Thursday, January 16, 2014

Vanilla Bean Cheesecake Bites

It is reveal day for the Improv Cooking Challenge! This month the ingredients are crackers and cheese so I made these Vanilla Bean Cheesecake Bites! This is not my "go to" cheesecake recipe that I usually bake, although I still adore it. I wanted to get outside my comfort zone and try a totally new cheesecake recipe, and I am so glad I did. It has a deep vanilla bean flavor that I know you are going to love.
Vanilla Bean Cheesecake Bites
(adapted from King Arthur Flour)
Ingredients
Crust
8-10 Chocolate Graham Crackers 
5 tablespoons Butter
4 tablespoons Confectioners Sugar
pinch of salt
1/8 teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
5 tablespoons Butter

Batter
2-8 ounce packs Cream Cheese (at room temperature)
1 cup Granulated Sugar
1/4 cup Heavy Cream
3 large Eggs
3 teaspoons Vanilla Bean Extract

Topping
1/2 cup Heavy Whipping Cream
1 tablespoon Confectioners Sugar
1 cup Milk Chocolate Morsels
2 tablespoons Heavy Whipping Cream 

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.

Take your Chocolate Graham Crackers and put them 
in the food processor and pulse until crumbly.
 You can crush your crackers by placing them in a 
plastic bag and rolling over them with a rolling pin.
Both methods work great!
Melt your butter in the microwave.
Add the sugar, salt,and cinnamon to the food processor
and pulse until well combined. If you are not using this method,
 you can combine the ingredients with a fork or spoon.
Place the crust into an 8X8 pan. 
Come up the sides approx. 1/2". 
Flatten on the bottom.
Bake the crust for 8-10 minutes.
Remove from oven and let cool.
Lower oven temp to 325 degrees.
Mix the cream cheese and the sugar together until smooth.
Add the cream, eggs, and vanilla.
Spoon the batter into the crust.
Bake for 30-40 minutes.
The batter should be set on the edges, but the center
can be a little soft.
Take the cheesecake out of the oven and let it cool for 30 minutes.
While the cheesecake is cooling, make your ganache.
Place your chocolate morsels in a double boiler on 
low heat. Melt chocolate, stirring every couple minutes.
When chocolate is completely melted, add your
whipping cream and stir thoroughly to combine.
Let it sit on very low heat while we make the whipping cream.
Place your heavy whipping cream in the mixer.
Let cream whip until peaks begin to form.
Add confectioners sugar and allow stiff peaks to form.
Remove whipped cream from bowl and place in
a pastry bag with a star tip of your choice.
Remove your cheesecake from the pan and cut into 
bite sized pieces. Ok, these are LARGE bites! ha!
Drizzle your ganache all over the bites.
Top your bites with whipped cream dollops.

Enjoy!
Thanks for joining me today, and when you make these
cheesecake bites, you might want to make two batches.
They practically flew out of the kitchen!!

There is a lot more where this came from!
See what everyone else made with cheese and crackers:






Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Snowball Cookies!


Here are some fun winter cookies I think you will like! I call them snowball cookies because they are dipped in white chocolate, and then dipped in edible crystal flakes that look like glistening snow. They also have a surprise ingredient in the center~a chocolate kiss! So you can throw them at someone you love!

SNOW BALL COOKIES
1 cup Butter
1 cup Confectioners Sugar
1 cup Granulated Sugar
2 large Eggs
1 teaspoon Vegetable Oil
2 teaspoons Vanilla
1 tablespoon Lemon Juice
5 1/4 cup Flour
1 teaspoon Cream of Tartar 
1 teaspoon Baking Soda
1/4 teaspoon Salt
White Chocolate or White Candy Melts
or White Chocolate Chips
Sparkly Clear Sprinkles


Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Beat your butter on medium until it is fluffy.
Add both sugars, and mix well.
Add your eggs, oil, vanilla and lemon juice.
Beat until blended.
In a separate bowl, mix together your flour, cream of tartar,
baking soda and salt.
Add the flour mix to your egg mix and beat until blended.
Using a small scoop, Scoop out the cookie mix.
Place it on your parchment paper.
Unwrap your chocolate kisses and......
place the chocolate kiss upside down into your dough.
Mold the dough around your chocolate 
and form into a ball.
Place on baking sheet and bake for 9-11 minutes.
Don't worry about browning the cookies.
They will get a little brown on the bottom only.
Let your cookies cool completely.
(They taste really good right now with the melty kiss inside!)
While your cookies are cooling, chop your white chocolate,
and melt it in a double boiler or microwave if you prefer.
Once the chocolate is melted, place the top of 
the cookie in the chocolate to coat the top.
Then dip the top of the chocolate covered cookie 
into the sparkly sprinkles.
Set them back on your cooling rack to dry. 
They look so pretty, .....
and here is your surprise inside!

