Saturday, December 27, 2014

Strawberry Cheesecake

Of all the desserts out there cheesecake has got to be one of my favorites. I searched all over for a delicious cheesecake recipe but I didn't like the ones that weren't baked and tasted too cream cheesey. When I tried the Lion House Cheesecake recipe I knew I found what I was looking for. This one is not the easiest recipe but believe me, it's totally worth it.

Lion House Strawberry Cheesecake -

Crust -

1 1/2 cups crushed graham crackers
3 Tablespoons sugar
6 Tablespoons melted butter
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Filling -

3 (8 oz.) packages cream cheese
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons lemon juice
3 eggs
3/4 teaspoon vanilla

Topping -

1 cup sour cream
1 1/2 Tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Strawberry topping -

1 package strawberries
1/3 cup sugar

(Skip down to the bottom of the post for a video tutorial)

If you have a springform cheesecake pan you'll want to use that. If not just use a regular pie pan but be aware that you might not need to use all the cheesecake crust, filling, and topping since it could spill over.
Place your graham crackers in a Ziploc baggie and mash them up with a rolling pin. You'll need 1 1/2 cups.
 Melt 6 Tablespoons butter in the microwave.
Add your graham cracker crumbs, 3 Tablespoons sugar, and a dash of cinnamon (optional) and mix together.

Evenly distribute the crust around the bottom of the greased pan and press down the graham crackers until the bottom is covered completely.
Mix together with a hand mixer three 8 oz. packages of softened cream cheese.
Add 1 cup sugar,
3 eggs,

2 teaspoons lemon juice,
and 3/4 teaspoon vanilla.
Blend well. You may have some chunks of cream cheese but they will cook out in the oven so don't worry.
Pour the mixture on top of the graham cracker crust. Place in the preheated 300 degree oven and bake for 55-60 minutes. Make sure you place the cheesecake on top of a baking sheet to prevent any spills falling into your oven.  
While the cheesecake bakes, start on your strawberry topping. Chop up 1-2 small containers of strawberries into bite size pieces.

 Place them in a pan and cook them over low heat. Add 1/4 - 1/3 cups of sugar. You don't want to  cook this long, just until the sugar dissolves and juice starts to come out of the strawberries.
Take out 1/3 of the strawberries and blend them in your blender.
Add the puree back into the pot and turn off the heat. Let cool, and place in the refrigerator. That's all there is to that! (Side note: To save time you can always just use store bought canned strawberry or raspberry sauce but this is a hundred times better!)
Here's how the cheesecake will look after being baked.
The last step is making the sour cream topping.
Place 1 cup sour cream in a mixing bowl.
Add 1 1/2 Tablespoons sugar and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla. 
Whisk together.
Pour on top of the cheesecake after it has cooled for a few minutes.
Bake for another 10 minutes. Let it cool completely and refrigerate before serving.
Unfortunately, I forgot to take a picture of the cheesecake when we served it on Thanksgiving but it's beautiful and delicious! You'll see it in the video below. I hope you enjoy it.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Easiest Ever Caramel Popcorn

If you are a procrastinator like me and you're just getting your neighbor Christmas gifts done the day before Christmas Eve here's what I did this year that was quick, inexpensive, and simple...

Just make some caramel popcorn and throw it in a cute bag with a bow or put it on a Christmas plate and wrap it in cellophane. You can add a cute saying like "Just POPPIN' in to say Merry Christmas" or give some soda with it and say "POP, POP, Fizz, Fizz, We hope you have a Merry Christmas!" Easy peesey.

Easiest Ever Caramel Popcorn -

2 bags microwave popcorn popped and sifted
2 cubes butter
1 cup dark brown sugar
30 large marshmallows

In a heavy pan on the stove melt 2 cubes butter and 1 cup dark brown sugar together over low heat until sugar dissolves. Add 30 large marshmallows, stir and pour over popcorn and mix well. Turn out on wax paper and let it settle. Then transfer to your bags and share with your friends!

This is such an easy recipe you really don't need step by step pictures. Enjoy!

