Cookie Dough Cheesecake

I am so proud of you for sticking to that New Year’s Resolution of yours.  Seriously, most people quit after a week or two but you’ve been sticking to that “I’m going to eat healthier this year!” mentality even after Valentine’s Day!  Right?  Right.

We all know that to eat healthy throughout one’s life, one must splurge now and then.  Lucky for you I’ve got just the thing to do the trick!

Let’s toss some cookie dough into that glorious dessert the gods have named “cheesecake.”  So put on those new skinny jeans and get out that full fat cream cheese because it’s about to get decadent in here!

Actually, you might want to pull out the fat pants for this.  No shame in it.

Cookie Dough Cheesecake

For the crust:

About 2 cups finely crushed chocolate graham crackers (you can use any other type of graham cracker, that’s just what I had on hand).

1 tablespoon sugar

8 tablespoons butter, melted

For the filling:

3 8 ounce packages cream cheese

3 eggs, lightly beaten

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/4 cup milk

16 1/2 – 18 ounce refrigerated chocolate chip cookie dough

Optional: 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate pieces or miniature semisweet chocolate pieces

 

Let cream cheese and eggs reach room temperature, about 30 minutes.  This is the perfect time to get your crust started.

For crust:  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Stir your graham cracker crumbs and 1 tbsp of sugar together.  Add the melted butter and mix until combined.  Press the mixture into the bottom and about 1 1/2 inches up the sides of a 9in springform pan.  Set aside.

For the cheesecake:  In the bowl of an electric mixture, beat the cream cheese, the sugars, flour, and vanilla on medium speed until combined.  Add milk and beat until smooth.  Stir in the eggs.

Pour half of the cheesecake mixture into your prepared crust.  Rip apart the refrigerated cookie dough into about teaspoon sized pieces.  Drop half of these pieces into the mixture.  Pour the rest of the cheesecake mixture into the pan and add the rest of the cookie dough.  Press the cookie dough pieces into the mixture until covered (or mostly covered, not a big deal).  Top with chocolate chips if you desire.

Place your springform pan into a flat baking pan.  Cook at 350 degrees for 60-65 minutes or until 2 1/2 inches from the side of a pan seems set when you shake the pan (note: my cheesecake took about 70 minutes).  The center of the cheesecake will wobble when shaken.

Cool in the springform pan for 15 minutes.  Run a butter knife around the edge of the cheesecake to loosen the crust from the sides of the pan.  Cool for another 30 minutes, and then remove the sides of the springform pan.  Cool on a wire rack for 4 hours.  Place into your fridge for later or immediately serve and enjoy!

 Mmm.  I’d wear sweat pants for you any day.
Original recipe from Better Homes and Gardens

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A Note about the Blog

Welcome to the new year!  Or the end of the second month of the new year.  Sorry about that.  Getting a real job and taking care of a house for the first time can cause you to lose track of such things as typing on a keyboard.

Okay okay, I may have spent some of that time catching up on some video games, but it was really important that I save Zelda.  Again.  You understand, right?

I am planning on updating this blog much more frequently now that I am set in my schedule so stay tuned!

 

And now back to your scheduled bit of tastiness…

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Peanut Butter Cake with Chocolate and PB Frosting

We live in such a wonderful futuristic world. During these times we can talk to people across the globe, share ideas, and sing off-key renditions of Disney songs without ever meeting anyone face to face. Or maybe we can have an entire fight via text message because someone’s at work and can’t call and then you feel like a huge jerk for being insensitive.

Me? Insensitive? I’m talking about my friend guys.

Buuuut let’s not point fingers. At my friend, I mean.

Anyway, fights stink but they give you chance to make up, and what better way than with cake?

Ya know because then you’ll get cake too.

See that heart? Yeah, I’m adorable.

I failed to take a picture before I cut into the cake because I hadn’t planned on using this recipe for my blog since it was a super special personal cake for my super awesome and manly boyfriend. He told me I should post it so here ya go!

To tell you the truth that cupcake up top is chocolate, but it’s way prettier than a partially eaten cake. Plus I swirled the two frostings together on top. Fancy.

But, um, here’s the cake from the back.

You can’t even tell it’s been cut now! Perfect.

This is a perfect “sorry” cake because you can bake and decorate it quickly before a certain someone gets home. I usually prefer not to use box mixes, but they’re great for a quick cake and can be altered to make different flavors.

