Cheesecake

fullsizeoutput_4f31I used to make cheese cake all the time.  Thanksgiving.  Christmas.  Random days of the week.  It’s not difficult.  The most arduous thing you have to do is go buy a springform pan.  Unless you already have one.

This recipe started life in a Dear Abby column.  Over the years I have altered a number of things so now I guess it’s mine.

Making the cheesecake is easy.  Waiting for it to chill enough to eat is hard.  But this cheesecake is worth the wait.

You will need an eight or nine inch spring form pan and an electric mixer.

 

Ingredients:
for the crust:
1/3 cup powdered sugar
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/4 pound of butter

Directions:  Mix the graham cracker crumbs and sugar in a bowl.  Melt the butter and add it to the crumb/sugar mixture.  Use a fork.  When all the crumb/sugar is combine with the melted butter, line the bottom of a SPRING FORM PAN with the mixture.  Pack it firmly and be sure to bring it up the side to cover the seam between the pan and the pan bottom.

(I had a difficult time finding graham crackers without high fructose corn syrup.  I found a graham cracker crumb crust in a local organic supermarket.  I simply dumped the crust into the spring form pan and spread it out with my fingers.  It is important, no matter what crust you use, to make sure the seam between the pan and the bottom is covered with the crust.)

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Ingredients:
for the cake:
1 cup granulated sugar
3 eight ounce blocks of cream cheese (NOT whipped) (at room temperature)
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 eggs (at room temperature)
16 ounces sour cream (at room temperature)

Directions for the batter:
1. Use an electric mixer.
2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit
3. Put the sugar, vanilla, and eggs into the bowl of the mixer.  Mix on medium speed.


4.  Slowly add chunks of the room temperature cream cheese (about 1/4 of a block at a time) until all the ingredients are blended and smooth.  No lumps of cream cheese should be visible in the batter.


5.  Add the sour cream to the batter.  Blend slowly just until the sour cream is part of the batter.  Do not over mix.  About 30 seconds.


6.  Pour the batter into the springform pan over the graham cracker crust.
7.  Bake in a preheated oven at 350 Fahrenheit for 55 to 60 minutes.  The cake should be lightly browned around the edges.  It will wobble but it should not be liquid.IMG_7130
8.  Take the cake out of the oven and let it cool completely IN THE PAN.  When it is completely cooled, refrigerate at least 8 hours IN THE PAN.  IMG_7135
9.  The cake will crack on the top.
10 Open the spring form and remove it to serve.

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Thumbs up!

Be careful…make it once and it will be the only cake you’ll be asked to bake.
Makes 12 servings.

 

 

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Easy sides for a holiday meal

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Every one has their holiday meal traditions.  On Thanksgiving and Christmas my mother always roasted a turkey.  Stuffing and gravy  Sweet potatoes.  Green beans.  Cranberry sauce. Coleslaw.  My mother always made cole slaw with the holiday turkey and with a Sunday roast beef.  Always.  Not sure why she did, but I loved her cole slaw and it wouldn’t be a special dinner for me without it.

Here are three easy, make ahead recipes to include with your holiday dinner.

Cole Slaw

Ingredients:
a small head of cabbage (or half a large head)
water (that is on the leaves after you rinse and drain it)
1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
sprinkle of salt (about 1/2 teaspoon)
mayonnaise

Directions:
1.  Slice the cabbage into thin strips, then again crosswise.  Do not use the stem or core of the cabbage.  (You can use a food processor for this but be sure to use the attachment with the large holes).


2.  Rinse the sliced cabbage in a colander with water.  Allow to drain for a few minutes. You want wet cabbage but not too much water.
3.  Put the sliced and rinsed cabbage in a large bowl.  Put in the vinegar and salt.  Stir.IMG_6995
4.  Let the cabbage, vinegar, and salt sit for about 30 minutes.  Stir occasionally.
5.  After the cabbage, vinegar, and salt have marinated together for a while, add the mayonnaise.  Start with a 1/4 cup and mix well.  Add to your taste.  Be sure to taste as you go.  IMG_7007
6.  After you have added the mayonnaise to your liking, serve or chill.  Cole slaw will last 24 hours in a covered dish.

Cranberry Sauce (so easy the children can help!)

Ingredients:
1 pound of fresh cranberries (about 3-4 cups)
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup sugar

Directions:
1.  Rinse the cranberries and pick out any bad ones.
2.  Dump cranberries in a large pot.  Add 1/2 cup water.

Heat on medium until the berries begin to pop.  You will hear them and see them pop!  (about 8 minutes).IMG_7028
3.  Once the berries have started popping, add the 1/2 cup of sugar.

Stir into the simmering berries until the sugar is absorbed.  That’s it!


4.  You can serve the sauce with the berries simply popped or you can mash the sauce with a potato masher or you can blend the sauce with an immersion blender.


5.  Serve hot or cold.  This can be made several days ahead and keeps about a week in the refrigerator.

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Fried onions with thyme and balsamic vinegar

Ingredients:
6 to 10 onions (a panful)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme (1/2 teaspoon dried thyme)
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

Directions:
1. Clean and slice 6 to 10 large onions.  Enough to fill a very large frying pan.
2.  Melt butter and olive oil together in the frying pan on medium heat.


3.  Toss in the sliced onions.  Stir them around so the slices are separated.IMG_7049
4.  Allow the onions to slowly cook over medium heat.  Stir frequently.  The onions are going to slowly caramelize.  The key is low and slow.  The process of cooking the onions can take 20 to 30 minutes.


5.  When the onions are done (they should be limp and brownish…not burnt) add the thyme and balsamic vinegar. Stir.


6.  Serve these warm with turkey, chicken, or roast beef.
7.  The cooked onions can be stored for a week in a jar in the refrigerator.  (They make a wonderful and quick start to any fried vegetable dish and a fabulous addition to any hot sandwich.

Holidays are hectic no matter how much planning is done.  These three simple dishes are easy, delicious, and will help make a big dinner even more impressive.

Hint #1:
If you are storing your food in jars…wide mouth jars and wide mouth funnels are very helpful.  You can get them almost anywhere!

Hint #2:
To get rid of the onion smell on your hands (works with garlic too)…wash your hands with soap and touch stainless steel while washing.  Cutlery, pot, the faucet.  I have a little stainless steel “bar of soap”…works like a charm!

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Thanksgiving turkeys can be ordered from Springdale Farm.

Cabbage – Savoie Organic Farm, Flaim Farm, Formisano Farm

Cranberries – Springdale Farm, Flaim Farm, Formisano Farm

Onions – Savoie Organic Farm, Flaim Farm, Formisano Farm