Monday, June 30, 2008

Summer Series

We have had so much fun the past three weekends travelling either to a fun east-coast city or exploring new landmarks here in our own backyard as we embarked on the 2008 Summer Wedding Series - "Three-in-a-Row-or Bust".

This weekend concluded this new series (quite different from my concurrently running farmers' market series) with Mer and Wyatt's wedding up in Glastonbury, Connecticut; it also marked what I believe to have been my first New England wedding - I'm not-so-secretly hoping it's the first of many.

What an absolutely fantastic weekend capped off with a beautiful and touching ceremony and a non-stop fun reception.

Our weekend started Friday after work, when we met up with our friends and new DC-residents Bril, Karen, and their newest addition, adorable almost 4-month-old Olivia, and began the trek up north. First stop was Bril's parents' in York, PA; after a delicious meal and if it's possible, better company, and a good night's rest, we were up early to head up to Connecticut, this time sans Miss Olivia - much to her grandparents' delight.

Thanks to the bride's Scottish heritage, a bagpiper greeted all guests at the church and also announced the entrance of the beautiful bride and her sweet father. A very touching and personal ceremony, complete with the brother-of-the bride performing three solos, followed.

The reception at St. Clement's Castle was just perfect. Miniature bottles of real maple syrup labelled with Mer and Wyatt's theme "How Sweet It Is" were at each of our places in the beautiful ballroom - such a cute and thoughtful touch.

I think the newlyweds, rightfully so, had the best time of everyone as there were many, MANY smiles throughout the night... a great evening spent celebrating a fantastic couple.

Sunday morning we shared a fun brunch with the other wedding guests and then were on our way, back through New York City (where we got a glimpse of the Empire State Building) and then a quick stop, for no particular reason, in New Rochelle, NY (apparently the home of Iona College).

We soon arrived back in York to both little Olivia and two varieties of Pennsylvania Dutch fruit pudding, Fresh Sour Cherry Pudding and Black Raspberry Pudding, as well as a re-introduction to the Dutch tradition of pouring milk over your "pudding" (which is really more like cake). I refuse to show favoritism to either of them - only to conclude in saying that I had to taste-test them both multiple times.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Just Like the Song...

Seriously!?! I'm subjecting you all (that is... "all" 2-5 of you) to a post about the Burt Bacharach and Carole Bayer Sager-written, Dionne Warwick, Stevie Wonder, Luther Vandross and Whitney Houston-performed song that we all used to know by heart oh-so-many years ago?

What follows is worth it, trust me.

So what's all the fuss about? A few short days ago, my new food-blog and long-time Deacon friend, Christie, found, made, and posted this recipe, aptly entitled "Tasty Turkey Burgers" by Southern Living. After seeing her delicious post, she and I chatted and it was decided that my frozen lean ground turkey meat would indeed be put to use this very week - it was urgent.

I now understand why. And, well... if it's within my control, I don't believe I will ever... EVER prepare another recipe for turkey burgers (you can check me on this, but I don't believe I've ever made that kind of statement about another recipe... maybe guac, but I am at least tolerant enough of others' guacs to try it).

I changed a few things from both Christie's adaptation as well as the Southern Living version but only because of what was in my pantry, and we all know how happy I am when I don't have to visit the grocery store to complete a recipe.

The. TASTIEST. Turkey. Burgers... EVER.

1 pound ground turkey
1/2 c Italian-seasoned breadcrumbs
1 large egg, beaten
1/4 c finely chopped (defrosted) green, red and yellow bell pepper
1 tsp onion powder
1/2 TBSP minced onion
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
2 TBSP Fresh Herb Marinade
4 whole wheat hamburger buns
Herb-Grilled Onion Rings
freshly shaved Parmesan cheese

1. Combine first 7 ingredients. Shape mixture into 4 equal-size patties.
2. Grill 5 to 6 minutes on each side or until no longer pink in center, basting each side occasionally with Fresh Herb Marinade.
3. Grill buns, cut sides down, 2 minutes or until toasted. Serve burgers on buns with Herb-Grilled Onion Rings and a few slices of the freshly shaved Parmesan.

