Layered Turtle Cheesecake

Back to the daily grind. Don’t know about anyone else, but man did that holiday weekend ever fly by. It was really fun though.

I love any time that I get extra time with my hubby, and this year was the first year he tried to run the Turkey Trot with me. He only mad it through 3 of the 6.2 miles, but I love that he tried to share a love of mine.

Me on the other hand, well, not to brag but… I finished my run at 56 minutes and 43 seconds. Which is a new personal best for me. Almost 9 minute miles the whole way. Not gonna lie, I was pretty happy about that.

And another historical event, I made my first turkey!! Yeah, hum, this was an adventure. Here I was looking down at this things thinking, “Ok, now what???” Ha!! So I call my mom who was elk hunting, hence why I got assigned the turkey. So I got instructions on how to pull the neck out of the butt and the giblet bag out of the neck. Was expecting that to be the other way around, but whatever. I’m easy going so, moving on. Then time to separate the skin from the breast and stuff it with herbed butter. Wow!! Who new being a cook could be such a dirty job.

And then there was this weird plastic thing holding the drumsticks together. For 10 minutes I went back and forth, “Do I leave this on? Do I cut this off?” My first conclusion was, “This is to hold the bird together so I could easily put it in the pan. So now that it’s in the pan, I cut it off. Right?” But then when I actually tried to cut it off, it was really well put on there. Which made trying to get it off really difficult. So I finally decided that it was suppose to stay on. Can anyone answer this for me? Are you suppose to keep it on or take it off?

So, that was my Thanksgiving in a nutshell. That and this amazing cheesecake. I know everyone is so sick of gorging, but, desserts are my thing. Scrumptious dinners are soon to be on the way, but to hold you over, here you go.

I know I say this a lot, but this cheesecake is a 10!! Love all the textures and layers. The perfect combination of cheesecake, pecans, caramel, and chocolate. Actually, I wish I had some leftovers to refresh my memory (or to give myself another excuse to have another piece :). Seriously, this is just flat out amazing! Enjoy!!


Layered Turtle Cheesecake
     1 cup all-purpose flour
     1/3 cup packed brown sugar
     1/4 cup finely chopped pecans
     6 tablespoons cold butter, chopped

Filling
     4 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese, softened
     1 cup sugar
     1/3 cup packed brown sugar
     1/4 cup plus 1 teaspoon all-purpase flour, divided
     2 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
     1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
     4 eggs, lightly beaten
     1/2 cup milk chocolate chips, melted and cooled
     1/4 cup caramel ice cream topping
     1/3 cup chopped pecans

Ganache
     1/2 cup milk chocolate chips
     1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
     2 tablespoons chopped pecans

Optional Garnish
     Pecan halves
     Additional caramel ice cream topping

Place a greased 9-in. springform pan on a double thickness of heavy-duty foil (about 18 in. square). Securely wrap foil around pan.

In a small bowl, combine the flour, brown sugar and pecans.

Cut in butter until crumbly.

Press onto the bottom of prepared pan. Place pan on a baking sheet. Bake at 325 degrees for 12-15 minutes or until set. Cool on a wire rack.

In a large bowl, beat cream cheese and sugars until smooth.

Beat in 1/4 cup flour, cream and vanilla.

Add eggs.

Beat on low speed just until combined.

Remove 1 cup batter to a small bowl; stir in melted chocolate until blended. Spread over crust.

Combine caramel topping and remaining flour; stir in pecans.

Drop by tablespoonfuls over chocolate batter.

Top with remaining batter. Place springform pan in a large baking pan; add 1 in. of hot water to larger pan.

Bake at 325 degrees for 1-1/4 to 1-1/2 hours or until center is just set and top appears dull. Remove springform pan from water bath. Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Carefully run a knife around edge of pan to loosen; cool 1 hour longer. Refrigerate overnight.

Place chips in a small bowl. In a small saucepan, bring cream just to a boil. Pour over chips; whisk until smooth. Cool slightly, stirring occasionally.

Spread over cheesecake. Sprinkle with chopped pecans.

Refrigerate until set. Remove sides of pan. Garnish with pecan halves and additional caramel topping if desired.

Printable Recipe

Recipe from Taste of Home Fall Baking.

