Thursday, April 21, 2011

Luscious Lemon Cheesecake

We've been totally knocked down by a very nasty stomach virus this week, so needless to say, this mom has not been cooking....or eating for that matter. Since I'm starting to feel a little bit like a human again, I thought I'd use this as an opportunity to blog some recipes that I've got back logged. I made this in March and it's now the end of April, I'm so ashamed.

Recently I've received several lovely lemons, both from my CSA, Harvest2U and from friends and family. I'm NOT complaining, I promise. I love lemons!

Since we're following the maintenance phase of the South Beach Diet I thought I would attempt a South Beach Diet friendly cheesecake. Oh, and if that were not enough of a challenge, my father in law, who has celiac's disease, was here for a visit from Arkansas. So, I needed to make it gluten free as well.

So, to make this cheesecake, I'm going to break it into three phases to make it easier.

For the CRUST you'll need the following.

2 cups raw almonds
2T splenda
1t cinnamon
2T olive oil
1/4c egg substitute

For the FILLING you'll need the following.

3 (8oz) packages of low fat cream cheese, softened
3 eggs
3/4c plus 3T splenda, divided
4T freshly squeezed lemon juice
1T gluten free baking flour
2t vanilla
1T lemon zest
2c low fat sour cream

For the GLAZE you'll need the following.

1/4c splenda
2t gluten free baking flour
1/4c water
zest and juice of one lemon (approx 2T juice)

First you'll need to preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

While your oven is preheating, you can get going on the crust. It's super simple! In a food processor (I actually used the chopper attachment to my emersion blender) chop almonds. Add splenda and cinnamon and give it a couple of pulses. Then add the olive oil and give it another short whirl. Now, take this mixture out and add the egg substitute to it. Mix well and then pour into the bottom of your springform pan. with the back of a large spoon (or you could just use your clean hands) press the crust mixture evenly across the bottom of the pan.

Once this is done, you'll place it in the oven and bake for 5-7 minutes.

While your beautifully made crust is cooling, you can start on the filling.

Begin by mixing the cream cheese on medium high speed with your mixer until it's smooth.

Next, you'll add your eggs, one at a time. Mix in each egg thoroughly before adding the next.

Next you'll add the splenda, GF baking flour, lemon juice and on of the teaspoons of vanilla. All the while beating at medium speed. Once ingredients are well incorporated you can fold in the lemon zest.

Pour this mixture into the springform pan and bake for 35 minutes. While that layer is baking you can start on the sour cream layer. You're going to mix the sour cream with the other teaspoon of vanilla and splenda. Set this aside.

As soon as you remove the cake from the oven you will spread it with the sour cream mixture and return it to the oven for 14 minutes.

Remove the cake from the oven and let it cool. It's OK if it has small cracks in it, they will be covered up by the glaze.

In a small saucepan, combine all of the glaze ingredients until smooth. Once they are smooth, turn on the heat and bring to a boil. You need to stir the glaze constantly for about 4 minutes, or until it thickens. Once it's thickened remove it from the heat. Let it cool down, but don't let it set. Spread the glaze on the cheese cake and return it to the refrigerator. Chill several hours to overnight.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Cupcakes: The Force or the Dark Side?

I can't believe that since the beginning of this blog I haven't posted a single cake? The shame!

Anyhow, we are high into birthday season in our household. Between my boys, my husband, myself, our friends and our friends' kids we have more than a dozen birthdays between the first week of February and Memorial weekend. So, I usually make a lot of cake in the late winter, early spring. This year has absolutely been the exception. I can't believe we're in April and I've only made like three cakes. Jeez, people, if you don't have me make your cakes I'm going to get out of practice.

My oldest turned FIVE at the beginning of April and we spent the majority of the weekend at Disneyland (my home away from home for those of you who know me). That left me with very little time for caking. Of course, my dear, lovely son would never let me off the hook. He loves his Momma's cakes. But, I wouldn't have it any other way. I did have to negotiate with him for cupcakes since time was of the essence.

I picked up these very cute cupcake kits from William Sonoma. They were so very appropriate for my young Padiwan. They have two versions. One for your young Sith (The Dark Side) and one for a young Padiwan (The Force). I couldn't resist, I got both.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Beans, Glorious, BEANS!

I can't believe I totally forgot to blog this recipe! I made this about a month ago when I was inundated with baseball, house guests and travel.

So, there's this woman and she swears by these beans. I've referred to her as "E" before, and she's my inspiration for trying new beans. I could refer to her as the bean lady since she's the one who turned me on to these heirloom beans. If you are a lover of beans, they will change your life.

For this recipe I used a variety of heirloom beans called scarlet runner beans. They are enormous, beautiful, meaty beans that definitely have what it takes to be their own main dish. And, that's just what I did. I wanted to experience these beans thoroughly since it was the first time I had used them in cooking. So, here's a simple but delicious bean dish. This meal is both South Beach Diet friendly and gluten free.

