Monday, November 14, 2011

pumpkin cheesecake with gingersnap crust

I love gingersnaps.

I forget how much I love them until I unexpectedly eat one and then can think of nothing else but when I can buy my own bag to munch on.

I got a bite of gingersnap last week when I was visiting my friends in NY. It was in a pudding dessert that I don't even know what it was or where I got it. I was simply walking to my friends apartment and stopped at a dessert truck and bought a pudding thing.

I ate the entire dessert so fast that I didn't even take a picture of it, (bad blogger) or of my whole weekend actually. Here is one of  the few pictures I have of my trip and I took it from my friend Lisa. I love it!

Judith, Lisa, Moi, Conie
I had a fantastic time. My friend Conie, farthest on the right, was back in town for a quick visit as she is serving 2 years in the South Pacific in the Peace Corps.

It was so good seeing her and my other besties.  :)

Anyways, I had a gingersnap.

As soon as I got back to DC I purchased a bag of them and immediately thought, "What can I do with these bad boys?"  I thought about it and it finally hit me; use it as a crust!

For cheesecake!


So, that's what I did.

This cheesecake is ALL  KINDS OF GOOD.

It's creamy and decadent and silky. Yum!

It takes quite a bit of time to make as you have to chill it in the  fridge fro 12 hours, but I think it's worth it.

The gingersnap crust is a nice departure from graham crackers and adds a great "fall-ish" and spicy flavor to the cheesecake. Pecans are also in  the crust

I also drizzled salted caramel sauce on top and caramelized pecans to add to the presentation.

This is a good one you guys.  :)

Gingersnap Crust
  • 1 3/4 cups gingersnap crumbs
  • 6 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup ground pecans

Pumpkin Cheesecake
--adapted from Sprinkle Bakes
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 1/4 lbs (20 oz, or 2 1/2 eight oz. bricks) cream cheese, softened
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar 
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch
  • 4 large eggs

1. Preheat oven to 350. Using 2 large pieces of heavy duty foil,  wrap the bottom and outside of your cheesecake pan. This will prevent leaks when using the water bath.

2. Use a food processor to crush gingersnaps and pecans. Combine gingersnaps, pecans, brown sugar, and butter and stir well to combine. Press into a 9″ spring form pan. Evenly spread across the bottom of pan and up the sides about 1 inch.
3. In a medium bowl whisk together pumpkin puree, heavy cream, vanilla extract, cinnamon , ginger and salt. Set aside.

4. In a separate bowl, beat the cream cheese at medium-low until creamy (approx. 2 mins).  Gradually add sugars and beat until blended.  Add pumpkin mixture and beat until blended. Add cornstarch and beat until just combined.  Add eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition. 

5. Use a rubber spatula to scrape the batter onto the cooled crust.  Place the aluminum-wrapped pan in a roasting pan or large baking pan.  Pour enough hot water into the pan to come up 1 inch up the sides of the springform pan.  Bake 70-80 minutes, or until set and slightly wobbly.  The cake will completely set as it cools.

6. Place cheesecake in the refrigerator for 12 hours to finish setting. Top with whipped topping and other garnish as desired.

Monday, October 31, 2011

happy halloween!

These cookies were a PAIN IN THE BUTT to make!

They're the soft lofthouse sugar cookies and the dough was so sticky. Even after I refrigerated them for about 13 hours!

I will undoubtedly never make them again, but when I did manage to finish baking them and slathered them with frosting, they really were so good.

Oh, and that is the only photographic evidence I have because I was a bad blogger and forgot to take pictures before I brought them to a Halloween party. Whoops.

I hope everybody enjoys this Halloween!  =)


P.S. I was a MacBook, not my typical witch, for Halloween this year. No photographic evidence of that either.

Monday, October 24, 2011

pumpkin crème brûlée

Check out the accents on the letters in the title of this post. I'm always so proud of  myself when I remember how to do those. Honors French class for the win!  =)

Okay, so I don't know if I've told you before, but crème brûlée is my favorite dessert. Like EVER.

