Slow Cooker Sunday: Chocolate Chip Cheesecake

I’ve tried baking in my slow cooker a few times and I’ve had a few fails that didn’t make it to my blog and there have been a few that did make it, but, I’ll admit weren’t all that perfect – the cakes were a bit unevenly cooked or they fell apart. But, baking a cheesecake in my slow cooker seems to be a winner – thanks to two items, a 6-inch springform pan and a mini rack to place the pan on in the insert of my slow cooker.

I began by making the graham cracker crust and pressing into the bottom and up the sides of my springform pan.

I placed the rack inside the insert of my slow cooker and filled it with a 1/2 inch of water. FYI…It’s an OXO Good Grips Silicone Rack. I found it at my local Sur La Table, but, it’s also available at Williams-Sonoma and Amazon.

After making the batter I poured it into the springform pan and placed the pan on top of the rack. I covered the slow cooker and cooked the cheesecake on high for 2 hours. After 2 hours I turned the slow cooker off and let the cheesecake sit inside for an additional hour without uncovering it. I then removed it, let it cool completely and refrigerated it for at least 4 hours before serving.

One thing I did like about making a cheesecake in the slow cooker… it didn’t crack. I have yet to make a cheesecake in the oven that didn’t crack. And while this cheesecake was good I learned something about myself, I love texture in most foods but cheesecake. I prefer my cheesecake to be smooth and not have any crunch to it

 

Slow Cooker Chocolate Chip Cheesecake

Ingredients:

3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs (for 6-7 graham crackers)

1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder

1/2 teaspoon salt, divided

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

12 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature

1/2 cup sugar

1 tablespoon flour

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup sour cream

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

 

Directions:

In a medium bowl whisk together the graham cracker crumbs, cocoa powder and half of the salt and then stir in the butter.

Press the crumbs in the bottom and about 1/2 inch up the sides of a 6-inch springform pan.

In a large bowl, combine the cream cheese, sugar, flour and the remaining salt. Using a handheld mixer beat the mixture on medium-high speed until smooth, about 2 minutes. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, then the vanilla and finally the sour cream. Make sure to beat the mixture well after each addition. Stir in the chocolate chips and pour the batter into the prepared pan.

Place a rack in the insert of the slow cooker and fill with a 1/2-inch of water. Place the pan on the rack, cover and cook on high for 2 hours. Turn the slow cooker off and let stand, covered for an additional hour. Remove the cheesecake from the slow cooker and allow to cool completely and then refrigerate for at least four hours before serving.

Recipe from Slow Cooker Family Favorites

Slow Cooker Sunday: Turkey Meatballs in a Cranberry Chili Sauce

The book I got this recipe from touts them as satisfying your craving for Thanksgiving, while that may be true, I think they are a great appetizer if you are having a small get together, a game night, or a nice accompaniment to stuffing – if you are really hankering for that Thanksgiving flavor.

Begin by combining ground turkey along with panko breadcrumbs, an egg, chopped onion, sage and salt. Gently mix to combine. I used a cookie scoop to scoop the mixture and then rolled it into golf ball-sized meatballs. I baked them in a 425 F preheated oven on a parchment lined baking sheet for about 15 minutes.

While the meatballs were in the oven I combined a can of jellied cranberry sauce and chili sauce in the insert of my slow cooker and stirred it until the cranberry sauce had completed broken down and the two ingredients were well combined. Once the meatballs were cooked I added them to the sauce and gently mixed them in. I covered the slow cooker and cooked it on low for 90 minutes, until the sauce was heated.

Slow Cooker Turkey Meatballs in a Cranberry Chili Sauce

  • Servings: Makes about 20
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Ingredients:

1 lb. ground turkey

3/4 cup panko breadcrumbs

12 cup finely chopped yellow onion

1 teaspoon ground sage

1 teaspoon salt

1 14 oz. can jellied cranberry sauce

3/4 cup chili sauce

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 425 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl combine all of the ingredients except the cranberry sauce & chili sauce. Gently mix the turkey mixture until just combined and roll into golf ball-sized meatballs.

Place the meatballs on the baking sheet and bake for 12-15 minutes, until browned and cooked through.

In a slow cooker mix the cranberry sauce and chili sauce together. Add the meatballs gently toss with the sauce. Cover and cook on low for 90 minutes.

