Archive | November, 2011

Life changing Pumpkin Cheesecake

21 Nov

I’m not kidding when I call it life changing.  I wouldn’t joke around about a thing like cheesecake.  If you’re like me, and let’s just go ahead and assume that you are, you love cheesecake but you’d never dare to make one.  I enjoy baking and cooking but the thought of making my very own cheesecake?  Well, that seemed impossible and perhaps a little crazy.  That is until now.

A week or two ago my momma, mamaw and sister came up to Chicago for a visit.  I made a proper Shabbat dinner.  We had brisket (more on that later), turnip greens and potatoes.  That was all fine and good.  Amazing actually.  That meal is probably the most grown up thing I’ve ever done other than pay my car payment on time.  No, the star of the evening was the pumpkin cheesecake.

I have always loved cheesecake.  It’s delicious and comes in just about every flavor that you could dream up.  I went with cheesecake for dessert for a couple different reasons.  Pumpkin cheesecake is amazing, nobody makes cheesecake and I needed a new dessert in my bag of tricks.  I mean when was the last time you had homemade cheesecake?  Mostly?  I figured that if I could pull this off I then could become the cheesecake king of Chicago.  They’re a lot easier to make than I had imagined and I’m not going to lie they’re delicious for breakfast.  Not to mention Thanksgiving is coming up and don’t you want to be the star of the show?  Of course you do.



1 3/4 cups graham cracker crumbs

3 tablespoons light brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 stick melted salted butter


3 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, at room temperature

1 (15-ounce) can pureed pumpkin

3 eggs plus 1 egg yolk

1/4 cup sour cream

1 1/2 cups sugar

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg

1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

2 tablespoon all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon vanilla extract


I don’t know about you but I just gained 3 pounds from just reading that list.  First preheat your oven to 350.  Then get your crust ingredients together.  In a medium-sized bowl,  combine crumbs, sugar and cinnamon. Add melted butter. Press down flat into a 9-inch springform pan. Set aside.  For the filling?  Beat cream cheese until smooth (you really should let it set out and come to room temperature so you can mix it easier). Add pumpkin puree, eggs, egg yolk, sour cream, sugar and the spices. Add flour and vanilla. Beat together until well combined.  Then pour into crust. Spread out evenly and place in oven for 1 hour. Remove from the oven and let sit for 15 minutes. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 4 hours.

I know that cheesecake causes all sorts of problems when you have it right after a big meat meal like Thanksgiving, but I’m not really eating meat these days…so it works out perfect.  If you’re looking for a reason to become vegetarian…I just gave it to you.  Pumpkin Cheesecake.  See?  I told you it was life changing.

A Thanksgiving Tip From My Mom

20 Nov

We are hosting our very first Thanksgiving this year and while most young couples are typically intimidated by this fete I think us observant/shabbat keepers are a little less intimidated.  I mean, heck, let’s keep it real—not 6 weeks ago I was cooking up 5 meals in 2 days for anywhere from 2 to 8 people to be served over 2 day when electricity can’t be used so a turkey in the mix is really not all that intimidating.  What is intimidating is trying to replicate my mom’s stuffing.  Oh sweet heaven, I love my mom’s stuffing.  It’s a perfect combination of 3-day old challah and sautéed onions, mushrooms and celery and shoved into a turkey’s hiney.  I don’t know how she does it but I hope to do it right.  First things first, I know I need to start drying out the challah NOW.  I have so many memories of mom’s kitchen being taken over by slices of drying challah.  If only I would have been paying attention to the process at the time instead of watching the Macy’s Day Parade (I love that parade).  But truly, as soon as you saw heaps of challah drying in the kitchen you knew magic was about to happen.  So now this Thanksgiving, I gotta bring the magic. Ok, so the stuffing has a few days to be posted but in the meantime, I wanted to post another delicious mom recipe that is perfect for your kosher Thanksgiving–garlic asparagus.  Easy though it sounds, there is a science to getting that asparagus just the right amount of garlic and, not to brag, but I think my mom’s got it down pat.

Cut Asparagus

Anyone can get the perfect garlicky asparagus once you understand the theory behind it, which is basically all about the soak.  Just soak those bad boys in ice-cold water and garlic for several hours.  First, cut the asparagus ends off at a diagonal.  Next, submerge the stalks in a deep dish that allows the stalks to soak evenly while lying flat.  Finally, add several chunks of garlic and shake a healthy portion of garlic powder in there as well.  You’ll hopefully start this process at least 6 hours before you plan on eating so that your stalks have a nice long garlic soak.  Once it’s time to cook, preheat the oven to 400, lay the asparagus out evenly on a baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil and some kosher salt and roast for 25 minutes.  Enjoy!

A Nice Garlic Soak

So now I ask you, dear reader who is hopefully someone else other than my mom, do you have a tip before I take on my first Thanksgiving?


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