Peanut Butter Cake
1 package white or yellow cake mix (I used white)
1 1/3 cups water
1/3 crunchy or smooth peanut butter (I used smooth)
1/3 cup vegetable oil
3 large eggs

Preheat your oven to 350. Run shortening along bottom and edge of cake pans (I used two 9″ rounds) or spray with non-stick spray. Dust with flour and set aside.

Combine all the ingredients in a large mixing bowl and, by hand or with a mixer on low, mix for 30 seconds. Scrape the sides of the bowl and beat for 2 more minutes, making sure the batter is well combined.

Pour the batter into your pans and bake for 25-30 minutes.

Remove from oven and let cool in pans for about 10 minutes and then flip cakes out onto a cooling rack.

Chocolate Frosting
Makes 3 cups

1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3 cups confectioners’ sugar, plus more if needed
1/3 cup milk, plus more if needed
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt

Place butter and cocoa into a large mixing bowl. Blend on low speed to avoid having cocoa powder fly all over your kitchen. Blend until the mixture is soft and well combined (about 30 seconds). Stop the mixer.

Add the sugar, milk, vanilla, and salt to the bowl and beat on low speed at first until the frosting is fluffy (about 3 minutes). Increase speed if you desire after the sugar has combined somewhat so it doesn’t go flying everywhere.

If the frosting is too thick add a bit more milk. If it is too thin add more sugar, 1 tbsp at a time.

Peanut Butter Frosting
Makes 3 cups

Note: This recipe is enough to frost an entire cake. I halved it to use for decorating only.

1 cup creamy peanut butter
1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
3-4 tbsp milk
2 tsp vanilla extract

Put the peanut butter and butter into a large mixing bowl. Blend on low speed until fluffy, about 30 seconds. Stop the mixer.

Add sugar, 3 tbsp milk, and vanilla. Blend on low speed until sugar is well combined, about 1 minute. Increase speed to medium and beat until the frosting is fluffy, another minute.

If frosting is too thick add 1 tsbp more milk.

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It’s Pasta Time

So a little side note to get things started: I’ve been informed that some fine chaps have been curious about what my Fourth of July parfaits were made of. Elementary, my dear readers!

I simply made a batch of blue and red Jello (any flavors will do) and layered the blue Jello followed by a good dollop of Cool Whip and then topped it with the red. I chose to use Cool Whip over making my own whipped cream (very easy if you’ve never done it) because Cool Whip has this unholy property of NEVER melting. Seriously, it looks the same no matter how long it hangs out on your pie. Freaky.

And now let us discuss pasta. Specifically ricotta cheesed stuffed pasta.

I simply adore ricotta cheese. I always searched for it in my mother’s lasagna, though I had no idea what it was. At one point I thought it was cottage cheese or something that wasn’t cheese at all. It didn’t matter though; I continued to put this mysterious substance into my mouth and loved every minute of it.

Side note: If you ever stumble upon Anthony’s Coal Fire Pizza, I strongly encourage you to get the meatball and ricotta pizza. Be still my taste buds. Some people, like my mother, can’t handle that much ricotta cheese at once, but I know you guys are strong enough. Flex those tongues!

Now on to stuffed shells.

These are fabulous and are perfect for freezing. I always make a big batch and then put five or six into their own little individual freezer bags since I’m only feeding myself and that guy that hangs around my house. If I know we’re having shells for dinner, I simply pull one of these bags out and place it into the fridge to thaw.

Another side note: I live in a house now! So much space! So much more to clean!

Let’s use this house kitchen to make some shells!

Stuffed Shells

1 box jumbo pasta shells (about 40 shells)
1-pound bag baby spinach
Salt and pepper
2 teaspoons olive oil
2 medium zucchini, halved lengthwise and sliced thin
15 ounces part-skim ricotta cheese (aka, a whole container!)
1 1/2 cups shredded reduced-fat, part-skim mozzarella cheese
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
Grated Parmesan cheese for topping
Panko for topping, if desired
Your favorite tomato sauce

Boil water in a large pot and add shells. Return to boil and cook according to directions until “al dente.” Do not overcook as shells will continue to soften in the oven. Drain and set shells aside to cool.

