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Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Berry Cheesecake Bars

Whom ever invented cheesecake is simply brilliant! Completely and honestly brilliant.  There are so many wonderful flavors and special additions that you can develop into a cheesecake.  It can be sweet or a savory.  No matter what the flavor it is always decadent and delicious. And a cheesecake is the perfect kind of cake to celebrate a special occasion - especially a 15th wedding anniversary! 

 Today we celebrate the beautiful Camilla Mann of the food blog, Culinary Adventures with Camilla,  and her marriage to her beloved hubby of 15 blissful years with all things CHEESECAKE.  26 of us passionate food bloggers have gotten together and brain-stormed, created and baked to our little hearts content all things CHEESECAKE.  Sweet ones, salty ones, mini and large are all being featured together in unison to honor and rejoice over the Mann's 15 years of marriage.  The Mann's really like cheesecake.  Can you blame them?! I can't. 

I made a batch of Berry Cheesecake Bars just for today's event. I love the taste of berries and cheesecake served together so I was delighted to find this recipe which bakes berries right into the cheesecake.   Instead of making a cheesecake in the traditional form using a spring form pan, this recipe is created into bars using a 9x13 pan.   The crust is made out of a delicious mixture of flour, sugar, rolled oats and butter.  Simple ingredients coming together to make a wonderful foundation for these bars.  The filling only requires 2, 8oz. blocks of cream cheese compared to the normal 3-4 blocks in a spring form size cake.  And you can choose to add in lemon juice to provide a fresh tartness to the bars or opt out of such an addition. Completely up to you!  The berries that you use in this recipe can be fresh or frozen - it all depends on what is available to you and your preference.

I present to you a wonderful recipe for cheesecake bars packed with berries and full of delicious-ness.  Happy 15th Camilla and Jake!  Wishing you both many, many more years to come of your beautiful marriage along side an abundance of CHEESECAKES!! :-)

Berry Cheesecake Bars 
      (recipe from Beauty and Bedlam)

Crust ingredients:
1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1 cup rolled oats
3/4 tsp baking powder
2/3 cup salted butter, melted 

Filling ingredients:
(2) 8oz. blocks cream cheese, softened
2/3 cup sugar
2 Tbsp all purpose flour  
4 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract 
2 TBSP fresh lemon juice - optional
2-4 cups mixed berries, fresh or frozen

Preheat oven to 375.  Grease a 9x13 pan and set aside.  Prepare crust - in a large bowl combine crust ingredients -  flour, sugar, rolled oats and baking powder.  Mix well all together.  Pour in melted butter and carefully stir all together.  

Gently press crust mixture evenly into prepared pan with a plastic baggie over your hand (the baggie prevents the mixture from sticking to your hands).  Bake crust for about 15 minutes or until crust is golden brown.  Cool crust for 30 minutes.  Reduce oven heat to 325.

Sprinkle berries evenly over cooled crust.  Make filling by beating softened cream cheese until light and creamy in a large bowl.  Add in sugar and 2 Tbsp flour. Beat well all together. 

Add in eggs, one at a time - beating well with each addition.  Add in vanilla extract and lemon juice.  Once all has been mixed well together pour filling mixture over berry layer and place into 325 oven.  Bake for 40-50 minutes or until knife inserted into middle comes out clean and center feels firm to the touch.  

Cool cheesecake for 2 hours before placing in refrigerator to continue to cool for at least 3 more hours.   Cut into bars and serve.  Enjoy!! 

Happy Berry Cheesecake Bars Baking! 

Berry Cheesecake Bars by Baking and Creating with Avril
Cherry Cheesecake Bites by Cookaholic Wife
Chocolate Caramel Cheesecake by Dancing Veggies
Chocolate Cheesecake by My Hobbie Lobbie
Chocolate Topped Peppermint Cheesecake by Amy's Cooking Adventures
Creme Brulee Cheesecake Bars by Tara's Multicultural Table
Easter Basket Mini Cheesecakes by Little Bit of Everything
Everyday Cheesecake by Things I Make (for Dinner)
Irish Cream Cheesecake by A Day in the Life on the Farm
Layered Cinnamon Streusel Cheesecake Cake by Famished Fish, Finicky Shark
Lowfat Blackberry Cheesecake by A Kitchen Hoor's Adventures
Matcha-YuzuCheesecake with a Meyer Lemon Gelée by Culinary Adventures with Camilla
Mini Churro Caramel Cheesecake by Cheese Curd In Paradise
Mini Maple Pecan Cheesecakes by Join Us, Pull up a Chair
Mom's New York Cheesecake by Taste Cook Sip
Mudslide Cheesecake by Sew You Think You Can Cook
{No Bake} Marshmallow Cheesecake by An Affair from the Heart
No-Bake Pumpkin Cheesecake by Angels Homestead
Samoa's cheesecake by Goodie Godmother
Sopapilla Cheesecake Bars by The Savvy Kitchen
Sopapilla Puff Pastry Cheesecake by Pink Cake Plate
Skinny Vanilla Bean Cheesecake by Renee's Kitchen Adventures
Twix Cheesecake Brownie Torte by Making Memories With Your Kids

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Apple Pear Pie with A Crumble Topping for PIE DAY!

