May 26, 2015

Butterscotch and Brown Sugar Cheesecake

The Graham Crackers just want to be one of the cool kids.
Here's photographic evidence that they're not.
Have you ever wanted to look pure happiness and joy in the face, and then eat the crap out of it? Me too! It's an essential part of the human experience, right up there with self sabotage and cheating on our taxes. But it can be hard to achieve. According to Harry Potter, unicorn blood will turn you into some sort of vengeful garlic monster, so that leaves us with Cheesecake. And if you're already making cheesecake, you may as well make ridiculously awesome cheesecake!


16 oz Cream Cheese
8 oz Sour Cream
6 oz Butterscotch Morsels (3/4 of a package)
5 oz pouch Cinnamon Graham Crackers 
1 cup, and also 1 TBSP of Brown Sugar (Why did I mention them seperately? Because they're being used in seperate parts of the recipe. Slow your roll.)
1 stick Butter 
3 Eggs
1/2 tsp Vanilla Extract
The juice from 1/2 a lemon (To get this, take a lemon, cut it in half, and squeeze the crap out of it. Preferably over some sort of container. Bonus points if you remove the seeds)

So, full disclosure here, this is a dolled-up, fancy version of my mom's cheesecake. Because other cheesecakes aren't as good, so adapting them into an "original" creation would have been heathen nonsense. Now that that's out of the way, the first thing you're gonna need to do is take the Cream Cheese out of the fridge so that it can soften, and also so it can get a kick out of watching you do this next part. Because now it's time to make your crust. Oh, calm down, it won't be that bad. Take your Graham Crackers, put them in a sealable plastic bag, and smash the living hell out of them. Extra points if you preemptively channel the rage you will soon feel at other cheesecakes for wasting your goddamn time. Once your crackers are smashed into powdery nonsense, add in your tablespoon of Brown Sugar. Melt your butter, turn off the heat, and stir your cracker-sugar-powder (Which sounds like an adorable euphemism for cocaine) and mix it all up. It should look and feel kind of like that moldable sand that you wished your parents would buy you when you were 9. If you don't know what that is, get a better class of childhood. The point is, you should take your powdery sludge, put it in a pie tin, and press it down until you've got a thin layer all across the bottom, and it stretches up the sides about an inch. You can use any number of instruments to help with this, including a measuring cup, a sack of marbles, or your freaking hands already.

Now that your crust is made and your cheese is soft and amused (I'm pretty sure "Soft and Amused" will be the title of the 3rd Paul Blart movie), you've got some options. You can be a sad weakling who relies on mixers and other electronic contrivances, or you can be a man, who doesn't need any power source other than his will to conquer nature and eat some cheesecake. In either case you'll need a bowl. Add in your Cream Cheese and the rest of your Brown Sugar, and mix the hell out of it, until it's nice and smooth. Then add in your Lemon Juice, and one of your Eggs. Keep stirring, and slowly add in the other two Eggs. By now, you should either have a manly ache in your arm, or a....kind of buzzing in your ear from having listened to your mixer do all the heavy lifting for you. Take your gooey, sugary, awesomeness, and spread it out over your crust. Then throw that sucker in a 375 degree oven for 30 minutes.

For those of you paying close attention, yes, we still have more ingredients, and we aren't quite done yet. Congratulations on your alacrity. There's no cash prize, but you've built some nice character. Doesn't that feel good? While your cheesecake is cooking for those 35 minutes, whisk together your Sour Cream and Vanilla. Then melt your Butterscotch Morsels. You're gonna melt them the same way you would chocolate. For a guy with a funny accent giving simple and easy instructions on how to do that, check this out (Or, to see a slightly more convoluted instructional from a guy who looks like he probably has hitchhikers chained up in his basement, try this). Once it's good and melted, slowly whisk it into your Sour Cream mixture, in small batches. Why? Because if you dump it all in, your melted Butterscotch will harden into nonsense, and your cream will get too hot, and all your friends will laugh at you, and you'll cry. You'll lie about it later, but you'll cry. After 35 minutes, take your cake out of the oven, and spread your Butterscotch Cream mix over it. Put it back in the oven for another 15 minutes, then crank
There it is. Taunting you with its deliciousness. Smug bastard.
the heat up to 475 and let it caramelize a little on top. It should still be slightly jiggly in the middle (Mystery Link) when you take it out. Then let it cool down, stick it in the fridge, eat the entire thing in one sitting, and lie to your friends about how you accidentally dropped it on the floor!

