Amish Apple Butter Streusel Bars

Amish Apple Butter Streusel Bars

Amish Apple Butter Streusel Bars

I, like so many people, have always had a fascination with the Amish lifestyle. I call it a lifestyle because, while I have read a good amount about their religion and respect 9and even agree) with a lot of it, it seems to be more than JUST a religion, but a lifestyle also. Especially in this day and age where so many of the Amish are forced by necessity to interact in the modern world, yet still choose to stay true to a life that forbids many of the things we all take for granted. There was a time in my life when I seriously considered trying to find a way to gain entrance into their world, but I came to realize that while I’m far less “modern” than many I know, I’m still probably too “of the world” to survive happily living as they do.

That said, I do, however, love what is considered the typical form of Amish cooking. Is what we do out here that is called Amish 100% accurate? I’ll probably never know. But it’s easy to find some foods that claim to be of the Amish spirit, at the very least. Add that into that category. Homey and comforting, using home canned goods (preferably) like my Spiced Apple Butter, generally made to feed a lot of people, and delicious. This recipe covers all those bases ๐Ÿ˜€ I adapted an old Amish apple butter bar recipe I had and this is what I ended up with.

These bars are utterly delicious. You have a streusel style crust covered with a rich cheesecake style later, then topped with large dollops of apple butter and more streusel. You go from sweet and creamy to crunchy and nutty to tart and fruity in each bite of these. They are perfect for the family and after school snacks, perfect for a potluck or church dinner and great for a family dessert topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

You know the drill… ๐Ÿ˜€

Amish Apple Butter Streusel Bars

  • 2 cups oats
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup chopped toasted walnuts, (10 minutes, 350 oven)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 2 1/2 sticks ( 1 1/4 cups) unsalted butter, room temp
  • 2 8 oz packages cream cheese, room temp
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons flour mixed with 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 1/4 cups apple butter
  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Line a 13×9 inch baking pan with foil and butter the foil or spray it with non stick spray.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the oats, 2 cups flour, brown sugar, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. Use a wooden spoon or your clean hands to mix in the butter, combining until it is a crumbly mass and no dry flour mixture remains.
  3. Set aside 1and 1/2 cups of the streusel and then press the rest of the streusel firmly into the bottom of the prepared pan. Bake at 350 for about 20 minutes or until the crust is just a light golden brown.
  4. While the crust bakes, make your filling- in a medium bowl, beat the cream cheese together with the sugar until light and creamy. Add in the milk and vanilla extract and blend just until combined. Beat in the eggs just until well combined. Sprinkle the flour/cinnamon mix over the top and stir that into the cream cheese mixture.
  5. When the crust is ready, pour the cream cheese batter over the top of the crust and smooth. Evenly dollop the apple butter over the cream cheese filling, then use a spoon or butter knife to gently swirl it into the filling. Sprinkle the reserved streusel over the top.
  6. Bake at 350 for 30 to 35 minutes, until the top is golden brown. Place the pan on a rack to cool completely. You can cut if then, but I found it slices better if chilled. Either way, cut into squares and serve. Keep refrigerated for storage.

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Amish Apple Butter Streusel Bars

Amish Apple Butter Streusel Bars

Mile High Lemon Milano No Bake Cheesecake

Mile High Lemon Milano No Bake Cheesecake

Mile High Lemon Milano No Bake Cheesecake


No more rain!!!! I have now 8 children and 72 cats lost in the grass that we can’t cut because it’s too wet! And I don’t HAVE that many kids or cats here at any other time. The grass is starting to look like something out of a Stephen King novel. At night, I see eerie glowing eyes out there and I’m pretty sure I heard a satanic voice calling to me. Of course, I hear that same voice telling me to eat entire pints of ice cream, so that may have been my imagination. Plus, it’s Summer vacation now and my seven year old is home and it’s difficult to tell him to go out and play if 1) I’m afraid of him joining the eerie crowd, and 2) what can he do outside other than get wet and covered in ticks. The ticks are LOVING this weather. We can’t cut down their hiding places and every time the boys go out, we have to do a tick check when they come back in.

On topic, I have long had a steamy love affair with Milano cookies. Don’t leave me in the sameย state room with the chocolate orange ones them or I’ll finish them off before Cookie Monster can say “back away from the cookies!” I saw a recipe for cookies and cream cheesecake. It was the typical Oreo cookie type, which is of course wonderful, but I wanted something more Summery, more refreshing and bright. What better for that then lemon, right? So I grabbed some Lemon Milanos (gosh, I love those things!) and using that recipe as my inspiration, came up with this one. I used a store bought graham cracker crust because lazy is my hobby, but feel free to make a homemade one. This cheesecake is simple as can be, slightly tart and refreshing and has a mild crunch from the cookie pieces in it and on top. It’s nice and creamy but not overwhelmingly rich and man, does it fill a pie crust! On a side note,ย  I would imagine you could use any flavor of Milanos you want in this; just omit the lemon zest if it doesn’t go with the flavors.

