Keylime Cheesecake

I meant to post this sometime in January, but I’ve missed that deadline now. Regardless, making this dessert was a good expiriment and one I plan to do again in the future.
I made this at Thanksgiving as an experiment. It turned out pretty well, and I plan on making it again at some point, but Thanksgiving and Christmas are too close together for this much cheesecake.

First…I didn’t make up either of the recipes I based this on, and I used them as they were and modified just a few things.

I used, the standard Philly Cheesecake recipe, and the Nelly and Joe’s key lime pie recipe. And then I just made some modificiations.

For the crust, I made a double batch and added the zest of one lime, but then only used 2/3rds of the total. I needed a thicker crust than the cheesecake called for to support all the weight, but not double the amount of crust, that would have been too much.

After I got the crust tamped down, baked off, and cooled, I whipped up the filling as per the directions and added 2 ounces of Nellie and Joe’s key lime juice to that, and got it into a 350 oven instead of the recipe listed 325.

While the cheesecake was baking, I mixed up the Key Lime pie filling.

At 40 minutes into the bake time, I opened the oven and gently, oh so very very gently, poured the key lime filling on top of the cheesecake and spread it all the way out to the edges. The goal here is to disturb the cheesecake part as little as possible so you get two distinct layers, and the cake tastes different depending on where in the piece your is taken from. For the most part, I achieved this.

Cook the entire thing for another 20 minutes, and take out to cool until you can place into the fridge for 4 hours. I did my cake on Wednesday night for the Thursday dinner because I wanted it to have plenty of time to set up.

For topping I used the 2 ingredient no machine ice cream recipe found here. But it only sat in the freezer for about 4 hours the first night before we used it, and that was my prefered texture for it. After that it was basically plain ice cream topping.

Senate Bean Soup

Shmoo listens to a lot of NPR. Not too long before Christmas our local NPR station, WAMU, did a story on Senate Bean Soup, which has been on the menu since around 1905 or so. There were two articles on the soup in December of 2014, one on All Things Considered that aired Dec. 26th, and the one shmoo heard on Dec. 12 on Metro Connection. The Metro Connection story also contained the recipe(s).

I liked the idea of the tradition behind the soup, and it’s simplicity, but I knew if I made it, it would contain many more ingredients. So instead of just going into the kitchen and tweaking and poking around with no idea what changes I made in the end, I started with tweaking the recipe on paper first and then using that in the kitchen. It ended up turning out really good, and I have a recipe that matches what I made.

So my version of Senate Bean Soup is below:

2 lbs dried navy beans, washed, rinsed, soaked overnight
4 quarts or so water/chicken stock
2 lbs ham diced( or leftovers from Christmas) w/ bone
3 medium onions, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
2 cloves garlic, diced
3 cups potatoes cubed (or instant mashed potatoes that make up about 3 cups)
2 tbsp dried parsley
2 bay leaves
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp olive/avocado/canola oil
1/2 bag of kale
cayenne, salt, pepper, red pepper flake, paprika all to taste
drippings left from cooking ham
Bourbon (generally 1 shot) to taste, optional

Add beans to stock pot with ham drippings, ham, bone, bay leaves, and enough water to cover by 2 inches, and bring to boil.
When beans are soft:
Sweat the onions, celery garlic in the butter and oil with a dash of salt, pepper, and red pepper flake.
Once onions start to caramelize, add the potatoes and sauté stirring occasionally for 10 minutes.
Add one qt water/stock so potatoes are covered and bring to boil, then set on medium heat until potatoes are cooked.
Purée mixture blender or food processor and then add to stock pot with beans and ham.
Add kale, parsley, bourbon.
Add cayenne, paprika, salt and pepper to taste.
Let simmer 1 hour.
Remove bay leaf before serving.

Thanksgiving Recipes Link Listing

Hai webbernets! I’m sorry it’s been so long. There is actually a reason I’ve quit posting besides laziness in general, but I’ll post about it later and for now go back to ignoring you after this post.

This is a list of links for my standard Thanksgiving Day recipes.
I’ve been talking about cooking to a lot of people at work and it’s easier to have it all listed in one place I can point people to easily.

First, the turkey. We brine our turkey.
I use these instructions for brine and cooking:
I don’t use ice for the brine, I just use total amount of water and make it ahead (Sunday or Monday night, allow to cool on stove and refrigerate), then throw the turkey in when we get it on Tuesday.
I will note with brining that you can’t really use the drippings for gravy without being way too salty. You may want to consider this if you don’t care about the turkey as much as you do the gravy.
I use stock for my gravy, no giblets (cause eeeww). I do use some of the drippings and consider that my seasoning, and then throw in some flour and bam! gravy.

Cranberry sauce:
This is close enough to what I do, it’s not rocket surgery. I always throw in some random amounts of cinnamon or nutmeg as well, to taste. We like it pretty tart, and if you cook it ahead by two days it should gel up enough on its own, no pectin or gelatin needed.

