The Ultimate Cheesecake, Absolutely.

Tyler Florence is one of my favorite Food Network chefs. He’s really likable, and his simple way of cooking good food makes you want to try all his recipes. And, let’s face it, he has THE coolest kitchen set of all the Food Network chefs. I drool over the green subway tile and copper pots hanging in his kitchen….

Look at the tile, not Tyler.

But back to the point of this post. I was asked to make dessert for my mom’s birthday party in January. She likes cheesecake, so I set out to find the best cheesecake recipe. Enter Tyler and his Ultimate Cheesecake: creamy, sweet, tart, and tangy, this cheesecake was absolutely amazing. I followed the recipe exactly since cheesecakes can be a little testy, and it turned out perfect; just like the picture!

Tip: Make the cheesecake & blueberry topping the night before, and then let them sit in the fridge all night before putting it all together. If you do this, your cheesecake won’t melt and the blueberries won’t be quite as runny. Have leftover blueberry sauce? Serve it on the side, or save it for pancakes the next morning!

The Best Banana Bread…EVER!

(Tuesday evening)

Inevitably, we always end up with a bunch of bananas on the counter that are over-ripe. There are many different ways you can use them: banana muffins, banana pudding, banana cream pie. All of these get better the riper the banana. But, by far, my favorite recipe to use over-ripe bananas in, is this recipe I found at foodnetwork.com.

I follow the base of this recipe to the tee – as you should for any dessert. But, I have found that you can adjust the amount of bananas a bit, remove one or add an extra, it doesn’t seem to affect the end result: an amazingly moist, satisfying, not-overly-sweet, version of an American favorite. The only way I know to make it better is to add a couple handfuls of chocolate chips to the batter. What can be better than bananas, nuts, and chocolate in a cake-like bread? Not much, unless you warm up a slice and add a pat of butter. :)


I have five over-ripe bananas sitting on my counter right now….

Best Banana Bread

 

(Wednesday evening)

….and tonight I used them!

Once again, the recipe proved to be simple & adaptable! I realized I didn’t have creme fresh OR sour cream, so I had to get crafty. This is where it comes in handy to have a 1-year old in the house, because I found the perfect substitute: YoBaby whole milk banana yogurt! I made a double batch tonight, so one full container equaled about 4 tbsp, which was the exact right amount for this recipe. I love it when a plan comes together.


Speaking of….

 

 


One hour & fifteen minutes later….

 

Unbeatable Key Lime Pie

I love pies. Specifically, I love tart, creamy, gooey pies. I was on the hunt for a good Key Lime pie, and as all my recipe searches do, this one started with Food Network.

There were easy recipes, difficult recipes, recipes with five stars, and some with none. I sorted by my favorite chefs, and then unsorted. Finally I came across the recipe. Simple without being artificial, short ingredient list (some of which I already had in my kitchen), and oddly enough – from Emeril, whom I don’t typically gravitate towards.

OK – so here’s my take on the recipe….

I kept all the ratios and cooking times the same every time I made this recipe.

There are, however, a few changes I made…none of which affected the integrity of the pie one bit. Here they are:

  1. Use store bought pie crust. I made my own graham cracker crust the first time, but every other time I used a pre-made, store bought crust. No one could tell the difference. I used graham cracker crust and I used traditional pie crust. Both delicious and both store bought! One advantage to the store bought graham cracker crust is that it comes with a plastic lid, making transport a breeze!
  2. Don’t bother squeezing 200 Key Limes for this recipe. Have you ever seen a Key Lime? They’re about half the size of a regular lime and doubly as hard to squeeze. Who wants to mess with that?! I used Key Lime juice that I found in the juice isle of my local grocery store. Delish.
  3. DO bother to squeeze two regular limes, but zest them first! The addition of freshly squeezed lime juice and a tablespoon of lime zest really enhance the pie filling. Plus, you’ll need some lime zest for the garnish.

Don’t freak out about the sour cream. I know you’re thinking, “Whipped cream would be sooo much better,” because I felt that way too. The sour cream is GOOOOD. It’s worth it. You HAVE to use it. Trust me.

Key Lime Pie

And one final note: 
My sister asked me to make her three of these pies for her last birthday. One to eat that day, and the other two to freeze. It doesn’t seem possible, but this pie might actually be better frozen. Try it and see!

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