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Recipes | Manolo for the Big Girl
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Tomato Time!

There was a time when I didn’t get the big deal about tomatoes.

Sure, I liked tomato based pasta sauces, and I had no problem eating the occasional BLT… but what I liked best about that sandwich was the bacon, not the tomato. Tomatoes looked pretty. I like red. And cherry tomatoes were kind of cute, being all miniature like that.

Thing is, back then I didn’t really know what a tomato tasted like.

I ate them all the time, sure, but the only tomatoes I saw came from the grocery store. Large or small, there was a sameness to them. They were uniformly red, kind of hard, and more or less flavorless.


You Asked For It: Crock Pot Cheesecake

Alright, back in the day when Twistie was doing her Recipe of the Week or whatever I know a lot of you didn’t like it because you felt it reinforced some stereotype about The Constantly Eating Fat Girl and honestly, it wasn’t my thing either, but Twistie can do what she wants on weekends as long as she doesn’t a) Feature any of that woodland magickal faerieeyeeie Stevie Nicks nonsense she knows I hate b) Besmirch the good names of John Wayne, John Waters or Julia Sugarbaker or c) Mess with Texas. It’s that simple.

Still, a mess of you asked for a recipe for my Crock Pot cheesecake, and never being one to deny my readers anything I am humbly obliging the request.

This makes a dense, creamy cheesecake. Using a mixer instead of an immersion blender –my KitchenAid is still stateside and I just got a cool new immersion blender. It’s magenta!– would probably make for a fluffier end result.


1 cup graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup toasted pecans, ground
3 tablespoons brown sugar
3 tablespoons melted butter

16 ounces cream cheese, room temp (neufchatel works okay, too)
3/4 cup sugar
3 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup plain yogurt (I used this instead of cream because I made a gallon of yogurt and am trying to get rid of it)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon finely zested lime or lemon peel

Fill your slow cooker with enough water to come at least halfway up the sides of whatever you’re using as your pan. We’re bain marie-ing this baby, because cracks in cheesecake are wack (RIP Whitney).

For the crust, mix all ingredients together and press into the sides of 7″ springform pan. For the filling, dump all the ingredients in a large and blend the heck out of it for five minutes with your awesome new immersion blender OR beat the cream cheese and sugar together until fluffy, adding the additional ingredients and beating that for three minutes. Pour into your slow cooker, cook covered on high for about 3 hours until the edges aren’t shiny and the center is just set (mine took closer to 4, but check at 2). Turn the Crock Pot off and let cool for an hour before refrigerating.

Notes: I didn’t bother with the crust because they don’t sell graham crackers here and also eating cheesecake for the crust is like reading Playboy for the intimate body hair. I also didn’t have a springform pan that fit in my current slow cooker, but since this makes a small cake, I just used the biggest glass mixing bowl that would fit comfortably. It worked like a charm and was cooked evenly all the way through.

Make it, enjoy and thank you for being a friend!

The Big Question: Sophie’s Choice Edition

Why, dear children, is this day different from all other days?

Because 78 glorious years ago today, the great and good people of this great nation ratified the lovely, lovely 21st Amendment which repealed the terrible, awful, no-good, very bad 18th Amendment, thus putting an end to Prohibition.

There’s a funny familial story about Prohibition that’s been floating around the Plumcake Family Mythology for nearly 80 years.

Once upon a time, in the faraway land of Yonkers, New York a young Salvation Army officer by the name of Miss Plumcake’s Nana discovered her fun-loving and all-around less stick-in-the-mud younger sister had snuck off to some speakeasy in the city and was dancing the night away. My Nana, who could out-damp even the soggiest of bed coverings, was outraged and her anger was not lessened when she discovered her one good dress –her Confirmation gown– was missing.

Grim but not stupid, Nana did the math, deduced her wicked sister and her heavenly dress were sharing the same airspace.

Nana marched right down to the speakeasy and proceeded to RIP the dress right off of her shameless sister, thus fulfilling her lifelong legacy of ruining everyone’s good time –well, except for the men at the speakeasy I suppose– and adding another chapter to the legend of Miss Plumcake’s family.

The moral of the story is this: Don’t anger a Plumcake woman. Also, if the last words you say to your devoted teenage great-granddaughter are “Have you always been that fat?”, you thereby give up your rights NOT to be talked about publicly and at great length.

Remember, an elephant never forgets.

In honor of the end of Prohibition, and the fact I’m going to have to whittle down my Scotch collection to 3 liters so I can take it across the Mexican border, I thought I’d ask a little booze-themed Big Question.