May 19, 2015

Baked Salami

Not pictured: Honey and Hot Sauce. They know what they did
It's time to get realistic for a minute. Just a minute, and then I'll be back to my normal unrealistic self. Not everybody has the time or inclination to make some fancy bourgeoise recipe every time they cook. Maybe you don't care that much about food, maybe you're super rich and have a personal chef, or maybe you're just lazy, and live in your parents' basement. Whatever the reason, there will still come a time when you'll want to be able to make somebody some awesome food. A girlfriend you hope to turn into something more, your friend who watched Food Network WAY too much, your parole officer. SOMEBODY. And this is a super simple recipe that'll help you impress those people and stuff them full of deliciousness, without the hassle of learning valuable life skills.


1 lb Dry Beef Salami
1/3 cup Dijon Mustard
1/4 cup Dark Brown Sugar
1.5 TBSP Balsamic Vinegar
1/2 tsp Honey
An unspecified amount of Hot Sauce (You're looking for a good basic heat here. Nothing too fancy, like you kids are into these days, with your sriracha's or what have you. I wanna say.....whippersnappers?)

The first step is to return the pre-sliced, grocery-store, hyphenate-adjective-inducing Salami that you probably bought, and get something better. Because the Salami is the heart and soul of this dish. Also because good salami is an incredible thing and you should find it, get it, and love it. Once you find a salami worthy of your love, you're ready to get started. 

As promised, this recipe is pretty damned simple. Put your Brown Sugar into a bowl, pour you Balsamic Vinegar over it and stir. This will cause the sugar to melt like a roomful of nazis who just saw the ark of the covenant. Hah! Gross. Still hungry? Let's keep going anyway. The meltiness is a good thing. Melty sugar is able to mix much more easily with the other ingredients. Speaking of the other ingredients, now is a good time to take your Mustard, Honey, and a dash of Hot Sauce (how much is a "dash?" A very small amount. How small? Think about how spicy you like things, and figure it out), and splorp them down on top of your vinegar-sugar mixture. Seriously. All of them. Just mix it all together until it's all one homogenous goop. 

Technically, you don't HAVE to smear a little sauce on each
slice. Far be it from me to call you a fool
Take your Salami, and slather it in the goop. Throw it in a pan, and pour any extra sauce you've got lying around all up ons it. If you want to be extra fancy, score it with a knife so it'll crisp up all pretty and make your hypothetical parole officer swoon. Throw that sucker (the salami, not the parole officer) in a 350 degree oven, and cook it for an hour. When you take it out of the oven, try not to be blinded by the sheer awesome you created. Close your eyes if you have to. When you eventually recover from the burns you suffered getting it out of the oven with your eyes closed, slice it, serve it, and enjoy!

May 12, 2015

Sausage Bites

The ketchup lurked in the shadows, waiting to strike.
Every now and again, there comes a time when you can't take gigantic, wholesome, American bites of your food. Maybe you're meeting your impending in-laws for the first time, and one of them is the town sheriff. Maybe you're throwing a fancy dinner party to finally prove to your friends and family that you're insane. Maybe you just have tiny untrustworthy hands. In any event, it's useful to know how to make some bite sized awesomeness that manages to pack a whole lot of flavor into a small package. #innuendo


1 lb Polish Sausage
3/4 cup Heinz Ketchup (Normally I don't advocate the use of a specific brand. But come on. Unless you make homemade ketchup or you don't have taste buds, there are no substitutes)
2 Lemons
1 standard-issue Onion
1 package of Fillo Shells
1 TBSP Light Brown Sugar
1 tsp Olive Oil
1 average-sized human's pinch of Salt

The first thing you need to do is make some friends. Because nothing's more sad than eating a tray of party food alone. So work on those personality defects, buy some new clothes, and get cracking on that. Once that's taken care of, chop your Polish Sausage into itty bitty sausage chunks. Then dice your Onion, and sauté it in a saucepan along with your Oil and your official Pinch 'O Salt. The party line is to let it cook until it "starts to get some color," which sounds more like yuppies talking about how they spent their summers than it sounds like cooking, but what can you do? I suppose you could give more reasonable instructions. Cook them for about 3 minutes, until they start looking yellowish, smell awesome and oniony, and aren't as hard as they used to be. Toss your Sausage in to the pan (#innuendo) and let it cook down, stirring occasionally, for about 3 more minutes.

