Sunday, March 31, 2013

Mini Key Lime Cheesecakes

I found this recipe via this pin on Pinterest. That pinner got it from here, and it's important to note, because the two recipes vary in that one calls for beaten egg yolks, and the other calls for beaten egg whites. (I chose whites, since I figured they're healthier than yolks, and we all know this recipe is otherwise healthy, right?haha)


Since Mr.4444 cannot come home from the store with just one of what I ask for, I decided to double the recipe! Here follows the list of ingredients for a single batch:

1 1/2 cups crushed graham crackers (about 18 squares)
3/4 cups lime juice (Key Lime is preferred, but I don't know the difference, and it doesn't matter)
1/2 cup butter (originals called for 3/4 cup, but that was wayyyy too much, as you will see later)
3 egg whites, beaten
2 cans sweetened condensed milk
1/3 cup plain Greek yogurt
3 Tbls. sugar
1 Tbls. lime zest

By the way, you should be able to get 3/4 cups of lime juice out of 4 or 5 limes.

First, crush the graham crackers inside a baggy, like so:

Then add the melted butter. Use your judgement about how much to use; the recipe called for 3/4 cup, but it turned out to be way to much butter, as you'll see in a moment.

Put a couple of tablespoonsful of the crust mixture in cupcake liners and press them down with the bottom of a small drinking glass or measuring cup.

Bake for 8 minutes at 350 degrees and allow to cool while you prepare the rest.

While the crusts are baking wash your limes if you're fresh-squeezing them. Don't think that's necessary? Consider where the produce boy's hands have been, not to mention the customers who touched those limes before you did. (Yeah, I thought so!  You'll never not wash your produce again, will you?! You're welcome.)

Before squeezing lemons or limes, I always poke them with a fork and then microwave them for about 30-45 seconds to warm them up a little, which gets them to let their juice go easier.

Now, here's where I'm going to help you avoid making the same mistake I did--You are going to need lime zest, and I forgot that it's a lot easier to zest a lime before you squeeze it than after, so zest your limes before you nuke them, or you'll end up doing this (trying to hold the lime's shape while pressing it against the grater. (Note to self: Buy a lime/lemon zester.)

I'm told you can buy already-squeezed lime juice, but where would the fun be in that?!

By the way, for some reason, it took this many limes for me to get a tablespoon of zest: 

(Maybe I wasn't trying hard enough (I was a little worried about grating the skin off of my knuckles...) 

If you buy lime juice, you're not going to have zest, so keep that in mind. I'm sure it's not absolutely necessary, but it does add a little bit of color and texture. My subsequent lime-zest research revealed that you should be able to get a tablespoon of zest from two limes. (Go figure!)

Now prepare the cheesecake batter. I was confused about the "beaten egg whites," as the only time I've beaten egg whites was when they had to be beaten into a meringue, so I started to beat them in my Kitchenaid mixer, and by the time they were at a froth, I'd changed my mind and stopped. As a result, I ended up with enough for two pans of mini-cheesecakes and a pie! Next time, I will probably just beat the egg whites a little and see what happens.

Add the sweetened condensed milk, sugar, yogurt, and lime juice and zest to the egg whites.

Stir well and pour into the muffin tins. The recipe said to make them 3/4 full, but I had way too much batter to hold off, so here's what I did. (This is where you'll note evidence of how I know there was too much butter in the crust mixture.).

Bake 15 minutes. They're done when you can stick a knife in and pull it out without much on it. They shouldn't be brown or be cracked.

After they've cooled, serve with whipped cream and lime garnish (if you want to; I just used a little piece for the photo and had sent Mr.4444 to the store for the whipped cream, so it's not in this shot, but you get the idea.)

 I will definitely be making these again, as they have just the right amount of lime in them, 
and everyone here (and at work) loved them.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

"Best Muffin Ever!"

The name of this recipe is inspired by Mr.4444's declaration while eating one of these moist, somewhat-healthy muffins.

