Monday, March 26, 2012

Banana Pudding Cheescake

Normally I stay away from cheesecake. It's usually too grainy for me. But a customer came into the library last week and was showing me this recipe she found in the March 2012 Southern Living and she basically talked me into trying it. It's honestly the best cheesecake I've ever tasted. So creamy, and the crust is amazing. I roasted the bananas so the flavor was intense. I couldn't find my springform pan -- probably still in storage, but it's only necessary if you want it to look nice.

Banana Pudding Cheesecake

Makes: 10 to 12 servings

1½ cups finely crushed vanilla wafers
½ cup chopped pecans
¼ cup butter, melted
17 vanilla wafers
2 large ripe bananas,1 diced & 1 mashed
1 tbs. lemon juice
2 tbs. light brown sugar
2 (8-oz.) packages cream cheese, softened
1 (8-oz.) container Mascarpone cheese
1 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs
2 tsp. vanilla extract
½ cup coarsely crushed vanilla wafers

Garnishes: sweetened whipped cream, vanilla wafers, sliced bananas tossed in lemon juice

Preheat oven to 350°. Place bananas on a cookie sheet covered with parchment paper. Bake at 350° for 20 minutes. Remove 1 banana, cool completely. Peel and dice. Bake the remaining banana for an additional 15 to 20 minutes. Carefully peel and place in a small bowl, and mash with a fork until smooth. Set both bananas aside.

Stir together first 3 ingredients in a small bowl until well blended. Press mixture onto bottom of a greased and floured 9-inch springform pan. Stand 17 vanilla wafers around edge of pan (rounded sides against pan), pressing gently into crust to secure. Bake 10 minutes at 350°. Cool completely on a wire rack (about 30 minutes).

Combine bananas and lemon juice in a small saucepan. Stir in brown sugar. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, 1 minute or just until sugar has dissolved.

Beat cream cheese and mascarpone cheese at medium speed with an electric mixer 3 minutes or until smooth. Gradually add granulated sugar, beating until blended. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating just until blended. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating just until yellow disappears after each addition. Beat in vanilla. Gently stir banana mixture into cream cheese mixture. Pour batter into prepared crust.

Bake at 350° for 45 to 55 minutes or until center is almost set. Remove cheesecake from oven; gently run a knife around edge of cheesecake with coarsely crushed wafers. Cool completely on a wire rack (about 1 hour). Cover and chill 8 hours. Enjoy.

Adapted from March 2012 Southern Living.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

I Am Such A Bad Blogger

Wow 2 years and 2 days since my last post. What can I say except life a job, had some personal issues to resolve, but now I'm back and I've got 2 years worth of recipes to post. Oh and I work at a library so I pretty much have access to every cookbook available...sweet!

So for today's blog I've got Mexican Stuffed Shells. If you're addicted to Pinterest like me, you've probably seen this recipe a lot. If you haven't tried it yet you've got to do it. It is so ooey gooey good and so easy to make.

Mexican Stuffed Shells

1 lb. ground turkey
1 package taco seasoning
4 oz. Kraft Philadelphia Cooking Creme Santa Fe Blend
14 - 16 jumbo pasta shells
1½ c. salsa
1 c. taco sauce
1c. cheddar cheese
1c. monterey jack cheese
2 - 3 green onions

Preheat oven to 350°F.

In a skillet cook ground turkey, add taco seasoning and prepare according to package directions. Add the cooking creme and stir til well blended. Simmer for about 2 - 3 minutes. Set aside. While ground turkey is cooking, cook the pasta shells according to the directions; drain. Set the shells out individually on cutting board or baking sheet so that they don't stick together.

Spray a 9x13 baking dish with some nonstick cooking spray. Pour salsa on bottom of baking dish, completely covering it. Stuff each shell with the meat mixture. Place shells in baking dish, open side up. Cover shells with taco sauce. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes.

After 30 minutes, add the cheese and bake for 10 - 15 minutes more, with the foil removed. Top with any condiments you'd onions, black olives, etc. Serve with sour cream, salsa &/or guacamole.

Adapted from:

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Meatloaf To Get Excited About

It's been a busy couple of weeks which is why I've been so lax on posting lately. We finally got our stuff from Fort Polk and into storage here in town. I've still got to go through everything to make sure nothing's broken and I've got to find my ice cream maker. Big plans for that this summer. I also get to plant a huge garden this summer. No containers this time. My FIL plowed a big plot and told me to go to it. I had a huge scare with my mom last week. She was hospitalized because her doctor thought she might be having a heart attack but luckily she wasn't and all her tests turned out A-OK. WooHoo!

