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Carrot-Spice Cheesecakes

In Meats On November 25, 2020 0 Comments

Serve these carrot-spice cheesecakes as a perfecting ending to your Thanksgiving Day feast!

Prep time: 35 to 40 minutes
Bake time: 12 to 14 minutes
Makes: 24 mini-cheesecakes

Prepare the Crust:
24 muffin paper cups (use a solid color or cups with Fall decorations)
1 cup graham cracker crumbs or animal cracker crumbs (ground in a food processor)
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 stick unsalted butter, melted
-OR-
1/2 cup sunflower or safflower oil

1. Preheat oven to 375°F.

2. Divide the paper cups among two muffin baking pans (each one should hold 12 paper cups). Set aside.

3. In a shallow bowl and using a fork, mix together the crumbs, cinnamon and either butter or oil.

4. When mixture is uniform, using a teaspoon, put some crumb mixture into each paper cup.

5. Using the back of an espresso spoon or small teaspoon, press down, into the crumb mixture.

6. Set the muffin pans with paper cups aside while you prepare cheesecakes.

Prepare the Cheesecakes:
Two 8-ounce packages cream cheese, softened to room temperature
2 large eggs
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons regular or natural cane (unbleached) sugar
1/4 cup cup brown sugar
1/2 cup pureed cooked carrots (alternatively, use 1/2 cup baby food pureed carrots)
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Dash ground cloves
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:
1. In a 4-quart mixing bowl or in a stand mixer fitted with a bowl, beat together the above ingredients on high speed until mixture is creamy and smooth.

2. Drop 1 heaping tablespoon of the cream cheese mixture over the crumb mixture in paper cups.

3. Set each muffin pan on its own rack in oven.

4. Bake the cheesecakes for 6 to 7 minutes.

5. After 6 to 7 minutes, invert the muffin pans.

6. Bake the cheesecakes for an additional 6 to 8 minutes or until tops look puffed and slightly crack.

7. After baking the cheesecakes, set them IN MUFFIN PANS on a counter to cool completely.

8. When the cheesecakes have cooled completely, lift them out of the muffin pans. To avoid crushing the still-soft cheesecakes, use both hands to grab the paper cups and lift them out.

9. Carefully set the cheesecakes on a serving platter. Cover them with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Ingredients for the Topping:
1 can ready-made whipping cream
24 corn nuts candies
Fresh thyme twigs (cut into twenty-four 1/2-inch twigs)

1 At serving time, place a dollop of whipped cream on top of each cheesecake.

2. Decorate each cheesecake with one corn nut candy and a thyme twig.

3. Serve immediately.

Note: The cheesecakes can be baked up to 2 days ahead and refrigerated.
Text and Photograph ©2020 Nancy DeLucia Real

Black Bean Hummus (Vegan)

In Meats On March 16, 2020 0 Comments

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This delicious hummus is great for cold or snowy March days. The black beans and garbanzos are rich in protein and fiber. With tahini and olive oil, this Vegan appetizer tastes rich and velvety!

Prep time: 10 minutes
Makes: 2-1/2 cups

Ingredients:
2 cups canned or pre-cooked black beans, drained
1/2 cup canned or pre-cooked garbanzo beans (chickpeas), drained
2 tablespoons tahini (this is a condiment made from toasted, hulled & ground sesame seeds)
1/2 to 3/4 teaspoons salt
1 garlic clove, peeled & crushed
1/4 to 1/3 cup cold water
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 to 6 pita breads, each cut into 6 wedges
1 small avocado, barely ripened & cut into cubes
1 Roma tomato, cut in half, pulp discarded & flesh cut into cubes
3 to 4 dill sprigs, for garnish

Directions:
1. In a food processor, puree together the black beans, garbanzo beans, tahini, 1/2 teaspoon salt, garlic, water and olive oil.

2. When hummus mixture is uniform, taste it. If needed, adjust salt level.

3. Transfer the hummus to a serving bowl; garnish with avocado, tomato cubes and dill sprigs.

4. Serve immediately with pita wedges. Alternatively, cover bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate up to 4 hours or overnight.
Text & Photograph ©2020 Nancy DeLucia Real

Brown Rice Salad with Carrots, Cranberries & Chives (Vegan)

In Meats On September 3, 2019 0 Comments

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Now that we’re back to “laboring” after Labor Day, keep it simple in the kitchen. Here is a fast, delicious Vegan rice dish!

