Cheesecake with Strawberry Balsamic Sauce

Nowadays, other people’s birthdays are far more exciting than my own.  Does that happen to you too? I think that’s what happens when you pass the age of 21.

I love other people’s birthdays, because I love getting other people gifts and I love making them birthday cakes.  Ok really, that last reason is the most important one.

Yesterday  was Jesse’s birthday.  In the past I’ve written an embarrassing post in his honor, but this year I’ll mostly spare him.  I made him an epic cheesecake, because while I love layer cakes, I know he’s a fan of cheesecake.

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On someone’s birthday, you should probably make what they like, not what you like.  Remember, it’s the time to be giving.

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Cheesecake with Strawberry Balsamic Sauce

cake adapted from All Recipes (strawberry sauce my own)

9 graham crackers, crushed
1/4 cup butter, melted
4 (8oz) packages of cream cheese, room temperature
1 1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup milk
4 eggs
1 cup sour cream
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup flour

For Topping:

1 cup sour cream
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup whipped cream (sweetened with a few tbsp sugar), optional

For Sauce:

1lb fresh strawberries
1/2-3/4 cup sugar
3 tbsp balsamic vinegar

Preheat oven to 325F.  Grease 9inch springform pan and wrap in aluminum foil (this is to keep water from getting in when you bake in a water bath). In a bowl, mix together graham cracker crumbs and melted butter.  Press into bottom of springform pan.  Refrigerate until ready to use.

Using a mixer, beat together cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Beat in milk and eggs, one at a time until just combined.  Add in sour cream, vanilla and flour and beat until just combined.  Pour batter into prepared pan.

Place pan in a larger baking dish, a roasting pan if you have one (I used a jelly roll pan because that’s all I had), and fill baking dish with hot water.  Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes.  After that time, turn the oven off and leave the cheesecake in the oven for another hour, then crack the oven door and let it sit for another hour or two.  The goal is to make sure the temperature doesn’t drop too quickly.  That way you’ll get a smooth cheesecake with no cracks.

While you’re waiting for the cake to cool, is the perfect time to make the topping.  Dice strawberries and place in a sauce pan with sugar and balsamic vinegar.  With regards to the amount of sugar, start with half a cup, after it’s been cooking for a while, taste the sauce and add more if you’d like.  I didn’t, but I could see where some would want it sweeter.  Cook on medium heat about 10 minutes.  Allow to cool.  At this point, you can leave it with chunks of fruit or you can blend to get a smooth sauce.  I blended it, but whole chunks of fruit could also be delicious and beautiful.

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The topping can be made in advance and refrigerated.  Feel free to serve it warm or cold.

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Now back to the cake… Once the cake has cooled, refrigerate a few hours or overnight.  A few hours before you’re ready to serve, prepare topping.  Mix together sour cream, sugar and vanilla.  Spread over top of cake.  Pipe whipped cream around edges (this is optional, just for decoration).  Refrigerate until ready to serve.

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Serve with strawberry balsamic sauce and enjoy!

I hope Jesse enjoyed it!  His birthday was pretty low key.  We had sushi, ate cheesecake and then proceeded to spend the rest of the night in a food coma.

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That might be one of the most awesome ways to spend a birthday.

Happy Birthday, Jesse!

I know I said my other people’s birthdays are more exciting than my own, but next week is my birthday and let’s be honest, making a birthday cake for yourself is always exciting.

I have many ideas in mind and it involves lots of fresh fruit.

What’s more exciting: your birthday or someone else’s?

BBQ Chicken Cauliflower Pizza

Jesse and I have been together for nearly 4 years.  In that time, I’ve come to terms with the fact that I eat more than he does.  When you can admit this is when you know you’re comfortable with someone.

Some ladies are dainty eaters.  I’m not judging them.  If you can eat a piece of salmon and some zucchini and be done for the night, then more power to you.  I wish I wasn’t a hangry beast.  I’d probably save a ton of money.  I know the expectation that the woman in the relationship eats about half as much as the man, but that certainly isn’t the case for us.

