A couple of days ago I woke up in the middle of the night craving cheesecake, which is weird because I have no idea where the craving came from. I hadn’t been talking about it and I don’t recall seeing anything about cheesecake anywhere. When you think about it, it’s really strange how you can just start caving something out of the blue and how you just aren’t satisfied until you get that one thing that you want.
Instead of going out to buy a whole cheesecake (as I have shamelessly done in the past) I decided to make one. Now, when I decided to make cheesecake my intentions were to make a whole cheesecake but somewhere in the process, my cheesecake turned into crustless cheesecake cups.
I’ve never really been a fan of “crust” of any kind (pie, cheesecake, etc) so I thought to myself, “why add something you don’t like and aren’t going to eat to a recipe just because it’s ‘supposed’ to part of it”, so, I nixed the crust. Then, I whipped up a filling and decided to bake it in individual ramekins. I definitely overfilled the ramekins so the cheesecake didn’t set properly. So back to the drawing board I went. The last time, I decided to make the same filling but nix the egg and just eat the filling on its own without baking it. Honestly, the filling by itself was exactly what I wanted. I spooned it into the ramekins, topped it with some crushed graham crackers and sliced mangos. I think from now on, this will be my “cheesecake” recipe when I want a quick and fast version. The recipe is so easy to make and you can really make it any flavor that you want. All you have to do is to puree some fruit and add it to the mixture. I can’t want to experiment with different flavors.
If you’re looking for something quick and easy, try out the recipe below.
Until Next Time!
1 1/5 brick of cream cheese 1/4 cup of sour cream
1/2 tablespoon of vanilla 1/2 cup of sugar
Combine all ingredients using a mixer. Spoon into ramekins and enjoy.
Notes: Add in 1/4 cup of fruit puree to the mixture to make a flavored cheesecake. Depending on the consistency of the puree mixture, increase the amount of cream cheese in this recipe to maintain the thickness of the mixture.
As you all know, one of my culinary goals this year is to try different foods. I’ve been making a lot of Middle Eastern dishes (posts coming soon) but I have also been experimenting a lot with different spices, some old, some new. My local grocery store has expanded their spice collection to include a lot of Middle Eastern and North African spices so I have been playing around with those but I have also revisited a few of the spice that I have that I rarely reach for. Two of which are cumin and turmeric.
I actually use cumin more frequently than turmeric. About a year ago, I stopped using pre-packaged taco seasoning (too much salt) and opted to make my own. Cumin is the main ingredient in taco seasoning so whenever I make ground beef tacos I use that. Turmeric, on the other hand, is a different story. I don’t think I have ever actually used it in a dish until today.
When it comes to trying out new spices, I think tacos are a great recipe to incorporate them into to. You can make a simple chicken taco with lettuce, cheese and sour cream and flavor it with any seasoning you want to try. Since the other ingredients (lettuce, cheese and sour cream) don’t have strong competing flavors you can really get a good taste of what the spice taste like.
For this recipe, I made a simple spice blend (cumin, turmeric, salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, sugar) to season my shrimp tacos. I simply, seasoned the shrimp, sauteed them and threw together some slaw, tomato and cilantro and wrapped it in a flour tortilla. Instead of using salsa, I opted for the ginger, jalapeno cashew sauce that I featured a few posts back. The results were wonderful.
I hope that you consider making this blend. If you do, be aware that turmeric is a bright yellow color and easily stains fingers and clothes. Be careful!
As you are well aware we are well into soup season. As soon as the temperature drops we all bring out our crockpots, dutch ovens, and stock pots. We load up on vegetables, noodles, and broths and from about October to March we make every type of soup imaginable.
I personally love soups. They are easy to make and they are the perfect weekday lunch; not too heavy, not too light and easily transportable. Also, they are relatively healthy. Just take for example this vegetable noodle soup that I recently made. Around this time of year, I normally make chicken noodle soup but this time, I wanted to switch it up and try something different. Instead of using traditional wheat noodles, I opted for vegetable noodles made from zucchini. Just switching out the noodles not only made this dish healthier but it changed it into a vegetarian/vegan dish.
If you are looking for a way to freshen up your traditional winter soups try this recipe or consider swapping out traditional noodles for vegetable noodles (zucchini, carrots, squash, sweet potato) in any of your favorite recipes.
Until Next Time. Stay warm and well fed.
Vegetable Noodle Soup
1 green pepper 2 ears of corn (or frozen corn) 1 red pepper
1 white onion 1 bunch of parsley 3 cloves of garlic
3 zucchini 2 cups shredded carrots olive oil
salt pepper garlic/onion powder
1/2 small eggplant 6-8 cups of vegetable broth/water
Dice onion, garlic, red and green peppers, and eggplant. Season all diced vegetables with salt, pepper onion, and garlic powder.
