Friday, November 23, 2012

Caramel apple cheesecake

So I won't divulge my cheesecake recipe, though I will tell you my secret to making it super smooth and creamy. I make the filling in my food processor rather than a mixer or trying to blend it by hand. The food processor makes it very smooth and mixes all ingredients perfectly.
I am also sorry to bum you out, but i won't give out my salted caramel recipe. Since i like to give it as gifts for holidays I'm keeping it my secret. It's a hybrid of a few different recipes I found online, there are tons of recipes out there, but I make mine with corn syrup.
I cut up 5 large granny smith apples into a small dice, if I had more time I was planning on slicing them and kind of fanning them around the top. Might do that next time I make it, but I was in a bit of a thanksgiving day time crunch. All these apples made 2 cheesecakes and still had a bit left over.
I cooked the apples on the stove in a pan with a full stick of butter, a sprinkle of cinnamon, and a pinch of sea salt at the finish. I then put a thin layer of my caramel sauce over the top of the cake, then a layer or apples and a drizzle for caramel over the top to finish it.
I always make my cheesecake the night before, and if I'm putting a warm topping on the cake I make sure it is cooled before layering it on so that it doesn't cook the cheesecake further. I also make my crust with vanilla wafers rather than graham crackers, it's just always tasted better to me that way.
The cheesecake got rave reviews, of course I had some criticism myself since I'm my own worst critic, but it still tasted super good when I had it for breakfast this morning!

Test kitchen

So I decided to try and make the bok choy from the farmers market. I've never tried to cook it before, but I figured it would be fun to try something new, plus bok choy was 3 bunches for $2. I can never pass up a good deal!
I made garlic and mushroom bok choy.

3 bunches of bok choy
Lots of mushrooms
About 4 cloves of garlic
Olive oil
Sea salt to taste

Wash and cut up the bok choy, if it's baby bok choy you can toss the leaves whole, I sliced them lengthwise into strips about 4 per leaf on the big ones. Then mince the garlic and cut up the mushrooms. Toss the garlic in a hot pan with some olive oil, then throw in the mushrooms. I let those simmer up a bit then put all the bok choy in the pan. Make sure all the leaves are coated in the oil, then add just a bit of water maybe a 1/2 cup and cover. Let it simmer for a bit stirring occasionally. I let mine go for about 15 minutes, you want it to be tender but not mushy. Sprinkle a bit of sea salt on the top before you serve it.
Serve over pasta or just plain and I had mine with a bit of fish. I bought some wild caught sea trout from shoprite! Enjoy the

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Bet you....

Thought I was exaggerating about my love of Martha Stewart. Not even, the proof came in the mail yesterday just in time for thanksgiving! I have a subscription to Martha Stewart living AND Martha Stewart living food. I also have subscriptions to money magazine, entrepreneur magazine, and US weekly for a little tabloid flavor. I consider myself a renaissance woman in that way.
Enjoying thanksgiving though stressful as usual. The turkey is in the oven, the stuffing has been cooked, still need to mash potatoes with garlic and cheddar (skins on so I don't loose the nutrients), and I think some roasted carrots since I still have some left from the farmers market on Sunday that need to e used. I gave in this year and settled on a 15 lb turkey. I can't lie I usually god overboard for the holidays, one year I bought two turkeys, in all fairness I was cooking for 8 people and a couple stragglers, but there's always too much food. There is even too much food this year, even though the whole time I was cooking I said to myself, gosh my list of foods seems so small this year. Without fail when everything is stuffed on the table it will look like there's no actual room to eat.
Hope everyone enjoys their thanksgiving as much as I do! Happy thanksgiving everybody!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Farmers market Sunday!