I hope you enjoy these snowball cookies. This recipe is originally from
an adaption of the thumbprint cookies that I love to make from
a Southern Living recipe. I love when recipes are so good they
can be used as several different items, don't you?!

Thanks for stopping by!


 




Thursday, January 9, 2014

Hot Chocolate w/ Marshmallows Sugar Cookies

Today I am participating in the Lady Behind The Curtain Dessert Challenge, and I made Hot Chocolate with Marshmallows Sugar Cookies. The ingredients for this month are cocoa or chocolate pudding and marshmallows. This is always such a fun challenge, and I am so glad to finally be participating again. I made these sugar cookies because I am always trying to improve my decorating skills, and because they were fun!

Hot Chocolate w/ Marshmallows Sugar Cookies

I used my "go to" sugar cookie recipe to make the cookies, and then I used 
my favorite frosting recipe for the top.
When I made the chocolate in the mug, I used some of the frosting and added 
a tablespoon of cocoa powder to the frosting. It came out really tasty!
I drew on a little mug with a food marker, and then
outlined the mug with the frosting.
I filled in the mug and .....
added hot chocolate and a handle.
Pop the marshmallows on top, and that's it!

One of my resolutions for the new year is to become
a better cookie decorator, so this is the beginning
of the journey. We will see.

Thanks for joining me today!

Check out what everyone else made below:

Monday, December 30, 2013

Celebrate New Years with this Buffalo Wings Flatbread Appetizer!

I love a New Years Eve Party! Well, I love just about any reason for a party, but....New Years Eve is a great reason, and if you are looking for a simple, but yummy, appetizer for your New Years festivities, this Buffalo Wings Flatbread is for you! One of the reasons I love this appetizer is because I used actual leftover buffalo chicken wings to create this recipe. My husband and I went to TGI Fridays to have some lunch. We tried some appetizers, one of which was a flatbread. We also ordered chicken wings, some other yummy food, and had a really fun time. As usual, our eyes were bigger than our stomachs, and we ended up bringing home a bunch of chicken wings. After 2 days, the wings were still in the fridge, and I wanted to do something with them. I remembered that I had some flatbread I had bought at the grocery. Then, I thought about the flatbread we had at lunch, and I thought, what if I do this and add this, and I ended up with this flatbread, kinda inspired by TGI Fridays!

Buffalo Wings Flatbread

1 Flatbread
4 oz. Cream Cheese-softened
1 1/2 teaspoon Franks Red Hot Wing Sauce
7 cooked Buffalo Wings
2 stalks Scallions
1 Roma Tomato
Ranch Dressing
Blue Cheese Crumbles

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
I bought these at the grocery store.
They were sitting on shelves in front of the deli case.
The first thing to do is de-bone the chicken wings. I tried
to use a little of the skin, for the great flavor,
 but I pulled out any really fatty pieces. 
Chop your scallions also.
Chop your tomatoes. 
It is best to make them bite size or smaller.
Bake your flatbread, with nothing on it, for 10 minutes in the oven.

While it is cooking, mix your softened cream cheese and 
the wing sauce together. Add more or less to your liking.
Spread the cream cheese mixture over the flatbread.
Top the spread with chicken, scallions and tomatoes.
Bake in the oven for 10 -15 minutes
 Drizzle with ranch dressing, or.......
add some blue cheese crumbles. Yum!!
I cut my flatbread like a pizza slice, but you could do squares
and serve a lot more guests!

Thank you for joining me today!

Have a Happy, Happy New Year !
See you in 2014!!









Friday, December 20, 2013

The Season of Sweets at P.F.Chang!

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of P.F. Changs for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.

I admit it! I have an incredible sweet tooth. To satisfy it, I am always on the lookout for some new or revamped treat that will conquer my craving and leave me happy and smiling! During the holidays, sweets are everywhere, and they are easy to obtain. But P.F. Chang’s is offering some seasonal sweets that satisfy and delight!