Recipe adapted from Slow Cooker Family Favorites

Descendants Themed Cake

It’s my Blogiversary! I started this blog 6 years ago and my very first post was an Elmo Cake I created for a friend’s daughter, aka my niece. Since then the cakes have gotten a bit more elaborate and 3 years ago they turned into fondant creations. I normally ask her a month or so in advance of her birthday what theme she’s thinking of. When she told me Descendants for this year I was stumped. I had only heard of Descendants, but had no clue what the deal was behind them. So, it was off to Pinterest to get some ideas. Once I had my idea down it was time to get my supplies and test out a few.

I needed to make sure that the icing was easily pipeable and also to test how thick the piping would be with the tip it came with. I opted to go with a smaller tip.

I also needed to make sure that the flower cut-out I purchased would make nice roses. Thankfully it did.

One more thing, I opted to purchase a dummy cake for the top tier of the cake. I normally do bake the cake, but, it usually doesn’t get eaten because it’s too much cake, so, to avoid waste and a little bit of stress on my part I purchased a dummy cake. In case you are wondering, it’s made out of Styrofoam. No one knew it was a dummy cake once it was covered and decorated.

To prep the dummy cake I covered it in frosting

I then covered it, as well as the actual cake, in fondant.

And after some piping, fondant rolling and cutting the cake came together. I have definitely learned with making these cakes that it’s important to walk away for a few minutes and then come back to truly appreciate the way it looks. So, I take a lot of mini-breaks, if not, I would probably drive myself crazy. One thing I did decide, I am going to avoid covering a cake with black fondant. I find that it tends to dry out fast and inevitably it always breaks. I had a few challenges trying to cover up the imperfections from it.

So, what will my next themed cake be…? Not sure yet. I’ll have to ask my other niece what’s she’s thinking of for her June birthday!

 

Homemade Gnocchi In A Mushroom Sauce

I’ve been wanting to make Gnocchi for quite some time. Not really sure why though because I’ve only had it once or twice. I think it’s the challenge of it all… Can I really make it? One thing that was holding me back is that most recipes call for a potato ricer. Something I don’t own and was reluctant to purchase. I went to a couple of stores and couldn’t find one and truthfully didn’t want order one online. I did find a few recipes that said you could mash the potatoes but then I found some recipe reviews that said mashing the potatoes wouldn’t turn out good gnocchi. And then, I found a recipe that used a large hole grater and I was ready to go.

To make the dough I baked 3 medium Russet potatoes at 400 F for about 45 minutes. I let them cool for a few minutes, then peeled them and grated them using the large holes of a box grater into a large bowl. I added in a lightly beaten egg and salt and then added in flour, a little at a time, until the dough wasn’t sticky. I then dumped it out on a lightly floured surface and kneaded it.

Next, I divided the dough into 6 smaller balls and rolled out each ball into a rope about 3/4-inch thick.

I then cut the dough into 1-inch pieces.

Once I had rolled out all of the dough and cut it. I boiled them in a pot of well-salted water. I knew the gnocchi was ready once it floated to the surface of the water.

Next, I finished off the gnocchi in a mushroom sauce. And here’s the funny thing about this… the first day it tasted good, the 2nd day it was delicious, but, on the 3rd day not so much. I think by then the gnocchi had absorbed a lot of the sauce and it just turned an odd color and the flavor was off. So, apparently homemade gnocchi is good for 2 days and that’s it.

Homemade Gnocchi In A Mushroom Sauce

Ingredients:

Gnocchi:

3 medium Russet potatoes (about 2 lbs.)

1 1/2 cups flour

1 teaspoon salt

1 large egg, lightly beaten

Mushroom Sauce:

2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons olive oil

12 ounces baby bella mushrooms, sliced

1/2 cup shallots

1 14.5 ounce can low-sodium chicken broth

1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

5 ounces baby spinach

1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese

Directions:

For the Gnocchi:

Preheat the oven to 400 F. Prick the potatoes all over with a fork and place on a baking sheet and bake for 45 – 60 minutes, until the potatoes are fork-tender. Flip the potatoes halfway through the baking time. Let the potatoes cool slightly.

