My adventures in pregnancy, motherhood and beyond

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Saturday, February 5, 2011

Beef Empanadas and Cheesecakes

I spent yesterday baking, crafting, cooking and baking AGAIN.

Last week, James decided that he wanted to make a cheesecake. I had made him one before for his birthday, though because I lacked an electric mixer (hand-held or otherwise) I made it with a potato masher, holding the mixing bowl between my feet, sitting on the floor in front of the tv (it took forever to mix). But in the end it turned out ok, so I wanted to use the same recipe this time. I figured I could find it on the back of the Philadelphia cream-cheese package like last time. Upon getting to the store, I found that the only recipe on the box was for a spaghetti bolognese sauce. Using our smarthphones (yay smartphones) we looked up a recipe really quickly. It didn't sound like the one I'd used before, but we figured it would be just as good. So whole James was at work, I pulled out my kitchenaid (love!) and started to make the cheesecake. I got the crusts down, and mixed up the filling, poured it in and stuck the pie pans in the oven. Well, did I get a surprise. When I took out the cheesecakes they had both risen like a souffle and one had even cracked. When James got home, he tried to take the cheesecake out of the pan, which failed, then ate it from the pan itself. It did not taste like cheesecake. So we went off to the store to get cheesecake supplies and ingredients for our dinner (beef empanadas).

The beef empanadas were a recipe from real simple, and sounded pretty good. So we got the ingredients, but when we went to get the 1/2 lb beef, the prices were just ridiculous! I meant, at fresh and easy, we get beef for $1.99/lb, but it was like $6.99/lb at the store on the island. Since it was pretty much the same price, we ended up getting bison, which I love. It tastes like beef, but it's much healthier and more sustainable (as of now at least). With our ingredients in hand, we went home to make empanadas and a new-york style cheesecake. James grilled up the beef, and we used a half of an onion that we'd previously chopped up. In fact, the only thing we didn't have at home were the refrigerated pie crusts and the golden raisins. If you're gonna make this, take out the pie crusts about a half hour before! They need to thaw (or else they will tear!)!!! Despite James' hesitation about raisins, beef and ketchup together, the empanadas turned out really well. Instead of a cookie cutter (since I don't have a round one) I used a drinking glass, which had a diameter of over 3 inches. It still seemed small. We could put about a tablespoon of the beef mixture in. Make sure you press the edges of the crust together really well, or else they'll come apart while you're baking them and they'll look like weird little tacos. Anyways, we didn't use sour cream, but they were delicious. James liked them so much he took the leftovers to work for lunch the next day!
mmm yummy

Then the second cheesecake attempt. We used this recipe and it turned out great. The cheesecake rose a bit, but didn't crack, and it ended up tasting great. We did make a few changes, and there are a few things I'd like to change the next time. We lined the pie pan with aluminum foil, leaving enough foil along the outside to use as handles to make pulling the cheesecake out easier. I'd recommend cutting the crust recipe in thirds, since we only used about 2/3 of the crumbs and the rest went into another pie pan that we didn't have enough filling for.  Baking the crusts for 10 minutes before really helped a lot since it made the crust nice and crispy. One thing I had learned is to put the cream cheese in the mixer first, beat it for a while, then add in the sugar and the eggs as the mixer was on low. With these proportions, the filling is nice and liquid-like, easy to pour into the crust. The sour cream topping was super easy, just pour it on the top of the cheesecake and bake for another 10 minutes. The foil worked magnificently, and we transferred the cheesecake to a plate in the fridge, where we left it overnight. The next day James cut the cheesecake into 8 pieces (the recipe says 16) and we had it for dessert. It was delicious! It tasted so good! Maybe a bit heavy on the sour cream, but as long as the bite had everything- topping, filling, crust- it tasted great. And it looked a lot better than the previous cheesecakes had. Just be careful when you're cracking eggs, since I lost a bit of the shell in the mix and had to find it the hard way---yuck, but it still tasted delicious!

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