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Gluten Free Bourbon Pumpkin Cheesecake

November 3, 2014

SONY DSC

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted on MSC and this is the perfect recipe to come back to. Wow. So good. We’ve been on a cheesecake kick over here at casa Cabarcas-Smith. I’m planning on making a cheesecake for my birthday later this week, and I’m tempted to just make this one again because it was so. good. It’s not hard, but there are quite a few steps — make the crust, let it cool, make the cake, make the topping. It’s worth it. I’ll keep you posted on the birthday cake. For now, enjoy this one. Make it for thanksgiving or just because.

A few pointers:

* I didn’t put on all of the topping when I made this and wished I had. When it bakes it soaks into the cake… just use the whole TWO CUPS of sour cream. Whatever. This dessert has three blocks of cream cheese and BURBON in addition to butter, heavy cream and two kinds of sugars. This is not health food, people. Slather on the sour cream and be happy.

* Another benefit of the topping = it covers up the cracks that form on the top.

* This cheesecake is NOT coming off the bottom of the springform pan in one piece. Don’t even try it. Just serve from the pan bottom. (The greasing of the pan will help you get the individual slices off, but I would have a HEART ATTACK trying to transfer the whole thing. No. Don’t go there. ;)

* Yes, you can leave the bourbon out, but if you do, you won’t be able to shadily go to the liquor store and buy the teeny tiny bottles and put them in your purse. That’s what I did. Good times.

* Gluten free ginger snaps — I made this modification for Elias because he’s Mr. Gluten free. People loved the crust the most.

Bourbon Pumpkin Cheesecake

Serves 12

For the crust
3/4 cups gluten free gingersnaps
1/2 cup pecans, finely chopped
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, melted and cooled

(extra butter for greasing pan)

For the filling
1 1/2 cups canned solid-pack pumpkin
3 large eggs
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
2 T heavy cream
1t vanilla
1T bourbon
1/2 cup white sugar
1 T cornstarch
1 1/2 t cinnamon
1/2 t freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 t ground ginger
1/2 t salt
3 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened

 

For topping

2 c sour cream
2 T white sugar
1 T bourbon

Garnish: pecan halves

Crust

1. Grease the bottom of a 9 inch springform pan with butter

2. Stir together cookie crumbs, pecans, white sugar, brown sugar and melted sugar until well combined. The mixture should look like wet sand. Press into the bottom and 1/2 inch up side of the pan.

3. Chill crust for 1 hour.

Filling 

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F

2. Whisk together, pumpkin, eggs, brown sugar, vanilla, and bourbon until combined.

3. In a separate bowl (bowl of stand mixer if you have one) stir together white sugar, cornstarch, spices and salt.

4. To the sugar mixture, add cream cheese and beat at high speed until the mixture is creamy and smooth (about 3 minutes) reduce speed to medium, add the pumpkin mixture and beat an additional minute.

5. Pour the filling into the crust, smooth the top and bake until the center is set like jello. It can wiggle a little, but shouldn’t be soupy. (50 – 60 minutes.) Leave cake to cool slightly while making the topping (leave oven on)

Topping

1. Mix together sour cream, bourbon and sugar

2. Spread on top of cake (it will look like a lot, but use all of it)

3. Bake for 5 more minutes at 350.

4. Cool cheesecake with topping in the rack for at least 3 hours. Transfer to fridge.

Serve cold or at room temperature.

 

Source: Adapted from Smitten Kitchen (one of my go to sites for awesome recipes.)

Vanilla Dutch Baby (Puffed Pancake)

June 12, 2014

dutchbaby

In recent weeks, I’ve been making this oven baked, puff pancake (aka a Dutch Baby) at least 3x a week for my boys and I. It’s really easy to whip up, doesn’t create a lot of mess, and fills up two toddlers and a mama just fine. Elias doesn’t get any because it’s got regular flour in it (sad face). Awhile ago I posted about David Eyre’s pancake which is very similar to this in preparation, but comes out more crepe-like and less substantial. This one comes out more custardy and seems to suit us a little better these days. It’s so easily customized. We’ve put lemon or orange zest in the batter or cinnamon. I’ve never tried chocolate chips, but someone totally should.

As for what to put on top, most days we eat it with a little powdered sugar and lemon juice, or just plain for the boys, or with some fruit on top. It doesn’t require syrup like regular pancakes do, but I’m sure syrup lovers won’t use that as a deterrent to throwing a little bit of syrup on top.

I also love to serve this to the boys with some sausage or bacon for a quick and easy supper!

Vanilla Dutch Baby, Adapted from Melissa D’Arabian 

 

Ingredients

3 eggs

3/4 cup milk, warmed in the microwave for 20-30 seconds

3 TBS salted butter

t TBS granulated sugar

3/4 cup flour

1 tsp vanilla extract

 

Toppings: powdered sugar, lemon juice, fruit of your choice.

