I made this cheesecake for “National Brownie Day”. Brownies are a favorite dessert for my husband, but I wanted to put a fancy spin on his favorite.
1 package of (dry mix) Dark Chocolate Brown mix
2 eggs (for brownie parts)
4 – 6 tablespoons of water (for brownie parts)
1 (14 ounce) Package of Individually wrapped caramels – unwrapped (salted caramels if you can find them are best)
1 (5 ounce can) evaporated milk
2 (8 ounce) packages of cream cheese softened
1/2 cup of white sugar
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
2 eggs (for cheesecake)
1 cup of Hot Fudge Sundae topping
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Cut out parchment paper to fit the bottom of your 9″ round spring pan. I cut mine to where the sides when clipped will hold the parchment paper in place.
Grease the bottom of a pie pan.
In a small bowl mix together 9 ounces of the dry brown mix with 1 egg and starting with 2 tablespoons of water, until the brown mix is a thick pourable mixture.
Pour the mixture into your spring pan, this creates the “crust” of your cheese cake.
Mix the remaining brownie mixture 1 egg and starting with 2 tablespoons of water, until the brown mix is a thick pourable mixture.
Pour THIS brownie mixture into the greased pie pan. This creates the brownie bites for the top of the cheesecake.
Bake Brownie pans for 25 min. The brownie in the pie pan will cook faster if you have a large pie pan, you want it firm but not crunchy.
Melt the caramels with the evaporated milk over a very low heat in a heavy saucepan. Stir constantly until the mixture has a smooth consistency.
While the brownie “bottom” is cooling, pour all but 1/3 cup of the carmel over the brownie “bottom”.
Drizzle some of the hot fudge sundae topping over the caramel.
In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese, sugar and vanilla with an electric mixture until smooth. Add in your 2 eggs 1 at a time. Beat well after each egg until well mixed.
Pour the cream cheese mixture over the brownie bottom.
Tear off pieces of brownie from your pie pan sheet of brownies, or use a tiny round cutter if you want perfect brownie rounds. Scatter them over the top of your cheese cake, as little or as much as you like.
Bake the cheesecake for 40 minutes. You should notice a “poof” effect when it is done and the top is golden and should have small “cracks”, not big separations.
Quick chill in the pan as soon as it comes out of the oven.
When the cake is thoroughly chilled, loosen the sides by running a knife around the edge and then remove the rim of the pan. Keep in mind, your caramel may be holding on tightly to the rim, edge your knife in carefully to not destroy the outside presentation of the cake.
Heat the reserved caramel mixture and drizzle over the cheesecake.
Heat the hot fudge sundae topping and drizzle over the cheesecake.
I have found that the cake tastes best a day after sitting, the caramel seems to soak into the brownie and the cheesecake more, however, waiting is torture.
I hope you enjoy this recipe. I have used this to make several combinations, such as a lemon cake crust with lemon sugar and lemon twists, or adding Rum Dark Cherries in between the dark chocolate brownie crust to have almost a black forest cheesecake. Your only limitation is your imagination.
With summer arriving in full heat, so do the cucumbers. Who doesn’t love a crisp dill pickle? Not to many people make brine or “crock” pickles anymore because they not only take several weeks to make, but many people today do not understand that the “stuff” that comes to the top, is good bacteria and is needed for the fermentation process of the pickle. There are good bacteria and bad bacteria, the good is what is needed and creates a film to help ferment your pickles to perfection. Fermentation also has a “smell” to it. Not a rotten smell, but just an odor. Old fashioned crock pickles are cured by fermentation and the scum and the odor is the fermentation agent. It takes 3 weeks (or longer, I prefer about 6 weeks) in cooler temperatures to complete the process of fermentation. During that process your pickles will go from a bright green to an olive or yellow green color. Do NOT have your crock or fermentation “jar” in a warm area, it should be below 75 degrees F. We utilize our pantry which is in our basement for all fermentation’s as well as our canned and dry goods.
