25 August 2015

Summer Food: Raspberry Almond Cheesecake Tartlets

Photo by Helana Brigman  --  Instead of cheesecake, try Raspberry Almond Cream Tartlets.
       Photo by Helana Brigman

From Denny:  Do you enjoy cheesecake but want an easier way to make it?  Then this recipe is for you.  I like cheesecake too but find it too large for just two of us to eat and too time consuming to make unless I plan on entertaining a hungry crowd.  

A springform pan is an absolute must to make a proper cheesecake - and the patience of a saint to leave the oven door cracked open as it slowly cools down for hours so you can hopefully avoid it cracking straight down the middle like an ugly scar.  Usually, I've been pretty lucky over the years.  Of course, when I wasn't lucky it was evident that a wonderful fruit topping like blueberry or strawberry could hide a multitude of sins just like gravy on a screwed up dinner. :)

Well, this recipe from food writer Helana Brigman is for the cheesecake challenged and the impatient.  You make this cheesecake in mini tartlets pans that are individual portions in just bite sized pieces rather than a huge honking slice of 6,000 calories like you get served at the Cheesecake Bistro.

What's involved in this recipe is to first make a simple graham cracker crust you crush up in your food processor or blender.  If you don't have that available then resort to the manual method of crushing graham crackers between two pieces of waxed paper using a pastry rolling pin.  

If you are really desperate just use a heavy jar of applesauce or canned "something" to roll over the waxed paper.  Yes, I have been wildly creative over the years, especially when the weather was too yucky to run out and get an ingredient that was missing or the electricity went out.  During hurricanes it's easy to get bored so you start working on what you can for a meal until the electricity comes back on to finish it.

The cheese filling could not be simpler:  cream cheese, vanilla, sugar and lemon zest.

The fruit glaze is made with fresh ripe strawberries, sugar, cornstarch and lemon juice that you heat up in a nonstick pan.  If you don't like nonstick pans like I don't then use a double boiler.  Just place medium high heated water in bottom pot that is turned down to a slow simmer and place a smaller pot or even a pasta bowl on top to heat your ingredients.  Just be careful as you remove the cooked fruit glaze from the bottom pot because the steam can burn you.

Assemble by lightly spraying your tartlet pans with oil or rub with a little soft butter.  Press the crushed graham cracker crumb mixture until you line the sides well.  Bake the crust.  Make your cheese filling and spread over the cooled crusts.  Make your fruit glaze, cool it, and then spread onto the tartlets.  There will be leftover fruit glaze you can enjoy on your pancakes or ice cream.  Rinse your raspberries and arrange in the center of the tartlets with sprinkles of sliced almonds all along the outside edges in a ring.

Now contain yourself and any sticky fingers in the house!  Chill the assembled tartlets for three hours before serving.  If you plan to keep them overnight - or if they survive that long at your house - then be sure to cover with plastic wrap to prevent them from losing moisture or absorbing any possible refrigerator odors.

Yes, you can enjoy making cheesecake at home with this easy recipe!  Try it with different fruits like blueberry or peaches...

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Unleash your funny inner emotional diva!
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Keep Calm Really? Queen Duvet

Keep Calm Really? Queen Duvet

Unleash your funny inner emotional diva!  Design also available in twin and king sizes with pillow cases, pillows, t-shirts and more products.
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23 August 2015

Breakfast: Easy Simple French Toast Casserole

Advocate staff photo by HEATHER MCCLELLAND -- Gourmet Galley, French Toast Casserole
        The Advocate photo: HEATHER MCCLELLAND 

From Denny:  Whether it's the holidays, a busy summer when the kids are out of school or company came to visit, we all need something fast and simple to put together that's a crowd pleaser.  This simple easy to assemble breakfast casserole fits that bill!

All the ingredients required are a loaf of good French bread, a full 8 ounces of your favorite brand of cream cheese, milk, maple syrup, butter, sugar and eggs.  Add fresh fruit to serve and it's that easy!

Usually when a recipe calls for sugar I often substitute agave syrup or brown rice syrup or even molasses.  If you don't like or can enjoy cow's milk why not substitute almond milk?  When butter is in a recipe I choose to clarify it just because we love the extra boost of flavor at our house from browning and filtering out the milk solids - as well as the added health benefits.  You could use margarine in this recipe as a substitute too.  And, to gild the lily, why not add a few shakes of nutmeg and/or cinnamon, some chopped pecans or walnuts before baking?  Yeah, Flavor Town is the name at our house...

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A blue abstract background with bold lettering declaring your love of the sport from Louisiana artist Denny Lyon.  Available in twin and king sizes and on other products too!
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Sports Blue Soccer Woven Throw Pillow

Sports Blue Soccer Woven Throw Pillow

A blue abstract background with bold lettering declaring your love of the sport from Louisiana artist Denny Lyon.  Available on other products too!
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21 August 2015

Summer Food: Blueberry Yum Yum Cake Says It All

From Denny:  This sheet pan cake of creamy goodness only requires two cups of fresh blueberries.  First you make a simple syrup of water and sugar, add cornstarch to thicken, then add the blueberries.  Set the blueberry topping aside to cool while you create the crust.

The crust is a yummy combination of finely chopped pecans, butter and flour that you pat into the sheet pan and bake for about 10 to 20 minutes to make your tasty crust.  Set aside to cool.

