store leftovers in an airtight container.




Happy Baking!
--H

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Baked Pumpkin Doughnuts



It seems every year the holiday season starts in September and runs together in a blur of candy, pumpkin flavored everything, deep fried turkeys, and financially crippling gift giving. I happen to love the holidays, but more importantly I love them separately. This seems to be a left wing mindset anymore. Department and craft stores would have you believe that it is absolutely necessary to decorate your homes to the gills with tinsel and lights and shiny ornaments the day after Halloween! They seem to have forgotten that there is another holiday between Christmas and the end of October. You know that little holiday that used to be about giving THANKS for what abundance you currently have and the struggles you have come through in the past year. Rather it seems that we should continue on from our greedy candy comas straight on to Christmas without so much as slowing to appreciate a fallen leaf or a slice of pie. Well I refuse. I'm going to enjoy my holiday season with my family like it was meant to be, without succumbing to the pressures of hyper consumerism. I'm going to enjoy pumpkin-y things, leave my squash and acorn decorations strewn about for another 20 or so days, and prepare to fix the best Thanksgiving dinner I've made yet. No Christmas tunes, twinkly lights, or candy canes until after that epic meal. Doesn't that sound wonderfully calm and delightful? I agree. So enjoy your coffee, slowly, this weekend and savor these moist (nearly healthy) doughnuts without guilt! Christmas will be here soon enough for you to drown yourself in eggnog, cookie platters, and mountains of presents...
Baked Pumpkin Doughnuts
adapted from: kingarthruflour.com
1/2 c. cocunut oil (or canola and in theory butter would work also)
3 large eggs
1 c. granulated sugar
1 can pumpking puree
1 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice, or 3/4 tsp cinnamon plus heaping 1/4 tsp each groundginger and nutmeg
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 c. plus 2 T. all purpose flour
3/4 c. whole wheat flour (if your not using, just use regualr flour for both amounts)
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a doughnut pan, or 2 if you have them. If you don't you can use muffin tins and just bake them longer.
Beat together everything but the flour until smooth. Then stir in the flour until just combined. Fill the wells of the doughnut pans about 3/4 full.
Bake for 15-18 minutes. I pulled mine at 15 because whole wheat flour can be a little drying so I wanted to make sure they would be moist. Let them cool in the pan for 1-2 mintues and then carefully transfer them to a wire rack and let them cool another minute.
While they are still quite warm, shake them around in some cinanmon and sugar, or use more of the pumpkin pie spice and sugar. Serve with coffee, hot apple cider, or milk.
So much better than Dunkin Doughnuts and cheaper too! Gotta love that!
Enjoy life homemade!
~LL

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Marshmallow Popcorn Balls





       It's already Halloween again! Can you believe it? Soon we'll be stuffing our faces and emptying our wallets 'cause the Holiday season is basically underway. =) The spooktacular treat I chose to make for All Hallow's Eve this year is something I haven't eaten in years. Popcorn balls! I think they're so fun looking and even more fun to eat. In the past I've always had Caramel Popcorn Balls, but I had a couple bags of marshmallows on hand so I made Marshmallow Popcorn Balls instead . . . I do love marshmallows. Anyway, with the help of a Whirley Pop and some colorful M&M's I had two batches of these guys up and ready within the hour. Unfortunately I can't hand any out to the trick-or-treaters today because their Mommas will be paranoid that I'm an evil sadistic terrorist who stuck razorblades in the centers of each ball, so I took them to school instead. Starving college students don't worry about razorblades in free food. (To be clear I understand the fear, but sometimes I think it's unwarrented.)
       Like many other treats, these can be customized for any holiday or occassion and that makes them even greater. I chose just a normal bag of M&M's for these (though I tried taking pictures of the sides that looked most Halloween-like) but you can buy any holiday color M&M bag, like red and green for Christmas. Or if you don't want M&M's, how about peanuts? You could even make a Trail Mix Popcorn Ball and mix in M&M's, peanuts, and pretzels! Really, the possiblities are endless. In the future, I plan on melting some peanut butter with the marshmallows to make Peanut Butter Popcorn Balls--YUM.





Marshmallow Popcorn Balls
recipe adapted from Martha Stewart

Makes about 12 smaller balls, 9 large balls, or 6 really big balls.

Ingredients
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1-10 ounce bag marshmallows (preferably mini)
  • Appoximately 3 quarts popped popcorn (I popped 1/2 cup's worth of kernels)
  • 1 cup M&M's
  • room temperature butter for rolling balls


Directions
--Pop the popcorn and place in a large bowl, big enough for extra stirring room without the popcorn spilling over.

--In a large pot over low heat, melt the butter; then add the brown sugar and salt. Stir until evenly blended, then add the marshmallows. Stir constantly until the marshmallows are completely melted.

--Pour the marshmallow goo over the popcorn, stirring until the popcorn is completely coated. It's just like making rice krispie bars.

