Banana Ricotta Cheesecake

If necessity is the mother of invention is it safe to say then that random leftover ingredients are the building blocks to great recipes? Just a thought! And when I say leftover, I mean leftover, half finished, not wanting it to go bad, and somewhere in the middle of all that ingredients. That’s pretty much how this Banana Ricotta Cheesecake came about. I had a container of ricotta cheese in the fridge that was quickly approaching its expiration date and two bananas on the table that were quite ripe and I just didn’t feel like making pasta or a banana bread. After some Google searches I couldn’t find anything that I really wanted to make or I found recipes that required ingredients I just didn’t have on hand and didn’t want to buy. So, I figured since I bake enough it was about time that I tried going without a recipe, okay, not completely without one. I did some major tweaking to a Ricotta Cheesecake I had made before. But, I think this is still somewhat original.

Unfortunately, my cheesecake did crack in the middle. It wasn’t so bad when I first took it out of the oven, but, as it cooled it got bigger. Oh well!

But, after slicing it and plating it with chocolate sauce and whipped cream that unfortunate crack was nothing to be bothered by as I am happy to say I was quite pleased with how the cheesecake came out. The banana flavor was subtle but still detectable, not as strong as banana bread but not as faint as a hint. And no, in case you are wondering there were no traces of banana in the cheesecake itself since I was sure to blend the mashed banana, sugar and cream cheese until they were smooth.

Banana Ricotta Cheesecake

Ingredients:

18 graham crackers

1 stick unsalted butter, melted

2 ripe bananas, mashed

8 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature

1/4 cup granulated sugar

2 cups whole milk ricotta

1 tbsp. pure vanilla extract

4 large eggs

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 F.

Process the graham crackers in a food processor until they become fine crumbs. Add the butter and process until blended. Pat the crumbs into the bottom and halfway up the sides of a 9-inch springform pan. Place on a baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes. All to cool completely.

In a large bowl, beat the mashed bananas, cream cheese and sugar with an electric mixer until smooth. Add the ricotta and vanilla extract and continue beat until smooth. Add the eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each one.

Pour the mixture into the cooled crust and bake for 50 – 60 minutes. Until a cake tester inserted in the middle come out clean. Cool on a wire rack for 45 minutes, then refrigerate and chill for at least 2 hours. Serve at room temperature.

Skillet Spinach Lasagna

So, I wasn’t too impressed with this Skillet Spinach Lasagna right after I made it, but, after taking it to work the following day for lunch my opinion changed. I think what initially had me a little eh about it was the lack of sauce and the fact that the bottom of it got burned, but, both of those things are things that can easily be changed next time I make it.

I began by browning a pound of sausage meat in a 12-inch skillet. I was able to find ground sausage meat, but, you could easily use a pound of sausage removed from the casings.

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Next, over medium heat, I added crushed tomatoes, Italian seasoning and salt. I let the sauce simmer for about 5 minutes.

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While the sauce was cooking, I combined ricotta cheese, an egg, a cup of shredded mozzarella and salt in a medium bowl.

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Once the sauce was ready it was time to assemble the lasagna. I set aside 3 cups of the sauce and placed a layer of no-boil lasagna noodles over the remaining sauce in the skillet. I then topped the noodles with a cup of the reserved sauce, 3/4 cup of the ricotta mixture and 3 cups of the spinach. I repeated the layer two times with the remaining ingredients, omitting the spinach from the top layer.

I then returned the skillet to heat; covered and cooked over medium heat until the noodles were softened and sauce began to bubble, about 15-20 minutes. I think next time I will do this step over medium-low heat. I then topped it with remaining cup of spinach and covered and cooked it for another minute or so until the spinach had wilted.

And finally, I uncovered the lasagna and topped it with a cup of shredded mozzarella and broiled it until the cheese began to melt and brown. About 5 minutes. I then sprinkled it with freshly chopped basil.

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Skillet Spinach Lasagna

Ingredients:

1 lb. ground Italian sausage

1 28oz. can crushed tomatoes

1 1/2 teaspoons dried Italian seasoning

1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided

1 16 oz. container ricotta cheese

1 egg

8 oz. (2 cups) shredded mozzarella cheese, divided

6 oz. no-boil lasagna noodles

7 cups (about 5 oz.) baby spinach, divided

2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

Directions:

Cook the sausage, stirring often, in a 12-inch ovenproof nonstick skillet over medium heat until browned and cooked through.

Add the tomatoes, Italian seasoning and 1/2 teaspoon of the salt; cook, stirring occasionally until the sauce begins to simmer.

While the sauce is cooking, combine the ricotta cheese, 1 cup of the mozzarella cheese, an egg and the remaining salt in a medium bowl.