Add spinach and 1/2 tsp of salt to a large pan and cover. Cook over medium-high heat for 5-6 minutes, tossing occasionally. Drain spinach and squeeze out as much water as you can with a paper towel (warning, this can be hot if you do it right away). Chop spinach and then transfer to a large bowl and set aside.

Pour the oil into the same pan then take your already sliced zucchini and add it to the pan along with 1/4 tsp salt. Cook 5-7 minutes or until browned, flipping zucchini occasionally to make sure both sides are browned. Chop and add to the large bowl.

Add ricotta, 1/2 cup of the mozzarella, the parsley and a pinch of pepper to the same bowl. If desired, add a little of the grated Parmesan to the mix. Stir to combine.

Preheat oven to 350 if cooking immediately after assembling the shells.

Scoop cheese mixture into already cooked shells, about a tablespoon or so into each. If you have extra, just over scoop some shells, aka what my boyfriend does anyway.

Spoon a layer of tomato sauce over the bottom of a 9×13 baking pan and place the shells in a single layer on top. Top shells with more sauce, the rest of the mozzarella cheese, the Parmesan and the Panko (if using. I like the crunch).

Cover and bake 30-40 based on your oven. If desired, remove cover during the last ten minutes of cooking to brown the cheese on top (it’s delicious!).

Did I mention these are somewhat healthy? Definitely less calories than the ones at a restaurant, so enjoy guilt-free!

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Happy Fourth of July!

Happy Fourth of July everyone! I hope you had a fun holiday filled with friends, family, and a ton of delicious food.

Here’s to no hangovers and still having all our fingers! Right everyone?

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Just a Salad

Happy Monday, kiddo. Have a good weekend? Maybe the kind of weekend that included eating an ice cream sandwich bigger than your face? Maybe you made some cookies for a party and they never made it there because you “dropped” them? Don’t worry, we’ve all been there.

Maybe it’s time to counterbalance the weekend splurges with a nice, crisp, and healthy salad.

Veggies and fruit and cheese, oh my!

Have you been to a Bahama Breeze? It’s this great restaurant that my brother introduced me to that is sure not to disappoint. I usually get the same thing every time I go there: a salad.

Not just any salad, but one that I love so much I decided to make a version of it at home. Boy was that a great decision. Eating it for dinner made me feel so clean and healthy, like the kind of person that would never eat a carton of ice cream for dinner. Oh of course not.

This salad would make a delightful starter to a meal or you can add some cooked chicken and…

BAM! It’s dinner time!

I hope you’re as ridiculous as me and arrange it all nice and pretty. I was pretty proud of myself until the boyfriend immediately dug in and destroyed my artistic touch.

Fruit Salad
Serves 2

Cooked chicken, seasoned/marinated to your taste.
Romaine lettuce
Spring mix
1 orange, peeled and separated
3-4 strawberries, sliced
1 cup of red grapes
A sprinkling of goat cheese
Dressing of your choice, if desired

Guys, it’s a salad, just put everything into a bowl and enjoy! Add more or less of each ingredient based on your personal preferences and arrange it all fancy-like. It’s tastier that way.

That ice cream sandwich was fantastic.

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One Bowl Chocolate Cake

Remember how I mentioned graduating college and how we had a sweet soiree to celebrate? Well obviously I couldn’t show up with just one dessert, that would be crazy, borderline blasphemous! Not only did I make some chocolate chip cookies to be best friends with the M&M ones, but I also made a cute little chocolate cake.

Do pardon the picture. I took a few at the actual party but, of course, that meant I had to be quick because people wanted to get down to eating!

This recipe will be enough for two 6inch rounds and some change, so I’m sure you could stretch it to make two shorter 8inch rounds. I chose the smaller size because there’s always leftover desserts when I bake for a party because I tend to go overboard and make waaaaay too many varieties. This time I held back and planned for the possibility of not everyone having dessert (I can’t believe people like that exist) or someone else bringing something. The 6inch size was perfect for this party and there were no leftovers after the guests got done with the cookies and cake!

The smaller layers also meant the cake had some dramatic height which is what I wanted. This darling cake was a little drama queen but not over the top!

In case you’re wondering why I’m not including a recipe for the frosting, that’s because…well I don’t use a recipe. I tend to just make my buttercream frosting by taste. I usually use about a pound of butter, a tad of salt, and than add the confectioner’s sugar and vanilla extract as I see fit. So this cake will give you a reason to take your favorite frosting recipe for a spin. I’m a fan of chocolate cake with vanilla frosting, but feel free to use chocolate or even strawberry. I won’t bug you about it!

