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Thursday, November 8, 2012

Healthy Apple Oats Cheesecake Bars

Quick, delicious and as healthy as a cheesecake can possibly be.
Source: Adapted from Pumpkin Streusel Cheesecake Bars as published on Cooking with Chopin, which, in turn, was adapted from The Pajama Chef

Taste: 4 (out of 5)
Difficulty: 1 (out of 5)

For the base / streusel
- 1 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp baking soda + 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 1/3 cup honey
- 1/4 cup cold butter, cut into small pieces
- 1/4 cup chopped walnuts
For the cheesecake layer
- 8 oz / 220 g cottage cheese
- 1/4 cup honey
- 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
- 1/2 tsp vanilla
- 1 egg
- 1 1/2 cups apple sauce

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 10"x7" baking dish.
2. Prepare the cookie base in a large bowl. Use a wooden spoon to stir together the oats, flour, salt, and baking powder. Pour 1 tbsp or lemon juice over the baking soda, mix until bubbly and add to the bowl. "Cut in" the butter pieces with two knives or with a pastry cutter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Then stir in the honey with the spoon. Set aside 1/4 cup of the cookie base, add to it walnuts and mix again. Press the remainder of the mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan and bake for 10 minutes.
3. For the cheesecake layer, while the crust is baking, pour the cottage cheese into food processor and blend on high speed until it is uniform. Add the other ingredients, except apple sauce and process until combined.
4. After the cookie base has baked for 10 minutes, remove it from oven. Spread cheesecake filling over the partially-baked crust. Then spread the apple sauce on top. It will most likely sink partially, so you will have swirls rather than 2 separate layers. Sprinkle the reserved cookie topping over the apple sauce and bake for 30 minutes, or until topping is golden brown.
5. The cheesecake must cool down to room temperate (or even be refrigerated) before removing from the pan and cutting, otherwise it will break and sag.
6. Store in the fridge.


- The cheesecake is delicious. There were 2 minor issues with the crust: it was a little too salty, and there was not enough of it. The quantity was completely my fault. The original recipe used an 8"x8" pan, and I used a 10"x7" one, which is larger, but somehow I assumed they had the same area. That's why I had to add walnuts, because after I had filled the pan with the crust there was practically nothing left for the streusel. So next time I would increase the crust quantities by 1/4. Regarding salt, next time I might use 1/4 tsp, or skip it completely.
- The original recipe on Cooking with Chopin used cream cheese and a little less flour for the cheesecake layer. I wanted to save the fat and the calories, so I used cottage cheese. But to make the layer firmer I had to use more flour, and I think the consistency of the cheesecake was perfect. But be sure that you have a very powerful food processor that really can make the cottage cheese uniform. Otherwise you will have those small lumps and it's not the best cheesecake texture (I had already experienced it before).
- Now the funny thing is: the circle is round! I just discovered it now when I was finishing this post and pasting the links. Because this was the first time I visited the "original original" recipe on the Pajama Chef blog, which was later adapted by Cooking with Chopin, which was now adapted yet again by me... And it turned out that the Pajama Chef had Apple Cheesecake that turned into a Pumpkin Cheesecake on Cooking with Chopin and now was again transformed into an Apple Cheesecake ;-P.  I guess one could conclude that both apple and pumpkin are such natural choices for this cake that when one is thinking about changing something, they are the first things that come to mind :-)

To Recipe...

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The perfect breakfast bun

Is ready in 10 minutes, just in time for your morning coffee.
Source: Improvised

Taste: 5 (out of 5)
Difficulty: 1 (out of 5)

- 1 bun
- 1 slice of cheese (I use Jarlsberg)
- 1 tsp garlic butter (or regular butter)
- 1 egg

1. See how to poach an egg in this post.
2. While your egg is cooking, which will take about 10 minutes total, cut the bun, spread with butter, place the cheese on one half and place both halves (cut side up) in an oven. Turn the oven on and set it to 350F. No need to preheat the oven.
3. When your egg is ready, take the bun out form the oven, place the egg over the cheese and enjoy with your morning coffee.

It's simple, accessible, only takes 10 minutes to make, and is absolutely addictive. What's not to like? I think that's the definition of perfection.

To Recipe...

Monday, November 5, 2012

How to poach an egg

a story of lust and murder... the culprit: SRC
This week was supposed to be my detox week. I was all prepared to eat only fruit and veggies and then to celebrate my good behavior with the amazing cheesecake that I saw on my assigned SRC blog, Cooking with Chopin. I've been eying this cake ever since our last month's reveal, planning to make it anyway. And then imagine my joy when I saw that Cooking with Chopin was my assignment this month!

And all of a sudden, I get a reminder email that our SRC reveal was supposed to be this Monday, right in the middle of my detox. What a blow.... The cheesecake would most certainly kill any chance of a diet. So I looked for other recipes, and found this super cute poached egg, one more obsession of mine. I know that egg is not a vegetable, not even a fruit, but how many temptations can one resist in one day? It would be a small sin compared to a cheesecake. And I love poached eggs over green salads, which are healthy, right?

So I made the poached egg, but it was sooo good over that salad, that I had to have another one. This time I had my egg on a bun... My diet was painfully and steadily dying, and I could not see it suffer so much, so I ate a chocolate truffle, and officially finished off the detox.

That's the sad story of my poor diet. And I hold SRC responsible, because how can one be on a diet, staring at all this delicious food? ... and because it's easier to blame someone else than to take the responsibility yourself ;-P

Source: Cooking with Chopin

Taste: 5 (out of 5)
Difficulty: 1 (out of 5)

- 1 egg

1. Fill a large saucepan with 4 inches of water and bring to a simmer (when bubbles are breaking the surface every few seconds.
2. When water is barely simmering, break 1 egg into a small bowl. (You can break it directly into the water, but putting it in a small bowl first eliminates the possibility of getting shells in the water.)
3. Gently tip the bowl, sliding the egg into water.
4. Cook until whites are set but yolks are soft, 3 to 4 minutes. (Cook 5-6 minutes for a firmer yolk.)
5. Using a slotted spoon, transfer eggs to paper towels, and drain briefly.

For green salad I used:
Romaine lettuce, dill, green onions, cucumbers and walnuts, drizzled with lemon juice and walnut oil (can use olive oil too) and sprinkled with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Then top it all with your egg. I poached the egg for 4 minutes for softer yolk.

- I also fry sunny side up eggs, but poaching is a healthier alternative, and fishing out the egg is very cute.
- Just in case you don't know yet, SRC, or the Secret Recipe Club is a group of over a hundred food bloggers, who are assigned a "secret" blog each months. Then they choose a recipe from that blog, make it and post it on their own blog on a given reveal day. Then there is a big party, where you hop from one blog to another and check what everyone's been cooking. Lots of fun! And terrible for your diet ;-) I want to thank Amanda, Jane and April for making it all possible!

To Recipe...