*Don't skip either the marinade, grilled onions, or the fresh Parm - it absolutely makes the entire burger.

Prepare yourself once you pull the burgers and the onions off the grill. You are in for a treat. Oh, and go ahead and make all 4 patties even if there are only two of you... I came this (picture me with my fingers VERY close together) close to eating a second burger last night, but if not, the left-overs are just as delicious the next day.

And, if anyone's still interested in our side after hearing that glowing recommendation... I made us a side of fresh string and wax beans with our burgers and for once, I think even without a recipe, it was pretty good.

I guess these are really no-fail, but just in case you need the pointers... I washed and trimmed our beans and then dunked them in a pot of boiling water for 1-2 minutes. I quickly drained that pot and added about 1/4 TBSP of butter and some diced onions to the beans to quick-saute. Once they were slightly sizzling, I added some garlic powder, salt, cumin (only because I add that to everything) and a drizzle of olive oil. I let it cook for another minute or two and then turned off the heat after covering the pot.

A great light addition to the perfect burgers.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Enjoying the Bounty

Thanks to our exciting first real farmers' market experience, the stage was set for our big Sunday night meal.

It must be said, if quickly, that Sunday nights have become one of the only nights (aside from entertaining) that I find the time to really put together a full meal for us, so they are eagerly awaited each week. This time, it seemed that our stock of frozen salmon cut into individual fillets and some deveined shrimp was just begging to be included in this weekend-ending fest.

Allrecipes was the winning source providing two great recipes for grilling our salmon and shrimp. I had all of the ingredients in the pantry (or in our herb garden), which undoubtedly made these recipes a cinch, so for once, I actually followed them to the letter... which leads me to think that I might just be heading back down the road of being a loyal recipe-follower. The marinade carmelized absolutely perfectly on the salmon and the mustardy shrimp marinade had a wonderful flavor; admittedly, a soy-brown sugar and mustard marinade on the same plate isn't conventional but we enjoyed it nonetheless.

Since I'd been adventurous with new recipes for our seafood entrees, my creativity waned in the preparation of our market bounty, my cute red potatoes.

This is a recipe that everyone probably knows in some form and is certainly not from a reputable source (except my head and palate), but I thought it might be helpful to record it somewhere... for posterity if nothing else. It seems, however, that there is delicious-ness in simplicity! Thank goodness for that.

Fresh-from-the-Market Red Potatoes (this is easily adaptable to your quantities so be flexible!)

Handful of medium to little red potatoes, cut into equal sized portions (no smaller than halved or quartered)
olive oil
2-3 tsp fresh rosemary, chopped
1 tsp garlic powder (can substitute fresh, minced garlic)
kosher salt to taste
1/2 TBSP cold butter, cut in pieces

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.

Wash and scrub your potatoes carefully (so as to not scrub off the skin). Drizzle olive oil over your potatoes. Sprinkle chopped herbs, garlic powder and salt over potatoes and toss with your hands so all pieces are equally coated. Bake for 10 minutes and then quickly add pats of butter to the potatoes (will make a nice buttery skin on the potatoes) and bake for 15-20 more minutes until desired doneness.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Rubbing Shoulders

My latest (okay... ONLY) brush with fame was last night, attending the beautiful (really, BEAUTIFUL) wedding ceremony and reception of our good friends, Kenny Shealy and Allison Baker.

Nope, neither the bride or the groom are famous (well, almost)... but the bride did have the foresight to order her groom a Charm City Cakes groom's cake! Yes... the Ace of Cakes did the delicious, 3-D Clemson Tiger, red velvet cake that we were treated to at Evermay last night! Sadly, both of our cameras failed me and I have nothing to document that I was in the presence of such well-known handiwork.

But even without pictures, rest-assured that Evermay was about as amazing of a wedding location as you can find, a great time was had by all, and the happy couple thoroughly enjoyed themselves.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Part Deux

To market, to market...