I think I like it better than ice-cream. Actually, I don't know if that's true because crème brûlée and ice-cream are like the same thing, right? Eggs, cream, sugar, and different flavors? Yea, same thing. So I like them both the same.

The cream in crème
Anyways, typically I only like the traditional vanilla variety, but a couple of weeks ago my colleagues and I had pumpkin crème brûlée at a work luncheon and it was delicious!

I decided to try and recreate it for a dinner I had to attend last night and it went over fabulously!

The pumpkin  flavor is pronounced but not overpowering, and the spices are incredibly complementary.

So that's the story of my pumpkin brûlée. It's uber sophisticated yet incredibly easy, so give it a try this season!

On another note; I'm getting fat (ter).  Between blogging, numerous work luncheons and conferences, and the fact that I enjoy food way too much, my pants are getting tight.

I don't want to pay for a gym membership so I recently purchased 30 Day Shred and am going to give it a whirl. Has anybody tried it or used some other form of exercise DVD that won't make me feel like I want to die? I want to feel empowered after a workout, not like I hate my life and want to eat crème brûlée after.

I figured I should also begin eating cleaner so I plan on going shopping and buying some healthier food options. I don't eat terrible now, but I could always improve.

Hmm. I'll let you know how it works out or if anything great comes out of this...ech.

Pumpkin C
rème Brûlée

  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 3 cups heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 8 egg yolks
  • 1 cup of sugar plus more for sprinkling on tops
  • 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees

2. Add milk and heavy cream to a saucepan. Split vanilla bean and scrape the seeds into the milk mixture along with the vanilla extract. Add cinnamon and pumpkin pie spice.

3. Place saucepan over medium and mix until it bubbles around the edges, but not boiling.

4. Remove from heat when it starts bubbling and let it cool. 

5. While cooling, mix egg yolks and sugar in a separate bowl until blended. When the milk mixture is cool,  slowly add a tablespoon at a time of the milk mixture to the egg mixture to temper the eggs. When  tempered, add the rest  of the milk mixture and mix thoroughly.

6. Add pumpkin puree and whisk until blended. Strain the mixture through a mesh strainer to get a smooth base and then fill 8oz ramekins with the mixture.

7. Set the filled ramekins in a water bath and place in the oven for 35-45 minutes until fim around the edges but still kind  of jiggly in  the center.

8. Remove ramekins from the water bath and let cool on a wire rack for 30 minutes and then place into the fridge to set for 4 hours up to overnight.

9. When ready to serve the crème brûlée, sprinkle sugar on top and torch or broil until the sugar hardens and caramelizes. Serve immediately!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

better-than-crack brownies

For those days when you a need a strong pick me up, but aren't allowed to do crack because it's illegal, MAKE THESE BROWNIES!

Apparently, they are better than crack. 

I wholly agree.

I mean, they're fudgy brownies that are layered with peanut butter cups, peanuts, chocolate chips, and rice krispies cereal.

That HAS to be better than crack, no?

I have never had crack or anything related to it, (crack is whack, yo) but I am convinced that these are in fact better.

Yea! Proud D.A.R.E. graduate. =)

I saw these on Jessica's site a while back and have been DYING to try them. I'm glad I did because they really do taste incredible---a peanut butter lovers dream.

Make them!

Better Than Crack Brownies--From How Sweet it Is
  • 1 batch of brownies
  • 1/2 cup salted peanuts (if you don’t have salted, add sea salt)
  • 1 cup chopped peanut butter cups
  • 1 1/2 cup milk chocolate chips
  • 1 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1/2 tablespoon butter
  • 1 1/2 cups Rice Krispies Cereal
Mix brownies according to directions, and bake for 20-25 minutes in a 9 x 13 baking dish.
Remove and top them with peanuts and peanut butter cups and bake for an additional  4-6 more minutes.
While they are finishing baking, melt the chocolate chips, peanut butter and butter. Stir in cereal.
Remove brownies from oven and evenly pour chocolate mixture over top.
Refrigerate for 2 hours before serving.

