Cranberry Cheesecake

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Tis the season and between cooking, traveling, shopping, running the box and wodding I haven’t had time to breathe let alone keep up with my blog posting.  Whew!  Christmas is only days away and it’s time to begin whipping up some holiday treats.  This cranberry cheesecake remake from Southern Living is well worth the efforts and you can manage to wrap a few presents between steps.

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Prepare the crust and press onto the bottom and up the sides of a 9″ springform pan and bake according to recipe

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Place the cranberries and next 7 ingredients in a saucepan

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Cook until cranberry skins begin to split and mixture thickens; let stand 30 minutes

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Pour cranberry mixture into prepared crust reserving 1/2 cup

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Add cream cheese and next 3 ingredients to a medium size mixing bowl

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Beat until smooth; add in eggs one at a time along with vanilla

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Pour cream cheese mixture over cranberries and smooth top of batter to level; bake as directed

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Loosen sides carefully with a knife or spatula and allow to cool at room temperature.  Then refrigerate 8 hours or overnight.

You can purchase sugared cranberries for the garnish but they’re pretty simple to make yourself. . .

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Follow the recipe below and allow the cranberries to soak overnight in the fridge while the cheesecake is chillin’

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The next morning drain them, roll in the superfine sugar and let dry at room temp for about an hour.

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To assemble your cheesecake; place on a serving dish, carefully remove the sides of the springform pan, spread the cranberry sauce to near the edge of the cheesecake and garnish with fresh mint leaves, orange peel curls and a few of the sugared cranberries.  The rest can be used as a delightful snack!

Enjoy!

Recipe & Ingredients

Crust

1 Best Ever Pie Crust (and gluten free)

Filling

1 pound fresh organic cranberries
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup fresh organic raspberries
2 tablespoons non GMO cornstarch|
3 tablespoons Grand Marnier
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped orange zest
1 1/2 tablespoons coarsely chopped lemon zest
1/4 teaspoon sea salt

Cheesecake

3, 8 oz packages organic cream cheese, softened at room temperature
2, 8 oz containers organic creme fraiche or sour cream
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
5 large eggs
2 tablespoons vanilla

Sauce

1/4 cup organic cane sugar
1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

Preparation

Prepare crust as directed for a one crust pie.  Preheat over to 350 degrees.  Press mixture onto bottom and up sides of a lightly greased (with coconut oil) 9-inch springform pan.  Chill 10 minutes.  Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until golden brown; cool in pan on a wire rack 30 minutes.

Prepare Filling:  bring cranberries and next 7 ingredient to a boil in a saucepan over medium-high heat; cook, stirring often, 2 minutes or until cranberry skins begin to split and mixture thickens.  Let stand 30 minutes.  Reserve 1/2 cup cranberry mixture for sauce.  Spread remaining cranberry mixture in prepared crust.

Prepare Cheesecake:  reduce oven temperature to 325.  Beat cream cheese and next 3 ingredients at medium-low speed with an electric mixer in a large bowl just until blended and smooth.  Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating at low speed just until yolk disappears after each addition.  Stir in vanilla.  Pour cream cheese mixture over cranberry mixture and smooth top of batter to level.  Place cheesecake on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet.

Bake at 325 for 1 hour and 10 minutes or until center of cheesecake jiggles.  Turn oven off.  Let cheesecake stand in oven with door closed, 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare Sauce:  process 1/4 cup cane sugar, next 2 ingredients, reserved 1/2 cup cranberry mixture and 1/4 cup water in a food processor until smooth.  Pour mixture through a fine wire-mesh strainer into a bowl.  Discard solids.  Cover sauce, and chill until ready to use.

Remove cheesecake from oven and gently run a knife around outer edge of cheesecake to loosen from sides of pan.  Do not remove sides.  Cool completely on a wire rack (about 2 hours).  Cover and chill 8 to 12 hours.  Serve with sauce and garnish with sugared cranberries*, fresh mint leaves and orange peel curls.

