Thursday, May 30, 2013

Breakfast Pizza

Ummmm, it’s the end of May. How did this happen?

It’s been nearly a month since my last blog post. A MONTH! I didn’t intend to take a break, but May happened, that’s what.

My beautiful state decided it would thaw out this month. It was a loooooong winter. I bet you can agree if you’ve been following my posts and listening to (or is it reading about?) me gripe about it. But I survived my first South Dakota winter! I scooped boat loads of snow. I rocked a down, to-the-calf-length coat with a fur-lined hood on a daily basis. I endured frozen nose hairs walking through the grocery store parking lot. And I lived to tell the tale.

So what has May been like?

I can see my grass, my beautiful green grass. My neighborhood trees are covered with pink and white blossoms. Grape hyacinths and tulips are blooming everywhere. The sun rises before 6:00 and sets after 9:00, which means long, glorious days. Temperatures are perfect. My biggest dilemma is deciding whether or not to wear a sweatshirt on our evening walk. I know. Life problems.

May has been incredible.

So what has my family been up to? This month we traveled to Nebraska twice. The first visit was for a high school graduation. I used to babysit the graduate, and her family is great friends of my family. I seriously can’t believe I’m old enough that kids I babysat are now adults. So weird. And if that’s not weird enough, the second trip to Nebraska was spent reconnecting with my old classmates at our 10-year reunion. We met at a townie bar in our county, and I had so much fun. And yes, we did talk about how impossible it seemed that 10 years has passed since receiving our diplomas from good ol’ Fillmore Central High School.

On Mother’s Day, we welcomed a black lab puppy, Ruby Mae, to the family. Ruby is a great addition; we all love her. She is growing before our eyes, and the boys are learning to deal with a rapidly changing puppy. She enjoys running with (chasing now) Garrison, and she and Kase share an interest in sidewalk chalk, although I’m certain for different reasons. We are so thankful she is a well-behaved puppy. She still has her puppy-ness, but overall she is a calm girl who loves a good belly rub and wants nothing more than to sit on your feet/lap/wherever on your body she can. She’s going to be a great family dog.

Now that’s it finally spring, we have enjoyed many outings to our neighborhood parks. We have visited a local lake and had a picnic. So pretty. We have explored our town’s walking trails. They are perfect for a little boy who now has a big-boy bike and wants to practice his new skills.

But enough about us. How about this pizza? You already know about my family’s love of pizza. I’ve had this Breakfast Pizza in my blog-pocket for some time now, and it would be selfish not to share it.

This pizza has amazing flavor. Between the sausage, green chiles and cream cheese, it’s simply irresistible. So irresistible that we can polish off this bad boy in one sitting. And I’m not ashamed to admit it. And know that I won’t judge you if you do the same.

My favorite sausage, medium-spiced ground pork sausage, is sold by the pound. What I like to do is fry all the sausage, just as I cook ground beef, and drain the excess grease. I freeze half the sausage, and I use the other (warm) half for the pizza. The next time I get a craving for this pizza, all I need to do is thaw the sausage. So easy, and it is definitely a time-saving method.

I will try to post regularly again. I’ve been cooking and baking some great things, and I need to share them with you. I also have an idea for a blogging series that is just too fun and so me. I can’t wait to tell you all about it. Stay tuned!

Breakfast Pizza
Ashley’s Recipe Box

Recipe for your favorite pizza dough (for a 12-14 inch pizza)
1/2 pound pork sausage, any spice level
1 cup frozen hash browns, thawed
4 oz. cream cheese, cut into small cubes
4 oz. can diced green chiles, drained
1 cup shredded Monterrey Jack cheese
5 eggs
1/4 cup milk
1/2 tsp. salt (optional)
1/8 tsp. ground pepper (optional)

Preheat oven to 375F degrees. In a large pan, cook the sausage and drain. On a pizza pan or baking sheet, top the pizza dough with sausage. Sprinkle the dough with hash browns and green chiles. Place cream cheese cubes evenly over hash browns. Top with the shredded cheese. In a medium bowl, beat together eggs, milk, salt and pepper. Pour over the pizza. Bake for 20 minutes or until cheese and eggs are browned on top. Makes one 12-14 inch pizza.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Cheesecake Tart with Biscoff Cookie Crust

I have a confession to make. I signed up to bring a fruit pizza to a mom’s group breakfast meeting. But I brought this cheesecake tart instead. It’s not that I have anything against fruit pizza. Because I don’t. To quote my oldest, I brought this cheesecake tart “because I wanted to.”

I guess his reasoning for “washing” his face mid-afternoon and consequently soaking my bathroom counter AND his entire head of hair works for me, too. Did I just admit that? Yep, I totally brought this cheesecake tart because I wanted to.

I’ve really wanted to make a cheesecake tart for some time. I thought my breakfast meeting would be the perfect opportunity. Who doesn’t love dessert for breakfast?

I grew up having desserts for breakfast. Not all the time, but every time we had it in the house. It was (and still is) our way of life. A piece of birthday cake the morning after my big day? You bet. Chocolate chip cookies as soon as I wake up? Absolutely. A slice of pie with ice cream to get ready for the day? Game on.

Desserts never last long in our house. Obvs. You see why it makes perfect sense to bring a cheesecake tart to a breakfast meeting, don’t you?

I adore this Cheesecake Tart with a Biscoff Cookie Crust for so many reasons. The crust is completely and utterly amazing. I do love me some Biscoff cookies, so it’s no wonder they make the perfect crust. And it’s so easy to make: cookie crumbs and butter, baby.

The cheesecake comes together quite effortlessly. Its vanilla flavor compliments the cinnamon-y crust so nicely. The crust and the cheesecake are truly a match made in heaven. The cheesecake ingredients are so simple, but the result is creamy fabulousness. Can you tell I love this tart?

As for the topping—which is totally optional—I thought fresh berries would look so pretty. And they definitely do. I also determined the addition of fruit would make this sort of like a fruit pizza. A deep dish fruit pizza.

Well, the ladies in my mom’s group must agree with me that this cheesecake tart is totally meant for breakfast. The entire thing was gone. Every. last. berry.
This is a simple dessert that exudes elegance. It would be perfect on a Mother’s Day brunch table or at a bridal shower. Oh, the possibilities!

Cheesecake Tart with Biscoff Cookie Crust
An Ashley Original Recipe

For the Crust:
36 Biscoff cookies
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
Unsalted butter for greasing the tart pan, cold

For the Cheesecake:
16 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
1/4 cup sour cream, room temperature
2 eggs, room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 325F degrees. With cold butter, grease an 11-inch tart pan, making sure all of the crevices are greased.

With a food processor, process the cookies until they reach a fine texture. Add the melted butter and pulse a few times to fully incorporate. Pat crumbs in the tart pan evenly. The flat bottom of a glass may be helpful to pat the crumbs. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove from oven being careful not to push up on the bottom of the tart pan. Let cool.

In a medium bowl, combine the cream cheese, sour cream, eggs, sugar and vanilla. Using a hand mixer, beat the ingredients until well incorporated and smooth. Pour the cheesecake into the crust. Bake for 20 minutes or until the center only slightly jiggles. It will firm upon cooling.

Remove from oven and cool completely before putting in the refrigerator to store. Top with fresh berries or any other desired topping. Serves 12-16.