 I was able to get about 6 bags full from 1 batch. It's such a great caramel corn recipe because you don't have to mess with a candy thermometer or know how to make caramel. It's basically like making rice krispies only you use popcorn instead.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Seven Course Christmas Meal

A few years ago we started a fun tradition that my husband's family did while they were growing up--a seven course Christmas dinner. We didn't actually have it on Christmas day, it was a week before. It's a meal that lasts about 2 hours at the dinner table, taking your time to eat each course. My mother-in-law and father-in-law were nice enough to come to our house and put on the dinner for us to teach us how to make it happen. It was SO much fun and such a memorable dinner that I wanted to share it with all of you!
My husband, Jake, and his mom and dad are preparing the meal in this picture. It takes a lot of preparation but it's worth it!
I didn't have any pretty silverware or decorations of my own so luckily my mother-in-law was nice enough to bring all of her stuff and decorate our table. This is what our place settings looked like.
And here is the beautiful table!
To add to the ambiance we had our meal by candlelight. We also put on some gorgeous Christmas music. It was lovely!
The guests that you have over stay seated the whole time and you serve them each course and take away their plates when they're finished. Each course lasts from 10-20 minutes. However long you want. I liked taking our time.
Here's an example of what to serve for the seven courses: (I wanted to take a picture of every course but I was too busy enjoying the meal.)
1-We started off with some apples, crackers, and cheese.
2-Then we had a shrimp cocktail.
3-Next we had the most delicious homemade French Onion soup ever (made by my mother-in-law)!
4-Time for the salad (pictured above) and a roll.
5-Then it was time for our cranberry/tangerine sherbet to cleanse our palette. So fun!
6- And as if we hadn't had enough food already, next came the main course--Chicken Cordon Bleu, twice baked potatoes, and asparagus (pictured below). And finally,
7-Dessert- We had THE most delicious raspberry cheesecake I have ever had made by my wonderful husband, Jake.

Here's my son enjoying his cheesecake. The rule for our dinner was no kids but he woke up from his nap and joined us for dessert. (He was so little! He's a few years older now.)

This 7 course meal would be great for any occasion, just use appropriate table d├ęcor for the season or Holiday. Try it sometime with your family or friends. I promise it will be a memorable dinner, one that you won't ever forget! 

Monday, December 8, 2014

Creamy Chicken Noodle Soup

This is a yummy soup recipe that is sure to please kids and adults! It's creamy, hearty, and delicious. And it doesn't take all day to make either.

Creamy Chicken Noodle Soup:

2 cans chicken broth
2 teaspoons chicken bouillon
2 cups chopped carrots
2 cups chopped celery
3/4 cups chopped onion
2 cans cream of chicken soup (10.5 oz.)
1 can evaporated milk (12 oz.)
2 cups shredded chicken (cooked)
4 cups wide egg noodles (cooked)
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

Boil the chicken broth and chicken bouillon together. Add carrots, celery, and onion and simmer for 15 minutes or until veggies are soft. Add cream of chicken soup and evaporated milk. Add cooked chicken and noodles. Salt and pepper to taste.
Start by bringing 2 cans of chicken broth with 2 teaspoons of chicken bouillon to a boil in a large pot.
I like to use this kind of chicken bouillon but you can use the square ones instead.
Chop up 2 cups of celery
Chop up 2 cups of carrots
Chop up 3/4 cup onion

Add the vegetables to the boiling broth, cover, let simmer on medium/low heat for 15 minutes.
While the veggies are cooking, boil 4 cups of wide egg noodles until they're soft for about 7 minutes.

Chop up your chicken into bite size chunks. I like to use pre-cooked shredded chicken that you buy from Costco or Sam's club. If you don't have that you can boil 2 chicken breasts on the stove for about 20 minutes and chop that up.
Once the veggies are soft add to the pot 2 cans cream of chicken soup.
Then add 1 can evaporated milk.
Mix in your noodles
And add your chicken.
 Continue to heat up the soup until it's hot and ready to be served. This soup is excellent in bread bowls!