Thursday, June 30, 2011

Cheesecake Flag

Okay, I know this is a horrible picture. I have been really bad about forgetting to take pictures of the yummy recipes that I have made. And I refuse to post a recipe without a picture, so I had my sister in law snap this with her phone. At least it's a picture, right? To see a fabulous picture go here: Mel's Kitchen which is where I found the recipe.

Okay, now on to the deliciousness. I really liked the brown sugar crust. It was different for a cheescake... and yummy. I also love that it is made on a cookie sheet so it feeds a crowd.

Festive Fruited Cheesecake Flag

*Note: For truly white stripes, cover alternating rows with just confectioners’ sugar rather than lightly dusted strawberries. Also, the cheesecake (without being topped with fruit) can be made up to a day in advance and kept well-covered in the refrigerator. (I did this. I also left the lemon zest out)

*Makes about 48 squares

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 3/4 teaspoons salt
12 ounces (3 sticks) butter, softened
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons light-brown sugar
4 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, room temperature
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
4 large eggs, room temperature
8-9 ounces (1-2 cups) blueberries
1 pound strawberries, hulled and sliced lengthwise into thirds
12 ounces (3 cups) raspberries
Powdered sugar, for dusting

Coat a 13-by-18-inch rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray. Line with parchment, leaving a 2-inch overhang on the long sides. Coat parchment with cooking spray.

Sift flour and 1 3/4 teaspoons salt into a medium bowl. In a large bowl, cream the butter with a mixer on medium-high speed, occasionally scraping bowl, until fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes. With the mixer running, slowly add light brown sugar, beating until very pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add flour mixture all at once, and beat on low speed until just incorporated.

Transfer the dough to the prepared baking sheet. Press the dough into an even layer that covers the bottom of the sheet. Cover and refrigerate until firm, about 20 minutes. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Bake the dough until the entire surface is golden brown, about 30-35 minutes. Let the cookie base cool completely in the baking sheet. Raise oven temperature to 350 degrees F.

In a large bowl, beat the softened cream cheese with a mixer on medium speed, occasionally scraping bowl, until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Reduce speed to low and add granulated sugar in a slow, steady stream. Scrape the bowl, then mix in lemon zest, vanilla and a pinch of salt until well combined. Scrape the bowl, then beat in the eggs, 1 at a time, until incorporated. The mixture should be very smooth; scrape the bowl as necessary. Pour the cheesecake batter over the crust and spread into an even layer.

Bake the cheesecake until the filling is set, about 20-25 minutes. Let the cheesecake cool completely in the baking sheet. Refrigerate until firm and cold, about 4 hours (or overnight).

Run a sharp knife along short sides of sheet, and use the parchment overhangs to lift out the cheesecake. Run the knife under hot water and dry well. Use it to cut the cheesecake into 48 squares, wiping the knife clean between cuts.

Transfer squares to a serving platter, reforming the rectangle. Decorate the top left squares (3 down and 4 across), with a mound of blueberries on each square. Use raspberries (about 4 per square) to decorate the 1st, 3rd and 5th rows (the 1st and 3rd rows are shorter rows since part of them are decorated with blueberries). Decorate the remaining rows in one of two ways: either dust them with powdered sugar for a completely white row or place three cut strawberries on each square and dust the tops of the strawberries with powdered sugar. If using this method (to dust the strawberries with powdered sugar), dust the strawberries immediately before serving as the powdered sugar will begin to dissolve into the juiciness of the strawberries.

Serve immediately (or refrigerate for up to 3 hours).

Friday, June 10, 2011

Chocolate Chip Toffee Bars

I was looking for a yummy treat to take to an activity so, of course, I went to Mel's Kitchen Cafe. And sure enough, I found some delicioiusness beyond belief. These are so ooey gooey and divine.
I got rave reviews from everyone that tasted them. And I love that they are in a bar form, making them easy to throw together. These could be my new favorite summer treat... but then I say that about everything. ;)

Chocolate Chip Toffee Bars

2 1/3 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup butter, soft
2 eggs, slightly beaten
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips, divided
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 package toffee bits, divided

