Saturday, January 29, 2011

Leftover Steak Salad

I had a couple of leftover T-bone steaks in the fridge and had to come up with a way to use them up. When I was in Salt Lake City with Sarah looking for wedding dresses we ate at The Cheesecake Factory and I got the Santa Fe Chicken Salad that has a Cilantro dressing on it. So I thought why not try something like that but with steak. Here's what I came up with, turned out Yummo if you ask me!

Leftover Steak Salad

Ingredients for the dressing:
1/2 cup Real Mayonaise
1 Tablespoon Lime juice
2 tablespoons white vinegar
1 chipotle pepper with a little adobo sauce (save the rest in the freezer for use at another time)
1 heaping Tablespoon minced cilantro (I use the pre-chopped stuff you can get in a tube in the produce section at walmart, or use half a bunch fresh cilantro, chopped)
1/2  to 1 teaspoon sugar (depends on your taste and how sweet you like your dressing)
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
a little olive oil

Salad ingredients:
Leftover steak, sliced thinly (I had 2 T-bone steaks)
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 can corn, drained
1 bag salad mix
grated cheese
3 corn tortillas, sliced as thinly as possible

Preheat oven to 350.
Spray baking sheet with non-stick spray, add Tortilla strips and spray with more nonstick spray until the strips are well coated, and sprinkle with salt. Bake in hot oven for 10 to 12 minutes until good and crispy.
For the salad dressing, combine all the ingredients in a blender, and blend until smooth. Add a little olive oil if the mixture is a bit too thick. Set aside.
Add a little dollop of olive oil to a hot skillet and then toss in the steak, stir fry a minute or two to heat up steak and crisp the edges.
When you are ready to eat, add the bag of salad in a large bowl with the beans and corn. Pour the dressing over this and toss all together until everything is well coated with the dressing.
Place on serving plates, sprinkle with cheese then add steak to each portion. Top with crispy tortilla strips and Enjoy!
This makes  2 or 3 large portions, but when that's all you're having for dinner, that's all you need right?

Thursday, January 27, 2011

White Chocolate Pecan Blondies with Maple Butter Sauce

I made these for my son's 22nd Birthday. Andrew has never really liked normal birthday cake, so I'm always trying to come up with something different, we've done ice cream pies, regular brownies, ice cream cake, cheesecake, so when I saw this recipe I thought "Yummo!! There's Andy's Birthday 'Cake'"! You can find the original here http://thepioneerwoman.com/tasty-kitchen/recipes/desserts. The were a few things  that I did different: the original recipe called for walnuts, but I only had pecans (I like those better) So that's why I changed the name. I also changed from 1 teaspoon to 1 Tablespoon vanilla, my fave chocolate chip cookie uses that amount and they are way good, so I thought it would make these even better!! I also used a whole package of white chocolate chips instead of 1 cup. You can't have enough chips right?  I have posted the recipe like I made it here. These are similar to a dessert you can get at Applebees.... Enjoy!! (also, I forgot to take a picture until we had eaten some!)

White Chocolate Pecan Blondies with Maple Butter Sauce

IngredientsFOR THE BLONDIES:
3 cups All-purpose Flour
¼ teaspoons Salt
1 teaspoon Baking Powder
10 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter, melted
2 cups Light Brown Sugar
3 whole Eggs, Lightly Beaten
1 Tablespoon Vanilla Extract
½ cup Chopped Pecans
1  (12 oz) package White Chocolate Chips
____

FOR THE SAUCE:
2 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter
1-½ cup Heavy Cream
6 Tablespoons Maple Syrup
3 Tablespoons Light Corn Syrup

Optional Garnish: Vanilla Ice Cream, Chopped pecans

Preparation Instructions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In a medium bowl, sift together flour, salt & baking powder. Set aside.
In another large mixing bowl, mix melted butter with brown sugar until well-blended. Add in beaten eggs and vanilla. Stir well.
Slowly add flour mixture to butter/sugar/egg mixture. Stir thoroughly but take care not to overmix your batter. Fold in nuts and chocolate. Batter will be thick.
Spray pan with nonstick cooking spray, then pour batter into 9 x 13 baking pan. Bake for about 25-30 minutes (until a toothpick inserted comes out clean).
For the sauce:
Melt butter in a medium sauce pan over medium heat (do not allow butter to burn). Then add heavy cream, maple syrup and corn syrup. Allow this mixture to simmer over medium heat for about 20-30 minutes. This is the hard part: waiting for the mixture to reduce and thicken. You don’t want to bring this to a boil, just a nice, slightly bubbly simmer. Stir it occasionally. Once it has reduced by about a 1/3, it’s ready.
To serve: you can heat up blondie on a cast iron skillet and serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or you can just heat a slice of blondie on a plate in your microwave for about 25 seconds.  Or you can do like I did and served while still warm from the oven. Add a scoop of ice cream on top then pour the warm maple butter sauce on top and sprinkle with chopped pecans.
He looks happy!!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Teriyaki Chicken

