There is almost nothing more luscious than a cheesecake, am I right? Thick and creamy, sweet and slightly tangy…the perfect canvas for any flavor you are craving, be it chocolate, caramel, or even cherries.
But if you are anything like me, heavy-laden slices of cheesecake just don’t make good summer fare. That’s why, when I found a recipe for ricotta cheesecake, the cream cheese cake’s skinnier cousin, in Ready for Dessert, I immediately went out and bought an obscene amount of ricotta cheese so I could try it. Why not have your cake and eat it too?
Now, before you get all excited about eating a guilt-free cheesecake, let me warn you that the ricotta version is more like a custard than a cheesecake. It is much less dense, though still creamy, and still a good canvas for your favorite add-ins. David Lebovitz suggested adding fruits…which I, of course, ignored.
I tried out two versions of this recipe. The first aimed to see whether I could sacrifice any of the dairy fats and still result in a cheesecake that was creamy enough to substitute for the New York-style cheesecake I am used to. I used part-skim ricotta and added extra flour to compensate for the extra liquid in the cheese. That version was fine, though a bit crumbier than I would have liked. But the second version, which was more true to David Lebovitz’s recipe, was a delight.
My husband and I don’t have a cable plan at our house. This is really no big deal, as Hulu keeps us knee deep in shows to waste time watching. The main drawback for me is that the Food Network hasn’t really caught on to the online episodes trend. Sure, they do have some episodes online, but for a very limited number of shows…and the episodes posted never seem to change.
So what happens is that every time I get near a TV that has the Cooking Channel or the Food Network, I become attached to it and I soak up every second possible of Ina and Giada and whoever else is on. Sometimes, I get really lucky with a great, figure friendly, vegetarian dish like this Greek Caponata, which I saw one glorious December day on Everyday Italian, and have waited anxiously to make once warm-weather vegetables were readily available. Which is now!
Okay, okay, these are really bran muffins…but I wanted to lure you here, and I know how many people are afraid of the word bran. Also, if you are smart and try these muffins out some time, now you will have a euphemism at the ready!
A few weeks ago, my very own copy of Super Natural Every Day arrived in the mail. I have been on a healthy kick lately, and I love Heidi’s blog, 101 Cookbooks, so I was sure this cookbook would be a hit–full of hearty vegetarian eats that would make my insides smile. I carried the book around with me…I put little yellow post-its on almost every page to mark the recipes I wanted to make…I decided to start with a breakfast food…but even I was a little afraid of the word bran before I finally got myself up early to make these muffins.
Let me just assuage your fears: these muffins are fantastic. They are crumb-y and flavorful, more filling than your average white flour muffin, but no less delicious. They are full of great ingredients to start your morning off right. In fact, my husband woke up to the smell of these muffins in the oven and broke his no-breakfast tradition to eat two of them.
It’s so hard to find a good granola or trail mix when you don’t like fruit. Growing up, I was constantly chewing the yogurt off of the yogurt-covered raisins, or meticulously picking out the dried cranberries and holding them in my hand to throw away later.
So imagine my dismay when I got wind of the Greek yogurt craze: thick, creamy, fat-free yogurt (yay!) mixed with granola (uh-oh) and berries (danger!). I avoided the berries altogether and managed to find a granola that consisted entirely of oats and nuts…and a lot of high-fructose corn syrup. So I made a mental note that I’d better find a way to make my own granola.
As you probably know, granola is incredibly versatile. As I was searching the interblags for recipes, I came across so many different combinations that honestly, it took me 2 weeks to decide on what ingredients I wanted to include in my own version and buy what I didn’t already have. I knew I wanted something more complex than just rolled oats and almonds–surely there is something better out there for us fruit-haters!
This last week has been one of the most stressful weeks in my memory. I had two final projects due at the very beginning of the week (gah…30-page papers!), and I had to give quizzes to my students…then they had a meltdown about the quizzes, so I had to improvise my subsequent lessons so I could help them return to a calmer, more confident place. Anyone that knows me knows that I worship planning. Improvising freaks the crap out of me (yikes…maybe teaching is not my calling).
I also made many failed recipes recently: caramel sauce (I decided to refrigerate it so it would set faster…which caused it to bec0me extremely hard, more like toffee) followed by caramel candies (way stickier than I thought…ultimately a great, stretchy, sticky mess), golden gazpacho (is it supposed to taste like you are eating a grainy, raw tomato?), and last-minute microwave brownies (I know…that sounds like a horrible idea…and apparently when you halve the recipe, it actually IS a horrible idea). How frustrating! I keep trying to make great foods, but they are not coming out as intended!
However, I did have one minor success this week: Creamy Hummus!
I actually made a small gaffe on this recipe, as well (note to self: don’t start cooking 3 minutes after waking up). I made a double recipe of this hummus to serve to my students on quiz day…but in my sleepy stupor, I forgot to add the cumin! I actually didn’t notice this when I was sampling the hummus during school, though I thought the garlic was stronger than I remembered from the previous time I’d made it. Fortunately, none of my students (even those that grew up eating hummus regularly) noticed!
I have been on a mega scone kick lately. It all started a few months ago when I got together with several of my work friends for brunch. I brought cinnamon swirl scones…and loved them so much that I made them again the next day. And then I made scones again the week after that. And then it was clear that I was obsessed.
I first became interested in scones after a trip to England a bit over a year ago. I had seen several references to scones with clotted cream on cafe menus, but somehow I never managed to try them (maybe because the word “clotted” doesn’t strike up a lot of confidence within me…). But when I began my recipe project, making the perfect scones was high on the list. I tried to make clotted cream, too, but after several lengthy and failed attempts, I gave in to the cold truth that the right kind of cream (unpasteurized) is simply not sold in the U.S., and you can’t make proper clotted cream without it.
The good thing that came out of all that disappointment was a fantastic recipe for scones, compiled from a lot of reading and several different recipes.
Scones are a great treat for any time of day (as I proved to myself repeatedly during my manic scone-making phase); the only problem is that they are not exactly the healthiest baked good on the block. So when I was tasked with bringing snack to one of my MEd classes, I decided to tinker with the scone recipe I usually make and try to improve its health factor.
It’s the time of year when I start thinking a lot about my waistline (er…actually, when isn’t it that time of year?). I’ve been going to a lot of events lately where I eat a lot of carb-rich foods (also known as: my favorite). If you are anything like me, not only are those calories difficult to resist, but also they head straight toward creating a muffin top. Not cool.
So, take a break with me! Enjoy the simplicity of vegetables.
This is a salad I like to eat for lunch. It reminds me a little of a restaurant appetizer because of the large chunky tomatoes and how few ingredients there are total. You can easily increase or decrease the quantity depending on how hungry you are or how many people are eating with you, and it will still only take 5 minutes! I love how I feel after eating something light like this for lunch. And, if you are particularly hungry, this salad goes great with a slice of whole grain bread and a bit of cheese or some Greek yogurt.