To make your filling you combine the cream cheese and powdered sugar together and when that is well combined you add in the whipped topping, pouring it into the cooled crust.

After the blueberry topping has cooled then pour over the cream cheese-powdered sugar-whipping topping mixture.  Now set the sheet pan of blueberry goodness into the fridge to chill well.  Serve to screams of total delight!

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19 August 2015

Summer Food: Cream Cheese Pastry Blueberry-Apple Cobbler and Traditional Blueberry Cobbler

Advocate staff photo by HEATHER MCCLELLAND --  Good Blueberry Cobbler
        The Advocate photo: HEATHER MCCLELLAND 

From Denny:  Blueberries.  The awesome blue food we all love.  So, I went hunting for something interesting in the cobbler department for us this week.  The first recipe is from our local newspaper, a blueberry cobbler made with a cream cheese pastry and a filling that consists of a combination of blueberries, apple and lemon.  A cream cheese pastry always tastes great with a fruit filling, especially blueberries!  It's a simple and straightforward pastry recipe with flour, salt and butter but also with cream cheese and a bit of orange juice added to the pastry to spike up the flavor.

The filling calls for fresh blueberries, an apple and lemon juice and lemon zest.  While this recipe calls for sugar I often substitute brown rice syrup or agave syrup in its place for a lower glycemic index than refined white sugar.  Try it half sugar and half agave as an idea, whatever you like at your house, just try experimenting until you find that sweet spot Goldilocks zone for your taste buds!

The second recipe is a traditional blueberry cobbler made in a 9-inch square baking pan like you do for brownies and is from a local Louisiana blueberry grower.  When a recipe calls for margarine, well, I'm no fan of margarine, so I use clarified butter.  If you don't have the time to make your own clarified butter it's now available in grocery stores as I saw a jar in Trader Joe's just last week.

Also note that I use "Tablespoon" and "teaspoon" as an easier read so you don't get confused by small type - by writing it out instead of an abbreviation and also capitalizing Tablespoon.  There have been those moments when I was busy and scan read a recipe only to make a mistake with too much or too little of an ingredient so I changed all my recipes to reflect what I do here on my food blogs.  The whole point is to enjoy a good food experience!

Oh, and the Denny Lyon Gifts ads are from my Cafe Press store.  The profits go to my two favorite charities:  the Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank that feeds half of Louisiana and St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital that has helped thousands of children on the Gulf Coast.  After all, should anyone go hungry in America?  Should any parent have to emotionally stress and experience financial ruin because their child got sick?  Thank you to those of you supporting my gift store effort!...

Maggie Name Dog Tags

Human or pet Ms. Maggie deserves her own personalized jewelry too!
Loads of other products and names available so check back often as new ones added.

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Maggie Name Woven Throw Pillow

Human or pet Ms. Maggie is in the house and deserves her own special pillow!
Loads of other products and names available so check back often as new ones added.

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17 August 2015

Summer Food: Deliciously Easy Small Blueberry Cake

Advocate staff photo by HEATHER MCCLELLAND --  Small Blueberry Cake
                                                                         Photo: The Advocate/HEATHER MCCLELLAND


From Denny:  This is an easy to assemble cake, practically a dump cake after you add together the dry ingredients and milk.  You pour the melted butter over the batter without stirring and layer loads of blueberries on top and then bake to get this marbling effect.

Make sure you are using aluminum free baking powder, an easy find at most grocery stores these days and always at health food stores like Trader Joe's.  You could also substitute agave syrup for the white sugar to lower the glycemic index.  I'm considering trying it with brown rice syrup to see how it performs so I'll let you know later how that turns out.  (First we have to finish off my experiment with a rice pudding recipe that came out quite well.)

While this recipe calls for Louisiana blueberries there are plenty of other blueberry growers with very delicious berries in Texas, Mississippi and California and other states too.  Since blueberries have grown in popularity more farmers have turned to growing them.  Get what is local to you so the berries will be fresh.  Buy USA berries which supports workers and farmers in America.

This is a small pan cake (9" x 9") so it is suitable for just a snack for a few friends or a couple of people who regularly cook for two - with leftovers.  Oh, that's too bad, you mean there might be more to enjoy for breakfast?  This would be wonderful at tea time or a coffee break snack at the office or home as this little cake will travel well for picnics and gatherings too.  It would even taste great chilled for the hot summer weather.  Blueberries are awesome and healthy!

Oh, and a big thank you to those of you supporting Denny Lyon Gifts by purchasing products like aprons, t-shirts, pillows, bedding and mugs.  My profits (paid by Cafe Press) go to the Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank here in Louisiana that basically feeds half of the state and also to St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital, two of my favorite charities that help a lot of children.  Who should go hungry in America?  Who should experience financial ruin because your child gets sick?  So, I started up my small store at Cafe Press for some creative fun of designing and to give to these charities.  So, again, thank you for your support.  You guys rock!...

Lucy Name Mug

Is your fav person, dog or cat named Lucy? Check out fun products for her! "Lucy is in the house!" Loads of other names available so check back often as new ones added.
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Lucy Name Canvas Lunch Tote

Lucy - whether human or beloved pet - deserves her own special tote for her yummy treats!
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