Advertisements

Pumpkin Spice Caramel Pecan Monkey Bread



Kind of late post today, but it’s been hectic. If you’ve been following my blog, you know by now that I dabble a little bit in making my own recipes, but mostly try others recipes. And a few day ago Jenny Flake, from Picky-Palate, asked if I would be interested in posting one of my own recipes as a guest post. First, total excitement hit, followed by panic. I want to start making more of my own recipes, but that hasn’t been a huge priority since there are so many recipes I’ve been wanting to try. So, yesterday was crunch time. Time to make an amazing recipe that would wow everyone. No pressure.



And for all of those who haven’t tried to make a recipe, just know it’s not horribly easy. Isn’t not greatly difficult ether. It just takes a good amount of creativity, but there is a lot more that goes into it then just going by someone else’s recipe. A lot of trial and error. Plus after figuring out your ingredients and how to make whatever it is you are making, you have to compose directions to go with your ingredients, and this all needed to get done quickly so I could get back to Jenny and let her know if I even had a recipe I wanted to feature on her blog. Needless to say, it was a long day. Above is the aftermath of nonstop cooking.



But, can I just express for a second how hugely excited I am about this recipe. While trying to figure out what it was I wanted to create, it hit me that I’ve been wanting to feature a Monkey Bread recipe for a while, and it’s fall, so the thought pumpkin something kept rolling around in my head. So put the two together and you have Pumpkin Spice Caramel Pecan Monkey Bread. After playing around for a while, it was finally time for the final taste test. Apprehensively I took a bite… My first thought was, “Wow!! It turned out amazing. Yay!!” But then I was like, “After all this hard work, I’m bias.” so I need someone else’s opinion who is just as picky as me. My mom!! I’m not gonna lie, I was even more nerves to have her try my concoction then I was to try it, but she loved it too. She thinks I should submit it for a recipe contest, but we’ll figure that out at a later time. But for now, not to toot my own horn, but this recipe is 100% amazing!! Hope you like it! Enjoy!!


Pumpkin Spice Caramel Pecan Monkey Bread
     1 package quick rise dry yeast
     1/4 cup warm water
     1/4 cup warm milk
     1 cup solid-pack pumpkin
     1/2 cup butter, melted
     1/4 cup sugar
     1 teaspoon salt
     1 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
     2 eggs, beaten
     4 1/2 – 5 cups all-purpose flour

Caramel
     1/4 cup butter
     1/2 cup heavy cream
     1/2 cup packed brown sugar
     1 tablespoon light corn syrup
     1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Assembly
     3/4 cup chopped pecans
     1 1/2 cup sugar
     1 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
     1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
     1/2 cup butter, melted

In a small bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the milk, pumpkin, butter, sugar, salt, and pumpkin pie spice.

Beat in eggs…

and dissolved yeast mixture.

Mix well.

Add 2 1/2 cups of flour and mix until just combined. Add the remaining 2 – 2 1/2 cups flour until dough is no longer sticky.

At this point either change to the kneading attachment on your mixer or turn onto floured surface.

Knead until dough is smooth and elastic, about 3-5 minutes.

Place dough in a bowl coated with cooking spray, turning once to coat entire surface of dough. Cover and let rise in a warm place for 1 hour or until doubled in size.

Meanwhile, make caramel by combining butter, heavy cream, brown sugar, corn syrup, and vanilla in a medium saucepan.

Bring to a boil over medium heat and cook, continuously stirring, until caramel has reach 210-215 degrees F (about a minute after boiling).

Pour half of caramel into a greased 10-inch fluted pan. Sprinkle half of the pecans over caramel.

Punch down dough and shape into 40 balls (about 1-inch diameter). In a small bowl, combine sugar, cinnamon, and pumpkin pie spice. Place melted butter in another bowl. Roll balls in butter, then roll in sugar mixture.

Place 20 balls in the pan over the caramel.

Top with remaining caramel and pecans.

One more close up for effect. Yum!!

Roll remaining balls in butter and sugar and place over balls in tubed pan. Let stand for 20 minutes.

Place fluted pan on a baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees F for 30-35 minutes or until top is golden brown. Cool bread in the pan on a wired rack for 10 minutes before inverting onto a serving plate.

Serve warm.

Yum!!

Printable Recipe

A Food Snots Original Recipe.