So Sunday was a could days ago, but with the shortened work week I haven't had much time to blog. Now that it's thanksgiving eve and I had a nice meal of chinese food and cheesecakes are in the oven I can relax.
More about the cheesecakes later, you won't get my recipe out of me since it's one of my secrets, but I'll certainly post some photos. This year I'm making plain cheesecake with a salted caramel sauce and sautéed apples. So excited!
Before I get carried away thinking about thanksgiving cooking lets recap Sunday's trip.
First photos shows my veggies, I got a couple bunches of bok choy, which I had never cooked before, but it was so fresh and yummy looking I figured I could make something up. I also got two bunches of carrots, one regular and one called purple haze, they taste the same they just look way cooler. Also got some adirondack blue potatoes, yum!
I also got some sweet treats this week. I got a cranberry orange scone, which was a little on the sweet side, but good. I also got some lavender shortbread cookies from Wellington herbs in schoharie, where I normally get my lemon thyme cookies. It was a really nice change and they were super yummy. The lavender was very faint, but you could taste it a little bit. The last sweet was a donut with maple Bavarian cream filling.
The donut was seriously good. It was actually from the same place that I got my foodie pen pal the maple cotton candy from last month. They make them fresh at the farmers market in the morning so they don't get soggy. Normally I'm not one for donuts, but it wasn't overly sweet. The donut itself wasn't much to write home about, but the filling, oh my goodness!!!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Roasted acorn squash

So I am absolutely in love with the new show on PBS Martha Stewart's cooking school. It's and old style cooking show a la Julia child. Not like all those jazzed up shows on the food network, Martha just shows you how to cook classic food with good fresh ingredients.
Plus Martha Stewart is my hero, I've always loved her. She is amazing around the home and also runs a massive business empire, she's an inspiration. I've watched movies, documentaries, read her books, and a subscription to her magazines.
The first episode of the show was all about veggies and one of the ones she made was roasted acorn squash which is always a nice treat in the fall. I doctored Martha's recipe slightly (shhh don't tell her) so enjoy!

Step by step
Cut off the stem of the squash and cut it in half. Rip out all the guts. Slice up your acorn squash, you can use the ridges in the squash to guide your cuts, that makes it super easy.

Spread the slices out on a baking pan and drizzle with olive oil. Then I sprinkled them with sea salt, cinnamon, and a little bit of cumin for spice.

Bake them in the oven at 375 for about 25 minutes or until they are fork tender.

It's a great fall side dish!

Yummy yam chips!

Time to make some sweet potato chips. These are so amazingly easy, healthy and yummy. You only need 3 ingredients and a mandoline for slicing. The mandoline is very important because they need to be sliced really thin, mine actually has 1 click right below the 1/8 presumably 1/16 and that's the setting I use that way that still have that nice crunch. Also don't be afraid of them getting a little burned, they get caramelized and don't taste burned.

Gather up your three ingredients, sweet potatoes, olive oil, and coarse sea salt.

So here's all you need to do....

1. Slice the sweet potatoes very thin, again see above for level guides.
2. Put them all in a big bowl and coat them with olive oil and coarse sea salt and toss them in the bowl. Make sure you coat each of the slices as best you can.

Then bake them at 400 degrees for about 12 minutes each. To keep them crispy on of my tricks is to put metal cooling racks on my cookie sheets. This also keeps them from burning too much. Don't think you have to put in a ton of this either, both my cookie sheets and the cooling racks came from the dollar store, you don't have to spend a ton of money on pans and supplies, just get creative.
Here are some photos to help you through the process too!


Well since its Sunday that means its blogging day! It was also farmers market Sunday and I checked out an awesome barn sale and scored some memorabilia from frontier town, a now closed classic amusement park in the adirondacks. My father is an adirondack historian having written a couple books and currently works for the adirondack research library so I inherited my love of the adirondacks from him, combine that with my love of classic Americana and you find my love of old local theme park items.
More posts to follow, but here are some awesome photos I have collected over the week that made me smile.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Rip twinkies

So I don't actually like twinkies.... They're kind f gross actually, but I do love some of the snack items, but you all know I will fight to my death for my pop culture icons and Twinkie the kid is one of them. Now what will we eat when the apocalypse hits... In honor of the death of the Twinkie here is my favorite ecard.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

I wish....