--Once you got the popcorn covered as best you can, add the M&M's and stir them in. When adding, try to sprinkle them all over so you don't have to stir as much. The more stirring, the more  melting and breaking of the M&M's.

--Using buttered hands, squeeze the popcorn into 2 or so inch balls (you can make them as large as you like) and place them on a wax paper lined pan.

--Serve as soon as you like; wrap them in cling wrap for storage.



Happy Baking!
--H

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Pizza Bites


Who's ready for some football!?!?!
Me not so much, but my husband is and that's reason enough to get fired up a little. Plus I'm always down to cook up some game day food in support of his team. It's my little contribution to his all out love affair with the season. Some of the food that is associated with watching the big game can be pretty calorie heavy and really pack on the pounds, but they are go-to's for a reason. They taste delicious. Obviously I couldn't deny my better half, so I adapted a few of the basics and made them without fake ingredients or funny names. Pizza bites are easy, real, and delicious. Not to mention they are a cinch to whip up and take about 20 minutes start to finish! What's not to like?!

Pizza Bites
Created by: me

1 loaf French bread or baguette
1 bunch of spinach
1 ball fresh monzarella, sliced
1 package of dried salami, proscuitto, or other cured italian meat
1 6 oz can of tomato paste
1 capful of Mrs. Dash italian seasoning
Real parmasean cheese, grated
Cracked pepper

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Mix the tomato paste and Mrs. Dash with enough water to make a pizza sauce consistency.  I like mine a little thicker than typical pizza sauce to give the toppings something to grab onto.

Cut the bread on an angle about a 1/2 in thick and arrange on a cookie sheet. I use my pizza stone to make these most of the time but they are equally good on a cookie sheet. The stone just makes the bottoms crispier than the pan does. Spread a tablespoon or so of the sauce on each slice of bread. Then layer the spinach, meat, and mozerella onto each bread slice and top with freshly grated parmasean cheese. Crack some fresh pepper over the entire pan and pop it in the oven for 10-15 mintues. 

Once they are melty and toasted to perfection, pull them out and serve to your adoring fans!

Life is better homemade-
LL

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Honey Cornbread


       I don't recall ever eating cornbread when I was little. I don't know if that's because I live in the upper Mid-West and it's not a common staple, or for any other random reason. Nevertheless, it's become one of my favorite dinner additions. I used to use the simple Jiffy mixes, but then I discovered Krusteaz's Honey Cornbread which immediately became my preference. Actually, I still use it all the time; sometimes a person just needs super-simplicity instead of just simplicity. Speaking of which, that's exactly what this recipe is--simple. Stir all the ingredients together, pour the batter in a greased pan, bake, then eat. Voila! I particularly like this recipe because of the honey. It keeps the cornbread moist, sweet, and delicious. Stored in an air tight container it can last several days, too.



Honey Cornbread
recipe from foodnetwork.com


Ingredients
  • 1 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 stick butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup honey
Directions
--Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
--In a large bowl, mix together the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt. Then add the whole milk, eggs, melted butter, and honey. Stir until evenly mixed.
*If you want you can mix the dry and wet ingredients in separate bowls and then combine the two bowls together, but I found it unnecessary.*
--Grease and 8x8 pan, cast iron skillet, or muffin tins; pour the cornbread batter evenly into the pan.

*If making muffins, this recipe makes 12. I had a 12 inch skillet I poured my (doubled) batter in to.*

--Bake for 15 minutes, until golden.

--Enjoy =)



Happy Baking!
--H

Friday, September 7, 2012

Honey Pumpkin Muffins


     It's hard to believe it's already the fall season isn't it? I don't know about you, but summer time goes by way too quickly for me. But saying goodbye to days spent at the lake, splashing around in the water, and drinking freshly squeezed lemonades isn't so terrible when I remember they days that are now upon us. Light jackets or sweat shirts, hot apple cider, crisp fall breezes, beautiful turning leaves, hay rides, and corn mazes--just a few of my favorite parts of my favorite season. Fitting right into all of this: pumpkin. To me, pumpkin equals fall. Therefore, in the spirit of embracing the future instead of mourning the past I bring you Honey Pumpkin Muffins! These have become some of my favorite fall muffins, and I think the uniqueness of the honey does that. Granted, the honey flavor itself is very subtle and you probably wouldn't know it's there unless somebody told you, but the muffins are sweet and pumpkin-y. They are very moist and have a density that I think muffins should have. After all, they have to be different from a fluffy cupcake somehow. The only thing I would potentially do differently do differently is make a different sort of streusel topping--a more crumbly one--though I did enjoy the polka dot effect the streusel I used provided.




Honey Pumpkin Muffins
recipe slightly adapted from honey.com

Ingredients
  • 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup pure honey
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup pumpkin purée
  • 1 cup chopped, toasted walnuts (optional)

 Note: This recipe takes very well to doubling. If using canned pumpkin, this will also use up the whole 15oz can instead of just half.