**I had them both room  temperature and cold from the fridge---they are DEF better cold**

Sunday, October 9, 2011

red velvet waffles...and stuff

So, I'm like tired.

Actually, more like EXHAUSTED.

The past two weeks have kicked my butt and I feel like I could seriously sleep for months.


I'm too tired to spell out why I'm so tired, but I should let you know some, so here is my best stab at it:

I turned 25 (woot!) on September 26 and that whole week was a pure celebration of my life from my friends and family. It was fantastic!  A lot of cake, a lot of dancing, a lot of dinners, a lot of stuff. I loved every second of it--sleepless nights and all. Yet, by the end of the week I was done.

Also, I made my own birthday cake again this year. It was a dark chocolate cake with raspberry mousse filling and white chocolate cream cheese icing. Very different from last year's and just as delicious

Totally sliced into it before letting people add candles and sing to me...

After my birthday week, I then had a huge conference at work that basically had me working 12 hour days for about a week while always having to be "on".

You know--smiling, schmoozing, acting like you're not about to fall dead of exhaustion. That kind of thing.

I haven't been home for a full 24 hours yet and the thought of having to go to work tomorrow because I chose to take Veteran's Day as a holiday instead of Columbus Day, which is tomorrow, makes me want to cry.


Anyways, these red velvet waffles were a request from my friend Joei of Urban Geek and I  figured I should give it a shot. I tried making them last week, but the recipe I used involved yeast and I simply did not like them. I tried a different recipe today and they are delicious! Tastes like cake.

I'm glad I had these today, they seriously made me so happy.   :)

SN: I need to stop eating my feelings.

I never had red velvet waffles or pancakes before, but I figured adding in cocoa powder, buttermilk, and some sort of cream cheese glaze makes them red velvet, right? Right.

That's what I did.

Anyways, so that's my story for the past two weeks. I  haven't even been able to blog surf properly or catch up on my celebrity gossip. I'll do that tomorrow. If I can keep my eyes open.

For now, I hop back into bed and sleep the rest of my one-day weekend away. Feel sorry for me today, will you?


Red Velvet Waffles
  • 2 cups flour ( I used AP, but I'm thinking that Cake Flour would be even better)
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2cups buttermilk or regular milk
  • 2 large eggs, separated
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla
  • 3 tbsp red  food coloring (I used gel coloring)

1. Sift together flour, sugar, baking soda, cocoa powder and salt and whisk thoroughly

2. In another bowl beat egg yolks slightly. Stir in buttermilk and oil. Stir in red food coloring.

3. Add egg yolk mixture all at once to the dry mixture and stir thoroughly.

4. In another bowl, beat egg whites until stiff peaks form.

5. Fold egg whites into flour and egg yolk mixture.

6. Spoon waffle batter into your waffle iron and let cook.

7. Serve with cream cheese glaze.

Cream Cheese Glaze
  • 4 oz. softened cream cheese
  • About a 1/2 cup or more powdered sugar
  • About a tsp. vanilla
  • Enough  milk to make the consistency of the glaze thick but pourable

1. Beat cream cheese until soft and then add in powdered sugar to desired sweetness. Add in milk a little at a time until desired consistency is reached. Add vanilla, mix, then serve with hot waffles.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

bbq chicken pizza

"Hey, Ji. This pizza was like, real dope."

That's what the big brother said after he finished eating this.

And, it was dope.

Like for real.

Remember when I said that If I were to ever have a bakery or eatery or something, I would definitely always sell my lemon crinkle cookies?

Well, this BBQ Chicken Pizza would also ALWAYS be on that menu to sell as well.

Fricking delicious it was. And dope.

And that's all I have to say about that. =)

**All photos were taken with my iPhone. My camera broke...AGAIN!**

BBQ Chicken Pizza

  • Thin crust  pizza dough
  • Favorite BBQ sauce
  • Mozzarella cheese
  • Gouda cheese
  • Cilantro chopped
  • Diced cooked chicken
  • Sliced red onions
  • About 2 or 3 tablespoons of oil for frying
1.Preheat oven to 500 degrees. Coat your chicken with about 1/4 cup of BBQ sauce. Set aside.