Today Miss Plumcake wants to know:

What one alcoholic beverage would you be unwilling to go the rest of your life without?

After much thoughtful deliberation, I’ve decided upon the humble yet sublime Talisker 18 year-old single malt Scotch. Talisker is the only Scotch made on the Isle of Skye and has in its golden soul the best of both the smokey peat of the Islay malts and the honeyed heather of a Speyside.

It’s not the most expensive or rarest Scotch I own, a bottle of Talisker 18 will set you back less than a hundred dollars, and there are other Scotches I prefer as specimens of one breed or another, but for pure overarching perfection, the Talisker is hard to beat, and, incidentally, is ridiculous (in the good way) on a hot buttered waffle.

Fab Four: Cocktail Finds

I am in LOVE with that porto set.

What Miss Plumcake is…

Hello my chubby compadres, how’s every little thing? Me, I’m great. Just getting used to being back in Texas –by which I mean the face of the sun– after a glorious month of actual springlike weather in DC. Well, it’s Tuesday, so it’s time to find out
What Miss Plumcake is…

(now with sales code AND a recipe!)

‘Tis the Season for the Professional Dipsomaniac

Stainless Steel Boston Cocktail Shaker
Lead Crystal Single Malt Whisky Glass Set by Riedel(a must have)
Peugot Aromium Decanter w/ Aerator
OXO Complete Bar Set

Be sure to check back at the main ‘Tis the Season page to look back on profiles you’ve missed and look forward to ones that are soon to come!

Recipe of the Week: Meyer Lemon Barley Risotto

I was about twelve when my mother taught me to make risotto. I fell in love. I found the stirring soothing, and the dish beyond delicious.

About a week after she taught me to make risotto, my mother had a meeting that was going to go straight through dinner. She asked me to cook. No problem. I’d cooked dinner for the family plenty of times. She left instructions. Great. Roast, check. Veggies, check. Risotto, no problemo.

Well, almost no problemo.

When I went to start the risotto, I couldn’t find the rice. I searched high and low, but the  only rice I could find was a box of Minute Rice. Even if I wasn’t a complete food snob even then, the fact remains that Minute Rice does not a good risotto make. I had to get dinner on the table, so I had to think fast. Then I spotted a jar with what I thought was brown rice in it.

Brown rice is rice, so I assumed it would work. It’s not a quick cooking rice, so I assumed it would result in something that had the right texture. I love the flavor of brown rice, so I thought this might even be good. What I didn’t realize until I had been cooking for a while was that I’d actually reached for the pearl barley.

I know, I know, pearl barley doesn’t really look like brown rice to the trained eye. The thing was, I wasn’t trained in that particular aspect of food. Whatever the silliness of my mistake, however, it remains one of the best mistakes I’ve ever made.

The entire family loved barley risotto.

All the same, I never made it again. You see, it was a mistake, and at that point in my life, mistakes were to be swept under the rug as quickly and efficiently as possible and never, ever made again, even if the result of the mistake was something good.

I’m older and wiser now. I know that there are mistakes to be shoved to the back of the mental closet, ones to mull over and learn from, and ones to be embraced as serendipity. It was time to rediscover barley risotto.

My resolve coincided with two things that made it even more serendipitous. The first was plans for a visit from some good friends and fellow foodies who have recently gone vegetarian. I needed a hearty main dish that would involve no meat, but would satisfy Mr. Twistie who sometimes irrationally fears vegetarian meals as failing to fill him up properly. The second was the fact that I joined a CSA, getting my first shipment of farm-fresh organic fruits and veggies just two days before our friends arrived.

There was I with a fridge full of fabulous leafy greens and piles of great, fresh citrus. I decided to do a big salad followed by a risotto using some of the bitter greens. I went looking for a recipe. Here’s where I found it.

Take a look at that. Barley, greens, meyer lemon juice and zest, cheese, toasted pine nuts… how good is that? It’s beyond awesome. For the greens, I used a combination of kale and chard. I also went a tidge heavy on the cheese, because when it doubt, I always add more cheese.

How did it turn out? Rich, creamy, but refreshing at the same time. So delicious. The only complaint about it was the same one I heard when I was twelve: there just wasn’t enough. Everyone wanted more.

By the way, here’s the CSA I joined. I recommend it highly to anyone in its delivery range. It’s convenient, easily customizable, and surprisingly inexpensive. If you’re outside the delivery area and looking for a CSA to fit your needs, check out this site and see what’s available to you.

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