 

Procedure:

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

2. Put the butter in an oven-safe frying pan (mine’s about 12 inches, I think) and put in the oven to melt while you prepare the batter

3. Whisk eggs and warm milk together for about 30 seconds – 1 minute until the eggs are no longer stringy

4. Whisk in vanilla and flour and whisk until there are no lumps

5. Remove melted butter from the oven and pour most of it (about 3/4s) into the batter, swirl the rest around to coat the pan

6. Pour batter into hot pan

7. Bake at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes until the pancake is puffed and golden

8. Top with powdered sugar, lemon juice and fruit of your choice.

YUM.

 

Takeout Style Chicken Fried Rice

April 10, 2014

chickenfriedrice

When Elias and I were first married, I learned very quickly that he didn’t consider a meal a full meal unless there’s rice. We eat rice in our home every single day. While I learned the secrets of making rice and it’s not hard, I did wonder out loud (on Facebook) awhile ago if I should get a rice cooker. The response was pretty one sided “Yes! Get one! I love mine!” People seemed to be passionate about their rice cookers. One friend was the lone dissenter “I don’t really use mine. Wish I could trade it for one of your books.” It sounded like a great deal to me, and so we made the swap.

The verdict? I love the rice cooker. I really do! What’s easier than making rice? Nothing… except making it in a rice cooker. I think the thing I like about it is that it frees up mental space. I just throw it in there and turn it on and then I’m back to the business of making the “fun” food.

Because of my over zealousness with the new rice cooker, I had a big pot of white rice sitting in the fridge. After a few days it gets a little dried out and not so exciting, so I decided to make chicken fried rice. It seriously cooks up in 15 minutes, and it was so tasty. In addition to being absolutely no trouble to throw together and really tasty, it’s cheap and uses up whatever’s in the fridge (within reason).

Take Out Chicken Fried Rice

Ingredients

3 cups of leftover rice

1 and 1/2 cups cooked cubed (or shredded) chicken

1 cup frozen peas and carrots (total = 1 cup. 1/2 cup of each)

1 onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 eggs

3 T neutral flavored oil (vegetable or sesame, if you have it)

1/4 cup soy sauce

1 tsp. ginger paste (optional)

Directions

  1. Heat oil in a large pan on medium-heat
  2. Add vegetables (onion, peas, carrots) and fry for 3-5 minutes, or until tender
  3. Crack eggs into pan, and scramble them in to the vegetables
  4. Add, chicken, rice, and ginger paste to the pan and stir to combine for two minutes
  5. Finish by adding in soy sauce

