Sunday, September 25, 2011

Pumpkin Cheesecake w/Pecans and Oreo Crust in a Mason Jar AKA Pumpkin Cheesecake in a Jar

Happy Fall! It's time for pumpkins :). Although I hate to see summer go, but I'm excited for pumpkin season. So excited that I kicked off the start of Fall with Pumpkin Cheesecake for dessert last night and Pumpkin Pancakes for breakfast this morning. I'm going to have a wonderful Fall season, can't you tell?
This was my first attempt at making pumpkin cheesecake, mush less in a mason jar, and not only did it turn out great but it was super easy! You can use any pumpkin cheesecake recipe you want and simply split it evenly between the jars instead of baking in a spring form pan. I had originally bought ginger snap cookies  for the crust, but the checker forgot to bag them!! I hate when that happens. Luckily I had Oreo, which actually turned out amazing.
This recipe and dessert goes out to me dad, Happy Birthday :)

Pumpkin Cheesecake w/Pecans and Oreo Crust in a Mason Jar 
Serving: 15 8oz. mason jars (there was too much filling to fit into 12 jars)
Prep & Cook Time: 1 hour 30 minutes + refrigeration time

Ingredients :
2 cups Oreo cookies OR gingersnap cookies crumbs (crushed in blender)
6 tbsp (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, melted
4 (8oz.) packages cream cheese, room temp.
1 3/4 cups sugar
1 (15oz.) can pumpkin
5 eggs, room temp.
1 1/2 tbsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tbsp ground ginger
1/4 tbsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tbsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp vanilla extract, room temp.
2 tbsp flour
1/2 cup chopped pecans

1- Preheat over to 350 degrees
2- Combine Oreo (or gingersnap) cookie crumbs w/ melted butter and mix
3- Split evenly between jars (about 1tbsp each) and press to the bottom to make the crust 
4- In a large mixing bowl, beat cream cheese and sugar until light and fluffy
5- Add the pumpkin and beat until incorporated
6- Beat in the eggs, one at a time
7- Add the cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, salt, and vanilla and beat until incorporated, then add flour and incorporate. 
8- Pour the filling evenly into the jars, leaving room on top for the cheesecake to rise (1/2-1 inch)
9- Place the jars in roasting pans and fill the pans halfway with boiling water. Careful not to splash any water in the jars. You can also place the roasting pan on a large cookie sheet to make it easier to move around.
10- Bake 60-70 minutes. They should not jiggle when shaken.
11- Remove from oven and sprinkle chopped pecans evenly on top.
12- Begin placing lids on the jars, and close tightly. The jars will make a popping sound when they seal.
13- Let cool for about 2 hours then place in the fridge. Eat when completely cooled. best on day 2-4.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

The Secret to French Toast

I wish someone had to told me this simple trick to making french toast. I came across a Portuguese french toast recipe that included sugar, vanilla and milk. (By the way, french toast is not a French food, neither are french fries, sorry to break it to you.) I had tried french toast variations with milk and vanilla before but why the heck hadn't I thought of sugar? It makes perfect sense; the sugar crystallizes, making a beautiful and delicious crust. Though this is a sweet dessert in some countries, and salty and savory in others (can you imagine topping it with mayo! ew), in America, we top it with syrup, sugar, and eat it first thing in the morning! As it should be... until I'm proven wrong.

French Toast
Serves 4
Prep and Cook Time: 30 minutes

4 eggs
3 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
12 slices of bread (preferably day old)
dash of cinnamon
maple syrup

1. Beat together eggs, sugar, salt, milk, and vanilla in a shallow bowl.

2. Heat butter on medium heat in a pan.

3. Dunk each side of the bread in the egg mixture and place on the pan. You'll most likely need to do this in batches if you don't have a pan that can hold 12 slices of bread. Only dunk the bread in the egg mixture just before you place it on the pan.

5. Sprinkle some cinnamon on one side of the bread before flipping.

5. Cook until it's light-medium brown on each side. Add more butter if needed.

6. Top with syrup (and powdered sugar if you like) and serve!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Koreshte Qeymeh

It's time to travel back to Iran. This time to make one of my favorite stews Koreshte Qeymeh. "Koresh(t)" is the Persian name for stews. They usually include herbs, meats, beans, grains, and sometimes dried fruit. This koresht has beef, yellow split peas, and my personal favorite home made french fries! As a kid you would imagine that I was not a big fan of vegetables or herbs, but this koresht has french fries! How it could it be wrong, when it feels so right!? Serve this along side with the recipe for Chelow and you'll have an authentic, fun, Persian dish.

Oh, and don't worry about not being able to pronounce Koresht Qeymeh, the Q makes one of those Q/G noises that come from the back of your throat. Fun to say, but difficult to master.

Koreshte Qeymeh
Adapted from "New Food of Life" by Najmieh Batmanglij
6 Servings
Prep and Cook Time: 2 hours, 15 min.