You know the drill…. ๐Ÿ˜›

Mile High Lemon Milano No Bake Cheesecake

  • 1 9 inch graham cracker or cookie crust
  • 2 1/4 cups heavy cream
  • 2 8 oz packages cream cheese, room temp
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon zest
  • 4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (cut this down to 1 1/2 if you’re using a different flavor of Milanos)
  • 2 1/2 cups coarsely crushed Lemon Milano cookies, plus more for garnish (buy two bags. You’ll have some left over. Hoard those for yourself ๐Ÿ™‚ )
  1. In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese until smooth. Add in the sugar, vanilla extract, lemon juice and lemon zest.
  2. In another bowl (preferably with the bowl sitting in the kitchen sink, unless you like being splattered to death with cream), on low speed with a hand mixer, beat the cream until slightly thickened, then turn the speed up to high and continue beating until firm peaks form.
  3. Fold the whipped cream into the cream cheese mixture, then gently fold in the cookie
  4. Spoon the cheesecake mixture into the pie crust and smooth the top. yes, it is very tall and yes, that’s a lot of filling. ๐Ÿ˜€
  5. Cover the pie lightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, or up to over night.
  6. When ready to serve, garnish with more crumbled cookies. Cut this into small slices. It IS a tall pie, so you’re getting a lot in a small slice. You should be able to get 12 servings out of this easily.

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Cheesecake Carrot Cake Muffins With Streusel Topping

Cheesecake Carrot Cake Muffins With Streusel Topping

Cheesecake Carrot Cake Muffins With Streusel Topping



I hate carrots. No; really. I do. Fine, I just kind of hate carrots. I totally can’t stand raw carrots. As for cooked and savory, I only like baby carrots cooked with a ton of salt and butter. Rather like a crunchy orange salt and butter delivery system, one might say. I DO however, love carrot cake. Go figure. I also dislike zucchini but love zucchini bread. I would wager the obvious reason is that the veggies add moistness but don’t leave behind a lot of their icky poo flavors. Yes, I’m 51 and just said “icky poo”. Just shush. If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you already know not to expect normality in any way, shape or form.

Long story short, I wanted carrot cake. But I’m too lazy to make carrot cake. So, when I realized I had a bag of the funky orange sticks taking up room in my veggie drawer and no intentions of actually using them for the cake I had envisioned, I had to improvise. When I noticed that I hadn’t done a muffin recipe in a while, that made up my mind. Carrot Cake muffins it was! And what, I hear you saying, is the best part of carrot cake? Certainly not the carrots! ๐Ÿ˜› It’s the cream cheese frosting. So i used what few working brain cells I have left and I came up with these. Carrot cake muffins stuffed with a creamy cheesecake filling and then for total overkill, just because I could, I topped them with some streusel I had in the freezer. Because the world would be a happier place if everyone had streusel all the time AND no freezer is complete if it doesn’t have a bag of streusel in it just waiting for times like this.

These turned out darn tasty. I know…wonderfully descriptive today, aren’t I? But really; they are. The muffins have just enough batter to hold together the carrots, raisins, pineapple and nuts. Then there is a creamy center, reminiscent of a good cheesecake. All of that is topped with a crunchy streusel. What more does on need in life? Fine, you can get a cup of coffee or tea to go with them. But seriously… that’s it. Your breakfast or mid afternoon snack will be complete with just those two things.

You know the drill…. ๐Ÿ˜€

Don’t let the long ingredient list throw you. This is pretty quick.

Cheesecake Carrot Cake Muffins With Streusel Topping

  • Streusel-
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 5 tablespoons flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, cold
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped toasted walnuts (optional; sometimes I use nuts in my streusels, sometimes not)
  • Cheesecake filling-
  • 6 ounces cream cheese, room temp
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • Muffin-
  • 1 1/3 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup finely chopped toasted walnuts (easily toasted by placing in a layer in a baking dish and toasting at 350 for about ten minutes; just until lightly browned)
  • 2 eggs
  • 2/3 cup honey
  • 1/3 cup neutral oil, like vegetable
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups grated carrots (It will take about 4 large carrots)
  • 1 8 ounce can pineapple tidbits in juice, well drained (Use the lid to press down on the pineapple to get excess juice out so you don’t end up with soggy muffins)
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Lightly grease or line with liners 12 muffin cups. You will have a bit of batter left, so use it for one jumbo muffin or another couple of regular sized ones.
  2. Make your filling and streusel and set both aside- for the filling, beat together all the ingredients in a small bowl until creamy. Simple as that.
  3. For the streusel, in a small bowl, whisk to combine the flour, sugar and cinnamon. Use a pastry blender to cut in the butter until you have chunks ranging from pea size up to nickel sized.
  4. For the batter, in a large bowl, combine all the wet ingredients- the eggs, honey, oil, vanilla, carrots, pineapple and raisins. Stir well.
  5. In another bowl, whisk to combine all the dry ingredients- the flour, spices, baking powder and baking soda and salt.
  6. Dump the dry ingredients into the bowl of wet one and stir JUST until combined. Don’t over stir. You’ll end up with tough, tunnely (yes, tunnely is now a word) muffins if you do.
  7. Fill each muffin cup with just enough batter to cover the bottom. Then top that with about a tablespoon of the cheesecake filling. Then, cover the filling with a healthy dollop of the muffin batter. You want to end up with filled, but not overflowing muffin cups.
  8. Sprinkle streusel over the tops of each muffin, gently pressing down to get it to adhere better.
  9. Bake at 375 until the muffins are golden brown and a wooden pick inserted through the side comes out clean (it’s fine if there is some cheesecake filling on the pick, just no loose muffin batter itself), about 20 to 24 minutes.
  10. Let cool in the pan for a minute or two, then gently pull them out (I use a spoon) and set them on a rack to finish cooling.