You can keep them in the crock with the salt brine all winter or you can preserve them by canning them. I prefer to can mine. I water bath my pickles, well if they last that long anyway.
For my pickles, I use a 1 gallon fermentation “jar” with weights. The lid has a hole in it (my husband did this in the correct sized “lid” in which the fermentation “vent” sits nicely into. You can also use an old fashioned crock with weights and a cover.
You can not make crock pickles from store bought cucumbers!!! Please read that out loud. YOU CAN NOT MAKE CROCK PICKLES FROM STORE BOUGHT CUCUMBERS!!! Why? Because store bought is coated with a wax film to keep them looking pretty longer. You must use strait from the garden fresh cucumbers. No bigger than 4 inches long and make sure they are “skinny”. Not too fat so the texture is good, you want young, bright smaller cucumbers.
You will need 5 lbs of cucumbers that have been washed and have any dirt and blossom and stems removed. Do not peel or slice.
Since I have 1 gallon fermentation jars, I make 5 lbs at a time of crock pickles. So this is the recipe for 1 gallon of fermentation dill pickles.
5 lbs of small cucumbers, washed
8 cups of water
5 fresh heads of dill (flower)
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and slightly crushed
2 dried bird chilies (this is optional)
1 tablespoon of mustard seed
1 tsp of peppercorns (optional)
1/2 cup of PICKLING salt (DO NOT USE SEA SALT, TABLE SALT OR IODIZED SALT!)
1/4 cup of white vinegar
In your crock or jar (make sure it is clean). Add a layer of 2 dill flowers, 1 chili, garlic, mustard seed, peppercorns.
Add in your cucumbers layering them as tightly as possible.
Add in your remaining dill “flowers” then a couple cucumbers to hold them down.
Heat your water, vinegar and salt until it is hot, just under a boil and the salt is dissolved.
Pour your mixture over your cucumbers and spices. There should be enough to cover your cucumbers but not completely fill your crock or jar.
Add a plate or fermentation “topping” over your pickles, then the weights on top of the covering to hold everything down well below the top of the brine.
Your cucumbers must always be below your brine, safely submerged at least 2 inches below the brine. You may have to add salt, vinegar water to your brine if evaporation happens during your process.
I add a fermentation lid and vent to mine, to cut down on the evaporation. You can also use a cloth over the top.
Now we move our crock to a cool place, I use my pantry and wait. I check on my crock about once every 3 days to make sure the brine level is up and there is nothing “funky” happening. Your pickles are ready in 3 weeks, I like to wait a little longer. You can transport them in half gallon jars with the dill brine and keep in the refrigerator or you can preserve them in pints/quarts using the water bath method for pickles.
One of my favorite jam is Strawberry Rhubarb. It just screams summer. A little on a hot buttered sour dough biscuit is heaven!
Here is my recipe for a very simple, basic Strawberry Rhubarb Jam.
4 cups of fresh rhubarb, diced. Make sure it is blushed (it has some red/pink color)
4 cups of fresh strawberries diced (remove the caps)
4 cups of sugar
1.75 ounces of low sugar pectin
2 tablespoons of lemon juice
Make sure your rhubarb is diced small, add to a large pot.
Cap and dice your strawberries, add to the same large pot.
Add in your lemon juice and heat the mixture until the fruit becomes soft.
Mix your sugar and pectin to in a bowl, then add the mixture to your fruit 1 cup at a time. Constantly mixing until all the sugar and pectin is in the fruit.
Move your heat to high, constantly stirring.
You can use a candy thermometer if you like, your key temperature is 200. But you can also just use your eyes
When it reaches a rolling boil and starts to foam, add in a quick pat of real butter (DO NOT USE FAKE BUTTER, YUCKY!!!!) The butter tones down the foam.
Keep on a high rolling boil and stir constantly for approximately 3 minutes.
Take off the heat.
Now I do a freezer test. I have a small glass cup and a metal spoon and I put a wee bit of jam on the spoon and stick it in the freezer to fast cool. Once the cup is cool, your jam should be the consistency it will be when it is “set”. I’m picky with Strawberry Rhubarb, I don’t like a hard set or even a medium set I like it to spread like warm butter. But if you want a firmer set than what you have, put back on the heat and bring to a full boil again for another 2 min. repeat test until you have received the firmness you like.