 Sugared Cranberries:  combine 2 cups sugar and 2 cups of water in a small saucepan over low heat stirring mixture until sugar dissolves.  Bring to just under a boil and remove from heat.  Stir in cranberries; pour mixture into a bowl.  Cover and refrigerate 8 hours or overnight.  Drain cranberries and save steeping liquid for other uses (hint:  excellent for cocktails).  Place superfine sugar in a shallow dish; add the cranberries rolling to coat with sugar.  Place in a single layer on a parchment lined baking sheet and let stand at room temperature for 1 hour or until dry.  Yum!

The Golden Goose

I hope you get a chuckle out of this story as it’s just too funny not to share along with the recipe. . .

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At Thanksgiving my sister in law and I always plan the forthcoming Christmas meal. Two years ago we decided that we would try something a little different that year and roast a goose. I had never roasted one before and promptly began researching recipes. I am always in charge of the meal planning and cooking while she does the decorating and table setting.

Wanting to be on top of things and not chance being unable to get a pastured goose around the holidays I promptly ordered one from my local Whole Foods early December and asked my husband to pick it up for us.

In the middle of a busy workday I get a call from my husband. Upon answering comes the bark “PJ, do you know how much this f’ing goose cost?” No dear, how much? “$135, that’s ridiculous and I don’t even like goose.” Hmmm, to my knowledge he’d never eaten goose. Ok dear I replied that is a bit much don’t buy it, we’ll cook something else. “I’m not f’ing taking it back, I’m halfway home. But I’m not eating it.” Now the goose was $7.99 a pound and weighed 14 pounds, it ending up feeding around 8 with a few leftovers. Reasonable if you ask me.

My husband is like a pit bull that got hold of a bone and just won’t let it go sometimes. I had to listen that for the next 2 weeks. I named it the ‘Golden Goose’. Every time the topic of Christmas dinner came up I heard the story again. And again.  With embellishments.  He complained about having to “drag the goose to Jacksonville.”  Really?  It rode in the back in a cooler.

The roasted goose turned out splendidly and was raved about by the entire family.  The potatoes were incredibly delicious–nice and crisp from cooking in the duck fat.  The meat was exceptionally moist and the flavor superb if I must say so myself.  I rendered the fat which we used for the next several months to make delights such as duck fat fries and I made stock out of the leftover carcass and froze it for future use.

When I made the duck fat fries a few weeks later he remarked “what did you do different, the fries are even better than usual?”  The following March I had made some soup from the goose stock which my husband was raving about wanting to know what was so spectacular about this flavor. Hahaha, I couldn’t help but let him know he was again eating the golden goose–the goose that kept on giving.  Now do you see?? I just love it when he realizes I was right. . .

If you’re thinking of roasting a goose this holiday try out this recipe from James Beard.  I have been a fan of his since the 70’s and the cookbook I’ve had since then is well worn.  After searching several recipes I went with his and this wisdom. . .

“There is a great deal of fat on a goose. Therefore it should be roasted slowly and on a rack so that the bird will crisp while the fat drips down into the roasting pan. I like to roast potatoes in the goose fat, for they become rather crispy and thoroughly saturated with flavor. Reserve the fat for future cooking. It can be used for many dishes. I always like to serve a large bowl of watercress with goose. It is so refreshing and seems somehow to offer an appropriate contrast of flavor as well as color.” –James Beard

And here is his recipe:  I didn’t change a thing

Recipe & Ingredients

1 goose
18 pitted prunes that have been soaked in Madeira for 4 days
6 apples, peeled, cored and halved
Nutmeg and lemon slices
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 potatoes, peeled and quartered lengthwise

Preparation

Stuff the goose with the prunes and the apples, which have been lightly salted and dusted with a bit of nutmeg. Here and there add a lemon slice. Place the goose on a rack in a rather deep pan, and cover lightly with foil. Roast at 325ºF. At the end of 2 1/2 hours remove the foil and baste with the drippings. Continue roasting till browned and tender. A large goose should take about 3 or 3 1/2 hours to cook.

Add the potatoes to the bottom of the pan 1 hour after the goose is placed in the oven.  They will be ready with the goose—delicious, crisp, and rich as can be!

Holiday Wodding & New Rear Goals

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I don’t know about you but all that rich holiday food and desserts–despite making it all myself left me feeling fatigued on Monday. It’s taken me until today to feel fully recovered. Is it all just food?  After all I stayed away from 2 things that affect me poorly – alcohol and gluten.  As with most things in life it’s usually a combo. I ate a lot more of things I don’t usually such as sugar and gluten free flour. While healthier than a processed pastry from Dunkin’ Donuts it’s still a treat that’s best had in moderation.

Not to mention extra time and efforts spent in the kitchen before and after the holiday, throw in traveling and off your normal routine, up later than usual and non stop activity and yes, that will bring on extra fatigue especially for those of us that are over 30 or 40 or 50. . .

So it’s back on the fit track because ho ho ho there’s another holiday right around the corner.  As far as December goes it’s not the best month to start a new program provided you’ve been training hard the whole year through.  It’s a time of the year that I personally don’t plan on working out my hardest or being my leanest. Come on, we’ve got to let go a little and live, relax and enjoy the good times with family and friends.  Plus, it’s cold outside.

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It’s not however a time to totally slack off, avoid working out and become gluttonous. It’s a time to maintain and moderately indulge with some semblance of health consciousness. The time between Thanksgiving and Christmas (or whatever holiday you celebrate) is a time to practice some moderation.  I know there are holiday parties to attend, shopping, wrapping and decorating to do and the closer it gets to the holiday more kitchen duty but in between get in a few sprints.

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Lift something heavy, doesn’t have to be a barbell. . .

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Push a sled fast — you don’t need reindeer!  But get in some activity to balance your indulgences.

Adjust your schedule if needed: For those that work out religiously throughout the year, cut back a day if your schedule is over loaded with holiday parties, preparation, decorating and shopping – it’s okay. I typically work out 4 days a week but this month some weeks it may only be 3 times.  Make those times count with effort and intensity.

Change it up if needed: I lift heavy and sprint year round. That’s what I’m training for. During the month of December I will take some ‘active rest’. I don’t mean I sit on the couch and eat Godiva truffles. Confession: maybe I eat a few. I lighten it up a little, mix up my wods to a degree and give the body a much needed break from the normal routine during this joyous but often stressful time.

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Work on some neglected skills or mobility drills:  with a thorough warm up you can have a great active recovery day by working on form and technique on weight lifting movements you struggle with or spend some time improving limiting factors.  You would be surprised how just sweat inducing and mentally stimulating this can be.

Set some goals: During the latter weeks of the year I reflect on what I want the next training year to bring and design a tentative periodized training plan. It will need to be changed and tweaked but the main goals are addressed and a plan is set.  These are your goals and what you want to get out of your training. They will vary greatly from person to person. Nothing like putting them out there to friends, family and the world to see to keep you accountable. Make a commitment and lay it on the line.

What are my goals? Since 2008 they have been to stay fit, healthy and looking as good as possible naked for my age. This year I’ve added a new one. Here it is my friends I am putting it out there. . . I am going to do a competition. I’ve thought those days were done and from an athletic standpoint they are. Now before you start telling me about all the Masters competitions. . .

• I have no desire to compete in CrossFit. Why? It’s a great sport and I love our community but I dislike endurance. Period.

• I competed for years in the Women’s Tri Fitness Obstacle Course competitions. That was my sport—I loved it, the people and the camaraderie. I achieved my 10 year goal of running the course in under a minute with a score of 59:69 in 2007. After 2 knee surgeries and at 54 years of age I am an intelligent realist and grateful that I was able to achieve the above at 47 years of age.  Chapter enjoyed but closed.

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• I have one empty spot on my personal ‘sports’ collage. . . I am going to do the over 50 figure comp at the 2015 Tampa Bay Classic with a group of women from our box. In 1997 I competed in the novice bodybuilding division of that same show and here we are 18 years later. OK. That’s done. I put it out there.  We call that committed. In the meantime. . .

Let’s enjoy the month of December and holiday festivities. Indulge wisely, get physical activity in at least 3 x a week and take some time to reflect of your goals for 2015 and what YOU are training for!