Peel the potatoes and then grate them over the large holes of a box grated over a large bowl. Add the egg and the salt and mix well with a wooden spoon.

Add the flour to the potatoes, a little at a time, using only as much as you need so the dough doesn’t stick to your hands. When the flour has been incorporated dump it and any remaining floury bits onto a lightly floured surface. Knead the dough. Press down and away with the heel of your hands, fold the dough over, make a quarter turn and repeat. Knead for about 3 to 4 minutes.

Form the dough into a ball and then divide into 6 smaller balls. Using your fingertips roll each ball into a rope about 3/4-inch thick and cut into 1-inch pieces.

To cook, bring a large pot of salted water to boil and add the gnocchi in batches. Once it rises to the surface remove from the water and set aside on a baking sheet.

For the Mushroom Sauce:

Cook the butter and olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat until the butter begins to brown. Add the mushrooms and shallots and sauté until golden brown, about 10 minutes. Add the chicken broth and parsley; simmer until the liquid is slightly reduced, about 8 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Add the gnocchi and cook until heated through, about 1 minute. Add the spinach and stir until wilted.

Divide among bowls and drizzle with parmesan cheese.

Gnocchi Recipe from Smitten Kitchen

Mushroom Sauce adapted from Epicurious

Sweets For Your Sweet

Are you thinking of making some homemade treats for your Valentine? Or, maybe something for yourself? Well, I have two quick and easy treats for just that… Matzo Crack & Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheesecake Truffles.

For the Matzo Crack, you start off by making a simple toffee using butter and brown sugar. Which you then spread over matzo crackers that have been arranged in a single layer on an aluminum foil lined baking sheet. Pop it in the oven for about 10 minutes, remove and then spread a bag of chocolate chips – semi-sweet, milk or dark – over the bubbling toffee. Let it sit for a few minutes and then using an off-set spatula smooth the chocolate over the toffee. Sprinkle with seat salt (and nuts if you like) and refrigerate for about 45 minutes. Once the chocolate has hardened transfer to a cutting board and cut into pieces.

The truffles are just as easy… After making the filling – beat cream cheese, peanut butter, graham crumbs, sugar and peanuts together – roll it into 1-inch balls and freeze for about 10 minutes. Melt the chocolate and dip each of the balls in the chocolate, sprinkle with chopped peanuts and refrigerate until firm.

There you go… two quick, easy and delicious treats that you can enjoy this Valentine’s Day or any day!

Chocolate Toffee Matzo Crack

Ingredients:

4-5 lightly salted matzos

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter

1 cup light brown sugar

12 ounce bag of chocolate chips – milk, semi-sweet or dark

Sea Salt

Favorite nuts, optional

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil – make sure the foil goes up and over the edges of the pan. Top the foil with parchment paper. Cover the paper with the matzo, cutting and piecing the pieces together.

Combine the butter and sugar in a medium saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly with a whisk until the mixture comes to a boil. Once the mixture comes to a boil cook for a few more minutes until it becomes foamy and thickened. The mixture may look like its separating, continues whisking and it will come together. Pour the toffee over the matzo and spread it into an even layer using an off-set spatula. Pop it in the oven and bake it for about 10 minutes, until the toffee is bubbling. Remove from the oven and place on a wire rack

Scatter the chocolate chips over the hot toffee, let it sit for a few minutes and then using an off-set spatula spread the chocolate in an even layer over the toffee. Sprinkle with the sea salt and nuts (if using) and place in the refrigerator for about 45 minutes. Don’t let it stay in the refrigerator too long or it will be more difficult to cut.

Using the overhang aluminum foil transfer the matzo crack to a cutting board and cut it into pieces. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Recipe From Once Upon A Chef

Peanut Butter Cheesecake Truffles

  • Servings: About 28 Truffles
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Ingredients:

8oz. cream cheese, softened

1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs

1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar

1/4 cup creamy peanut butter

3 tablespoons chopped peanuts, divided

8oz. semi-sweet chocolate, chopped into pieces

Directions:

Beat cream cheese in a large bowl until creamy. Add in the remaining ingredients, except the sugar, and continue beating until all ingredients have mixed together.

