Friday, October 24, 2014

Nutella Speckulas Cheesecake

Bf and I were supposed to go to a friend's place for dinner this week, so I made a cheesecake. Then it was cancelled, so oh well, we'll just eat the whole thing!

A few years back I was experimenting with nutella cookies, this time I wanted to make a nutella cheesecake. One of the really great things about cheesecake is you can add about a cup of anything and give it a different flavor without messing up the baking science too much. Experiment!

When I went to the grocery store, I was excited to see Speckulas cookies! If your not familiar with speckulas, they're a spiced German/Dutch cookie commonly eaten in the fall and around Christmas time. They are very thin and normally shaped like windmills.  My boyfriend has been steadily working his way through the leftover cookies for the last few days.

If you're trying to find speckulas, I found mine at Aldi but you can also try World Market or Trader Joe's, I have seen them at both. If it's not fall you might have a hard time, in which case you can use a graham cracker crust or try shortbread!

If you have a basic cheesecake recipe you like, you can use it and just mix in 1 cup of nutella. If you cannot find speckulas Or if you need a little more direction you can follow my recipe here:

25 speckulas cookies (about 1 cup crumbs)
1/4 cup butter or margarine, melted
1 tablespoon sugar (optional - I think the cookies already have enough, you might taste one first)

2 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3   eggs
1 heaping cup nutella
1 teaspoon vanilla or almond extract

Preheat oven to 350°F. Place speckulas cookies in a zip bag. Crush into fine crumbs using rolling pin. Combine crumbs, butter and sugar (optional); mix well. Press crumb mixture onto bottom of springform pan . Bake 10 minutes. Remove from oven to cool.

Meanwhile, place cream cheese in large mixing bowl with sugar, flour, eggs, and vanilla or almond; beat until smooth. Pour batter over slightly cooled crust. Return to oven. Bake 50-55 minutes until center is just set.

Remove from oven. Cool 20 minutes and carefully run sharp knife around edges of cheesecake. Allow to cool and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled.


Wednesday, July 9, 2014

fried "rice" quinoa

Over the past two years, quinoa has quickly become one of my favorite grains! If you haven't tried this super food yet, you are seriously missing out! Don't let the funny name intimidate you! It has a slightly nutty flavor in my opinion but you can use it basically as a substitute for rice.

It's definitely pricier than rice, if you have a Trader Joe's nearby I have found them to have the most competitive prices for quinoa.

Quinoa made like fried rice has become a favorite meal for boyfriend and I, especially during the busy work week. It's gluten free and can be made as a vegetarian main dish or as a side dish.
Quinoa fried "rice" as a side for ginger chicken


1 cup quinoa
Chicken or vegetable bouillon (use vegetable to make it vegetarian)
1 Tb of olive oil 
1 Tb of minced garlic
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup frozen or fresh peas
1/2 cup chopped carrots
1-2 large eggs

for sauce:
2 Tb of soy sauce
1 Tb of Teriyaki sauce
1 Tb of sesame oil (can substitute olive oil)

Rinse quinoa in a mesh strainer. Cook quinoa in bouillon, refer to package directions for the amount of liquid needed to cook 1 cup of quinoa, typically 2 cups of liquid. Allow quinoa to cool, this step can be completed the day before.

Heat 1 Tb of olive oil in a a large skillet, add the garlic and cook for one minute. Add peas and celery and cook for 2-3 minutes or until they are about half of your desired tenderness. If you are using frozen peas, you might need to cook slightly longer than 3 minutes. Add in carrots, mixing them with the other vegetables.

Add cooked quinoa to the skillet and mix with vegetables for a few minutes allowing the quinoa to heat up. While the quinoa is warming, mix all of the sauce ingredients together in small bowl. When the quinoa is warm, pour the sauce over the top and stir all ingredients together.

Push the quinoa and vegetables to one side of the pan, making a small pocket of empty space. Crack eggs in the small pocket of empty space and scramble them a few minutes until cooked fully. Note this can be done in a separate pan if you don't have enough room. When the eggs are fully cooked, mix them in with the quinoa and vegetables thoroughly. Serve hot.

Servings: 2 main dish or 4-5 as a side dish

Friday, June 27, 2014

Whipped cream explosion!

For my birthday last year, I asked for a whipped cream dispenser. What can I say? I'm a woman with limited interests and these days they primarily consist of food and sewing.

It started when I saw the one Boyfriend's parents have a few months beforehand, before then I had really only seen them at like Starbucks and it did not occur to me that this was something people had in their own kitchens. And it was amazing. You fill it with cream, snap in the little nitrous cartridge, shake it and bingo! Fresh whipped cream.

Yes, I know it's not that hard to make the old fashioned way. Be honest, how often do you do it? That's what I thought. Plus after the Thanksgiving when I made it alone with a whisk, not a mixer, I have become lazier than normal.

Since getting my new gizmo, there has kinda been fresh whipped cream on every dessert. And not just plain, flavored. Some of my best experiments are below. You can make this the "old-fashioned" way if you don't have the gizmo :-) or you can buy the gizmo from amazon for $30-100. I have this one from Amazon.

All of the recipes I have below call for Agave syrup because I have found it mixes in easily when using the dispenser, you can substitute 3-5 Tb of powdered sugar. The cream will keep in the dispenser for at least 3-4 days, I suspect up to a week but we always use it all before then.

1 pint of heavy cream
3-5 Tb of Agave syrup (really, I do three good squeezes of the bottle)
1 tsp of vanilla

Orange dream (I served this with at New York Style cheesecake)
1 pint of heavy cream
3-5 Tb of Agave syrup
1 tsp of orange extract*

*Do NOT use orange juice, the citric acid in the juice will curdle your cream.

Chocolate cream (I served this with a raspberry swirl cheesecake)
1 pint of heavy cream
2-3 Tb of Agave syrup (Or 2 squeezes of the bottle)
3-5 Tb of Chocolate syrup (Or 3 good squeezes of the bottle)

I also made a chocolate with coco powder that was more a subtle chocolate, too subtle for my taste, but if you want something less chocolatey (I can't imagine why!), you could use 4 Tb of coco powder.

Peppermint (excellent on a chocolate cheesecake or in coffee)
1 pint of heavy cream
3-5 Tb of Agave syrup
1 tsp of peppermint extract