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Tuesday, December 3, 2013

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Friday, September 27, 2013

Award Winning Family Cheesecake Recipe

Hi everyone!

I'm back with a new recipe to share!  It's definitely not a new recipe to me, it's been in my family for as long as I can remember.  It has won many contests and it's just the perfect plain cheesecake: not too sweet, dense but not heavy, and best of all, it's super easy to make!

Here is the recipe:

James Family Cheesecake
========================


Ingredients:

Crust:
2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup butter, melted

Batter:
3 packages (8 oz. each) of cream cheese, softened
2 eggs
1/4 cup milk
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
Pinch of salt

Topping:
1 cup sour cream
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 tsp. vanilla

Directions:

1. Combine graham cracker crumbs and melted butter.  Press firmly into a 9-inch spring form pan.  Set crust aside.  

2. Whip the cream cheese until fluffy.  Continue beating and add milk. Slowly add the eggs one at a time.  Beat in sugar, salt and vanilla. Mix thoroughly.  

3. Pour batter into prepared crust.  Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes or until set.  Cool for 10 minutes.  

4. While waiting for the cheesecake to cool, mix the topping ingredients: sour cream, sugar and vanilla.  Top the cheesecake with this mixture and return to the oven for 7 minutes.   


5. Cool completely and serve with optional raspberry sauce.

Raspberry Sauce
=====================

Sauce Ingredients:

2 pints of raspberries
1/4 cup evaporated cane sugar
1/2 tablespoon of lemon zest

Sauce Directions:

1. Combine all of the ingredients in a small saucepan and simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring and mashing the berries as it cooks. 

2. Cool before serving.  

Note: If you don’t like raspberry seeds, feel free to strain the sauce.  I personally like the seeds, so I usually leave them in. 




NOTE: For fall, it would be super easy to change to sauce from Raspberry to Apple-Cinnamon! =D

The next time I make this recipe I will take photos of the step-by-step process so you can see how truly easy it is!  

If you decide to try out this recipe, please let me know what you think in the comment section below!

Enjoy!
Mrs. Modern

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Not Just Any Chocolate Chip Cookies...

I decided to make this recipe for a friend who is allergic to almost all of the things that are in cookies: wheat, dairy, soy, and eggs.  It sucks.  So I found this recipe so that I could make it suck a little less. :)

Chocolate Chip Cookies
(gluten free, dairy free, soy free, egg free)



Ingredients:

3 cups blanched almond flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
2 whole eggs*
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips (I found a brand that is dairy/soy free)
1/2 cup coconut oil (organic/unrefined)

Directions:


Preheat oven to 375° F.
In a medium-sized mixing bowl combine all dry ingredients.
In a small mixing bowl beat eggs (or egg substitutes listed below), maple syrup, and vanilla extract with a fork.
Pour wet ingredients into dry and beat with a hand mixer or kitchen aid until combined.
Melt coconut oil, pour into batter, and continue to blend until combined.
Stir in chocolate chips.
On a parchment-lined baking sheet, drop tablespoon-size balls of cookie dough.
Bake for 15 minutes. (Because I changed the recipe and didn't use eggs, mine only took 10 minutes to bake.)  
Let cool and serve with coconut or almond milk. 


*The person I was making these for is allergic to eggs, so I used the following instead:
1/4 cup of “extra light tasting olive oil” (canola oil sometimes contains soy) = 1 egg 
1 Tbsp. cornstarch + 2 Tbsp. warm water = 1 egg 

Cook's Notes:

I think the next time I make these I might use double the corn starch instead of using the olive oil, which will help cut down on the calories and fat.

Also, I'm sure it would be possible to use a different flour, making the cookies nut free as well; however, I have not tried it with any other other gluten free flours (brown rice, coconut, etc.).  If you do try it with a different flour, let me know how it turns out! 

This is the brand of chocolate chips that I used:



Disclaimer: This is not an original recipe; it was adapted from a Paleo cookbook and multiple online sources.



Enjoy!

Mrs. Modern

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Gnocchi. It's Amazing.

I have always wanted to make gnocchi, but I have always intimidated by it because it looked complicated.  The other day I was watching one of my favorite online cooking shows, "Chow Ciao".  The host, Chef Fabio Viviani, made gnocchi and made it look SO easy.  Plus, it just so happened that I already had all of the ingredients that were needed, so I knew I just had to make it!!

I followed his recipe almost exactly, the only thing I did differently was I substituted some fresh parmesan for the blue cheese (I have an issue eating moldy, smelly cheese..lol).

Here is a link to the recipe: www.shine.yahoo.com/shine-food/date-night-fabios-romantic-italian-meal-194500976.html

Here are the pictures of what mine looked like:




Holy Mother.  It was AMAZING!

Seriously, he was right!  These little potato pasta things are so pillowy and soft, and the sauce is just, wow.  You really need to try this recipe!  You don't have to do sausage, you could easily make it with smaller pieces of broccoli and it would be amazing too.

