Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Thanksgiving Expanded My Waistline

Are you full?  Are you completely stuffed?  ARE YOU STILL EATING LEFTOVERS????

There is still a smidge of the sweet potato casserole staring me in the face in that fridge... I guess I'll take him to work eat it for breakfast (not sorry).

How was your Thanksgiving?  Cori's house was packed with lovable people and food, as are most Turkey Days, I would assume.  They even made two turkeys (I ate tasted what was referred to as the "happy turkey", given his free-range, homeopathic life.  Big props to Angela for making a turkey even a vegetarian could appreciate.

After dinner we played The Name Game, in which everyone pairs off in teams of two and you play three different rounds of "guess who I am".  A name is drawn out of a bowl, the timer is set for 30 seconds, and you have to get your partner to guess who you are.

Uncle Stu (on the left) was my partner.  Second-to-last place isn't losing, Stu!

First Round:  you can say anything (but the name), act out anything, sing anything (exception: no rhyming.  "it rhymes with Baberaham Stinkin!")

Second Round: You are limited to only two words, but you may say them in any way you like (an accent, singing, with crazy eyes).

Third Round: No words, just your basic charades.

I think the most memorable clue was something I said within the first 10 seconds of the game:
People think he's a short lesbian!
(guess from my partner: Leonardo Dicaprio!)
(actual answer: Justin Bieber)  **I was totally going to insert a link to a Biebs song here, but I just... can't do it.**

I think that was a running joke throughout the rest of the game.  Sorry Angela for taking your family's Thanksgiving on a turn down that road.  It was fun though!

Okay... so none of this has anything to do with food, I know.  But we're still talking about it, and I am here to bring it to you now (before Angie fights me for the cheesecake recipe).  This first post will be dedicated to the Salted Caramel Cheesecake I made.  Luscious... delicious... salty and sweet and creamy and dreamy.  Oooooooooh man!

The crust began with pulverized gluten-free ginger snaps, melted butter, salt and brown sugar.  The pastry blender gave it the perfect texture.  The butter made it beautiful.  

Note the river of butter through the craggy landscape that is the ginger snap crumb.  *tear*

Next, the crust was formed by pressing the mixture into a spring form pan, going about an inch and a half up the sides.  I baked it until golden brown, and then set it aside.

The cheesecake filling (mmmmmmm) gets treated with vanilla, salt, lemon zest, heavy cream, and eggs.  Sugar and cream cheese are kind of a no-brainer too.

Once everything was combined and smooth as Justin Bieber's butt cheek, it was poured into the crust and baked until puffed and golden.  

Notice how the crust and the cheesecake created a sort of well in the middle?  This is the perfect place to create a caramel pool!  

Glassy bubbles starting to form...  *muhahahahaha*

From someone who has never made caramel before, this is EASY.  What all do you need?  Things you already have in your house, friend.  Water, sugar, butter, salt and cream (and corn syrup... which I always have on hand, but I just realized you might not...  what is wrong with you??).  Which is why this is now dangerous information for me to have.  I can make caramel pretty much whenever I want (breakfast... lunch... dinner... midnight snack... ).  Oh the possibilities.  

The cooled caramel was poured onto the top of the cheesecake and left to set.  You can refrigerate this if you aren't going to eat it immediately, or you can let it set on the counter until ready to eat.  I like my cheesecake slightly chilled, but on Thanksgiving I had forgotten this fact and just left it.  It still kicked butt.  Just before serving you can sprinkle a bit of flaked salt on the top for extra garnish/saltiness/awesomeness/flair.  Do it up.

The rest of this is just...  *sigh*  history, I'm afraid.  If you would have left me alone with this and a fork (maybe not even that...), you would have come back to find me in sugar shock.  Possibly frothing at the mouth.  The cheesecake gone. 

I hope you make this.  I hope you share it, and don't keep it for yourself.  But if you do, I swear you won't be judged harshly.  There are a number of us who would do the exact same thing. 