Streusel Topping
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 4 tablespoons butter
Directions
--Preheat oven to 350°F and line a standard-size muffin/cupcake tin (or jumbo muffin/cupcake tin) with paper liners.
--In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and freshly ground nutmeg. Set it aside for now.
--Using a hand or stand mixer, beat the butter until it's light. Then beat in the honey, egg, and pumpkin.
Tip: Spray the measuring cup with cooking spray before measuring out the honey. This will allow the honey to slide right out of the cup instead of you standing there fighting to scrape the last globs of honey out.
-- Gradually add the flour mixture and mix until just blended. If using walnuts, stir those in now too.
--Fill the lined muffin tins with the batter, 3/4 of the way full if you want big muffin tops. Otherwise just do half full.

 --If using the streusel: combine the flour, sugar, and cinnamon. Then cut in the butter. (If the butter is too soft the streusel won't be crumbly but will look like the pieces in the above picture. It still tastes good though.) Sprinkle as much desired streusel on top of the raw muffins.
-- Bake at 350°F for 25 to 30 minutes for standard-size muffins, or 35-40 minutes for jumbo muffins. A toothpick inserted in center of a muffin will come out clean when the muffin is done. Remove the muffins from the tin and put 'em on a wire rack to cool/prepare to be eaten.





Happy Baking!
--H

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Honey Challah


       This was so much fun to make! Some people get the "foodie jitters" over making things like salted caramel frosting, beautiful pork roasts, or any homemade pudding. Not this girl. Obviously those scrumptious delicacies can be divine, but so far things like that haven't made me jump up and down in the middle of my kitchen like a giddy little school girl. But I tell you what, when I was rolling out this Challah, braiding it, and watching it bake, I truly was a victim of the foodie jitters. First of all, how beautiful does it look?! I'm so proud! (Might I mention this was my first time ever braiding six strands of dough into one loaf.) It browned up perfectly, in my not-so-humble opinion. Secondly, the smell was deliciously intoxicating. Not kidding. It permeated the entire house, upstairs and down. In fact, because I was baking in the middle of the night--when ya get an urge, give in I say--the sweet aroma even woke up my mom and grandma who was visiting. That's how awesome and intense the smell was. Since this made a rather large loaf, I cut about a third of it off and brought it over to my boyfriend's house with the intention of his whole family trying a little bit or eating it with dinner. Well, that back fired. After he tasted it, he claimed the entire 9-ish inch portion for himself. And he ate it. All at once. If the way to a man's heart truly is through his stomach, I'm pretty sure I got my man hook, line, and sinker.




Gorgeous isn't it?






Honey Challah
recipe from honey.com


Ingredients
  • 1 package (1/4 oz.) active dry yeast
  • 1-1/4 cups warm water, divided
  • 5-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted

egg wash
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tablespoon of water


Directions
--In a small bowl or cup, combine the yeast and a 1/4 cup of warm water (about 110-115 degrees). Let this stand for about 10 minutes while the yeast gets nice and frothy.
--In a large bowl, mix together the flour and salt. Then add the honey, the two eggs, the melted butter, and the proofed yeast. Stir until well combined. Now stir in the remaining cup of water, a little at a time. You don't want soupy dough; depending on the day you won't need all the water.

--On a lightly floured surface, knead the dough until it is smooth and elastic. Then place the dough in a lightly greased bowl and cover the bowl with a towel. Let the dough rise in a warm, draft-free place until it has doubled in size (about an hour).

--After this first rising is complete, punch down the dough and let it rise again until doubled (approximately another hour).

--After the second rising, punch down the dough again. If you want to braid your Challah, separate the dough into strands (mine had 6). Braid away!

If you want to know how to braid a 6 strand loaf go here. Just remember, "over two, under one, over two".

--Place the braided loaf on a greased baking sheet, and then brush the egg wash (mix together the egg yolk and tablespoon of water) over the formed Challah.

--Once again, let the Challah rise until almost doubled in size. (Only about 20 minutes this time.)

--Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 350°F.

-- After the dough has doubled, bake for 35-40 minutes. The Challah will be golden brown and hollow sounding when the underside is tapped. Careful, it's hot.

--Do your best to let the Challah cool before slicing it up. If you can't resist, nobody will care unless you're taking pictures ;)




Happy Baking!
--H

Friday, August 24, 2012

Cashew Cookie Bars


       There are several reasons why I like these: one, they're 100% healthy, two, there's hardly 4 ingredients, three, they're ridiculously fast to make, four, they're tasty! To be honest, I was very skeptical at first when my sister had me make these for a road trip we took this summer. I thought I didn't like dates and, consequently, I wouldn't like these Cashew Cookie Bars. I thought wrong. They're sweet, they're nutty (in the way only cashews can provide), and they actually fill you up (or at least curb your appetite for quite a while). They taste as though they should be so bad for you, but they're so not bad at all. Complete health. And energy. And no more growling midday stomachs. A not-so-guilty guilty snack. If you don't think you like dates I say heck, give 'em a try anyway. This recipe only makes two small bars anyway (unless you double/triple/quadruple) so what could it hurt?