Source: Adapted from Rachel Schultz 

Date Night Chicken

March 27, 2014
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A lot has happened since the last time I posted a recipe on Mrs. Smith Cooks! I published a book, learned how to make the perfect play-doh pancake (Clayton and Sam say they are delicious!) and started a Faith and Family Newsletter. In fact, I’ve had so much going on that I said to Elias a couple of weeks ago, “I think I’m going to shut Mrs. Smith Cooks Down.” “Yo no estoy de acuerdo” Elias said, which means “I don’t agree.” We talked about it and he had some good points. The whole point of Mrs. Smith Cooks is to document my own cooking adventures. I actually use it all the time to look up my own favorite recipes. I decided that I really do still enjoy cooking and trying out new things, but the hardest part of the blog – styling the food and setting it up and taking nice-ish pictures of it in the sunshine — is something that I just don’t have time for anymore. So, for the 8.2 readers of Mrs. Smith Cooks out there, still, you can expect to continue to see my favorite recipes from time to time, but the pictures will be more iPhone-y / Instagramtastic type shots. I’m ok with that if you are.
Ok, on to the cooking. Recently Elias and I have been instituting “Stay at home date-nights” that involve eating a real “fancy” homecooked meal in peace and drinking wine while the children sleep. Luxurious, I tell you, luxurious. It’s a huge change from the usual “scarf down some enchiladas in between picking up enchilada bits off the floor and wrestling toddlers into feety pajamas.” (as much as we LOVE wrestling the toddlers into feety pajamas and scraping enchilada bits off the floor…) One of the challenges of these awesome stay at home date night meals is finding a dish that feels fancy and wonderful enough for date night but also doesn’t involve a lot of A. Dishes to wash B. Fussing C. Time
When I first saw this dish in the New York Times, I was positive it would work and that we’d love it for all of the reasons just described. The dish is about 30 minutes of hands-on time and another 45ish of letting it simmer and cook on the stove. So great. So French. So delicious. The sauce, you guys. The sauce. We ate this with just brown rice (ok, not JUST brown rice, there was also wine to drink and cake for dessert — can I get an amen?) but there were no vegetables, (aside from the tomatoes in this dish) no fancy potatoes, no delectable side dishes. We didn’t need them. We didn’t care. This dish speaks for itself. It’s the perfect dish for company or for date night. It’s exactly the reason I don’t want to shut Mrs. Smith Cooks down — I would have never dared to make something like this back when I started this blog. I’m so enjoying this adventure.
The only changes I made to this dish are the following:
1. I used six thighs, not eight, for two reasons. 1. I was not about to brown these thighs “in batches” as the recipe suggests. Oh no. When there are toddlers running amuck there will be one batch and one batch only. (And as the Food Network taught me, it’s important not to overcrowd the pan when browning to get a nice sear.) 2. I was pretty sure we’d want a higher sauce to chicken recipe and I was right. Always more sauce. Always more sauce!! :)
2. I didn’t use cherry tomatoes, I cut these Campari tomatoes into fourths. They looked great at the store, and they were on sale. It was the right choice, but the cherry tomatoes do make for a nicer presentation (See the NYT article’s photo… yum!)
3. Just before adding the tomatoes, I turned the flame way WAY down, to almost non existent and let the chicken go for an extra 15 minutes or so. This wasn’t for any other reason than I wasn’t ready to serve it yet and I needed to keep it warm. I added the cherry tomatoes last minute and it was just fine.
Ingredients:
6-8 Bone-in chicken thighs with skin on
2 T flour
1 T each, salt and pepper
2 T Butter
2 T Dijon Mustard
2 C Wine
2 Sprigs Tarragon (plus a little more, chopped, for garnish)
10-12 Medium shallots, peeled
2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved (see note above)
Procedure:
1. Rinse chicken thighs and pat very dry with paper towels.
2. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and flour
3. Melt butter on medium-high heat in a thick, deep frying pan and brown the chicken well on all sides (don’t crowd the pan!)
3. Remove the chicken from the pot and set aside
4. Add shallots to the pot with the chicken fat and butter and brown them until they’re lightly caramelized (about 10 minutes)
5. Add the wine to the pot to deglaze (be careful it spatters a little bit) and whisk in tarragon and mustard. Reduce the heat to low and take a moment to revel in the reality that you are as amazing as a French chef.
6. Cover and simmer on low (medium low in my opinion/experience… if your stove has numbers I think it’s about a 3 you’re going for here) for 30-40 minutes. I did the longer end of this because I’m paranoid about raw chicken (gross!)
7. Remove the lid and simmer for another 20-30 minutes on low (to let the sauce thicken)
8. Stir in tomatoes at the last second. Stir to combine.
9. Plate the chicken: spoon sauce over the chicken and sprinkle with a little extra tarragon. Impress the heck out of your handsome husband/wife/girlfriend/SELF.
10. Devour.

Ground Beef and Lentil Soup with Rice

November 26, 2013

lentil ground beef soup

Finally, finally, it’s cold enough in San Antonio for soup. (Not that being cold is a requirement in our house for soup, we eat soup in the summer, too, because we love soup.) Still, there’s nothing better than cozying up to a nice steamy bowl of soup on a cool day, and this soup is perfect snuggle up comfort food. I’m in the mood for a top five list, so here we go. Top five reasons to love this soup:

1. Comforting, filling and cheap! (three reasons in one)

2. The balsamic vinegar at the end gives it a little bit of a “hmm… yum… what’s in this soup?!” quality.

3. Super easy and quick to make

4. If you use extra lean ground beef, it’s pretty good for you.

5. (Should be #1) It’s lick-the-bowl delicious.

I adapted this soup to make it a few less steps than the original recipe calls for.

Ground Beef and Lentil Soup with Rice

Ingredients: 

1 lb.  ground beef

2 tsp. olive oil

1/2 cup chopped onion

1/2 cup chopped celery

1/2 cup chopped carrots

1 T minced garlic

1 T dried parsley

1 tsp. dried thyme or 3 fresh sprigs of fresh time

1/2 tsp. ground cumin

4 c. low sodium beef stock

2 c. low sodium chicken stock

2 cups water

plus more as needed

2/3 cup brown lentils

1/2 cup rice

salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste

2 T balsamic vinegar

Procedure

1. Heat 2tsp. olive oil in a frying pan and cook the ground beef until it’s well browned. Break up into small pieces and transfer to a large pot.

2.  Add another tsp. of olive oil to the pan and add carrots, onions and celery. Saute until the veggies are starting to soften (about 5 minutes). Add the garlic, thyme, cumin, and parsley and saute for another 2 minutes.

