Super-Easy Petite Cheese Cakes

We had a nice, relaxed family get-together yesterday, and I wanted an easy dessert that I was pretty sure *most* of us would like. These little cakes are so stupid-easy, and for something so simple, they still taste like delicious indulgence.

Petite Cheesecakes

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Ingredients

  • 2 8-ounce packages of cream cheese, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup of sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 TBS fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 18 vanilla wafers
  • jam of your choice for topping, if desired

Procedure
Preheat oven to 375 degrees and line cupcake pans with 18 paper baking cups. Place a vanilla wafer in the bottom of each cup. Beat cream cheese, sugar, eggs, lemon juice, and vanilla extract together with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Fill muffin cups 2/3 full with cream cheese mixture and bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until set. Cool 15 minutes on a rack, then refrigerate until ready to serve. Top with jam, if desired.

How easy is that?!?

Blog Update for the Recipe Page

Hey Y’all. I’ve been trying to update the recipes page to include a comprehensive link list, while also going back and coding the recipes into a printable format within the posts. While a few recipes/posts got voted off the island, most should be on the Recipes page now. Please note, formatting on some may vary, because I just added the code, rather than rewrite post after post. This just means some recipes will have a running-ton of pictures in the procedure sections.

Remember, I’m just a chick with a free-hosted blog that I tinker with on my laptop…when I’m not hiding in the bathroom with wine hoping my kids won’t find me. If you encounter an incorrect link, a problem, or some other kooky hiccup, please let me know.

See that pic? Those are the Chocolate Cake Cookies, which would be perfect for Santa. I’m just saying is all…

Guess where you can find that recipe? Oh yeah, that page thingy I just talked about.

Easy Gingerbread Cutout Cookies

School is out, which means we are in the final countdown toward Christmas. I’m making cookies with the kids, which is equal parts fun and frustrating as they argue about who gets to use which cookie cutter first. My kids could fight about what air tastes like if given the opportunity.

We are on to sugar cookies today, but ended up making Gingerbread Cookies last weekend. The recipe I use is pretty easy to work with and forgiving, so it’s great if you really want to get into decorated cutouts. If you need to distract restless kids, I highly recommend baking up a batch, and investing in a few dollar tubes of icing from the store so they can decorate and be distracted from arguing about that whole air thing.

Gingerbread Cutout Cookies

Ingredients

  • 2/3 cup shortening
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup molasses
  • 1 egg
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp. grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. baking powder

Procedure

    1. In a large mixing bowl, cream shortening and sugar. Add molasses and egg, mixing well to combine.
    2. In a separate bowl, combine flour, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, nutmeg, salt, and making powder, stirring well.
    3. Gradually add the flour mixture to the sugar mixture, mixing to form a soft dough. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and chill for a couple of hours.
    4. On a floured surface, roll out dough to 1/4-inch thickness. Cut out cookies with desired cutters and transfer to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes until edges are firm. Transfer to a cooling rack and let cool completely. Decorate as desired.

Braised Beef Brisket in the Instant Pot

I am all about comfort food lately, but between shopping, baking, running 1000000000 errands, wrapping gifts, etc., I haven’t had a whole lot of time to enjoy extended cooking sessions. So, I got creative this week and adapted my favorite braised brisket from Guy Fieri’s cookbook for the Instant Pot so I could have what is typically a Sunday dinner on a weeknight. Here’s how I did it:

I seasoned the brisket and browned it with the Instant Pot set on the Sauté setting. It took a little maneuvering, but it worked:

Next, I chopped up some shallots, carrots, onions, celery, and leeks, and put them on top of the brisket:

I combined a bottle of chili sauce with some beef broth and poured it over the top:

Then, I closed the pot, and set it to 60 minutes on Manual. When it was done, I did a quick pressure release. I turned the brisket over, and added a bottle of Shiner Bock beer to the pot, being sure to baste the meat with the sauce and veggies. I closed the pot and set it to 30 minutes on Manual. When it was done, I let it the pressure release naturally for 20 minutes, then did a quick pressure release (however, if you have time, I would let the pressure release naturally and let the brisket rest for another 20 minutes in the pot thereafter for best results. This isn’t necessary per se, but I think braised brisket could always use a healthy rest period).

So, this is what it looked like. I removed the brisket to a cutting board and set aside. I broke out the immersion blender, and blended the juice/sauce/veggies in the Instant Pot until combined into saucy deliciousness. After slicing the brisket, I returned it to the pot for a quick sauce bath, then served with more sauce spooned over the top:

It was dang tasty, and nearly effortless.