Cashew Cookie Bars
recipe from chocolatecoveredkatie.com

Yield: Two 2-ish inch long bars


Ingredients
  • 1/4 cup cashews (if you use the salted, you probably won't need any additional salt)
  • 2/3 cup dates
  • tiny pinch of salt
  • Optional: a drop or two of pure vanilla extract (about 1/8 teaspoon)


Directions
--Dump all the ingredients in a food processor and blend them all together.

*I like mine a tad bit coarser so they resemble fruit and nut bars, but you can keep processing until your desired texture.

--Form the mixture into squares, rectangles, or balls, then wrap them in plastic wrap for storage.

--Simple as that! Enjoy =)




Happy Baking!
--H

Monday, August 13, 2012

Fried Cabbage



Fried Cabbage

If you grew up in or around the South or with Southern people, you have known of the deliciousness of fried cabbage your whole life.  If you are a Northern, Scandinavian girl like myself, you probably have either never had it or just recently happened upon the mouthwatering dish. It is probably the easiest dish you could ever make, not to mention the cheapest and fastest and dare I say healthiest.  Now some may argue after reading the ingredients that a tablespoon of butter or bacon grease does not categorize this recipe as healthy or low cal, but bear with me as I explain the logic and necessity of the fat. 

1) Fat makes food taste better.  Fact.  But in that making it taste better, it also makes it easier for your body to absorb certain vitamins and minerals that could not be assimilated by your body were it not for these little fat heroes. 

2) It matters what kind of fat you use.  Slather on some REAL butter, drizzle on some extra virgin olive oil, or saute in some left over bacon grease and you are *ahem* "cooking with Crisco". These are what I like to call "Old Fashioned Fats" because they are what your great-grandmother would have used and therefore not loaded with chemicals and dangerous particles that lurk in margaine, vegetable oil, and *ahem again* Crisco. Stick to the good stuff, in moderation, and your veggies and body will thank me. 

A whole head of cabbage, even sauteed in a tablespoon of fat contains only 290 calories.  The WHOLE thing! That is still less than a plain ol' cheeseburger from McDonalds. So go ahead and eat the whole pan in one sitting. No shame or feeling bad about yourself later. Just a satisfied stomach and content body.

Ingredients

1 T. butter, bacon grease, or half butter/half olive oil
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
1 head green cabbage, shredded
Salt and pepper to taste (or Tony Chacheres)


Shred the cabbage and thinly slice the onion.  Heat a large cast iron skillet (best results with one of these baby's) over medium heat and drop in your desired fat to melt and heat up, about 1-2 minutes. Add the onion and saute until translucent and soft, 5-7 minutes.  Next add all of the cabbage.  It will seem like it will overflow the pan, but it will cook down considerably. Let it sit on top of the onion for about a minute and then, taking some tongs, flip the cabbage from bottom to top occasionally for the next 10 minutes or so, depending on the texture you want your cabbage to have. I like mine mostly soft with a slight crunch so 10 minutes is perfect for me.  Now you season it up, don't be shy, cabbage likes salt and pepper.

Plate and serve.  That's it. Yes, really. 

Serve it with a roasted chicken or throw in some bacon (oh yeah, I went there!). Add some chickpeas and fresh corn off the cob, and you have a great little meal for lunch the next day.  Possibilities are endless and so are the flavoring combinations. Go crazy!

Because isn't that what cooking is all about?

Life is better homemade my friends!
LL






Friday, August 3, 2012

Banana Oatmeal Cookies




       Wow it's been a busy summer! Clearly, since we haven't posted in a while . . . again. C'est la vie, though, isn't it? It's not that my sister and I haven't been making things-- on the contrary we've been cooking and baking a lot! The problem has been getting pictures of the things we make. =) But no fear, I have finally taken a picture of deliciousness. Today, in fact. Above you see a picture of one of the non-banana-bread recipes I enjoy when using up extra overripe bananas. Although it's no secret I love banana bread, I also love cookies. So this combination works well for me, see?
       These cookies taste just like banana bread but are jam-packed with nuts, unlike the banana bread I usually eat is. The only reason I added in the almond slivers is because there was a little baggie of them floating around in my cupboard that I wanted to use up. I decided I liked the uniqueness of the walnut/almond combination so much though that I should keep the almonds in the recipe, so I did. I may add more than a half cup in the future, but for now I liked it that way. Also something I did that I normally don't was chopping up chocolate bars and sticking them in the batter instead of chocolate chips which I was fresh out of. And you know what? I loved the chunkiness of them! The randomness of the chocolate sizes make for fun eating. Another FYI: the cookies are relatively moist when first baked, but I believe they become even more moist after being stored. Hope you like them too!