First things first when it comes to beans. I used dried beans that I purchased from Rancho Gordo beans in Napa, CA. Well, I didn't physically purchase them, a friend of mine was kind enough to hand deliver my order from Napa. Yes, I'm blessed, I know. Anyhow, back to the beans. When you use dried beans it's important to practice good bean preparation. First sort through your beans and pick out any bad beans or pebbles you might find. Second, rinse your beans thoroughly. Third, soak your beans in a bowl of water, making sure your beans are covered by about an inch of water at all times. Soak your beans for about 6 hours. I normally will start soaking in the morning and continue until mid-afternoon.

This is what the beans will look like once they are soaked. Notice the SIZE of these beans in comparison to my hand. Yea. This is no wimpy bean, I tell you.

For this recipe you will need:
One pound of dried scarlet runner beans
2T olive oil
1 large carrot, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 onion chopped
2c shitake mushrooms, sliced
4-6 slices of bacon, cut up (turkey or regular, I used regular)
goat cheese to garnish (optional)

Now that your beans are soaked you can move forward. First of all, don't drain the beans from the water they've been soaking in, you'll use that later.
OK, now that we have that covered, you'll want to take out a large, heavy bottom pot. I used my Le Creuset french oven. In your pot, heat the olive oil and then add your mirepoix (carrots, celery, onion) and cook for about five minutes or until the onions become translucent.

At this point you can add your beans (and the water they have been soaking in) to the pot, making sure the beans are still covered in about an inch of water. Bring to a boil for about five minutes and then reduce the heat to a simmer. And, when I say simmer here, it's barely a simmer. You'll want the heat to be as low as you can possibly get it and still have the occasional bubble.

Once you are 'barely bubbling' your beans, lightly salt them, cover your pot and let them cook. Return to check on the beans about every 20-30 minutes. Once the beans start to smell like, well, beans, then start checking them for doneness.

The beans will look like this when they are done. The pot liquor will have darkened and thickened. Be careful not to over salt the beans, it takes a while for the beans to absorb the salt.

Now, heat a separate saute pan coated with cooking spray. Add your bacon to the pan and cook.

Just before the bacon is done, add the shitake mushrooms and saute.

Once you the bacon and mushrooms are finished cooking you can slide them right into your french oven, or whatever pot you are cooking your beans in.

Give the pot a good stir and let cook together for a few minutes. Then you're done! Ladle a hearty portion into your bowl and top with a dollop of goat cheese. This will give the beans liquor a nice creaminess to it.

Thursday, April 7, 2011


What is kohlrabi? Yeah, I had the same question a couple of months ago. Well, to me, it's almost like a cross between a cabbage and a turnip. I know, that probably is not the most appealing way to plead its case to those of you sitting on the fence with this vegetable. They have been described as tasting like broccoli stems, and I could see where they get that, but I wouldn't describe them that way. Perhaps if I cooked them first they would taste more like that, but I've always (yes, all three times) eaten them raw. They are crunchy and refreshing, but don't have a very distinct flavor of their own. I use that to my advantage, the kids can't complain that they taste bad.

Kohlrabi comes in several varieties. Some are white (or greenish) and some are purple. The ones I received in my CSA box from Harvest2U happen to be purple. Their greens are edible, but I don't eat them. Their outer skins are tough and should be peeled prior to eating.

Kohlrabi is very low on the glycemic index, so you south beach dieters can dig in! It's also rich in vitamin C, potassium and fiber. This recipe is south beach diet friendly and gluten free (providing you use GF vinegar).

Since I have so many other beautiful root vegetables from my CSA, I decided to make a cole slaw from the kohlrabi. Or better named, KOHL-slaw. It's a great topping for pulled pork sandwiches or shredded beef tacos. Use the method of this recipe as a base and flavor it to pair with whatever you are cooking. 


For this super quick recipe you'll just need a handful of items.

1 medium kohlrabi, peeled
3-5 radishes (mine were pretty large so I used 3)
1 medium turnip, peeled (I used two small ones)
2-3 small carrots, peeled
1/2 C chopped cilantro
2T olive oil
2T red wine vinegar
juice of 1/2-1 lemon

OK, cut veggies into chunks small enough to fit into the opening of the top of your food processor. Take out your food processor and attach the grater blade. Yep, the hardest part is over! Now, just put the veggies (kohlrabi, radishes, turnip and carrots) in a few at a time and grate with food processor. When everything has been grated, transfer it to a bowl and add the cilantro. Mix well. Next add the oil, vinegar and lemon juice and mix again. That's it, you're done. Unless you like your slaw on the sweet side. If you do, add some splenda, one teaspoon at a time.