Preheat broiler with oven rack 6 inches from the heat.

Once the sauce is cooked remove it from the heat, reserving 3 cups of the sauce in a bowl. Place a layer of the lasagna noodle over the sauce, breaking the pieces as necessary. Top with 1 cup of the reserved sauce. 3/4 cup of the ricotta mixture and 3 cups of the spinach. Repeat the layer two times with the remaining noodles, sauce, ricotta mixture and spinach, omitting the spinach from the top layer.

Return the skillet to the heat; cover and cook over medium / medium-low heat until the noodles are softened and the sauce begins to bubble, about 20 minutes. Uncover and top with the remaining spinach; cover and cook for about a minute until the spinach is wilted. Uncover and top with the remaining mozzarella. Broil until the cheese begins to brown, 4 to 5 minutes. Sprinkle with basil.

Recipe from Real Simple Magazine

Ricotta Pound Cake

Hey Everyone! So, I took a bit of a break from blogging, but, not from baking and crafting. If you follow me on Instagram or if you look down on the right hand side of this page you can see what I was up to during the holidays. How has the New Year been treating you? Hopefully good thus far. And for those of you who make resolutions, how’s it going? I may have mentioned this before, but, I don’t make resolutions. The way I see it, every day is a good day to set a goal or to make a change. So, for my first post of the New Year I bring you a Ricotta Pound Cake. Yeah, I know not too exciting, but, definitely a yummy treat nonetheless. It came about because I had about 2 cups of ricotta cheese in my fridge that was about to expire and I didn’t want to throw out.

This was a quick and easy pound cake to make. In one bowl I sifted together the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder and salt) and in the bowl of my stand mixer I creamed together the ricotta, butter, sugar, eggs and vanilla bean paste before incorporating the flour mixture into the mix. I then poured the batter into a 9-inch loaf pan that I sprayed with baking spray and baked it in a preheated oven for about 50 minutes.

And after letting it cool on a wire rack…

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It was time to slice it and enjoy! This cake is definitely good for any time of the day… If you’re not into your typical breakfast foods it’s a nice accompaniment to your morning coffee or tea, as an afternoon snack or for dessert after dinner.

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Ricotta Pound Cake

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups cake flour

2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon kosher salt

3/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 1/2 cups whole milk ricotta

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

3 large eggs

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract*

*I used vanilla bean paste

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Prep a 9-inch loaf pan by spraying it with baking spray or by greasing and flouring it.

Sift the flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl.

In the bowl of a standing mixer, or in large bowl to using a hand mixer, cream together the butter, ricotta and the sugar. Add the eggs, one at a time, incorporating each egg before adding the next one. Add the vanilla.

On low speed, gradually add in the flour mixture. Once added, mix the batter for 30 seconds.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the batter.

Bake the cake on the center rack for 15 minutes, then lower the heat to 325 F and bake for an additional 25-60 minutes. It will all depend on how wet the ricotta cheese is. The cake will be done when it springs back from touch and has slightly pulled away from the pan sides and a cake tested come out clean.

Cool the cake inside the pan for 15 minutes, before removing and letting it cool completely on wire rack before slicing.

Recipe from Epicurious

Lavender Ricotta Donuts

Happy National Donut (or Doughnut) Day! For almost 80 years now (77 to be exact) the first Friday in June has been declared Nation Donut Day – started by the Salvation Army as a way to honor the volunteers of World War I who served donuts to soldiers. Not that there needs to be a reason to enjoy these incredibly sweet and delicious treats, but, on this day enjoying them may be a little more enticing as some places will give you a free one! In honor of today I decided to convert a Lavender Ricotta fritter recipe I made a few years back in a cooking class into donuts.

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To make the batter I combined ricotta cheese, eggs, vanilla paste, sugar, baking powder and flour in the bowl of my stand mixer and used the whisk attachment to mix the ingredients. I then added in dried lavender and continued mixing the batter until it was thick.

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Next I used a piping bag – I just snipped the end of the bag off – and piped the batter into a prepared donut pan; I sprayed it with baking spray.

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I then baked them for about 15 minutes in a 350 F preheated oven. After removing them from the oven I let them cool in the pan before inverting them on a wire rack to cool completely.

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Final outcome… They definitely tasted good – especially after an extra dusting of powdered sugar on top – but I definitely need to work on my donut making skills. I’ll be the first to admit that they are a bit wonky looking! One other thing, they didn’t have the typical dense texture of a donut, more like the moistness of a cruller thanks to the ricotta cheese.

