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Last updated: July 23. 2013 11:08PM - 1471 Views

Blaise Alan Dente
Blaise Alan Dente
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I remember the nuns teaching me in elementary school that God made everyone different. How true that is. Everyone has their own distinct personality, age, appearance and language, but we do have one thing in common: We all love to eat.


But what you eat, and how you cook it, is up to you.


Yes, it is important to know proper temperature and the time it takes to ensure the correct texture, crispness and color, but after that there are really no set rules for cooking. Everyone has their own taste, and you become your own food critic.


Think about it. If you need more salt for your vegetables, you add it. If one cup of brown sugar is too much for your dessert, reduce it to a half cup. Substitute one ingredient for a more healthful one. You should make food the way you want it because you will be the one eating it. Recipes are only a guide.


So you finished making your dish. Now what do you do? Add seasoning to your chicken entrée as a garnish, add a favorite sauce to your pasta dinner, or — my personal favorite — add a maraschino cherry on top of that hot-fudge sundae.


People often tell me they “don’t cook,” they’re “afraid to cook” or “don’t know how to cook.” But don’t let it scare you. A professional colleague once told me, “In cooking, there are no mistakes, only new creations.” I heard that more than 20 years ago, and it still sticks in my mind when I make something at home or at work. The key is simple creativity.


After tweaking recipes to your own taste, you might surprise yourself at what you accomplished, and to take that a step farther, you might even develop your own “secret ingredient.” Be a leader, not a follower.


For your enjoyment I offer today one of my favorite recipes, for Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheesecake. Be creative and add whatever you like to it.


•••


CHOCOLATE


PEANUT BUTTER


CHEESECAKE


Crust ingredients:


1 ¼ cups graham cracker crumbs

1/3 cup plus ¼ cup white granulated sugar

1/3 cup cocoa powder

1/3 cup melted butter (or margarine)

Filling ingredients:


24 ounces softened cream cheese

1 (14 ounce) can of sweetened condensed milk (not evaporated milk)

1 2/3 cups melted peanut butter chips

4 eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

•••


Method of preparation:


Prehat oven to 300 degrees.


Combine graham cracker crumbs, 1/2 cup white granulated sugar, cocoa powder and melted butter.


Press mixture into the bottom of a non-greased, 9-inch springform pan


Beat cream cheese and 1/4 cup sugar until fluffy. Add the sweetened condensed milk and melted peanut butter chips until smooth.


Add eggs and vanilla. Incorporate all ingredients together.


Pour the complete mixture over chocolate crust.


Bake the cheesecake for 60-70 minutes or until center is set.


Remove from oven once the cheesecake is baked.


Using a knife, loosen the inside of the springform pan to release the cheesecake.


Allow to cool.


Remove cheesecake from the springform pan.


Refrigerate, covered, until cold.


Garnish with whipped cream and chocolate chips if desired.


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