Archived entries for cheese

The. Best. Cheesecake. Ever.

It is my pet peeve when periods are placed after each word to enforce the meaning. However, there is no other way for me to seriously communicate the deliciousness of this recipe then stooping to this grammatical device. The decadence of this lusciously fluffy cheesecake is making me do things I don’t normally do!


Image courtesy of Flickr User katewing

My sister’s mother-in-law, Trish (does that make her my mother-in-law once removed?) made this for a baby shower, and we all agreed it was the best cheesecake we ever had. And we’re pretty well versed in cheesecake. So I begged the recipe off her and here it is.

This cheesecake is the most fluffy, decadent and flavorful of any cheesecake I have ever had. Ever. If you don’t believe me, try it for yourself.

Trish’s Tall and Creamy Cheesecake
Serves 12 Prep time: 20 min  Inactive Time: 5 hours

  • 2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup butter, melted
  • 4 (8 oz.) packages cream cheese, softened
  • 2 (14 oz.) cans sweetened condensed milk
  • 5 large eggs
  • 1/3 c. lime juice
    Optional:
  • 1 (8 oz.) container sour cream, at room temperature
  • Chilled fruit topping

Preheat oven to 300ºF. Combine graham cracker crumbs, sugar and butter in small bowl.  Press firmly into bottom and up the sides of ungreased 9-inch spring form pan.  Optional: Line bottom of pan with parchment paper before putting in crust.

Beat/whip cream cheese in large bowl until fluffy. Gradually beat in sweetened condensed milk until smooth. Add eggs and lime juice; mix well. Pour into prepared pan.

BAKE 60-70 minutes or until center is set. Remove from oven; top with sour cream. Bake an additional 5 minutes. Cool 1 hour. Chill at least 4 hours. Garnish with pie filling, if desired.

Creamy Tapenade

I love cheese and I love tapenade, so I decided to put them together.  Delicious!

Creamy Tapenade

  • 8 0z. cream cheese
  • 4 oz. feta cheese
  • 1/2 c. roasted red peppers, diced
  • 1/4 c. diced olives
  • 1 Tbs honey

Dice olives and red peppers.  Mix cream cheese, feta and honey.  Mix in olives and red peppers, reserving a few for a garnish.  Easy and yummerz.

Butterkäse Mac ‘N Cheese with Pickled Green Tomatoes

A Forkable original recipe developed for the 30 days of Mac n’ Cheese project!

Recent studies indicate that everyone in the entire world loves Macaroni and Cheese. Second on the most loved food list is…pickles!  So why not put the two together?  For our recipe, we’re pairing the tart saltiness of pickled green tomatoes with the buttery creaminess of Wisconsin Butterkäse Cheese.  Sun-dried tomatoes lend a touch of sweetness and some fresh dill help accentuate the dill pickley-ness.  We’re using pickled tomatoes because they have a slightly softer crunch which lends itself well to this dish, but you can feel free to substitute regular pickled cucumbers or even pickled jalapenos if you like to live spicy. OK, let’s get cookin!


Butterkäse Mac ‘N Cheese with Pickled Green Tomatoes

Ingredients:

  • 16 ounces Cavatappi noodles or noodles of your choice
  • Olive oil for tossing pasta
  • 5 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, diced
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 cup cream
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon fresh dill, chopped
  • 1 cup (4 ounces) Wisconsin Muenster, shredded
  • 1 heaping cup pickled green tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes (in oil), chopped
  • 2 to 3 cups (8 to12 ounces) Wisconsin Butterkäse, shredded
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs

Directions:
Preheat oven to 375°F.

Cook the pasta: Boil large pot of water.  Add salt to taste.  Add pasta and wait for water to reboil, stirring to keep pasta from sticking to the bottom of pot.  Cook until al dente (firm to the bite), approximately 10 minutes.  Once pasta is al dente, drain water.  Lightly toss in olive oil to coat.  Taste.  If not salty enough, add a pinch of salt.  Set aside.

