Pesto Cheesecake

The Covered Dish

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This week I am making this recipe, for an event. The most wonderful part is how you can once again freeze the cheesecake until about 2 days before the event. At which time you will move it to the refrigerator to slowly thaw. YES, I like it best without freezing it, but sometimes there’s just no other way around it.

I thought I would be going back to work this week with my holiday décor all up and done. Who was I kidding anyway! I’m about half way there and will try and finish each evening after work. On the plus side I’m pretty close to finishing all my shopping except for a few stocking stuffers. And a couple of gifts that are specialty gift cards.

Last week I forgot to list one nice place to purchase Christmas gifts! I forgot to mention Wolferman’s English muffins. They are reasonable, and I’m actually using them this year with homemade apple butter, for our neighborhood gifts.

You could place your order on line, and simply assemble your gift bags at home.

These English muffins are about one inch thick, and probably one of the best English muffins you will ever enjoy. Another great gift with the muffins would be fresh fruit and specialty jam or jelly. If you’re really ambitious make homemade baked oatmeal, with directions, to include too. Wolferman’s is now owned by Harry & David, but they are still a Kansas City based business.

Other ideas for Christmas gifts might be a spaghetti basket with everything for a nice dinner. Or, a chili bag with everything including crackers and cheese for a great bowl of soup.

On our home-front I’m making pulled pork tomorrow to use in sandwiches and stuffed baked potatoes. Later in the week I’m prepping for another round of apple butter. I’m not wrapping yet, but I think I’ll be ready to start in the very near future. Tuesday night is meatloaf night, I’ll be making 3-4 big meatloaves for the freezer. We have been known to enjoy meatloaf, potatoes and a salad for Christmas dinner! Basically, implying I don’t have to spend the day in the kitchen.

Today I ordered cast iron pizza pans for several of our family. In case you haven’t baked a pizza on/in cast iron……well, it’s wonderful, especially for a nice crust.

Even baking, I really enjoy the cast iron over many other stones. Not to mention you can use it over a campfire!

In the writing of the cheesecake, I have provided lots of good tips to make sure your presentation is absolutely wonderful. Two – 3 weeks ago I found a recipe for a chicken savory cheesecake. I liked the idea, but didn’t care for the entire presentation. I’ll have to play with it soon too.

Once you make 2-3 of these, you’ll be totally ready for Christmas, New Year’s and surprise ‘needs’, we all know how that goes. Stock up on some nice butter crackers and away you go!

What are my favorite gifts at Christmas? Warm blankets, jewelry, ‘some’ cooking things, massage, travel, a good book, dinner out and Burt’s Bees products! I prefer to purchase my own clothing etc., and I really am a fan of Burt’s Bees!!!

My biggest desire this year is to purchase a meat slicer. I also love the ‘Tea Time’ magazine because the decorating and recipes are great. Southern Living Magazine subscription is another great idea. If you didn’t know what to get your mom, perhaps now you have some ideas!

Enjoy the beauty of the season and time spent with family & friends. Simply Yours, The Covered Dish.

Red Pepper Pesto Cheesecake

4’’ – 5” mini cheesecake pans

Vegetable spray

Crust

5 butter crackers, crushed or 2-3 tablespoons crushed pretzels

2-3 teaspoons melted butter

1/2 teaspoon Italian dry spice blend

Filling

1 teaspoon butter

3 small green onions, finely chopped

2 mini sweet peppers, finely chopped

8 ounces softened cream cheese

1 large egg

2 tablespoons sour cream

1/8 teaspoon smoked paprika

1/4 teaspoon coarse black pepper

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 cup red pepper pesto*

3 tablespoons shredded parmesan cheese

Top

1-2 tablespoons additional red pepper pesto* for mini cake-

Crust: Crush crackers combining with butter and Italian spices.

Press into bottom of spring form pan lined with parchment paper. Bake 4-7 minutes, at 350 degrees for mini cheesecake and 9-10 minutes for a 9-inch cheesecake. Cool while preparing filling. Lower oven temperature to 300 degrees.

Sauté green onions and mini peppers in butter, cool. Soften cream cheese and slowly add all remaining ingredients into mixer; adding the peppers and onions last. Spray walls of spring form pan and add cheesecake filling. With a 4-inch mini expect to have some filling leftover.

Over the top of the cake place drizzle lines of additional red pepper pesto. Using a thin knife cut through the pesto in a ribbon like fashion.

Surround cheesecake with aluminum foil pulling foil up sides of pan. Place cake inside a pan filled with boiling water (May add water once in oven.) Bake approximately 42 minutes in a 300-degree oven for a mini cheesecake. Bake 1 hour – 1 1/4 hours for a 9-inch pan. Even when done the cheesecake center will be jiggly. Using a quick read thermometer take the temperature of the cake. A cheesecake is usually done at approximately 150 degrees. Turn off oven, allow to set 10 minutes for a mini and 15 minutes for a 9-inch, then remove from oven. Cool for 10-15 minutes, gently run a thin knife, like an icing knife, around the outer edge of the cake. Release spring and lift up.

*For test purposes Roasted Red Pepper Pesto Sauce by Bulone Enterprises was used in the cheesecake. Buloneentllc.com

In early cheesecake trials I placed additional pesto sauce on the bottom of the cheesecake versus the top. It was delicious, but I felt it left the crust a bit on the soggy side. To omit this problem, I moved the additional sauce to the top of the cake. The recipe also freezes extremely well. Often, I will quarter the cake and use it for smaller gatherings.

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