How does a handmade Dessert Wonton sound? I know, right? It sounds incredible! Now, how about two different flavors~Chocolate Raspberry and Sweet Vanilla Cream. All I can say is bring them on, and bring both kinds! The Chocolate Raspberry is stuffed with a creamy chocolate-raspberry filling, dusted with powdered sugar, served with chocolate and raspberry sauces and fresh raspberries and mint. Oh, heaven!! And the Sweet Vanilla Cream? Warm and crispy wontons filled with vanilla cream cheese, dusted with powdered sugar and served with vanilla and raspberry sauces and fresh mint.  photo d3f7af4a-3858-4175-a9d5-7e42e8ad35ae_zps70fdfd3f.jpg

What about a Peppermint Mocha Cappuccino? It sounds like a great way to end a wonderful meal, doesn't it? You can enjoy a Crave Mint Chocolate Liqueur and vodka added to a classic cappuccino, finished with crushed peppermint candy. Are you in love with the aroma and taste of vanilla bean? Then treat your taste buds to a Vanilla Bean Bourban Milkshake!!  Woodford bourbon is blended with vanilla bean ice cream, graham crackers and honey, and served with a honey graham cracker pop. Pure bliss!

 photo 542c2e8c-e075-468c-9373-d329061a09a1_zps72d91a85.jpg

Drop in to P.F. Changs this holiday season and enjoy their traditional menu, which is always wonderful, and add some sweet to this sweetest of seasons by trying their delicious handmade dessert wontons or one of their two handcrafted holiday beverages.

If you get there before me, order me a Sweet Vanilla Cream Wonton and a Peppermint Mocha Cappuccino!

What are you excited about ordering?

 

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Thursday, December 19, 2013

Cardamom Orange Sugar Cookies, a Cookie Swap Party and a $50 Target Giveaway!

 Today I have the pleasure of joining in a Cookie Swap Party! Being a devout cookie lover, I decided to try something a little different this time, and I made a Cardamom-Orange Sugar Cookie.  The flavor of cardamom is one of my favorites (although I seldom use it), and when I saw this recipe from Dede Wilson of  Epicurious.com, I had to try it. I hope you enjoy it too!
 Cardamom Orange Sugar Cookies
2 1/2 cups Flour
1 1/4 teaspoons Ground Cardamom
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1 1/2 cups Butter, room temperature
1 cup + 2 tablespoons Sugar
1 1/2  teaspoons finely grated Orange Peel
1/2 teaspoon Vanilla
1 large Egg
1/2 cup Milk Chocolate Chips, melted
holiday sprinkles
 Whisk your flour, cardamom, and salt together in a bowl. Set aside.
In a mixing bowl, beat your butter and sugar until light and creamy. 
Beat in finely grated orange peel and vanilla.
Add your egg and beat to blend.
Add your flour to the wet ingredients in 3 increments.
Beat on low after each addition, just until blended.
Divide your dough in half. 
Wrap each half in parchment or plastic wrap.
Chill about 45 minutes. Dough can be chilled for
up to 24 hours if you want to make ahead.
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
Use a cookie scoop, or you can form with your hands,
and place dough on the baking sheet.
Bake for 8-10 minutes.
Let cool.
Swirl your melted chocolate on top of your cooled cookies.
Sprinkle with holiday colors!

A note about Cardamom~It is an expensive spice. It can be used
in lots of different recipes, not just sweets. It has a unique flavor,
which I love, and I am sure you will too.

Let's meet the hostesses of this fun link party:
Ang from Juggling Act Mama is bringing Toffee Chocolate Chip Cookies
Teri from The Freshman Cook is bringing Cardamom Orange Sugar Cookies
Jamie from Love Bakes Good Cakes is bringing Italian Anise Cookies
Carrie from Frugal Foodie Mama is bringing Biscoff Snickerdoodles
Paula from Call me PMc is bringing White Chocolate Chip Cherry Oatmeal Cookies
Stacey from Glued to my Crafts is bringing Almond Chocolate Cranberry Cookies
Deb from Cooking on the Front Burner is bringing Cranberry Orange Slice Cookies
Jaime from Mom's Test Kitchen is bringing Holiday Vanilla Pudding Cake Cookies
Marilyn from 4 You With Love is bringing Chocolate Peppermint Rice Crispy Treats
Please be sure to hop around and visit all the ladies and check out their tasty cookies! Join the Holiday Cookie Link Party!

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