Add a small amount of olive oil to a cast iron dutch oven and cook diced onion, garlic, red and green peppers until semi-soft.
While diced vegetables are cooking, spiralize zucchini, roughly chop parsley and remove the corn from the ear.
When vegetables are semi-soft (still have a crunch to them), add in broth/water.
Bring the soup to a simmer and add in the corn. Cook until the corn is soft. *If using frozen corn, add the corn and immediately skip to step 6*
Add in the shredded carrots and the diced eggplant.
Continue to cook for 10 minutes.
Add in zucchini noodles and cook for an additional 5 minutes.
If you read my last post then you know that one of my New Year’s goals is to try new things when it comes to food. I’m a somewhat adventurous eater. I LOVE to try new restaurants and I try to read up on and watch a variety of food-related content, but when it comes to cooking, I tend to cook the same foods over and over again. I think most of us can relate to this. We know what we know and we like what we like. Most of us grew up eating one type of food and so those foods became engrained in us and they became our go-to meals. This year, I’m really trying to step out of my food comfort zone.
Just this past week, I had Indian food for the first time. (When you think about it, it’s pretty ridiculous that I made it 30 years without ever having Indian food). The food was just so good! The flavors were new and exciting and different from what I am used to. After that experience, I really realized how many great flavors and foods I am missing out on by eating the same things over and over again. I decided then and there to branch out.
When you think about it, it really doesn’t take much effort to eat new foods. You don’t have to necessarily seek out new restaurants, you can simply borrow a cookbook from the library or watch a YouTube chef and just make something yourself at home. Sometimes it’s really just as simple as reaching for different spices when you season your favorite foods.
One of my first steps in embracing new flavors was to make vegan ginger, jalapeno, cashew sauce. I’ve always shied away from vegan foods but I saw a similar recipe on a youtube channel and I decided to make my own version. I was surprised at how good it turned out. For some reason, I had this idea that vegan food would taste “off” but this didn’t taste off at all. It was flavorful. I really liked how easily customizable it was. With just a few changes, the recipe can really become whatever you want it to become. It can be a spread or a thinner more runny sauce. It’s all up to you.
I decided to make my sauce on the thicker side and as you can tell from the title, I threw in some ginger and jalapeno to make it spicy. In the end, I used it as a spread on my turmeric spiced shrimp tacos (recipe will be up on Monday) which was the perfect use for it.
I hope that you consider making this sauce but more, I hope you consider trying something new when it comes to food. I’m really excited to be on this food exploration journey and I can’t wait to share with you all what I am planning to make.
Until next time!
Ginger, Jalapeno Cashew Spread/Dressing
1/2-1 cup water 1/2 cup oil
3/4 to 1 cup of nuts (combination of cashew and pine) 2in piece of ginger
3 tablespoon of lemon juice 2 teaspoons of minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon of onion powder salt, pepper to taste
Soak cashews for 30 minutes or more
In a blender, combine all ingredients and 1/4 cup of water.
Blend until smooth.
Gradually add in water until you reach the desired consistency.
Make this recipe yours. Play around with the amount of seasonings and spices. If you like a spicier sauce add in more ginger and jalapeno. If you want a thinner sauce gradually add in more water and oil.
So, it’s the beginning of a new year and everyone is making New Year’s resolutions and setting goals. In the past I’ve skipped the whole, “new year, new me” pledge because deep down inside I knew that I wasn’t going to follow through with anything on my list for any substantial amount of time. This year, however, I changed things up and set a few goals for myself. Personally, I decided that I would read at least one book a month (I’ve started with a Harry Potter book. I’m a big kid, I know!Honestly, the older I get the more I love HP!!) and I’ve decided to challenge myself to go out more.
In addition to setting a few personal goals, I also set a few culinary goals. I’ve decided that I want to become a stronger baker, learn to make pasta and expand my culinary repertoire to include some culturally diverse dishes. I went to the library (hint-hint: a library is a great place in general, but a lot of libraries have a ton of great cookbooks. You can check out as many as you want and keep them for an extended amount of time. It’s a great way to make recipes from of the best and most popular books without spending a ton of money) and randomly found this cookbook entitled, “Persiana”. All of the recipes seem great and packed full of spices and flavors. I’ve decided to start my culinary exploration with Middle Eastern food and I can’t way to make a ton of recipes out of that book.
New Year’s resolutions are always challenging to keep, whether they are personal goals, professional goals or culinary goals. I think the key to sticking with them to choose small goals and to not beat yourself up when you, “fall off the wagon”. So here’s to those of us who have set goals for 2019! May we try a little harder, push ourselves a little more and reach our goals!