Make cream sauce: Over medium heat, melt 3 tablespoons of butter in a sauté  pan.   Once butter has melted, add chopped onion and garlic.  Sauté until onions are clear, 3 to 5 minutes.  Add flour and mix until well blended.  Add cream and milk.  Stir until mixture bubbles and thickens.  Add salt, fresh dill and Muenster.  Stir until cheese has melted.

Assemble dish:
Toss pasta with pickled tomatoes, sun dried tomatoes and shredded Butterkase cheese.  Place in a large casserole dish.  Pour cream sauce mixture over the pasta and fold in until mixed.  Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and mix with bread crumbs.  Sprinkle bread crumbs over the top of the pasta.

Bake: Bake for 30 minutes until crispy golden.

Eat and enjoy!

Check out our recipe, featured in the 30 days of Mac n’ Cheese project!

Cooking Questions: Can Cheese Be Frozen?

After our wedding, I had a bunch of food left over. I hate waste. My most hated job would have to be a garbage man, not because of the grossness and stink, but because I would be horrified by the amount of waste we produce. Don’t get me started. As absolutely exhausted as I was after our wedding, the last thing I felt like doing was using up the 5-10 lbs of sliced cheese I had stacked in my fridge. Since it was already in zip lock bags, I just threw all of them into the freezer and went to bed. This begs the question: Can cheese be frozen?

There’s a lot of debate about freezing cheese. Some say hard cheeses freeze better, some say you should only freeze soft cheese. It seems everyone has a slightly different take on the issue. In a good article from the TheNest.com, author, Nest Colleen, describes what happens to cheese as it freezes:

“Because of the moisture content or vein-y, open texture of most cheeses, ice crystals develop inside as cheese freezes. (Hey, that rhymes!) The ice “breaks” the curds in the cheese apart, which alters the texture of the cheese from creamy and smooth to crumbly or grainy when it thaws.”

This change in texture is only apparent when you eat the cheese raw. However, once its cooked , the texture of the melted cheese is relatively indistinguishable from fresh cheese. So the answer is, yes, most cheeses can be frozen, but only if you plan to use it in a heated dish like a casserole or enchiladas.

Colleens final stance urges us never to freeze fancy cheese and although it is possible to freeze cheese of a lesser quality it shouldn’t be taken on as one would freeze bulk bread or meat because unlike these examples, the quality of the defrosted cheese is so much less then the quality of the original. While I sort of agree with her, I have to take a different take on this matter.

In terms of buying in bulk, if you see a great sale on the pre-shredded mozzarella or cheddar cheeses which you would probably melt on pizza or nachos anyways, I say GO FOR IT! Buy a bunch and freeze it. In my experience once melting frozen cheese, it tastes great and I’ve never had any complaints.

Sometimes, like in my case after my wedding, you may find yourself with a lot of cheese you don’t have time to deal with, I think it’s way better to throw cheese in the freezer then throw it in the trash. I think Colleen would agree here since my cheese was basic provolone and swiss.

I think, however, this holds true for fancy cheeses too. I totally agree they should be enjoyed in their best possible quality and should never be purchased with the intent on freezing. But when dealing with left overs, waste not, want not. Even in the worst case scenario, if the cheese is totally destroyed in the freezing, at least then you have that knowledge from experience and you haven’t lost anything since it would have probably been tossed anyway.

Because there’s so much back and forth between which cheeses freeze well and which don’t, my opinion is everyone should try things out for themselves and learn by trial and error what works and what doesn’t. Don’t be afraid to try something just because random voices on the internet which present themselves as “experts” tell you not to.

Once melted, I defy anyone to tell the difference between Kraft cheese which was fresh or frozen. Its not that high quality to begin with. If they can, send them packing to go hang out with that stupid pretentious bow-tie dude from America’s Test Kitchen. You don’t want to be around that type anyway!