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9X13 pan with aluminum foil and lightly spray with nonstick cooking spray. Whisk together flour, salt and brown sugar. Cut in the butter with a pastry blender or fork until the mixture is crumbly. Add eggs and mix well with a wooden spoon or your hands. Mix in 1 1/2 cups of the chocolate chips and the 1 cup nuts. Set aside 1 1/2 cups of the dough. Press the remaining dough into prepared pan. Bake for 10 minutes. Pour the sweetened condensed milk evenly over the crust. Top with all but 1/3 of the toffee bits. Place pieces of remaining dough over the top. Sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup chips. Bake for 25-30 more minutes, or till golden brown. Sprinkle the remaining 1/4 cup toffee bits on top. Cool completely before serving.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Oreo Pudding Cookies

These cookies are incredible. They are my new favorite cookie. Not only are the super soft, but they have delicious bits of cookies and cream Hershey bar in them. It really takes them over the top. I don't think I'll ever make regular chocolate chip cookies again. The only down side is trying not to eat them all yourself.

Oreo Pudding Cookies

1 cup butter, room temperature
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1 (4.2 ounce) package instant Oreo Pudding mix
2 1/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 Hershey's Cookies N Cream Candy Bars broken into small pieces (I used 2.6 ounce King Sized bars)
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine flour, baking soda, and salt in a small bowl and set aside. Cream together butter and sugars. Beat in pudding mix until blended. Add the eggs and vanilla and mix well. Add the flour mixture and mix to combine. Stir in cookies n' cream pieces and chocolate chips. Batter will be thick.

Drop by rounded tablespoonful onto cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 8 minutes. You do not want to overbake these! Let cookies cool for 5 minutes on baking sheet before moving to a cooking rack.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Better Than Anything Cake

This is the cake my hubby requested for his birthday cake. He's not a huge cake fan, so I always struggle to find him the right birthday cake. This one wins most of the time. The best part is that it's so easy, but so yummy.

Better Than Anything Cake

1 box German Chocolate Cake
Water, Oil, and eggs called for on back of box
1 can (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk
1 jar (16 oz) caramel ice cream topping
1 container frozen whipped topping, thawed
1 bag toffee chips or bits (I used Heath chocolate covered bits)

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Mix and bake cake as directed on the box for a 9x13 inch pan.
Let cake cool for 15 minutes. Poke top of cake every 1/2 inch with the handle of a wooden spoon. Drizzle milk over entire cake. Let cake sit until milk has been absorbed. Drizzle with caramel topping. Run a butter knife around sides of pan to loosen cake. Cover and refrigerate cake for about 2 hours or until chilled.
Spread whipped topping over cake and sprinkle with the toffee bits. Store covered in refrigerator.
Check out all that ooey gooey yumminess!

Happy Birthday Sweetie!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Penne with Roasted Asparagus and Balsamic Butter

I found this on My Kitchen Cafe and it was absolutely divine. I didn't think my kids would touch it, but to my surprise they gobbled it up faster than I did. The asparagus gave it such a wonderful flavor. I loved how simple it was. It's a perfect summer dish.
Important note: This dish tastes best served immediately. I tried to eat the leftovers for lunch the next day and it was not good.

Penne with Roasted Asparagus and Balsamic Butter

1 pound fresh asparagus spears
1 tablespoon olive oil
¾ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
½ cup balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon light or dark brown sugar
1 pound penne pasta
4 tablespoons butter, cut into pieces
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving

Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Snap the tough ends off the asparagus and discard them. Cut the asparagus spears into 1-inch pieces. Put the asparagus on a rimmed baking sheet and toss with the oil and ¼ teaspoon of the salt and ¼ of the pepper. Roast until tender, about 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside.

While the asparagus roasts, put the vinegar in a small saucepan. Simmer over medium heat until the vinegar is reduced to about 3 tablespoons, about 5-10 minutes. Stir in the brown sugar and the remaining ¼ teaspoon pepper. Remove from the heat.

Cook the penne in a large pot of boiling salted water until just done, 11-13 minutes. Drain the pasta and return to the pot. Stir in the butter and vinegar mixture. Toss to combine well. Add in the asparagus, Parmesan, and the remaining ½ teaspoon salt. Serve immediately with additional Parmesan cheese for serving.