Off we went this morning in search of my second/our first farmers market - and besides the fact that I have no pictures documenting our trip (thanks to me throwing our camera across the floor in response to the beautiful loaves of freshly baked bread and piles of fresh produce everywhere), it was a success.

We walked away the proud-owners of some amazing-looking string and wax beans and a small container of some red potatoes. I used utter restraint in not filling our canvas bags of the homemade baked goods (10-grain bread!), local crabcakes (lots of crab, not so much cake!), onions and cucumbers (that's a short list of my favorite things that I saw there and will no doubt be back to get another weekend).

Sadly our next trip will either be an out of town market or one maybe sometime in late July but I'm hooked, either way. Even though I've quickly learned the prices are not the reason you join the masses at local markets, just the experience being around so many people with deep appreciations for great-looking produce and other homemade tasties has been enough for me... and absolutely a fantastic way to spend a summer morning.

Friday, June 20, 2008


Someone can read my mind...

Missy gave me this recipe with the bread pan and a few other fun kitchen utensils at one of our showers earlier this year - and while I've always known that I wanted to try it just because I LOVE banana bread, the only part of the health-ified bread recipe that I could remember was that she mentioned "freezes well, even pre-sliced into individual portions". And, I have suspicions that that might be the only low-fat part of the recipe.

I usually shy away from any low-fat baked goods - I've made less than 5 of them in my lifetime and they have all tasted low-fat, which to me, just isn't worth it. My method of making yummy baked goods low-fat is in line with Missy's - make it, taste it, and then freeze the rest in individual-sized portions for later (of course, you can't eat the whole thing later either or that defeats the purpose).

So I was unsure about this recipe from the start... but I had some (three, to be exact) left-over bananas that had ripened before we could finish them off so I thought this was my perfect excuse. I didn't have the low-fat plain yogurt the recipe called for but finished off the container of low-fat sour cream sitting in the fridge instead.

Now, I will repeat once again that I don't know just HOW low-fat this is, but it sure was good (which is my main reason for assuming it's really not healthy). I even fed it to two co-workers who literally laughed off my comment of "it's actually supposed to be healthy, it came from Cooking Light".

In the end, I was torn; clearly, I had to share this delicious recipe (one that just might become my go-to banana bread) with you all, but I can't with certainty tell you to eat your heart out. I want to believe that this could possibly not be horrible for you, but my tummy says it's just too good to be true.

"All-Purpose Banana Bread"

2 c all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 c sugar
1/4 c butter, softened
2 large eggs
3 bananas (just a little less than 1 1/2 c)
1/3 c low-fat sour cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 350°. Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine the flour, baking soda, and salt, stirring with a whisk.

Place sugar and butter in a large bowl, and beat with a mixer at medium speed until well blended (about 1 minute). Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Add banana, sour cream, and vanilla; beat until blended. Add flour mixture; beat at low speed just until moist.

Spoon batter into an 8 1/2 x 4 1/2-inch loaf pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350° for 1 hour or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes in pan on a wire rack; remove from pan. Cool completely on wire rack.

Adapted from Cooking Light

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Local Produce 101

Eating locally seems to be all the rage lately... and if you know me, you know I'm not normally one to jump on the bandwagon... but with the weird diseased-veggie outbreaks recently and the mounting costs of well... everything, farmers' markets have quickly become intriguing to us, though if I'm honest, I've always loved the idea of carrying my canvas tote to my neighborhood market and buying super fresh, in-season produce (feels so European to me... plus, if either this or this is what these markets have in store for us, who can resist?!).

With that, welcome to what I hope will be the first installment of (probably only 2-3 in total) our adventures in local markets. Follow us through a few of the markets here in the DC metropolitan areas... what are the advantages and disadvantages of shopping and eating locally, and anything else fun, inspiring, or otherwise about all of the farmers' markets around us these days.