$10 Designer Meal: Stuffed Shells with Gorgonzola Skirt Steak

My chest freezer has become a despairing land of forgotten foods. I can never pass up a good sale. It doesn’t matter that I don’t have any immediate need for it, into the freezer it goes. Once that door slams shut though, out of sight out of mind, like the skirt steak I got on super sale for $1.75 lb over a year ago (….OOPS!). It’s been hanging out for quite a while in my guilt complex next to the duck breast which I finally took care of at Easter. The steak seemed sad, missing its once feathered friend, so I decided to send it the same way and maybe they could meet somewhere in the hereafter.

From its long stay in the frozen hinterlands, I was concerned about the meat being tough which can be a problem with fresh skirt steak. One neglected food deserves another, so a bottle of red wine which had turned to vinegar from months of sitting in windowsill would work for a marinade, and help tenderize the meat.


Baked shells with apple chutney sauce.

The Gorgonzola, left over from salad night would go well with the beef. In walking through my pantry, I pulled some large pasta shells which I could stuff and bake. For a filling, blue cheese is a bit strong on its own, so I would have to tone it down using a milder cottage cheese or ricotta. I just needed a sauce. A tomato sauce didn’t sound right, but when I passed some jars of apple chutney, I knew that was the ticket. All in all, I only had to run out for the ricotta which I found at the corner store (just as cheap as the cottage cheese!). Here’s how it came together.

Apple Chutney Conchiglie with Gorgonzola Skirt Steak

  • 16 large pasta shells
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 8 oz. Gorgonzola blue cheese
  • 1/4 c. sun dried tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 12 oz. ricotta cheese
  • 2 eggs
  • 2-3 c. apple chutney
  • 1 lb. skirt steak
  • 1-2 cups red wine
  • salt and pepper to taste

Marinate the steak in wine; chill for 1 hour.

Meanwhile, boil pasta shells al dente in boiling water with olive oil.

Mix 3/4 of the Gorgonzola with the tomatoes, thyme, ricotta cheese and eggs.

Stuff each shell with filling and place in a baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and spoon apple chutney over shells. Bake in a preheated oven at 400 degrees for 30-40 minutes.

15 minutes before shells are done, remove steak from marinade. Rub both sides with salt and pepper. Saute on a cast iron grill over high heat. (3-5 minutes). You can use a regular pan if you don’t have a grill. Flip to cook second side, and drizzle cooked side with the remaining blue cheese.

Slice steak and serve over baked shells. I sided my dish with steamed broccoli. As a quick tip, I kept the water boiling from the pasta shells and placed the broccoli in a bamboo steamer over the boiling water while I was cooking the steak. After steaming for about 10 minutes, I drizzled with butter, salt and pepper.

Arrrh, this was so good! (So good, I turned into a pirate for a second). I was super happy with how well the steak turned out, especially considering how long it sat in the freezer and how crappy the wine was. This meal cost about $10 in all, if you don’t include the ingredients for the homemade chutney. Now lets play my favorite game: “how much woud you pay for this plate at a fancy restaurant.”

Cheddar Biscuits Can Equal Big Discounts

Spring is here and the weather is getting warmer. Time for some fun bike riding. Girls, here’s a great hint if you have a bike which needs work. Men love biscuits. It makes them feel all old timey, like cowboys on the range. Put on a cute skirt and make a plate of biscuits and wheel that rusty hunk to the shop. Flash some smiles, whip out the biscuits and get some discounts!

Here’s a cut above your average biscuit to help seal the deal.

Cheddar Biscuits with Sun Dried Tomatoes

  • 1 3/4 c. flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 2 Tbs Parmesan cheese
  • 4-6 Tbs chilled butter
  • 3/4 c. milk
  • 1/4 c. shredded cheddar
  • 1/4 c. sun dried tomatoes, chopped

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Mix dry ingredients and Parmesan cheese. Using a fork or pastry cutter, mix butter into the dry ingredients until chunky. Add milk and mix until dry ingredients stick together to form a rough dough. Don’t over work it. Add tomatoes and mix.

On a floured surfaced, roll dough out about 1/2″ – 3/4″ thick. Cut out biscuits, using a circular cookie cutter or juice glass with approx. 2″ diameter and place on a baking sheet.