Banana Oatmeal Cookies
recipe slightly adapted from tasteofhome


Ingredients

  • 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 3/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup mashed overripe bananas (about 3)
  • 1-3/4 cups quick-cooking oats
  • 1 cup chocolate chips or chunks
  • 1-1/2 cups coarsely chopped walnuts
  • 1/2 cup slivered almonds



  • Directions
    --Preheat the oven to 375°F and line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.

    --In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, salt, baking soda, cinnamon, and nutmeg.

    --Stir in the softened butter until the mixture looks like coarse crumbs.

    --Mix in the egg and mashed bananas, then add the oats. Mix until thoroughly combined.

    --Add the chocolate chips/chunks, walnuts, and almonds and stir until everything is evenly distributed.

    --Using a cookie scoop, drop the cookie dough on the parchment lined cookie sheets about 1-1/2 inches apart.

    --Bake for 13-15 minutes, or until golden brown.

    --Cool them on a wire rack, eat a few, and store the rest in a Tupperware container =)




    Happy Baking!
    --H

    Monday, July 9, 2012

    Tacos TSC: Tortillas, Salsa, Chorizo!

    If you have ever eaten a taco from one of those 'questionable' looking silver trucks, you know good tacos when you see them.  You also do not stoop to the lows of a mass producing taco chain that shall remain nameless on this site, but we all know rhymes with Paco Dell, because you respect the hand held meal. You know that homemade tortillas, kitchen made salsa, and made from scratch chorizo are far superior to anything that comes in through your car window. I suppose you are now talking yourself out of the fact that you could make a meal like the one pictured above.  Quoting how time constraints and know how will surely work against you trying to create anyting similar to these delectable looking tacos. But I'm here to tell you that you can. Yes, you, reading this blog.  You can make your own tacos.  Now say it with me.

    "I can make my own tacos!" (a fist pump here would be appropriate)

    And what's even better, you can make your own tortillas for these tacos! Double score!!

    No, no, do not click off this site, keep reading.  This culinary adventure couldn't be more easy or more fun.  Simply follow the recipes here to the last letter and sit down to a meal anyone could be proud of. Then invite your friends, make margarittas or and mojitos, and have yourself a little Cinco De Mayo in July! Arriba!

    Tortillas
    Adapted from Bon Appetit

    2 c. (or more) masa*
    1/2 tsp. kosher salt
    1 1/2 c. water

        Mix the masa and salt together and then stir in the water until a dough forms. The dough should look a feel similar to playdough. Add more masa if it seems to wet and sticky and more water if it's too crumbly. Then make golf ball sized balls of dough and press in a tortilla press lined with plasitc.  (you could roll these out if you don't have a press, but it will obvsiously take longer.) Press out one tortilla at a time.
        Heat a cast iron pan on med-high and cook each tortilla 1-2 minutes until charred on the edges and in spots. Flip and cook another 15 seconds or so on the other side. Keep in a moist papertowl or warm oven until ready to serve.

    *Masa is corn tortilla mix that you can find in your international food isle, along with most of the ingredients for this post. Look for the Maseca brand.

    Toasted Guajillo Chile Salsa
    Adapted from Bon Appetit

    4 oz. dried guajillo chiles (about 18)
    6 garlic cloves, unpeeled
    1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
    3 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
    1 tsp. garlic powder
    1 tsp. onion powder

       In a large cast iron skillet on med-high heat, working in batches, toast the chilies until slightly puffed and fragrant. 15-20 seconds a side. Remove and cut into strips with kitchen shears into a medium bowl. Use as many of the seeds as you want, the more you use, the hotter it will be (but not unbearably hot...think hot wings).  Cover with 2 cups very hot water and let soak for 10 minutes.
        In the same skillet, cook the unpeeled garlic, turning often, until tender and slightly charred.  Let cool and peel.
        Put all the chiles with liquid, garlic, and remaining ingredients into a blender or food processor and pulse until a coarse puree forms. You don't want this super smooth. Season with salt to taste.

    Eat your heart out Pace store bought salsa.

    On to the chorizo!

    Homemade Chorizo
    Adapted from Bon Apetit

    6 dried New Mexico chilies
    8 garlic cloves
    3 Tbsp. smoked paprika
    1 Tbsp. kosher salt
    1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
    2 lb ground pork

        Just like making the salsa: In a large cast iron skillet on med-high heat, toast the chilies until slightly puffed and fragrant. 30 seconds a side. Remove and cut into strips with kitchen shears into a medium bowl. Cover the chilies with 1/2 cup hot water and let soak for 10 minutes, stirring ccasionally.        
       Transfer to a blender or food processor the chilies with liquid, garlic, paprika, 1 Tbsp salt and the pepper. Pulse until a paste forms. Combine the pork with the paste and gently mix until just blended.
        Heat the cast iron skillet you had out earlier back up to med-heat and cook the chorizo in 2 batches. Make sure you let the meat brown up really well before you turn it over and break it up. Continue until both pounds of chorizo are cooked.