I think early on in our dating, I probably ate less (at least in front of him), so he wouldn’t think I was the Cookie Monster (I am).  I distinctly remember having a conversation about this with my sister.  I’m 100% positive that at one point she said, “yeah, he doesn’t eat very much. Like pio pio” (FYI, pio pio is the sound little chicks make in Spanish).  This isn’t meant to criticize Jesse’s eating habit; him and his habits are perfectly fine.  I admire his ability to say no to certain foods, yet be able to eat half a wheel of brie.

Now that the new-ness ship has sailed, I can eat three tacos and be a happy camper (while lusting over gelato after dinner); he can eat sunflower seeds with beer and call it a night.  After all, it’s just food.  How much I eat in relation to him doesn’t define our relationship.  It’s just a funny quirk about us.

But some days, we’re equals on the eating front.  Last night, we both ate half a pizza.  Not a regular pizza.  This cauliflower pizza.

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It was delightful.  I bring this all up, because I was thinking about serving size for this recipe.

How many does this serve?  2 hungry people who went to crossfit earlier that day? 4 not so hungry folks? 4 normal people if complemented with a side salad? 6 children?  It’s not clear.

Make it and let me know how much you eat in one sitting.  Like I said, I ate half the pizza in one sitting.  It sounds obscene, but I promise you’ll want to eat at least half too.

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BBQ Chicken Cauliflower Pizza

10-12oz cauliflower (about 1/2 a large head), grated
1/2 cup pecorino romano cheese, grated
2 eggs
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp italian seasoning
1/2 tbsp butter
1/4 onion, sliced
1 chicken breast
1/4 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp paprika
few pinches of salt
1/2 cup BBQ Sauce
2-3 oz sharp cheddar, shredded (or more if you’d like)

There are three main components of this pizza.

1. Make the crust. 2. Cook the chicken and onions. 3. Assemble the pizza and bake.

I suggest doing it in that order but if you want to do 2 before 1, that’s cool too.  Let’s be flexible.

To make the crust:

Pre-heat oven to 425F. Grate your cauliflower.  I did this in the vitamix by cutting the cauliflower into pieces then pulsing it in batches until it looked somewhat like cauliflower rice.  Once it’s all grated, combine cauliflower, eggs, pecorino romano cheese, salt and italian seasoning.   Mix it all together.  Then press the mixture into a parchment paper lined baking sheet.  Try to get it as thin as you can so it will be crispy and not soggy.

Once you’ve got it as thin as you can, bake for 15 minutes, take out of oven until ready to assemble.

While the crust is baking cook your onions and chicken.  First, add butter to a skillet, then add the onions. Let those cook until soft (about 10 minutes or longer, let them hang out, they’ll get tastier), put onions into a small bowl or plate.  Cut the chicken into small pieces, then add chicken to the same pan where you cooked the onions.  Season with salt, pepper, paprika and chili powder.  Toss occasionally until cooked through, set aside.

Now that your crust is cooked, assemble the pizza.  Spread 1/2 cup BBQ sauce on pizza, top with onions and chicken, then put cheese on top.  I like to put the cheese on top of the toppings to keep the chicken and onions from burning.  Feel free to add a little extra pecorino on top if you’d like.

Bake 10-12 more minutes, until the crust is browned and crispy and the cheese is melty.  Allow to cool a few minutes, then slice and serve.

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Like I said, serving size? I’m not sure.  This pizza probably feeds 2-4.  If you’re like me and you eat a lot, you might want to double this and make two pizzas.  I did.

If you want to make two pizzas just so you have leftovers, that’s also a great idea.

Who eats more, you or your partner? or what’s your favorite pizza topping?

 

 

Slow Cooker Chicken Adobo

You know those days where you don’t feel like cooking and it’s too hot to turn on the oven to roast some chicken and vegetables?  This is your meal for those days.