Cheesecake Carrot Cake Muffins With Streusel Topping 2

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Blackberry Cheesecake Bars

Blackberry Cheesecake Brownies 1

Blackberry Cheesecake Brownies



I am an avid reader of magazines that involve cooking. Be it straight out cooking mags like Bon Appetit, Saveur, Food Network and Food & Wine, or others like Family Circle and Womans Day, I am subscribed to them all. I search until I find them for wonderful prices like $5.99 a year (honest Injun… you can get some great deals on magazines if you look around; and not just the “womens” mags either!!) and then and only then will I get them. Then, when I’m done with them, which includes tearing out recipes I want to try, they go to the residents at the long term care facility my husband works at. The residents there never lack for magazines to look at, I’ll tell you that much!

Sadly though, even when I tear out recipes from the ones like Woman Day or Family Circle, I never have a whole lot of success with the recipes themselves. I’m not sure if it is a lack of proper testing at the test kitchens or what, but there ALWAYS seems to be an issue or two that needs fixed. I got this recipe from Womans Day and it was, unfortunately, no exception. I lost the paper version, so had to look it up online and found it on their site, but the recipe itself was so fraught with errors in direction and ingredients that I had to pick through it and work with it. I’m an experienced cook, so it turned out delicious, but I shudder to think what would have happened with a novice cook. The pan size was wrong, the sugar measurements were off, etc etc.

BUT!!! Like I said, I didn’t just fall off the turnip truck yesterday when it comes to cooking (yet another saying about which I ask, “wth does that even mean!?”), so I fixed the “boo-boos”. Once done, this is a delicious cheesecake bar. It uses up some of the last of the season fresh blackberries quite nicely. You have a VERY rich brownie base layered with a creamy cheesecake filling and finally that part is swirled with fresh blackberries. So your mouth gets a nice mix of “ooo, chocolate. No, creamy. No, berries!” to keep you guessing.

So, you know the drill. Get to cooking!

Blackberry Cheesecake Brownies

  • Brownie base-
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 3/4 cup semi sweet chocolate chips, divided
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Cheesecake filling-
  • 2 8 oz packages of cream cheese, room temp
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 6 ounces blackberries, mashed (one small container)
  1. Heat your oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9 inch square pan with foil, leaving enough to overhand the edges of the pan. You’ll use that as a handle later to lift the brownies out of the pan. Spray with cooking spray and set aside.
  2. In a small pot, over low heat, melt together the butter and 1 1/4 cups of the chocolate chips, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat when melted and set aside.
  3. Whisk together the 3/4 cup flour, the cocoa powder and the salt. In a large bowl, on low speed with a hand held mixer,ย  combine the sugars and the 3 eggs. beat JUST until combined. Stir in the flour mixture and the last 1/2 cup of semi sweet chips. Gently fold the chocolate/butter mixture into this. Set aside to make the cheesecake batter.
  4. Wash your beaters and in a large bowl, on low speed, combine the cream cheese, sour cream, 1/2 cup sugar and 2 tablespoons flour. beat just until smooth and creamy. Add in the 2 eggs and the vanilla extract; beat just until combined.
  5. Scoop about half the brownie batter (about 1 1/2 cups) of the brownie batter into the prepared pan and smooth. Top that with half of the cheesecake batter, then the last half of the brownie batter. Carefully pour the other half of the cheesecake batter on top and gently smooth it out.
  6. Put dollops of the smashed blackberries on top of the cheesecake batter and use a butter knife to swirl it through the batter, being careful not to reach down into the brownie part (though the world won’t end if you do)
  7. Bake at 350 degrees just until the top is set, about an hour. The edges will be set, but the center should still have the tiniest bit of a jiggle to it. It will finish setting up as it cools.
  8. Let cool in the pan for an hour, then refrigerate for at least two hours to overnight to finish firming up.
  9. Use the foil “handles” to lift the brownies out onto a cutting board and then use a large serrated knife to cut into bars, dipped in hot water and wiped dry in between each cut.