Place in the oven and bake for 10 minutes. Remove tray from oven and sprinkle biscuits with cheddar cheese. Place back in the oven for 2-5 more minutes until biscuits are golden and cheese is melted.

Reuben Loaf

The Reuben has to be one of the most popular sandwiches of all time. I love it too. But, I hate the way it has so many layers, always falling apart. I want my sandwiches to be like an awesome jumpsuit, an all in one kind of deal. That’s why I love the Reuben loaf. Its all enclosed in a loaf of bread. One stop eating is the way of the future!

Reuben Loaf
makes two loaves

  • 3 1/4 c flour
  • 1 Tbs sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 c. luke warm water
  • 2 1/4 tsp yeast or 1 package
  • 1 Tbs butter
  • 2-3 Tbs olive oil
  • 1/2 c. thousand island dressing or mayo, ketchup and chopped pickles
  • 1/2 – 1 lb corned beef
  • 1/2 – 1 lb Swiss cheese sliced
  • 1 pint jar saur kraut
  • 1 egg
  • spices for topping

Make your bread dough: Mix the dry ingredients in a bowl and make a well in center. Pour water into the well and add yeast and olive oil. The luke warm water will help the yeast to react faster. Allow the yeast to sit in the water for 15 minutes until dissolved and puffy. Add butter and mix ingredients together using the dough hook on a stand mixer or just using a wooden spoon.

Knead bread dough: Kneed on a floured surface until well mixed and the dough feels smooth and soft (not chunky). Every time I make dough, it comes out a little differently. Sometimes it feels light and fluffy, in which case, I can move on to making the loaves. Sometimes it feels hard and very solid feeling, in which case, I’ll allow the dough to rise a bit before I roll the loaves out. You want the dough to be very pliable. If the dough can’t easily be stretched multiple inches without breaking, you should allow the dough to sit for a while in a warm area to rise before rolling out.

Assemble your loaves: Cut the dough ball in half. Roll out each dough ball into a rectangle ~9″ x 14″ to fit the base of a large baking sheet. Pour 1/4 c. of thousand island dressing down center of dough rectangle. Split your amount of saur kraut, Swiss cheese slices and corned beef slices into two sections for each loaf. Layer the saur kraut over the dressing along the center followed by the corned beef and topped with the slices of cheese.


Do you like my fancy “kitchen sheers” also known as plain scissors? Used only for food of course.

Weave the loaves: Using a knife or kitchen sheers, cut slits along the long edge of the dough approx. 1″ apart up to the base of the stacked filling. Starting at one end, fold the cut edges over on top of the filling alternating each side, to create a woven top.

Allow loaves to rise: Preheat the oven to 200 degrees. When each loaf is assembled and woven, cover with a towel. Turn oven off, and place trays covered with a towel in warm oven and allow to rise for 30 minutes. By placing in a preheated oven, this will speed up the rising of the dough. When dough has risen, remove loaves from the oven and preheat to 400 degrees.


This loave was sprinkled with black carraway.

Bake loaves: Before putting in the oven, brush each loave with egg and drizzle top with your choice of seeds. Carraway, dill, cumin seed, or whatever you prefer. Bake at 400 degrees for 20-30 minutes or until loaves are golden brown.


This loaf was sprinkled with cumin seed.

Slice and Serve. Eat ‘em up.

I often make a double batch and then freeze two of the loaves for a quick night dinner.

When freezing, I only bake the loaves for about 10-15 minutes and then finish baking when I reheat them. Label the loaves so you know when the went in the freezer.

Like Shrimp Cocktail? You’ll Love Shrimp Cocktail Dip!

I love this shrimp dip because it gives you shrimp cocktail plus cream cheese. Say no more. Plus, this dip is as easy to make as it is to eat! Great for you last minute party planners!