Side note for decorators: I used a #21 star tip to make the swirls on the cake. Eazy peazy! It makes for a nice little elegant design in white, no?

Side note: I put butterscotch chips in between the layers because hey, why not? They were a nice little surprise for the people biting into their cake slice!

Yummy Chocolate Cake

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 1/2 cup sugar
1 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla
3/4 cup milk
2/3 cup hot water

Preheat the oven to 350. Grease and flour two cake pans (in my case, 6inch round pans) and set aside.

Sift or mix all the dry ingredients together(including the cocoa!) together with a whisk. Add the eggs, milk, oil, and vanilla extract and mix/beat until combined.

Add the hot water and mix until combined. The batter will be very liquidy, but that’s good! Pour the batter evenly into your prepared pans and bake for about 30 minutes, adding or taking away time based on your pan size. My 6inch pans took a little over 30 because I made them nice and thick, but a thinner layer like an 8inch should take 25-30. Just make sure to check that a toothpick inserted into your cake comes out clean before taking it out of the oven.

Cool in the pans for 10 minutes and then transfer the cake to a cooling rack. Don’t frost until they are completely cool!

Oh hai, another mixer-optional recipe. It’s also a one bowl recipe! Aren’t those the best?

 

 

Adapted from http://www.bakerella.com

 

 

 

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M&M Cookies

It’s been a little while. I’m sure it hasn’t been that long though.

*Checks last post*

Well anyway welcome to May! I’m glad it’s here because April for me was a busy month. I had final papers and tests to take and I worked at Orlando’s Festival of Chocolate (Oh how I wish I had taken pictures for you!). It was all worth it though because on the very first Saturday of May I graduated!

That’s right! College grad over here! Ahhh snap!

So I made cookies.

Perfect for hungry graduates at a party.

I also made a cake but you’ll see that later. It was goooooood.

But we’re not here to talk about cake. We’re here to talk about cookies and specifically cookies with candy in them.

Well hello mini M&Ms, it’s been a long time since you’ve graced my home. Now sit still while I stuff you in a cookie and shove you into the oven. Delicious.

The best part about these cookies is that you don’t need a mixer. I always love recipes like that because it just seems like I’ll be doing less cleaning even though I’ll end up using the same number of bowls. Cleaning a mixer bowl just seems like more work to me. Must be because I always hand wash the darn thing because I know if I put it into the dishwasher I’ll just end up taking it out to use it again before I turn the washer on. You get that right? A lot of people bake multiple times a week and sometimes even multiple times a day…right?

Well whatever. Let’s get to baking.

M&M Cookies

2 cups + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoons baking soda

1 1/2 sticks (12 tablespoons) of salted butter, melted and cooled

1 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup sugar

1 egg + 1 egg yolk, at room temperature

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 cup mini M&Ms (you can use full size if you’re feeling crazy. Also, I didn’t actually measure mine, I just went with my gut and my gut said “More M&Ms!”).

Preheat the oven to 325.

Whisk the flour and baking soda together and set aside.

Using a whisk (or a spoon), mix the butter and the sugars together until combined and the mixture looks smooth and brown. Next add the egg, egg yolk, and the vanilla. Mix together and then gradually add the flour mixture. Mix until a dough forms-it may start out crumbly but it’ll turn into a beautiful dough, trust me.

Here comes the fun.

Roll the dough into 2 tbsp sized balls and then rip the ball in two. Smoosh the now two pieces together on the smooth sides and place the dough rough size down onto a parchment paper-lined cookie sheet.

It should look like this:

So silly and cute!

Bake 8-12 minutes until the edges are slightly brown and the centers are still soft and puffy. Do not over bake!

Let cool and dig in! Or share with friends at a sweet par-tay.

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Mac n’ Cheese Revisited

“Didn’t you just post a macaroni and cheese recipe last month?!”

Yes, yes I did.

If you are shocked that I would make a new recipe so soon, you need to know something about me:

I love macaroni and cheese. If I had to choose between giving up chocolate cake or mac n’ cheese for the rest of my like, I’d give up the chocolate. I know!