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Blackberry Cheesecake Brownies

Blackberry Cheesecake Brownies

Dark Chocolate Raspberry Mocha Cheesecake

Dark Chocolate Raspberry Mocha Cheesecake

Dark Chocolate Raspberry Mocha Cheesecake



Hey everyone. Sorry about the rather long hiatus from here. I’ve been ill. Nothing earth shattering. You’re not getting rid of me that easily. Just been having some “I had a stroke a few years ago and it likes to come back and bite me in the arse at times” issues. So you’re still stuck with me. I was just too drained to be cooking and couldn’t balance well, which could have caused trouble, lol.

I tried making a cheesecake anyway while I was down and oh my, talk about a disaster. I have been making cheesecakes since my oldest son, now almost 29, was an infant. SO I have a wee bit of experience. But oh….my….heavens. I put what was a delicious batter in the oven and it wouldn’t cook. It puffed and overflowed all over my oven. It was greasy, grainy, watery; you name the bad adjective when it comes to cheesecakes and that cheesecake wore that adjective proudly, like a badge of honor. Once it overflowed, I had hopes that it would at least be salvageable for the family, since it certainly wouldn’t work as a post. But…ummmm…no. Totally…and completely…disgusting. I scraped the sodden gritty mess into the garbage and tried not to whimper like a 3 year old denied a chocolate bar. Or a 50 year old who just had to trash about 12 dollars worth of ingredients *whimpers*

Then today I tried again. I think I turned the oven light on 72 times and peeked into the oven to see what was happening. And lo and behold, I haven’t lost my skills. WooT!! Yay for non disgusting cheesecake! So, I’ve mentioned before that I’m not a huge coffee drinker. When I drink it, it has to be highly flavored and creamed. I’m one of those “I like a little coffee with my cream and sugar” people. But strangely enough, I love coffee flavored desserts. Coffee ice cream, tiramisu, anything mocha flavored. I’m all over them.ย  So I decided to play with that flavor idea in the cheesecake. But I wanted a mild coffee flavor, not an in your face caffeine punch from cheesecake. So I made a raspberry mocha… in cheesecake form. ๐Ÿ˜€

This is a pretty wonderful cheesecake. Creamy, rich, but not heavy. It has a mild chocolate/coffee flavor on first bite. Then you get some of the raspberry preserves with those flavors and that explosion of tart berry. THEN some of the chocolate curls and fresh berries;so good! Talk about happily confused taste buds. ๐Ÿ˜€

Don’t freak at the long instructions here. It’s mostly me jabbering on with some cheesecake tips that will help ANY time you make a cheesecake.

You know the drill… ๐Ÿ™‚

Mrs. Cupcake… who wants more cheesecake and then NEEDS five hours on my exercise bike.

Dark Chocolate Raspberry Mocha Cheesecake

  • Crust-
  • 2 to 2 1/2 cups vanilla wafers
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • Filling-
  • 2 8 ounce packages cream cheese, room temp
  • 1 8 ounce package mascarpone cheese, room temp (can use another cream cheese instead, but the mascarpone is decadently creamy)
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 3 eggs, room temp also
  • 1 10 to 12 ounce package chocolate chips (I used bittersweetย Ghirardelli’s ), melted according to package directions
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon instant coffee granules or espresso powder (use a teaspoon or so more if you want a heavier coffee flavor)
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup raspberry preserves
  • Boiling water for the water bath
  • Fresh raspberries and chocolate curls for garnish
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Wrap a 9 inch springform pan in two layers of heavy duty foil, each layer going in a different direction to make sure the whole pan is well covered. Lightly grease the pan and place inside a large baking dish. In your food processor, pulse the cookies until they are fine crumbs. Add in the sugar and 6 tablespoons melted butter. Pulse until well combined. Alternately, you can crush the cookies in a ziploc bag and then combine the ingredients in a bowl.
  2. Press the mixture over the bottom and a little bit up the sides. Bake at 325 for 8 minutes; just long enough to set the crust. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the cream cheese, mascarpone and sugar. Beat at medium speed until creamy.ย  Add in the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition, scraping the bowl as needed.
  4. Add in the melted chocolate and beat on low speed just until combined.
  5. Pour the instant coffee granules into the cream; stir to dissolve. Whisk the cream and the melted butter into the batter. Trust me on the whisk. You use the beater and you’re going to be wearing cream.
  6. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Microwave the preserves for about ten second, just enough to thin them out a bit. Dollop the preserves onto the top of the cheesecake batter. Use a butter knife to drag through the preserves, spreading the preserves decoratively through the batter.
  7. Place the baking dish with the pan in the oven and carefully pour boiling water around the springform pan, going about an inch up the sides of the pan. Carefully push the rack in, being careful to not splatter water into the cheesecake pan.
  8. Bake at 325 for between 65 to 85 minutes (I have gone to both extremes for some reason; cheesecakes are finicky). When it is looking set up to about midway into the cheesecake, stick a instant read thermometer carefully into the middle of the cheesecake. You are looking for a temp of about 150 degrees. If it is that, turn the oven off, prop the door open with a dishtowel or something, and leave the cheesecake completely alone to finish cooking in the turned off oven. The final temp needs to be between 160 to 165. Any higher and you will most likely end up with a huge crack down the middle of the cheesecake. Plus, letting it sit in the slowly cooling oven helps protect from quick temp changes which can also cause it to crack. When the oven has completely cooled, take the cheesecake out and let it come to room temp. Then chill until cold, preferably overnight. They slice sooooo much better that way.
  9. When ready to serve,ย  garnish with fresh raspberries and chocolate curls. Slice with a sharp knife dipped in hot water and dried in between cuts.

