Bacon Mac and Cheese with Panko crust

One of my favorite tools in the kitchen is my cast iron skillet. So heavy but so versatile. With this Macheesmo Mac and Cheese recipe, you can cook the bacon on the stove top and bake the macaroni in the stove all in the same skillet. This dish was creamy and cheesy on the inside with a crispy crust. A perfect comfort food.

Make sure you pick a strong flavored cheese to give the cheese sauce more flavor. For a crunchy topping, I mixed the parmesan with Panko. Also, I would definitely double the amount of bacon next time. I need every bite to have some bacon.

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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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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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