Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Emily's Birthday Party Part I (Raspberry Swirled Cheesecake Recipe)

     Emily's birthday is January 24th, but due to another friend's birthday and her wisdom teeth surgery, we celebrated on February 4th.  She invited several friends, their mothers, and other special ladies in her life.  Unlike my boys, whose menu requirements simply involve hot dogs or pizza - my girls enjoy something a little more gourmet.  (Although Harrison did insist on a ridiculously decadent coconut cake for his birthday!)  Emily planned to have her guests watch one of her favorite movies, "Anne of Green Gables".  As many of you may know from the book/movie, there is the famous "raspberry cordial mishap"; and this inspired our choice for one of Emily's birthday desserts - The Raspberry Swirled Cheesecake.  We've also listed our other menu items  below the party pictures.

Moments before the attack.

Settling down and getting ready to watch "Anne of Green Gables".  The group eventually grew to fourteen girls not counting moms and other special ladies!  Lots of giggling during the movie!  

Lots of friends to see a movie about friendship!

     Because of the variety of food planned for Emmie's party, we started preparing the food two days ahead of time.  The planned menu is below.  The items in bold will be posted.

Little sandwiches:
curry chicken salad
ham delights
pimento cheese (already posted on "Patty's Tea Party Part II")

broccoli salad
fruit salad (purchased a frozen bag)
mango salsa and chips (thanks Amy Easterlin!)
raspberry cheesecake
chocolate cheesecake

iced tea
assorted soft drinks

Raspberry Cheesecake
My favorite dessert! This needs to cool overnight, so prepare to make this at least twenty-four hours in advance.

This is the cookbook where I found the recipe.  It is actually for a strawberry cheesecake, but we substituted (and prefer) raspberry!  Here is where Emily takes over the writing.  She is the one who made it!  Great job, Emily!  It was awesome! 

1-1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup melted butter
2 (10 oz.) frozen packages of sweetened raspberries (if you can't find unsweetened, add about a cup of sugar when you prepare sauce)
1 tablespoon cornstarch
3 packages softened cream cheese
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1/4 cup lemon juice
3 eggs
optional:  blanched, sliced almonds
fresh raspberries
whipped cream (We whipped and sweetened our own for an even fresher taste!)
springform pan
aluminum foil
Large cake pan to make water bath
large spoon
food processor (for raspberries)

Start by wrapping the bottom half of the springform pan in aluminum foil so that water can't get in when it is placed in a water bath.

Then melt 1/3 cup butter.

Place the graham cracker crumbs in a bowl.

Add in sugar.

Pour the melted butter in and stir.

It should look like this.

Press the graham cracker mixture down on the bottom of the springform pan.  Place springform pan into the refrigerator.

To make the raspberry sauce, all you have to do is add the cornstarch and blend it with the raspberries in a food processor.  We had to add sugar because our raspberries were unsweetened.  Remember, the original recipe called for strawberries.  You can replicate this recipe and replace the raspberries with whatever you love the most.  Blueberries would be yummy too!

Because the raspberries are frozen, it ends up looking like a sorbet.  You could also use fresh.  It wouldn't look as thick, but that doesn't matter.  The cornstarch will thicken it when you heat it up.

Heat up the sauce and bring to a boil for about two minutes stirring constantly.  Set aside 1/3 cup raspberry sauce and then cover and refrigerate the rest.  

Beat the cream cheese until it's fluffy and gradually beat in the condensed milk.

Pour in lemon juice and mix well.

Add three eggs and beat on low until combined. Do not overmix.  Preheat your oven to 300 degrees.

Take springform pan out of the refrigerator and pour half of the batter over the graham cracker crust.

Gently drop half of the reserved (not the stuff in the fridge) raspberry sauce by 1/2 teaspoonfuls onto the batter. 

Then spoon and pour the rest of the cheesecake batter carefully on top so that the sauce does not get mixed in with the top layer.

Repeat spooning the remaining raspberry sauce on top.

