Life at Warp Speed

life, faith, food, parenting, homeschooling and just about anything else that is on my mind

Pumpkin Cheesecake November 30, 2013

Filed under: American,Recipes,Sweet Eats — lifeatwarpspeed @ 9:47 pm

At the request of my sister in law and my friend, D, who were both visiting over Thanksgiving, I am sharing the recipe for the pumpkin cheesecake I served. I have been making this cheesecake for the for well over a decade, and it has never failed me.
I really like the sour cream topping which offers a nice contrast to the silky texture of the cheesecake. So, I wouldn’t suggest skipping this step. Since this cheesecake is finished with a topping, you can skip the extra work of baking with a water bath which I highly recommend to avoid cracking when doing regular cheesecakes. Hope you enjoy this!




1 1/2      cups  graham cracker crumbs

1/4         cup  sugar

1/3         cup  butter — melted

Cheesecake filling:

3              packages  cream cheese — softened

1              cup  sugar

1/4         cup  light brown sugar — packed

1 3/4     cups  pumpkin, canned or pureed roasted pumpkin flesh

2              eggs — at room temperature

2/3         cup  evaporated milk

2              tablespoons  cornstarch

1 1/4      teaspoons  ground cinnamon

1/2          teaspoon  ground nutmeg


2               cups  sour cream — at room temperature

1/4          cup  sugar

1               teaspoon  vanilla extract

Combine graham cracker crumbs, sugar and butter in a medium bowl. Press onto bottom and 1-inch up side of 9-inch spring form pan. Bake in preheated 350° oven for 6 to 8 minutes. Do not allow to brown. Remove from oven and cool.
Beat cream cheese, sugar, and brown sugar in large mixing bowl until fluffy. Beat in pumpkin, eggs, and evaporated milk. Add cornstarch, cinnamon, and nutmeg and beat well. Pour into crust. Bake in preheated 350° oven for 55 to 60 minutes or until edges is set.
Combine sour cream, sugar, and vanilla in a small bowl. Spread over surface of warm cheesecake. Return to oven and bake for 5 minutes.
Cool on wire rack. Run a thin knife around the cheesecake to loosen it from the side of the pan before removing the ring, and chill several hours or overnight.


Split Pea Soup September 29, 2013

Filed under: American,Recipes — lifeatwarpspeed @ 8:50 pm
Tags: ,
Who doesn’t notice Andersen Pea Soup when making the trek up or down the 5? Our last road trip to the Bay Area made me think about split pea soup. Since there is no way I was going to pay that crazy tourist pricing for a bowl of soup, I decided to make a whole pot for less than the same price as one bowl. Even though it isn’t anywhere close to winter here in SD, I decided today to work on my next incarnation of split pea soup. Since this one turned out well, I will share it with all of you as the weather is getting a bit nippy for my friends in the northern states.
  • 1 pound dried split peas
  • 3 quarts water
  • 1 1/2 pounds of ham bone, smoked ham hocks or shanks
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons oil (coconut, avocado or olive are preferred)
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 stalks celery, diced
  • 3 carrots, diced
  • 2 medium potatoes, diced
  • salt and pepper to taste

Optional topping ideas to serve: crumbled bacon, croutons, shredded cheese, curry powder or sour cream


  1. Pick over the peas to any debris or undesirable peas. In a large stock pot, cover peas with 2 quarts cold water and soak overnight. Soaking overnight removes naturally occurring toxins from the peas. I do not recommend skipping this step.
  2. Once peas are soaked, rinse and drain the peas. While the peas are draining, heat oil over medium heat in the pot, Add the onions and cook over medium low heat until they start to get soft, translucent and slightly browned.
  3. Return the peas to the pot, add ham bone, salt, pepper and bay leaves. Pour in the water and cover, bring to boil and then simmer for 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally. Add water if you want a thinner soup. Continue to cook and reduce if you prefer a thicker soup consistency.
  4. Remove bone; cut off meat, dice or shred, and return meat to soup. If you want to have smooth soup, use an immersion blender before adding back the meat. Add diced celery, carrots and potatoes. Cook slowly, uncovered for 30 to 40 minutes, or until vegetables are tender. Add salt and pepper if desired to taste.