I ended up just cooking enough gnocchi for 2 people and I froze the the uncooked ones for later (probably for tonight now that I'm drooling all over my computer just looking at these pictures! haha!)

Here are my suggestions now that I have made this recipe:

1. Make sure that the potatoes are thoroughly cooked and mashed really well... otherwise you will end up with little hard pieces that make the rolling process really difficult.  This is the problem I ran into and I had to put my dough into a blender before I could roll it! HUGE PAIN! haha!

2. Once your cheese is melted, take the bowl off of the pan so that the cheese doesn't boil/curdle.

3. While your cutting up the gnocchi, put some flour on a sheet pan and toss the ones you cut up on the pan while you finish cutting the rest.  This way they won't stick to each other and you can easily toss them into the water when you are ready.  Once you've put the ones you are cooking into the water, the pan with the extras can go right into the freezer (after they're frozen, just transfer them to a freezer bag).

4. As soon as my gnocchi started floating to the top of the water, I pulled them all out.  Don't leave them in or they will overcook.

5. Make sure that everything is ready (cheese, sausage, plates, parsley, etc) before you start to cook the gnocchi.  They literally only take about 3 minutes to cook.  I didn't anticipate them being done so fast so my cheese sauce wasn't completely melted, so I had to take out the gnocchi and put them in a separate bowl for a few minutes.  It turned out fine, but definitely have everything ready before you cook them!

That's it!  I hope you are inspired to go make this because it really is super easy!  
I think next time I'll try it with sweet potatoes!



Until next time,

Mrs. Modern


UPDATE 7/13/13: 

I made it with broccoli tonight, topped it with some fresh parm and red pepper flakes. Amazing.  I told you I couldn't wait to make it again! =D



Monday, March 4, 2013

I'm Still Alive!!!

I know, I know... I've been WAY off the grid since before Christmas!! Yikes, sorry!!  

Honestly, I had so many good intentions for writing these great blog posts about the holidays: crafts, DIY projects, you name it... but I just got so busy and so stressed!! I honestly don't know how people do it!  Have a life, have kids, have a job... and blog!!  I don't even have kids yet and I feel like I need to hire a personal assistant!!  Jeez!!

Anyway, I just wanted to write a quick post saying that I'm still alive and I plan on returning to the blog scene very soon, starting with what I've been up to these past several months. Basically to sum it up, it consisted of a whole lot of work, traveling, holiday and birthday parties, and more stress!  Then in February I decided to take on a "Clean-Eating Challenge" because I was sick of feeling like crap about myself.  Later on this week I will be writing a more in-depth post about this experience and hopefully you will be encouraged to make changes in your own life, because it literally changed my life.  Seriously, I lost more weight in one month then I thought was possible.... you'll just have to check back to find out how much, why, and how you can do it too!!  =D

Stay Tuned!
Mrs. Modern


Saturday, December 8, 2012

Cranberry Nut Bread



I've been wanting to make my Mom's cranberry nut bread for awhile now and I finally decided to make it tonight! I'm so excited about sharing this recipe that I am actually writing and posting about it on the SAME DAY that I made it!! I know, its insane.  

I've been off the grid for a long time, I'm sorry!  Life gets really crazy this time of year for us because of the holidays and because our anniversary is the week before Christmas.  Plus, I'm still trying to figure out how to get everything done that I want to do (DIY projects, blogging, starting my own business, etc.), while working full time, being a wife, maintaining our house, cooking dinners, keeping in touch with my friends, helping with Mr. Modern's photography business, AND not going completely mental at the same time... seesh!  it stresses me out just writing that!!  I definitely don't have it all figured out, but I'm working on it!  More thoughts on that another day though!


Ok, let's talk Cranberries! They remind me not only of Thanksgiving, but also stringing them as garland for decorating at Christmas time... so making cranberry bread is perfect for this month!  For as long as I can remember, my Mom has made this bread and I always loved it.  In fact, the recipe I have is dated "1994" :)

So, from my family's kitchen to yours, here is our recipe for... 

Cranberry Nut Bread

Ingredients:
2 cups of flour
1 cup of sugar
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 cup butter at room temperature
1 tsp. grated orange peel
3/4 cup orange juice (fresh if you can)
1 well beaten egg
2 cups fresh cranberries
1/2 cup chopped nuts (I usually use walnuts)



Directions:

Put all of the dry ingredients into a bowl... 


 ...and mix them with a whisk or a fork. 


Cut the butter into the dry mixture.  

In case you have no idea what I'm talking about, all this means is that you use two butter knives in a criss cross cutting motion to mix the butter into the flour.  You will not get the same consistency if you melt the butter.  I'm sure that you could try using a stand mixer with a whisk attachment if you wanted to instead.  You'll know that its mixed enough when you can't see any big chunks of butter... (I forgot to take a picture of it after it was mixed, sorry!)

 

Next you want to prep the wet ingredients (orange juice/zest and egg). First, zest your oranges until you have 1 tsp of zest.  Its hard to pack it in there to get an exact measurement so if its overflowing a little it's fine.


