Wednesday, November 23, 2011

MarthaRayDeen's Gingered Pumpkin Cheesecake



12-15 oz. Gingersnap cookies, ground finely (about 3 cups)
1 stick of melted butter (not margarine)

32 oz. room temperature cream cheese (4 - 8oz. pkgs)
2 1/2 cups white sugar
1/4 cup sour cream
15 oz. can pureed pumpkin (or fresh pureed pumpkin if you so desire)
6 large eggs, lightly beaten (and at room temperature)
4 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
1 TBS pure vanilla extract


  • Let the cream cheese and 6 eggs come to room temperature.
  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees and place rack on middle position.
  • Combine the gingersnap cookies and melted butter until thoroughly blended.  (I used a food processor to grind the cookies as they need to be ground to the consistency of sand.)
  • Press cookie mixture into the bottom of a 10" springform pan.
  • Bake the crust 10-15 minutes, just until it turns a nice dark golden brown
  • Remove and cool on a rack (allow to come down to room temperature)
  • Blend cream cheese in a large mixing bowl until it gets fluffy
  • Add the sugar, about 1/4 cup at a time, mixing just until combined
  • Add the sour cream and pumpkin puree and again, mix just until combined
  • Lightly beat the room temperature eggs and add to cheese-pumpkin mixture
  • Add the spices and vanilla
  • Blend until just combined, being careful not to "overbeat" the mixture, which will cause your cake to crack
  • Pour batter into prepared springform pan
  • Wrap the pan in double-layer of heavy duty aluminum foil and place wrapped pan into a roasting pan (just large enough to hold the pan)
  • Pour enough boiling water into the roasting pan to come about halfway up the side of the springform pan
  • ******This is called a "water bath", you can google it to see more about the technique**********
  • Bake the cheesecake in the 325 degree water bath for 1 hour, 30 minutes (just until sides pull away from the pan and the center is still just a bit jiggly) Be careful not to overcook, if you've followed these directions exactly, you shouldn't need to cook this for more than 1 hour 45 minutes.
  • When cooking time is over, leave the cake and roasting pan in the oven with the oven door slightly open and the oven turned off, allowing it to cool in the oven for up to an hour.
  • When the cheesecake (and roasting pan water) have come down to room temperature, remove the cheesecake, remove the foil, cover cake with plastic wrap and place in refrigerator for at least 4 hours (overnight is best)
  • Serve plain, or for those who need topping, put just a dollop of Cool Whip on top.

NOTE:  This will make enough batter for a 10" Springform pan.  If you use the standard 9" Springform pans widely sold, you will have enough batter to also fill a standard sized pie pan, either homemade or storebought.  To cook in the premade pie crusts, reduce the cooking time to 50-55 minutes and of course, no water bath needed.   If you want to make the batter and use ONLY pre-made crusts, it will make three pies.

Enjoy....I sure did!

MarthaRayDeen's Caribbean Rum Cake


Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

  • 2 cups cake flour (or 1 3/4 c. all purpose flour + 1/4 c. corn starch)

  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

  • 4 teaspoons baking powder

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 1/2 cup butter, cut into bits

  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil

  • *********** (combine first 6 ingredients before adding others)**************

  • 1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts

  • 1 (3 1/2 ounce) package vanilla instant pudding mix

  • 1/2 cup milk

  • 4 eggs

  • 1/4 cup dark rum + 1/4 cup Cruzan Vanilla rum (1/2 cup combined)

  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • GLAZE:
  • 1/2 cup butter (do not substitute)