This recipe makes about 8 half-pints of jam.
Have your jars sterilized and ready to go with their lids and rings ready. (I’m assuming you’ve water bath canned before here….)
Fill your jars up to about 1/2 inch from the top with hot jam.
Wipe the lips of your jars with a wet cloth to make sure you don’t have anything on the tops where the lids need to seal.
Place your prepared lids on the jars, and sorta tightly screw on your rings.
Place in your water bath or steam canner.
Once your canner comes to a full boil, start timing at 15 minutes.
After 15 min, remove canner from heat.
CAREFULLY!!!!!!! Remove your lid and once by one remove your jars.
Place your jars on a protective covering (I use a double towel) in an area that you do not need to bother the jars for 24 hours.
When you hear the “pops” they are sealed. If you have a jar that did not seal, put it in the fridge, it will be gone quickly.
Now all there is to do is enjoy the sweet gift of summer!!!!!
Yes, you read that correctly. Beef Tongue. Beef Tongue is an excellent cut of beef, despite what you may think. It is however, very high in fat, so have sparingly. Most people have heard of Beef Tongue Sandwiches which are made from an almost “pickled” version of beef tongue and are sliced and served cold. I love these too, my best friend’s grandma used to make the absolute best Beef Tongue sandwiches.
However, my husband’s very favorite recipe is one my Grandmama taught me to make. Beef Tongue Stroganoff. When you slow cook (I use a crock-pot) beef tongue it becomes such a soft and wonderful shredded beef, only to be compared to beef cheek meat. My husband refers to it as “beef butter”.
I do hope you enjoy this recipe.
Ingredients and utensils needed:
1 Beef Tongue (washed, do not skin)
3 bay leaves
A pinch of salt
tsp of chipotle pepper flakes (you expected that by now right?)
1 lb of fresh mushrooms
1 large onion sliced in half rings
2 cups of Greek plain yogurt (or sour cream, I use yogurt to cut down on fat)
3 – 4 cloves of garlic diced
1 tbsp of cornstarch
1 large crock-pot
a thick butcher grade knife
Wash your beef tongue. I know there is probably a joke here, but we won’t go there.
Rub & coat with a pinch of salt & corn starch and place in the crock-pot. Place about 3 tablespoons of water in the crock-pot.
Sprinkle the chipotle pepper flakes over the tongue.
Put your bay leaves over the tongue.
Set the temperature to Medium and let cook all day. Yes, ALL DAY.
At the end of the day, remove from the crock pot and let cool on a cutting board.
Skin the tongue. I slice down the middle just enough to cut through the outer skin, and pull the skin back.
The tip of the tongue has it’s own “texture”. Personally its the prize for me and I keep it separate to enjoy on a piece of toast.
TAKE OUT THE BAY LEAVES. My husband ALWAYS ends up with a piece of Bay Leaf. Make sure you get all the pieces out.
Shred the meat of the tongue and place back in the crock-pot.
In a frying pan, saute your onions, garlic until the onions are “limp”.
Add in your mushrooms and saute until they are cooked but still firm.
Pour over your meat in the crock-pot.
Set the crock-pot temperature to warm.
Add in your Greek Yogurt (sour cream) and stir together with all of the other ingredients.
You should not have to add any moisture, but if you do, only add 1 tablespoon of water at a time. Remember the tongue is full of fat and should have created a nice thick broth while cooking.
Stir off and on while you prepare your noodles, rice or potatoes that you will be serving with your stroganoff.
Keep a watchful eye on your crock pot and stir often. This will prevent any clumping or “curdling” of the yogurt/sour cream.
Serve over noodles, rice or potatoes and enjoy!
I hope you enjoy this very basic recipe. It also heats up great for left overs!
