My mother and brother came to visit for Thanksgiving and the weekend was spent eating, watching basketball games, eating more, and traveling to IKEA to pick up furniture for Matteo’s new room.
I’ve been cooking a lot. Thanksgiving dinner, of course, (which I give myself a B- for, it wasn’t my best I have to admit) but lots of other stuff too like pumpkin waffles, this spinach and gruyère strata (always a crowd-pleaser), and leftover turkey and dumplings. I’m getting better at cooking for people and am learning that making hearty, cold-weather foods comes much easier for me.
One lesson I learned the hard way this weekend, don’t set a dirty dishes outside your kitchen door! Our kitchen is tiny, so I set the hot roasting pan outside on the concrete while we used the rest of the counterspace to wash and dry the other dishes. When my mom went to go get it, an opossum was licking up all the juicy turkey scraps that were stuck to the bottom of it. Eeeeew. No matter how much bleach I pour on that thing I don’t think I’ll ever be able to use that pan again. Kevin and I also saw him when he came back for seconds. That sucker was HUGE and totally going for his.
In more pleasant news, Matteo is a great help in the kitchen and this year we made the gingersnap pie crust for my traditional pumpkin cheesecake together.
I want him to appreciate food and the process of making it. I think my favorite part of the whole weekend was Saturday night when I was cooking up the strata for Sunday’s breakfast. He came in the kitchen, looked up at me sweetly and said, “Smells pretty good, Mama!” I thought I was going to melt faster than the butter in my pan.
Here’s the recipe for our special cheesecake. It’s adapted from Cooking Light so it’s fairly guilt-free.
Ginger Pumpkin Cheesecake
37 gingersnap cookies, coarsely broken (about 9 ounces)
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 (8-ounce) block fat-free cream cheese, softened
1 (8-ounce) block 1/3-less-fat cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin
1. Preheat oven to 350°.
2. To prepare crust, finely grind gingersnaps in processor. Add butter and blend until crumbs are evenly moistened. Press mixture over bottom and up sides of 9-inch springform pan coated with cooking spray. Bake crust until color darkens, about 8 minutes. Cool completely.
3. Reduce oven temperature to 300°.
4. To prepare filling, place cream cheeses in a food processor; process until smooth. Add 3/4 cup granulated sugar and next 4 ingredients (through pumpkin); process until smooth. Add eggs, 1 at a time; process well after each addition. Pour cheese mixture into prepared pan. Bake at 300° for 50 minutes or until almost set. Turn oven off; partially open oven door. Cool cheesecake in oven 30 minutes. Remove from oven; cool on a wire rack. Cover and chill 8 hours.