Creating Beautiful Things in Life: July 2012

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Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Cream Cheese My Favorite Dairy Product

Cherry Cheesecake Made Over

Lets talk Cheesecake, one of my favorite subjects. I only know a couple of people who don't care for it. Their dislike is not because of the taste, it's because of the name. "Cheese and cake is not a combination I am willing to try." Their loss! Personally, I believe cheesecake to be a slice of heaven. I made so much of this delectable dessert, I should qualify for a wholesale discount on cream cheese.
A lot of people I know are afraid to try to bake one on their own. Surely anything that tastes so rich and creamy takes all day and somewhat of a genius in the kitchen to prepare. If you are one of those people, stay tuned because I am about to tell you how to make Cheesecake. The basic recipe is easy. To make a good size cheesecake I use a 8 or nine inch pan, it takes about 3 to 4 bricks of cream cheese. Again it depends on  how thick you would like it to be. If you don't want to bother with making a crust, get one that's ready made and multiply the basic recipe times 2.

For each brick of (softened) cream cheese, you will need: 1/4 cup of sugar
                                                                                        1/2 tsp. of Vanilla
                                                                                        1 egg

All you need to do is to multiply this basic recipe by the number of bricks of cream cheese you use. I guess, that's were being a genius comes into play. With a mixer, beat the cream cheese, sugar and vanilla until it gets to a creamy consistency and most of the lumps are gone. Here comes the important part, add eggs one at a time and only beat until it is incorporated. Do not overbeat the batter. Add the batter to your prepared crust (do not grease the pan). Bake at 350 for about 40 to 60 minutes. Again it depends on how many bricks of cream cheese you use. It will take about 40 minutes for 2, 50 for 3 and 55 to 60 if you made the recipe times 4.

For the crust you will also need: 1 1/2 cups of Grahm cracker crumbs
                                                 1/4 cup of melted butter or margarine
                                                 2 Tbsp. of sugar.

Mix the 3 ingredients together and press into the bottom of your springform pan with the back of a spoon. .
There are a couple of things I need to mention. Cheesecake does not like to be mixed for very long. If you over beat it, you will incorporate too much air into the batter. Also when you bake it, put an ovenproof dish of water in the oven along with the pan. Cheesecake likes to bake with moist heat. Do not bake it for too long. It's done when the center is still jiggly. Turn the oven off and open the door slightly. Leave the cake in the oven for about an hour, to gradually cool down. This should prevent the top of your cheesecake from cracking. It will also finish baking while it cools. Once you remove it from the oven, run a spatula or a knife all the way around the edge of the cake to loosen any that may have gotten stuck to wall of the pan. Remove the collar and let it cool completely before adding any toppings if you prefer. Should you end up with some cracks in the top, don't sweat it. A can of cherry pie filling or any other fruit filling will hide them and no one will ever know.

You can also use the basic recipe times 3 to make 24 cupcake size mini cheesecakes. Line your pans with cupcake liners. Drop a Nilla wafer in the bottom of each. Fill about 2/3 full and bake for 20-25 minutes. As the cakes cool they will deflate slightly, creating a well. Fill this well with any pie filling of your choice. I made this recipe with cherry pie filling for our Christmas dinner at work. We always have a contest for the best dessert. Out of about 40 desserts, mine won hands down. Took me all but 30 minutes to make from start to finish. I was so tired by the time I got started I didn't bother getting my big mixer out. Just whipped it up with a wire whisk. Added the topping in the morning,  put some fancy tissue on a platter for the presentation and edged out the bosses wife by a landslide. Her fancy cake pops didn't stand a chance.
One more thing. These little cakes freeze well. Once they are cooled, wrap them each in foil or heavy plastic wrap. Defrost one or two at the time, top them with whipped cream or heat some strawberry preserves in the microwave. Makes for a great reward after a particular bad day. Enjoy!

My Love of Afghans

Today's post is all about my love of crocheting. I started about 45 years ago. My favorite projects are afghans. Every member in my family owns at least one or two afghans I made. Now that I have more free time, I started a new one. It's a stained glass window pattern, perfect for my 10 year old granddaughter Brianna.
This is a free pattern available on I used to spend a small fortune in pattern books. Thanks to Pintrest, I now have enough free projects, to keep my busy for the next 10 years. If you are an experienced crocheter, you shouldn't have any problems following this pattern. The skill level required to do this particular one, I would rate as intermediate. For this afghan I decided to alternate the two pinks in my squares.So far I have completed 5. Now that I am getting the hang of this pattern, it is taking me about 1 1/2 hrs. to complete a square. Should improve to about an hour once I get a few more done. Each square measures almost 12 inches. I am not sure yet, as of how many I need to complete. Once I get a few more done, I should have a better idea. As soon as I get a couple of rows assembled I will post a picture with an update. My goal is to get there within a week.

If you decide to start one of your own and run into any problems, please let me know. I will be happy to help you along. You can also go to ravelry and check out the comment section. I found quite a few pictured in different color combinations if pink is not your style.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Welcome to Annie's How To

Here it goes... my first post. Let me start by telling you how excited I am. I have so many things I would like to share, I am having a hard time figuring out where to start.
Lets start with my newest venture, becoming a Master of decorated cakes. As of now, I am seriously lacking the skills and experience needed. I've quit my job less than 3 weeks ago. Needed some time to myself. Too many hours and too much stress at work and home was starting to take a toll on my physical and mental health. Now that I have the time, I decided to fulfill  some of my dreams. Start my own Blog and learn how to decorate beautiful and awe inspiring cakes. 

Mandy's 6th Birthday cakeI

Logan 7th Birthday cake

These are cakes I did for 2 of my grandchildren's birthdays a little over a week ago. Not bad for someone who hasn't held a piping bag in almost 20 years; finishing at 2 am. This is after I spend 2 weeks watching videos on U-Tube and tutorials on many blogs about different ways of decorating cakes. When my kids were little my fanciest cakes were homemade butter cream, tinted and piped on with stars, onto cakes baked in character baking pans. Often times it was a box cake, store bought frosting and those sugar decorations put on top. After my kids grew up, I got into making cheesecakes. That is going to be another chapter. 

My son's Birthday is the end of next month. He enjoys fishing but hasn't had a chance do do much of it lately. I decided to make him a "Gone Fishing " cake.  Since I still have almost 5 weeks, it will give me enough time to learn how to work with fondant and gum paste. The cake is going to  have a butter cream frosting as a base. The way I picture it, it will have a fisherman in a boat, on the water with a fish biting the hook. I would also like to create a little beach with rocks and grass and other details found outdoors. All of the decorations will be handmade and edible. 

If you are interest in my progress or wanting to learn the craft yourself, stay tuned. I will be posting updates and step by step instructions as to how I am creating my first fondant scene. You can learn with me or get some encouragement to do it on your own.