This recipe can be adapted for a slow cooker.



Southwestern Black Bean Salad August 19, 2013

Filed under: American — lifeatwarpspeed @ 5:20 pm

It’s summertime, and the living is easy. Who wants to slave away in a hot kitchen when it is hot outside? I found this recipe during my nocturnal roaming online after M is in bed for the night. I altered the recipe to suit my taste and decided to add cucumbers and zucchini. This works well as a pot luck dish or a side dish. Even as extra filling for burritos or leftovers are pretty good over salad greens for a quick lunch.


  • 15.5 oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 9 oz cooked corn, fresh or frozen (thawed if frozen) or 1 can corn, drained
  • 1 medium tomato, chopped
  • 1/3 cup red onion, chopped
  • 1 to 2 cloves garlic, finely minced or pressed (you can substitute garlic powder)
  • 1 scallion, chopped
  • 2 Persian cucumbers, chopped (or 1/2 English cucumber chopped, Persian or English are preferred since they are drier), optional
  • 2 small zucchini (green, crookneck, etc., as long as they are young since they are not as fibrous or bitter), optional
  • 1 1/2 – 2 limes, juice of
  • 1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp fresh minced cilantro (or more to taste, parsley may be substituted if you prefer)
  • salt and fresh pepper
  • 1 medium Haas avocado, diced
  • 1 diced jalapeno (remove ribs and seeds to reduce heat, optional)

In a large bowl, combine beans, corn, tomato, cucumbers, zucchini, onion, garlic, scallion, cilantro,  salt and pepper. Squeeze fresh lime juice to taste and stir in olive oil. Marinate in the refrigerator 30 minutes. You can also make this ahead of time. It keeps well overnight as the flavor really develops. Add avocado just before serving.



Ham Hocks and Beans Recipe February 18, 2012

Filed under: American — lifeatwarpspeed @ 7:03 pm

This is Emeril Lagasse’s recipe that I started making this winter. Since P decided to start eating according the Four Hour Body Diet (similar to the paleo diet that a lot of people are following these days), I have started cooking a lot more beans and lentils to accommodate his diet.  It is super easy to make and delicious. I actually opt to only use half the ham hocks, and it turns out fine. I also substitute cannellini beans if I can’t find navy white beans. Also, try adding some creole seasonings to add some more flavor. This is a very satisfying dish when it is cold out.



  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 8 medium smoked ham hocks, about 4 ounces each
  • 2 cups chopped onions
  • 1 pound dried navy white beans
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 10 cups water
  • Salt


In a medium Dutch oven with a lid, over medium heat, add the oil. When the oil is hot, sear the ham hocks in batches, until brown, about 4 to 6 minutes. Remove the ham hock and set aside. Add the onions. Season with pepper. Saute for 2 minutes. Stir in the beans and bay leaves. Season with pepper. Saute for 1 minute. Add the reserved ham hocks and water. Bring to a boil and reduce the heat to medium low and simmer for 2 hours, or until the meat falls of the bone and the beans are creamy. Remove the bay leaves and season with salt and pepper.


Better than Best Roast Turkey Recipe November 17, 2011

Filed under: American — lifeatwarpspeed @ 12:04 am
Tags: ,

It is that time of year again when all the print ads have those gorgeously browned photos of a perfectly roasted turkey. Then everyone starts searching for a new turkey recipe to try out on their family. I used to collect recipes to try year after year trying to recreate what my eyes were telling me this classic Norman Rockwell image a turkey should taste like.

After 12 years of testing a wide variety of recipes (and sometimes doing 2 or 3 different recipes in during a single Thanksgiving season), I have done all sorts of different types: Asian inspired, BBQ, rotisserie, smoked, brined, all sorts of different herbs, seasonings, aromatics, and even fruit. (I never deep fried for two reasons: fear of fire and the highest incidence of ER visits on Thanksgiving every year is from deep fryer turkey accidents.) I finally came across this recipe one year in Parade magazine. I saw the title of the recipe, and I thought to myself what an arrogant name for a recipe. Obviously, I felt compelled to test it just because of the arrogance of the name.