I really should call them "Everything But the Kitchen Sink Muffins," because that's what I added,

but the recipe on which I based this one is called Banana-Blueberry Buttermilk Bread. Regardless, these muffins are wonderful, so if you're looking for something yummy to make for breakfast, you've come to the right recipe! (They are also, apparently, delicious without my additions of chia seeds, flax seeds, pecans, and oatmeal, so don't feel like you can't make them without those.)

I always feel guilty throwing bananas away. Yes, I'm aware that they can be frozen, but I often do that and never use them. This morning, I decided to actually do something with the beautifully-ripe bananas on my counter.


1/4 cup chia seeds
1/4 cup flax seeds
1 cup white flour
1 1/4 cups wheat flour
1/2 cup oatmeal
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg

3/4 cup (plus a splash) low-fat buttermilk
1/4 cup (plus a splash) your favorite oil (I used grapeseed, because that's what I had.)
2 large eggs
3/4 cup packed brown sugar (I used Splenda brown sugar.)

1 1/4 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
3 large ripe bananas, mashed
1/2 cup chopped nuts (I used pecans, optional, of course.)

Whisk buttermilk, oil, eggs, and sugar in a large bowl. Add bananas.

Mix dry ingredients together.

and fold into banana mixture, just until blended. This is when I decided to throw the extra splashes of oil and buttermilk in; I knew I had added one and a half cups more of dry ingredients that weren't in the original recipe, so I felt it needed a little more moisture. If you leave the chia seeds, oatmeal, pecans or flax out, don't worry about the extra moisture.

Spoon into greased muffin tins; it'll all fit, like this:

and bake at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. 

Cool before eating 

or take your chances :)

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Dave's Spinach and Turkey Lasagna

Having made this for the first time, I'm considering changing the name to 23-Dish Lasagna, because that's how many I dirtied making this wonderful meal. Part of the reason is that Mr.4444 is always hounding me to to prep my ingredients first, and seeing how many ingredients this one had, I figured it was a good idea.

Before you start prepping, though, put a large pot of water on to boil for the pasta. You may also preheat the oven, though it'll be on for a while, as there's plenty of prepping to do with this recipe.

Ingredient snapshot:

Lasagna Noodles Sidebar: I've really been trying hard to avoid white flour, so I bought wheat lasagna noodles for the first time, but I was so apprehensive about it that I also bought the usual kind of noodles. I finally decided to use the wheat noodles for one row of the lasagna (three strips stacked atop each other). Mr.4444 begged me not to "wreck" the lasagna by doing that, but you know I never listen; I assured him that I would remember which side of the pan the wheat noodles were on and would serve him from the other side. Well, little did I know that all of the noodles would look the same after the lasagna was done, and I forgot which side had wheat noodles, but guess what? None of us noticed a taste or texture difference. And now, back to our show!

I found it helpful to prep the ingredients and separate them into two groups:

Sauce Ingredients (in order of use):

1 Tbls. olive oil
1 red pepper, chopped
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 1/2 lbs. Italian turkey sausage (I like Jennie-O, about 7 or 8 sausages)
2 tsps minced garlic
4 cups Prego Tomato and Basil spaghetti sauce*

Cheese/Spinach Mixture Ingredients:

3 cups mozarella cheese, divided
2 cups cottage or Ricotta cheese, drained (I forgot to drain my cottage cheese, but it was fine.)
1/2 cup grated Romano cheese
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
1/4 cup chopped parsley
2 egg whites
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

1 box Lasagna Noodles

Put the sauce ingredients near the stove, as you'll need them for the meat mixture:


Heat a large saute pan over medium-high heat and add the olive oil, peppers, and onions.

Saute about five minutes, "until the peppers begin to sweat." 
(I wasn't sure what that meant, so I just went with the clock!)
Add the turkey and garlic to the pan. 
Stir and cook about 10 minutes, til turkey is cooked through.