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It’s super, SUPER easy and  tasty.  As a bonus, it’s pretty healthy too.  It might be a little bit high on salt but you’re not really drinking the sauce, just spoon a bit on your spaghetti squash (or rice #carbs4life) and you’re good to go.

I think I’ve only had traditional Filipino Chicken Adobo at a restaurant once.  I remember it being delicious and tangy.  As is true with most countries in South East Asia, the Philippines has awesome food and I’d love to visit.

In the meantime, make this dish for an easy weeknight meal while you daydream about being in a far off land.

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Slow Cooker Chicken Adobo

8 pieces of bone-in chicken (I used drum sticks)
3/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
6 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 shallot, sliced
3 bay leaves

Place all ingredients in a slow cooker.  Cook on high 4-5 hours.

Serve with spaghetti squash and green beans (or serve on rice, because I’m pretty sure that’s how it’s normally served).

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If you’re wanting to make this paleo, you can probably substitute coconut aminos for the soy sauce and you’re good to go.

I had this for dinner and leftovers for lunch.  All sorts of goodness.

Totally unrelated to this recipe, I have a mini poll…

Would you be interested in seeing workouts on here?

Let me know in the comments (Yay! I love work outs! Bring ’em on! OR Umm no thanks, more cake, please).

 

 

 

Flourless Peanut Butter Brownies

I’ve generally been of the opinion that if you want dessert, just eat dessert.  But recently, I’ve been interested in trying out healthier dessert options, because it sounds sort of fun.  So to get started on that track I turned to Pinterest.

I can’t really take credit for this recipe.  I made a few changes to the original but for the most part, I need to give credit where credit is due (aka thanks Skinny Taste).  I’m still learning the ropes of healthy baking (which I used to do all the time, but apparently have completely forgotten), so I’m relying on some awesome recipes out there.

Now that I’ve tried a few successful ones, I can start experimenting with my own concoctions.

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Sometimes when I look at healthy recipes, I worry the finished product is going to be gross.  Don’t lie. I know you worry about this too.

The reality is we need to adjust our expectations.  Most of the time, a recipe that includes no butter and sugar and calls itself dessert will NOT be the same as a traditional dessert recipe.  So if you’re looking to make these brownies and expecting the gooey, chewy deliciousness of Ghiradelli Box Mix, you will be disappointed.

(Side note: These Caramel Pretzel Brownies will not disappoint)

These Flourless Peanut Butter Brownies are tasty, but let’s be real.  They’re not like those awesome and chewy box mix brownies.  The texture is more spongey. That said, they’re pretty great considering they are completely flourless and low in sugar.   If you’re wondering about the nutrition for 1 piece (and I cut this into 12 pieces), each serving is under 100 calories and has 5g of protein and 9g of sugar.

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I found this idea of using powdered peanut butter instead of flour and thought it was perfect since Peanut Butter & Co. sent me some of their new Mighty Nut Powdered Peanut Butter to try.   Why hadn’t I thought of that before?  I’ll definitely be giving this a try again and making new recipes with powdered peanut butter.

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Flourless Peanut Butter Brownies

adapted from Skinny Taste

1 egg
1 egg white
1 cup chocolate powdered peanut butter (I used Chocolate Mighty Nut)
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup + 1 tbsp coffee (or water)
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup chocolate chips

Pre-heat oven to 325F.  Grease and line a 9×9 inch square pan with parchment paper. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, beat together egg and egg white.  Add powdered peanut butter, cocoa powder, baking and start to mix in.  Add water, maple syrup and vanilla extract and mix until combined.  Fold in chocolate chips.  Spread batter into prepared pan.  The batter will be thick, mine didn’t actually fill the whole 9×9 inch pan, but it worked.

Bake 25 minutes.  Allow to cool completely and cut into 12 squares.  Serve and enjoy!