Prep time: 30-40 minutes (for cooking rice)
10-12 minutes (for assembling salad)
Serves: 4 to 6 (as a side dish)

Ingredients:
1 cup organic brown rice (any variety)
3 to 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 to 2/3 cup dried cranberries
1 small to medium carrot, peeled & finely shredded
1/2 cup finely-chopped, fresh chives
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
4 to 6 fresh mint leaf sprigs for garnish

Directions:
1. Cook the rice according to package directions.

2. If rice has some liquid after it has cooked, make sure to drain the rice in a colander.

3. Transfer the cooked rice to a glass, porcelain or metal mixing bowl (DO NOT USE PLASTIC, AS IT WILL HEAT UP).

4. Add all ingredients except for mint leaf sprigs to the rice in bowl; toss and taste.

5. Adjust seasonings, per taste.

6. Garnish with mint leaf sprigs and serve as a side dish.

NOTE: This rice salad can be made early in the day and covered, set on a counter at room temperature. It also keeps well as a leftover, refrigerated, up to 3 to 4 days.
Text & Photograph ©2019 Nancy DeLucia Real

Bean, Tomato & Parsley Salad

In Meats On August 1, 2019 0 Comments

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Enjoy this easy, fresh salad to keep you cool during August!

Prep time: 10-15 minutes
Serves: 4 to 6 (as a side dish)

Ingredients:

One 15-ounce can cannellini beans, rinsed & drained
1 quart cherry tomatoes, rinsed & halved
3 to 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
salt and ground black pepper, to taste
2/3 cup fresh, Italian flat leaf parsley, chopped

Directions:
1. In a large bowl, combine the beans, tomatoes, olive oil, salt and ground black pepper; toss and taste. If needed, adjust seasonings.

2. Garnish with parsley and serve immediately.
Text & Photograph ©2019 Nancy DeLucia Real

Chocolate Ricotta Cake – Happy Easter

In Meats On April 1, 2019 0 Comments

During Holy Week (one week prior to Easter), it is customary for Italian Roman Catholic women to prepare baked goods for the upcoming feast on Sunday. Finally, on Easter Sunday, Southern Italians make a gran finale with homemade ricotta cake.

This chocolate ricotta cake is one of my traditional recipes. Just mix all ingredients together and bake the cake – that’s it. It’s chocolaty and moist. Enjoy this dessert at Easter!

Prep time: 15 to 20 minutes
Bake time: 25 to 35 minutes (every oven will differ in temperature)
Makes: One 9-inch cake

Ingredients:
1-1/2 cups all-purpose, unbleached flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, melted
2/3 cup granulated, unbleached sugar
1 large egg
1/4 cup vegetable oil (preferably safflower or sunflower)
2/3 cup ricotta cheese
1/2 cup milk (whole or 2% milk fat)
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
powdered sugar and nonpareils candies, for garnish
fresh mint leaf sprigs, for garnish (optional)
Chantilly Cream (found in The Kitchen Buzzz’s Recipes)

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350°F.

2. Combine the flour, baking powder, salt & ground cinnamon in a bowl; set aside.

3. Butter and lightly flour a 9-inch spring form pan; set aside.

4. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the melted chocolate, sugar, egg, oil, ricotta cheese, milk and vanilla extract until smooth.

5. Gradually (a little at a time), whisk in the combined dry ingredients. Keep mixing until the batter is smooth and thick.

6. Pour the batter into prepared spring form pan, cleaning sides of bowl with a rubber spatula.

7. Transfer the cake pan on a rack set in center of oven.

8. Bake cake for 25 minutes. After 25 minutes, insert a pointed knife in center of cake. If knife comes out clean, the cake is done. If not, bake cake for an additional 5 to 8 minutes. Test once more (the cake should be done). If not, bake a few minutes more and test again.

9. Transfer the cake to a counter to cool for 15 to 20 minutes.

10. When cake is cool, using a knife, gently loosen the cake from sides of pan and remove.

11. Place the cake on a serving platter.

12. Dust top of cake with powdered sugar and nonpareils. Garnish each serving with mint leaf sprigs.

13. Serve this cake by itself or with a dollop of Chantilly Cream (recipe is in The Kitchen Buzzz’s Recipe index).
Text & Photograph ©2019 Nancy DeLucia Real