Now eight years later (if you are counting 20 years of turkeys, then yes, doing the math, I did start cooking them in early college), this is the recipe I make every year. Believe it or not, I am not tempted at all to try any other recipe. I don’t need or want to make whatever is trending at the moment. I want my turkey to be the classic, evenly browned turkey that has great tasting white and dark meat. I want it to look and taste exactly what you would imagine this Norman Rockwell turkey would be in real life.

There are some suggestions to keep in mind when undertaking this recipe. I strongly encourage you to stick to the weight guidelines. A bird that is under 15 pounds is a hen (toms are always the bigger birds) which is far better tasting as the flesh isn’t tough. It also keeps the cooking time down so you don’t run the risk of drying out. If you have a large crowd, I suggest doing two turkeys or a turkey roll earlier during the day and carving that up to serve. It rewarms well in a foil covered pan in the oven with a little stock (I use the giblet stock I make ahead). This way you will still end up with a gorgeous turkey for table-side carving.

Although you can turn the turkey very carefully with wads of paper towels, it works much better to use a pair of insulated BBQ gloves. They can handle the heat and won’t absorb any of the butter and moisture from the turkey. I also prefer to use a V-rack myself since I find it works better for me to hold the turkey in the position that I want it to be in. I also use a silicon brush to baste the turkey since it is easy to clean and doesn’t risk carrying any off-flavors from anything else you cooked with before.

Does the brining issue get you stumped on how and where? Some people brine using a large cooler to free up refrigerator space. I use a large basin/bowl and a large plastic bag so that when I tie up the bag, the turkey remains submerged in the brine without spilling or leaking all over the refrigerator.

Lastly, I may be biased, but I really do prefer the flavor of fresh, free range, organically raised turkeys. However, those are pricey. You can still get a good tasting turkey using a frozen one.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! Enjoy your turkey for me since this is the first year I won’t be roasting a turkey since we are officially moved out for our relocation to San Diego and thus beginning a return to apartment living for the first time since I’ve been married.


Better than Best Roast Turkey

Serving Size  : 12

2           cups  kosher salt

12         pounds  turkey — up to 14 pounds

3           medium  onions — chopped

2           small  carrots — chopped

2           celery ribs — chopped

6           sprigs  fresh thyme

6           tablespoons of unsalted butter, melted (more may be needed)


Rinse turkey and reserve giblets, neck and tail for gravy. Dissolve salt in 2 gallons of cold water in a large container. If you have extra fresh thyme add sprigs to salt water. Add turkey to water and set aside for 4 to 6 hours.

Remove turkey and rinse well. Pat dry inside and out with paper towels. Place turkey breast-side up on a flat wire rack set over a pan and refrigerate, uncovered, 8 to 24 hours.

Adjust oven rack to lowest position and heat oven to 400 degrees. Toss 1/3 of onions, carrots, and celery with 2 sprigs of thyme and 1 T of butter in a medium bowl and fill cavity with mixture. Tuck wings behind back and truss turkey with a five foot length of kitchen twine.

Scatter remaining vegetables and thyme in shallow roasting pan, adding 1 cup of water over the vegetables. Prepare V-rack by lining with foil and spraying with vegetable spray. Cut about 30 slits in foil to allow drippings to flow through. Brush turkey with butter and set turkey breast side down on rack. Brush back with butter and roast in oven for 45 minutes.

Remove turkey and brush back with butter. Rotate turkey to leg/wing side up and brush with butter. Add 1/2 cup of water if liquid has evaporated. Return to oven and roast for 15 minutes.

Remove turkey and brush exposed surfaces with butter. Rotate turkey so that the opposite left wing side is up and brush with butter. Return to oven and roast for 15 minutes.

Remove turkey and brush exposed surfaces with butter. Rotate turkey breast side up. Add more water to pan if needed. Return to oven and roast for 30 to 45 minutes longer. Move turkey from rack to carving board and let rest about 20 to 30 minutes. Carve and serve with gravy, if desired.


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