Sunday, January 30, 2011

The infamous girls camp cheesecake


You may recall I was quite smitten with this cheesecake my bishop's wife brought for dessert one night at girls camp last summer. I got the recipe from her and have been meaning to make it for a long time. At the time I remembered thinking it was the best cheesecake I had ever eaten and I couldn't wait to eat it again. I kept putting it off because I was afraid if I made it for just my family, I would end up eating WAY too much of it on my own, gaining 15 pounds in a week, and giving birth to a 20-pound baby. Well last weekend my sister invited my cousin's family and our family over for dinner and I figured it was as good of an opportunity as any to try it.

I was not disappointed. It turned out awesome and tasted just as good as I remembered. I figure a recipe this good must be shared! It may seem like a lot of steps, but it is worth it, I promise. If you are a cheesecake fan, make this!

Vanilla bean cheesecake:

Ingredients

1/2 cups finely crushed graham crackers

11/4 cups sugar, divided

1/2 cup butter, melted

1 cup butter, softened

1 egg yolk, beaten

3/4 teaspoon vanilla, divided

16 ounces cream cheese, softened

1 cup sour cream

2 tablespoons cornstarch (or 3 T flour)

2 vanilla pods, beans removed, divided

2 cups whipping cream

3 tablespoons powdered sugar

4 ounces one-third less fat reduced-fat cream cheese, softened

4 ounces white chocolate baking squares, melted and cooled to room temperature

Directions

1. Line a 9-inch springform pan with foil and spray lightly with cooking spray.

2. Mix the graham crackers with 1/4 C sugar.

3. Add the egg yolk, 1/4 t. vanilla, and melted butter, in that order.

4. Press mixture into the bottom of the pan, and bake for 8 minutes (or until edges are slightly brown). Remove and let cool.

5. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

6. Combine cream cheese, sour cream, cornstarch, and 1 C sugar, mixing until sugar dissolves. Add butter, 1/2 t vanilla, and beans from one vanilla pod, blend until smooth. Spread on crust.

7. Bake 30-35 minutes, cool 1 hour. (I baked mine an extra 5-8 minutes because I could tell it was still not firm enough. You do still want it to jiggle when you take it out though because it will set as it cools.)

8. In a cold mixing bowl, beat 1 C cream until soft peaks form. Add 2 T powdered sugar, and continue beating. Place in another bowl in fridge. Without washing first bowl, beat the 1/3 less fat cream cheese in it, until fluffy. Add the white chocolate, and beat until smooth. Fold in the whipped cream from fridge (I ended up having to beat the whipped cream in to make it smooth); place back in fridge.

9. In another cold bowl, beat 1 C whipping cream until soft peaks form. Add 1 T powdered sugar, and beans from one vanilla pod beating until stiff peaks form.

10. Spread mousse evenly on top (cream cheese/white chocolate mixture). Refrigerate for an hour, then spread whipped cream on top. Refrigerate several hours before serving. Optional: shave white chocolate over the top just before serving.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Bountiful Baskets

I have heard a lot of good things about Bountiful Baskets and this week I finally decided to give it a try. If you don't know what I am talking about, it is a food co-op for produce. You sign up online on Monday and pick up your produce Saturday morning at whichever location you chose. I think it is available in several states now. The cost is $15 and you don't know ahead of time what you will be getting in your "basket." I had heard you get quite a bit of stuff and some people like to split it with a friend.

I was pretty excited and didn't really know what to expect. Here is what we got:

I was SO happy with everything! And I thought it was really fun being surprised!

We got: 1 lb. asparagus, 8 pears, 8 Roma tomatoes, 2 crowns broccoli, 1 pineapple, 3 grapefruit, 9 lemons, 10 bananas, green leaf lettuce, purple kale, 6 Fuji apples, and 6 anaheim peppers.

Pretty good for $15! Especially considering the price of asparagus right now. I am happy because the quality is great and we will use all of it! It is a lot of stuff for a family of three, but I think signing up every other week will be about perfect for us.

Anyway, I thought it was pretty cool and thought I'd pass the info along. Here's the Web site if interested: http://www4.bountifulbaskets.org/?page_id=233

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Green Smoothies

We had a church activity awhile back where my friend Jessica demonstrated how to make green smoothies. I had never heard of putting things like spinach, kale, collard greens, or swiss chard in a smoothie and I was VERY skeptical. When I tasted it I was completely surprised! It just tasted like a yummy fruit smoothie and I couldn't even taste the greens.

I was really excited because Jackson loves smoothies and I was hoping I could get him to drink this. He is in a phase where he pretty much avoids all vegetables. I crossed my fingers and let him pull up a chair and help me put everything in the blender. Guess what...

He LOVES green smoothies!

I feel so sly and giddy thinking about all of those greens he is sucking down!