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Decadent Chocolate Cheesecake

Decadent Chocolate Cheesecake

Decadent Chocolate Cheesecake

There are some foods that it is dangerous to leave me alone with. Set me in front of a dish of panna cotta and you’re likely to come back in 30 minutes and see that I’ve eaten mine, yours, everyone’s and am now sitting in a panna cotta stupor on the floor, grinning like a loon. Put creme brulee near me and I can’t be held responsible for my actions. Give me a bone in ribeye and some roasted brussel sprouts and soon enough, I’ll be that person moaning saying “I can’t believe I ate the whole thing”.

There are also some foods that aren’t quite as “normal” that I’m not safe around. I eat fries when I have a ribeye. I also set the baking sheet full of overly greasy fries back in the oven and eat them for breakfast the next day. Yes, feel free to gag.ย  Then there’s Cheetos. I shamefully admit that I have been known (in the past, in my weight loss defense) to polish off the majority of a large bag of Cheetos in one sitting while watching reruns of The Big Bang Theory.

This cheesecake however, does not go into the not so normal category. It may go into the “omg, this is good!” category though. I have been making this cheesecake for years; more years than I care to admit. It originally came from yet another of those decades old paper Pillsbury cookbooks I have collected for…well, decades. Yes, I’m old. Fifty as of this past Tuesday, actually. *sobs just a little for lost youth, then gets over it and eats more cheesecake* Liiiiiike I said, I’ve been making this for years. I changed it some from the original but not enough to say it’s a totally different cheesecake, just added a few ingredients, took away almonds in the crust and bake it in a water bath to minimize cracking. It also originally had a sour cream topping and I do use that sometimes, but I prefer the topping I have here.

This is a wonderful base cheesecake to play with. You have a chocolatey, buttery crust, topped with a very creamy chocolate filling. I always add a touch of almond extract to the filling. It doesn’t make it taste almondy; don’t worry. It just adds that little something that makes people say, “what is in this?”. The filling is smooth, rich and creamy. Then I topped it this time with the worlds easiest strawberry sauce and dolloped it with a slightly tart cream and sour cream topping. In the past, I have also drizzled this with caramel sauce, cherry topping, peaches, etc. Like I said, this is a great base to play with. It’s also dam good on its own so try it like that first. This goes together quickly and if you bake it as directed, there will be little to no cracking on top.

You know the drill…. ๐Ÿ™‚

Decadent Chocolate Cheesecake

  • Crust- 2 cups finely crushed Oreo’s- about 21 cookies (I use my food processor)
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • Filling-
  • 2 8 ounce packages cream cheese, room temp
  • 3 eggs, room temp
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2 cups semi sweet chocolate chips, melted per package directions and cooled
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • Topping-
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream, ice cold
  • 1/2 cup sour cream, ice cold
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • Strawberry sauce-
  • 1 16 ounce bag frozen strawberries, thawed, NOT drained
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • Boiling water for water bath
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Cover a 9 inch springform pan with 2 layers of heavy duty foil, making sure it goes up about 3 inches on the sides. This helps prevent water from getting into the pan as the cheesecake bakes.
  2. Lightly butter the whole pan.
  3. In a large bowl (or your food processor), mix together the crust ingredients. Press them onto the bottom and about 2 inches up the sides of the prepared pan. I have found that using the bottom of a small glass is the easiest way to press any crumb crust in. It is much more even and firmly pressed in that way. Set the crust aside.
  4. In a large bowl, combine the cream cheese and sugar. Beat on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add in the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the melted chocolate and extracts; beat well.
  5. Add in the cream and melted butter. You’re best off whisking these in because trying to beat the liquid into the batter results in a lot of splashing, even on low speed.
  6. Pour the batter into the prepared crust. Gently tap the pan on the counter to level it and help get rid of any air bubbles in it. Place pan inside of a deep baking pan. Slide into the oven and carefully pour boiling water around the cheesecake to a level of about one inch up the sides of the pan, being careful not to splash any water into the cheesecake.
  7. Bake at 325 degrees for 60 to 75 minutes (large time gap, but I have had it go to both extremes.), until the cheesecake is set around the outer third but the center is still rather soft. It will set from residual heat as it cools.
  8. Cool for five minutes on a rack then loosen the sides and carefully slide off the outside of the pan. Finish cooling completely until room temp, then refrigerate until 30 to 60 minutes before you’re ready to serve it.
  9. About 30 minutes before serving, make the sauce and the topping. The sauce couldn’t be simpler. In a medium bowl, combine the strawberries and the sugar. Let sit for about 30 minutes so the sugar has time to dissolve.
  10. For the topping, in a large bowl, combine the topping ingredients. Beat at medium speed (careful of splattering) until the mixture is thick and creamy with firm peaks, about 4 minutes.
  11. Top each slice of cheesecake with some strawberries and topping. Eat. Curse me as you loosen your pants. Know that I’m over here giggling at you.