El capitan looked so happy snuggled up taking a nap on my favorite chair I had to take a photo and post it. That chair was actually my moms and she had it in her old apartment before she married my father and it has always been my favorite chair. It's perfect for curling up and reading. Enjoy the cuteness overload.

Boston's Quincey Market

So on my trip to Boston my friend Sue and I spent a bunch of time at Quincey market and had both lunch and dinner there. Here are some awesome photos from the trip, including one of me in front of a giant macaroni noodle sculpture. It had no explanation it was just in the middle of the square and i love macaroni and cheese so I needed my photo with it of course.
I also had sue take my photo with a vending machine outside the new England aquarium which has a spectacular penguin habitat. It you've never been I highly recommend visiting as it is a great aquarium. One of their vending machines outside has a penguin on it! And I loooove penguins! I was very excited when I saw it.
I love the food court at Quincey market, I usually have to walk up and down the hallway twice before I decide where to eat. For lunch I stopped at a paninni shop (I wish I could remember the name, but I paid cash so no record on my card either) it was very yummy looking, they had tons of different ones. I chose the smoked salmon paninni, it had cream cheese, smoked salmon, and cucumber which added a nice crunch to the sandwich. It also had good bread which is important for a paninni.
For dinner it had gotten pretty cold so I wanted something nice and warm. In Boston that means clam chowder. I've written About chowder before and I do have some strong feelings about it. This was good chowder, not chowda which is much thicker, but a good commercial style chowder. It had large chunks of clam and potatoes, plus it came in a bread bowl. In Boston, on a cold night, having a bread bowl of chowder is absolutely the best thing ever. And honestly, though I normally prefer a thick chowda, when you're having it in a bread bowl thinner is a bit better because it will soak into the bread. I took a photo of the sign for the chowder company in case you want to check it out. There are many places selling bread bowl chowders in Quincey market so look around and check it out!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Farmers market Sunday

So Sunday is quickly becoming my favorite day of the week because I get to head to the schenectady green market. It's very relaxing and then I get to pick out new treats and plan some fun cooking for the day or the week.
Here are a few photos of my haul. As usual I got a pack of my favorite lemon thyme cookies and dream puff marshmallows. This week they had a couple different flavors of marshmallows available, Guinness, blackberry Cabernet, frilly vanilly, and chocolate mousse. I went with the blackberry Cabernet and they were very yummy. They smelled amazing, just like wine. I swear this winter I'm going to try my hand at homemade marshmallows so stay tuned.
I also got sweet potatoes, apples, shallots, Seckel pears which are these tiny yummy pears. They are firm, but they looked so darn cute I had to buy a couple to try them out. I also bought some acorn squash and more if the venison snack sticks with cheese that I picked up from the market a few weeks ago. The venison snack sticks are a great treat, not to spicy, especially the ones with the cheese which mellows them out a bit.
In the next day or two you'll get a couple postings showings exactly what I did with all these yummy fresh foods!

Sweet, Boston MA

So last Sunday my company sponsored an employee bus trip to boston. It was a great trip and my friend Sue and I planned a relaxing cheap day together. More to come on the trip but we stopped at a cupcakery called Sweet for an afternoon pick us up. I can go either way with cupcakes sometimes they are too dry or two sweet, but these were actually very good.
The cupcakery had a cute pink interior, it had kind of a Parisian feel to it and they had many different kinds of cupcakes including gluten free and vegan cupcakes.
As you can see Sue and I bought two cupcakes and split them, one chocolate orange and one s'mores flavored cupcake. There were a bunch of other flavors that looked yummy, like the caramel apple, but we didn't want to go crazy.
The cake was good, not too dry and the icing was fluffy and not too sweet. The chocolate orange was a buttercream frosting and the s'mores actually was a marshmallow topping that had been toasted. The other neat thing about the s'mores cupcake was that on the bottom of the cake was a layer of gram cracker and it was a chocolate cake so it really tasted like a s'more.
If you're in the Boston area I highly recommend a trip to Sweet. Check out their website for more information and directions, it was so worth it !