Gingerbread Doughnut Holes



This week has been fun and exciting!! For one, Thanksgiving is coming up next week. Yay!! I guess it is pretty obvious that, since I am so obsessed with food, a holiday where you get to eat none stop is a pretty big deal in my world. Two, I got asked by two friends to make up guest posts for their blogs. One blog being, runningtobeskinny.com, and the other being picky-palate.com. Most of you probably don’t know that I used to be 180 lbs. Yeah, I know. Shocking, right?! But yes. My post for Running to be Skinny will be posted tomorrow, and it’s all about my weight loss story if you guys wanna go and check it out. Just don’t laugh at my before weight loss picture. It’s pretty bad :/ And I’m still talking with Jenny about my Picky-Palate guest post, so if that ends up working out I will keep you all updated, but I am super excited about both!!



Three, my daughter has started taking a huge interest in helping me cook. This is her drawing her own cookbook. She is turning in to my own little “mini me”, so it’s been lots of fun having her help me out with picking out and cooking recipes.

This is her recipe she had to have us make, and it was so yummy. Like a cinnamon sugar doughnut with a hint of that gingerbread flavor. The only thing about this recipe is that it makes like 15 doughnut holes, so if you need more you will need to double or triple the recipe. But other then that this recipe is awesome and so easy to make. It would be perfect if you are having people over for the holidays, or even just for your little ones as a morning snack, and trust me, they wont last long. Enjoy!!


Gingerbread Doughnut Holes

     2 cups baking mix
     3/4 cup sugar
     1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
     1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
     2 tablespoons milk
     1 tablespoon molasses
     2 eggs, beaten
     Vegetable oil for deep frying
     2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

In large bowl, stir baking mix, 1/4 cup of the sugar, the ginger and pumpkin pie spice.

In small bowl, mix milk, molasses and eggs.

Add milk mixture to dry ingredients.

Stir until smooth.

In deep fryer or 3-quart heavy saucepan, heat oil to 350 degrees. In small bowl, mix remaining 1/2 cup sugar and the cinnamon; set aside.

Drop batter by tablespoonfuls into how oil; cook 2 minutes, turning once, until brown.

Drain on paper towels; roll warm doughnut holes in cinnamon-sugar.

(My kids loved helping with this stage. Have a great week everyone 🙂

Printable Recipe

Recipe from Pillsbury Best Holiday Desserts

Orange Cream Stars



So I am completely crazy!! Somehow I got myself signed up for a half marathon and The Ragnar for February and April. To tell you the truth I am super excited about it, but just a little nerves. The Ragnar race is February 24th, so it will be my first race out of the two. It’s like a relay race, if you don’t know what I’m talking about. You have 12 people on a team and collectively you run almost 200 miles. I’m runner #3 out of the 12 of us, and I have three separate legs in the race. These are my legs, 1st: 7.1 miles, 2nd: 6.3 miles, and my last leg is 8.6 miles, for a collective total of 21.9 miles in less then 2 days. Yeah, now you know why I say I’m completely crazy. But I started training 2 weeks ago, so I feel confident that hopefully it won’t completely kill me to run this. And I have 5 to 8 hours between each leg, so we’ll see how I do. The half marathon I’m looking into is April 14 or 15, so we’ll see how excited I am to keep training for that after my race in February {Ugh, I swear I’m a little bit of a masochist}.

Ok, anyways!! Onto these Amazing cookies!! No, I totally meant to capitalize the “A” in amazing. These cookies are seriously that good. I have this theory that if the batter, of whatever I’m making, doesn’t taste good, then it’s not going to turn out. So whenever I bake I always test out the batter before putting whatever it is in the oven. Ok, total confection. I was literally sucking the batter out of my pastry bag as I was forming the cookies on the baking sheet. I was like, “Pipe one cookie, and now a little bit for me. Pipe two cookies, and another taste for me.” By the time I finally got these freaking things in the oven, I probably ate 1/4 of the dough. No really, don’t judge me until you try them. I am never like that why I’m cooking. I always try to keep things clean, and, well, I couldn’t control myself ok!! They are that good. And then you have to add the filling which just takes these cookies over the top, that is if your cookies make it that far 🙂 Seriously!! You gotta try this recipe!!