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Chewy Salted Caramel Hazelnut Cheesecake Brownies

Chewy Salted Caramel Hazelnut Brownies

Chewy Salted Caramel Hazelnut Brownies




I’ve come to the realization that, during the Summer, I am NOT a prolific blogger. I bake like the dickens (what IS a dickens anyway and do they even bake?) during the fall, Winter and early Spring, but I live in Kentucky in a house with an A/C system that barely works when it’s hot out and I have asthma; not a good combination when trying to bake lol.

Weeks ago I said I was going to make some Nutella Brownies. Today the temp wasn’t bad so FINALLY I got around to it. Erhmmm, kind of. You see, I have the great honor of being mom to six kids, three of whom still live at home, with two of those being teenage walking stomachs boys. So what did I find when I went into the cabinet to grab the Nutella? An almost empty jar with incriminating spoon marks in it. Gee, wonder how THAT happened? So I went to the back up jar of Nutella wanna be imported from Italy that I got at Big Lots. And know what? That crap is Nasty with a capital nas! I wouldn’t feed that to my worst enemy. Welllll, I know of one woman I used to be friends with that I might feed it to as well as one ultra controlling ex boyfriend. ๐Ÿ˜€

So, being the inventive soul that I am (be nice and work with me here…) what did I do? I got out the jar of Jif Salted Caramel Hazelnut Spread that I keep on hand for emergencies. Those emergencies being when I am craving something sweet and delude myself into thinking that since this is made with nuts, it’s good for me. Point being, this is some yummy stuff! Not Nutella, I admit that, but it has a unique flavor of its own; sweet, salty, with an undertone of caramel to go with the hazelnuts.

Then when I was in the fridge getting eggs, I saw the cream cheese and I immediately thought of cheesecake brownies! So that’s what we have here- deep dark and chewy chocolate brownies swirled with a salted caramel hazelnut cheesecake, then topped with some salted caramel sauce. Can we spell decadence, class?? And OMG? Wait, that one is rather self explanatory. My bad. And maybe even “please don’t share these with anyone that you don’t want to have following you around the house whimpering like a puppy to get more from you”. Just sayin’. And you don’t really have to spell that last part. I understand.

You know the drill….

Salted Caramel Hazelnut Cheesecake Brownies

  • 8 ounces cream cheese, room temp
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 cup Jif Salted Caramel Hazelnut Spread
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract (not a typo; you need some for the swirl and the brownie batter)
  • 2 1/4 cups sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup baking cocoa
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • salted caramel sauce for drizzling n top (I used Trader Joes brand)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a greased 13×9 inch pan with parchment paper and lightly grease the paper.
  2. In a medium mixing bowl, beat the softened cream cheese until it is smooth and creamy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add in the hazelnut spread, 2 tablespoons sugar and vanilla extract. Beat well to combine. Set aside while you make the brownie batter.
  3. In a medium bowl, combine the melted butter and the 2 1/4 cups sugar. Beat well for 3 to 4 minutes. Add in the eggs and 2 teaspoons vanilla extract. Beat well.
  4. Add in the flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt. Use a wooden spoon or rubber spatula to mix the batter just until it is combined.
  5. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan and smooth down.
  6. Drop spoonfuls of the cheesecake batter on top of the brownie batter and swirl it into the brownie batter using a butter knife.
  7. Bake at 350 for 35 to 40 minutes or until a toothpick or skewer inserted in the middle comes out mostly clean with no liquid batter on it, though a few moist crumbs are fine.
  8. Let cool in the pan on a rack for about an hour.
  9. Use the parchment paper to carefully lift the brownies out of the pan. Let them cool completely on the rack. Wrap loosely and refrigerate for about 2 hours or overnight. Take them out about an hour before you’re ready to serve them so that they will be easier to cut. Cut into squares of whatever size makes you happy; no 1/2 inch tidbits mentioned in THIS blog ๐Ÿ˜›
  10. Drizzle each square (chunk, half pan…whatever, I don’t judge) with some salted caramel sauce. Serve these with ice cold milk or some hot coffee. Thank me later.

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Silky Cheesecake Flan

Silky Cheesecake Flan

Do you ever have those moments when you see something become a trend and you can only think to yourself “mannnn, I’ve been doing that/making that/going there/whatever for years now. WAY before it became trendy. Then you’re torn between feeling ahead of the game and wanting to make sure everyone knows you did it first so you don’t seem like a follower. There are a ton of foods I feel like that with. It’s like “no fair! I was making that way before any of you did it!!”