Salted Caramel Cheesecake (gluten-free!)
From Joy the Baker, with minor tweaks

The Crust:
2 cups gluten-free ginger snaps, pulverized in a food processor
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar, packed
1 pinch of salt
1/2 stick of unsalted butter, melted

The Cheesecake:
1 pound (16 oz) cream cheese, room temperature
1 1/3 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs, room temperature
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons heavy cream
1 teaspoon lemon zest, freshly grated and minced

The Caramel:
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablepoons water
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1/3 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon sea salt

*place two racks (one in the upper third, and one in the lower third) in the oven.  preheat to 350 degrees.  have a 9 inch spring form pan ready, and a 9x13 inch casserole dish half filled with boiling water for when you make the cheesecake filling.*

1. For the crust, place the ginger snaps, brown sugar, and salt in a medium bowl.  Using a pastry blender (or a fork), combine the butter into the ingredients and work until evenly moist.  It will seem a bit dry, and this is fine.

2. Press into the bottom of your spring form pant, going about 1 1/2 inches the way up the sides.  Don't make it too hard of a press, as it will lead to too hard a crust.  Take it eeeeeeasy.

3. Bake on the bottom rack in the oven for 10-15 minutes, or until golden brown.  Remove the crust from the oven, place on a wire rack, and let cool.  Reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees, and make the cheesecake filling. 

4. For the cheesecake filling, beat together the cream cheese and sugar in an electric mixer until light and fluffy (approx 3-5 minutes).  Beat in the salt and vanilla until smooth and mixed in.  Adding one at a time, beat in the eggs until evenly combined.  When the mixture becomes smooth and creamy again, beat in the heavy cream and lemon zest.  You now have cheesecake pudding.  Resist the urge to devour.

5. Pour the filling into the crust.  Carefully place the casserole dish with the water in it on the bottom rack of the oven.  Then place the cheesecake on the top rack.  Bake for 50-60 minutes, when the cheesecake is golden and puffed on top, and the middle doesn't have a wet wiggle to it (you'll know the difference).  Turn off the oven but do not remove the cheesecake.  Instead, place a kitchen towel or an oven mitt in the door of the oven to keep it juuuust propped open.  Let the cheesecake rest in the oven like this for 45 mintues while the oven cools off.  Remove from the oven completely and let cool on the counter at least 4 hours (or overnight, if you can). 

6. To make the caramel, place sugar, water, and the corn syrup into a heavy medium sauce pan.  Stir once or twice, but what you'll really need to do is just allow the mixture to come to a boil.  It will have loads of shiny bubbles forming on the top.  When the mixture begins to turn a shade of light amber, remove it from the heat and add in the heavy cream and the butter.  It will boil up with this addition, so stir well.  Add the sea salt and stir to incorporate.  The caramel is extremely  hot at this point, so it will seem thin.  It will thicken in the cooling process.  Pour into a small bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let cool in the fridge for at least 4 hours, or overnight if you can.

7. Pour the caramel over the cheesecake (both cooled at this point), and place in the fridge until ready to serve.  Sprinkle with flaky salt (cream salt is a great idea!), slice and serve.  The cake should last up to 4 days wrapped in the fridge.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving Y'all

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!  

I'll post my Black Friday Post-Thanksgiving recipes after I deal with the crazy at the mall.  

<3 Kasey

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Getting Over It

By my count I've been sick for going on 7 days.  Seven days of soar, swollen, aching glands.  Seven days of coughing, sneezing, and feeling rough.


Someone come and take this away completely, okay?

Cori, in her loving efforts to cheer me up and keep me alive, made delightful little treats the other night.  Delightful little scones with sweet preserves, which we later paired with tea.  I'm such a lucky girl.

Currently, Cori is on a death bed of her own with the same sickness.  Two girls + one relationship = shared illnesses.  Um... I'm sorry, honey.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

A Hot Tip

Remember last week when I said I was going to get my tattoo done?

It's done.

I'm not taking any pictures yet until I've gone back for the final touch-up, but just be aware that I GOT THAT WHISK ON LOCK DOWN.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Let Them Eat [Pumpkin] Cake!

I want someday to be able to have the forethought to make a cheesecake.  This requires two days worth of work... and planning ahead is something I struggle with.  

Story. Of. My. Life.

So while a gingersnap, spiced mango, or pumpkin cheesecake would be uber appropriate for oh... I don't know, Thanksgiving, I decided to ignore the little voice inside my head that said "get your ingredients together now, you lazy son of a-".  (She's rude.  So rude).

Sometimes I just have to shut her up and make something else.  Like cake.

Oh man...  cake.  Do you love cake?  I love cake.  LET THEM EAT CAKE and forget about the cheesecake.