Would you like to spend a few minutes in the JND kitchen?

June 9, 2007

Well, if you’re reading this, I guess you do.

First of all, I’d like to say that this is my 200th post. Holy old cow. Who knew I’d have 200 things to say to the internet?

Back to our regularly scheduled program.

While making what I was making this morning, it occurred to me that a lot of people I know are usually interested in finding out what it’s like to cook or bake with the 2 cats and a dog that are the real rulers in this house. So, while I was writing down what I was doing, I made little notes about what was happening outside the recipe.

So if anyone really wants to know what it’s like to cook in a house with spoiled-rotten animals, here you go.

Key Lime Cheesecake Squares with Gingersnap Crust

8 oz gingersnap cookies (I used Mi-Del)

4 tbsp butter, melted

30 oz cream cheese (room temperature)

2 pounds key limes (equal to 1/2 cup key lime juice)

1 1/4 cup sugar

2 tsp vanilla

3 eggs (room temperature)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray down a 9x9x2 pan with cooking spray. Wipe cooking spray off the wall because the dog quietly came up behind you and barked as loud as she could, scaring the crap out of you.

Place the gingersnaps into a food processor and pulse until finely ground. Return the cat to the floor after he jumps up to see what you are doing. Turn around and place the butter in a bowl. Yell “no” at the dog when she bites your toe HARD. Curse profusely and limp to the microwave; place the bowl with the butter in the microwave and nuke until melted. Neglect to use your mental rearview mirror when removing the bowl from the microwave; turn around and step on a cat’s tail. Pour the butter into the cookie crumbs; pulse the food processor until well combined. Give the cat a treat to apologize for possibly maiming him for life.

Pour the cookie crust mixture into the prepared pan and pat down evenly using a spatula. Step over the dog when turning around to place it in the oven to bake for 20 minutes. Breathe a sigh of relief that it made it into the oven safely. You don’t have another package of cookies if you have to start over.

When the crust has baked for 20 minutes, remove and place on a rack to cool. As soon as you have done that, head to the fridge to take out the cream cheese and eggs so they can come to room temperature. Step over 3 animals on your trip across the 4 feet from the oven to the fridge.

Important note – place the baked crust on your back porch so the cats can’t eat it on you. It is also beneficial to do this so that it cools quicker. The crust must be completely cooled before you can pour in the filling.

Once the crust has cooled completely and the cream cheese and eggs have come to room temperature, you can begin making the filling. Pull the stand mixer out from the corner of the counter. Watch the cat jump up and sneak into the space where the mixer was. Sigh and grab him, placing him on the floor after a quick cuddle. Watch him jump up again, immediately. Shrug and get on with it.

Place the cream cheese into the mixer bowl and mix on low, scraping down the sides of the bowl occasionally, until the cheese is smooth. This should take about 3-5 minutes. Add in one egg at a time, beating each time until the egg is completely incorporated (ooh, big word). Turn off the mixer. Warn the cat about what will happen if he eats the cheesecake filling.

Good lord, I have to juice about 50 key limes. This is going to suck.

Slice all the limes in half. Chase the cat, who took off with one. Get back to the counter in time to separate the other cat and the dog, who are having a hiss-bark match. Juice the limes, taking short pauses to yell at the dog to leave the damn cats alone. When done, you should have 1/2 cup of key lime juice and a sore throat.

Add the sugar to the cheese and mix on low. Slowly add the vanilla and key lime juice. Once all ingredients are mixed in, turn off the mixer. Since the cat is now eyeing the bowl and licking his chops, remind him of his mortal danger if he sticks his face in the filling.

Pour the cheesecake filling onto the prepared crust. Place the pan into a roasting pan and carefully pour boiling water into the roasting pan until it reaches about halfway up the cheesecake pan. Do not get the cheesecake wet! Lock the animals in another room because if you drop this taking it to the oven, it ain’t gonna be pretty.

Bake at 350 for about an hour, or until the middle jiggles slightly when the pan is shaken. Get the dog out of the way (she’s napping sweetly right in front of the stove) and carefully take the pan out of the oven. Remove the cheesecake from the water bath and set on a rack to cool for an hour. Hang out in the kitchen during this period to make sure the cats don’t add cheesecake to their food regimen. Then move it to the fridge to chill for at least 8 hours before cutting into squares.
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