Now it's time for the fun part, and by "fun," I mean "messy." So I guess I experience fun the same way that toddlers and the profoundly drunk do. Toss in your brown sugar, and stir it about until it melts. Then add in your Ketchup and stir it together until it forms a thick gloppy sausage mess. Cut your Lemons in half, and squeeze the crap out of them until they give up their delicious juice, which you should add to your pan. Be careful not to let any of the approximately 174 seeds that live in each lemon drop in with your juice. Pick out the seeds you failed to keep out of your pan, throw a lid on there, turn the heat all the way down to low, and let it cook for about 20 minutes. You'll know it's ready when your entire house smells like lemony, sausagey awesomeness. Also by the clock reading 20 minutes later than when you started.
They pair well with too much scotch. But then again,
so does everything.
Once your sausage mixture is ready, arrange your shells as snootily as you can on a serving tray. Dish a little bit (Or, you know...a LOT. Probably too much. Too much.) of your sausage mix into each shell. And there you have it! Bite-sized, delicious morsels perfect for an unfortunate dinner party, a more fortunate actual party, or for morosely consoling yourself on your failure to make any friends at the beginning of the second paragraph. The only thing left to do is put the delicious bites of sausage in your mouth (#in....your endo)

May 5, 2015

Baked Jalapeño Poppers

YOU get a pepper, and YOU get a pepper...
It's Cinco De Mayo! In honor of that, I was thinking I'd whip up a traditional Mexican dish. Then I thought about it for more then a second, and changed my mind. Because, with very few exceptions, Cinco De Mayo is more of an American holiday than a Mexican one. So I decided to go for something more Americanized-Mexican. And what's more kind-of-but-not-really-Mexican than stuffing a chili pepper with, among other things, cream cheese? That's more pseudo-Mexican than a luchador eating Taco Bell in a Ford Pinto.


4 Jalapeño Peppers
3.5 oz. Cream Cheese
2.5 oz. Colby Jack Cheese
3/4 Cup Tortilla Chips (If you want to be a super-special badass, you can make your own Tortilla chips. For this recipe, it really won't make a difference, but I suppose it'll let you dickishly one-up your friends who followed this recipe)
1/4 tsp Cumin
1/4 tsp Smoked Paprika
1/4 tsp Garlic Powder
1 average-sized human's pinch of Black Pepper
1 smallish-sized human's pinch of Salt 

The first thing you need to do is embrace your love of a culture that you don't truly understand, but will to use as an excuse to get drunk anyhow. It's hard, I know. It's not like you have any experience from things like St. Patrick's day. Are you there yet? Cool. Now it's time to take your Jalapeños and cut them in half lengthwise. Unless you really like the spiciness, or you're making these for your enemies, scoop out the seeds, along with the internal membrane.
"I hate broccoli. And yet, in a certain sense, I AM broccoli"
These things are where most of the spiciness lives, and I saw an article that tried to get me to believe they can be removed relatively easily with a standard-issue spoon. I tried it myself, and was actually pleasantly surprised with the results.

Shred the crap out of your Colby Jack cheese, and mix it in to your Cream Cheese along with your pinch 'o Salt. Take your cheese glop, and evenly spread it all up insides your jalapeño halves. As a fun side note, dairy helps with spiciness, by binding the capsaicin, and then taking it on a fun journey out of your mouth, and into your digestive system. So you're largely disarming your peppers by scooping out their innards, and then further demoralizing them by stuffing them full of their kryptonite. This recipe, more than anything else, is about torturing peppers. Once your peppers are openly weeping at their own impotence, crush your tortilla chips up, and mix them with the Cumin, Paprika, Garlic Powder, and Black Pepper.
Have you ever had cheesy, gooey, spicy, crunchy, and
awesome all at once? It's kinda like that, but more so.
Take this mixture, and press it firmly down in your glop-filled, saddened peppers. Add more on top for kicks, and then throw those babies into a 350 degree oven for about 20 minutes (Note for the stupidly literal: Don't actually throw them into the oven. Place them into the oven, like a normal human being would have been able to infer). Once the cheese is gooey and melty and awesome, take them out, and wait for them to cool slightly before consuming them all in a shame-inducing binge. I'm just kidding! You won't be able to wait. See you in the burn ward.