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If you like the flavor of lavender check out these other recipes I’ve made using the herb: Lavender Cupcakes with Mascarpone Frosting and Lavender Vanilla Ice Cream. With both of these recipes I was able to get the flavor of lavender into them by soaking the dried flowers in milk overnight and then straining the milk prior to using it in the recipes.

Lavender Ricotta Donuts

Yield: 10 Donuts

Ingredients:

2 cups ricotta cheese

3 eggs, beaten

1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste*

1/4 cup sugar

3 teaspoons baking powder

1 cup flour

2 tablespoons dried lavender

Confectioners’ powder, for dusting

*Can also use vanilla extract

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Prep donut pan by spraying it with baking spray.

2. Whisk together the ricotta cheese, eggs, vanilla bean paste, sugar, baking powder and flour until combined. Add in the dried lavender and continue mixing until the batter is thick.

3. Transfer the batter to a piping bag or Ziploc bag and snip off the end and pipe the batter into the prepared pan.

4. Bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes, until a cake tested comes out clean. Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

5. Once cooled use a sifter to sprinkle the donuts with confectioners’ sugar.

Lemon Ricotta Pancakes

When it comes to pancakes I’m a bit of a traditionalist. I’ll take plain old regular pancakes or buttermilk ones over any flavor (i.e. banana, pumpkin, corn, etc…) or additions (i.e. chocolate chips) – although blueberry pancakes are quite delish! A few years ago though I decided to try Lemon Ricotta Pancakes at a wonderful breakfast spot in Brooklyn – Tom’s Diner – and was instantly hooked. I don’t know what it is about this particular flavor that makes them so delicious – the hint of lemon, the swirl of ricotta cheese, or the combination of both – but they are definitely one pancake everyone should try. And while there are recipes for pancakes made from scratch I opted to make these pancakes using store-bought pancake mix… short-cuts aren’t always a bad thing. And with Easter just around the corner these would be perfect addition or main dish for your Easter breakfast or brunch.

To begin I whisked together pancake mix, milk and lemon oil (I didn’t have any lemons on hand to zest.) Some things to note, I used Aunt Jemima Complete Pancake Mix and while it calls for water to be used with the mix I always opt to use milk for richer tasting and fluffier pancakes. Also, the equivalent of lemon oil to lemon zest is 1/4 teaspoon vs. 1 tablespoon.

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I then folded in the ricotta cheese; folding in the ricotta helps to maintain the texture of the cheese and allows the ricotta to swirl into the batter.

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I’ll admit I’m not the best pancake maker. Usually the first one I pour into the pan is my “test” one that gets thrown out. I just haven’t mastered getting the pan to the right heat. This time around I almost nailed it.

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After topping my short-stack with syrup…

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It was time to enjoy them!

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Lemon Ricotta Pancakes*

Makes 5 4-inch pancakes

Ingredients:

1 cup pancake mix (I used Aunt Jemima complete)

3/4 cup milk (I used 2%)

1 tablespoon lemon zest (or 1/4 teaspoon lemon oil)

1/2 cup whole-milk ricotta cheese

Directions:

1. Whisk together the pancake mix, milk, and lemon oil (or zest) then gently fold in the ricotta cheese.

2. Spoon approximately 1/4 cup (I used an ice cream scoop) of the batter onto a lightly buttered pan or griddle heated over medium-heat.

3. Cook until bubbles form on the surface and then flip and cook for another minute or two until golden.

*This recipe can easily be doubled.

Rosette Covered Cannoli Cake

A while back I picked up a five-layer cake pan set at Sur La Table– I saw it one of their catalogs which also included a coupon so it was destined to be. I wasn’t sure what kind of cake I wanted to make to test it out but then all of a sudden I had the idea that I wanted to make one with a cannoli cream filling – something I had never made before. Another thing I hadn’t done before… Decorate a cake entirely with rosettes. I did take the Wilton decorating classes some time ago and while I did learn how to make rosettes I normally just decorate a spot or two with them but lately I have been seeing these beautifully cakes decorated with large rosettes and wanted to try it myself.
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I opted to use a white cake box mix for this cake since I wanted to be sure that I would have enough batter for the five pans and right on the box it said that one box cake would suffice. After mixing the batter according to the directions on the box, I filled the pans evenly with batter (I used an ice cream scoop to be precise,) baked them and then let them cool.
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While the cakes cooled I worked on the cannoli filling. I settled on a recipe from Sargento. I figured this recipe would be a good one to follow since Sargento is a producer of cheese products. To begin I whipped heavy cream until soft peaks formed. I then beat together ricotta cheese, sugar and vanilla extract. Following that I folded the whipped cream along with mini chocolate chips into the ricotta mixture.
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Now it was time to prep my mini cakes for assembly. I used a cake leveler to remove the crowns of the cakes to make them all level.
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To assemble the cake, I filled each layer with about a cup and a half of cannoli filling.
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Then it was time to frost it. Initially I wanted to frost it with a whipped cream frosting, but, since I wanted to cover the entire cake with rosettes the whipped cream wasn’t going hold up well on the sides of the cake… On top of the cake it would have looked great though. So I opted to whip up some Fluffy Vanilla Frosting – which I first made when I made Chocolate Malted Cupcakes. I started by crumb coating the cake.
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And then using a 2D Wilton Tip I covered the cake with large rosettes and I think I may have found my new way of decorating cakes….
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Cannoli Filling

