Monday, July 3, 2017

EASY CHEESECAKE BITES

Easy to make and delicious to eat, COLD AND CREAMY cheesecake bites.


CRUST
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup chopped pecans
1/4 cup melted UNSALTED butter

Mix well and press into a PARCHMENT LINED* 8" X 8" baking pan then set aside.

16 ounce regular fat cream cheese (room temperature)
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons corn starch
1/4 teaspoon salt (delete salt if you use salted butter)
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla

Beat the room temperature cream cheese until light and fluffy (takes 1 or 2 minutes). Add the sugar, cornstarch, salt, eggs and vanilla. Beat on low until well mixed but don't over-beat. Spread evenly over crust.

Bake in preheated 325° oven for 30 minutes (*see note at bottom).

Let baked bites sit at room temperature for 45 minutes, then freeze them for 2 hours  before you cut themAt the end of 2 hours, lift out of baking pan and cut into 2" squares.



Melt 1 cup of your favorite flavor chocolate chips in microwave (20 second bursts, stirring in between bursts). Mix well and dip tops of the frozen "bites" into the warmed chocolate.



Put back into the freezer just long enough to "set" the chocolate. Store in refrigerator.  Makes 16.


ENJOY !!!
* Lining your pan with parchment paper is important. It not only keeps everything from sticking, but it allows you to lift out the baked cheesecake without any trouble.

* This cheesecake cooked up very nicely. As far as baking time, the original recipe said 20-30 minutes in a glass pan. I found that it needed another 10 minutes in a metal pan. Just keep an eye on it. If the surface of the cheesecake is still super shiny, then it's not quite done yet. It loses that super shine when it done cooking. Hard to explain, you you'll see it.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

MAGIC CUPCAKES

This recipe is a great "cheater recipe" that I've used for YEARS!!! 

Basically it is just a DRY cake mix + a 20 ounce can of fruit pie filling + 3 large eggs mixed together (DO NOT follow cake mix instructions on the box). It makes an extremely moist and flavorful cupcake and it couldn't be easier !!

You can use ANY flavor dry cake mix and ANY flavor canned fruit pie filling so the combinations are endless. Our favorite is chocolate with cherry pie filling but we've also thoroughly enjoyed chocolate cake with raspberry pie filling, strawberry cake with strawberry pie filling, spice cake with peach pie filling, and yellow cake mix with lemon pie filling (*see note below about white cakes).

STRAWBERRY CUPCAKES


(1) box dry cake mix (usually about 20 ounces?)
(1) can pre-prepared pie (fruit) filling (usually about 20 ounces?)
(3) large eggs

For the cupcakes posted today, I combined a box of Betty Crocker strawberry cake mix (ignore any directions on the box) plus a 20 ounce can of Wilderness strawberry pie filling plus three large eggs. Put everything in your mixing bowl and beat on medium-high speed for about 2 minutes (batter will be a little thicker than you expect). Fill paper lined cupcake pans about 2/3 full and bake at 350° for 20 minutes (or till toothpick tests clean). That's it !!!  

NOTE: Don't worry about the "chunks" of fruit in the pie filling. When you mix it into the cake mix with your electric mixer, the fruit will break up (which is what you want).

NOTE: *This recipe is not suited for white cake mixes for some reason. They taste good, but have a strange color after they are baked.


NOTE: The weight on most cans of pre-prepared pie filling is different...some cans are 18 ounces some are 20 ounces. This measurement doesn't seem to be crucial. Just get the size can closest to 20 ounces that you can find.

NOTE: This recipe works very well for sheet cakes, as well as layer cakes. Just use the toothpick test for doneness instead of the baking times on the cake mix box. 

NOTE: After you remove the cake from the pan, cover the HOT cake tightly with plastic wrap and let it cool. Keep covered until you frost the cake. I do this step with ALL of my cakes. It makes a huge difference.
Buttercream Frosting

1 cup of UNSALTED butter (room temperature)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
4 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup milk
food coloring (optional)

Cream the butter with an electric mixer until it gets fluffy. Add everything else and beat on medium speed until everything is well mixed, then beat on high speed until it is smooth and fluffy.

NOTE: These cupcakes are topped with Wilton's sparkle sprinkles (clear).

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

BAKED POTATO CHIPS

When I am on a diet, (who am I kidding, I'm always on a diet) my weight loss plan starts to falter when I get a craving for something crunchy and salty. I'm not talking about raw fruits and veggie type of crunchy, I'm talking about potato chip crunchy. If I ignore this craving, it just gets stronger; does that sound familiar to anyone?

I did some online searching for a remedy to my craving that wouldn't have a billion calories. I found three different recipes for baked potato chips that sounded promising.

After trying all three (and immediately tossing all three into the garbage), I decided to make up my own version. I must say I'm quite pleased with it. 

Not only does this little recipe completely satisfy my "crunchy chip craving" but the ENTIRE RECIPE only has one tablespoon of olive oil!!

Wash and dry six golf ball size Yukon gold potatoes. Slice them as thin as possible. A mandolin would work well for this, but I just used my sharpest knife and sliced them; just try to make them all an even thickness.


Toss the sliced potatoes with 1 tablespoon of olive oil, making sure that a little of the oil gets in between every slice. Lay the slices out on a heavy cookie sheet that has been lightly sprayed with vegetable spray, then sprinkle the potatoes lightly with kosher salt.

Baking time is important. One of the recipes I tried (and threw away) called for 2 hours at 200°F. That produced a dull, leathery piece of potato. I even let it cook an extra HOUR and it was still leathery...yuck.  Another recipe called for 18 minutes at 400°F which produced a crisp but burnt taste...yuck again.

So I decided to try Yukon gold potatoes. How long you bake them will depend on how thick you sliced your potatoes and how hot your oven runs. I baked mine in a 375°F electric oven for 22 minutes, flipping them over half way through the baking time....just right.


These chips are meant to be eaten right away because they are not meant to be stored like a commercial potato chip. There are small "non-crunch" parts on the chips that would not store well.

I hope you will try these. They have a WONDERFUL flavor and a fantastic, salty crunch!!!

NOTE:  Watch the chips closely the last couple of minutes because once they start to turn golden, they darken quickly.