  • 1/4 cup water

  • 1 cup granulated sugar

  • 1/2 cup Cruzan Vanilla Rum

  • Directions:
    • Spray a Large Bundt pan with Pam, then sprinkle the chopped walnuts into bottom of pan, with an even distribution.
    • Combine the first 6 ingredients and mix until it has a gravel/sand consistency (I used a food processor to combine it)
    • Add pudding mix, milk, eggs, rum, oil, and vanilla and combine on medium speed with electric mixer for 2 to 3 minutes, scraping the bowl halfway through.
    • Pour mixture over nuts in Bundt pan.
    • Bake at 325 degrees for 55 minutes, or until golden and toothpick comes out clean.
    • Remove cake from the oven and place it on a cooling rack (do not remove from bundt pan)
    • Prepare the glaze by combining butter, water, and sugar in a pan and bring to boil, stirring constantly.  Continue to boil for 3-5 minutes until the sugar is completely dissolved and the liquid begins to thicken up. 
    • Remove glaze from heat and stir in the rum, continuing to stir.  It will bubble up and be a little thinner than you think it shold be, but this is ok, it will be great when you finish!
    • Pour the warm glaze, a little bit at a time, over the cooling cake inside the bundt pan.  I poked a few holes in mine, to let the rum glaze soak through the cake.  It will take a little time to get all of the syrup glaze poured over, but believe me, it's worth the time.  
    • When you've got all of the syrup glaze poured over the cake, let it cool to room temperature, then cover with foil or plastic wrap and place in the fridge overnight. (keeping it in the bundt pan)
    • The next day, submerge the bundt pan bottom into a little warm water to warm the glaze (and unstick from the pan), then invert onto a cake platter.

    Saturday, May 14, 2011

    Tigger's Mooseloaf Surprise

    If you're looking for a "healthy" way to have "meatloaf", this recipe is PERFECT for you!  My friend, Paul, sent me a recipe for his "Tigger's Mooseloaf Surprise", which is basically turkey with vegetables, all mixed up to hide the "healthiness" from those picky eaters in your house.  (His originally submitted recipe is below, and what I did to recreate it is shown in this recipe).  Feel free to substitute the type of vegetables as you like, but try to stick with 1 cup veggies per pound of bird.  Also, the spices are all suggestions only, but if you prepare it exactly as I have shown below, I know your family will be blown away!  I will never make "normal" meatloaf again!

    Tigger's Mooseloaf Surprise

    2.5 lbs ground turkey
    1 pack McCormick's Meatloaf seasoning mix
    4 slices toasted wheat bread
    10 crumbled crackers (more or less for texture)
    2 eggs
    4 finely shredded carrots
    1 cup finely shredded broccoli stems and florets
    1/2 large red onion (or 1 whole small red onion)
    1 head (10-11 cloves) garlic, minced
    1 TBS Worcestershire 
    2 tsp cumin
    1 tsp sage

    Topping (optional)
    1 cup katsup
    2 1/2 TBS spicy brown mustard
    1 TBS Worcestershire
    3 tsp red pepper flakes
    2 TBS brown sugar

    Combine all in a large bowl and press into a casserole dish (no more than 2" in thickness across loaf). Cook at 350 degrees for one hour. If wanted, add "topping" during the last 15 minutes of cooking.