FlourlessPBBrownies1I was pretty surprised at how tasty these were.  I’m not sure if it’s because it was the first dessert I had in about a week or if they really were good.  I’m going to give some to some friends later to see if they think they’re awesome too.  Remember, it’s all about expectations right?

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The other expectation is that you enjoy these while binge-watching House of Cards on Netflix.  I finally got around to season 3 and destroyed it this weekend while Jesse was away backpacking.

How was your weekend? Do you love healthy desserts or prefer to stick to regular ones in moderation?

 

 

 

 

Healthier Banana Coffee Cake with Maple Oat Topping

A quick cake for when you need something a little bit on the healthier side.

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I had a rough morning a few days ago.  Then I gave myself a pep talk and remembered that being healthy is something I have to consciously do everyday. For me, being normal means eating three meals a day, focusing on eating a lot of vegetables and protein and NOT eating 3 slices of cake after lunch.   Pretty simple right?

The reality is I’m always going to want dessert, and eating dessert is ok in moderation. Eating a donut, chips and ice cream all in the same day (aka this past Sunday) is a little too much for me .  There is definitely a balance.

Somedays I want to embrace it and make real, delicious desserts, because I love baking.  But then other days, I want to make healthier alternatives with a little more consideration for the ingredients, like this cake:

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It’s lower in sugar than traditional cake and gluten-free (if that matters to you).  It only uses whole oats so you don’t have to worry about processed flours.

Healthier Banana Coffee Cake with Maple Oat Topping

1/4 cup canola oil
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup rolled oats, ground*
1/2 cup almond flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 medium ripe  bananas, mashed
1/2 tbsp powdered sugar (optional, for dusting)

For Topping:

1/4 oats
1 tbsp canola oil
1 tbsp maple syrup

Pre-heat oven to 350F.  Grease 6 inch baking pan (I used a springform pan).

In a bowl, mix together oil, maple syrup, egg and vanilla.  Set aside.

If you haven’t done so already, grind your oats in the food processor (or blender like a vitamix). *use gluten-free oats if you’re gluten intolerant

Add dry ingredients to oil mixture.  Stir to combine.  Lastly, fold in the mashed banana.

In a small bowl combine ingredients for topping.

Pour batter into baking pan, sprinkle oat topping on top and bake for 30-40 minutes or until cooked through (I think might took about 40 minutes).

Allow to cool.  Dust with powdered sugar if you’d like (optional).

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This turned out great, but doesn’t any type of banana cake/bread always turn out amazing? I think next time I’d try reducing the maple syrup some more.

If you’re curious about the nutrition information on this, here it is:

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This does not include the topping and each serving is 1/8th of the cake (a small ish piece).

Not the best and not the worst.  I guess that’s what it’s about overall, right?  Balance.

 

 

Perfect 4th of July Menu (No Really, It’s Perfect)

I want to make your 4th of July easy and delicious, mostly because I want to live vicariously through you.

I don’t have big plans, being that we’re in the Bay Area and I have no idea what to do around here (and currently have very few friends).

But if you have tons of friends near you and are looking for the perfect 4th of July menu, I’m going to tell you the 5 major components of an Amazing 4th of July (because I know you are dying to get my unsolicited advice).

The idea is to keep it simple and delicious, so here’s what you’ll need. . .

1.  Meats

Ribs.  Always grill ribs on 4th of July.

In my perfect Food Network world, I imagine that Gina and Patrick Neely make the best ribs.  So let’s go with their recipe found here.

If you don’t have a grill (heresy! oh wait, I don’t either), then make them in the oven a la Smitten Kitchen.

Photo Credit: Smitten Kitchen

Regardless of what you choose, ribs are a must.

2.  Hot Dogs

Nothing says 4th of July like Hot Dogs.  You can get sassy and put egg salad on them:

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Or go traditional and grill up some fatty sausages and slather them in mustard!  I swear Costco’s Kirkland brand hot dogs are the best for the price.

