Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Say Cheese! (cake)

One of my new year's goals is to waste less food.  I have trouble keeping track of what is in the back of my refrigerator sometimes, or in the back of the produce drawer.  I am also really bad at writing a menu plan for the week.   I have tried and tried and always deviate from my plan or forget it all together by Tuesday or Wednesday...   This leads to a lot of wasted food, and I'm not proud of that.  I read that the average American household wastes close to $600 in food a year, and I would like to work this year at coming in way below that!!

In that vein - when I was thinking about what goodies to serve for the knitting ladies I hosted on Monday, I stopped to check my pantry and my refrigerator first, before going shopping.

Another thing that is difficult for me to do is just to stop "going" for a minute, and assess a situation before heading (rushing) along down a path.  So I tend to buy more food than we need because instead of remembering to check the pantry in the morning, I just pop into the grocery store on my way home from work and end up buying things twice.  So I'm trying to SLOW DOWN and TAKE NOTICE in an effort to save my money, and my time.

So when I took an inventory of our kitchen Sunday, I realized I had everything we needed to make little cranberry cheesecake tarts...  no shopping trip necessary.  :)

And I showed some resourcefulness that is new for me by not panicking when I found we were completely out of graham crackers for the crust... I just kept looking in the pantry, kept standing there until my eyes fell on a half-full bag of chocolate creme cookies that the kids opened and decided they didn't like - WAY up there on that top shelf.  A perfect crust!

So if you have what you need in YOUR pantry to make these - please do!  They were delicious.  If not - you can look about in your kitchen and share with me if you make something delicious with what you already have!  Bonus points if you "rescue" something from certain peril (ahem -that last bag of cranberries still in your produce drawer) or adapt a recipe "on the fly" and substitute something you have on hand for something you don't.   Plus - if you're getting the snow that we are today, you wouldn't want to run out to the store anyway right now - would you?

-- Cranberry Cheesecake Tarts -- 

ingredients:  1 1/2 cups cranberries
1/2 cup sugar
3 tbsp water
12 - 15 chocolate creme cookies
3 tbsp butter - melted
16 oz. cream cheese - room temperature (!!)
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
pinch of salt
2 large eggs - room temperature

Step 1:  Preheat your oven to 325 degrees.  Place the cranberries, 1/2 cup sugar and 3 tbsp. water in saucepan and heat on medium heat until the cranberries "pop" (2 - 3 minutes)

Step 2: Puree the cranberries in a food processor until smooth and set aside.

Step 3:  Pulse the cookies in your food processor, and then stir in the melted butter until crumbly.

Step 4:  Press about a teaspoon into the bottom of 24 mini tarts (I had enough left over to make 6 large muffin tarts too) and bake for 5 minutes until set.  Let them cool on a rack.

Step 5:  In electric mixer, beat 16 oz. cream cheese on medium speed until fluffy.  Make sure the cream cheese is room temperature first.   Keep the mixer running, and add 1 cup of sugar in slow stream.  Add 1 tsp vanilla and pinch of salt.  Next add eggs, one at a time, and mix just until eggs are incorporated.  

Step 6:  Spoon large tablespoons of cream cheese mixture onto chocolate crusts.  With teaspoon add small dollops of your cranberry mix to the top and swirl.

(mine are sort of messy)

Step 7:  Bake for 20 - 23 minutes, and cool in tins for 10 minutes.  Transfer to wire rack to complete cool.  Refrigerate for 4 - 6 hours before eating.

Every house needs a bit of cheesecake!


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