The Dressing/Stuffing:
I don’t buy Brioche for this however, I make it using this recipe:
Then I split it into two small bread loaf pans, let it rise 2 hours, and bake at 350 for 35-45 minutes.
I usually make this on Sunday, so I can cube it on Monday or Tuesday, and if it’s not dried out/stale enough on Wednesday I throw it in the oven on low for a hour or so to finish that up.
The sausage we use is a Country Sausage from our local meat market, ’cause YUM.

Sweet Potato Souffle and Broccoli Casserole:
I’ve posted my family recipes on this ages ago, so here’s that link.
This year I am taking the broccoli and cooking it the oven and using cream of chicken soup instead of cream of celery or brocoli.
The original recipe on this called for cream of mushroom, but I’ve hated mushrooms always, so much so my Mother couldn’t slip this past me.
The sweet potato souffle recipe is perfect and I don’t ever change it.

Key Lime Pie:
I use a spring-form pan for this and make a graham cracker crust using whatever instructions are on the box of crumbs, which are basically, add some melted butter, mix and smoosh around and form it how you want it, throw in oven to harden.
Sometimes, I melt chocolate and cover the bottom of the crust in that and let it harden. Sometimes I don’t. It’s really good without it so it’s not needed for a good pie.
The rest of the pie is according to recipe, and then I generally top with meringue cause I don’t like wasting the egg whites, and if I set them aside to use later I always forget about them.

We don’t do bread/rolls. Not sure why, guess we just haven’t felt a need for it. We won’t be doing them again this year. :)

Beverage wise, I always make sweet tea, this year will probably be Ginger-Peach iced tea, because we both like it. There’s always beer, and sometimes we make Sangria, but usually that’s a Christmas or New Year’s thing.
I’ll probably also make some deviled eggs because shmoo loves them, and maybe some celery, carrots, and ranch dressing to snack on for pre-dinner football.

The Sangria Recipe is here:
It was originally posted on The Elk Run site but it kept getting moved or taken down, and so I duplicated it here a few years back.
You don’t have to use Sweet Katherine for your Sangria but it’s really something special if you do.

And that’s it. Our Thanksgiving (and several days after) eats in a list of links and comments.
If you end up making any of it, do let me know what you thought of it. :)


Adding to make for Thanksgiving 2013:
Rae’s Green Bean Casserole

Recipe: Asian Pineapple Mango Salad

(I’ve posted this before, but it’s at the bottom of a long fibery post and I am trying to go back and make sure all my recipes are single posts so that they are easily found and read. So, if you missed it the first time, this is one of my favorite salads!)


You need iceberg lettuce, mango, green seedless grapes, pineapple, and asian sesame/soy/ginger salad dressing, red wine vinegar, and rice vinegar, and chow mien noodles. Optionally, you can add an onion. You’ll need your seasoning of choice as well. Salt/Pepper are probably fine, but I generally use Morton’s Nature’s Seasonings.

Chop up the mango and pineapple. Wash the grapes. If your grapes are huge, you may want to cut them in half. Cut the lettuce (I do it in shreds). Dice up your onion if you are using one. Put it all in a big bowl and toss well. Take the Asian dressing, and put it in a small mixing bowl. Add equal parts rice vinegar and red wine vinegar. Generally the total amount of vinegar should be almost equal to the amount of dressing you started with, but it’s to taste, so play with it. Season to taste. Pour the dressing over the salad, toss until very well mixed. Add the chow mien noodles to the top, and enjoy.

Notes: Every once in a while I’ll make this with some cilantro chopped up in the lettuce. Not a bunch, but enough to give a bit of flavor.

Recipe: Broccoli Cheese Soup

Again, mostly for a co-worker of shmoo’s, but feel free to take/use/etc.

3 cups Fresh Broccoli, chopped
1 1/2 cups water
4tbs flour (mix and dissolved in 1/4 water)
2 cups milk
1-2 tbs butter
1-2 cups Grated Cheddar Cheese
1 tsp Paprika
1 tsp Garlic Powder
Salt and Pepper to taste.

In a big pot…
Combine water and broccoli. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low/medium and cover. Cook for about 15 minutes.

While that’s going, in a small bowl, add flour/water mixture milk and stir.

After the 15 minutes is up, pour the flour/water/milk into the pot along with adding the butter and the grated cheese.
Add the Paprika, Garlic Powder, Salt and Pepper now also. I generally go heavy on the Pepper and very light on the salt.

Cook on low/medlow about 10 minutes til the cheese is all melted and soup thickens.

Continue to simmer until ready to eat, but do not allow to boil.
And that’s pretty much it.