For my first half-experience (it was impromptu and only a very brief stop so I refuse to give this a full review), I decided to quickly walk through the weekly Foggy Bottom FreshFarm market on my way to the Metro this afternoon. It was a little underwhelming, to be honest... though I think my point of comparison is a little unfair. I sadly didn't have our camera but I did catch glimpses of beautiful (but little... and expensive!) baskets of fresh cherries, blackberries, raspberries, snap peas, fresh garlic, huge scallions, and all sorts of tomatoes (the prices of the tomatoes made me OH-so-happy that we have at least 3 out-of-control tomato plants in the backyard). There was also a stand with fresh dairy products such as goat cheeses and another vendor with homemade jams and jellies.

As in any review, the review is only as good as the reviewer is honest... so my final word is that this particular market was small and the prices were high, but I was energized to seek out more markets after this initial attempt. I wouldn't necessarily send anyone to FreshFarm (at least in Foggy Bottom) though I may be back here in a few days telling you that their prices were very comparable to other DC-area markets, but I am at the very least hoping for some more selection and even some unusual fruits, vegetables and other products that will broaden my admittedly limited chain-grocery knowledge.


Monday, June 16, 2008

This One's For the Boys...

Or at least the Dads...

*Happy Belated Father's Day, Dad and Jacob - yes, he's my brother but still a role-model dad!*

Though, truth be told, you might feel the need to celebrate "with them" as I did...

I should have known better when I decided to throw this together... I really have a huge sweet tooth and can hardly resist a solitary chocolate chip sitting there, let alone a deliciously dense and fudgy-but-still-cakelike brownie covered in chocolate ganache, with a sprinkling of chocolate chips and some good melted white chocolate. What was I thinking!

My inspiration for this was actually found in a place I honestly don't find myself in much - I'd seen a brownie similar to this in the glass-enclosed cell of a Starbucks' pastry container, and it was one of those moments when I said "I can make that!" Now of course, mine looks nothing like the glorious brownie I saw over the lid of my Starbucks cup that day but I imagine that it tastes something pretty close (that's just to say that since I made these, we haven't stopped eating them).

4 oz. unsweetened chocolate
1/2 c butter
2 c sugar
4 eggs, beaten
1 c flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 c chopped nuts (I used pecans)

Combine the chocolate, and butter in microwave dish. Microwave at half power until melted. Stir at 2 minute intervals. Combine sugar and eggs in bowl and mix well. Stir in chocolate mixture, flour, and salt. Add nuts and mix well. Spoon into 9x13 inch baking pan coated with nonstick cooking spray.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Cool slightly. Let stand until cool. Spread with the Chocolate Glaze.

Chocolate Glaze
1 1/2 c chocolate chips
1/2 c whipping cream

Microwave 1 cup of the chocolate chips on medium in Pyrex cup for 2 minutes or until melted. Add the whipping cream and whisk till smooth. Spread evenly over the top of the brownies and immediately sprinkle with the remaining chocolate chips. Let sit in the refrigerator for about 5 minutes until the chocolate has slightly set. In the meantime, make the white chocolate.

White Chocolate Topping
4 TBSP chopped white chocolate

Microwave white chocolate in 30 second increments until melted. Dip a fork into the white chocolate and hold it above the brownies flicking your wrist in a back-and-forth motion making sure to get a little bit of the chocolate throughout the top of the brownie.

Let the brownies sit in the refrigerator for at least another 30 minutes before cutting and serving - they will cut more cleanly if the chocolate has set.

Enjoy this with your dad... or anyone else! They'll be glad you weren't exclusive!


Everyone knows I'm a huge sports fan... and an even bigger fast-pitch softball advocate... but it takes neither a sports fan or someone who's ever seen fast-pitch softball to appreciate this. It's just too bad that things like this are rare enough to make the news...

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Sand Between My Toes

We were so honored and excited to attend the wedding of our friends, (Christina) Domazos and Lee this weekend in Virginia Beach!

What a great weekend at the beach dedicated to two wonderful and happily in love friends. We were so happy to get to celebrate with them!

Congrats, Domazos and Lee!! The new Westnedges!

*more pictures from their beautiful evening

Friday, June 13, 2008

The Secret's Out?