Shrimp Cocktail Dip

  • 1-2 packages cream cheese
  • 1/2 c. sour cream
  • 1/2 c. salad shrimp
  • 1 c. of cocktail sauce -or- 1 c. ketchup and 2 Tbl shredded horseradish (drained)

Using a hand mixer, blend cream cheese (packages depending on the size of your dish) and sour cream. Your looking for a constancy which will be less stiff and be easily scooped by a cracker without cracking it.

Spread cream cheese on bottom of your chosen dish. I always use a glass pie pan.

Spread cocktail sauce over cream cheese.

Place shrimp in a strainer and allow all excess shrimp juice to drip out.

Scatter shrimp over cocktail sauce and you are done.

Presto: Shrimp Dip!

A Forkable Birthday

My Mother spent her whole birthday cooking and hosting her Thanksgiving feast. When my sister, Emily, posed the idea of us hosting a dinner at her house to celebrate my Mom’s birthday in style, I was immediately game. She suggested 3 course prefix include personal pot pies as the main course. We knew Mom, being very thrifty by nature, wouldn’t want us to go to any expense, so we decided to go to the store and prepare whatever we found on sale.

Fresh small scallops were on special so we decided a scallop pot pie with a white wine cream sauce would do just nicely. A sale on red potatoes was enough to settle our side dish. One look at the teeny acorn squash on sale at the farmers market and we knew we’d found the bowls for our pot pies. Armed with our produce we headed for home.

Here is the 3 course prefix we served to celebrate our Mom’s Birthday!

Starter: A salad of fresh greens with shaved fennel, apple, walnuts and Danish Bleu cheese with an apple cranberry vinaigrette.

Main Course: Scallop Pot Pies served in an acorn squash bowl with a Swiss cheese biscuit pastry, sided with New England boiled red potatoes with butter, parsley, sea salt and freshly ground pepper.

Dessert: 3 Lemon Cheesecake

Our pot pies turned out very well, and my sister’s cheesecake recipe is literally the best cheesecake I have ever eaten.

While eating dinner, we sat around and played a little game our family likes to call “How Much Would You Pay”, where we all sit around a guess at the price we would pay for our meal at a fancy restaurant. For all three courses, guesses ranged from $50 to $75 including alcohol per plate. In truth, our meals cost the hosts about $10 per plate including alcohol. Score!

Stay tuned for the pot pie recipe.

A Favorite Thanksgiving Dish: Cheesy Onion Casserole

Since Thanksgiving is only a week away, I wanted to share a couple of my favorite family recipes. As you can maybe imagine, Thanksgiving is one of my family’s favorite holidays. My Mom always does it up big. Last year for a group of 11 people, my parents prepared a Turduckin and rotisseried a 14 lb Turkey. Thanksgiving is a day of total hedonism where we gorge ourselves silly and have enough left overs for an army!

Cheesy Onion Casserole, a family favorite, is so delicious the left overs are always fought over and my Mom has to evenly and judiciously distribute. No Thanksgiving is complete without a casserole and this one is literally as easy to make as it is to eat!

Cheesy Onion Casserole

  • 2-3 Tbs butter or margerine
  • 3 large sweet onions or 4 medium white or yellow onions
  • 2 c. shredded swiss cheese (8 oz.)
  • 1 can cream of chicken soup, undiluted**
  • 2/3 c. milk
  • 1 tsp. soy sauce
  • 8 or so slices of French bread

Slice onions. Know any tricks not to cry while cutting onions? I whistle which works pretty well, but you need a lot of onions for this recipe. Any ideas??

Melt butter in a saute pan over medium heat, and add onions. Saute onions until clear, a little brown is ok. In a shallow 2 qt. casserole pan, layer onions, 2/3 of cheese and pepper to taste.

In a sauce pan, heat soup, milk, and soy sauce, stirring to blend. Pour soup mixture in a casserole and stir gently to mix. Top with bread slices. Bake at 350 uncovered for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, top of bread should be nice and toasted.

Push bread slices under the sauce and top with the remaining cheese.

Bake for 15 more minutes and you are done!

Sooo good!

**You can make this vegetarian by substituting cream of mushroom soup instead of cream of chicken.



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