Hip! Hip! Hooray! Today is Pi(e) Day!!! All things PIE are celebrated today as the date 3.14 marks the beginning of a very famous number called "Pi" (3.141592653).  Bakers every where rejoice as this day of "Pi" gives us all the freedom to create, master and enjoy the delicious existence of PIE.  A group of such bakers (including myself) have gotten together to gather a collection of a variety of recipes which feature and honor PIE for all of you out there that also LOVE and ADORE pie just like we do! A HUGE bundle of gratitude goes out to Terry of Love and Confections for organizing this fantastic group of bakers to come together with all things PIE for this fabulous holiday of all holidays. You are fantastic Terry for orchestrating all of us! Please be sure to scroll to the bottom of this post to see the list of links to all the delicious pies our group has baked up for this very special, special day.

  I choose to bake an Apple Pear Pie with Crumble Topping.  Apples and pears make up the filling along with just enough sugar to sweeten the fruit along with sprinkling of cinnamon and then topped with a tender crumble of butter, sugar and flour. A master piece of a pie.

This particular pie was developed from a vision of mine for the perfect pie.  I wanted it to have a delicate and flaky crust which was then filled with sweet yet slightly tart fruits of apples and pears and then crowned with a lovely tender and crumbly topping.  After combining 3 different recipes together I was able to create my dream of a pie.  Life is good.  Or even better, "life is Pie-LICIOUS"! :-) 

I used Ina Garten's Perfect Pie Crust recipe for my pie crust (which is flaky, delicious and fool proof) and then I used the two recipes below to complete my lovely pie of all pies. I was quite delighted with the end result.

Apple Pear Pie with Crumble Topping

Filling Ingredients
(slightly adapted from Taste of Home)
3-4 large baking apples - peeled, cored and sliced
3 large ripe pears - peeled, cored and sliced
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup flour
1 tsp cinnamon

Crumble Topping Ingredients - 
(slightly adapted from Bourbon and Boots)
3/4 cup flour
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter, cut into cubes

Prepare a single pie crust using a recipe of your choice or even a store-brought crust is fine too.   Line a pie plate with said crust and place in refrigerator while you prepare the filling and topping.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

In a large bowl combine all of the filling ingredients - gently toss together to incorporate fully. Set filling mixture aside as you prepare the crumble topping. 

In a medium bowl combine flour and sugar.  Using 2 knives or a pastry cutter, cut butter cubes into the flour and sugar until the butter is pea sized and uniform.  

Pour filling mixture into prepared pie shell and then carefully spoon topping over the fruit evenly.  Place pie onto a foil lined cookie sheet and bake for 50-60 minutes or until pie is golden brown and filling is bubbly.  If the pie crust edge looks like it is getting too dark, cover the edge with a piece of tin foil.

Cool pie for at least 2 hours before slicing and serving.  A scoop of vanilla ice cream always goes well with this pie. 

Happy Apple Pear Pie with Crumble Topping Baking!
Welcome to Pi(e) Day hosted by Terri from Love and Confections! Pi Day is celebrated every March 14 by math fans around the world - and also bakers and pastry chefs. Pi is an non-repeating, infinite number represented by the Greek letter π, and used to represent the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter. Today, March 14, 2015, is an extra special Pi Day, because at 9:26:53 AM it creates the "Pi Moment of the Century". The first ten digits of Pi are 3.141592653 (3/14/15, 9:26 AM and 53 seconds). This exact date and time happens once every hundred years - a once in a lifetime moment for most of us. How cool is that? Today, 20 Food Bloggers have gathered and want to celebrate the fun of Pi by creating their own sweet and savory pies to share with you. Hope you have a delicious day!

Enjoy a slice from the Pi(e) Day Bloggers:

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

(Healthier than McD's) Shamrock Shake

In our house we always enjoy a good holiday.  St Patrick's Day is no exception.  There may not be a drop of Irish blood in our family history but how can one resist dressing in green, building lepracaun traps and crafting colorful rainbows with piles of gold at the end of them all in an effort to drink up all that this holiday offers us. In the kitchen I love making the one pot meal of a boiled dinner and then treating everyone to a tray of Shamrock Shakes from McD's.  Goodness those shakes are just so yummy! 

This year I decided to try my hand at making my own Shamrock Shakes instead of the full-of-who-knows-what green and minty shakes from McD's.  And guess what ladies and gents, I had success!  Not only did I create a scrumptious shake that appealed to my girls and had them asking for more but it was also MUCH healthier than the shakes I served them in previous years.  What happiness for me! 