    ORIGINAL RECIPE As submitted by Paul:
    ok here is one, fine tune it as you see fit...
    But the main thrust of this is that there is NO milk in the recipe, it has plenty of liquid in it tho (you'll see how, read on McDuff..)
    Its called : Tiggers Mooseloaf Surprise
    2lbs. 93% lean ground turkey (this is NOT a beef recipe, lol..beef makes me fat, turkey doesnt...its has to do w/ whats in the damn meat, yes rly)
    1 packet of meatlof mix I found a cheap one with decent spices/flavors but I also add spices, ill list those later.
    2 aigs, uh eggs...
    3 TBS (tablespoons, thats the abbreviation right?) Minced garlic, from a jar of cheap stuff is fine..garlic is garlic
    1.5-2 (or more, this is where the liquid comes in) CUPS of shredded fresh carrots, finely chopped broccoli, finely chopped onion, add or subtract veggies as you see fit to fine tune it to your taste. Corn is ok, green beans..pretty much anything that you wish, just cut it up real good so Mr. Meat eating-no-veggies-at-all doesnt notice. Thats part of the SURPRISE!
    4 pieces of toasted wheat bread, cubed - I used 4, you can use more/less as you see fit.
    Cumin - to taste, me, I dont mind the flavor really in the middle, but a little does go a long long way.
    Black pepper - to taste.
    Hoisin sauce if you want, a nice squirt (1-2 TBS)
    Good dash of red pepper if you want a kick, if folks dont like it then leave it out.
    Notice I dont use any salt, there is enough in the mix to kill a horsie and possibly some in the meat too, have to look at the label for that info. I really aim to use things like milk and salt sparingly, fresh veggies as often as I can sneak em in.
    ANYWAYS: mix all this crap in a big bowl, I think I remembered all the ingredients..haha
    You can use a shallow baking dish (2-2.5 inches or so deep, 11x19 in size should do it) and fire it up, use the directions on the packet to bake (probably 350ish for 45 mins?).
    The shallow dish makes it crust a little easier and makes more crust which folks like. If you do this wrong, its got TOO many veggies and its obvious. If you undercut it, they vanish and folks never notice them. SURPRISE!
    Bonus: There is NO MOOSEN in it, so thats another SURPRISE! 
    This can also be done without eggs if you wish. Its very simple, I know, but done correctly (which Ive done many once out of 4 times?) it kicks ass. But, even halfassed its not bad, its still just has to balance just so, in favor of the meat+spices, then veggies. YMMV as well as your personal tastes. It might not call for that much garlic, but I dont mind a hefty kick. PS, when using garlic in other applications (stir fry) I add it as late as I possibly can, since it will be less bitter the less it cooks...hate adding it way too early, but thats me.
    As a glaze, or side dipping stuff, you can mix some wostershitrererere sauce, mustard, and some ketchup at a 2:2:1 ratio, should be ok...thats grans recipe I think so YMMV, taste test n fine tune it...I aint taking responsibility for that one...

    Friday, May 13, 2011

    Greek Spaghetti with Spinach (shared by Laura Jean Weatherman)

    My friend, Laura Jean Weatherman, shared a recipe of hers that she had created after accidentally losing the page with the second half of a recipe for Greek Spaghetti with Spinach.  Her unique and original recipe is shown below, which is what I used to create our dinner tonight.  My only additions were chopped red peppers, fresh rosemary, and some Havarti cheese sprinkled on top after assembly (my changes shown with a *).
    This is a MUST have recipe and I know it will be on our monthly menu!

    Greek Spaghetti
    • 1 package (16oz) spaghetti *you may not use this much, but see idea at bottom for remaining spaghetti
    • 4 cups cubed or sliced cooked chicken breast (or approx. 2-3 large breasts) *seasoned with garlic powder and fresh rosemary
    • 1 - 10 3/4 ounce can cream of chicken soup, undiluted
    • 3/4 cup mayonnaise
    • 3/4 cup sour cream

     1-2 bags fresh spinach (already cleaned and ready to eat) 
    * 2 TBS butter
    * 1 TBS olive oil
    • 3 celery ribs chopped
    • 1 small onion chopped
    • 2-3 cloves garlic chopped

    * 1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
    * shredded Havarti cheese
    fresh rosemary sprigs

    Cook spaghetti (approx. 7 minutes) and strain then set aside.  In the pot you cooked the spaghetti (because I hate using lots of pots, ugh, cleaning), heat the butter and olive oil over medium high heat and add the chopped celery, onion, garlic and red pepper.  Sautee for approximately 4 to 5 minutes, just enough to soften the vegetables just a bit.

    Add a bag of fresh leaf spinach (cleaned and ready to cook) and cook for about 2-3 minutes (just long enough to soften the spinach will cook down VERY quickly!!)

    In a bowl, combine the soup, sour cream, and mayonnaise then add the mixture to the pot and stir well to warm all ingredients. After you've combined everything, throw in a few more handfuls of fresh spinach and stir again, keeping the last added spinach a little "crunchy".

