Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Caramel Cheesecake Bars

Wow. Should I say it again? Wow. Wow. Wow. Caramel cheesecake bars with a chocolate brownie crust. Need I say more?

Go to your kitchen and make these. Right. Now. RUN!

I love all things cheesecake - and these are no exception. The only difference is they are super simple to make. I was very hesitant to make these because I am usually a homemade-everything type of girl and these start off with a brownie mix (gasp) and a jar (a jar?!?) of caramel sauce. I was over the moon surprised about these and they are just as good as their "all from scratch" competitors.

So, run into your kitchen and get rolling on these. Then they will be ready just in time for dinner!

Caramel Cheesecake Bars
(adapted from Cookies & Cups)

1 box brownie mix (19.5-20 oz)
1 stick butter, melted
4 eggs
2 (8 oz) bricks cream cheese, softened
1/2 c. brown sugar
3 T. flour
1 T. vanilla
1 c. sour cream
1 14-15 oz. jar caramel sauce

Preheat oven to 350. Mix brownie mix, melted butter and 1 egg until combined. Press into greased 13x9 pan. Bake for 10-12 minutes.

With a mixer, beat cream cheese, brown sugar, flour, vanilla, and sour cream until smooth. Beat in remaining 3 eggs, one at a time until smooth. Mix in half of the caramel sauce and mix until combined. Pour over the hot crust and bake 25 minutes or until middle is just set. Removed from oven and cool. Once they are cooled, refrigerate at least 2 hours. Drizzle with remaining caramel sauce. Cut into squares and refrigerate any leftovers. ( good luck with that!)


Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Blueberry Lemon Breakfast Loaf

So. I have been MIA for a while now.
That's not saying I haven't been baking. Summer has gotten the best of me and I just haven't been all too faithful to the blog.

That's not to say that I haven't been faithful to my kitchen. Believe me, we are still going strong.

Last night, I whipped up a Blueberry Lemon breakfast (anytime) loaf. It's one of those sliver-to-death loaves that put the lemon loaf from your local starbucks to shame. Make this and I promise you won't be shelling out 2 bucks at the local 4 bucks for any half frozen loaf!

Blueberry-Lemon Breakfast Loaf
(adapted from Smitten Kitchen)

For the bread:
1 1/2 cups + 1 T. Flour, divided
2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
3/4 c. or 5.3oz vanilla Greek yogurt
1/4 c. sour cream
1 c. sugar
3 extra large eggs
1/2 t. vanilla
1/2 c. vegetable oil
1 1/2 c. blueberries, rinsed

For the lemon syrup:
1/4 c. lemon juice
1/4 c. sugar

For the lemon glaze:
1 c. powdered sugar
3-4 T. lemon juice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a loaf pan. In a small bowl, sift together flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside. In a large bowl, whisk the yogurt, sour cream, sugar, eggs, vanilla and oil. Slowly mix dry ingredients in. In another small bowl, toss the blueberries with the remaining flour. Fold into batter and pour into prepared pan. Bake for 55-60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the middle comes out clean. Let cool for5 minutes.

While the loaf is cooling, place the lemon juice and sugar in a small Pam. Stir over medium heat until sugar is dissolved. Once this happen. Cook for 3-4 more minutes. Poke holes into loaf with a toothpick and brush syrup on. Let the loaf cool completely.

Once the loaf is cooled, make the lemon glaze. Place powdered sugar and lemon juice together in a small bowl and mix until smooth. Pour lemon glaze on.


Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Mexican Beef Casserole

This was dinner tonight - doesn't it look delish??

Mexican Beef Casserole is what we call it at our house. No one turns up their noses, no one complains. It's a mixture of just good 'ol silence and eating. We even help ourselves to seconds!

Did I forget to mention that this dish seriously feeds a small army? Or a big family, whatever you like to call it. Our tiny family of four barely eats half - so we have lots of leftovers. It also freezes well if you want to bake half now, and freeze the rest for a new day. Just make sure you wrap it well!

