My Favorite Cheesecake

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Oh how I love a good cheesecake! I have tried many a cheesecake out there, some great, some good and some not so good.  Some are kind of dense and dry others too light and fluffy.  Some have crust and some don’t.  To me the perfect cheesecake has to have a good crust, must be fairly dense but also smooth and creamy and have a perfect balance of flavors.

I have had this recipe for as long as I can remember. I think that I got it from my mom, who got it from a coworker about 30 years ago. I am not sure who created the original recipe but it has always been my most favorite.

I have tried other recipes out there but they are never quite as good. It has a crunchy, nutty crust and is dense but also smooth and creamy with the perfect balance of flavors. It is perfect plain and even better with a fruit topping. The hint of lemon in this cheesecake is perfect with a cooked berry topping like blueberry or blackberry. Sometimes I just serve it with fresh sliced strawberries tossed with a bit of sugar.

 

Cheesecake

Crust:

  • 2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 1/2 cup finely ground walnuts
  • 4 tablespoons sugar
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons grated lemon rind
  • 3/4 cup melted butter

Filling:

  • 3- 8 ounce packages cream cheese
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 4 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons grated lemon rind
  • 4 eggs

Topping:

  • 1 pint of ice cold sour cream
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Crust- combine all ingredients with a fork, then line the bottom and part way up the side of spring-form pan with crumb mixture. Bake in 350 degree oven for 10 minutes.

Filling- beat cream cheese on medium speed until creamy, gradually adding sugar. Then add vanilla, lemon juice and lemon rind and blend well. Slowly add eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Beat at medium speed 10 minutes (no less) until fluffy. Pour filling into crust lined pan and bake at 300 degrees for 1-1/2 hours. Check occasionally during the last half hour to see if it is set and no longer runny. when it it no longer runny is done. Leave oven door open while making the topping.

Topping- combine sour cream, sugar and vanilla, whip for 10 minutes at high speed, until foamy. Put on top of baked cheesecake and bake at 250 degrees for ten minutes. Turn off oven and let cake sit in the oven with the door open for 1 to 2 hours. Chills thoroughly before serving.

Enjoy!

Italian Beef Sandwiches (Slowcooked)

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It’s playoff season! That means friends gathering together to watch the game, eat food and drink beer. I like to make something simple and tasty for my game day eats, that way there is time to enjoy they game and not spend the whole time in the kitchen.

Slow-cooker foods are a great way to keep it simple and tasty! This recipe is also very versatile, besides sandwiches, you can use it for tacos or nachos as well. Just serve a side of warm tortillas or chips, queso, salsa, guacamole and sour cream. Yum!

The beef takes about 8-10 hours to cook, so make sure to start it first thing in the morning to be ready in time for the game.

Italian Beef Sandwiches

  • 3 pound beef chuck roast
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 2 cups beef broth
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 16 ounce jar sliced pepperoncini , including juice
  • 1 teaspoon italian herb seasoning
  • Ciabatta or hoagie rolls
  • onions, peppers and mushrooms, sauteed
  • provolone or mozzarella cheese slices

In a bowl, mix together garlic, salt, pepper and olive oil. Rub mixture all over roast to coat. Sear meat on all sides in a pan over medium high heat, browning on all sides.

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Place chopped onion in bottom of crockpot and place seared meat on top. Add beef broth, pepperoncini and italian seasoning to crockpot. Cook on high 4 hours and then reduce heat to low and continue cooking about 4 more hours or cook low  about 10 hours until meat is fall apart tender. shred meat and serve.

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Serve on warm rolls with sauteed or grilled onions, peppers and mushrooms and cheese. You can also use cooking liquid to dip sandwiches in like a french dip.

Warm Green Bean and Fingerling Potato Salad With Caramelized Shallots and Crispy Bacon

 

potato7I just love spring! Flowers are blooming, the sun is shining, the air smells fresh from a recent spring shower and the farmers markets and produce stands are coming back from their winter hibernation. The produce aisles are abundant with fresh asparagus, crisp green beans, baby carrots in a multitude of colors and cute little fingerling potatoes.

I load my basket with the potatoes in colors of red and gold, fresh green beans and some beautiful purple shallots then grab a bottle of Pinot Gris to sip while I create my evening meal.

As I unload my bag of treasures I decide a salad would be a nice change from the heartier meals had throughout the winter months. I served this salad warm but it can be made ahead and served chilled as well. And the crisp Pinot Gris paired nicely.

 

Warm Green Bean and Fingerling Potato Salad with Caramelized Shallots and Crisp Bacon

  • 1 pound fingerling potatoes
  • 1/2 pound fresh green beans
  • 1 large shallot or 2 smaller ones, sliced
  • 4 strips bacon (1/4 pound), diced
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon raw sugar
  • 1 teaspoon whole grain mustard
  • kosher salt to taste ( about 1 teaspoon)
  • fresh ground black pepper to taste ( about 1/4 teaspoon )

In a bowl whisk together oil, vinegar, sugar, mustard, salt and pepper and set aside. Wash and steam or boil potatoes until just tender, set aside. Steam or boil green beans until tender-crisp, set aside. In a saute” pan cook bacon until crisp. remove from pan (reserve grease) and lay out on paper towel to soak up excess grease. Add shallots to pan with bacon grease and cook until brown and caramelized but not burnt. remove shallots from pan and lay out on paper towels to soak up any excess grease. Cut warm potatoes into chunks and place in a bowl. Cut warm green beans in half and place in the bowl with the potatoes. Add shallots and bacon. Pour dressing over all and toss to coat. adjust seasonings and serve.

Yum!