Braised Beef Brisket in the Instant Pot

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Ingredients

  • 4 1/2 to 5 pounds beef brisket
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons freshly cracked black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 2 yellow onions, cut into 1- inch rings
  • 2 leeks, white and light green parts only, cleaned and cut into thirds
  • 2 shallots, quartered
  • 1 carrot, cut in half lengthwise, then into 1- inch chunks
  • 4 celery stalks, cut into thirds
  • 1 bottle chili sauce
  • 1/2 cup beef broth
  • 1 12-ounce beer, at room temperature ( I like Shiner Bock or Amber Bock)

Season brisket with salt and pepper. Set Instant Pot to the Sauté setting and when hot, add canola oil. Brown brisket on all sides as best you can. Top brisket with onions, leeks, shallots, carrot, and celery. In a small bowl, whisk together chili sauce and beef broth, and pour over brisket. Secure lid on Instant Pot and set to Manual for 60 minutes. When cycle is complete, do a quick pressure release. Turn brisket over, add beer to Instant Pot, and baste brisket with liquid and veggies. Place lid back on pot, and set to Manual for 30 minutes. Let pressure release naturally for 20 minutes then do a quick pressure release.** Remove brisket to cutting board and slice. Using an immersion blender, blend the liquid and veggies in the Instant Pot until smooth. Return brisket to the Instant Pot, cover with sauce, then serve, topping with more sauce if desired.

**If you have the time, let pressure release naturally and let brisket rest another 20 minutes or so after the pin drops**

 

Finished Kint–Amy Scarf

I had my very first Yarnbox lingering in my stash, and when this pattern popped up on Ravelry, I knew I finally found the right match it to go with this delectable yarn.

The pattern is super easy, and this yarn is absolutely awesome. It’s a mix of fine merino and baby alpaca, and one that I will definitely be ordering again.

Pattern: Amy Scarf (available for purchase on Ravelry)

Yarn: Big Bad Wool’s Pea Weepaca in the Teal, Tree Frog, Night Owl, Leaf, and Water colorways. (It’s fingering weight, by the way)

Needles: US size 4

Notes and Mods: The original pattern called for more colors, so I added rows to make up for only using 5. I also just kind of played fast and loose with it. I discovered that, after knitting the first five color sections, repeating them all would make the scarf too long (especially since wet blocking would add length). So, I just tacked on an additional section of the first two colors (switching them so the scarf would start and end with the same color. Ultimately, I lost at yarn chicken, so the last section is a few rows shy of what I planned, but it’s not noticeable when wearing the scarf. Since this is for me, I wasn’t that concerned about it.

8 Gift Ideas for Knitters, and What You Should Not Buy Without Actionable Intel

After spending an inordinate amount of time shopping online yesterday, I was ready to hit the ground running today and spend some money locally. Not 15 minutes after dropping the kids off, the school called and Bean is sick again…sigh. We had to take her to the ER a couple of weeks ago, so the fact that she is sick again so soon is frustrating.

Anyway, if I can’t get my Christmas shopping on, I can have a cocktail and give you some gift ideas for the knitter or fiber enthusiast in your life:

  1. A yarn club subscription. I recently posted about my love of Yarnbox, but there are dozens of suppliers to choose from. This makes a great gift because most knitters are yarn-obsessed and who doesn’t like a treat in the mail? These can be on the more expensive side, but they are definitely a thoughtful gift that all but the Grinchiest knitter will love.2. Knitter’s Pride Knit Blockers. These things are the bomb, and most knitters would love it set or two. They help save time and create more even edges. I have a set, and I swear by them. Good prices too for a mid-range gift. I think one set will set you back about 25 bucks.3. Cute knitting-themed shirts or mugs. These can be easy stocking stuffers, or a super-affordable gift if you are in a situation where you need to spend under a certain amount, like an office gift exchange. You can find these at places like Knit Picks, Café Press, and Etsy.4. Cute stitch markers. I go through a lot of stitch markers, and I am always in need of more. Etsy is definitely the place to look for a fun selection, and you will be supporting handcrafters as well. These are usually affordable, and can be a great individual gift or an add-on.5. A handmade yarn bowl. Again, Etsy would be the place to look for these. They come in so many styles, which means you can find one to fit even the most eccentric knitter’s personality. 6. Personalized tags for knitters. I love adding a personal touch to my gift knitting (for those who have not been booted off the knit-worthy island), and these are not something that most people will splurge on consistently. As a southern girl, I love all things personalized and would monogram alllllllll the things if my expendable income allowed such.7. Along those lines, these types of knitting tags offer a cute way to alert people of the fiber content and washing instructions. Mighty handy, and again, just not something many knitters have lying around.8. As always, a gift certificate to your local yarn store is never a miss. If you don’t have a local yarn store in your area, look at online options, especially hand-dyers. Just avoid certificates to big-box stores because their selection is rather limited for a real fiber enthusiast.

