Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake

This is my second attempt at making cheesecake.  I used the chocolate cheesecake II recipe from AllRecipes.com. I always skip the chocolate topping with this recipe because previous reviewers have mentioned that it’s too heavy for the cake and it’s just too much chocolate in one dessert.  This cheesecake is overly decadent. I like to add a hint of raspberry to lessen the sweetness of the dish.  I mix the raspberry sauce from another cheesecake recipe in the batter to give the cake a bit of tanginess and lessen the richness.

When making cheesecake, we worry about cracking.  Tips to prevent cracking that I have learned from my previous attempt:

  • Don’t over beat the batter after adding in the eggs
  • Bake in a water bath
  • Let the cake cool in the oven to avoid extreme temperature changes.

Be careful with the water bath. I suggest wrapping the cake pan in double-layer of foil and place that in a larger pan. Place both pans in the oven and pour the water in the larger pan halfway up the smaller cake pan. It’s hard to handle a water-filled pan before placing it in the oven. And you might end up, like me, have water slip into the batter.

Even with the water mishap, the cheesecake turned out great with no soggy batter.

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Honey Mustard Chicken

Between working a full-time job and finishing up my thesis, I try to limit my big cooking tasks for the weekends.  I like to cook massive portions so that I could eat it throughout the week for lunch. Many people might cringe at the thought of eating the same meal repeatedly but, for me, it ensures that I will bring a lunch to work instead of buying one.

This weekend, I used up my frozen pack of chicken breast by making a Honey Mustard Chicken from Table for Two.   I didn’t plan ahead and forgot to defrost the chicken overnight. Luckily, the kitchn, has a great tip on how to quickly (and safely) thaw chicken breast or any frozen meat by running it under cold water.  For the honey mustard chicken, read the “Disclaimer” section of the recipe for little nuisances that I found helpful. I loved the taste of djion mustard with a hint of sweetness from the sauce.  I used honey instead of maple syrup and added more Dijon cause I had five large chicken breasts to cover. Also, the clean up was easy with the double layers of foil to line the pan.

I served the chicken with spaghetti and a basic tomato sauce by Jamie Oliver.  Looks like it will be chicken leftovers for the next few days which is not always a terrible thing when it’s served with delicious honey mustard glaze.

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Doufu geng (Chinese Tofu Stew)

With the local coffee shop closing early tonight, I had some extra time to try a new recipe.  I love stews cause it’s such a comfort food. The recipe brings back memories of my mom making the same stew.  It felt nice to cook some thing from your childhood, especially when I am so far away from my family.

I found this Chinese Tofu Soup recipe on Wokking It.  I love the last part where you stir in the egg to make ribbons in the soup.  It was fast and simple to make. The best part is that it’s flexible with substitutions.  I used firm tofu cut into cubes cause I like to have a bit of texture in my stews. I also used chicken broth instead of vegetable broth.  You can double this recipe easily too because one serving of this soup is never enough.

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Banana crumb coffee cake

Being away from family and friends gets harder as you age. Keeping busy with my thesis and work helps with the home-sickness. And baking desserts to treat yourself once in awhile is a must.

I love my bananas best when they still have a bit of green. Otherwise, I let them brown and use the ripe bananas to make banana bread.  In the past, I always felt the banana bread was a little lack-luster no matter how many chocolate chips I add.  So, in my search for a better banana bread recipe, I found this recipe for a banana crumb coffee cake from Tide and Thyme. I didn’t realize how big the resulting cake would be until I was pouring the batter into the pan.

This recipe uses a lot of butter. Instead of lining the baking dish with aluminum foil, I used parchment paper. I think it’s easier to handle than foil with cooking spray. Make sure not to over mix the cake batter.  I skipped the glaze and I was too skimpy with the middle crumble layer. So, I ended up with a thick crumble topping.  I love the crumble on this cake as it provides a crunchy texture to the very moist cake portion.

The recipe was definitely more work than banana bread but well worth the extra effort. I will be saving this for rainy days like today.

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Prime rib roast

Being on a graduate student budget means learning how to spot out deals at the grocery store. This week’s special was a prime rib roast. Another bonus, it doesn’t take a lot of ingredients to make a delicious prime rib.

I followed this recipe from The Kitchen Magpie. I also used this cooking time chart for the approximate cooking time. One thing I found difficult was getting the butter to stick to the ends of the roast.  And yes, use the thermometer to determine cooking temperature cause all ovens are made differently. It came out a little more rare than I like but still tasty.  Next time, I might trying using a herb-butter for additional flavour. Also, you can use the drippings to make an easy gravy.  Tip: Check the temperature of the roast before your calculated cooking time to avoid over cooking.

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