Flan is one of those foods. I was making it way back in the early 80’s, long before it became trendy restaurant food. WHY was I making it? Like duhhhh man; it’s made with high fat heavy cream and this is me. Need I say more? ๐Ÿ˜› As a variation of the “If you build it, they will come”, with me, it’s always been “add cream and I will eat it”. Hey, we all have our weak spots. Cream is one of mine.

For years, I used a flan recipe I found in one of those old Pillsbury paperback cookbooks they sold monthly. I still do periodically when I’m feeling like a purist.ย  But sometimes I like to change it up and make a cheesecake flan. It’s called that because you use cream cheese in it. The cream cheese contributes a silkiness you don’t get with regular flan (though the regular stuff is pretty damned amazing texture wise itself) and a subtle tang. That flavor mixed with the caramel sauce is outstanding.

Word of note- when I make flan, I do NOT do the whole invert and let the caramel run down it, yada yada yada. I want to get to eating and half the time, it droops when inverted and doesn’t look nearly as pretty as it does just spooning it out of the dish and drizzling (or in my case, pouring on by the quart) the caramel sauce on top of each serving. If you want to invert, go for it. But I promise you, no one will care if you don’t.ย  This is smooth, creamy, just melts in your mouth. The flan itself isn’t overly sweet and the burnt sugar taste of the caramel just sets it off so well, you will find yourself eating and eating…and eating…and cursing me…and eating..and cursing more.

You know the drill….

Silky Cheesecake Flan

  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 8 ounce package cream cheese, softened
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 4 cups boiling water
  1. Take a 3 quart baking dish and place it inside of another larger (a 13×9 pan or bigger works well) and set near the stove. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Combine the sugar and water in a small sauce pot.
  3. Over medium high heat, let the sugar mixture cook, swirling the pan occasionally, until the color is a dark reddish brown. When it gets to that, even if there are still some sugar lumps, remove from the heat. If you keep swirling for a few seconds, the lumps will melt and even if they don’t, it’s not a big deal.
  4. Immediately pour the caramel into the waiting pan.
  5. In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese on low until creamy. Add in the eggs and egg yolk and using a whisk, gently mix with the cream cheese. You’re trying to make as little foam as possible here because the air bubbles won’t dissipate and will leave unattractive pock marks all over the flan, though they obviously don’t effect the taste.
  6. Gently beat in the condensed milk, then the heavy cream and vanilla extract.
  7. Carefully pour the custard into the prepared pan. Put the pan into the oven and then carefully pour the boiling water around the baking dish with the custard in it, being careful not to splash any water into the pan. Lightly cover the pan with foil.
  8. Immediately turn the heat down to 325 degrees and bake the flan for 45 to 60 minutes, until just the center third of the flan is slightly jiggly (not liquidy, just rather like half set jello). Carefully remove the flan pan from the other pan. I’ve found that the best way to do this without burning your fingers with the water is to use a baster to drain out most of the water, then lift the pan out. Let the flan cool for about an hour at room temp, then refrigerate until completely chilled, at least 2 hours more.
  9. If you want to invert it, you run a butter knife all around the edges and then lay a large serving plate over the top. Quickly but carefully flip the dish and pan over and the flan should slide out. Spoon the caramel sauce remaining in the pan over the flan. But, as I said, I rarely bother with the inversion. It tastes just as good and is far less work, if not as dramatic looking.

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Pumpkin Cheesecake Streusel Bars

Pumpkin Cheesecake Streusel bars2

I remember Thanksgiving when I was a kid. I’ve mentioned before that my mom was not much of a cook. In her defense, as I’ve said, she was a single mom who worked ungodly hours and even had she been home, it just wasn’t her passion. Thanksgivings that I remember were fairly rushed because her long term b/f worked as a train engineer and we always had Thanksgiving dinner at like 2pm so he could get to work. Always pissed off my brother, sister and myself. I think that, being the children of divorce, we wanted that whole Norman Rockwell ideal on holidays and that just doesn’t happen in real life. I remember a fairly dry turkey, stuffing that was actually pretty good, mashed taters, the ubiquitous sweet potatoes covered in marshmallows which I still love, (on a side note, I remember the year my brother wanted something different and made sweet potatoes with oj in them and no marshmallows. No one ate them lol. Sorry, Steve.), plus two store bought pies- pumpkin and pecan.

Nowadays, even before I blogged, I go a bit more all out. Holidays give me an excuse to make all those seasonal things that I’ve had tabbed in cookbooks and magazines for like 37 years. The end result is enough food to feed 478 people which was great when I had a ton of people at home, not so much now, especially this year when there will be only 5 of us here. But will that stop me? No. I’ll still make far too much and be grateful we are able to do so. That will include a pumpkin pie or two, a pecan pie and quite possibly this cheesecake.

One of the holiday-ish recipes I have had tabbed forever was this recipe. I found it in a 2006 issue of Bon Appetit, their 50th anniversary issue which was pretty awesome as magazines go.

