Friday, January 28, 2011

Happy 2nd Birthday, Nelly!

Today is my crazy precious Weimaraner's 2nd birthday!  You may remember that last year I made Nelly a yummy, pink strawberry cake with whipped cream-cream cheese frosting.

This year, I steered away from "traditional" cake and went with an old favorite---Cherry Cheesecake.  Now this isn't your ordinary cheesecake.  For one, it's not baked. Two, there's no eggs.  Three, it has less fat.

It's more of a "whipped" cheesecake. And that's all you need to know.

This recipe is one my great-grandmother used to make for Sunday dinners, along with an assortment of other pies and cakes.  It's a lightened up version of a regular cheesecake, but I say just as good. 

The cake calls for cream cheese---I used light cream cheese---, sour cream---I actually used Fage Greek yogurt, because that's what I had and it's essentially the same thing---, and Cool Whip---there's no skimping on Cool Whip. Just go with it. 

I almost put fresh blackberries on top instead of the cherry pie filling, but I just loved the idea of the contrast colors with using my brand new bright yellow pie dish that we got for a wedding present (grin) and the bright red cherries.  So there ya go, sugary goodness on top. We'll save the fresh berries for summer.

Since we haven't cut into it yet, here's the disclosure: this cheesecake does not cut like a regular cheesecake---you pretty much have to scoop it. Don't expect clean cut slices, it won't happen. Unless you freeze it. Then maybe it will. 

Nelly can hardly wait for her birthday celebration tonight. Can you tell?
Love you, Nelly!

Cherry Cheesecake 

1 (8 oz) package cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup sugar
1 cup sour cream (or plain yogurt)
2 tsp vanilla 
1 graham cracker pie crust (I used a box of graham cracker crumbs and made my own crust)
1 cup cherry pie filling 
3 1/2 cup Cool Whip
1 can cherry pie filling (or any pie filling)

Beat cream cheese until smooth. Gradually beat in sugar. Blend in sour cream and vanilla.  
Fold in whipped topping, blending well.
Spoon into crust. Chill until set, at least 4 hours. Spread cherry pie filling on top.  Chill until ready to serve. 

Monday, January 17, 2011

Back to baking

Pretty sure it's been a few months since my last post---my apologies.  A little thing called "planning a wedding" seemed to consume and take over all of my time.  Now that that's out of the way---back to baking.

With a wedding, though, comes a multitude of presents.  Only problem is....I have no space to unpack them.  Hence the reason, these said presents now make up the "present room."

I can hardly wait to get into a bigger and (much) better place and start using all of these wonderful items.

Until then, I've stuck to my same old baking dishes, but tried out a few new recipes.

First up, Chicken Parmesan with Pepperoni.  I made this last night and I'm pretty sure the words "You're the best wife ever," came out of my husband's mouth.  And rightly so. This might be my new favorite meal.  No lies.

I admit, this pictures makes the dish look super greasy, but I swear that resting "grease" is what cooked out of the chicken, with a little pepperoni goodness/grease on top.  
I can't wait for leftovers tonight!

In addition to the chicken parmesan, I tried out a recipe for Salted Caramel Butter Bars that I found on a blog my younger sister reads.  They looked fabulous, sounded fabulous, and you can't really go wrong with butter.  I put my own twist on the recipe though and added "low-sugar" apple pie filling.

I call them "Caramel Apple Pie Bars" (with lots of butter).

Little bit closer? Here ya go.

After the husband tried these, he said I was "definitely the best wife ever."  And I smiled.

Try these yourself. You won't be disappointed.  And now I need to go for a run.

Chicken Parmesan with Pepperoni
adapted from Food and Wine and ELR

4 Chicken Breasts, pounded thin
2 cups Panko bread crumbs
2 eggs
1/2 cup flour
1/4 cup milk
1 cup shredded mozzarella
2 ounces pepperoni
1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan
1 large jar marinara sauce
1/4 cup oil
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 450.  In a shallow dish, combine eggs and milk.  In another shallow dish, pour panko. In one more dish, spread the flour.  Add salt and pepper to the flour.

Pound each of the chicken breasts thin (I didn't get mine thin enough). Dip each chicken breast in the egg mixture, then the panko breadcrumbs, then the flour.  

Heat oil on medium heat in large skillet.  Add the chicken breasts and lightly fry until golden on each side and cooked through.  Because my chicken breasts were a little on the "thick" side.  I cooked them until golden brown on each side, then put them on a pan in the oven for about 5-10 minutes until cooked through, so I wouldn't burn them in the skillet.  

Place cooked chicken breasts in 9x13 pan and cover with marinara sauce.  I used 3/4 of the jar on the chicken breasts and put the rest aside to put over my pasta.  Sprinkle the parmesan cheese and mozzarella over the chicken breasts and top with pepperoni slices.  

Bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown and serve with noodles....and a Pinot Grigio. :)

Caramel Apple Pie Bars
adapted from Cookies and Cups
1 lb. salted butter room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
2 tbsp vanilla
4 cups flour

1 can apple pie filling (or any pie filling for that matter)

1/2 bag of caramel candies (I used the ones in the baking section that were already unwrapped)

To make the crust:
Preheat oven to 325.
In a large bowl, combine the butter and sugars.  Beat until creamy.  Add the vanilla.  Add the flour until mixed and soft dough forms.

Spray 9x13 dish with PAM and press half of the dough evenly into the pan.  Place rest of dough in refrigerator until ready to use.  Bake for 20-25 minutes until a pale golden brown then take out of oven and let cool for 10-15 minutes.

Pour can of pie filling onto crust, then crumble the rest of the dough on top of the filling and baking for another 30-35 minute, until lightly golden.

While bars are baking, microwave caramel pieces until melted and smooth.  May need to add 1-2 tbsp of milk to thin out.  

Once bars are out of the oven, drizzle caramel over the top.  Let cool and serve.