3. Transfer the veggies to the pot. Add the 2 cups of water to the frying pan to swish out the bits of veggies and garlic stuck to the pan and add that water to the soup pot as well.

4. Add beef broth, chicken broth and lentils and rice to the soup pot and simmer on low for about an hour.

5. Taste the soup, if the flavor seems too salty or concentrated, add a bit of water, if it seems underseasoned, add salt.

6. Simmer for another 20-30 minutes and taste again, correcting seasonings if needed. Add balsamic vinegar to finish and enjoy!
PS – The second time I made this I added about 1/2 cup more water and a potato diced small, and it was great that way as well!

Individual Key Lime Cheesecakes (gluten-free)

November 8, 2013

key lime cheesecake

My birthday was last Tuesday…. Happy Birthday to me! I offered to make my own birthday meal because I enjoy cooking and knew it would take some stress off of E to not have to do it. I knew I would make something lemon or lime flavored. While I certainly enjoy chocolate. (See here, here, and here) I love lemon and lime desserts even more. (case in point: here, here and here). I’m the one at the dessert buffet happily loading up my plate with lime tartlets and lemon bars while my friends are devouring the chocolate cake with chocolate ganache and a side of chocolate.  In our house, birthday cakes are always gluten free so husband/dad can enjoy them too.

I will confess that I was hoping to make a more elaborate key lime dessert for my birthday, but (insert standard disclaimer about good intentions, being too busy, blah blah blah).

This dessert doesn’t take much time to whip up, and the results are very satisfying. Limey and creamy! The gingersnap crust gives it a little extra something, but it still has that graham cracker crust feel that we all associate with key lime pie.

This cheesecake can easily be made as one large cheesecake, just increase the baking time. Also, to further simplify, pour the filling into a pre-made pie crust.

Happy 35 to me!

Individual Key Lime Cheesecakes

Ingredients:

1. 8 oz gluten-free gingersnap cookies

2. 1/2 stick butter

3. 16 oz. cream cheese, softened

4. 1/2 cup sugar

5. Two large eggs

6. 1/4 cup freshly squeezed key lime juice

7. 1 T. grated key lime zest

8. 1 T vanilla

Procedure

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees

2. Prepare muffin tin with 12 paper liners

3. Make crust

i. pulse the gingersnaps in a food processor until they are the consistency of sand, and transfer to a bowl.

ii. add the melted butter and stir. The mixture will not be very wet but will hold together loosely.

iii. spoon the crust in to the muffin liners and press down to form the crust. (Note: I wanted a fairly thin crust on mine, so I used about 2 T of crust per cheesecake which resulted in some leftover crumbs. We’ve been sprinkling the leftover crumbs on pancakes and yogurt to use them up. Alternatively, you could make a thicker crust.)

4. Make the filling

i. with a stand mixer, mix the cream cheese, sugar, lime juice, zest, and vanilla until thoroughly combined

ii. add eggs one at a time and mix until just combined

5. Divide filling equally among the prepared muffin tins.

6. Bake at 350 for 18-22 minutes or until the filling is just set (it’s ok if it wobbles a tiny bit in the center)

7. Refrigerate  for at least 3 hours before enjoying.

Source: Filling adapted from Kraft Recipes 

Torticas de coco / Mini Coconut Cakes

October 19, 2013

coconutmuffins

This weekend, in honor of our Colombian visitor, I wanted to make a few Colombian treats for him and Elias to share at one of the speaking opportunities. I made three different Colombian sweets, none of which I’ve made before.

Behind door number one was a dish called enyucado. My version was a disaster. Complete and utter fail. Sweet Elias hemmed and hawed before I got it out of him that “No, this tastes nothing like what it should.” Don’t know what went wrong, but I’ll be doing some research.

Behind door number two: edible, but not what I was hoping for. Dulce de leche cookies. They tasted fine, but looked sloppy. I’ve double and triple checked the recipe, but something was definitely not right there.  More research…

Behind door number three: these mini coconut cakes. Win! They are sweet and full of coconut flavor and go really well with a cup of coffee. I made them in mini muffin tins which made them just the right size for a taste. Unlike the disastrous enyucado and the cookies, these also store really well in an airtight container. Another advantage to these? One bowl.

Torticas de coco – Makes 36 mini torticas

Ingredients

4 cups of shredded, sweetened coconut

1 cup all purpose flour

2 eggs, beaten

1 and 1/2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp vanilla extract

generous pinch of salt

Procedure

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line molds with paper liners

2. Mix all ingredients together until well combined. The mixture will be rather stiff and firm. (not soupy)

3. Fill paper lined cups to heaping. (These rise, but not much)

4. Bake until set and golden brown, 12-18 minutes

Source: Adapted from My Colombian Recipes 

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