I drained the juice/grease off at this point.

Add the spaghetti sauce; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes. 

Remove from heat.

When the water is boiling, add the lasagna noodles. 
Cook for seven minutes or until they're al dente. Drain them. 
Dave suggested laying them flat on a greased cookie sheet, so I did that, 
and it worked out nicely, but I'm not sure it was necessary. 

While the meat sauce is cooking, mix the cheese/spinach stuff together, these first...
(but save half of the mozarella for the top of lasagna!)

and then add them to the spinach (use a large bowl) and mix well.

Okay! So now you're ready to assemble this thing! 
Congratulations for making it this far--It is a trip worth taking, so hang in there; 
yum is right around the corner!

For what it's worth, you will end up with about six cups of sauce.
Put one cup of sauce in the bottom of the pan.

Top with one layer of noodles, followed by a cup-and-a-half of sauce.

Then top that with half of the cheese/spinach mixture,

and repeat the noodles, sauce, cheese/spinach mixture again.
Top with the last layer of noodles and sauce.

 You'll want to make sure the noodles are covered with sauce, 
so use more from the jar if you need it.

Bake 45 minutes.
Top with the other half of the mozarella cheese
and bake for another 15 minutes.
Remove from oven and allow to set 10-15 minutes.
Serve with a salad featuring Dave's delicious Bleu Cheese Dressing!

I will definitely be making this again; it was a big hit!

*I bought two jars of sauce and used all of one and part of the other.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Dave's Bleu Cheese Salad Dressing

I have a memory of the only time I've ever ate bleu cheese on purpose in the last 50 years. In my childish innocence (and likely exuberance), I'd poured a generous amount on a lettuce salad and apparently didn't like it, because the rest of that memory includes me sitting alone at the diningroom table for what seems like hours, just me and that salad. I don't know how the story ended.

Ever since that day, I have avoided bleu-cheese anything. Last summer, though, I accidentally, unknowingly, bought blue cheese crumbles instead of feta cheese crumbles for our favorite salad.  Only after I had eaten my salad and proclaimed it "delicious, as usual!" did I realize my "mistake." Who knew that bleu cheese was actually palatable?! Dave Anderson did, apparently, as he shared this wonderful recipe in a family cookbook that was published years ago. Today, another cousin raved about it, so I bravely shed my childish fear and made a batch. Boy, am I glad I did; it's delicous!!

1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup real mayonnaise
3 dashes of Worcestchire sauce
3 dashes of Frank's Red Hot Sauce
3 dashes of garlic salt
4 ounces of bleu cheese crumbles

Shake all but the cheese in a dressing container. Stir in the cheese. Chill.

Serve over leafy greens and salad fixins of your choosing.

Chicken Divine Hotdish

Wow--This casserole from my cousin's wife, Karen, is so delicious! I'll leave it up to the dieters to healthy it up. As for my family, we generally eat healthy meals, so I'm fine with the occasional cholesterol-and-sodium bomb now and then. Besides, there's broccoli and chicken in this one, so it can't be all bad!

3-4 cups cooked chicken
3-4 bunches of broccoli, cooked to your liking (recipe called for two pkgs. frozen, but I used fresh)
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 can cram of chicken soup
3/4 cup real mayonnaise
1 tsp lemon juice
1 cup of grated cheddar cheese (Of course, I'm from Wisconsin; I used a little more.)
1 box of Stovetop Stuffing, prepared

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cook the chicken, broccoli, and stuffing. I had a bag of diced, grilled chicken pieces in the freezer from another meal, so that part was simple.  I cooked the broccoli for four minutes in the microwave, as we like our vegetables firm; it turned out perfectly in the long run.

Spread the cooked broccoli over the bottom of a glass cakepan. Sprinkle the diced chicken over that. Mix the soups, mayo, and lemon juice and pour over the chicken and broccoli. (Grind pepper over that if you like.) Top with cheese, and then the stuffing. Bake 30 minutes.