1 onion, peeled and thinly sliced
1 pound stew meat (lamb and beef are preferred), cut into 1/2 inch pieces
4 tbsp oil
2 whole dried Persian limes. Can be found in a Persian or International market. You can omit but it's best to
      include at least one
1 tsp  salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp advieh (optional, mix of ground rose petals, cinnamon, cardamom, black pepper, nutmeg, cumin, and
       coriander seeds
1 large tomato, peeled and chopped
1 tbsp tomato paste
1/2 tsp saffron dissolved in 2 tbsp hot water
1 pound or 2 large potatoes, peeled and cut into sticks
1 cup oil for deep frying
1/3 cup yellow split peas
1 1/2 cups water

1. In a non-stick Dutch oven, brown the onions and meat in 2 tbsps oil.

2. Add dried Persian limes, if desired, salt, pepper, and turmeric. Saute for 2 minutes longer.

3. Pour in 1 1/2 cups water and bring to boil. Cover and Simmer over low heat for 55 minutes, stirring occasionally.

4. Add the advieh, fresh tomato, tomato paste, and saffron water. Cover and cook for 45 minutes.

5. During this time fry the potato sticks in the 1 cup of oil. Drain on a paper towel and set aside.

6. Cook yellow split peas in 2 1/2 cups of water and 1/4 tsp of salt for 30 minutes. Drain and add to the Dutch oven.

7. Check to see if meat and peas are tender. Taste the stew and add seasoning as desired.

8. Serve the koresht on the side of  or on top of the Chelow and arrange the french fries on top. Nush-e Jan!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

More Cheesecake in a Jar!

I fell in love with cheesecakes in jars from the first time I tried the recipe.  Ever since then I've come up with different variations and recipes but nothing beats the original (except perhaps the dark chocolate cheesecake in a jar which is climbing in ranks and soon to be posted!). 
After a few variations of this recipe, I've finally decided that I like it better without the crust. And besides, this cheesecake doesn't need a crust because it's already held together by the jar! (My "duh" moment)
In this variation I've left out the crust and made one batch with berry layers and another with caramel layers. 

Berry or Caramel Cheesecake in a Jar
Servings: 12 Servings (8oz. mason jars)
Prep & Cook Time: 1 hour 30minutes +refrigeration time

3 -8oz packages cream cheese (at room temp)
1 1/3
 cups sugar
5 large eggs (at room temp)
16 ounces sour cream (at room temp)
1/4 cup flour
2 teaspoons vanilla extract (at room temp)
2 teaspoons lemon juice (at room temp)
1 jar strawberry or caramel topping (even better with your own homemade recipe)

1- Prepare your jars as you would for canning mason jars. Set aside being sure they do not become contaminated
2. Preheat oven to 325F
3. Keeping your mixer on a low setting throughout the beating and mixing process, start by beating the cream cheese until light and fluffy.
4. Add the sugar a little at a time and continue beating until creamy.
5. Add one egg at a time and beat after each egg.
6. When eggs have been mixed into the cream cheese add flour, vanilla and lemon juice, mix well.
7. Add the sour cream last and beat well.
8. One jar at a time, begin layering the cheesecake batter and strawberry or caramel topping. Be sure to leave about an inch of space at the top of the jar since cheesecake does puff up when baked. Wipe the rims of the jars with a clean paper towel when finished layering.
9. Place the jars in a large roasting pan and fill the pan with boiling water, careful not to splash any water into the jars. (I also placed the roasting pan on a large cookie sheet to make it easier to move around)
10. Place the roasting pan with the cheesecake jars in the oven and bake until they no longer jiggle in the middle, about 1 hour.
11. Once finished baking, turn the oven off and leave the oven door slightly ajar.
12. After 30 minutes take the pan with cheesecakes out of the oven and begin placing the lids on the jars. Be careful to use oven mitts as the jars are still hot and you need to get the tops screwed on nice and tight. You may hear the jars make a pop noise when they seal.
13. Let the jars cool on the counter for about 2 hours, and then place them in the fridge overnight.
14. Open a jar when you’re ready to eat and ENJOY! (I found them to be the best around day 3-5)

Sunday, April 3, 2011


My first time making biscuits and unfortunately I forgot to add the baking soda which meant these were pretty flat, but still delicious! The second time around I made sure not to forget this key ingredient. Both times the bf and I ate them in one sitting with jams, so baking soda or not these biscuits are a great way to start the day. You can also add ingredients to the biscuit recipe such as green onions, bacon, or herbs. This recipe is adapted from another recipe I found, but without the green onions.
Interesting factoid, biscuits have been around for centuries, usually made dense, dry, and unsweetened. But around the 7th century AD, the  Persian empire started experimenting with the basic recipe by adding eggs, honey, spices, and cream. Have I mentioned that I'm Persian? Go Persians!
In addition, biscuits were very valuable to travelers and sailors because of it's long shelf life.

Recipe adapted from Baking Bites
Makes 10 biscuits
Prep and Cook Time: 30 min.