PSA: Don’t forget to grill the buns too!

3. Side Dishes

You don’t need a million side dishes, but you need some diversity.  And let’s be honest… you need carbs.

This Torellini Salad is amazing.  You need to include it.  I’ve made it for 4th of July and other gatherings.  It’s always a hit.   If you’re not feeling tortellini, use rotelle pasta and you’re good to go.

Photo Credit: The Kitchn

This Red, White and Blue Potato Salad looks awesome.

Photo Credit: Chive Cooking

If you don’t love mayo, you’re a liar.  Make this potato salad anyway.  People love mayo.

And of course, no summer meal is complete without baked beans.  Normally, I would just say buy a few cans at the grocery store (because I really do think canned baked beans are delicious and I’m not ashamed), but you can also give these slow cooker ones a try.

If you don’t love beans, we can’t be friends.

Let’s also not forget to have a fruit salad or some watermelon, because fruit is a wonderful refreshing side.  And potato chips.  Always potato chips. Because ‘Merica!

4. Dessert

Pie is for 4th of July!

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Strawberry Rhubarb Pie with a touch of bourbon is a fine option.

You might also want to consider this Bourbon Banana Pie, because it’s simply divine.

BourbonBananaPie3Let’s also not forget the magic that is cake.  This year, I’m sort of itching to make an American Flag cake.  Too cheesy?  Maybe, but doesn’t this one look good?

Photo Credit: Oh Sweet Basil

5. Drinks

Beverages must be flowing on 4th of July.  Beer is an obvious choice.  But Gin is also a winner.  Try these strawberry-basil gin and tonics

strawberrybasilginandtonic2For something alcohol-free (and really hydrating, because it’s hot and hydration is important), keep a pitcher of this Coconut Mint Cooler in the fridge.

coconutmintcoolerWith this menu, I promise your 4th of July will be a hit.   You’ll be well-fed, happy and ready to celebrate our nation’s independence.

You can also feel free to throw some cornbread into this menu mix.  We could always use more cornbread.

What’s on your 4th of July menu?

 

 

Wedding Details: Will You Be My Bridesmaid?

I don’t intend for this to become a wedding blog, but by and large, Foodologie is about me.  So because I’m getting married next year, wedding business is going to come up.

We have a wedding date.  We have a venue.  Next, I needed bridesmaids.

For a long time, I knew my bridesmaids would be Jesse’s three sisters and my sister.  While I’d love to have all my girl friends be bridesmaids, the reality is I can’t (and it’s expensive for them!). 4 is a wonderful number for bridesmaids, and sisters will always be sisters.  I value their opinions, I want to get to know Jesse’s sisters better and most importantly, I want them to be there with us.

I also didn’t want to just call them up and ask them to be bridesmaids.  Maybe I’ve spent too much time on Pinterest, but I wanted to do something a little more special since I know all the work that goes in to being a bridesmaid.

I hoping for something nice, thoughtful and simple.  So of course, that had to include champagne, because who doesn’t love bubblies?

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I found little bottles of champagne at Target and some chocolate, because we all need something sweet in our lives.

I included some EOS chapsticks, because they come in cute colors (I was going for the whole pink and gold thing, even though those aren’t necessarily the wedding colors) and lip hydration is important.  I don’t know about you but I manage to lose 8 out of 10 chapsticks I buy.

I put it all into a little bag with gold tissue paper along with a cute card I found on Etsy

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These cards are awesome! You write in your personalized message (i.e. Will you be my bridesmaid?) then cover it up with a scratch off sticker like such:

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The cards are blank so you can personalize your message as you see fit.  Then your gift is complete!

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I love giving gifts, but honestly, the best part of this was their reaction.  Their excitement made me a little bit more excited about the big day.

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Having some ladies by my side to help with the process makes me feel better about life.

Have you been a bridesmaid before? How did you ask your bridesmaids to be in your wedding?