    Now assemble your tacos with whatever fixin's your little heart desires.  A sprinkle of salt, a splash of lime, a dallop of salsa, the possiblilities are endless. Here are some more great toppings: thinly sliced radish, white onion, shredded purple cabbage, cilantro, and queso fresco. Pile it as high as your mouth can stand and if most of it ends up back on your plate, just grab another tortilla and scoop up the rouge ingredients and shovel them into your mouth. Your taste buds and friends will most definitely thank me. 

    You can thank me later.


    Enjoy life homemade!
    LL




    Sunday, July 8, 2012

    Honey Cinnamon Roasted Chickpeas


           This was the first roasted chickpea recipe I ever tried. Since then, I've been addicted to all sorts of different recipes, including the Cajun spiced ones I posted earlier. My experience with actually making these sorts of chickpeas, though, haven't always went the way I wanted them to. For instance, the first time I made these they didn't come out as crunchy as I wanted them. Of course, that didn't stop me from eating them--I actually turned them into a post-workout snack for a while. I've resorted to thinking, however, that this particular recipe isn't meant to get as crunchy as corn nuts or snacks like that. Why? Because whenever I try just roasting them longer than 45 minutes the cinnamon starts to burn, and I doubt anyone likes that flavor. But I do recommend roasting them right until you get to that point; in my opinion, these taste better with a bit of a bite to them. Ultimately, there is only one thing I don't like about this recipe: they get your fingers a bit sticky. Their tasty goodness makes up for it though.




    Honey Cinnamon Roasted Chickpeas
    recipe from Pastry Affair


    Ingredients
    • 1 15-oz can chickpeas (aka garbanzo beans)
    • 2 teaspoons oil
    • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    • 1 tablespoon sugar
    • 1 tablespoon honey

    *This recipe is super-duper easy to double. If you plan on sharing, I recommend it.

    Directions

    --Drain the can of chickpeas and then rinse them under the faucet until the water running over the beans is no longer abnormally bubbly.

    Optional--Peel all the skins off the chickpeas.

    --Dry the chickpeas off, getting them as dry as possible without squishing them.

    --Whisk together the oil, cinnamon, and sugar in a small bowl. Then add the beans, stirring until completely coated.

    --Place the chickpeas on a jelly roll pan or cookie sheet with sides and bake for 40-45 minutes, or until no longer soft in the middle. I didn't spray the pan, but you could if you wanted. (The original recipe says 35-40 minutes but I can never get them as crunchy as I would like. Just keep an eye on the cinnamon otherwise it may burn.)

    --After roasting, put the hot beans in a bowl and coat them with the honey. I just eyeball this part and don't worry about the one tablespoon worth.

    --After the beans are coated in honey, transfer them back to the baking sheet so the honey can soak in and dry a little bit. Keep in mind, though, that the beans will always be a little bit sticky.

    --Eat as many as you want =)




    Happy Baking!
    --H

    Saturday, June 30, 2012

    Honeyed Figs with Goat Cheese and Toasted Almonds


    Just like sands through an hour glass....

    Cliche I know, but my goodness how true!

    I'm sure you can relate to the feeling that you consistently have more to do than you do time and that somehow a year goes by without barely blinking.  I will not pretend that my life is any more hectic than yours or bore you with a rant of how busy I am that I can barely eat. However, since this is a food blog, I will share with you my little bits of heaven, my little moments of wonderful, my little morsels of goodness that happen across my hourglass every now and then.  Figs are one of these little sweet spots in my timeline and let me tell you, you should fit them into yours.  They are anciently good. I'm talking a Greek goddess snacking on a plate similar to this, as the cool Mediterannean breeze brushes over her skin good! You can be that goddess.  Don't laugh, you can! No breeze you say? Well get your kids or your hubby or handsome neighbor to gently fan you (one of those mist/fan spray bottle things would be superb for this!) and close your eyes and tada! Greece! No need to spend a couple grand on a plane ticket, $5 and cooperative assistant and you have yourself a mini vacation in the middle of your crazy little life.

    Still laughing?

    Didn't think so.


    Honeyed Figs with Goat Cheese and Toasted Almonds
    Creative genius: ME =)

    1 basket Mission Figs
    1 T honey
    1 T goat cheese
    1 handful slivered almonds, toasted

    Trim the stems off the figs adn cut them in half. Scatter on a plate.

    Drizzle the honey over the figs and crumble the goat cheese over as well. 