I haven't really had a lot of time for cooking lately, I've mostly been taking the easy way out and making a lot of frozen stuff but I was in the mood to cook today so I went searching through my mountain of collected recipes today and found a Meatloaf recipe from Alton Brown. I know, who gets excited about Meatloaf but this one sounded really good and I love Alton Brown's recipes. His show Good Eats on the Food Network has done so much to improve my cooking skills. This meatloaf is really good, it's big time spicy but not hot. The glaze is amazing, it really makes the meal pop. It doesn't take long to put together either. What really drew me in to the recipe was the garlic croutons. I love garlic croutons, I eat them like potato chips. Like right now as I type. Somebody please stop me!


For this meatloaf you want to start off by pulseing croutons, black pepper, cayenne pepper, chili powder, and dried thyme until they're a fine powder. 

Transfer the powdered spices to a large bowl.

Next pulse onion, carrot, garlic and red bell pepper until they're finely chopped but don't puree them. Transfer the veggies to the bowl with the spices. 

Add the meat, salt and 2 eggs. The original recipe only calls for ground chuck and sirloin but I added ground buffalo too. Time to get dirty. Start mixing the mixture with your hands until it's nice and combined. Don't overwork the meat (yeah, i'm not really sure when that point comes either) and don't squeeze the meat. Once it's combined pack the meat down into a 10-inch loaf pan that you sprayed with cooking spray. I didn't do this and had to get creative to get the meat out of the loaf pan. 

You're going to turn the loaf out onto a baking sheet that you've lined with parchment paper. Put into a 350°F oven and start the glaze. You've got 10 minutes...GO!


In a small bowl, mix catsup, ground cumin, Worcestershire sauce, hot pepper sauce and honey. Whisk until thoroughly mixed. 

After the meat has been in the oven for 10 minutes, you're going to take it out and coat with the glaze. A silicon brush it perfect for this. Save the leftover glaze for later. 

Put the loaf back in the oven. You're going to cook the meat until it reaches a temperature of 155°F. I can't give you an exact cook time but mine was ready about 45 minutes after I put it back in the oven from glazing it. Easy Peasy! Nuke the leftover glaze for about 30 seconds. The meatloaf goes great with mashed potatoes. Plus it's a sneaky way to hide veggies.

Alton Brown's original recipe can be found here.

Good Eats Meatloaf
6 ounces garlic-flavored croutons
½ teaspoon ground  black pepper
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon chili powder  
1 teaspoon dried thyme
½ onion, roughly chopped
1 carrot, peeled and broken
3 whole cloves garlic
½ red bell pepper
1 lb. ground chuck
1 lb. ground sirloin
1 lb. ground buffalo
1 ½ teaspoon kosher salt
2 eggs 

For the glaze:
½ cup catsup
1 teaspoon ground cumin
Dash Worcestershire sauce
Dash hot pepper sauce
1 tablespoon honey 

Heat oven to 350°F.
In a food processor bowl, combine croutons, black pepper, cayenne pepper, chili powder, and thyme. Pulse until the mixture is of a fine texture. Place this mixture into a large bowl. Combine the onion, carrot, garlic, and red pepper in the food processor bowl. Pulse until the mixture is finely chopped, but not pureed. Combine the vegetable mixture, ground sirloin, ground chuck and ground buffalo with the bread crumb mixture. Season the meat mixture with the kosher salt. Add the eggs and combine thoroughly, but avoid squeezing the meat.
Pack this mixture into a 10-inch loaf pan to mold the shape of the meatloaf. Onto a parchment paper-lined baking sheet, turn the meatloaf out of the pan onto the center of the tray. Insert a temperature probe at a 45 degree angle into the top of the meatloaf. Avoid touching the bottom of the tray with the probe. Set the probe for 155°F.
Combine the catsup, cumin, Worcestershire sauce, hot pepper sauce and honey. Brush the glaze onto the meatloaf after it has been cooking for about 10 minutes. 

Hope you like it as much as I did. I'm off to find out what you can do with kumquats.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

How Do You HuHot?


When I lived in Kansas one of my favorite place to eat was HuHot Mongolian Grill. I miss it so much and I can't seem to find anything like it where I now live in Louisiana. For those of you who have never been to a HuHot, it's really cool. It's basically a raw food bar and you pile up your bowl with noodles, meat, veggies and sauces and you take it to the grill where it's cooked for you and plated. They have so many different sauces and oils available that it can be really hard to choose sometimes but it's fun to come up with different combinations. My favorite is the Mean Bean Garlic Sauce, Garlic Oil and Ginger Broth. 