2 cups all purpose flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp sugar
1/2 cup butter, chilled and cut into pieces
1 cup sour cream

1. Preheat oven to 400F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper (optional).
2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and sugar
3. Add butter to bowl and rub into flour mixture with your fingertips until mixture resembles very coarse sand. The average piece should be about the size of a pea. 
4. Stir in sour cream until dough is moistened, then turn out on to a lightly floured surface and lightly knead until the ball comes together smoothly. Press dough out until it is 1/2-inch thick.
5. Use a 2 1/2-3 inch round cookie/biscuit cutter to cut rounds, then place on baking sheet. Dough can be gathered and rerolled once. You should get about 10 biscuits, depending on size of the biscuit cutter.
6. Bake for 20-24 minutes, until tops of biscuits are golden and sides are puffed and firm.
Cool on a wire rack before serving.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Bacon Chocolate Chip Cookies

I have been on a major bacon binge lately. I never used to eat it the stuff, but thanks to the bf I started to get it at restaurants, which led to me buying it and fried it up at home for breakfast, and of course I've reached that climactic stage in bacon evolution, a week of bacon in everything! From sandwiches, to breakfast foods, to bacon wrapped hot dogs, I have been hard at work clogging up my arteries. But there was one recipe that was amazingly delicious: Bacon Chocolate Chip Cookies.
Baking with bacon seems to be a new trend. Chocolate dipped bacon, maple bacon cupcakes, and bacon cookies have been popping up in restaurants, bakeries, and blogs. How could I not try a recipe that combines that greasy, salty taste with the chocolaty goodness of a chocolate chip cookie?! And get ready for this... instead of butter, this recipe uses bacon drippings. Oh ya, I said it. Enjoy it.
Now for some exercise...

Bacon Chocolate Chip Cookies (with Butterscotch Chips)
Recipe adapted from A Cozy Kitchen
Makes about 24 cookies
Prep and cooking time: 1 hour  

1/2 cup white sugar

3/4 cup dark brown sugar
1 egg
3/4 cup bacon drippings at room temperature
2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 cups flour
6 pieces of bacon, fried and chopped (the original called for 4, but come on, it's bacon)
6 oz. of chocolate chips
3 oz. of butterscotch chips (optional- but the flavor goes really well with bacon)

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the white sugar, brown sugar, egg and bacon drippings.
3. Add the oats, cinnamon, salt, baking soda, flour and mix well.
4. Gently fold in the bacon and chocolate chips (and butterscotch chips).
5. Using your hands shape the dough into 1 1/2″ to 2″ cookies. Place on ungreased cookie sheets and bake for ten minutes or until done.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Irish Beef Stew

Sometimes you just crave something hearty, warm, and simple. I originally looked up recipes for a beef stew, but I came across a couple Irish beef stews so I thought I’d go for it. Well, it turns out that I made the right choice because Irish Beef Stew has one of the best ingredients ever: beer. Guinness, to be exact. The recipe calls for a only 1 cup of Guinness, but I went for it and used a whole bottle. If you don’t like the hops flavor, then use only 1 cup or less.
I made this stew in a slow cooker, but when browsing I definitely came across some that you can make on the stove top. But my advice, if you don’t have a slow cooker, do yourself a favor and buy one. They are only $15-$30 for a decent one, or better yet find one at a second hand store. The recipe below is adapted from this recipe at SimplyRecipes so that you can use a slow cooker.
Fun Facts: Irish beef stews were traditionally peasant style dishes made with the most readily available ingredients, which were usually lamb/mutton, onions, potatoes, and some greens. This dish traveled to America when Irish people began immigrating to the U.S., and evolved according to different regions. They 
made the right decision with adding Guinness.

Irish Beef Stew
Servings: 5-6
Prep & Cook Time: 30 minutes prep, 8-10 hours on low, or 4-5 hours on high

1/4 cup olive oil
1 1/4 pounds well-marbled beef stew meat, cut into 1-inch pieces
6 large garlic cloves, minced
6 cups beef stock or beef broth
1 bottle of Guinness beer (or 1 cup if you prefer less)
1 cup of fine red wine
1 small can tomato paste
1 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp fresh thyme (or 1 tbsp dried)
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2 bay leaves
3 pounds russet potatoes, peeled, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (about 7 cups)
1 large onion, chopped
1 regular bag of baby carrots (or 2 cups chopped carrots)
Salt and Pepper
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley (optional)

1. Heat olive oil in heavy large pan over medium-high heat. Lightly salt and flour the beef pieces. Add the beef (do not crowd the pan, or the meat will steam and not brown) and cook until nicely browned on all sides, but not all the way through. Add to crock pot.
2. Sauté the garlic in the pan for 1 minute. Add Guinness, red wine, tomato paste, sugar, thyme, Worcestershire sauce, bay leaves, and some of the stock. Stir to combine. Bring mixture to boil.
3. Add the potatoes, onion, and carrots to the crock pot. Then pour in the stock mixture and add the remaining stock.
4. Set the slow cooker to low for 8-10 hours, or 4-5 hours on high. Season with salt and pepper.