    Toast the almonds in a cast iron skillet until you can smell them (3-5 minutes) shaking the pan often. Sprinkle the almonds over the figs and prepare to go to Greece.

    Skeptial of this combination, I was too until I popped that first bite in my mouth.  Delicious! This snack feels sophisticated and grown up and sometimes you need that in your life when you are surrounded by bottles or sticky hands or nagging husbands even. And if you happen to have a glass of wine (Moscato is nice with this) I won't tell.  After all, you are a sophisticated, elegant goddess!

    Enjoy!
    LL

    Saturday, June 23, 2012

    Strawberries and Cream Biscuits


          
           One of the greatest things about summer is that strawberries are finally in season! They're definitely on my top-five favorite fruit list. So when Smitten Kitchen posted these biscuits I knew I had to try them immediately. And I did. Well, technically I tried them the next day but that's close enough. Once they came out of the oven, the strawberries dripping with gooey warmth, I knew I'd come across a winner. My picture doesn't do them justice. The dough part was creamy and moist, yet still had just the right amount of crumbling. The strawberries seriously tasted like bursts of strawberry syrup or jam throughout the biscuit! Swoon. I'll definitely keep these in my permanent recipe box and experiment with other berries and fruits along the way. Next stop, bluberries or raspberries. =)


    Strawberries and Cream Biscuits
    recipe from Smitten Kitchen

    Makes about a dozen biscuits. (I got ten.)
    Ingredients
    • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
    • 1 tablespoon baking powder
    • 1/4 cup sugar
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter (cold), cubed
    • 1 cup ripe strawberries, chopped (preferably very ripe)
    • 1 cup heavy cream



    Directions
    --Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. (You may only need one depending on how large your pan is.)

    --In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt.

    --Cut in the butter chunks with a pastry blender until most of the chunks are pea-sized or smaller.

    --Stir in the strawberries gently so you don't crush them too much. Make sure they're completely coated in the flour mixture.

    --Stir in the heavy cream with a spatula, gently, as though you were folding the dough.

    --Once your spatula isn't helping you anymore, take your hands and squeeze the rest of it together.

    --On a generously floured surface, roll out (or pat with your hands) the dough until its thickness reaches about 3/4  inch.

    --Using a biscuit cutter, cut out as many circles as possible from the dough as it is. You can re-roll the dough (don't worry about the wet strawberries) but it's best to try and not have to re-roll more than necessary.

    --Place the biscuits on the parchment-lined pans about 2 inches apart.

    --Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, or until lightly browned.

    --Let the biscuits rest on the pan for a minute or two before transfering them to a wire rack.

    --They're best eaten warm, but still taste great the next day!



    Happy Baking!
    --H




    *Smitten Kitchen gives do-ahead advice: "Biscuits are generally best the day they are baked. However, if you wish to get a lead on them, you can make them, arrange them on your parchment-lined sheet and freeze them. If you’re prepping just one day in advance, cover the tray with plastic wrap and bake them the day you need them. If you’re preparing them more than one day in advance, once they are frozen, transfer them to a freezer bag or container. Bring them back to a parchment-lined sheet when you’re ready to bake them. No need to defrost the froze, unbaked scones, just add 2 to 3 minutes to your baking time."

    Thursday, June 14, 2012

    Lime Sugar Cookies


             I enjoy trying new things, especially when they seem a bit odd. For example, on the last road trip I took I tried eel sushi and it was amazing! So when I was looking for recipes including limes to use up extra limes I bought for my Top-Shelf Margarita Cheesecake, I came across this recipe which sounded rather peculiar. I would never think of making a lime-flavored cookie. Granted, it's not a different concept than putting lemon or orange in cookies, but for some reason limes just sounded weird to me. But I tell you what, after I made them they no longer sounded so weird--they're so stinkin' good! And cute too. I like the little green flecks of lime zest. The lime provided a surprisingly refreshing quality to the cookies, something I've definitely never experienced in sugar cookies. I took most of the batch to work and they were devoured. I was quite proud. =) Next time, in place of the lime I'll use either lemons or oranges just for fun. Maybe I'll even do a lemon-lime cookie. Or maybe I'll be adventurous and use grapefruit juice . . . we'll see . . .


    Lime Sugar Cookies
    Slightly adapted from My Baking Addiction

    Makes about 3 dozen cookies
    Ingredients
    • 3 cups all-purpose flour
    • 1 teaspoon baking soda
    • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 1 cup butter, softened
    • 1 1/2 cups white sugar
    • 1 egg
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla
    • 1/4 cup lime juice
    • Zest of one lime
    • Extra sugar for rolling cookies



    Directions
    --Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and line two cookie sheets with parchment paper. Also, pour some sugar (1/2 to 1 cup) into a bowl and set that aside for now. This will be used to roll the cookie dough balls in.

    --Whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and the salt in a bowl and set aside for later.

