One Day More...

Another day, another destiny...

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just dance

Over the weekend, the hubby and I met with a couple of friends in Staunton, VA to watch plays at the American Shakespeare Center. I've started meeting up with friends each time they go (I missed the summer trip though), and it's fun to catch up, absorb a bit of culture, and take in the scenery of the historic part of town. The shutterbug in me loves running around and photographing buildings. Although I had fun, the weekend felt a bit rushed (I suppose that's how it always goes though), and I didn't take nearly as many pictures as I have in the past (most were snapshots of friends rather than artsy photographs. So still nice). There's always next time, which I find comfort in knowing.

The chai pumpkin pie was.... okay. I'm told I'm being too hard on myself about it, which is not unlike me. The guys said it was good and cleaned their plates to further indicate this, but after having tasted the first pie I made (which was an easy ready-made mix), I found pie #2 to be bland in comparison. After consulting with one of my home fries, I decided to add ginger and cloves to Chai Pumpkin Pie #3, which I made last night.


I still had excess pie mix (I ended up throwing out the excess from last Thursday because I could not find tiny pie shells, and my mom had said that the mix only lasts a couple of days), so I've saved the excess from last night and am taking it home for the mah-in-law to see what ideas and means she has. I made sure not to try to make the super pie, so no mess. I also took the pie out of the oven about 8-10 minutes sooner (I used the kitchen timer on the microwave and stopped it briefly to microwave chocolate chips for a cheesecake I was making and then forgot to set the timer back right away, so the time is an approximation).

So the pie looked quite nice after taking it out of the oven, versus the awful burnt-cheese-toast look that pie #2 had (see previous entry).

So yeah. Made a cheesecake last night too. I'm all about making desserts lately. Chai Pumpkin Pie #3 is for my family's Thanksgiving dinner. I was initially going to have chai pumpkin pies for both families' Thanksgiving meals, but as the in-laws were in town a couple of weeks ago and partook of my first go with the pie, I figured I'd let them try my first effort at a peanut butter / chocolate (Nutella really) cheesecake. I made a Nutella cheesecake over the summer, following directions from a recipe that my mother-in-law found online. So when I bought ingredients for this cheesecake, I had that recipe in mind, with a few adjustments (like... peanut butter. AND CHOCOLATE CHIPS).

While Chai Pumpkin Pie #3 was in the oven, I decided to get started on the the PB&N Hybrid Cheesecake when it dawned on me that as it's been 4ish months since I made the Nutella cheesecake-- and since that was the only time I'd ever made a cheesecake, I kind of forgot how to do it. To the internet! I couldn't find any cheesecake recipe that matched what ingredients I had. And I wasn't about to go to the store. So I decided to just find the Nutella recipe in my e-mails and adjust accordingly.

The recipe called for:

16 oz cream cheese (softened) -------- I used 8 oz of cream cheese and tried to estimate the difference with whipped cream, as per the hubby's request after making the Nutella cheesecake over the summer
1/2 cup granulated sugar -------- I used Splenda
1 (13 oz) jar of Nutella -------- I had approximately half a jar left, and so I used the remains there and made up the difference in JIF peanut butter (which was going to be the plan even if I had a whole jar of Nutella-- just use half)
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 (9-inch) prepared graham cracker crust -------- I used Oreo crust

So I mixed the 8 oz of cream cheese with the whipped cream (I used a spray of it rather than a plastic container-- I don't know how to approximate flying whipped cream, but let's say I went with six teaspoons) and the 1/2 cup of granulated Splenda. I then scooped out the half a jar of Nutella. Then I realized I'd used the only clean tablespoon for this job, and it was covered in Nutella. So I used a teaspoon for the peanut butter, and I think I got my math right. I went under the assumption that three teaspoons equals one tablespoon. And two tablespoons is one serving. And four servings was about what I needed. I think. Who knows? That's what I did though. So I had 12 teaspoons of JIF in the mix.

And that was a workout. I wonder if Julia Child could benchpress a bus. Anyway. I stirred for what felt like forever (sure, put that in your directions), and then I nuked two servings worth of Ghirardelli chocolate chips (a serving, according to the bag, is 32 chips. 32 chips is not a lot when you pour it in a cereal bowl and think, "This is supposed to be in a cheesecake." So I opted to double it.) for about a minute and poured that into the mix.

I stirred for another eternity. I wasn't pleased with the consistency, so I added more whipped cream (let's say 4-6 teaspoons) and stirred some more. Still wasn't happy with the cut of its jib, but I stirred as the recipe indicated, which was until no streaks remained. It was all one happy color of some kind of brown.

I poured it in the Oreo pie shell and tried to improve the appearance with more whipped cream. But I'm bad at that, so it still looks funny.

I'm confident it'll taste fine though. The remains in the mixing bowl were rich but DELICIOUS.

Both desserts are chillin' in the fridge until my husband and I are ready to hit the road later today. We then journey from the mountains of Maryland to the piedmont region of North Carolina and should arrive around 8-9pm. Lunch with the in-laws, followed by dinner with my family. Should be fun. I think.

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