Next, cut the oranges in half and juice them (2-3 should be enough, but I wanted to have some extra juice for later so I cut up more).  I happened to have a few different kinds of oranges so that's why they all look different (and no, the red ones are not grapefruit, they are ruby navel oranges)! 



I have the citrus juicer attachment for my Kitchen Aid so I used that for juicing the oranges... much easier than doing it by hand, I highly recommend it!



 It literally leaves nothing left worth using, its amazing!


After you have 3/4 cup of juice, beat your egg really well and add the orange juice and zest.



Pour it into the dry ingredients... 


...and mix until it is just combined.  Don't worry if there is a little flour left on the bottom, that will get mixed in when the cranberries are added.


 Make sure that you rinse the cranberries and pull out any stems or bad cranberries.




Measure out 2 cups of whole cranberries, put into a blender, and pulse until they are chopped (no more than 10 seconds).  If you don't have a blender, you can try using a knife, but I haven't tried that so no guarantees that it will work the same!
***Note: I FORGOT to measure the cranberries and ended up using the whole bag!! haha I think I ended up with a total of 3 cups... oops!




Fold in the cranberries and chopped nuts.






Add the combined mixture into a greased loaf pan and bake for 1 hour.


Because I accidentally added extra cranberries and only baked it for 1 hour, I ended up under-cooking mine a little bit.  It's still really good but the middle pieces are definitely not done.  Here is my advise for making sure it is cooked all the way: usually when you bake breads, the top of it will crack down the middle, insert the toothpick into that crack.  If it comes out clean from the crack, then it's done.  If you find that the edges are getting too dark, cover just the edges in tinfoil.

Here is the finished Cranberry Nut Bread!!

 



If you get a chance to try this recipe, please let me know what you think!

Happy Baking!
Mrs. Modern

Friday, November 2, 2012

I Love Lamp!!

I have been dying to do this DIY lamp project for SO long!  I've seen it several times on Pinterest and I finally decided to make one for myself!

Here is what you will need:


  • A pendant lamp shade/lantern like this one from Ikea
  • A lamp cord set like this one, also from Ikea (not pictured above)
  • Basket-style paper coffee filters (I used around 400 of the 8"or 8-12 cup size)
  • A hot glue gun w/glue
  • A good movie or two ;-)
Altogether this project cost me under $15!

I did some research beforehand to figure out if there were different types and techniques to making this amazing lamp... and it turns out there are.

Below are two of the most popular ways I've seen the filters used.

Method #1) Folding the coffee filters into triangles



Method #1 will turn out looking like this:


Method #2) Putting your finger in the center of the filter and making it into a cone, then smushing the bottom so it becomes flat. (yes, I said smushing! lol)








Method #2 will turn out looking like this:



I decided that I liked the finished look of method #2, plus I figured that it would mean I wouldn't need as many coffee filters... little did I know I would end up using 400! 

Here is how I made my lamp:

I found it easier to separate all of the coffee filters, prep/smush as many as possible ahead of time, put a bunch of glue on the lamp and then stick on a few filters before the glue dried.



I started at the top and did a single layer around the opening:




I also found it easier to work on the lamp by gently putting it between my couch and coffee table.  This was helpful because otherwise the lamp would roll over since it was top-heavy.


I didn't take a lot of pictures as I was going because it would have all looked the same.  And because I really just wanted to finish it and hang it up!

The one thing I wish I would have known from the beginning is that you don't need to glue them super close together - trust me, you can always add more later.  

I started out by putting them really close together and I wasn't even halfway done and I had already used almost 200 filters!  From there I decided to space them out a little more, which ended up working out because a little more light comes through the bottom where it counts (the dining room table).

Also, I didn't keep going in a circular pattern once the top was done because I really liked the uneven look.  I think it makes it look more unique versus gluing them to be all the same height.  

Here I am, 4.5 hours later and almost done!  I watched a lot of TV that night! haha!


I'm not kidding you, it took me 5 hours to make this.  I only bought a package of 200 coffee filters and ended up having Mr. Modern go out to buy me another one!



Here it is!!! FINALLY DONE!!!



We decided it would look the best hanging over our dining room table:




I'm so proud of it and it adds so much character to our space, especially since it can be seen from the living room, dining room, and kitchen. 

Random side note: It also turns out that Mr. Modern is an excellent painter! (I've been married to him for almost 3 years and never knew!)  Below is his first painting that he did on the same night that I made my lamp. :)



***Fair Warning! I don't know if it is because I have a cheaper glue gun, or if I just spent waaay too much time using it in one night, but my finger was black and blue and a little puffy for a couple days after I finished this project! LOL

See how much bigger my right finger is?? haha


In the end, it was DEFINITELY worth it!  Every time someone has come over to our house recently, they ask where we got our lamp and are shocked when I tell them that I made it! :)

I hope that you this post inspires you to make one of your own!  I promise, you won't regret it!

Mrs. Modern


P.S. If you liked this post, please share it with your friends and if you decide you want to add this DIY to your Pinterest please use the picture below :)