2. In a skillet, heat oil and when hot pan fry each side of pizza dough for about a minute per side. When  golden brown, looking kind of like a flat-bread, take off of fire. (You can also of course bake the pizza in a normal way, but this is one of my favorite ways of doing it.)

3. Take fried dough and spread on a thin layer of BBQ sauce. Follow it up with a layer of mozzarella, chicken, red onions, and gouda cheese. Use how little or how much you'd like.

4. Bake for about 9 minutes or until cheese is bubbly and melty. Immediately throw on chopped cilantro and serve immediately and enjoy!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

challah bread

So, I made challah.


Yea, it was kinda cool.

Like, the yeast bubbling up and stuff and then the dough rising and then me having to punch it down? I enjoyed it immensely.

When it was finally ready and I sliced into it I 'm not going to lie, at first I was pretty disappointed.  :\

In my mind I thought I would be slicing into challah that was really sweet and yellow inside; kind of like the ones I get at the supermarket bakery. When I sliced into my challah, it was white inside and had only a bit of sweetness.

After further investigation, I found out that I had made traditional challah. The stuff that I get at the supermarket is dyed yellow, has a ton of extra butter and eggs added to it, and is generally inauthentic.


I was kind of shocked when I found that out. In any event, after my discovery was made I enjoyed my challah 1000x more.

It is super soft and very tender and tastes great alone or slathered with butter or other spreads.I ate my piece(s) with apple butter smeared on top of salted butter. YUM.

I used this recipe, but next time I make it I'll  probably look for another one that calls for butter instead of oil and a bit more sugar or honey.

So, that's my challah story. It is absolutely not difficult to make and I'll probably make it over and over again.

Holla!   :)
For recipe and how to braid challah, go HERE.

Monday, September 5, 2011

vanilla cupcakes w/ vanilla-marshmallow buttercream

This is not my kind of cupcake. Hear me out.

I'm a chocolate loving girl who prefers peanut butter frosting, cookie dough toppings, and salted caramel fillings--fun stuff.

This kind of cupcake is a favorite of my BFF partner in crime, Judith.

Me and Judi!
Every time we end up in a bakery it's always the same scenario. I'm anxiously trying to figure out what flavors to get and if the cashier will judge me if I get 3 different treats, while Judith doesn't even look at the display case for more than 5 seconds!

She automatically wants a vanilla cupcake with vanilla frosting; no questions asked. Sprinkles usually are okay--but I'm not sure.

This past Christmas I talked her into getting an eggnog flavored cupcake because you know, 'tis the season.

She hated it.

She took one bite, rendered it unappetizing, and passed it over to me to finish.


Anyways, that's Judith!

I had to whip up a batch of cupcakes for an event and thought a simple recipe would be the best which is why I chose Judith's fave.

These are exceptional cupcakes if I do say so myself. It's a doctored up white cake mix with classic vanilla butter-cream frosting that I added some marshmallow fluff to. (I had to Judi!)

They really are delicious! Cupcakes like these remind me that sometimes simplicity is the ultimate sophistication. Kinda like Judith. :)

Vanilla Cupcakes
--adapted from Recipe Girl

1  box white cake mix
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated white sugar (I added about 2 tablespoons more)
3/4 teaspoon salt (I would reduce this by a 1/4 next time)
1 1/3 cups water
2 Tablespoons vegetable or canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup sour cream
4 large egg whites

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. In a large bowl mix together cake mix, flour, sugar,and salt.

2. Add the remaining ingredients and mix until well combined. Pour into lined cupcake pans and bake for 18-20 minutes.

Vanilla-Marshmallow Buttercream

3 cups
powdered sugar

1 cup butter, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 to 2 Tablespoons whipping cream
*Can't remember, but I added about 3/4 cup of marshmallow fluff

Cream sugar and butter until well blended. Add in vanilla, whipping cream, and marshmallow fluff. Tatse and adjust flavor to your liking. Frost cupcakes!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

red velvet s'mores brownies (kinda...)

These were the little s'mores brownies that could.

