A cooking and baking journal

Tried and True Recipe: Ultimate Cheesecake


It's been awhile since my last Tried and True recipe so I thought it was high time to write up a post featuring this concept. For those who need a refresher, Tried and True Recipes (TNT) are those great, no-fail recipes you reach for again and again. I was doing a series of TNT recipes last year and so if you want to check those out, I will be including a compiled list with all the links at the end of this post.

The recipe that is highlighted today is the Ultimate Cheesecake. I've done this one before, as you might remember, and really is foolproof as you're going to get. Which is no easy feat when considering it is cheesecake. Cheesecake can have all sorts of issues: lumpy filling, crumbly crust, holes, etc. Not with this recipe!

I first came upon this recipe when I was watching Tyler Florence's show, Tyler's Ultimate, for the first time. (Yeah, I guess it's been awhile!) His recipe is called The Ultimate Cheesecake and is topped with a decadent blueberry and lemon sauce that is really, really good (I've tried it once). I didn't include the sauce in my recipe and I did change a few things, just because my TNT series is all about the recipe's simplicity. But if you are looking for a cheesecake with that extra something something, here's Tyler's original recipe.

Now onto my recipe!

Ultimate Cheesecake
click here for printable recipe
Serves: 8


2 cups finely ground graham crackers (about 30 squares)
1 stick unsalted butter, melted

1 pound cream cheese, 2 (8-ounce) blocks, softened
3 eggs
1 cup sugar
1 pint sour cream
1 dash vanilla extract


Preheat oven to 325F.

In a mixing bowl, combine the crust ingredients with a fork until evenly moistened. Lightly coat the bottom and sides of an 8-inch springform pan with non-stick cooking spray.

Pour the crumbs into the pan and, using the bottom of a measuring cup or the smooth bottom of a glass, press the crumbs down into the base and 1-inch up the sides. Refrigerate for 5 minutes.

For the Filling:

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese on low speed for 1 minute until smooth and free of any lumps. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, and continue to beat slowly until combined. Gradually add sugar and beat until creamy, for 1 to 2 minutes.

Add sour cream and vanilla. Periodically scrape down the sides of the bowl and the beaters. The batter should be well-mixed but not overbeaten. Pour the filling into the crust-lined pan and smooth the top with a spatula.

Set the cheesecake pan on a large piece of aluminum foil and fold up the sides around it. Place the cake pan in a large roasting pan. Pour boiling water into the roasting pan until the water is about halfway up the sides of the cheesecake pan; the foil will keep the water from seeping into the cheesecake. Bake for 45 minutes. The cheesecake should still jiggle (it will firm up after chilling), so be careful not to overcook. Let cool in pan for 30 minutes. Chill in the refrigerator, loosely covered, for at least 4 hours. Loosen the cheesecake from the sides of the pan by running a thin metal spatula around the inside rim. Unmold and transfer to a cake plate. Enjoy!


List of past TNT recipes:

TNT Recipe: Turkey Dressing
TNT Recipe: Mashed Potatoes
TNT Recipe: Pizza Buns
TNT Recipe: Chicago Style Pizza
TNT Recipe: Favorite Brownies
TNT Recipe: Blueberry Pancakes
Tried and True Recipes Intro

Chocolate Chip Cookies - My Favorite Recipe


Chocolate Chip Cookie recipes are plentiful. Many of them that find their way into cookbooks or internet recipe banks, are just a stepping stone away from the famous Toll House recipe. Some walk on the wild side and sneak in sour cream or oats or even pumpkin. (Yeah, intrigued about that last one.)

I've tried many, many different recipes. For a time the Toll House recipe was trending high on my favorite list but the recipe is always a hit and miss because the cookies sometimes spread when baking and create a thin cookie. Not what I want a lot of the time.

I wanted to try out another Chocolate Chip recipe to make a cookie that has a chewy exterior and soft interior and that doesn't spread, the last being top priority. I'm excited to announce that I found one! It turns out that it was right under my nose. Let me explain. . . I was baking my favorite Four-Way Fudge Brownie recipe one day and I was saying to my brother that the cookbook I was using (Better Homes and Garden Cookie Classics--the first cookbook that I ever owned), has AWESOME recipes. Not only do they have some really approachable cookie flavors (such as their White Chocolate Raspberry Cookies), the recipes never fail. They always turn out great. 

That made me thinking. . . How about the Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe at the beginning of the book? There were so many recipe treasures in this book, the Chocolate Chip recipe could be a winner as well. And as I soon found out--it was

Favorite Chocolate Chip Cookies
click here for printable recipe

Yield: 50 cookies


1 cup butter, softened
1 cup shortening
1 cup granulated sugar
2 cups brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoon vanilla
4 eggs
5 cups all purpose flour
2-1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips


Preheat oven to 375F.