Roll the cream cheese mixture into 28 balls, using about a tablespoon of the mixture for each ball. Place on a waxed covered baking sheet and freeze for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, melt the chocolate. You can melt it in the microwave or using a double boiler. Dip the cream cheese balls into the chocolate and transfer them back to the wax-lined baking sheet. Sprinkle with the remaining chopped peanuts and refrigerate until firm, about an hour.

Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Recipe from Kraft

Flan

We’re at the end of January… Is it too late to say Happy New Year? I think not, so, Happy New Year! I hope the new year is treating you well so far.

It took me three tries to get the caramel sauce right for this flan. The first time, I made it in a skillet and I let it sit on the flame a little too long and the color was dark and it had a slight burnt taste. The second time I used a saucepan and I don’t know what happened, but, it just wasn’t right. The third time I used a glass saucepan and once the sugar started to caramelize I lifted the pan off the heat so it wouldn’t be heating it directly and I finally got the color and taste right.

I immediately divided it among my ramekins and it quickly hardened. I hadn’t made flan in a long time so I couldn’t remember if that was normal or not good. Thankfully, it was all good. I blended the ingredients for the custard and also divided that among the ramekins and baked in a roasting pan in a hot water bath and after letting them cool I had the perfect flan.

It was the right consistency and the perfect amount of sweetness.

Flan

Ingredients:

1 cup sugar

1 can (14oz.) sweetened condensed milk

1 can (12oz.) evaporated milk

1/2 cup whole milk

3 eggs

2 egg yolks

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Pinch of salt

 

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 F. In a large shallow roasting pan, place six 6oz. ramekins.

In a heavy nonreactive pan pour the 1 cup of sugar and heat over medium heat. Stir constantly until sugar melts and becomes caramel colored, about 10 – 15 minutes. Pour caramel evenly into ramekins.

In a blender combine the condensed milk, evaporated milk, whole milk, eggs, egg yolks, vanilla and salt and blend until mixture is smooth. Strain the mixture, then pour over the caramel in the ramekins.

Place the roasting pan in the oven and fill the pan with 1 inch of hot water. Bake for about 30 minutes, until the center of each flan is set.

Remove pan from oven and let cool. When the water reaches room temperature remove the ramekins, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 to 3 hours.

Gently run a knife around the edge of the flan to loosen and then invert on a plate.

 

 

Zucchini, Corn and Basil Stir-Fry with Chicken

Quick and delicious meals are something I am always searching for. And, meals that aren’t written for 6 or more servings. Since I cook for just myself 4 or less is perfect. It gives me enough for leftovers for the following day. While you can find quick to prepare food at the supermarket, you know those flavored rice’s and pasta sides, have you ever noticed how much sodium is in them. I am by no means a health nut, but, I do try to avoid certain things whenever possible. Sodium being one of them. Today, I am bringing you a quick dish that can be made with tofu, chicken or shrimp and has a healthy amount of vegetables… A Zucchini, Corn and Basil Stir Fry. What’s really nice about this dish is that there are no sauces that are giving this dish a flavor. Just some salt, pepper, garlic, onions and basil. Yum! And, it’s written for 2 servings… Perfect for me.

Zucchini, Corn and Basil Stir Fry

Ingredients:

8 ounces tofu, chicken breast or sausage, or shrimp

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 cup red onion, chopped

3 medium-sized zucchini, sliced into half-moons a 1/2 inch thick

2 garlic cloves, chopped

1 ear of corn, kernels sliced off*

1/4 cup fresh basil, sliced into ribbons

Salt and pepper

Red pepper flakes, optional

*This is approximately 3/4 cup of corn if you want to sub frozen or canned corn

Directions:

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat, season the oil with salt and pepper. Cook your chosen protein to your liking, fully cooked if chicken or shrimp. Set aside.

In the same skillet, add more oil if necessary, add the onion and sauté for 2 minutes until fragrant. Add the zucchini, and continue cooking for about 5 minutes until the zucchini is golden, stirring frequently.

Add the garlic and corn and cook for an addition 2 minutes, stirring. Add more salt and pepper.

Cover the skillet and let it steam for 3-4 minutes. Check the zucchini with a fork for doneness. When the zucchini is ready add the basil and adjust the salt.

Add the red pepper flakes, if using and return your protein the skillet and heat through.

Recipe from Feasting At Home