I really truly need your help here... I had all the makings for a successful foray into the world of Creme Anglaise (read: yummy custard sauce to turn healthy fruits into less-than-healthy but oh-so-tasty treats)... Costco-quantity of eggs and left-over Costco-quantity of whipping cream.

Eagerly, I started the process, barely able to wait for what was sure to be delicious results... what could be better over my few remaining sweet, fresh raspberries than a smooth, creamy custard sauce!!

I beat my eggs and sugar, scalded my cream and then gently beat it into my light-yellow egg-sugar mixture, putting the entire portion over my barely simmering water stirring constantly until it thickened. Then I ran it all through a mesh sieve, stirred in my vanilla extract and said "see you soon" as I put the beautiful custard into the fridge to cool.

A few hours later, I excitedly returned to the kitchen, prepped my berries and pulled out my Creme Anglaise...

It was a beautiful dessert - that wasn't the problem. The colors were just what I was looking for. But my custard sauce was less than perfectly smooth and didn't have quite the custardy flavor that I had remembered, or at least that I was expecting.

So where did I go wrong? Or at the very least, could I have thought I was doing parts of the process correctly and messed it up?

Do you have a foolproof custard-sauce recipe different than the one I used:

4 large egg yolks, beaten
1/3 c sugar
pinch of salt
2 c heavy cream, scalded
1 tsp vanilla extract

Beat the egg yolks with the sugar and salt in a large mixing bowl until light and fluffy. Gradually beat the hot milk into the egg mixture, then place the mixing bowl over barely simmering water. Cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture begins to thicken, about 8 minutes (and I did the spoon test here). Remove the sauce from the heat and pour through a mesh sieve. Stir in the vanilla and allow the sauce to cool.

I've since found other recipes online with the addition of butter towards the end (like my mom's custard) as well as a lot more vanilla (or other) flavoring... though, truth be told, I'd rather know your secret(s)!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

My Very Own

Remember this?

Well approximately two years (give or take) after begging for one of my own (ungrateful, I know) and now, finally having somewhere to put one if I actually had one... my super talented father bestowed me one of my own! (actually, he gifted my husband all of the hardware and wood pieces in order to build me my own) And I could not be happier.

Imagine how much happier my plants will be with their new grooming station! Spoiled, I tell ya'.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Go-Go Gadget

One of the major immediate benefits in participating in a food blogging "event" are that you suddenly have tons of new recipes at the ready (you also find lots of new food blogs... which, at least for me is both good but also potentially detrimental... i.e. hours and hours of reading through delicious recipes that grow both my grocery bill and my tummy).

So after being in Susan's recent event (and, it must be said, if Ina tops my list for FN chefs, Susan sits atop my food blog list), I of course spent some good time reviewing all of the submissions and found what looked like just the recipe I'd been searching for... a raspberry clafoutis. A few summers ago, we'd been treated to what I remember being a similar-looking dessert only it was studded with cherries, and even since, I've been on the lookout for the recipe so I could re-create the the tasty dish.

And tasty it was! Sadly (after a thorough taste-test), I deduced that it wasn't the same dessert we'd had before - but that was about the only fault I could find with this yummy (and good for your bones!) fruit-filled dessert. I haven't yet had a chance to try it dusted with confectioner's sugar but I know it can only get better from here - and since this was SO simple and had excellent results, I started thinking about all the different types of fruit (maybe strawberries or blueberries?) I could try it with.

But this wasn't just any ole' delicious fruit-filled tart custard dessert... it will also go down in history (or at least in MY history book) as the reason why I used our immersion blender for the first time! And, I am hooked! It was so easy to use and the clean-up... a total breeze! I'm hoping to find some fresh and cool summer soups to try it on next (so send any you've got my way!).

Monday, June 09, 2008

Straight From the Garden

Thanks to an overabundance of herbs in the garden (hopefully the green-thumb gods won't take that as a sign of over-confidence, I've just gotten lucky so far this year!), my brother's ingenuity (at the beach, I watched and learned as he put together his infamous pizzas for dinner one night) teaching me to pre-heat my pizza stone, and a great deal on shredded cheese at Safeway, dinner last night... was served.

