Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Pumpkin Cheesecake

Pumpkin Cheesecake (Sugar-free)

It has been a very happy and joyful holiday. Christmas, this year, was spent with my fiance's family in Northern California. I didn't want to show up empty handed, so I decided to try a pumpkin cheesecake recipe from Kalyn's kitchen that looked fantastic. 

I used an almond crust that I made the night before so it could cool while I slept before a busy morning.

Almond Pie Crust
(adapted from glutenfreegoddess)

1 cups (heaping) almond meal

1/4 cup multigrain oatmeat or old-fashioned oatmeal
1/4 cup olive oil (or butter/vegan stick margarine, melted)
8 packets of splenda (or 2/3 cup brown sugar)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Dash of cinnamon and nutmeg

(1) Preheat oven at 350 degrees F.

(2) Combine all of the ingredients to form a sticky dough. 
(3) With moist fingertips, press the dough into a greased 9x12-inch baking pan or 2 8-inch glass pie plates. Bake the crust for 20 minutes. Allow to cool completely before filling (approximately 20 min).

The next morning, I made the pumpkin cheesecake, allowing it to completely set in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours before the drive from San Francisco to the North Bay. For my first cheesecake, I thought it turned out well.

Pumpkin Cheesecake

(adapted from Kalyn's kitchen)

2 packages (8 oz. each) neufchatel cheese or light cream cheese
1/2 cup Splenda
2/3 tsp. Vanilla extract
2 eggs + 1 egg yolk
1/2 cup canned pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling which contains sugar)
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg

1/2 tsp. cloves
prepared almond (or pecan) crust

Preheat oven to 325 F. In large bowl combine softened cream cheese, Splenda, and vanilla. Beat with electric mixer until smooth. Blend in eggs, one at a time.

Add pumpkin and spices to remaining batter and stir until blended. Carefully spread pumpkin layer over first layer. Bake in preheated oven 35-45 minutes, or until center is almost set. Allow to cool, then chill several hours or overnight. Serve with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream. 

Being that it was Christmas, I put a small sliver next to a piece of buttermilk pie and 7-up cake and stopped there.

I am still recovering from the holiday food but thankfully I always stay firm with serving myself, taking small portions, and taking foods that I want to try instead of everything.

Oh, another tip, leftovers (if there are any) can be frozen and saved for a rainy day.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Peanut Butter Chews

Peanut Butter Chews for my (little) brother

It is the holiday season. My 24-year old little (always will be) brother tore his ACL playing soccer. He has had the surgery and is now doing the hard-part, regaining the strength and flexibility in his knee. He is recovery really well but can't travel for the holidays.

Therefore, along with his Christmas gift, I decided to send some freshly baked peanut butter cookies (his favorite).

I adapted the recipe from the King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking cookbook, coincidently a gift from him for my birthday. The book is amazing and has expanded the range of whole grain recipes, which I use.

Time (prep + bake): 40 min

Adapted Recipe using a combo of peanuts and almonds:

1/2 cup almond meal (or dry-roasted peanuts)
1 cup smooth peanut butter (I used Jiffy)
6 packets of Splenda (or 1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar)
1/2 cup granulated (white) sugar (or could use 6 more packets of splenda if want it sugar-free)
1 large egg
1/4 cup water
2 TBSP honey (or dark corn syrup)
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour

(1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a baking sheet or line with parchment paper.

(2) You could use a food processor, hand or stand mixer, or the old-fashioned fork. I used my KitchenAide hand-mixer. Place peanut butter, sugars, egg, water, honey, vanilla, baking soda and salt into bowl. Blend on low speed (1-2) to thoroughly combine.

(3) Add flour and almond meal. Pulse until well combined. The dough will be somewhat stiff.

(4) Drop the dough by tablespoonful onto the prepared baking sheet. Press the top of each cookie with a fork to make a crisscross design, flattening the cookies to about 1/2" thick. Dip the fork in cold water if it starts to stick.

(5) Bake the cookies for 11-12 minutes. Remove the cookies from the oven and transfer them to a rack to cool.

This recipe yields 2 dozen cookies.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Chocolate-dipped Coconut macaroons

In Northern California, its december but it is autumn. The leaves are falling.
I have experimented with several delicious recipes in the past. I am a huge chocolate and nuts fan so I added some dark chocolate and almond meal to this easy, quick recipe from epicurious.

Here are my modifications to the recipe:

2 large egg white
1 packet of splenda
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon almond extract (omitted but would be good)
3/4 cup sweetened flaked coconut
1/2 cup quick oats
1/4 almond meal

Mix together.
Bake in a preheated oven 300°F for 15-20 min.
Cool on a rack for 10 min.
Dip in dark chocolate (4 oz melted in a bowl in the microwave med. setting 1-2 min)
Resist eating and allow to cool on a baking sheet.