2 cups Part-Skim Ricotta Cheese

3 tablespoons sugar

1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup whipping cream, whipped

1 cup semi-sweet mini chocolate chips

1. Beat ricotta cheese, sugar and vanilla on medium speed in bowl with electric mixer for 3 minutes.

2. Fold in whipped cream and chocolate chips.

 

Fluffy Vanilla Frosting

Makes About 4 Cups

1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature

1 pound (4 cups) confectioners’ sugar, sifted

1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract

1. With an electric mixer, beat butter on medium-high speed until pale and creamy, about 2 minutes.

2. Reduce speed to medium. Add the confectioners’ sugar, 1/2 cup at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping down sides of bowl as needed; after every two additions, raise speed to high and beat 10 seconds to aerate frosting, then return to medium. This process should take about 5 minutes. Frosting will be very pale and fluffy.

3. Add vanilla, and beat until frosting is smooth. If not using immediately, frosting can be refrigerated up to 10 days in an airtight container. Before using, bring to room temperature, and beat on low speed until smooth again, about 5 minutes.

 

Sweetened Ricotta Cheesecake

Unbeknownst to me July 30th was National Cheesecake Day and coincidentally that day (I’m a little behind in my postings!) I decided to try out a Ricotta Cheesecake recipe from Marcela Valladolid that I came across in People magazine. What interested me in the recipe was that instead of using sugar as the sweetener it uses sweetened condensed milk. It was also super simple to follow which is always a plus.
 
I started off by making the crust. While I know there are traditionalist out there who like to crush their own graham crackers to make their crust – I’ve done it a few times and this recipe actually called for that as well – I am not a big fan of graham crackers so buying a box of them is a waste so I opt to buy them already crushed and ready to use for the specific purpose of making a crust.
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Along with my graham cracker crumbs I needed butter and sugar for the crust.
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I mixed all of the ingredients together….
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And then pressed the crumbs into the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan and about an inch and a half up the sides.
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After baking for 7 minutes I let the crust cool while I got to working on the cheesecake filling.
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The ingredients were basic: cream cheese, ricotta cheese, sweetened condensed milk, eggs, vanilla extract and orange zest.
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I started by beating together the cream cheese and the sweetened condensed milk.
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Following that I added in the ricotta cheese, vanilla extract and orange zest.
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Prior to adding in the eggs I couldn’t resist the temptation of trying the filling and I found it to be awfully sweet and was concerned that the final product would be so as well, but, after adding in each of the four eggs individually the sweetness level of the filling dropped considerably. While I know some people would say it’s not a smart idea to try batter with raw eggs in it I haven’t got sick yet… I’m going to go knock on some wood now!
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And finally I poured the filling into the cooled crust.
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After baking for about 50 minutes in a 350 degrees oven the cheesecake was done and looked perfect – yes, it’s a little brown, but, it didn’t crack which I was very happy about!
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I did attempt to make a quick strawberry topping for the cheesecake by heating strawberry jam, sugar and fresh strawberries in a saucepan on the stove, but, it was a completely fail. I believe the jam I used wasn’t the best quality and it produced a horrible flavor. Luckily though the cheesecake was perfect on its own.
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Ricotta Cheesecake
by Marcela Valladolid
 
18 cinnamon-sugar graham crackers
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 (14 oz.) can condensed milk
15 oz. fresh ricotta or requeson cheese
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. fresh orange zest
4 large eggs
 
1. Adjust oven rack to middle position. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Process graham crackers in food processor until finely crumbled. Add butter; process until blended. Pat crumbs over bottom and 1 1/2 inches up sides of a 9-inch springform pan. Place on baking sheet; bake 10 minutes until golden. Cool completely.
3. Beat cream cheese and condensed milk at medium speed in bowl of electric mixer until smooth. Add ricotta, vanilla, and orange zest; beat until smooth. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition.
4. Pour mixture into cooled crust. Bake 50 minutes until cheesecake is puffed and golden and a tester inserted 1 inch from center comes out clean. Cool on wire rack for 35 minutes. Cover and chill at least 2 hours. Serve at room temperature.