thinking about hallowe'en

can't believe school starts next week - a million things to do, including a craft fair to prepare for, but all i can think about is hallowe'en!

the kiddo is currently crazy for geronimo stilton, and since we discovered him about 3 weeks ago has read literally dozens of books in the series. so when i asked him if he would like to be geronimo stilton for hallowe'en, he was super excited! me, i'm thinking i can adapt the head pattern from his old snapping turtle costume (already started on that), use up a velvety brown remnant that turned out to be too small to make the cushions i was hoping for, and get the kid into a suit. yay.

i am pretty sure i have a boys' suit pattern at home (note to self: check that!), and googling tie patterns, i just found this brilliant printable pattern from purl soho (same place i bought the fabric for the kiddo's quilt!). i bet i have some red fabric that i can use up too!


happy happy birthday, baby

tg turned 38 on the weekend, and requested a cheesecake "with some kind of sweet fruit that doesn't have a lot of tiny seeds in it" for his birthday cake. we agreed on mango. i found a yummy looking recipe in regan daley's in the sweet kitchen for a guava cheesecake that seemed like it would work, except there was a problem - or rather a disappointment. the recipe started with a wonderful description of a cashew & candied ginger crust, but there was no mention of candied ginger in the ingredients or instructions!

i guesstimated a quarter cup of ginger, based on how spicy it smelled, and it seemed to work well.

for the filling, i wanted fresh mangos but strangely couldn't find them! the grocery store had mangos in heavy syrup, but that sounded like more sugar than mango, and i wanted more mango. finally i found organic mango chunks in juice at my health food store, so i could choose exactly how much sugar i thought they needed.

another change i made was to swirl the fruit puree into the cheesecake filling in the pan, to make a pretty fruity pattern, instead of just mixing it in to the batter.

everyone loved it, from the designated spoon-licker to the birthday boy!

mango swirl cheesecake

3/4 cup roasted unsalted cashews
1/3 cup brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup candied ginger
1 1/2 cups flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup cold butter, cut in pieces
1 egg

4 bricks philly cream cheese (1 kg)
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
3 eggs, at room temperature
1 can mango chunks in mango juice (14 oz)
1/4 cup sugar
1 tbs arrowroot flour

pulse cashews and brown sugar in food processor to combine. break the ginger into small pieces, add to food processor with some of the flour, and pulse until the mix resembles fine bread crumbs. mix in bowl with remaining flour and salt.

rub in butter until the mixture resembles coarse meal with a few clumps. beat the egg lightly and stir in with a fork till combined.

press the dough into a 9" springform pan, covering the bottom and going up the sides a bit, making it about 1/4" thick.

chill 2 hours, then bake 20 minutes at 350. allow to cool.

cream the cream cheese with a wooden spoon until creamy. add the 1 1/2 cups sugar gradually with the vanilla, creaming out any lumps, then stir in the eggs one at a time. pour into cooled pan.

combine mango, sugar, and arrowroot in food processor and puree. pour over cream cheese filling, and use a spoon to swirl through.

bake 2 hours at 300f, with a water-filled tray on the rack below. allow to cool at room temperature for an hour or two, then chill overnight. run a knife around the edge before removing the sides of the springform pan.