Nothing says home like an old fashioned cobbler. They are quick to make and are eaten even faster! The perfect dessert for a gathering or family. Served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream while still warm and you will melt!
4 cups of mixed berries. I enjoy Raspberries, blueberries and black berries. However, you can mix this up as you like.
1 cup of raw honey
1/2 cup of sugar
2 tablespoons of corn starch
In a very large bowl, mix your berries (with your hands) with the sugar and the corn starch.
Once the berries are well coated, add in your honey. Using a large wooden spoon, fold the berries so the honey coats well.
Pour into a large casserole pan.
Pie Crust Top:
This is a very basic pie crust, and my husband says he prefers a “drop crust” which to me is not a cobbler, but to each his own. A drop crust is like sweet drop dumplings, which I am not going to cover here.
1 1/4 cups of lard
3 cups of flour
1 tbsp of sugar
a pinch of salt
1 to 2 tbsp of water
In a large bowl add your flower, sugar and salt.
Add in your lard and “cut” into the flour mixture (I use two butter knives to cut) until there are “marble sized” balls.
Finish mixing with your hands, adding in the water if need be. You do not want your dough too dry or too wet.
Using parchment paper, sprinkle some flour on the bottom parchment paper add the ball of dough, a dusting of flour on the top and the top parchment paper.
Use a rolling pen to to roll until thin and wide and long enough to cover your casserole dish corner to corner on the inside (not over the edges).
Add the dough to the top of your fruit.
Cut slits or designs into the top of your crust so the juices can nicely escape and not cause an overflow on the edges.
Sprinkle the crust with a light dusting of sugar.
Bake at 350 degrees for one hour or until the crust has a pretty golden glow to it.
Serve hot or cold. Warm with vanilla ice cream is my ultimate favorite.
One of the most basic garden vegetables are tomatoes, cherry or normal size. Its how many people get hooked on growing their own food. One reason is because they are so prolific and easy to grow. Note, Prolific! Cherry, grape, salad tomatoes especially will create a ton of tomatoes during a season. While in February as you long for the taste of a fresh, real, non-store bought tomato, by September you never want to eat one again. Yet, they still continue to cover your plants! What to do with all of them.
Unless you pickle the cherry tomatoes, you will have to find many friends to pawn them off on, they are too much trouble to can, in my opinion. If you have larger tomatoes and don’t can, you will be in this same boat. I don’t like to freeze tomatoes, they take up too much room and it is a messy processes. What I like to do is dehydrate them and turn them into powder. Yes, you read that right.
Powdered tomatoes are perfect for a vegetable thickener in sauce and pasta dishes as well as a base vegetable bullion for soups and stews. The best thing is that 5 pounds of tomatoes can fit into a half-pint jar! Space! I really like this for my cherry tomatoes because the prep goes so fast, they add up fast and nothing is left to waste.
Here are the directions.
Wash your tomatoes.
Cut out any blemishes and stem area.
Slice thin and place on your dehydrator rack (or on a cookie sheet with parchment paper if you are going to use your oven).
Make sure they are not overlapping. Tomatoes contain a lot of water.
I place my dehydrator on medium heat and this takes about 7 hours. If you are using your oven, use the lowest heat and crack the door open to dry your slices.
Dry until they are completely crispy with NO MOISTURE.
You can leave in this state if you want to vacuum seal at this stage and use like sun dried tomatoes as well. I have one friend that will use vinegar and oil and put the in the refrigerator to use in salads. I prefer not to utilize refrigerator space in that way. This state also makes a wonderful sun dried tomato salad dressing.
Place your ‘chips’ in a grinder and grind until a powder.
You can also add dehydrated garlic, onion, peppers, pretty much anything you want at this stage and grind all together to make sure its well mixed. This would make a lovely stock base.
Next transfer into an airtight container that is resistant to air and to moisture. I prefer to vac-seal my jars with the exception of one that I will use often and that one will be put in my spice cabinet.
This powder has so many uses. My favorite way is to add a little tomato flavor and a thickener to dishes without all the water content. It works great as an alternative to a small amount of tomato paste as well.