When I was in Salt Lake City this last weekend with my daughter, we ate at Thaifoons restaurant in the Gateway mall. I got the Chicken Terriyaki, it was delicious! It has asparagus and broccoli in it, and this week I had noticed Asparagus was on sale... so of course I had to try to come up with a recipe like I had eaten in Thaifoons... I hope I got the measurements right, when I experiment in the kitchen I throw a little of this and a little of that into whatever I'm cooking until it tastes right.... I think this was pretty close! YUM!!

TERIYAKI CHICKEN

1 1/2 - 2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite size pieces

Marinade:
1/4 cup Hoisin sauce (found by the Asian food in most grocery stores)
1 Tablespoon Soy Sauce
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon minced ginger (I love the tubes you can get in the produce section at Walmart)

Teriyaki Sauce:
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup water
4 Tablespoons brown sugar (maybe a little more if you like your Teriyaki sauce a little sweeter)
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/4 teaspoon minced ginger
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon Chinese 5 spice powder (optional-I threw this in at the last minute, liked the way it smelled)
1 Tablespoon cornstarch

1 teaspoon Sesame Oil

Vegetable oil
1 bundle fresh asparagus, washed, cut into 3 inch pieces
2 cups broccoli florets, if frozen thaw for a minute or two in microwave, cut the bigger pieces to bitesize

1 Tablespoon sesame seeds
Hot cooked rice (either white or brown, choose your preference, sometimes I use Jasmine rice too)


Whisk together the marinade mixture in a large bowl, (don't worry this mixture will be kind of thick) Add the cut chicken breast pieces to the marinade and toss to coat. Set aside. (I usually let this sit for about 15 to 20 minutes)


While chicken is in the marinade start cooking the rice, (escpecially if using brown rice, it takes a while to cook) Wash and cut the Asparagus, and thaw out the broccoli florets.

Heat a large skillet over medium high heat and add a Tablespoon or two or oil, add chicken and all of marinade and cook over med/high heat for 8 to 10 minutes or until juices run clear and pieces are cooked through (cooking time varies depending on the size of the chicken pieces) In the middle of cooking chicken I cover with a lid for a couple of minutes, this helps the chicken cook all the way through.
While chicken is cooking, whisk together the ingredients for the Teriyaki Sauce in a small saucepan, bring to a boil over medium heat, turn heat down a bit and cook and stir until thickened. Then remove from heat. Set aside.
When chicken is done, remove to a plate, and set aside. Add about a teaspoon of sesame oil, and a dash of regular cooking oil to hot skillet add asparagus and broccolli and cook for 3 to 5 minutes until crunchy tender.
Then add the chicken back to the skillet along with the Teriyaki sauce and the 1 Tablespoon of sesame seeds (notice I added my sesame seeds while cooking the veggies.... wait and add them with the sauce and chicken, they popped all over the place). Toss to combine, cook another minute or two to heat the chicken back up.

Serve over hot cookied rice. Enjoy!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Spaghetti and Meatballs

I love this meatball recipe!! It's yummo!! I found it on the food network, but I added the parmesan cheese to the meatballs, gives them just a bit more flavor. And instead of frying the meatballs, I place mine on a cookie sheet and bake in the oven, less splattering and easier. I used the marinara sauce recipe posted before this one, it was yummo!!!

Spaghetti and Meatballs

MEATBALLS:
1 1/2 pounds ground beef
1/2 cup onion, chopped (in the pics, I used green onions, I needed to use them up, but usuall I use regular onions)
2 eggs
1/2 cup dry bread crumbs
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon basil
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Salt
Pepper

Prepared Marinara sauce (see earlier post or you can use your favorite Marinara sauce)
Spaghetti noodles

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In large bowl combine beef, onion, eggs and bread crumbs. Season with oregano, basil, parmesan cheese, salt and pepper. Mix well.  I dump the mixture out onto a sheet of wax paper. Pat into a rectangle about an inch thick. Then cut into rows both lenghwise and width-wise (is that even a word?)