I've been craving it like crazy the last week, so I figured how hard can it be to duplicate. Not hard at all. So here's how I Huhot.

Boil a pot of thin spaghetti according to package directions til just done. Drain the water and run cool water over the pasta to stop the cooking process. Set aside.

In a small bowl mix some Sesame Seed Oil, Sweet Mirin, Soy Sauce and a spoonful of Black Bean Garlic Paste and mix it well. Sorry, I can't give exact measurements but I just threw this together. You do need to make sure there's enough to well coat the pasta and veggies so they don't burn while cooking. 

I like salmon in mine but you can use any kind of meat. I cut up 2 slightly frozen salmon fillets up into bite size chunks and set them aside.

For the veggies I like spinach leaves, shredded carrots, broccoli, mushrooms, onions, bell peppers, bean sprouts. Cut the broccoli, mushrooms, onions and bell pepper up into large chunks and put it all in a large bowl and add the salmon. Pour about ¾ of the sauce over the veggies and toss. Heat up a large nonstick skillet on medium high. Throw in the veggies and cook stirring often. 

Throw the pasta into the bowl that held the veggies and toss in the rest of the sauce. Once the veggies are nice and tender add the pasta and let it heat through. Garnish with sunflower seeds.

Check out the menu on the HuHot webpage to see how you HuHot.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Hazelnut Chocolate Chip Cookies


Yes, they are as Yum as they look! I came across this little gem of a recipe watching Giada de Laurentiis' Everyday Italian a few years ago. The recipe she gives is absolutely fab on its own but you can also make lots of changes in ingredients that come out just as good. Giada uses hazelnuts but you can use anything you want. I've also used macadamia nuts, walnuts and pecans. The cookies come out crispy, but if you change the ratio of brown sugar to granulated sugar you get crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside. And to top it off, they have bits of toffee in them. 

You start off by taking ½ cup old fashioned rolled oats and finely chopping them in a food processor. I make these cookies so often that I made "oat flour" out of a whole canister of oatmeal, now all I have to do is measure out what I need.
Next, you chop up and toast whatever nuts you decide to use. I love those already chopped little 1 cup bag of nuts you can get in the baking aisle. If I do use hazelnuts, I don't worry about skinning them.
Mix the dry ingredients together in a bowl and set aside. Giada's recipe doesn't call for cinnamon but I love it so I add ½ teaspoon to the dry ingredients.
Now you add the butter and sugar to a mixer bowl and mix til light and fluffy. When I want crispy/chewy cookies, I use 1½ cups brown sugar and ½ cup granulated sugar. The mix won't really look light and fluffy just make sure it's mixed thoroughly. Add the eggs and vanilla.
Add the flour mixture in and mix just until blended.
Stir in the toffee, chocolate chips and nuts. Drop cookies in a rounded tablespoon about 1-inch apart onto a heavy baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake at 325° for 12 to 15 minutes. I like mine at 12 minutes.
Cool the cookies on the baking sheet for 5 minutes and then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely. Then pour yourself a glass of moo juice and try not to bogart the whole batch.
The recipe says it makes 4 dozen but mine always comes out to almost 5 dozen. I usually make 2 or 3 dozen and then put the left over dough in a plastic container and store in the fridge until it's time to bake more.

1/2 cup old-fashioned oats
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup (packed) light brown sugar
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
4 ounces English toffee candy (recommended: Heath or Skor bar), finely chopped
1 cup hazelnuts, toasted, husked, and chopped
1 (12-ounce) bag semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 325°F.
Line 2 heavy large baking sheets with parchment paper. Finely chop the oats in a food processor. Transfer the oats to a medium bowl. Mix in the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
Using an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugars in a large bowl until fluffy. Beat in the eggs and vanilla. Add the flour mixture and stir just until blended. Stir in the toffee, hazelnuts, and chocolate chips.
For each cookie, drop 1 rounded tablespoonful of dough onto sheet, spacing 1-inch apart (do not flatten dough). Bake until the cookies are golden (cookies will flatten slightly), about 15 minutes. Cool the cookies on the baking sheets for 5 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack and cool completely. (The cookies can be prepared 1 day ahead. Store airtight at room temperature.)