Mexican Beef Casserole

1 1/4 lbs. ground sirloin
1 medium onion, chopped
1 yellow pepper, chopped
1 orange pepper, chopped
1/4 t. red pepper flakes
1 1/2 t. steak seasoning (we use Famous Dave's Steak & Burger seasoning)
2  - 15oz. cans tomato sauce
1 - 10 oz. can Rotel tomatoes with green chilis (we use  mild to suffice the littles)
2 t. dried oregano
2 heaping teaspoons chili powder
10 oz. frozen corn
1 1/2 c. elbow pasta - cooked and drained
2 1/2 c. mexican shredded cheese, divided
sliced green onions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 13X9 pan with cooking spray.

In a large 5 quart skillet, brown meat with onion, peppers, pepper flakes and steak seasoning. Add the tomato sauce, tomatoes, oregano and chili powder and simmer on low for about 20 minutes. Add in the frozen corn and cook 5 additional minutes. Remove from heat and stir in 1 c. cheese. Gently stir in the pasta. Fold into prepared pan. Top with remaining cheese and bake for 30 minutes. After baking, top with sliced green onions.


Monday, January 23, 2012

Cherry Blossoms

We spent our Sunday lounging this weekend - of course, don't forget the baking. We definitely did lots + lots of baking! What better to do on a stay-at-home-all-day kind of day?!

I made these lovely Cherry Blossoms, with help from the Littles. They were my official Hershey Kiss un-wrappers. Let's just say I am pretty certain more kisses went in the mouth instead of on the cookies!

Aren't they just scrumptious in their matching sweaters?!? 

I found this recipe quite a while back on Pinterest via the Curvy Carrot. However, it wasn't a recipe that could suit my family's needs. It wasn't nut free, so I had to make a few modifications in order to satisfy that requirement. After all, the Littles like to indulge too! 

Cherry Blossoms

1 c. unsalted butter, softened
1 c. powdered sugar
1/8 t. salt
3 t. maraschino cherry liquid (you know, the stuff in the jar!)
1/2 t. vanilla
2 1/4 c. flour
1/2 c. chopped maraschino cherries
Granulated sugar for sprinkling
Hershey's kisses

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Place parchment paper on a cookie sheet.

In a large bowl, beat butter until fluffy. Add powdered sugar and salt and mix well. Beat in cherry liquid and vanilla until well combined. Slowly beat in the flour. Increase mixer speed and add in the chopped cherries. Shape dough into 1 inch balls, and flatten slightly with the palm of your hand. Sprinkle with sugar. Bake cookies for 12 minutes, then take them out and gently press a Hershey kiss onto the tops of each one. Return to the oven and bake for 2-3 minutes more. Remove from oven and cool on a rack. Store in an airtight container. 

Happy Baking! 

Monday, January 16, 2012

Cinnamon Crumb Coffee Cake

Posted by Picasa
A lovely, delish breakfast - If I do say so myself!

The Littles will be surprised and delighted to indulge in a cinnamon crumb coffee cake for breakfast. The hubby might enjoy it too. 

Definitely something yummy to make. It's SO easy, it's almost embarrassing.... 

Cinnamon Crumb Coffee Cake

For the cake:

1 box yellow cake mix
1 1/4 c. sour cream
1/3 c. vegetable oil
3 eggs
1 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. nutmeg

Preheat oven to 350. Grease and flour a 15x10x1 inch pan. Mix all cake ingredients together with an electric mixer on medium until well combined. Bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. 

Meanwhile make the crumb topping:

3 3/4 c. all purpose flour
3/4 c. packed light brown sugar
2 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. nutmeg
3 sticks butter, melted

Mix together the crumb topping until all is moist and crumbly. Sprinkle on top of the baked cake and put in the oven for an additional 15 minutes. 

Remove cake from oven and let cool. 

Once the cake is cool, apply the sour cream glaze... :) I knew that would get you!