I really, really, REALLY wanted to make these the right way , but things just kept happening.

First, I completely forgot that I was out of flour. I wanted to make the brownies from scratch. By the time I realized that, it had started to rain because of Hurricane Irene and I didn't feel like venturing out.

Mind you it was a regular rainfall. I was just psyching myself out.

Besides, if I went out then I'd have to put on real pants and a brassiere and I simply was not in the mood.

I decided to make them anyways and use a brownie mix that I was POSITIVE that I had.

Wrong! I didn't have one. But, I did find a Red Velvet box cake mix. I decided I would turn them into brownies.

I went to go make the graham cracker base and of course I didn't have enough. As a result, Girl Scout Trefoil shortbread cookies served as a base as well.

Oh, and I wanted regular marshmallows on top but when I went into my cupboard, I only had minis.


This meant that my traditional s'mores brownies that I was dying to make turned into something completely different: A shortbread/graham cracker crust with a red velvet brownie and mini 'mallows on top.

I was skeptical, but how bad could they be?

Answer: Not bad at all!! Delicious!

The cookie base was really good,  the red velvet brownies were De. Lish and the toasted marshmallows were perfect.

I would definitely make this dessert again--It was so good!

Perfect dessert to wait the hurricane out. I was really lucky in that respect too. My neighborhood didn't get too much damage from Irene. I feel really blessed.  :)

Red Velvet S'more Brownies
*Graham Cracker Shortbread Crust
  • 1 cup each of shortbread cookies and graham cracker crumbs (or all graham crackers)
  •  6 tablespoons melted butter
*Red Velvet Brownies
  • 1 box of red velvet cake mix
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 c. melted butter
  • 1/2 c.  of water
  • 1 c. mini chocolate chips
  • Mini Marshmallows
1. Mix up the melted butter and graham cracker crumbs and press into an 8x8 pan. Bake for about 15 minutes in a 325degree oven until golden brown.

2. While baking, mix up the brownies. Combine the egg, butter, and water and then add the cake mix and fold in the mini chocolate chips.

3. Bake the brownies in a 350 degree oven for about 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes back out clean.

4. When the brownies are baked, spread desired amount of marshmallows on top and stick under the broiler for 2-3 minutes until they're golden brown. Let cool, cut and enjoy!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

vacay debrief

Brownie Sundae at Lizzie's Ice Cream in Harvard Square

So, I'm back!

I took some time off to get some R&R and hit up Boston, Martha's Vineyard, Orlando and my hometown of Miami, FL.

I wish I had canceled Miami and Orlando altogether.

Boston and Martha's Vineyard were F-A-N-T-A-S-T-I-C and I wish I had spent the whole time there instead.

I spent the first 6 years of my life in Cambridge, MA and then  spent summers visiting my dad and cousins. I forgot how much FUN Boston and Cambridge are!

Can't wait to go back.

Here are some pictures from the trip. =)

Shining waters at the Vineyard.

Love this place!

The Black Dog.

I get serious about ice-cream.

Flying Horses Carousel

Del's Lemonade and Lobster Roll

Prettiest street, ever.

Beach houses on our way back to Boston. Can I live there forever...

The best bubble tea at some random hole in the wall in Boston's Chinatown. De. Lish!

Airport in Boston has rocking chairs!

First stop in Miami---Miami Subs. The Gyros platter is the best!

At the beach in Hollywood, FL. One of my loves--Melissa. <3

Beach Boardwalk

Bellante's Pizza. $5 Pizza and Pasta buffet.

Hollywood Beach

My high school BFF Tessie and her boyfriend John's Italian Ice Stand. The Chillstop. DELICIOUS!

Peanut Butter Italian Ice with Sea Salt! So good! If you're in Miami, check them out! The Chillstop
Had to hit up Little Haiti in  Miami.  :)

Cola Couronne--one of my favorites.

And of course, I had to have some Guineps

So,that was my vacay.

Now, I'm back to real life and working tomorrow...fricking boo.

Going to spend the rest of the day unpacking and catching up with the blogosphere. :)