Merry Christmas from The Geek Homestead!

Merry Christmas to all of our readers and visitors! We hope that you enjoy your time with family and friends this Christmas season: the opening of gifts, the delicious food, the twinkling Christmas lights, and the chilly weather or maybe even some snow!

Let’s not forget though the reason for Christmas.

And she shall bring forth a Son, and thou shalt call His name Jesus, for He shall save His people from their sins.”

Matthew 1:21

From the King James Version

God bless all of you as we enter 2020 together!

-Joshua and Lynn

Lego Challenge: Build a Snowman

It’s the Christmas season! That means Christmas-themed LEGO Challenges for the month of December. We will be doing a Christmas LEGO Challenge once a week this month. If you decide to do these along with us, we’d love to see your pictures, whether it’s here or on Facebook! Let’s play!

Ian’s snowman build is very much Ian. He built a microscale city (with green buildings because they painted them that way) with a giant snowman attacking it. Is anyone else getting flashbacks to the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man from Ghostbusters? This snowman is not quite so jolly-looking though!

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Creamy Cheesecake with Blueberry Jam Topping

When Josh made his blueberry jam, he asked me if I could make a cheesecake to go with it. I don’t remember the last time I made a cheesecake, but fortunately, I have a favorite recipe.

[recipe]
[recipe title=”Creamy Cheesecake with Blueberry Jam Topping” servings=”8-12″ description=”Rich and creamy cheesecake topped with homemade blueberry jam and whipped cream.]
[recipe-notes] This cheesecake tastes best after sitting in the fridge overnight. Make sure to plan ahead if possible![/recipe-notes]
[recipe-ingredients]
Crust:

  • 9 sheets graham crackers
  • 1 Tablespoon sugar
  • ½ cup butter, melted

Cheesecake Filling:

  • 3 packages cream cheese (8 oz. each), softened
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 3 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 3 eggs
  • ¼ cup heavy cream
  • 2¼ teaspoons vanilla
  • ½ teaspoon lemon extract

Topping:
½ cup to 1 cup blueberry jam, homemade or storebought
[/recipe-ingredients]
[recipe-directions]
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Line the bottom of an 8-inch springform pan with a circle of parchment paper.

Pulse the graham crackers in a food chopper or food processor until they are fine crumbs. In a bowl, combine the graham cracker crumbs, tablespoon of sugar, and the melted butter. Press the crumb mixture onto the bottom and 1 inch up the sides of the 8 inch springform pan.

Refrigerate the crust for 15 minutes.

In a large mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese until smooth. Combine the sugar and cornstarch in a small bowl, then add the sugar mixture to the cream cheese. Beat the sugar mixture into the cream cheese. Add the eggs and beat on low speed just until combined. Add the cream, vanilla, and lemon extract and beat again until just combined. Pour into the refrigerated crust.

Place an 8 in by 10 in baking pan with high sides in the oven on a rack below where the cheesecake will bake. Boil a liter of water in either an electric kettle or in the microwave. Carefully pour the hot water into the baking pan in the oven. This will be your “water bath.”

Place the cheesecake in the oven directly on the rack above the water bath and bake for 40-50 minutes, until the cheesecake is set at least 2 inches from the edges. Take the cheesecake out of the oven and cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, carefully run a knife around the edge of the pan to loosen, then cool for 1 hour more. Your cheesecake top may crack but the blueberry jam topping will cover. Refrigerate the cheesecake overnight.

Remove the sides of the pan and transfer the cheesecake to a serving plate. Top cheesecake with blueberry jam and serve slices with whipped cream.

[/recipe-directions]

[/recipe]

Continue reading “Creamy Cheesecake with Blueberry Jam Topping”

Double-Chocolate Marble Cake

This post was written by our 15-year-old son, Corran. He has expressed an interest in cooking and baking, and he has actually been a big help to me in the kitchen lately. As he says, this chocolate marble cake was very yummy, but with our large family, it was gone in a few minutes! Fortunately, we had some leftover dinner rolls that Corran made last night for anyone who was still hungry. Corran will probably be posting often as his interests also run to video games, which would be a good addition to our “Geeky” section!