Fresh oregano on my version of a traditional Italian pizza... whole wheat crust covered with tomato sauce, shredded mozzarella, and pepperoni... all sprinkled with Parmesan.

And, fresh cilantro on yummy BBQ chicken pizza, which no surprise turned out to be our favorite. Honey barbeque sauce layered on whole wheat crust followed by shredded braised chicken, mozarella cheese, and topped with rough-chopped cilantro.

*Next time for the BBQ chicken pizza, I've vowed to try the real CPK recipe which includes smoked Gouda!

Sunday, June 08, 2008

I've Missed a Lot

Back in the day, I was a Food Network groupie - I knew the afternoon line-up by heart though my allegiances did often change. For a while I was all about Rachael, then Paula, but for a long time now, Ina has had my heart.

Yesterday, however, in the midst of my struggle to resist finally turning on the A/C (and before anyone asks, I don't recommend this method of saving money, at least not when there's a heat index of 105 outside), I painted our half bath to the tune of the early-morning Food Network shows.

Who cares, I know - the FN had its time in the spotlight and while still going strong is much more "usual" these days. But two things in particular struck me...

1) Even though I darn-well know better than to ask if a lady is pregnant, it was quite obvious upon first glance that Giada is (was) and by this point, she's even given birth! The fact that she was pregnant on the episode I saw and then, when I researched it later, I learned she'd long since given birth to Jade was a clear indication that it's been a while.

2) While I don't think Tyler will replace Ina at the top of my list, at least not for a while, I did thoroughly enjoy listening to (couldn't see the TV from where I was painting - though I did pop out to see his beautiful Upside-Down Apple French Toast) Tyler's Ultimate - and specifically this episode on his Ultimate Brunch. Even those who don't love breakfast food would have been sold after hearing his menu: the Upside-Down Apple French Toast, French-Press Vanilla Cappuccino (without a machine!) and the perfect omelet (even though I'm not a huge fan of smoked salmon, this made me want to give it a try).

Thursday, June 05, 2008

When In Doubt

It was a pretty easy decision, really. Anyone's natural reaction as soon as you realize some seriously heavy storms are headed your way (resulting in the cancellation of your softball game) and you may lose power for what's turned into several very long hours (and who knows how much longer)? OH! And did I mention a husband who's been craving a burger?!

We were OFF to the latest neighborhood hamburger joint - Elevation Burger.

*okay, disclaimer, had it not been on our way home, we never would have made it since just a few blocks away in our neighborhood, things like this (below) were happening...

So I'm not really one for restaurant reviews (though admittedly, I have attempted one before)... however since very few things in our house were working last night, my camera being one of them, I decided some pictures might be a fun way to amuse myself for at least 5 minutes. Yes, it's true - in the middle of a huge storm, power outages and running around trying to find candles and flashlights, I was taking pictures of our food. There you have it.

But back to Elevation Burger and our dinner. Since the restaurant is just a few quick blocks from our neighborhood, I'd passed their clean, fresh storefront more than a few times in the past few months. Not having a clue what it was all about (it sure looked like a modern version of our beloved Five Guys and dare I say In-N-Out Burger) and being the internet-researcher I am, I read up on the new neighbor.

Okay fine - I'll bite and it was officially added to my "I'd like to try that out one day, preferably with a coupon" list.

We ordered their regular cheeseburger, a "Big Phat Burger" (I'll call it the BPB), and two orders of fries. All burgers come with their special Elevation Sauce which I was told was a creamy tomato-based sauce. The BPB was ordered without anything but cheese and the special sauce while the cheeseburger had only cheese, lettuce, and tomato. I must note that after we got home and sat down to eat, we realized that the BPB actually had been made with both lettuce and tomato ("whoo hoo, free vegetables" was the reaction I heard - thus clearly not a problem - but I thought it warranted commenting on).