I used a frozen banana and a couple cubes of ice to make the shake thick and then I added in some almond milk, a couple drops of green food coloring and 2 drops mint extract (be SO careful when adding this into your mixture as you don't want to add too much or else the shake will taste just like toothpaste...yuck). I also dropped in a Thin Mint girl scout cookie because a cookie added into anything is just plain old fun.  At the last minute, before I put the lid onto the container of my Nutribullet, I added in 2 scoops of good vanilla ice cream.  I just had to! - I honestly feel like the shake would just not be festive without ice cream.  Oh yes, as you have seen, whipped cream and a cookie on top was also a necessity for my shakes.  REMINDER: this shake is "healthier" not "healthiest" by my standards.

I had so much fun making this recipe as I got to play around with making the drinks pretty.  Delicious and pretty drinks go far in my book.  I only wish I had gently placed a cherry on top of my mounds of fluffy white whipped cream too.  Next time for sure. 

Wishing all of you (Irish or not) a VERY Happy St. Patrick's Day.  May it be full of luck and mischief, lots of beautiful green attire and many a "Healthier" Shamrock Shake.

"Healthier" Shamrock Shake 
recipe makes 1-2 servings, depending on your glass size

1 frozen banana
3-4 ice cubes
1 1/2 cups almond milk or milk of your choice
3 drops green food coloring
2 drops mint extract
2 scoops good vanilla ice cream (meaning ice cream that contains only 5-6 ingredients - said ingredients need to be those that you can read and recognize too)
1 Thin Mint cookie + a few more for garnish
whipped cream, freshly beaten or from a can
cherries - for garnish (as you don't want to forget them like I did)

Place all of the ingredients into a blender or a Nutribullet and blend well for about 20-25 seconds. Shake will be smooth and thick when done.  Pour into glasses and garnish with whipped cream, cookies and cherries.  Enjoy!

Happy "Healthier" Shamrock Shake Making!

Monday, March 2, 2015

(SRC) Chicken Parm Soup

Chicken Parmesan has always been one of my favorites.  I have ordered it many a time as an entree and even as a sandwich. I have also made it quite frequently for my family and friends using this recipe. Up until yesterday I had never made it as a soup.  And since yesterday,  Chicken Parm Soup is ALL I have eaten.  I ate it for dinner, brunch the next day, lunch and yes, now as I type I have a lovely bowl next to me as a snack. It is beyond delicious.  Would you like a taste? How about the recipe?  Well, not to worry as I will share it with you just like the lovely Elizabeth from Food Ramblings shared it with me. 

I recently met Elizabeth through my March assignment for the Secret Recipe Club.  As soon as I clicked onto Food Ramblings I knew I was going to love every minute of my assignment.  Elizabeth has created a beautiful blog that is delicious, welcoming and absolutely appealing to the eye.  She has a fantastic assortment of recipes - all of which are organized with care.  I began my search for a recipe to make this month by clicking on her "DESSERTS" (no surprise there!).  I drooled over her Peanut Butter Whoppie Pies along with her Cookie Butter Banana Bread but then decided it best that I make something with chicken as I had quite a bit of it in the freezer that needed to be used.  With chicken in mind I browsed through Elizabeth's "Chicken" recipes and discovered Chicken Parm Soup. Delighted that I had everything on hand to make this soup, including a slow cooker, I measured, chopped, sprinkled and poured all the ingredients into my crock pot, pushed the necessary buttons and walked away.  4 hours later my house smelled delicious! The soup was ready and so were the tummies of my family.  Dinner was served with happiness! 

In the above three pictures you may have noticed the bread on the side of the plate.  Because I couldn't get the idea of making banana bread with Cookie Butter (from Trader Joe's) I also baked up a couple loaves of Cookie Butter Banana Bread.  If you would like to do the same you can find the 
recipe here.

In the meantime the recipe for Chicken Parm Soup can be found right here....

Chicken Parm Soup
(recipe from Food Ramblings)

3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 large can crushed tomatoes
2-3 boneless skinless chicken breasts, raw and defrosted
1 onion, chopped
3 cups chicken broth
2 tsp oregano
1 Tbsp chopped basil + more for garnish
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese + more for garnish 
4 oz. pasta or rice of your choice (I used orzo) 
salt and pepper to taste  

Place all of the ingredients into a slow cooker except for the pasta.  Cook on high for 3.5 hrs or low for 6 hours. Shred the cooked chicken breasts and put back into soup along with dried pasta or rice.  Cook for another 1/2 hour or until pasta is cooked fully.  Serve garnished with Parmesan cheese and chopped basil if you wish. Enjoy!! 

Happy Chicken Parm Soup Making!


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