Each square should be enough for about a golf-ball size meatball--Form meatballs and place on a cookie sheet that has been sprayed with non-stick cooking spray.

 Cook meatballs in oven for about 20 to 25 minutes. Until browned and juices run clear.
Remove from oven.
While meatballs are baking, cook spaghetti noodles according to package, and drain (reserve about a cup of pasta water to thin marinara sauce  as needed if at all)
In a large skillet or saucepan, heat the marinara sauce, when meatballs are done add to sauce along with noodles, toss to combine. Let simmer for a minute or two. (if your sauce is too thick you can add a spoonful or two of the pasta water.)
Serve individually, and garnish with more Parmesan cheese.

A different Marinara Sauce

I found this recipe on the Food network web site. You know me, I love to try out recipes and this one looked yummy. Jim had a pasta sauce in his runner's magazine, this was similar, but this one had more seasonings in it, so I thought I'd give this a try. I made Spaghetti and meatballs with it! Yum!! I also put mine together in a crockpot and let simmer all afternoon while I was at church, then I got my meatballs cooking and finished the sauce. Yum!! I didn't take a picture of this sauce separately.... But it's in the Spaghetti and Meatball post above. This is a thicker, hearty marinara sauce.


Marinara Sauce

Ingredients:
5 cloves garlic
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 large onion, diced
3 carrots, peeled and diced
1 can tomato paste
1 cup fresh basil leaves ( or I used a couple of Tablespoons of the chopped basil in the tube, I find this in the produce section of Walmart) or you can use 1 teaspoon dried basil
2 tablespoons freshly picked oregano leaves (or 1 teaspoon dried oregano)
1 Tablespoon dried parsley
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
2 (14-ounce) cans diced tomatoes
Chicken broth
Directions:
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Peel 5 cloves garlic and place them in a square of foil. Sprinkle the cloves with salt and pepper and drizzle with 2 tablespoons olive oil. Wrap up the foil and place it directly on the oven rack. (Be sure that the foil packet is secure so no oil will leak out.) Roast the garlic until it's brown and tender, about 25 minutes. Allow to cool enough to touch and squeeze the garlic from the skins. Set aside. (This makes the garlic a little sweeter... Yum!)

Saute onions and carrots with the oil in a medium saucepan. Add tomato paste and stir well. This will cook off the tomato paste and give a nice orangy color. Cook for about 10 minutes. When vegetables are softened add the roasted garlic, salt, pepper, basil, oregano and parsley, and stir together until incorporated. Pour in the tomatoes. Fill the empty can with water and add it to the pan, then fill with chicken broth and add to the pan. Bring to a boil then lower the heat to a simmer. Simmer for 1 hour, uncovered. Stir occasionally. Once sauce is ready carefully pour it into the food processor or blender and puree until smooth.

Tips:
- This makes a lot of sauce so you can pour about half into ice cube trays and freeze for future use. By putting them in ice cube trays then popping them out into a resealable bag you can control how much you want to use each time - easier to manage. Or you can just freeze half in a freezer bag or tupperware for later use.
- Since tomatoes can be very acidic, using carrots and roasted garlic brings a sweetness to the marinara. Also that's why I added 1 teaspoon of sugar as well. Yum!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Beef with Snow Peas

I LOVE stir-fries and I love snow peas, so I knew this recipe had to be good!  I found the original recipe here http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/2010/10/beef-with-snow-peas/. I didn't change it too much, except I just peel the strings off the peas instead of cutting the ends off (There is usually a little string at one end, grab and it should peel down the whole pea). I also added one more Tablespoon of Brown sugar which I posted below, and a teaspoon of minced garlic to the sauce. Yum!

Beef with Snow Peas
Ingredients:
1-½ pound Flank Steak, Trimmed Of Fat And Sliced Very Thin Against The Grain (I use petite Sirloin)
½ cup Soy Sauce
3 Tablespoons Sherry Or Cooking Sherry (I used chicken broth since I didn't have this)
3 Tablespoons Brown Sugar
2 Tablespoons Cornstarch
1 Tablespoon Minced Fresh Ginger ( I usually have fresh ginger, but I didn't this time, I substituted about 3/4 teaspoon ground ginger, still good but fresh is better)
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon Crushed Red Pepper, (Ad as much as you like, depending on how hot you like it)
8 ounces, weight Fresh Snow Peas, Ends Trimmed or strings pulled
5 whole green onions, Cut Into Haf-inch Pieces On The Diagonal
Salt As Needed (use Sparingly)
3 Tablespoons Peanut Or Olive Oil
Jasmine Or Long Grain Rice, Cooked According To Package