For the Cookies
     1/2 lb. (1 cup) unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
     3 oz. cream cheese, softened at room temperature
     1 cup granulated sugar
     1 tablespoon finely grated orange zest
     1 large egg yolk
     1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
     12 oz (2 2/3 cups) unbleached all-purpose flour

For the Orange Cream Filling
     4 oz. (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
     1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar: more for dusting
     1 tablespoon finely grated orange zest
     2 teaspoon fresh orange juice

Position racks in the center and upper third of the oven and heat the oven to 350 degrees. Line several baking sheets with parchment. Dab a few drops of water between the pan and the paper to help keep the paper on the baking sheet as you pipe the cookies.

Make the Cookies



In a large bowl, beat the butter, cream cheese, sugar, orange zest, egg yolk, and vanilla.

Mix with an electric mixer until fluffy, about 4 minutes.

Gradually mix in the flour.

Fill a large pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch star tip about two-thirds of the way full. Twist the opening closed and squeeze out generous 1 1/2-inch stars, spacing them about 1 1/2-inches apart on the prepared sheets. To get the best shapes, hold the bag straight up and down with the edge of the tip just barely touching the baking sheet. Squeeze the bag firmly until the shape is as wide as you like. Stop squeezing and push the tip down slightly. Give the tip a slight twist as you pull it up and away.

Bake the cookies until the edges just begin to brown, about 20 minutes, rotating them as needed for even browning. Set the baking sheets on racks until the cookies are cool enough to remove with a spatula without distorting their shape.

Assemble the Sandwiches



Beat the butter, sugar, orange zest, and orange juice until smooth, about 5 minutes. Line half of the cookies upside down on a piece of parchment. Fit a pastry bag with a 1/2-inch plain tip and fill it with the orange cream. Pipe about 1/2 teaspoon filling onto each cookie base. Set another cookie right side up, on top.

Press down lightly to adhere. Refrigerate until set. Dust the cookies lightly with confectioners’ sugar before serving.

Printable Recipe

Recipe from The Best of Fine Cooking Holiday Baking

Oriental Chicken Salad



Out of all the places there is to go out to eat Applebees is probably not my restaurant of choice. Out of everything on that menu, I’ve had 2 or 3 things that I actually like. But this is one of them. They have the most amazing Oriental Chicken Salad ever!! Which this is a copy cat recipe of, and is actually amazingly similar. The dressing is both sweet and sour, but in a good way. Then you get the smooth crisp texture of the lettuce combined with the rough juiciness of the fried chicken. Seriously, if you are trying to eat healthy, you gotta have this salad (or even if your not eating healthy). You could also go a step further to make this salad even healthier and grill your chicken instead of frying it, but if you ask me, you are already eating a salad for dinner so go ahead and don’t feel guilty about frying up the chicken 🙂 Seriously amazing!! Enjoy!


Oriental Dressing
     3 tablespoons honey
     1 1/2 tablespoons white vinegar
     4 teaspoons mayonnaise
     1 tablespoon Grey Poupon Dijon mustard
     1/8 teaspoon sesame oil

Salad
     2 to 4 cups vegetable oil for frying
     1 egg
     1/2 cup milk
     1/2 cup all-purpose flour
     1/2 cup cornflake crumbs
     1 teaspoon salt
     1/4 teaspoon pepper
     1 boneless, skinless chicken breast half
     3 cups chopped romaine lettuce
     1 cup chopped red cabbage
     1 cup chopped napa cabbage
     1/2 carrot, julienned or shredded
     1 green onion, sliced
     1 tablespoon sliced almonds
     1/3 cup chow mein noodles

Using an electric mixer, blend together all the ingredients for the dressing in a small bowl. Put the dressing in the refrigerator to chill while you prepare the salad.

Preheat the oil in a deep fryer or frying pan over medium heat. You want the temperature of the oil to be around 350 degrees F. If using a frying pan, the oil should be around 1/2 inch deep. More oil can be used in a deep fryer so that the chicken is immersed.

In a small, shallow bowl beat the egg, add the milk, and mix well. In another bowl, combine the flour with the cornflake crumbs, salt, and pepper.

Cut the chicken breast into 4 or 5 long strips. Dip each strip of chicken first into the egg mixture then into the flour mixture, coating each piece completely. Fry each chicken finger for 5 minutes or until the coating has darkened to brown.