Saturday, November 10, 2012

The drunkard

So neither of these drinks are alcoholic, but they both seemed to interesting to pass up. Though ultimately I didn't like either of them lol!
The butter beer is a local treat in Salem, MA. We go every year for Halloween, but this year with hurricane sandy it was very quiet. Down on Pickering warf I found butter beer in a strange little shop. I bought one, the guy behind the counter swore I would be back for a whole 4 pack.
Well I made it through about 1/2 of the butter beer, it is a butterscotch cream soda. The guy swore it wasn't super sweet, he was a total liar.
It was worth trying once , but it was sweet and not really my thing, I forgot I really hate butterscotch lol! If you like butterscotch candies then I imagine it would be a great treat, not my thing though.
Next up is the new flavor of Pepsi with dragon fruit flavor. I didn't even know this existed, but I stopped to grab a mountain dew on my way to a site visit the other night and came across it.
Sometimes I think I need to stop trying all these weird things because they almost always taste horrible, but I can't help myself. I love dragon fruit and Pepsi, but they make an odd combination.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Crockpot breakfast

Yum! I loooove using my slow cooker and it's getting to that season where I'll be pulling it out at least one or twice a week. I have a big 7 quart slow cooker and it's one of my favorite appliances.
I wanted a nice easy breakfast in the morning so here it is. I was still in a Mexican mood from Friday night so I made breakfast tacos on Saturday morning too! If you have a smaller crock pot than 7 qts this will work better for you since it cooks faster than normal in a larger pot because the casserole becomes thinner. It was still a easy and popular breakfast and is great as a filler for tacos or breakfast sandwiches as well.
You can swap out the meat for many different things, I used turkey sausage since its much healthier.
18 eggs
12 oz of mushrooms (sliced)
1/2 an vidalia onion
1lb turkey sausage (chopped)
2 cups frozen spinach (thawed and drained)
1 cup shredded cheese

First sauté the onion and mushrooms in a hot pan with a tablespoon of butter. While they're cooking you can start cracking eggs into the slow cooker and scramble them all up. Once the onions and mushrooms are done pour them into the crock pot with the eggs. Then cook up the sausage in the same pan you cooked the onions and mushrooms in to get the extra flavor. Once the sausage is cooked up drain it of any excess grease and toss it in the crock pot along with the spinach. Stir the whole mixture then sprinkle the shredded cheese over the top and turn it on low for 6 hours. The great thing about this recipe is its easy to make more if you need to or less. Again if you have a large slow cooker like me and the casserole is thin make sure you check the time because it will cook faster.


Well last week we made it through hurricane sandy pretty ok here in upstate NY. We has pretty minimal damage locally, mostly wind and a bit of rain, though NYC was hit quite a bit harder.
As I was cleaning out my camera this week I found some photos I took last year during hurricane Irene. Thought I'd post them here, while most of the areas have recovered, our local farming community had issues with massive flooding that hurt their crops this season and many of the small towns still have a lot of damage and destruction that hasn't been fully repaired.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Crockpot Mexican

We had a friend couch surfing with us and a bunch of plans for the evening so I wanted something easy, quick, and ready when we got home. That's one of the reasons I love my slow cooker.
I did shredded chicken, but you can also do it with pork or beef. It makes a great filler for tacos, burritos, or quesadillas.
You take the meat of your choice (I used boneless chicken breast)
1 bottle of salsa
1 package of taco seasoning

Put it all in the slow cooker for 6-8 hours. Super easy and a yummy filler for all your Mexican dinners. I made quesadillas with mine!