Preparation Instructions:

In a bowl, mix together soy sauce, sherry, brown sugar, cornstarch, ginger, garlic, and crushed red pepper. Add sliced meat to bowl and toss with hands. Set aside.
Heat oil in a heavy skillet or wok over high heat. Add snow peas and stir for 45 seconds.
Remove to a separate plate. Set aside.
Allow pan to get very hot again. With tongs, add half the meat mixture, leaving most of the marinade still in the bowl. Add half the scallions. Spread out meat as you add it to pan, but do not stir for a good minute.

(You want the meat to get as brown as possible in as short amount a time as possible.) Turn meat to the other side and cook for another 30 seconds. Remove to a clean plate.
Repeat with other half of meat, allowing pan to get very hot again first. After turning it, add the first plateful of meat, the rest of the marinade, and the snow peas. Stir over high heat for 30 seconds, then turn off heat.

Check seasonings and add salt only if it needs it. Mixture will thicken as it sits.
Serve immediately over rice. Sprinkle with more crushed red pepper over the top if desired.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Pasta with Creamy Tomato Sauce

I have been craving pasta all week! I love Creamy Tomato Sauces on my pasta like you can get at Olive Garden or Johnny Carino's so when I found this recipe on The Pioneer Woman's blog I had to give it a try. I added a few more seasonings than she had to suit my taste that I will post but you can go to http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/2010/09/pasta-with-tomato-cream-sauce/ for the original recipe. This was soooooo good! I made it with the country style fettuccine noodles that come in the bags rather than the boxes, I like thick pasta sometimes. I served with grilled chicken and steamed veggie's, what could be better than that? Enjoy!

Pasta with Creamy Tomato Sauce

Ingredients:
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
2 Tablespoons Butter
1 whole Medium Onion, Finely Diced
4 cloves Garlic, Minced (or 1 heaping Tablespoon of the already minced in the jar)
2 cans (15 Ounce Each) Tomato Sauce Or Marinara Sauce (I used  canned tomatoe sauce w/garlic oregano and basil)
1/2 teaspoon salt (I added a dash or two more later)
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon italian seasoning
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, Optional ( I like my sauces to have just a bit of zing to them)
Dash Of Sugar (I ended up using about 2 teaspoons)
Fresh Basil, chopped (I used about a Tablespoon of the chopped basil that comes in a tube you can find in the produce section, I love the stuff)
1 cup Heavy Cream
Grated Parmesan Or Romano Cheese, To Taste
Garnish with Chopped Fresh basil if desired
1-½ pound Fettuccine

Preparation Instructions:
Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain, reserving 1 cup of pasta water.
--This is the kind I used










Heat butter and oil over medium heat. Add onions and garlic and saute for a minute or so. Pour in tomato sauce and add salt, pepper, italian seasoning, crushed red pepper, and sugar to taste. Stir and cook over low heat for 25 to 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. After about 15 minutes I added my fresh basil so the flavors could blend.
Remove from heat and stir in cream.
Add cheese to taste, then check seasonings. Stir in pasta , serve immediately. (Thin with pasta water,if needed.)
You could serve on a big serving platter garnished with more cheese and fresh basil if desired.
Yummo!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Quesadillas de Camarones (Shrimp Quesadilllas)

I was hungry for something different yesterday, so I surfed the Internet for some ideas. While on the Pioneer Woman's blog, I ran across this recipe. I love shrimp and mexican food so I had to give this a try. It was delish! You can find this recipe at http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/2011/01/quesadillas-de-camarones/ but I will post it here as well. The only thing I did different was use more shrimp. I used about a pound of the 31-40 size shrimp. I also used the regular size flour tortilla's, but the snack size might be easier to flip and a good appetizer size. We just had them as a main course for dinner so the bigger ones were good. I served mine with a salad and a dollop of guacamole and salsa.  I suggest you make these today! Enjoy!

