What's Baking: Savory Cheesecake



This month's What's Baking is hosted by Jey of The Jey of Cooking.  The theme she chose was Savory Treats.  I loved this theme because it helped me fill a gap on my blog, appetizers.  I don't know about you, but appetizers are my favorite part of holiday gatherings.  So much so that I'm generally full before the meal itself.  So I wanted to be sure to get a few appetizers on here before the holidays.

I had a couple ideas for this theme, but ended up deciding on this Savory Cheesecake because it's a concept I've been wanting to experiment with for a while now.

As I began my search for a recipe, I came across 2 that interested me.  This one from Peggy Trowbridge Filippone and this one from Giada De Laurentiis.  I ended up using ingredients from both and created my own version.

I was barely able to get this photo snapped before JR dug in as it was still piping hot.  We both really liked the flavors here, but the texture out of the oven was a little weird.  Once it cooled the texture improved, so I suggest you let this set and cool to at least warm/room temperature before serving.

Be sure to check out The Jey of Cooking for the round-up which is sure to include Savory Treats you'll want to share with family and friends this holiday season.

Here is what you'll need:
  • 3/4 cup fresh bread crumbs
  • 1 Tbsp pistachios, shelled
  • 3/4 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 16 oz cream cheese, softened at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup crumbled goat cheese
  • 1/2 cup 2% cottage cheese
  • 1 1/2 cups fat free evaporated milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 tsp dried mustard
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 roasted red pepper halves, chopped
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Combine bread crumbs, pistachios and Italian seasoning in a food processor, pulsing until pistachios are chopped and well distributed.  Drizzle in olive oil and pulse a few more seconds to combine well.  Dump crumb mixture into bottom of pie plate, cake pan or cheesecake pan and press until evenly spread over bottom of pan.  Place in oven and bake 10-15 minutes just until golden.

Using a mixer, whip cream cheese on high until smooth.  Add cheeses, milk, egg, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, salt and pepper.  Mix on low combine, increase speed to medium and continue mixing until smooth.  Stir in red peppers.

Pour mixture into pan with crust.  Tap pan to release air bubbles.

Bake for 45 minutes until center barely jiggles.  Allow to cool to room temperature before serving.

Source: Inspired by Peggy Trowbridge Filippone and Giada De Laurentiis

Cranberry Sauce (All Natural, Sweetened with Agave Nectar)


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Can you believe Thanksgiving is this week?!  I say this every year, but this year really has flown by!  I'm sure you already have your Thanksgiving menu finalized and are knee-deep in prep for the feast.  However, just in case you are still looking for one last side dish, or forgot to pick up the canned cousin, I wanted to share this Cranberry Sauce I made for our Thanksgiving dinner.

When I first started making Cranberry Sauce, I used a ton of sugar as indicated in most recipes.  After a few years I started using Splenda to save calories, and this year I challenged myself to make it all natural with agave nectar.  I did a quick search and came upon this recipe from Amy Andrews and decided to give it a try.  Not only did it use agave nectar, I was intrigued by it's use of spices.  Speaking of spices, I had no cheesecloth, so I opted to try my tea ball.  It worked.

This resulted in a less sweet, a little spicy and mighty tasty version of a classic Cranberry Sauce.  Since I'm the only one who eats it, I'm excited to dig into the leftovers mixed in my yogurt and spread on bagels with cream cheese!  If you have ideas for other ways to use up the leftovers, please leave me a comment with your suggestions.

Here is what you'll need:
  • 1 12 ounce bag fresh, whole cranberries
  • 2/3 cup agave nectar
  • grated peel of 2 clementines
  • 1/3 cup clementine juice
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 6 black peppercorns
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 3 whole allspice
Place cranberries, agave nectar, grated peel, juice and cinnamon stick in a medium nonreactive saucepan.  Stir to combine.

Place remaining spices in cheesecloth (or a tea ball!), tie the cheesecloth and place in saucepan.

Bring to a boil over medium-high heat.  Stir, reduce heat to low and allow to simmer 15 minutes, or until cranberries pop and sauce becomes syrupy.

Remove from heat and remove tea ball.  Allow to cool, then remove cinnamon stick.  Transfer to a bowl, cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Makes 2 cups.

Source: Amy Andrews: Your Guide to the Food Room

Eat to the Beat: Breakfast in Bed...Waffles with Caramelized Bananas and Pecans


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Elly from Elly Says Opa! is hosting a blog event called Eat to the Beat for her 5-year blog anniversary.  I was intrigued when I heard about this event and decided to jump in and join.

I've had Train on repeat for a while now, I'm obsessed, so it what pretty much a no-brainer when I heard "Breakfast in Bed" come on the day following her announcement.  I always eat breakfast, but JR does not.  However, every once in a while we'll have a weekend breakfast and this weekend makes the second one in a row (it has nothing to do with the fact that I pretty much forced this on him)!

I was browsing through this Brunch cookbook when I came across Waffles with Caramelized Bananas.  Not only did they look delicious, use ingredients I always have on hand and they make for a special treat, just like a Breakfast in Bed should be!

Head on over to the round-up and wish Elly a Happy 5 years!  

Here is what you'll need:
  • 1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp superfine sugar
  • 2 eggs, separated
  • 1 cup milk
  • 3 Tbsp butter, melted
  • 3 Tbsp butter
  • 3 Tbsp maple syrup
  • 1/3 cup chopped pecans
  • 3 large ripe bananas, peeled and sliced
Preheat waffle maker according to manufacturer's instructions.

In a mixing bowl combine flour, baking powder, salt and sugar.  Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients and add the egg yolks, milk and butter.  Whisk until smooth.

Using a mixer, beat egg whites until stiff peaks form.  Fold egg whites into batter.

Fill your waffle maker according to manufacturer's instructions.  Cook until browned to your liking (mine has a light that goes off when it's done, but then I let it go a little longer to brown more).

Meanwhile, in a sauce pan over medium heat, heat butter, maple syrup and pecans until butter is melted and mixture begins to turn golden brown.  Remove pan from heat and add bananas.  Stir to coat bananas well.

Spoon banana pecan syrup over waffles and enjoy!

This made 4 6-inch round waffles (16 quarters), serves 4-6.