There are a lot of different "recipes" out there for green smoothies and we have tried adding several different kinds of fruits to ours with good results. We usually include spinach, kale, banana, frozen peaches, frozen blueberries, agave, and ice. This recipe is a good place to start if you are interested in giving it a go! Oh, and you don't need a $400 blender... I have just a regular blender and it works fine.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Childproof? Hardly.

Pretty awesome yesterday to find my son and his friend had not only found my hidden prenatal vitamins but had also somehow managed to remove the childproof cap. This all happened in the space of about three minutes. After frantically counting the pills I realized 5 were missing. Then, after closer observation I see both boys have residue from the pills on their faces. Fantastic. Called Poison Control right away and after telling them the ages and weights of the boys and the amount of iron in each pill, the nice man on the other line promised me that everything was ok. He told me that even if only one of the boys had eaten all five pills it still would not be enough to harm him. I gave him the iron figures seriously 4 or 5 times to make absolutely certain. Needless to say it was a tense few minutes! And OF COURSE this happened while I was babysitting someone else's child! I felt like a complete idiot calling the parents to explain. It was just that kind of day. Lessons learned: I need a better hiding place, eyes in the back of my head, and childproof caps are NOT childproof!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Last first day of school-- for real!

Welcome to the FINAL semester! On the home stretch! Woot woot!!!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

TWO!!!

Jackson turned two yesterday! His birthday was 1/1/11 this year-- pretty cool!

We started the day off with his favorite breakfast-- Mickey Mouse pancakes drenched in syrup. This kid LOVES syrup.
Next, Jackson got to spend some time with his dad picking out an R/C car for a birthday present. When Sean told him they were going to go pick out a new car, Jackson kept saying, "two cars!" He was pretty excited about the number two I think because we kept emphasizing it all day. Needless to say, they came home with two cars- the R/C car and a small monster truck. They ended up picking out this Jeep and Jackson loves driving it around the house and jumping it off of the binder:
video

Next it was off to Kangaroo Zoo (another of his favorites) with his cousins. They jumped to their hearts' content!

Max and Jackson climbing the ladder to the big slide:

video

After heading home it was time for a pizza and presents!

Opening his gift from grandma and grandpa:
A gift from mom and dad:
And from nana and papa:
He got lots of great new toys and genuinely seems to love them all. I think between Christmas and his birthday he should be set!

Finally it was time for cake. It had been a long time since I'd decorated one so I decided to take a shot at Mickey. Mickey and Pooh are in a close tie for first place in Jackson's mind, but Mickey won out because I thought he'd be cuter on a cake.
I was pleasantly surprised with how it turned out. Don't let the cake fool you though-- it may look nice and flat, but that is only because there is a good 2" of frosting in the center making it level... I tried a new homemade cake recipe and let's just say those cakes were definitely not winning any beauty contests!

Time to sing!
Blowing out the candles with a little help from mom.
It really was such a fun day and we had a great time together. Jackson seemed to have a blast all day, which was ultimately all we wanted. We are so grateful for this little guy! He has blessed our home in countless ways and we feel so lucky to be his parents. We love his enthusiasm and loving nature and wouldn't change a thing about him!

For memory sake-- some notes about Jackson at two years old:
-Wears mostly 3T clothing and size 7 shoe
-Very vocal and is speaking more in sentences--will repeat pretty much everything
-Favorite t.v. shows: Little Einsteins, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse
-Favorite movies: Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, Monsters Inc., Princess and the Frog, Cars, Jungle Book
-Loves books and some favorite include: Mr. Brown Can Moo, Can You?, The Foot Book, Mickey Mouse and Winnie the Pooh books
-Still loves any type of ball, car and airplane
-Has an almost scary good memory and recalls things he has only seen once or hasn't seen for months
-Likes counting and is close to being able to count to 10 correctly
-Favorite songs: the bumble bee song, Twinkle, Twinkle (Winkle, Winkle as he calls it), Popcorn Popping
-Not a fan of vegetables but loves pretty much all fruit
-Always eats a good breakfast and lunch but usually picks at his dinner
-Takes a nap from 1 to 3 or 4pm every day
-Goes to bed at 9pm and wakes up between 8-9am
-Loves swimming and the Lehi Legacy Center Pool (especially loves talking about the big water bucket that splashes)
-Likes to name his friends and cousins
-Has to put his nose in the corner when he is naughty but seems to enjoy doing it
-Pretty good about saying "please" and "thank you." On the flipside, still laughs when he passes gas ;)
-Likes to see what I am doing in the kitchen and will pull up a chair and help me
-Hates climbing up the stairs at just our house for some reason
-Calls gummy bears "donkey bears"
-Likes riding his tricycle (scoots on it)
-Loves all of his stuffed animals (all of which have names) and likes to throw them in his crib and tell them "night, night"
-Hates having his teeth brushed and hair combed through
-Is scared of going to the doctor. As soon as you put him on the table he goes crazy!
-Still loves bath time
-Enjoys nursery now!
-Loves to jump-- on trampolines, on the floor, off of furniture, etc.

All in all, we think he is a pretty cool kid :)