Prepare the salad by tossing the romaine with the red cabbage, napa cabbage, and carrot. Sprinkle the green onion on top of the lettuce mixture. Sprinkle the almonds over the salad, then the chow mein noodles.

Cut the chicken into bite-size chunks. Place the chicken on the salad, forming a pile in the middle. Serve with the salad dressing on the side.

Printable Recipe

Recipe from Top Secret Restaurant Recipes

Hot Chocolate Cupcakes



Hey All!! So one of the things you might notice different about my blog is that I’ve been watermarking or putting my blog name on all of my pictures. I hope this is not severely annoying to everyone. I’ve started doing this because I had another blog take one of my pictures and not only put it on their blog without citing me, but they actually took my picture and watermarked it as if it was their own. I can understand not knowing that you’re suppose to cite anything that you use that is not your own, but to take someone else’s picture and actually try to take credit for it is just wrong. So, I’m going to start marking my photos so this doesn’t happen again. Please be patient if this bugs, and I’m not saying I wouldn’t love other bloggers to use recipes or photos from my blog, just that I feel like credit should be given for someones hard work. That’s all.

Anyways! Enough with my venting, and onto deliciousness 🙂 I’ve been wanting to try this recipe for a while, but have been holding off until the weather got cooler. To be honest, I was a tiny bit disappointed. When I pulled out this recipe and read through it before making it, I was like, “Where is the hot chocolate mix?” Not included in this recipe. Basically this is just a chocolate cupcake with marshmallow frosting, which bummed me out a little bit. But being the optimist that I am, I though, “Let just see how it turns out.” Don’t get me wrong, this recipe was really yummy. Just not really what I had hoped for. You don’t really get the true flavor of hot chocolate in this recipe. Just a chocolate cupcake with yummy marshmallow frosting, but still delicious.

P.S. If you are thinking that you want to just substitute the baking cocoa with hot chocolate mix, don’t. I tried doing this before with this recipe and it doesn’t turn out. It might work if you add like 1/3 cup baking cocoa and 1/2 cup hot chocolate mix, but when I just substituted with hot chocolate, the cupcakes came out not tasting chocolaty enough. Just thought I’d share my trial and error experience. But don’t let my opinion detour you from trying this recipe. I really did like it, it just wasn’t exactly what I expected, but still really yummy. Not to mention, a totally cute idea. Enjoy 😉


Chocolate Cupcakes
     2 cups all-purpose flour
     1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
     1 teaspoon salt
     1/4 teaspoon baking powder
     1 cup hot water
     2/3 cup unsweetened baking cocoa
     3/4 cup shortening
     1 1/2 cups sugar
     2 eggs
     1 teaspoon vanilla

Frosting
     3 cups powdered sugar
     1/3 cup butter or margarine, softened
     1/2 tablespoon vanilla
     1 to 2 tablespoons milk
     1 cup marshmallow creme
     1/2 teaspoon unsweetened baking cocoa (optional for decoration)

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Place paper baking cup in each of 24 regular-size muffin cups.

In medium bowl, mix flour, baking soda, salt and baking powder; set aside.

In small bowl, mix hot water and cocoa until dissolved; set aside.

In large bowl, beat shortening with electric mixer on medium speed 30 seconds. Gradually add sugar, about 1/4 cup at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping bowl occasionally. Beat 2 minutes longer.

Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla.

On low speed, alternately add flour mixture, about 1/3 of mixture at a time, and cocoa mixture, about 1/2 at a time, beating just until blended.

Divide batter evenly among muffin cups, filling each about 2/3 full.

Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans 5 minutes. Remove cupcakes from pans; place on cooling racks to cool.

Meanwhile, prepare frosting by mixing powdered sugar and butter with spoon or electric mixer on low speed in a large bowl. Stir in vanilla and 1 tablespoons of the milk.

Stir in marshmallow creme.

If needed, gradually beat in just enough remaining milk to make frosting smooth and spreadable. Spoon into resealable food-storage plastic bag; seal bag. Cut tiny hole in one bottom corner of bag.

Pipe 3 small dollops of frosting mixture on top of each cupcake to resemble melted marshmallows. Sprinkle with cocoa.

Printable Recipe

Recipe from Betty Crocker The Big Book of Cupcakes