In a large mixing bowl beat the butter and shortening with an electric mixer on medium speed. Add the granulated sugar, brown sugar, baking powder, and baking soda. Beat mixture until combined, scraping sides of bowl occasionally. Beat in the vanilla. Follow with the eggs, drop in one at a time. Add flour and beat until dough just comes together. Beat in chocolate chips. 

Drop dough by rounded tablespoons about 2 inches apart onto lined baking sheet. (Line with either nonstick foil or parchment.) Using a #40 spring loaded ice cream scoop really makes this step go a lot faster. 

Bake cookies in a 375F oven for 8-10 minutes or until the edges are lightly browned. Transfer cookies to a wire rack; cool.

Watch and Bake

I filmed a how-to video on how to make these chocolate chip cookies. It is a really fun video to watch and hope you check it out before you turn on the mixer. :)

click on image to view video

Homemade Tuna Noodle Casserole (Without the Can!)

The condensed soups, be it tomato, chicken noodle, cream of this or cream of that, they all have personal recipe books to their name. Instead of choosing the pot o' soup route, you can take your condensed soup and make Southwest Chili or Garlic Chicken.

Or arguably the most famous condensed soup based recipe: Tuna Noodle Casserole.

Cream of mushroom soup, the star of the Tuna Noodle Casserole stage, was actually my favorite Campbell's soup when I was growing up. And it was one of the few meals that I could cook for the family when I was eleven. (Yeah, it was basically soup and cinnamon toast then!)

Using the cream of mushroom as a base for Tuna Noodle Casserole is always a fast and effortless way of pulling a casserole together, but sometimes this is not always possible. Such as last week. I proposed the idea of making Tuna Noodle Casserole that week and since we haven't had it in SUCH a long time, the family was getting kind of excited about the whole thing. I started check-boxing the ingredient list in my head. . . "So I will need peas. Check. Cheese. Check. Tuna, cheese, milk. Check, check, check. Think I'm all set. Wait a minute. I don't have any cream of mushroom soup. Actually no cream of soup at all!"

I just couldn't bring myself to burst the Tuna Noodle Casserole bubble for the family so I scoured the internet searching for a recipe that didn't include the "can." I found one at "Sing for Your Supper Blog." It it not your traditional Tuna Noodle. It uses spaghetti, olives, canned mushrooms, etc. Not many flavors or textures the family would like. But the recipe has good bones, especially when speaking of the roux. So I took some components from this recipe, added a few of mine and produced a casserole that we think is better than the Campbell version. And hey, making Tuna Noodle Casserole from scratch also means less salt and the sometimes "chalky" aftertaste you get from a canned soup. Not a bad comeback!

Homemade Tuna Noodle Casserole
click here for printable recipe

Yield: One 5 quart casserole

Prep Time: 1 hour
Cooking Time: 40 minutes


1/2 lb. jumbo elbow macaroni (use any pasta shape you like!)
2 cups chicken stock (I use chicken bouillon cubes. To make: Drop in two cubes into two cups boiling water. Boil until cubes have dissolved)
4 medium onions
1/2 stick butter
5 tbsp flour
1 cup milk
3 tablespoons dried parsley
1 quart frozen peas (I use whole sugar snap peas. Alternatively, you can use two 15 oz. cans of shelled peas)
2 cans chunk white tuna (5 oz. cans)
2 cups shredded cheddar or monterey jack cheese
2 packets of Ritz crackers, crushed (Tip: Put two Ritz cracker packets into plastic bag and crush by hand until crumbs resemble large bread crumbs)


Preheat oven to 400F. Boil 4 quarts water in 6 quart pot. In the meantime, chop onions into small dice. Add macaroni to pot and boil until fully cooked (around 11 minutes). Drain pot and pour cooked pasta into separate bowl. Return pasta pot to medium-high burner and add 1/2 stick butter. As soon as butter is melted add onions, salt, and pepper. Put lid on pot and cook onions until softened, about 10 minutes. Next, add 5 tablespoons flour to onions, stir vigorously and cook onion-flour paste for 2 minutes. Slowly begin adding chicken stock and milk to pot and stir continuously. Simmer until thickened. As soon as liquid has thickened, add in dried parsley, salt, pepper, cooked macaroni, frozen peas, tuna, and cheese. Bring pot to a simmer. Pour tuna noodle mixture into casserole dish that has been either buttered or sprayed with nonstick spray. Pour a little milk at the sides of the dish to prevent a dry casserole. Top casserole with cracker topping. Place dish into oven and bake for 10 minutes or until cracker topping is slightly brown. To avoid an overly browned topping, top casserole with aluminum foil and return to oven to cook for an additional 30 minutes. Look for a ready casserole that is golden brown and bubbling around the edges. Enjoy!

Watch and Cook

I also filmed a how-to video on this Tuna Noodle Casserole of mine. Be sure to watch it before you tie on your apron!

click the image to see the video