Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Buttered Pecan Cheesecake


This is a very rich but very tasty Buttered Pecan Cheesecake.  I always make cheesecake crusts the exact same way.  Yes, I know a whole stick of butter in the crust is a lot.  But it actually tastes almost like a candy on the bottom. This was a huge hit at my house.  The buttered pecans inside make you think of the ice cream, and the almost praline like topping is fantastic.  Cheesecake fans will love this one!

BUTTERED PECAN CHEESECAKE
FOR THE CRUST:
1 sleeve graham crackers
1 stick butter
1/4 C sugar

FOR THE CHEESECAKE:
24 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 C sour cream
1 C sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 C chopped pecans
3 T butter
A pinch of salt

FOR THE TOPPING:
3/4 C brown sugar
4 teaspoons cornstarch
3/4 C heavy cream
1 C pecans
2 T butter

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Grind the graham crackers into a fine powder.  Melt the butter and stir the butter and the sugar into the graham cracker crumbs.  Press the graham mixture into a springform pan.  Place the springform pan on a sheet pan.  Bake the crust for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, put the 2 C pecans into a small skillet.  Over medium heat, constantly stir and toast the pecans for a couple of minutes.  Remove them from the heat and stir in the butter and a pinch of salt.

With a mixer, beat the cream cheese until smooth.  Add in the sugar, sour cream, eggs, and vanilla.  Beat the mixture until smooth.  Stir in the buttered pecans.  Pour the mixture on top of the crust and smooth it out.  Place a foil tent over the top of the cheesecake.  Bake it for about 1 hour and 15 minutes or until it's set in the middle.  Refrigerate the cheesecake until it's cold.

For the sauce, put all of the sauce ingredients except the pecans into a small pot.  Whisk it well to mix in the cornstarch.  Bring it to a boil.  Continue to cook it for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until it's thick and bubbly.  Stir in the pecans.  Pour it over the cold cheesecake and serve.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Stocking Up


So my husband and I did our annual "meat trip" to Sam's Club today.  We have a deep freezer, and usually once a year we fill it up with meat that generally lasts six months to a year.  I have a vacuum sealer, so I can buy in bulk and break things down and package it in smaller packages and freeze it.  It's a chore, but it's totally worth it in the end.  I think we bought somewhere around 130 pounds of beef, pork, chicken, shrimp, bacon, sausage and more.  It's a lot of fun and feels good to open the deep freezer and see all the stockpiling.

I've been a little lax on posting lately, mostly because of lack of time and job constraints.  We've had some turnover at work that has left me and the boss man a little strapped.  I'm not complaining at all.  The people that have left/been fired needed to go and I don't mind extra work to avoid stress and drama.

But I have been cooking, and I'm still trying to focus on quick and easy.  I have a lot of crockpot meals planned for this week.  This recipe is slightly indulgent, but it's easy and fills hungry bellies.  This is Bacon Cheeseburger Tater Tot Casserole.  It's about a 10 to 15 minute prep dinner and then about a 30-40 minute bake time.  But the quick prep can be done early so that you can get other weekly stuff done while it bakes.  This recipe really turned out great, and we all loved it.  In fact, there was really only enough left for me to take to work the next day for leftovers.  It's kid and husband friendly too, which makes the cook the star for the night.  It's darn tasty, and I hope you enjoy it!

BACON CHEESEBURGER TATER TOT CASSEROLE
1/2 lb bacon
1 lb ground beef
Olive oil
1 onion, chopped
Salt & pepper, to taste
2 teaspoons garlic powder
One 10.75 ounce can cheddar cheese soup
1 1/2 C sour cream
2 C shredded Cheddar cheese
About 48 tater tots

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.  Cook the bacon until crisp and drain and crumble it.  Meanwhile, drizzle a little olive oil into a skillet.  Cook the onion until mostly tender, about 5 minutes.  Add in the ground beef, salt & pepper, and garlic powder.  Cook and crumble the beef until it's done.  Drain if necessary.

Whisk together the soup and the sour cream.  Stir in the bacon and the ground beef.  Spread the meat mixture into a 2-quart casserole pan.  Spread the 2 C shredded Cheddar cheese over the meat mixture.  Lay out the tater tots over the top, trying to completely cover.  Bake the casserole uncovered for 30-40 minutes or until the tater tots are crisped up and warm through.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

I'm Always Right


Okay, so maybe I'm not always right.  But, generally speaking, when I pick out recipes or meals to prepare, I'm right more times than not.  My husband is generally not picky, but sometimes he hears an ingredient and automatically thinks he won't like it.  Like artichokes.  He thinks he doesn't like them and prejudges the recipe before trying it.

The first time I suggested making these Stuffed Portabello Mushrooms, his response was, "I'm out."  But I pulled a sneaky on him and sent my daughter to the store for portabellos.  He came home from work, and I was already knee deep in the preparation.  He asked what was for dinner. When I told him, he let out an explitive.  I told him just give it a try.  He said he was game, and dinner was on.

Guess what.  I WAS RIGHT!  He loved it!  The kids loved it too.  This is a hearty and easy meal to put together.  I stuffed the mushrooms with Italian sausage and rice and topped it with a quick homemade marinara sauce and cheese.  It was fantastic!  It wasn't overly mushroomy or weird at all.  I guess he should know that I'm always right, duh.  Anywho, I hope you all enjoy this recipe!

STUFFED PORTABELLOS
6 large portabello mushrooms
Olive oil
Salt & pepper
One 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 lb Italian sausage (bulk or removed from casings)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 C cooked rice
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried parsley
Red chili flakes, to taste
1/2 onion, chopped
1 C shredded Mozzarella cheese
1/4 C shredded Parmesan cheese

NOTES:  I used Minute rice to make this dish go faster, also because I am really bad at making rice.  Minute rice is practically foolproof.  Also, I used the Cento brand of crushed tomatoes since the only ingredient on the can is "tomatoes." But you can use any you like or even use store-bought marinara sauce.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Clean out the gills from the mushrooms and the stems and rinse them.  Pat them dry and drizzle olive oil all over them and season them with salt and pepper.  Place them hollow side down on a sheet pan. Cook the mushrooms in the oven for about 10-15 minutes.

Meanwhile, put the crushed tomatoes in a small saucepot and drizzle in some olive oil.  Season it with salt and pepper, the garlic powder, and chili flakes, to taste.  Bring the sauce to a boil.  Reduce the heat to medium low, cover it, and cook it, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes to thicken it.

Drizzle some olive oil in a skillet.  Cook the onion over medium high heat until they are soft, about 5 minutes.  Add in the sausage and garlic.  Cook and break up the sausage until it's done through.  Remove it from the heat.  Stir in the rice, Parmesan cheese, basil and parsley.  Season it with salt and pepper, if desired.  

Take the mushrooms out of the oven and turn them over. Top each mushrooms with the sausage filling.  Spoon some sauce over each mushroom.  Top each mushroom with the Mozzarella.  Bake the mushrooms for about 10 minutes to heat through and melt the cheese.