Use a knife to swirl the raspberry sauce into decorative designs.  Add any leftover raspberry sauce to your stash in the fridge. 

Place springform pan gently into a larger baking pan and pour cool water into the outer pan a little less than halfway.  This will prevent your cheesecake from splitting.  Bake at 300 degrees for 45-50 minutes.

Cool cheesecake on wire rack for ten minutes.  Carefully and gently cut around the edges of the cake and let it cool for another hour.  Refrigerate overnight.

Place cheesecake on serving dish and remove sides of springform pan.  Then you can decorate it :)
Hayden pressed almond slivers around the sides and then piped whipped cream along the edges.

You can put fresh raspberries on top and serve with the rest of the sauce in a dish on the side.  You can either pour a little sauce on a plate before placing a slice of cheesecake on top or simply pour a little extra sauce on the top of the cheesecake.  The fresh raspberries really do add a delicious touch to this cheesecake. We also had a side bowl with extra whipped cream for those who love their cheesecake extra decadent.


I will praise You, O Lord, with my whole heart; I will tell of all Your marvelous works. I will be glad and rejoice in You; I will sing praise to Your name, O Most High. 
~Psalm 9:1-2


Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Chili Seasoning and Vegetarian Chili - Introducing Harrison Wand

     Harrison was kind enough to bake Emily's birthday cake for our family celebration when it suddenly dawned on me that my son liked to cook.  By inviting him to write on our blog, I thought this was a great way to encourage him to write and teach him to cook new things.  A deal was made:  I will count every hour he spends typing on our blog as a Language Arts assignment.  Although Harrison would much rather enjoy a meat laden chili, he agreed to prepare and eat a vegetarian version so his parents could have less calories.  He will also be helping the girls and I prepare the menu for Emily's birthday party this Saturday.

My sister and me

Chili Seasoning Recipe

Some Ingredients

1 1/2 cups chili powder
1/4  cup red pepper flakes
1/2  cup ground cumin
1/2  cup salt
8 tsp. sugar

Cayenne pepper (We added one Tablespoon.)
3 cups instant minced onion
6 Tablespoons instant minced garlic (we use fresh garlic and onion in our chili, so we didn't add these to our seasoning mix.)

1 1/2 cups Chili powder

1/2 cup ground cumin

1/2 cup salt

1/4 cup crushed red pepper flakes

8 tsp. sugar

In a separate bowl, measure 4 1/2 cups of flour
Combine both bowls.

Put into a labeled quart-sized canning jar.
And  there you have your own chili seasoning.

A packet of store bought seasoning costs about $1!

Vegetarian Chili

1/4 cup of your homemade chili seasoning or four packets of store bought
2 cups pureed zucchini or yellow squash
3 cups finely chopped onion (unless it is in your seasoning)
one green pepper
3 grated or pureed carrots
6 teaspoons minced garlic (unless it is in your seasoning)
2 large cans of beans (or four cups)
2 14.5 oz. cans diced tomatoes with or without chilies
a large can of crushed tomatoes
a large can of tomato sauce
*have some extra cans of sauce in case you need it)
optional:  jalapenos (We used a few dehydrated ones from our summer garden.)
                 3 tablespoons of beef bouillon (to give it a meaty flavor)

a bag of squash in the food killer

more squash :(

3 cups minced onion
3 carrots

6 teaspoons minced garlic

Saute squash, carrots, onions, green peppers, and garlic.  

Now for the chili!

Add your sauces and seasoning to the sauteed vegetables.  We also added two cups of water.

Get every drop!

Simmer on low heat until the seasonings kick in.  Taste and add more if you think it needs it.
Pour into beans.  We add our heated sauce to the beans so that the beans don't scorch on the bottom of the pot.  Heavier ingredients tend to do that.
Heat through in a slow cooker until ready to serve. (We added our jalapenos and our beef bouillon at this time.)

Then she gave the king one hundred and twenty talents of gold, spices in great quantity, and precious stones. There never again came such abundance of spices as the queen of Sheba gave to king Solomon.
- I Kings 10:10