My immediate reaction after my first bite was "wow, they use cheddar cheese" - which didn't so much mean that I don't like cheddar but it must have been one of the stronger cheddars I've had because it kind of overwhelmed the burger. But after I got used to the cheddar, I did enjoy the burger on the whole and didn't feel like I'd paid much more than I would for another other burger... and while I'm not into "free-range" or "organic" food, I figured eating a 100% organic burger every now and again can't hurt, right? Their (cooked in all olive oil) fries were also pretty good though I don't think I gave them a fair shot because the poor guys had to make it through the parking lot in a torrential downpour all the way home and then sat waiting to be consumed for about 20 minutes while (I took pictures) and we gathered candles and other storm supplies.

*I'd read some reviews saying that the portion sizes aren't huge (which is all by design - this is supposed to be healthier); I did notice that the burger wasn't HUGE and while I'm all about the most for my money, I'm potentially even moreso about eating wisely for my waistline. So my final say on this is that for the $3.69 that my cheeseburger costed, I think it was plenty for us ever-growing Americans.

My rating for this (rating system initiated all of 13 seconds ago) was "wouldn't have been worth it if my house had had a tree fall through it but since we were all-clear, it was just what the doctor ordered" or maybe "best enjoyed by the candlelight (cause that's all we got)".

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

You Won't Be Sorry

I am well-aware that not everyone is a cheesecake fan... it's usually a very rich dessert. But being someone who usually perks up when someone else says "oh wow, that is just too rich for me" (Missy can relate), cheesecake is right up my alley. And my parents can attest to the fact that for about 7 years of my adolescence, I selected various kinds of cheesecakes for my birthday cake (read: it was my absolute favorite kind of cake).

At one of our wedding showers, we were fortunate enough to receive a homemade cookbook full of a family friend's favorite and most well-received recipes - and I soon discovered that digging through someone else's #1 archives might be my favorite way to find new dishes and recipes. So far every recipe from that magic binder has been a hit - and this Chocolate Cookie Cheesecake was no exception.

Chocolate Cookie Cheesecake

2 c cream-filled chocolate sandwich cookie crumbs (20 cookies)
2 TBSP melted margarine
1/4 c packed brown sugar
4 8-oz pkgs cream cheese
1 1/4 c sugar
1/3 c whipping cream
2 TBSP flour
1 tsp vanilla
4 eggs
2 (more) c coarsely crumbled cream-filled chocolate sandwich cookies
1 16-oz container sour cream
1/4 c sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/3 c whipping cream
1 1/4 c semi-sweet chocolate morsels
1 tsp vanilla

Combine the first 3 ingredients in a medium bowl; firmly press mixture in bottom and 2 inches up the sides of a greased 10-inch springform pan. Bake at 325 degrees for 12 minutes.

Beat cream cheese at medium speed with an electric mixture until creamy and smooth. Gradually add 1 1/4 c sugar, beating well. Add 1/3 c whipping cream, flour, and 1 tsp vanilla; beat well. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.

Pour 3 1/2 c of batter into prepared crust. Top with crumbled cookies; pour in remaining batter. Bake at 325 degrees for 1 hour and 15 minutes.

While the cake is baking, combine sour cream, 1/4 c sugar, and 1 tsp vanilla; spread over cheesecake. Bake at 325 degrees for 7 minutes. Turn oven off, and leave cheesecake in oven with door closed for 45 minutes. Remove from the oven, and cool completely on a wire rack. Cover and chill 8 hours. Remove sides of pan.

Combine 1/3 c whipping cream and semi-sweet morsels in a saucepan; stir over low heat until chocolate melts. Stir in 1 tsp vanilla. Remove from heat. Carefully spread mixture over cheesecake allowing it to drip down sides.

Don't discriminate against the poor cheesecake... just take a small sliver! You won't be sorry as you savor each and every bite of the crunchy chocolate cookie crust, the ultra-smooth cream cheese filling and finally, the tangy sour cream topping next to the chocolatey ganache. Just think of it as the ultimate exercise in self-control!

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