Wednesday, February 10, 2010

"Lime In The Coconut" Frosted Cheesecake Bars

I really shouldn't have.  But I did.  The good news is that I was able to control myself.  But it was hard.  I had to give most of them away.  Which was even harder because I wanted to keep them all to myself.  I can be selfish like that sometimes.  I'm working on it.  

These delectable bars were created by a very talented cooking friend of mine, Janice Elder, and they won the online voter's choice award last year in the Mix It Up With Betty! Cookie Mix Recipe Contest.  They are fluffy, creamy and dreamy with a flavor combination that I just adore--coconut and lime.  I didn't have the canned whipped cream cheese frosting that the original recipe calls for, so I came up with my own version, and it worked out very nicely.

Frosted cheesecake?  Does life get any better than that?

“Lime in the Coconut” Frosted Cheesecake Bars

Slightly adapted from Betty Crocker

Cookie Base:
1 pouch Betty Crocker Sugar Cookie Mix
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/3 cup softened butter
1 egg, slightly beaten

2 (8-ounce) packages softened cream cheese
1 (16-ounce) can cream of coconut
3 tablespoons lime juice
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs

1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 cup heavy cream, whipped
1 1/4 cup toasted coconut
2 teaspoons lime zest

1.    Heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray the bottom and sides of 13 x 9-inch pan with cooking spray. In large bowl, stir cookie base ingredients until soft dough forms. Press evenly in bottom of pan. Bake 15 to 18 minutes or until golden brown. Cool 15 minutes.

2.    Meanwhile, in a large bowl, beat 2 packages cream cheese with electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy. Beat in cream of coconut until well blended.  Beat in lime juice, vanilla and 2 eggs until smooth. Spread over cookie base.

3.    Bake 40 to 45 minutes or until set and light golden brown on edges. Cool 30 minutes at room temperature. Refrigerate 1 hour to cool completely.

4.    For the frosting, beat the cream cheese and butter until fluffy.  Add the powdered sugar and beat until creamy and smooth.  Gently fold in the whipped heavy cream.  Carefully spread frosting over filling. Sprinkle with coconut and lime peel. Cover; refrigerate 30 minutes. For bars, cut into 6 rows by 4 rows. Store covered in refrigerator.

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Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Rustic Venison And Vegetable Soup

When I was growing up, my dad used to make this vegetable soup often during the winter.  He used beef stew meat but I usually use deer meat and it works really well.  This soup is very satisfying and quite healthy.  I think it's the combination of vegetables that I love so much, especially the cabbage.  It will taste better the next day, but the vegetables will definitely soften and break up when refrigerated overnight.

You can easily substitute beef for the deer.  I have used beef stew meat or a chuck roast that I cut up myself.  I always like to leave the skins on the potatoes, but you could certainly peel them.  I often buy the bags of baby carrots and throw those in there whole just to make my life easier.  I hate peeling things.     

Rustic Venison and Vegetable Soup

2 pounds venison ham or shoulder meat, cut into about 1 1/2-inch cubes
Salt and pepper to season meat and soup
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
2 celery ribs, sliced
2 cloves garlic, finely minced or pressed
6-10 cups beef broth, divided (or 6-10 cups water plus 1 bouillon cube per cup)
2 bay leaves
3-4 medium red or yellow skinned potatoes, scrubbed and cut into 1/2-inch cubes, peeling left on
1 cup baby carrots or sliced carrots
1 bunch broccoli, cut into florets
1 head cauliflower, cut into florets
1/2 head of cabbage, chopped into 1-inch pieces
1 (14 1/2-ounce) can golden corn, drained (or equivalent in frozen corn)

  1. Season venison with salt and pepper.
  2. In a large heavy soup pot, heat olive oil over medium-high heat and add venison.  Cook in batches until brown, adding more oil if necessary.  Remove and set aside.
  3. Add onions, celery and garlic and cook just until soft.  Add the venison back to the pot, then add 6 cups beef broth and the bay leaves.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low or just enough to simmer.  Simmer covered for 2-3 hours or until meat is tender.
  4. Add potatoes and next four ingredients and increase heat to medium-high.  Add just enough beef broth to cover vegetables.  Add more salt and pepper to taste.  Cover and cook for 15-20 minutes or until vegetables are tender.  Remove bay leaves before serving. 
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