Now, for the cautionary part. Most knitters always have their eye on new needle sets, knitting bags, spinning wheels, yarn kits, or other high-dollar accessories. Trust me, every knitter out there has a wish list in the back of their minds. However, like most people who are passionate about our hobby, we are also VERY PICKY about our core tools. While these make great gifts if they are on your knitter’s wish list, you need to be sure that you know exactly what they want while shopping. For example, I cannot stand knitting with bamboo needles, so brand new expensive set of bamboo interchangeable needles would totally miss the mark. So, if you can get your hands on intel about what they specifically want, go for it! Otherwise, play it safe. If you do want to invest in a big-ticket wish list item, you want to be sure that it’s right, which makes you awesome-sauce!

**Remember, these ideas are mine and mine alone. No one pays me or gives me crap, because I’m just not that cool. There’s no links or affiliate business going on up in here. Also, if you do see an ad on my blog, that’s from WordPress, not me and I have no control over that deal**

 

Cajun 15 Bean Soup in the Instant Pot

I survived Thanksgiving week, which ended up being a relaxed, fun holiday despite the fact that I made more food than any reasonable person should. We ate leftovers for days, and I cranked out 4 big casseroles for the freezer with the remaining turkey. For the holiday, my sister brought a Honey-Baked Ham, and afterward, we froze the ham bone (that still had a good chunk of meat on it) for later use.

A leftover ham bone (or leftover ham in general) is the perfect foundation for 15 Bean Soup, which I typically cook on the stovetop with the above mix. However, I decided to adapt it to the Instant Pot so I could get it done, start to finish, after getting the Heathens from school.

First, I did soak the beans for barely a couple of hours, but I think you can get by without that if necessary. I added the ham bone and rinsed beans to the Instant Pot:

Then, I added 8 cups of water. I did not add salt because the ham itself is pretty dang salty, and the seasoning packet to be added later also contains salt. I put the lid on, and set it to Manual for 50 minutes on high pressure (note–with that much liquid in the pot, it takes about 20 minutes to come to pressure, so plan accordingly). Once it beeped, I did the quick pressure release, and removed the ham bone. I carefully removed as much meat from the bone as possible, then returned the meat to the pot while discarding the bone. I then added a minced onion, three cloves of minced garlic, a can of fire-roasted diced tomatoes, the juice of a lemon, and the seasoning packet:

I put the lid back on the pot and reset it to Manual for 10 minutes. Once was it done, I did another quick pressure release, stirred, and served with cornbread:

The original recipe calls for sausage and sautéing the onion and garlic. While you can do this with sausage, ham hocks, or generally any smoked meat, I think the Instant Pot negates the need for unnecessary sautéing steps. Overall, we used up every last scrap of ham, which is a good thing because Honey-Baked Hams are not cheap…which is probably why they are so dang tasty. If you want to stretch this, you can also serve it over rice, but I like it as is and my scale could not justify any more calories…like at all…ever. If you need me, I’ll be at the gym.

15 Bean Soup in the Instant Pot/Pressure Cooker

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  • 1 pkg. Hurst’s Cajun 15 Bean Soup Mix
  • 1 ham bone with leftover ham if possible
  • 8 cups water
  • 1 can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • Juice of 1 lemon

Remove seasoning packed from beans and set aside. If desired, soak beans for a couple of hours. Place ham bone and leftover ham in Instant Pot. Add drained beans and 8 cups of water. Place lid on pot and set to Manual for 50 minutes, then do a quick pressure release. Remove ham bone from pot and remove as much ham as possible from the bone. Return ham to the pot and discard bone. Add the tomatoes, onion, garlic, lemon juice, and seasoning packet to the pot and stir. Return lid to pot and set to Manual for 10 minutes. Do a quick pressure release, stir, and serve.