-Lynn

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A couple days ago, I was looking through Baking Chez Moi by Dorie Greenspan when I saw a recipe for a chocolate marble cake. I like the way marble cakes look, and it didn’t seem too hard, so I tried my hand at it.

This recipe used quite a bit of chocolate. Normally marble cakes are made by swirling together a white cake and a chocolate cake, but this one used white chocolate in the white portion. I thought it was interesting how the cake was formed; you separate the two batters and drop spoonfuls of each into the pan, then zigzag a knife through it a couple times. It wasn’t as swirly as I would have liked, but it still looked cool.

I don’t have any more pictures of it because I didn’t know I’d be writing a post on it.

I’m not sure how often I can make it though, as it uses quite a few ingredients and takes about 2-3 hours, but with how many of us there are it was gone in 15 minutes. If I do make it again, I’d like to add mocha to the chocolate cake portion and cardamom to the white.

-Corran

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Apple Galette and Chocolate Pomegranate Muffins

I’ve always wanted to make a galette and today, I finally did it! It was pretty easy and I will for sure do it again. It’s a bonus to me that I don’t need to use a pie tin to make it. I wasn’t too happy with my galette crust so I will need to work on that.

When my oldest son saw that I was baking something, he wanted to bake too. So he picked out chocolate muffins to make for breakfast tomorrow.

I am a big fan of Dorie Greenspan’s cookbooks, so I used the galette dough recipe and a modified galette filling recipe from her Baking Chez Moi cookbook. My son used a recipe for chocolate chocolate-chunk muffins from her Baking: From My Home to Yours cookbook.

Here is the galette dough recipe that I used:

Blueberry Galette

And then the filling is from her Apple Pielettes recipe, which can’t be found online. I would really suggest buying her cookbooks if you can! Her instructions are very simple, easy to follow, and detailed (for which I am very thankful!)

I think any apple pie filling would work well though. Just make sure you’re only using three apples in the filling because you don’t want to over-fill your galette.

img_6193

I chilled my galette dough on parchment paper on a baking pan in the fridge for two hours before I filled it. I used two granny smith apples and one golden delicious apple in the filling. I kept the filling in the fridge also for two hours. I just mixed a splash of lemon juice in with the apples so they wouldn’t turn too brown.

Before putting the filling on the dough, I crumbled up one sheet of graham crackers and sprinkled the crumbs over the dough. Dorie said to use butter cookies but sadly, I had none of those on hand. I think the cookie crumbs help the crust not to become soggy from the liquid in the filling during baking. Or maybe they just provide some extra texture. My kids didn’t even notice the graham cracker crumbs though.

img_6195

I sprinkled bits of 1 Tablespoon of butter over the top of the galette once I folded up the sides. After a quick brush of water over the dough and a sprinkling of sugar, it went into the oven at 400 degrees F for 45 minutes.

We were eating dinner while this was baking so I wasn’t paying as much attention as I should have. I think it might have been in there a little bit too long.  It probably could have come out at around 43 minutes. Yes, 2 minutes makes a big difference! Let’s just say it is “well-baked!” It was the perfect size for my family of 8 though and there are only 2 pieces left. My two youngest aren’t fond of apple pie.

After baking, I spooned some melted orange marmalade over the fruit to give it some shine. Yes, I did that just so it would look pretty.

Josh says it tastes like McDonald’s apple pies. I’m not sure if that’s a compliment… But I’ll take it!

___________________

Corran, my oldest son, wanted to make something for breakfast that would go with the pomegranate jelly we just canned on Saturday. He saw these chocolate chocolate-chunk muffins. Then, I remembered that I had three pomegranate chocolate bars in the pantry that I had been saving to use in chocolate chip cookies. I donated them to his cause and let him chop them up to use as the melted chocolate and the chocolate chunks in the muffins. I’m really proud of him for wanting to learn to bake. He is also interested in learning to cook something more complicated than grilled cheese or quesadillas.

I think the kids were more excited about the chocolate muffins than the apple galette. They kept asking if they could eat them now. My daughter’s exclamation, “But breakfast is sooooo far away!”

Hopefully, when it comes time for breakfast tomorrow, they will be happy they waited patiently for these chocolate muffins!

-Lynn