Cake Batter Cheesecake with Blondie Crust

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

So I browned butter before it was even a thing. Not to brag. It was an amazing, life-changing experience. I would wear perfume that smelled like browned butter.

How do you take a browned butter blondie and make it even better? Add cheesecake on top. And add some cake batter to that cheesecake. Oh yes. I have learned that trying new baking and cooking projects on the weekend helps to de-stress me after a week of work. So, yes this is a little bit involved, but sometimes some time spent in the kitchen, away from the computer and work, is just what we all need. Or if you are not a baker, just find a friend who is and suggest this cheesecake in passing in a conversation.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

CAKE BATTER CHEESECAKE WITH BLONDIE CRUST
Adapted from Teenage Taste & Cinnamon Freud

INGREDIENTS

For the Blondie Crust:
5 tablespoons butter
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1 egg yolk

For the Cake Batter Cheesecake:
16 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs, room temperature
1 egg yolk, room temperature
1/2 cup & 2 tablespoons milk
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup yellow cake mix
1/4 cup sprinkles

DIRECTIONS

For the Blondie Crust:

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a 9 inch baking pan.

In a large bowl combine flour, baking powder, and salt. In a small saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Cook for 6-8 minutes, until butter is golden brown. Pour into bowl and let sit for at least 10 minutes. Whisk egg and egg yolk into brown butter. Pour on top of flour mixture. Stir together until just combined. Press into greased baking sheet. Bake for 7-8 minutes. Cool completely.

For the Cake Batter Cheesecake:

In a large bowl whip cream cheese until fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Beat in sugar until incorporated. Beat in eggs, milk vanilla extract, and salt. Stir in yellow cake mix. Stir in sprinkles. Pour on to of cooled crust.

Place baking sheet in a 9 by 13 inch baking dish. Pour warm tap water about 3/4 inch deep into the larger baking pan. Bake for 30-40 minutes. Cool at room temperature for 30 minutes. Chill at least 3 hours, preferably over night. Cut into bars and serve.

Shake and Bake Chicken Nuggets

IMG_1182

What do you do when you are carving McDonald’s chicken nuggets but are trying to eat healthy? Apparently, get some shake and bake?!

I’ve never used Shake and Bake– my only experience comes from watching Charlie’s Angels, so I was skeptical at first, but this chicken nuggets tasted like a chicken nuggets! They may not be the “chicken” from McDonalds but it tastes pretty good and is healthier.

Quincy definitely approved.

IMG_1184

Get the recipe here!

October Top 5

IMG_1137

  1. FALL, FALL, FALL. This time of year I become pretty much 100% basic (minus pumpkin spice anything) but I love this time of year.
  2. Quincy and I do one football game a year (MSU v. Michigan), and the highlight this year was definitely the frito chili pie.
  3. We got a Costco membership a few months ago, and it is AMAZING. We went int the other day, and truly explore the store. So much stuff, and it’s hard not to buy stuff because I love a good deal.
  4. This was back in September but we went up to Estes Park for the elk’s rut/mating season, and elk were right there with us in the road. Super fun and definitely want to try and squeeze in a few hikes before it gets too cold.
  5. Being back at the blog! I have been cooking a lot but not documenting all my work, making it hard to find recipes I had done before, etc. So here we go again!

 

Lobster Mac and Cheese for Two

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Or fully known as: Lobster Mac and Cheese for Two People who Actually want a good portion size and not the skimpy “for two” portion sizes that are out there.

I have made a lot of mac and cheese, since it is a general crowd pleaser in this household, but this batch was perhaps one of my best yet. The cheese mixture is melty and gooey, and the panko breadcrumbs add a lovely crunch to the top. And lobster…that ain’t bad at all.

This is rich an decadent and easy to make for a nice romantic dinner on a certain holiday that is upcoming.

LOBSTER MAC AND CHEESE
From Cinnamon Freud

INGREDIENTS

4-5 lobster tails
Butter
1/2 cup macaroni noodles
4 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons flour
1 3/4 cup milk
8 ounces sharp Cheddar, shredded
4 ounces emmental or gruyere cheesed
Salt and pepper
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs

DIRECTIONS

Preheat broiler.

Remove lobster meat from tails. Sautee with a little butter until lobster is cooked and tender. Set aside. Cook pasta al dente according to package instructions.

In a large pot, melt 4 tablespoons butter. Stir in flour and cook 1 minute, until boiling. Slowly whisk in milk. Remove from heat and stir in cheese until melted. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in pasta and lobster. Pour into 9 x 9 inch pan. Sprinkle panko on top. Broil until golden brown and bubbly, about 4-5 minutes.