1 c. powdered sugar
4 T. sour cream

Whisk together until smooth and swirl on the top of the cooled cake. Sprinkle with additional powdered sugar if desired. 

Enjoy! (And of course TRY not to eat the cake all at once!!)

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Chocolate Covered Strawberry Cake

A special occasion certainly calls for a special cake, right? Which is exactly what I needed for a very important day. My Mama's birthday. She is quite the lady, I tell you. She is my rock and my friend. She is an amazing grandmother to my two littles, and she would do anything for her family, anything. She gives up her free time to watch the littles on the handful of days that I work - expecting nothing in return. Therefore, the least I could do is present her with a lovely cake. This cake is a bit time consuming, lots of steps, but oh-so-worth it. It's a rich, dark chocolate three-layer cake, spread with a light and fluffy strawberry whipped cream cheese frosting, and finalized with a deadly chocolate ganache. Make it for your Mama - she will appreciate you!

 Thank you Mom for everything you do. We love you.

Chocolate Covered Strawberry Cake

For the cake:
2 1/2 c. flour
1 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
2 sticks butter, room temperature
2 1/2 c. sugar
4 eggs, room temperature
2 1/2 t. vanilla
2 c. whole milk, room temperature
1 c. high quality dutch processed cocoa powder

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter 3 9-inch cake pans. Sift together the flour, soda, and salt. Set aside. Cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs in one at a time and beat on medium speed until well incorporated. Combine the milk and vanilla together in a measuring cup. With the mixer on low, alternate the flour mixture with the milk mixture, beating until just incorporated. Sift in the cocoa and beat until combined. Pour into 3 baking pans and bake for 20-25 minutes. Depending on your oven, it may take a few minutes longer - be certain to check for doneness with a toothpick that comes out clean. Cool for 10 minuntes and then remove from pan and cool on a rack. After the cakes are completely cooled, wrap them individually in plastic wrap. The cakes can sit overnight. If you plan to do this cake all in one day, then you should place in the freezer for 20-30 minutes while you prepare the frosting to firm the cakes up and get them ready for the crumb layer. If the cakes sit overnight, you should also place them in the freezer for 20-30 minutes prior to frosting.

Strawberry Whipped Cream Cheese Frosting:
2 c. heavy whipping cream
20 oz. cream cheese, softened
2 t. vanilla
1/2 lb. strawberries pureed in a food processor to reach 1/2 c. puree
8 c. powdered sugar

Cut strawberries and place in a food processer fitted with a metal blade. Sprinkle a bit of granulated sugar on the berries and let them sit 20 minutes, then process to a puree. In a large bowl, beat heavy cream until soft peaks form. Let sit in refridgerator. In another large bowl, beat cream cheese and vanilla until fluffy. Add in powdered sugar and strawberry puree and beat on med-high until very well incorporated. Beat in whipping cream until combined. This will be different for everyone based upon their interpretation of soft peaks. You will want the consistancy to be a spreading consistancy, however you may need to refridgerate a bit for it to set up. This frosting is a bit tricky to work with so just do what feels right!

Layer the cake and place frosting between layers. Spread a thin layer over the top and the sides of the cake. Place cake in freezer for 10-15 min. to firm up. After that time, spread the frosting over the rest of the cake. Refridgerate.

Make the ganache:
1/4 c. butter
3/4 c. heavy cream
3/4 c. semi sweet chocolate chips

Place chocolate chips in a bowl. Melt butter and cream in a small saucepan. Bring just to a boil. Pour over chocolate and whisk until smooth. Place ganache in refridgerator for 30 minutes, stirring every 5-10 minutes.

Once the ganache has cooled in the refrigerator, then it is time to dress the cake! Pour VERY SLOWLY into the middle of the cake. It will fall down the edges - but that is the fun of it! Decorate the top if you wish.
This cake will need to be refrigerated, however, it's a good idea to let it sit for a bit before serving.

ENJOY! I know we did!