Quesadillas de Camarones (Shrimp Quesadilllas) 
Prep Time: 15 Minutes
Cook Time: 20 Minutes
Servings: 6 approximately

Ingredients:

Flour Tortillas
12 whole Large Shrimp, Peeled And Deveined (I used about 1 pound of the 31-40 size frozen raw shrimp)
8 ounces, fluid Mexican Red Sauce (I use the El Pato sauce in the yellow can in the Mexican food section)
1 whole Large Onion, diced
1 whole Red Bell Pepper, diced
1 whole Green Bell Pepper, diced
2 cups Cheese, Grated (Monterey Jack Is Best)
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
Salt To Taste

Preparation Instructions:
Take tails off shrimp, pour red sauce over shrimp. Set aside.
Heat skillet over high heat and add olive oil. Cook vegetables over high heat until they start to get brown/black. Remove from skillet and set aside.
Return skillet to high heat, then dump in the shrimp with the sauce. Cook, stirring only occasionally, until shrimp is opaque and the sauce is mostly evaporated, should take about 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from skillet and chop into bite-size pieces.
                                          (this is how my veggies and shrimp looked at this point)
In a separate skillet, heat butter. Place a tortilla in the skillet, then layer on ingredients: cheese, vegetables, and shrimp. Top with a little more cheese and a second tortilla. Cook on both sides, adding butter before flipping to the other side so the tortilla isn’t overly dry.
Remove from skillet and slice into wedges. Serve with rice, beans, salsa, sour cream, guacamole—whatever you’d like!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Oreo Cookies

I love this recipe, I used to make them quite a bit, and when I did I had to be sure to share with my brother, Kim. I hadn't made them in soooo long I had forgotten about them, but my sister Juli requested the recipe, so this one's for you Jules! The original recipe called for mint flavoring and green food coloring in the frosting, but I like to make the frosting with vanilla extract so the cookies taste like homemade Oreo's. Enjoy!

Homemade Oreo's

3/4 cup butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup milk

Frosting:
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
3 Tablespoons butter, softened
1 Tablespoon milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 drop or two of coconut extract (optional)

For the chocolate cookies:
Cream butter and sugar together, then add the egg and vanilla, beat well.
In a separate bowl stir together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
Then add the flour mixture to the butter mixture alternatley with the milk, mixing well after each addition.
Form two 10-inch logs and wrap in wax paper, chill well. Cut into 1/8 inch slices and place on greased baking sheet.
Bake at 350 for 8 to 10 minutes.
Make frosting while the cookies bake by combining the powdered sugar, butter, milk and vanilla until smooth and creamy. (may need to add a bit more milk to get the right consistency) you want the frosting thick but spreadable. It's fun to add food coloring for colored oreo's, or you can add different flavorings to the frosting instead of vanilla. I like a drop or two of coconut extract along with vanilla in mine.
Cool cookies completely, then ice the bottom of one cookie and place another on the top so you have a sandwich.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Navy Bean and Ham Soup

It's kind of a tradition that after Christmas I make Navy Bean and Ham soup with the leftover Christmas Ham bone. It's yummy and tastes good on a cold winter day. Also this is a great way to use up all the good ham that is on the bone that you can't quite cut off for sandwiches. This is a combination of two recipes off of the food network, I took what I liked from both and combined them.
Sometimes I make bread bowls to put this in, but usually we just eat in regular bowls with crispy french bread on the side.

Navy Bean and Ham Soup
4 to 6 servings

Ingredients:
4 (1/2-pound) ham hocks (or I used the bone from a shank portion ham with some meat still attached)
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup finely diced  onions
1 stalk celery , finely chopped
1/4 cup finely chopped green bell pepper
1 medium carrot, diced
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 pound navy beans, rinsed, picked over, rinsed and drained
8 cups chicken stock
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 Tablespoon dried parsley
Directions:
Place the beans in a large saucepan and cover with cold water by about 2 inches. Bring to a boil and lower the heat to a simmer. Cook for 5 minutes; remove from the heat, cover, and let sit for one hour. Drain and reserve.
In a large, heavy stockpot, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions, celery, bell pepper, carrot, red pepper flakes, oregano, thyme, and bay leaf, and saute until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, and saute for 1 minute. Add the stock, salt, pepper, and parsley and bring to a boil over high heat. Add the ham bone and beans, bring back to a boil, cover, and adjust the heat so the soup cooks at a gentle simmer. Cook until the  beans and hock are completely tender, about 1-1/2 hours.

Turn off the heat and remove the hocks or ham bone. Cool slightly. Remove the meat from the hocks, discarding the bones, fat, and skin. Cut the meat into small cubes.
Puree about 3 cups of the beans with a some of the liquid in a blender. (For a smoother soup puree all the beans.) Stir the puree and diced meat into the soup. Heat the soup and adjust the seasoning as needed with salt and pepper.

