Monday, December 26, 2011

Caramel Apple Cheesecake Bars

The other day I was searching for a dessert to make for our Christmas dinner at my parents house. I wanted something I could put together easily and make ahead of time. I was searching and now I am searching no more because I’ve found all that I was looking for in this delicious treat.
Let me describe each layer of this amazing dessert for you: it all starts with a chewy oatmeal cookie-like crust on the bottom, then a smooth and delicious cream cheese filling with chunks of yummy cinnamon & nutmeg apples scattered all over, then a crumbly and crunchy topping with pecans, and finally a delicious warm and salty caramel sauce drizzled all over!
Sounds pretty good, huh?
It might seem like a lot of steps, but it's actually really easy and tastes amazing!

Check out Sweet As Sugar Cookies blog for a whole list of yummy treats!!
Caramel Apple Cheesecake Bars 
Recipe adapted from Food Network

Crust & Streusel:
1 package Oatmeal Cookie mix (I used Betty Crocker)
1/2 cup butter, cold (1 stick)
1/4 cup chopped pecans
Cheesecake Filling:
2 packages cream cheese (8 oz each), softened
1/2 cup sugar
2 tbsp flour
1 tsp vanilla
1 egg
3 Gala apples, peeled, cored, and chopped
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tbsp sugar
Caramel Sauce:
15-20 caramel candies, unwrapped
2 tbsp milk
1/4 tsp salt

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9x13 pan with aluminum foil.
  • Place cookie mix in large bowl. With a fork, cut in butter until mixture is crumbly and coarse. Reserve 1 1/2 cups crumb mixture Press remaining crumbs in bottom of pan. Bake 10 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, in large bowl, beat cream cheese, sugar, flour, vanilla and egg with electric mixer on medium speed until smooth. Spread over crust.  
  • In a small bowl, stir together chopped apples, 2 tablespoons sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Spoon evenly over cream cheese mixture. Sprinkle evenly with remaining cookie crumb topping. Sprinkle with chopped pecans.
  • Bake 40-45 minutes, or until filling is set. Cool about 30 minutes. Refrigerate to chill, about 2 hours. 
  • Add unwrapped caramel candies with milk and salt in a microwaveable bowl. Cook on high, 3-4 minutes, stopping to stir occasionally until caramel is melted and smooth
  • Cut into bars and serve each with drizzled caramel sauce.  

Family, Friends, and Food

Well, it's the day after Christmas and I'm in serious recovery mode. The past few days have been a whirlwind! It was another great year for family, friends and food!

Oh and did I forget to mention that I got ENGAGED?!? I am the happiest girl in the world and cannot think of a better and more loving family to be a part of. We are super excited and I'll be sure to keep you updated on the wedding plans! 

Until then check out my Christmas Cake Pops...

Funfetti cake with cream cheese frosting.

I've been requested to make some for New Year's, so stay tuned...
I hope you and your family had a wonderful holiday full of love, cheer, family, and...dessert! :)

Funfetti Cake Pops 
  • 1 box funfetti cake mix (cook as directed on the box)
  • 1 cup cream cheese frosting (recipe below)
  • 1 package vanilla almond bark or candy melts
  • 1/4 cup vegetable shortening (Crisco)
  • lollipop sticks and wrappers (you can find these at Michael's)
  • Rectangular foam block 
Cream Cheese Frosting
  • 1/2 (4 oz) package cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2-1 cup sifted confectioners' sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp milk 
1. Bake the cake according to the directions on the box or your recipe. Be sure to let the cake cook completely. While the cake is in the oven begin on the cream cheese frosting. 
2. In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese with an electric mixer. With the mixer on low speed, add the powdered sugar a little at a time until smooth and creamy. Beat in the vanilla extract and milk until it is a smooth and creamy consistency.
3. Once the cake is completely cool, crumble the cake
4. Stir in the frosting to create a smooth cake mixture. It should look like a huge cake ball.
5. Roll into balls and place on cookie sheet. You should get about 25-30 cake balls. Place them in the refrigerator for 20-30 minutes.
6. Melt the chocolate candy melts in the microwave according to package directions. Add a little shortening at a time until the chocolate is really smooth and silky.
7. Dip stick into melted chocolate and press into cake ball. Return to fridge for 5 minutes. Dip cake balls into chocolate and gently tap to remove any extra. Bakerella posted a great video that has step by step instructions.
8. Add some sprinkles or other decorations while chocolate is still soft. Put them back in the fridge for 10-15 minutes to harden. I use the foam to stick the pops into while they are setting. 