    Toss in the spaghetti noodles a little at a time until you have a nice creamy consistency. (the sauce will thicken a little as it cools, so use just enough spaghetti without going overboard).  Add the cooked chicken and top with a few sprigs of fresh rosemary and shredded Havarti cheese (or a cheese of your choice such as Parm, Mozz, etc.).  Serve in a big pretty bowl along with a nice salad and garlic bread.  YUM!!

    For the leftover spaghetti noodles, try cooling them and adding some chopped tomatoes, cucumber and onion.  Pour on some Italian dressing and let it sit overnight for a great lunchtime "pasta salad".


    Tuesday, May 10, 2011

    My Grandma's 92nd Birthday cake (strawberry, of course!)

    Strawberry Cake
    • 1 package white cake mix
    • 1 package (3 ounces) strawberry-flavored gelatin powder
    • 1 cup vegetable oil
    • 4 eggs, lightly beaten
    • 1/4 cup water
    • 3/4 cup mashed strawberries.
    Combine cake mix and gelatin powder in a large bowl. Beat in oil, eggs, water, and strawberries. Pour into 2 9-inch round greased and floured cake pans. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.  Cool completely.

    Cream Cheese Frosting (if you want to make homemade)
    • 4 ounces unsalted butter, softened
    • 4 ounces cream cheese, softened
    • 2 cups powdered sugar
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    Beat together the butter and cream cheese with an electric mixer. With the mixer on low speed, add the powdered sugar a cup at a time until smooth and creamy. Beat in the vanilla extract.

    Frost bottom layer first with cream chese frosting.  Cover bottom layer with fresh sliced strawberries then add top layer and frost all over.  Cover top of cake with more sliced strawberries and keep cool until serving.  I like to add silk flowers around the bottom of the cake to give it a "frilly" look.  Get creative with your ideas & everyone will be happy!

    Strawberry Lime Marinade and Strawberry Salsa (Chicken Pitas)

    This was the entry I submitted for the South Carolina Strawberry Festival recipe contest.  Although I did not win first place, I was honored to receive the "Queen's Choice" award and a yellow ribbon. The strawberries came from my own garden and I was lucky enough to have a plentiful amount of them to pick.

    Strawberry-Lime Marinade

    1 cup lime juice (freshly squeezed is best, but bottled can be used with success)
    1 cup cooking oil* (I use  ½ cup veg. and  ½ cup olive oil)
    2 tsp. ground ginger
    1 cup fresh strawberries, stems removed and crushed
    2 tsp. dill seeds
    2 tsp white sugar
    2 tsp honey
    Mix & refrigerate

    This marinade can be used on pork, chicken, and beef.  Marinate the meat at least 2 hours and also use to brush on during cooking.  Larger amounts can be made up and refrigerated for about 2 weeks.

    Strawberry Salsa:
    1/2 medium red onion, chopped
    1 jalapeno pepper, de-seeded and minced
    1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
    1/2 yellow bell pepper, chopped
    1/2 green bell pepper, chopped
    1/2 orange bell pepper, chopped
    1/3 cup finely shredded fresh cilantro leaves
    1 1/2  cups fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced (feel free to use up to 2 cups)
    1/4 cup fresh orange juice
    2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
    2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
    Salt and freshly ground black pepper

    Mix all ingredients and refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving.  This salsa is exceptional the day after, so if you have patience, make it the night before you plan to serve :)

    After preparing the marinade and salsa, I took boneless, skinless chicken breasts and marinated them for about 2 hours before grilling them.  I brushed some marinade on the chicken during cooking to give it a nice pink color and wonderful flavor.  Take the grilled chicken and cut into strips small enough to fit into a pita that has been lined with fresh baby spinach leaves.  Top the pitas with the salsa and have a flavor explosion in your mouth!! <3 JLH

    **forgot to mention that I served this with strawberry "tea"'s the info: