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Guilt-Free Cheesecake!

After some experimenting, I've come up with a lightened cheesecake that I'm actually happy with. At 151 calories a slice. And 10 grams of protein. Eat a couple slices, and you might get away with calling it a meal!

Guilt-free Cheesecake!: It's a miracle!Guilt-free Cheesecake!: It's a miracle!

This recipe makes 8 slices. I'm using a 7" springform pan, so it won't look as thick if you're using a regular 9" cake pan. I got this one on Amazon. I've used it exactly twice so far so I can't speak for its durability, but so far I like it.

I used brownie mix for the "crust" but something else could certainly be substituted. I didn't have graham crackers or oreos on hand when I started experimenting, so I decided to just go with the brownie crust.

My Ingredients:

1/2 Cup Duncan Hines Dark Chocolate Fudge Brownies

1 Container Egg Beaters Original Perfect Portions
1 Cup Fage Nonfat Greek Strained Yogurt
1/2 Package Philadelphia Cream Cheese - Neufchatel (4 oz)
3/4 Cup Polly-o - Part-skim Ricotta Cheese
1/8 Cup Honeyville Soy Protein Isolate
1.5 Cups Granulated Splenda (Or less, if you prefer. It did turn out pretty sweet.)
2 Teaspoons Vanilla Extract

1/2 Can Comstock No Sugar Added Cherry Pie Filling

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Grease and flour your spring-form pan. (I use non-stick cooking spray.) If you don't have a springform pan, I've also been able to get away with carefully covering a normal cake pan with aluminum foil, and then greasing and flouring that.

In a small bowl, mix your 1/2 cup of brownie mix with some of the egg beaters and a bit of water. Spread that on the bottom of the pan And let it bake for a few minutes. (I'd suggest waiting until you're almost finished making the main filling before baking doing that.)

In a larger bowl, combine the Greek yogurt, Neufchatel cream cheese, Ricotta cheese, soy protein, Splenda, vanilla extract, and the rest of the egg beaters. Beat with a hand mixer until smooth. (A stick blender or something would probably do it too.)

After the crust has started to bake a bit, take it out of the oven and pour the cheesecake filling on top. Put it back in the oven and bake for about 50-60 minutes. You could probably avoid cracks by doing the whole water bath thing, but since I'm putting the cherry pie filling on top anyway, I'm not concerned about the cracks. It does rise above the edge of the pan a bit, but it sinks back down after it's been removed from the oven, and I haven't had it overflow and make a mess or anything.

Let the cheesecake cool first on the counter, and then in the refrigerator. Once it's finished chilling, spread the cherry pie filling on top. And voilĂ , you have dessert. Or lunch!

Each slice (1/8th of the cheesecake) has 151 calories, 7 grams of fat, 10 grams of protein, and 9 grams of sugar.

Chocolate Chip Health Cookies!

It's been forever since I did a cooking post, but I made some cookies that needed to be blogged. I've been seeing all these recipes lately for health desserts with beans and greek yogurt and all sorts of interesting ingredients, so I decided to try my hand at this. Introducing, the Chocolate Chip Super Health Cookie!
Chocolate Chip Health CookiesChocolate Chip Health Cookies
1 Jumbo Egg
1 Jumbo Egg White
Domino - Dark Brown Sugar, 1/4 Cup
Splenda - Granulated 3/4 Cup
1 Banana
Plain Non-fat Greek Yogurt 6oz (1 container)
Canned Chick Peas 1/2 cup
Vanilla Extract, 2 tsp (4g)

Milled Flax Seeds, 1/4 Cup
Soy Flour, 1/2 cup
Bread Flour 1/4 cup
Old Fashioned Oats Dry, 1 1/2 Cups
Baking soda, 1 tsp
Salt, 1/4 tsp

Mini Dark Chocolate Chips, 1/2 Cup

I'd read so many different recipes, and sorta ended up trying a bit of everything in this one. Procedure is the same as for any other cookies. Mix together the dry ingredients and set aside. Beat the eggs with the sugar and vanilla, and then add in the chick peas, banana, and Greek yogurt.
I used a stick blender instead of a regular mixer, so it smashed the chick peas for me. I also put the oats in a coffee grinder first, and ground most of them into a flour.
Mix in the dry ingredients, and then mix in the chocolate chips.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 10-12 minutes (whenever they start to brown.) It actually ended up making a lot of dough, about 3 cups worth, so I only baked half of it and stuck the other half in the refrigerator. I'm debating freezing it, but we'll see how fast the cookies go! Each cup of dough should make about 12 normal-sized cookies.

The flavor is very banana-y, I'm thinking that next time I'll only use half a banana and see how that goes. I may also cut back on the dry ingredients or add some water, because without butter, they don't spread out the way cookies ordinarily would while baking, so making the dough as thick as regular cookie dough probably wasn't the best idea. They are very nice and moist, they actually have more of a muffin feel to them.

Each cookie (assuming you make 3 dozen from the recipe) is 58 calories, with 3 grams of protein, 2 grams of fat, and 1 gram of fiber.

Plans for a Trunk, and Pickle Pictures

So I didn't get anything actually done.. But I did make some plans!Plans for a Cedar TrunkPlans for a Cedar Trunk

So I've been wanting some better storage, like something that actually looks nice. I have one trunk in the living room, not a very pretty one, but still better looking than most inexpensive storage. Rubbermaids are ugly!

So I'm making plans to build some trunks. Well, I'll start with one, then go from there. So I drew up some plans in Google Sketchup. The cedar boards don't come any wider than 8 inches, and only in even numbered widths, which made plans slightly more difficult, but I think I've got it figured out.

The body of the chest will be 16 inches tall, 18 inches deep and 32 inches wide (including the outside pieces on the sides.) The lid will be another four inches tall. I'd hadn't originally intended the lid to be quite so tall, but this seemed like the best design, given the size limitations for the cedar boards that Lowe's carries.
Pickles (The Milk is for Perspective!)Pickles (The Milk is for Perspective!)

And here's a picture of the pickling pickles next to a half-gallon of milk for perspective. See, the jar is bigger than it looked! They all fit with room to spare!

However, they're not yet pickled. It had been a week, but the insides didn't taste pickled. We put the cucumber spears back in the jar along with the rest of the still-pickling pickling cucumbers.

Seems that the color on that crock I was using wasn't so colorfast.. because some of it definitely seeped into the pickles and the garlic. I do hope it's not dangerous. But the coloring on the crock from a crock pot can't be dangerous, can it? It is meant for food.

Does the brine look darker than it should be? I think of brine as being lighter colored, but I'm not exactly an expert on pickling. And I assume that if the coloring from the crock seeped into the garlic and the not-yet-pickles, it's probably in the brine too.

Pickle Pot!

Big Pickle JarBig Pickle Jar Alright fine, it's actually a pickle jar. But that didn't sound like nearly such a good title!

I have, of course, been complaining about my lack of a properly photogenic pickling container. So yesterday Kris arrived home with this! I'll remove the label, but I just had to show off the fact that it's a gallon-sized pickle jar! And actually MEANT for pickles!

So.. now I have a big pickling jar and a crock of pickling cucumbers pickling in the fridge. Should I move them to the jar? Or might that hurt them? I'm not completely sure if all of them will fit. Some of them are a bit larger than I probably should have let them get, so that makes pickle arrangement less flexible.
So if they don't fit, then I would have to move them twice. Any advice? Should they just stay put for the pickling process, and I'll use the photogenic jar for the next batch?

I guess I really should have put the jar next to something in the picture, because besides the size written on it, you can't really gauge size from a pickle jar alone! Note to self: When taking a picture of something in order to demonstrate its size, put it next to something recognizable, to provide context.)

(The label design obviously belongs to Vlasic. I have no affiliation with them besides possession of a large jar previously home to Vlasic pickles.)

What A Crock of Pickles!

Submerged PicklesSubmerged Pickles More accurately, it will be a crock of pickles in 7 days. Currently, it's a crock of pickling cucumbers in brine.

Back in June, Yarndiva of Sew Old - Sew New commented on my first silk chiffon tunic post. Then I followed her back to her blog and discovered her Best Dill Pickles post. And so I planted some pickling cucumbers.
Now I have picked some pickling cucumbers and started them pickling!
Crock of PicklesCrock of Pickles
I hounded her quite a bit with pickling-noob questions. And only just noticed, upon checking that post again, that she has a picture of the salt and pickling spice that she used. And it's the same kosher salt that I got that says that it can be used in place of pickling salt, so I was thinking that maybe I'd gotten the wrong stuff. (Note to self: always look at the big pictures!)

I found that I had trouble finding proper pickling vessels. I ended up taking "crock" literally and using the crock from my crock pot. I probably should have picked the pickling cucumbers when they were smaller. Smaller cucumbers would have meant more flexibility with containers. I thought maybe I could fit them into a vase, but I couldn't. So this time it's a crock. Next time it'll be smaller pickles in a vase. That would definitely look better while they're pickling. I had trouble finding something that would work to weight the top to keep the pickling cucumbers submerged. I ended up using the lid from my Pyrex mixing bowl, because I needed something rather large in order to keep them all submerged. This is not a very photogenic pickling situation.

Kris thinks I'm crazy for wanting the cucumbers to look pretty while they're pickling, but it's not just in the fridge that I want them to look pretty. A crock pot crock and a Pyrex mixing bowl lid don't make for pretty blog pictures either! Definitely not as photogenic as Yarndiva's milk jar.

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