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

7up Biscuits

Yup, you read that right...7up Biscuits! This the easiest and best biscuit recipe. I've tried making biscuits before and they turned out super dense. But not these, they are soft, moist, and yummy...and only 3 ingredients! You have to try them! 
7up Biscuits
Recipe adapted from Plain Chicken

2 cups baking mix (I used Bisquick)
1/2 cup sour cream (I used reduced fat)
1/2 cup 7-Up
2 Tbsp butter, melted

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
In a bowl, combine the baking mix and sour cream. Add the 7-Up and combine. The dough will be very tender.
Sprinkle some additional baking mix on your working surface and shape dough.
Pour melted butter into a 9" round cake pan.
Cut out 7-8 biscuits and place them in the pan. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown.

Homemade Samoa Bars

I have a slight problem with self control when it comes to girl scout cookies. I swear. I could eat a box at a time. I guess I probably shouldn’t admit that, but it's true. Oh well, now you know. My favorite one of their cookies is definitely the Samoas.  They have such a delicious crunchy bottom topped with a chewy coconut topping.  Plus not to mention the addition of chocolate…yes please!
I first saw these on Pinterest and could not wait to make them. I searched around on Google and came across Baking Bites recipe for homemade samoas bars. 
After reading through the recipe, I thought these were going to come out a mess. But surprisingly, my prediction was false. These are a bit more involved than most bar cookies and the kitchen did end up a disaster, BUT they are totally worth the effort.  
*Note: These bars are VERY rich...the original recipe calls for each cookie to be dipped in chocolate but I have decided not to do this. I just drizzled the chocolate on top of each bar. You don't get the full effect of a Samoa cookie, but trust me, they are still just as tasty!
Homemade Samoa Bars
Recipe adapted from Baking Bites

For the Cookie Base:
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 sticks butter, softened
1 large egg
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt

For the Topping:
3 cups shredded coconut, toasted
12 oz. chewy caramels
1/4 tsp salt
3 tbsp milk
1/2 bag of chocolate chips 

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease or line  a 9 x 13 inch pan with foil and set aside. In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla extract.
2. With mixer on low, gradually beat in flour and salt until mixture is crumbly (dough doesn't need to come together).
3. Pour dough into pan and press into an even layer. Bake for 20 minutes, until set and edges are lightly browned. Set on a wire rack to cool completely.
4. Add unwrapped caramel candies with milk and salt in a large microwaveable bowl. Cook on high, 3-4 minutes, stopping to stir occasionally. Once caramel is melted and smooth, fold in toasted coconut with a spatula.
5. Place dollops of topping on shortbread crust. Spread evenly with a spatula and allow to set until cooled. Once cooled, cut into evenly sized bars.
6. Melt chocolate in a microwave safe bowl mixing every 30 seconds until smooth. Spoon into a Ziploc with a corner cut off and drizzle bars with chocolate. Let chocolate set before storing in an airtight container. 

Sunday, December 18, 2011

White and Milk Chocolate S'mores Gooey Cake Bars

So...the title of this post says it all. White chocolate? Milk chocolate? S'mores? Cake? Yes, please!! My good friend and co-worker showed me this recipe a few months ago and I literally had to wipe the drool off my face when I saw it! These bars are pretty much to die for. Ooey and gooey and rich and yummy. I can only take about two bites and that's enough until I go back later for more.
I made these yesterday to take over to our friend's Christmas party and they were quite a hit! 

Press half of the cake mix into the bottom of a lined pan.

Place the graham crackers in a single layer over the cake mix.

 Sprinkle the milk and white chocolate chips over the graham crackers.

 Then the mini marshmallows...

Spread out the rest of the cake mix over the grahams, chocolate and marshmallows.

 Pour over the sweetened condensed milk.  This gooey stuff is super sweet on it’s own, so go easy with it.
The bars were very rich, so I cut them into bite sized pieces. The top was gooey and the bottom was chewy with a crispy center. You have the best of all textures in one little bite!
White Chocolate S'mores Cake Bars
Recipe adapted from Picky Palate
*I doubled the original recipe to fit a 9x13 pan. Cut the ingredients in half to fit an 8x8 pan. I also added both white chocolate and milk chocolate chips because I had half a bag of each on hand.  

2 boxes yellow cake mix
2 large eggs
2 sticks (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened
10 full graham crackers
5 oz white chocolate chips (1/2 bag)
5 oz milk chocolate chips (1/2 bag)
2 cups mini marshmallows

1 cup sweetened condensed milk

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a 9x13 inch baking pan with parchment paper or aluminum foil that’s been generously sprayed with cooking spray. Make sure foil goes all the way up and over the edges for this one. It will be a full pan.

2. Place cake mix, egg, and butter into a large mixing bowl. Mix until a nice dough forms similar to a cookie dough. Press half of the dough into the bottom of the prepared pan. Layer with graham crackers, white chips then marshmallows. Top with remaining half of dough pressing evenly. Drizzle sweetened condensed milk over top. You might want to go a little light on this as mine had to much and was a bit runny even when the bars were done.