Pour into bowls, and serve with hot french bread.
Enjoy!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Olive Garden Pumpkin Cheesecake

I got this recipe off of http://www.copykat.com/ and had to give it a try for Christmas. It was Yummo!! This recipe takes a little time and preparation (see the filling preparation and remove the excess water from the pumpkin puree about 1 hour ahead of making the cheesecake) , but well worth the effort. It's a combination of pumpkin pie and cheesecake! Perfect for the holidays, or any day for dessert if you are a die hard cheesecake fan like me. I changed a couple of things with the recipe though, which I will post in my recipe below, go to the website if you want the original. I changed the sugar to 1 cup, I thought it just needed a bit more sweetness, most cheese cake recipes have over a cup of sugar, so I thought upping the amount to 1 cup wasn't too bad. I also cut back to 1 pint of heavy cream but used the amount of sugar called for in the whipped cream layer and added a dash of pumpkin pie spice. Turned out beautiful and delicious!

Olive Garden Pumpkin Cheesecake

Yield: 10 – 12 slices.
Crust:
Use an 8 or 9-inch spring-form pan
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1 cup ginger snap cookies, crumbs (I crumbled mine in my food processor, a bit noisy, so cover your ears!)
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
8 tablespoons melted butter

Cheesecake Filling:
3 8-ounce packages cream cheese
1 15-ounce can pure pumpkin
1 cup brown sugar
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

Sour Cream Layer:
1 cup sour cream
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg **freshly ground if available

Whipped Cream:
1 pint heavy cream
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Dash or two of pumpkin pie spice or cinnamon

Additional toppings:
Caramel sauce
gingersnap crumbs

Crust preparation:
In a medium sized bowl combine graham cracker crumbs, ginger snap crumbs, sugar, and butter, mix well. Press crust into a springform pan. Press the crust about halfway up the side of the springform pan. Refrigerate crust while you continue to prepare the cheesecake.
Filling preparation:
Allow extra time for mixing up this filling. Remove the pure pumpkin puree from the can and place into a couple of large paper towels. Wrap the pumpkin puree with the paper towels, this will soak the excess water in the pumpkin puree. Continue to remove excess water from the pumpkin puree for about 60 minutes before making cheesecake mixture. Bring the remaining ingredients for the filling to room temperature while the pumpkin puree is having the water removed. With a mixer beat cream cheese until smooth, and add eggs one at a time, and then combine all ingredients for the filling in a mixer. Blend until very smooth. For best results allow all ingredients to reach room temperature before mixing the filling. Remove crust from refrigerator, and pour in filling.

Bake cheesecake at 350 for 30 minutes, and then reduce temperature to 325 degrees for an additional 30 minutes. When you remove the cheesecake it should be slightly jiggly in the center, the cheesecake will set up nicely as it cools.

Sour Cream Layer:
When you remove the cheesecake from the oven set aside, and begin to prepare the seasoned cream cheese layer. In a small bowl combine sour cream, sugar, and spices. Blend well. Spread seasoned sour cream mixture over the baked cheesecake evenly. Place the cheesecake back into the 325 degree oven for about 8 minutes to the sour cream layer will set.

Whipped Cream:
Now allow the cheesecake to cool, when the cheesecake is completely cool, you can add the whipped cream. In a medium sized bowl combine 1 pint heavy whipping cream, vanilla, and sugar, and a dash of pumpkin pie spice or cinnamon, mix well with a blender or a stand mixer. Whip the cream until it forms stiff peaks. Remove ring from the spring-form pan, and either pipe the whipped cream over the pumpkin cheesecake or spread with a knife. ( I drizzled mine with the carmel sauce , then piped the whipped cream on, and sprinkled with gingersnap cookie crumbs)  Then I sliced and served, and had carmel sauce on the table for additional drizzling as desired.



Additional notes about cheesecake making:
 You may wish to use a waterbath when you prepare your cheesecake. To do this have a roasting pan filled 1/4 full of water (Be sure the pan is big enough for your spring form pan, and that you only fill with enough water to come half way up the spring form pan) ALSO!!! Put a sheet of aluminum foil under the spring form pan and fold up the sides. You DON'T  want the water to seep into the cheesecake. ) A water bath just helps your cheesecake to bake without cracking. You don't have to do this step if you don't want to. I preheat the roasting pan filled with water when I preheat the oven. Then set my prepared cheesecake that has aluminum foil under it into the water bath when ready to bake.

Also, I would really urge you to try to let your ingredients reach room temperature before blending together the filling. This really makes a difference in getting a nice and smooth filling.