Saturday, November 14, 2009

Say Cheese ... Cake!

Cheesecake has always seemed too fancy and rich a dessert to make at home. Brian loves cheesecake and when we go out for dessert he typically veers toward it on the menu. But I stealthily manage to guide him to a less hip-widening sweet by saying something dramatic like, "Do you want me to be the size of our sofa!"

But not last night. It was his birthday, so he got cheesecake. Chocolate cheesecake. Drizzled with homemade chocolate sauce. I got the recipes from a local Cry-Leike cookbook that the Bank girls had floating around (hey ladies!).
It's called "Hershey's Best Loved Cheesecake," but I didn't use Hershey's chocolate and I don't love that name so I'm just going to call it:

Chocolate Cheesecake
3 pkg cream cheese, softened
1 1/4 c sugar
1 (8 oz.) sour cream
1 T vanilla extract
1/2 c cocoa powder
2 T all-purpose flour
3 eggs

Crust:
1/2 stick butter
1 cup chocolate graham cracker crumbs
Preheat oven to 450. Combine softened butter and crumbs and press onto bottom of 9 inch spring-form pan. Beat cream cheese and sugar. Add sour cream and vanilla. Add cocoa and flour. Add eggs one at a time (I added two at a time. Why waste time?) Beat until blended. Pour into crust and bake for 10 minutes at 450. Turn heat down to 250 and bake 40 minutes. Cool completely and refrigerate 4-6 hours.
Before I forget, let me give you the chocolate sauce recipe too.

  • 2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 1 2/3 cups white sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Combine in sauce pan. Bring to a boil for one minute. It wasn't too sweet or clumpy at all. And it refrigerated well. I will definitely use this one again.
Brian was so sweet. We went to a french place downtown for dinner. I had told them earlier in the week when I made reservations and requested a quiet table that it was my husband's birthday. I didn't think they would care, I just thought it might get me a table out of the way. Well, when our waiter brought the dessert menus he told us that it was complementary for Brian's birthday. They had written it down on the phone and even had a handwritten card for Brian with cards for complementary drinks the next time we came.

We were both really impressed, but even so Brian politely thanked the waiter for dessert and said we would pass because he was going to eat my dessert at home :) What a sweet guy to pass up free yummy french dessert.

And one last thing, I feel the need to confess something. As I wrote this post I ate a small piece of cheesecake. It's only 9:15 in the morning. Someone save me from myself!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Happy Birthday Brian!

video

For those of you who are not Brian. I'm sorry to have subjected you to my singing and my unwashed hair. I tried really hard to compress this video so I could email it to Brian privately rather than embarrass myself on the blogosphere, but that proved to be an insurmountable feat. So laugh your little hearts out.

And, the dessert I mentioned after my enthralling rendition of Happy Birthday will be featured on the blog tomorrow. Trust me, you'll want to try this one.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Dear Colorado

Dear Colorado,

The longer we're together the more my appreciation for you grows. The mountains are spectacular. The warm orange and pink rays that come through my blinds and onto the dining room wall as I fix breakfast in the morning are a really nice touch. The sun, well to be honest it burns my retinas but I'm learning the importance of sunglasses. The snow, it's growing on me. It helps that Brian knows how to play in it. I actually enjoyed the 2 feet that you dumped on us a couple weeks ago. Being snowed in has its perks.

But the weather fluctuations, that's why I'm writing. Today it's 70 and sunny. Yesterday Brian and I played frisbee in the park with our buddies because it was so pleasant. Tomorrow it's going to snow. The heavens are going to rain down freezing matter after a 70 degree sunny day?

What if I were a pioneer woman and I did not have weather.com to tell me how to dress in morning? I would just get dressed based on the day before and walk unsuspectingly out outside only to have to turn around and change clothes. I bet you got a lot of letters from pioneer women back in the day. I'm not sure how you could rectify this problem. Maybe be a little more consistent. You know how I like consistency.

Sincerely,

Ashley Ramsey





Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Pumpkin Cake

I have made Laurie's Fresh Apple Cake for EVERYTHING lately. It's officially my go-to cake recipe now (but when Brian's not around to assist, I have to confess that I don't peel the apples). Sunday was dessert night at small group and they had previously enjoyed the amazingness that is the Fresh Apple Cake, so I figured it was as good a time as any to try something new. 

I went to my one of my dearest and safest cooking resources, allrecipes.com, and found a simple pumpkin cake recipe. 

Ingredients
2 cups white sugar
1 1/4 cups vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups canned pumpkin
4 eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour a 12x18 inch pan. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Set aside.
In a large bowl combine sugar and oil. Blend in vanilla and pumpkin, then beat in eggs one at a time. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in nuts. Spread batter into prepared 12x18 inch pan.
Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Allow to cool.
 
I made an easy cream cheese frosting to go with by mixing:

1 8oz. box cream cheese (room temp)
1 stick of butter (softened)
2 cups confectioner's sugar
1-2 t. Vanilla

I thought I would be fancy and make a double layer cake. It fell apart a little and the top layer was wider than the bottom layer. But I managed to put them together just so that you couldn't tell it was a flop. But then I iced it. Have I mentioned that I'm terrible at frosting a cake? But Brian came home and re-frosted it. We make a great culinary team. Brian is wayyyy too meticulous to cook an entire meal. He can do it for sure,  it just takes him forever because he does everything exactly right. But when it comes to tedious finishing touches, Brian is the man. He has saved many a cake for me. 

And this cake was sooo good. At small group, I noticed that our leader's little girl who's about 3 or 4 was eating a piece. I asked her if her cake was good (because kids are painfully honest and she didn't know it was my cake) and she said yes, that it was yummy. So there you go. 

If you live close by, Brian and I have a portion of the cake left and neither of us need anymore. Please come eat a slice and save us from obesity ;)

Monday, November 9, 2009

Brian's Dietary Nutrition Class

This weekend was in Brian's words was "kind of a drag." He had to take up a one hour class at the local community college to graduate on time. Fortunately, the class is interesting. He's going to be taking Dietary Nutrition on Saturdays from 9-2 for three weeks. 

I have a love/hate relationship with this class. I love it because it's affirming a lot of my health-related nagging and it's allowing me to get away with more healthy lunches than ever! Brian's usual lunch bag contains:
  • sandwich (PB&J or turkey and cheese)
  • crackers or whole grain muffin
  • apple or banana
  • carrots
  • raw nuts (walnuts or a mixture of pecans and almonds)
Today's lunch contained:
  • 1 1/2 cup lightly crushed garbanzo beans with garlic, lemon juice, and cumin
  • plain organic yogurt with a banana and honey
  • apple
  • carrots
  • two whole grain pumpkin muffins
The beans had way more fiber and protein than any sandwich I would normally have made. Brian told me that we need more probiotics (according to his new found nutritional knowledge) so that's why I threw in the yogurt parfait. That's another reason why I love this class. Brian is starting to suggest that we are deficient in certain nutrients and observing how the foods we eat affect us.

Brian has been awesome about eating whatever I prepare without complaining, so I'm not saying he was hard to cook for before. But I am excited that we're even more on the same page about our health now that he's taking this class.

However,  I'm not such a fan that Brian has to acquire all this knowledge from 9-2 on our one free day of the week. But all in all, I think it will be good for us in the long run: Brian graduates in December and we have a healthier family.