3. Bake for 28-33 minutes, until cooked through and golden brown on top. Remove from oven. Let cool for 5 minutes then take a plastic knife and run along edges to loosen marshmallow (this will make your life easier when pulling foil out of pan to remove bars. Let cool completely then remove bars from pan with foil edges. Cut off all edges if desired, about 1/2 inch each side. I save the edges to snack on too. Cut bars into squares and serve. They are delicious room temperature or chilled.

Jalapeno Popper Dip

A close friend of ours hosted his annual Christmas party last night and I was in charge of an appetizer and dessert. The first time I had this dip I was completely amazed. It is seriously addicting and I couldn't wait to make it!  
This dip is everything that makes jalapeño poppers so amazing, and then some. It’s ooey, gooey, creamy, cheesy and spicy. It has a cheesy, buttery breadcrumb crust. It is dip heaven. The best way to eat this dip: with a cold beer! :)
Jalapeno Popper Dip
Recipe adapted from Sweet and Savory Food
8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature (I used fat free)
1/2 cup reduced fat sour cream
1/2 reduced fat mayonnaise 
4-ounce can diced jalapeño peppers, drained
1 clove garlic, minced
½ teaspoon cumin
1½ cups shredded Mexican blend cheese
1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2. Combine the cream cheese, mayonnaise, sour cream, jalapenos, garlic, cumin and shredded cheese in a mixing bowl. Pour the mixture into an 8x8 baking dish.
3. Combine the breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese and melted butter in a small bowl, tossing with a fork until the mixture is evenly moistened. Sprinkle evenly over the cream cheese mixture.
4. Bake in the preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes, until the top is golden brown and the dip is bubbling. Let rest for 5 minutes before serving. Serve with tortilla chips or crackers

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Red Velvet Brownies with Whipped Cream Cheese Frosting

I made these yesterday for Evan's work luncheon. He decided to volunteer me to make the dessert...and I was more than happy to do it! I saw this recipe a few weeks ago and literally started drooling, but didn't have a reason to make them...until now. 
They looked so yummy and delicious on Smells Like Home's website that I just couldn't resist! Good thing Evan took them to work before I devoured every last bite!

Red Velvet Brownies with Whipped Cream Cheese Icing
Recipe adapted from Smells Like Home

For the brownies:
3 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1 oz red food coloring (or a scant 2 tbsp)
2 tsp pure vanilla extract, divided
1/2 cup (8 tbsp) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt

For the frosting:
16oz cream cheese, room temperature
1 1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup heavy cream, cold

To make the brownies:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Line and 8x8 in pan with parchment paper.
In a small bowl, slowly stir together the cocoa powder, food coloring, and 1 tsp vanilla into a thick paste until no lumps of cocoa remain. Set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.  Add eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition, then stir in the remaining 1 tsp of vanilla.  With the mixer off, add in the cocoa mixture, then turn the mixer to medium and beat the two mixtures together until they are one uniform color.  Slowly add in the flour and salt and mix on medium-low speed, just until combined.  Do not over mix.
Remove the bowl from the mixer and stir up the batter with a rubber spatula once or twice just to ensure all of the flour has incorporated from the sides of the bowl and there isn’t anything stuck on the bottom of the bowl.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 30-40 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the center of the brownies.  Allow brownies to completely cool in the pan on a baking rack.
To make the frosting:
Beat the cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla until smooth and fluffy. In a separate bowl, beat the heavy cream to nearly stiff peaks, then add the whipped cream into the cheese mixture and quickly and briefly beat to combine. Do not over beat.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Chewy Caramel Stuffed Sugar Cookies Drizzled with Milk Chocolate

I've been on a cookie craze lately. They are just so easy to make and even easier to eat! I saw a recipe for red velvet cookies stuffed with cream cheese and then drizzled with white chocolate! Oh. My. Yum. BUT, unfortunately I didn't have everything to make those. 

Ever since I saw that recipe I have been craving a cookie with something stuffed inside it. I love it when you break open this cookie and there is something gooey on the inside just waiting for you! 
If you love a chewy cookie, you’ll love this one. It’s a super chewy cookie with caramel hidden inside, then drizzled with milk chocolate. Next, I'm tackling those red velvet cream cheese cookies! 
This recipe was adapted from My Kitchen Addiction. She uses milk duds, but since I had some Kraft Caramels on hand I decided to use them instead. Don't be alarmed when a little of the caramel oozes out the bottom of the cookie! Just be sure to let them cool completely before you move them. 