January Top 5

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

  1. Back on the interview trail again for my fellowship next year. Traveling can be great and awful at the same time.
  2. I survived the icepocalypse of 2017 here in STL. The midwest is pushing me to want to move further south with each ice storm….
  3. Celebrated N’s birthday. His last 20’s birthday, so already thinking of something fun we can do next year.
  4. I am feeling a little more into Valentine’s Day this year than other pears. I have requested a bunch of silly chick flicks from the library and have some v-day sprinkles ready for baked goods.
  5. I found the best new PJs are Target, and I cannot ever convince myself to change out of them on the weekends.

December Top 5

img_4760

  1. December and the holiday season is my favorite time of year. It makes even simple thinks- like dare I say going to work with decorations- a little more fun. Can’t wait for it to come around again next year
  2. Holidays are synonymous with good cooking. Loved making cookies, casseroles, and lots of decadent food this past month.
  3. Also got to visit my family for the holidays. Although it was short, it was worth it!
  4. My resolution last year was to create a memory jar. Looking forward to going through all the memories tomorrow for the New Year!
  5. So this is my first winter season outside of Texas. Real winter weather is no joke (and sometimes no fun), but I am surviving (after an 8 hour drive home that should have taken one hour earlier this month #serenitynow)

Mom’s Zucchini Casserole

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This dish is a staple at Christmas Eve dinner for our family, and for many years, I refused to sacrifice plate space for this casserole. Zucchini? Vegetables? No thank you says my adolescent self.

But as I began expanding my palate and grew older, zucchini became okay. I even began to spiralize it and eat it, so it was time to try this casserole. This zucchini casserole is cheesy, bacon-y goodness. I highly recommend you don’t wait 10+ years to make this like I did.

Mom’s Zucchini Casserole
From Cinnamon Freud’s mom

INGREDIENTS

6 cups thinly sliced zucchini (or other squash)
2 eggs, separated
1 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons flour
1 1/2-2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
8 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
1 tablespoon butter, melted
1/4 cup panko bread crumbs

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Bring large pot of water to a boil. Boil zucchini slices for 2-3 minutes, until cooked through. Drain and set aside to cool slightly.

In a bowl, combine egg yolks, sour cream, and flour. Stir together and season with salt and pepper. Whip egg whites until stiff peaks form. Fold egg whites into sour cream mixture.

In a 9 x 13 pan, place half of the zucchini in a single layer. Season zucchini with salt and pepper. Crumble bacon on top. Spread half of the sour cream mixture. Sprinkle with cheese. Layer the remaining zucchini and repeat, sprinting cheese on top.

Mix butter and breadcrumbs together. Sprinkle on top. Bake for 20-25 minutes.

Homemade Green Bean Casserole

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Let me preface this whole post by saying I don’t think I have ever had the green bean casserole with the canned green beans and cream of mushroom soup. I have definitely had those french fried onions (#latenightsnacking).

I’ve made homemade green casserole before on the blog, but I was never completely satisfied by it. One of the hardest things when first cooking what how to get sauces to thicken with a roux. I swear that I would follow recipe directly exactly but it would never thicken up as promised (I am looking at you chicken pot pie recipes…).

BUT I was determined. And I wanted to make a casserole completely from scratch to see if I could get those french fried onions to be even better than than those boxed ones.

And finally I feel like I was able to master a homemade version of cream of mushroom! Forgive the darker photo from a winter evening and make this homemade this holiday season!

HOMEMADE GREEN BEAN CASSEROLE
Adapted from Cooks Illustrated & Pioneer Woman

For the Casserole:
1 lb green beans, trimmed and chopped
1 lb cremini mushrooms, chopped
Salt and pepper
3 tablespoons butter
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons flour
3/4 cup chicken stock
3/4 cup half and half

For the onions:
1 onion, thinly sliced
2 cups buttermilk
2 cups flour
1 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon cayenne
Oil for frying

DIRECTIONS

Cover sliced onions with buttermilk and refrigerate for an hour.

Heat large pan and add green beans. Cook for 2-3 minutes until sizzling. Add water until beans are just covered and cook for 4-5 minutes until crisp-tender. Drain green beans and cool with cold water (or do water bath if you aren’t feeling as lazy as I was when cooking).

Heat large pan and add butter and mushrooms. Season with salta and pepper and cook until mushrooms have released water, about 6-8 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1-2 minutes. Stir in flour and cook for 1-2 minutes. Slowly stir in chicken stock and half and half. Bring to boil and reduce to simmer while stirring. Simmer until thicken for about 15-20 minutes. Remove from heat and transfer into 8×8 casserole dish (or 9×9 if you want a smaller filling to fried onion ratio.)

Preheat oven to 425°F. Heat oil to 375°F.

In large dish, mix flour, salt, pepper, and cayenne. Working in batches, drain onions and dip into flour mixture, coating to cover. Fry in oil for 1-3 minutes, until golden brown. Transfer to paper towels to drain and salt when hot out of the oil. Repeat with remaining batches.

Sprinkle onions on top of casserole. Bake in oven for 15-20 minutes, until bubbling and onions are golden brown.