The first time I made it, I accidentally did double the amount of cheese that I should have, and it was VERY VERY cheesy, but still quite good. I’ve toned it back a bit since then. I’ve also sauteed onions and added those in, and imagine leeks, small bits of potato, and cauliflower would go just as well. Depends on how fancy you want to get. Speaking of fancy, I’ve subbed half my milk with Half n Half also, and that’s quite good as well. It adds a good bit of richness to the soup overall.

Our favorite cheese to use for this is a smoked cheddar from Sweetvalley Farms in Tennessee, but any good cheddar you love will do. You could always use regular cheddar and add a bit of liquid smoke if you wanted a smokey cheese taste. Generally when I make this I do it in double batches, as it’s a nice comfort food type of meal, and when I had to go to Canada for a week last month, it kept shmoo in meals quite easily. I haven’t tested yet to see how well it freezes, but probably will next time I make it.

Recipe: Brussels Sprouts

This is for shmoo’s coworkers, but the rest of you can feel free to try it too. :)

Fry a piece or two of bacon in your pan. Get it nice and crispy.
Towards the end of the frying, put around half a onion, diced into the pan as well, and let it start to brown.
Remove the bacon when it’s done and set aside to cool and dry.

Turn down to medium heat.
Place halved Brussels Sprouts in the pan cut half down. Scooch the onions out of the way if you need to, and if there isn’t enough bacon fat in the pan, add some butter. When all the halves are face down in the pan, add a bit of stock to the pan, about halfway up the sprouts, and let it cook down until the stock is basically gone and the sprouts have started to brown on the bottom and get a little crispy, but not all moisture is gone from the pan.

Remove from heat.
Crumble the bacon you set aside earlier and add to pan.
Add a bit of coarse pepper, and possibly a bit of salt, to your tastes.
Throw in a handful of dried cranberries and stir.
Now sprinkle on about half a handful of grated Parmesan and serve.

If you don’t have stock, don’t use bouillon to make it, it makes it WAY too salty, just use water and throw in a bit of extra butter for flavor.
A coworker highly recommends trying this with shallots and walnuts and more butter instead of with onions and cranberries. I think I’ll be giving it a try next time we do them.

Recipes: Christmas Tradition

I haven’t been knitting that much. I’m in a bit of a lull. And it’s led to a blogging hiatus as well. So today, I share the family recipes that are the mainstays of our holiday meals.

Sweet Potato Souffle
Main Ingredients:
3 cups of sweet potatoes, diced.
1/3 cup of butter
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup half and half
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs, beaten
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
optional: chopped candied ginger

Topping Ingredients
Small Marshmallows
1 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup AP flour
1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
3 tbsp melted butter

preheat oven to 325
peel, slice, and boil the potatoes
drain and mash with the butter
mix in the eggs, vanilla, sugar, half and half, cinnamon and nutmeg
throw in the candied ginger now too if you want it
once it’s all mixed put it in a baking dish and set aside for topping

for marshmallow topping, just spread a layer of small marshmallows and pop in the oven
for brown sugar nut topping, mix sugar and butter, all the flour, and throw in the nuts
make sure it’s well mixed and then sprinkle it evenly over the top and pop in the oven

Bake for 25-30 minutes

Broccoli Cheese Casserole
2 large broccoli heads
1 large sweet onion,like Vadalia (or 2 small onions)
1 cup of grated cheddar
1 can Campbell’s cream of celery soup
1 cup of Duke’s Mayo (or another mayo that doesn’t add sugar)
2 eggs, beaten
crumbled Ritz crackers

Preheat oven to 350
steam the broccoli, drain it, chop it and throw it in a bowl
(Sing that chopping broccoli song if you want, I do.)
dice the onion, and throw it in with the broccoli
mix the eggs, mayo, canned soup, and grated cheese in small bowl
pour over the broccoli and onion and mix well
throw it all in a casserole dish and top with the crumbled Ritz

Bake for 30 minutes

And there you have it, the two recipes that I consider necessary for a good holiday meal.

Recipe: Elk Run Sangria

I have noticed that most of my search engine references are people searching for the Elk Run Sangria recipe. And then shmoo and I noticed today that they’d taken it down again. But I happen to have saved to to notepad, so I have it, and I’m going to share it. (Unless I get notified by them to do otherwise of course) And then I am going to share how we make it, now that we have test run the recipe.

From the Elk Run Site, it was as follows:

Two parts Sweet Katherine, 2 parts tonic, 1 part orange juice, add oranges and limes. Chill, serve on the deck

From our kitchen, we made the following adjustments: We did not add oranges and limes. We did however add the juice of two medium sized limes. As a side note, we did not fail to add the oranges and limes because we did not have them, we did. I just thought the orange juice taste was too strong already to add to it. Shmoo said he thought our version was better than what we bought from Elk Run at Wine in the Woods, and it goes great with the asian ginger dressing fruit chicken salad I like to make.