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1 egg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
15 caramels, cut in half

Chocolate Drizzle:
1 cup chocolate chips
1/2 tsp shortening (Crisco)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a small bowl and set aside.
Combine the butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar, corn syrup, and vanilla in a large mixing bowl. Beat on medium speed until all of the ingredients are evenly incorporated and the mixture is light and fluffy. Beat in the egg.
Gradually, add the flour to the creamed mixture, stirring just enough to incorporate the flour. Shape rounded tablespoons of dough into a ball, pressing a caramel into the center of each ball. Be sure to cover the entire caramel with the cookie dough. Place the cookies 2 inches apart.
Bake the cookies for 10 minutes, until they are just golden on top. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. Don’t over bake.
Melt chocolate chips with 1/2 teaspoon shortening in the microwave. Start with 30 seconds, stir, and continue in 10-second intervals until smooth. Pour into a small sandwich baggie, making a small snip in the corner and quickly drizzle over all the cookies. 

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Red Velvet White Chocolate Chip Cookies

The end of the semester is upon us and I am soooo ready for this break! I have honestly been blessed with some really great students this year, and I wanted to do something for them before we leave for Christmas break. I've been telling some of them about this blog and ever since they have been begging me to make them something. So I figured this was the perfect time to make them a little treat for all their hard work so far this year. 

Now I know I'm not really supposed to admit that I have "favorites" but my 6th period class is AMAZING! I just love this group; they are funny, smart, and definitely keep me on my toes. They are the ones that came up with this recipe so I decided to give it a try. 

I did a little research on Google and found this recipe at Busy Mom Media. Needless to say, they were a huge hit! Using the cake mix gives these cookies a soft and gooey center. Aaaaamazing!

Red Velvet White Chocolate Chip Cookies


  • 1 package red velvet cake mix
  • 2 eggs lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 bag white chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Beat eggs and oil. Add cake mix until mixed. Slowly add flour, then chocolate chips. Shape into balls and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for 8-10 minutes. Don’t over bake, light cake mixes will not look done even though they are. Makes about 36 cookies.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

cinnamon toast white chocolate pretzels

This is probably the most highly addictive snack I've ever made! The combination of the salty pretzels with the sweet cinnamon and sugar, drizzled with white chocolate makes them amazingly delicious!!
I made these for FBLA at school to help with fundraising. My co-worker bought the cutest little lion bags to put them in. They were a hit; all of the kids loved them!
All I'm saying is that you need to make these ASAP!

Cinnamon Toast White Chocolate Pretzels 
Recipe adapted from: Your Home Based Mom

  • 1 bag (18 oz.) small pretzels
  • 1/3 C oil
  • 1/4 C granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • Extra cinnamon sugar for sprinkling
  • White chocolate for drizzling

In microwave safe bowl pour in pretzels.  Mix together oil, sugar and cinnamon in small bowl.  Pour over pretzels and mix well, making sure to coat pretzels.  Place in microwave for 2 minutes on high.  Check after first minute as they might burn.  Stir the mixture and continue cooking.  Microwave for 1 minute more.

When out of the microwave, stir again to make sure they are all coated.
Spread the pretzels onto two cookie sheets.  You want a single layer of pretzels.  While they are still hot sprinkle additional cinnamon sugar over the top.  Melt white chocolate and drizzle over the top of pretzels.  Once white chocolate hardens put into air tight containers.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Saltine Toffee

I've been on this sweet and salty kick lately, and let me tell you this is some seriously good stuff. 
I think the salt on the crisp crackers combined with the rich, semi-sweet chocolate and crunchy, buttery toffee makes for the perfect candy, no matter what time of year it is. 
It's probably best to make this during the holidays, but I won't tell if you make an entire batch just for yourself!

Saltine Toffee
Recipe adapted from the Food Network Magazine
1 stick unsalted butter
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup chopped pecans
16 saltine crackers

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. 
Lay 16 saltine crackers in a foil lined 8 inch square pan. Boil 1 stick butter and both sugars, stirring, for about 3 minutes or until sugar has dissolved. Pour over the crackers
Bake for 5 minutes until the toffee becomes bubbly.
Top with chocolate chips;bake 1 more minute, then spread the chocolate evenly.
Sprinkle with pecans. Chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes, then cut into squares.

Cookies and Cream Candy Bark

 This is amazing. Enough said. 
I found this recipe on Pinterest (surprise, surprise!) and couldn't wait to make it! I'm planning on giving these away as Christmas gifts, that is if Evan and I don't eat them all first!
Cookies and Cream Candy Bark
Recipe adapted from Your Homebased Mom
2 cups vanilla melts
2 cups semi sweet melts
14 Oreos, crushed.  Reserve 1/4 cup for sprinkling on top

Place vanilla and semi sweet chocolate into separate containers and melt in microwave.  Reserve 1/4 cup of cookie crumbs and divide the remaining crumbs between the two melted mixtures and mix in.
Drop spoonfuls of the two mixtures onto a wax paper covered cooking sheet.  Alternate the two flavors.  Use a knife to swirl the two chocolates together to create a marbled effect.
Allow to harden at room temperature or in the refrigerator.  Break into pieces and place in a pretty container.