    --In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the butter and sugar. Beat until it's really fluffy.

    --Add the egg, vanilla, lime juice, and lime zest. Mix until thoroughly combined.

    --Stir in the flour mixture a little bit at a time. Combine thoroughly.

    --Roll cookie dough into 1in balls, then roll the dough balls in the bowl of sugar. Coat 'em up!

    --Place the sugary dough balls on the parchment-lined cookie sheets, about 1 1/2 - 2 inches apart.

    --Bake for 8-10 minutes.

    --Let cool on the cookie sheet for a couple minutes before moving them to a wire rack.

    --Enjoy!




    Happy Baking!
    --H

    Thursday, June 7, 2012

    Top-Shelf Margarita Cheesecake

          
           Well, I've done it again. Two things, actually. First, I haven't posted in 2 weeks! Oops. But that's okay because I've made up for it by making this Margarita Cheesecake. (This being the second thing--another boozy recipe!) My birthday present from my brother is sure getting its money's worth, huh? Anyway, this is a really tasty recipe and I think you'll like it. The cheesecake itself is super creamy and has just enough of a margarita flavor to make it unique, it's not overpowering at all. The whipped cream on the other hand packs quite the punch. If you're looking for a strong margarita hit, this is where you'll get it. Furthermore, because the liquor strength is ultimately in the whipped cream, your guests (or yourself) can add or reduce the amount of "kick" per piece, depending on tastes or moods. So, whether you're planning a fiesta or simply want a refreshing summer treat, I'd recommend giving this guy a go.
    Top-Shelf Margarita Cheesecake
    recipe barely adapted from Booze Cakes

    Ingredients

    For the crust:
    • 1/2 cup butter
    • 1/4 cup sugar
    • 1 cup graham cracker crumbs
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt

    For the cheesecake:
    • 3 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
    • 1 cup sugar
    • 4 eggs
    • 1/4 freshly squeezed lime juice
    • 2 tablespoons tequila
    • 2 tablespoons triple sec
    • Zest of a lime (half of a lime if it's a really big lime)

    For the whipped cream:
    • 1 cup heavy cream (cold)
    • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
    • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice
    • 2 tablespoons tequila
    • 2 tablespoons triple sec

    *If you don't want a very strong whipped cream, half the tequila and triple sec.



    Directions
    --Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

    --Grease the inside of a 9-inch spring form pan.

    For the crust:
    --Cream together the butter and sugar in a mixing bowl until light and fluffy. Then add the salt, mix thoroughly, and then add the graham cracker crumbs and mix until completely combined. Press the crust into the bottom of the prepared spring form pan.  

    *Important* Set the pan on top of a cookie sheet that has edges or cover the bottom of the pan with tin foil. Some spring form pans will potentially leak butter from the bottom, causing a gigantic mess in the bottom of your oven.

    --Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown and bubbling.

    --Let cool completely.

    --Once cooled, wrap tin foil (or fresh tin foil if used previously) around the outide of the spring form pan. It should come up at least half way. Set the foil covered pan on a cookie sheet with sides/jelly roll pan (if covered in butter from crust-baking be sure to clean it). Don't add water to the jelly roll pan yet. Set pans aside for later.


    For the cheesecake:
    --In the bowl of your stand mixer, beat the blocks of cream cheese until they're broken up a bit. Then add the sugar. Beat for 5-10 minutes. (The longer you beat it, the smoother it will become as the sugar crystals break down the cream cheese chunks. This helps to reduce the chance of the final product cracking.) Scrape the sides down occasionally.

    --Beat in the eggs. Be sure to scrape the sides of the bowl again.

    --Add the lime juice, lime zest, tequila, and the triple sec.

    --Pour the mixture onto the cooled crust and place the spring form pan (which is sitting on a jelly roll pan) in the oven. Now add water to the jelly roll pan, creating a water bath for the cheesecake. Fill the pan about 2/3 full. Don't get any water in the cheesecake itself! 

    --Reset your oven temperature to make sure it's at 350 degrees or is on its way back to it.  Bake for 45-50 minutes. The cheesecake will be firm but slightly jiggly in the middle.

    --Remove the cheesecake from the oven (take the cheesecake first then the water bath, not both at once, especially if you're clumsy) and let it cool at room temperature for an hour. Then transfer it to a refrigerator and let it cool for at least 6 hours, preferably overnight.


    For the whipped cream:
    --In the bowl of your (cleaned) stand mixer and using the whisk attachment, combine the heavy cream, powdered sugar, lime juice, tequila, and triple sec.

    --Start the power on low until it's all combined, then gradually increase the spead to start whipping.  Whip at least until soft peaks form.

    --On your chilled cheesecake, either spread the whipped cream all over the top or pipe it on with a piping bag.

    --Garnish the cheesecake with lime zest curls of lime slices if desired.





    Happy Baking!
    --H