Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Cheesecake Mission Impossible?

I'm sorry it's been a while since I've added anything on my blog, but I promise you I've been working hard on it!  I wanted to make something I never thought would be possible with a crockpot -- cheesecake.  I've only made the Jell-o brand 'No Bake' cheesecakes in the past, never a real, baked cheesecake.  My excuse has been that I don't have a springform pan.  However, that didn't stop me and my crockpot this time.

I did some looking around for recipes, bought some ingredients, and got to work.  The first attempt tasted good, but the texture was grainy like it had cottage cheese in it.  Hrmphh.  With the second attempt, I beat the heck out of the batter with two different mixers in the hopes of getting the lumps out, but no luck.  It was not only lumpy again but the flavor was worse than the first!  Arrrghhh!

Okay, time to get serious.  I did a little research on solving the lumpy batter issue and also changed a couple ingredients to improve texture and flavor.  And by jove, I think I've got it.  Ladies and gentlemen.....Crockpot Cheesecake.

Crockpot Cheesecake

1 heaping cup graham cracker crumbs
1-2 Tablespoons sugar
4 Tablespoons melted butter

2 8oz. containers cream cheese spread (at room temperature)
1 cup sugar
1 Tablespoon flour
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs
1/2 cup heavy cream

Mix together graham cracker crumbs, 1-2 TBS sugar, and melted butter.  Press into the bottom and partway up the sides of the pan.  (I used a 9"x4" bread pan)

Turn your crockpot on high, place two canning rings in the bottom (or a trivet), and pour 2 cups warm water in the bottom, or enough water to come to the tops of the rings.

In a mixing bowl, combine softened cream cheese, sugar, and flour.  Mix until smooth.     Add vanilla, eggs, and cream, mixing between each addition.  Pour batter into pan and place into crockpot.  Cover and cook on HIGH for 2 1/2 hours.  (The picture to the left is one of my lumpy batters.  If you follow my directions, it'll be nice and smooooooth -- no lumps.)

When the 2 1/2 hours is done, turn the crockpot off and let it set in the crockpot
for about 1 hour -- don't lift the lid!
Next, take the cheesecake out of the crockpot and place it in the fridge to cool for
at least 12 hours.  Slice and enjoy!

Extra tidbits: 
- The bread pan is the only pan I have that will fit into my largest crockpot, but if you have something different that works -- either metal or ceramic -- go for it.  I didn't grease the pan, and had no trouble getting slices out when serving.
- My cheesecakes rose above the top of the pan, sometimes dribbling over a little, and then they fell down in the middle when completely cooled.  I don't know if this is a normal thing to happen or not, but it doesn't affect the taste. 
- The crockpot lid can accumulate condensation, but it didn't seem to drip into the cheesecake.  If it does with yours, place a towel over the crockpot before putting the lid on.
- Refrigerating the cheesecake for 12 hours as opposed to just 3-4 hours really made a difference.  The texture and flavor didn't seem right if we ate it too soon, but it was delicious if we waited until the next morning to taste it.  Cheesecake for breakfast?  Sure, why not?!

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Monday, January 30, 2012

Salmon Cheese Casserole or Holiday Stuffing?

Today I made Salmon Cheese Casserole -- an unexpected recipe that left me pleasantly surprised.  I don't think I've ever made anything fish related in my crockpot, so I was very hesitant to make this, but I already had most of the ingredients in my pantry.  It was time to get brave.

Anytime I read the words "cheesy casserole" I picture something creamy or saucy.  This casserole isn't that.  In fact, it turned out more like a dressing/stuffing than the typical casserole in my imagination.  It had more flavor than I expected and wasn't soggy like traditional stuffing can be.  I think it is great by itself, but it would also be a wonderful side dish to a holiday dinner.  Dad, if you're reading this, you must try this recipe -- it's right up your alley!

So, call it a casserole or call it stuffing.  Either way I think you'll be surprised how rich and delicious this dish is.  It's time for you to get brave!

Salmon Cheese Casserole*

14 3/4 oz. can salmon with liquid (I used a pint of home-canned salmon)
4 oz. can mushrooms, drained
1 1/2 cups bread crumbs (I used Italian seasoned bread crumbs)
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup grated cheese (I used co-jack)
1 TBS lemon juice
1 TBS minced onion (I used a small fresh onion, chopped)

1. Flake fish in bowl, removing bones.  Stir in remaining ingredients.  Pour into lightly greased crockpot.

2.  Cover.  Cook on LOW 3-4 hours.

*Recipe from Fix-It and Forget-It (by Dawn J. Ranck and Phyllis Pellman Good) was submitted by Wanda S. Curtin from Bradenton, FL

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Saturday, January 28, 2012

Dump Cake

There's nothing like hot food on a cold winter day.  Today at our house we had meatball soup for supper (using the 'Make Ahead Meatballs' mentioned in a previous post) and blueberry dump cake for dessert.  This recipe is another VERY easy one that I recommend making with kiddos.  It's a hard one to mess up, and it's so yummy when it's done!

Crockpot Dump Cake

1 can pie filling (whichever kind you like best)
1 box yellow cake mix
1/2 cup butter, melted

1.  Dump the pie filling into the crockpot.

2.  In a separate bowl, mix together the cake mix and butter.  Dump mixture over pie filling.  (Cake mix will be sort of crumbly, so distribute evenly with a spoon.)

3.  Cook on LOW for about 4 hours.  Enjoy warm or cool!

TIP:  If you use apple pie filling, stir in a little ground cinnamon.  If using peach or cherry, add a few drops of almond extract. 

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Wednesday, January 25, 2012


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Put That Lid Down!

Quick Tip:

Don't lift the crockpot lid during cooking, especially if you are cooking on LOW.  Lifting the lid causes so much heat to escape that you'll need to add 15-20 minutes to the cooking time for each time you "sneak a peek" or satisfy your "urge to stir."

MOST crockpot recipes require no stirring (or peeking), so go find something else to do and let your crockpot do its thing.

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Thursday, January 19, 2012

Favorite Cookbooks

Crockpot recipes are found all over the place -- you can get them through online searches, cookbooks, friends & family, and so on.  Finding just the right recipe can be a little overwhelming, so just remember (especially if you're new to the crockpot) to keep it simple.

These are my crockpot cookbooks.  That's right, I only have two.  Fix-It and Forget It (Dawn J. Ranck & Phyllis Pellman Good) and Fix-It and Forget It Lightly (Phyllis Pellman Good).  Each cookbook has a wide variety of recipes including (but not limited to) breakfast, desserts, breads, stews/soups, casseroles, appetizers, and more.  Most of the recipes are very easy to make, and instructions are easy to read and follow.  If you are looking for a good 'starter' crockpot cookbook, one of these would work great. 

A bonus feature of the Lightly version is that it contains nutritional values for each recipe -- something you will appreciate if you are a label-reader.  The recipes also use low fat and/or low calorie ingredients.

Another thing I like about these cookbooks is that all the recipes are from regular people, like you and me, from all around the United States.  I've even found some from my town!  To me, a cookbook is more special when it has a personal touch like that.

Any time of year is a good time to use your crockpot, but it seems especially good during cold winter months when we all want to curl up with some warm comfort food.  Happy crocking!

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Wednesday, January 18, 2012