I didn’t grow up on the blue box like most kids; my mother always bought the velveeta box. You know the one. It has shell macaroni instead of elbow and it comes with this thick, neon orange cheese sauce. I adored it as a side on burger night at my house. I was actually flabbergasted the first time I watched someone make the more recognizable Kraft version and saw them pour in milk. Weird, man.

Now don’t get me wrong, I like the blue box as well; I’ve gotten many-a stare from an IHop waiter when I order the mac n’ cheese off the kids’ menu, but the first time I had baked mac n’ cheese was when my love affair started. Now I order it at every bbq restaurant I go to and actually get visibally sad if it’s not on the menu.

But that’s neither here nor there. Let’s talk about THIS recipe.

I still like the last recipe I posted and it’s still tasty, but this one has more flavors and cheeses and a crispy top and garlic and I can’t stop writing and!

Basically, I liked how the last macaroni and cheese turned out, but I wanted to make a better one. One that would make me never want to try another recipe. One that would make people go “Omigosh this is so good I must have MORE.”

I believe I have done it.

A warning, when cooking I don’t always measure spices exactly. For this mac n’ cheese I used the palm of my hand to measure the salt, pepper, cayenne, and garlic powder. I’m estimating the measurements for the spices and panko in the recipe that follows:

Also, due to a sale and my laziness, I simply used the the 2 cup bag of Kraft Shredded Triple Cheddar Cheese for my cheese sauce. I know many people prefer to freshly shred their cheese, so I’ve listed the cheeses separately.

Baked Macaroni and Cheese
1 pound (16oz) elbow macaroni, cooked and drained
1 tbsp of chopped garlic or one clove, chopped
2 tbsp unsalted butter
2 tbsp all-purpose flour
2 cups COLD milk
1 to 1.5 tsp salt
1 to 1.5 tsp pepper
1 to 1.5 tsp garlic powder
1 to 1.5 tsp cayenne pepper
2/3 cup white cheddar cheese
1 and 1/4 cup sharp cheddar cheese
2/3 cup cheddar cheese
1/4 cup Panko

Preheat oven to 400.

In a medium saucepan, cook the garlic over low heat until fragrant. Add the butter, melt, and then add the flour, mixing to combine.

Whisk in the milk and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 5-7 minutes, until the mixture coats the back of a spoon. Stir in the spices sometime while it is simmering.

Remove from the heat and stir in the cheeses, reserving 1/4 cup of the sharp cheddar.

Pour the cheese sauce into your prepared macaroni and place into a 9×13 casserole dish.

Mix your reserved 1/4 cup sharp cheddar with the Panko crumbs. Sprinkle over the macaroni and cheese.

Bake, covered, for about 20 minutes. Uncover and continue baking until the cheese on top melts to your preference, about 10 minutes.

The crispy top is my favorite part!

And there you have it. My new favorite mac n’ cheese.

Excuse me as I get my third helping (not joking).

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Coconut Macaroons

These may not be the prettiest of cookies but they are downright delicious. Do not get these confused with the fancy, sandwich-like French macaron (is it possible to type this with a manly French accent? Me and my beret hope so). These are mounds of coconut and are a heck of a lot easier to make.

While the French macaron requires you to weigh your ingredients, this coconut delight gives you the opportunity to get messy. No mixing spoons in your kitchen? BALDERDASH. Ya got two great ones attached to your arms.

You know what’s all the rage at Easter? Making these cookies and then topping them with some M&Ms or little chocolate eggs and making birds’ nest. Daaaaaw.

But we don’t do that here since we’re too busy flexing our mixing muscles.

Let’s get to baking!

Coconut Macaroons

1 egg white
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 14oz can sweetened condensed milk
14oz shredded coconut (I use sweetened, but if you have less of a sweet tooth get unsweetened)

Preheat oven to 325.

Place the egg white in a bowl and whip with a whisk until frothy. Add the extracts and whip again and then add the milk. Whisk the milk a bit (do NOT skip this step) and then mix in all of the coconut. You can either use a mixing spoon or your hands, but it will be a fun mess if you do the latter!

With either your hands or a cookie scoop, place tablespoon-sized mounds of the mixture onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.

Bake for 10-12 minutes or until the edges are light brown. Immediately remove from the cookie sheet onto a cooling rack.

Store at room temperature.

P.S.
Almond extract smells like cherry juice to me. What’s up with that?

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