Now, if you try this, like I told my husband, remember, this is a cheesecake, not a typical pumpkin pie. So it’s tangier and the texture is different. But trust me, this is NOT a bad thing. The crust and the topping are one and the same, just used differently. Both are crunchy, sweet enough to be a good foil to the filling and topping and just plain yummy. The filling is creamy, spicy, slightly tangy and nice and pumpkiny.ย  I doubled the recipe (because it used only a partial can of pumpkin and I HATE that) and added a good bit more in the way of spices as well as some vanilla plus the crust/crumbs didn’t have any spice at ALL which bored me so I added some there too. If you like pumpkin pie, if you like cheesecake, if you like “normal” pumpkin cheesecake, you need to try this one. It’s pretty yummy and I’m glad I doubled the recipe though I’m sure my thighs and hips aren’t so happy with me. For the record, I’m posting this in the quantities they used, If you want to double it as I did, it’s easy enough to do ๐Ÿ™‚

You know the drill…

This looks like it has a lot of steps and ingredients, but really, it all comes together quickly since the bulk of the ingredients are just the spices.

Pumpkin Cheesecake Streusel Bars

  • Crust/crumb topping-
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup cold unsalted butter
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 3/4 cup old fashioned oatmeal
  • Filling-
  • 1 8 ounce package cream cheese, room temp
  • 3/4 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 3/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon allspice
  • Topping-
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.ย  Butter a 9 inch square pan (or use something like Bakers Joy which is what I did) and set aside. Have ready a 9×13 inch rimmed baking sheet.
  2. To make the crust/crumbs, combine the flour, salt, brown sugar and spices. Using a pastry cutter, cut in the cold butter until it resembles small crumbs. Stir in the pecans and oats.
  3. Press 3 1/2 cups of the mixture firmly into the bottom of the 9 inch pan to form the crust. Spread the rest of the mixture onto the 13×9 inch pan. Put both in the preheated oven.
  4. Bake the sheet pan for about 15 minutes or until golden brown, stirring once or twice during baking. When it’s done, break it up into smaller bits and set aside. For the crust, bake for about 30 minutes, until golden brown and firm.
  5. For filling- Using a hand mixer, combine all the filling ingredients. Beat until smooth. Pour onto the hot crust and return to the oven.
  6. Bake at 350 for about 20 minutes, until it is set, looks dry at the center and is beginning to puff up around the edges.
  7. While it bakes, make the topping. Simply combine all the ingredients in a small bowl and mix well.
  8. When cheesecake is done, remove from the oven and spread the topping over it. Return to the oven for five minutes. Take out and set onto a rack to cool completely, about 2 hours. When it is totally cool, take the reserved broken up crumbs and sprinkle evenly over the cheesecake. Press down lightly to make them adhere. Chill the cheesecake until cold. To serve, use a sharp knife dipped in hot water to make clean cuts.

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New York Cheesecake With Triple Berry Sauce

New York Cheesecake With Triple Berry Sauce

New York Cheesecake With Triple Berry Sauce


I’ve always gotten a kick out of the regional competition between different parts of the country when it comes to food. Being born and raised in Chicago, I saw a lot of it there. Chicagoans will tell you that you can’t get sausage as good anywhere but there… and they would be correct. They will also tell you that the way they make hot dogs is the best… and they would, again, be correct. Then there’s pizza. While Chicago is known for deep dish, believe it or not, a native Chicagoan will tell you that Chicago is more known for thin crust pizza. And yes, it’s better there. I didn’t have deep dish pizza until well into adulthood. Go figure.

Other parts of the country will arguments over other foods, such as where in the south you can get the best fried chicken or the best shrimp and grits (both foods dear to my heart…and stomach), where the best bagels are available (from all accounts that would be New York but never having been there, I can’t say) down to even where you can get the best coffee (Seattle ostensibly but again, I couldn’t say)

One thing most people won’t argue about though is where one can get the best cheesecake. New York wins that. While, like I said, I’ve never been there (*sobs* I’m so travel deprived) I’ve tried enough cheesecake to be pretty certain which is the best. And a thick, dense, creamy New York style cheesecake is hard to beat. Though *she says with a sheepish grin* I DO have a liking for those creamy French style Sara Lee cheesecakes. Don’t judge!

You need to give this one a try next time you get a hankering (yes, I just said hankering…what of it? ๐Ÿ˜› ) for cheesecake. It is, as I mentioned above, thick (boy, is it thick), dense and creamy. Plus, with the quick berry sauce on top, it goes from wonderful to “omg, back away from this cheesecake cause it’s all mine!”.

This is fairly quickly put together. It takes a while to cook and then to chill but it’s worth the wait. Mine took longer than the recipe said it would by about 50% time wise but that could be my oven, who knows. This originally comes from Cooks Illustrated and I really didn’t chance much other than I added 2 tablespoons of flour (I have bad luck at times with cheesecakes that don’t contain a touch of flour so I just put a bit) and I added the lemon and orange zests. The berry sauce is also mine but there’s nothing fancy about it though it looks it. All it is is berries and some softened up jam. I prefer uncooked berry sauces over cooked because 1) they’re easier and 2) you don’t lose the fresh flavor of the berries by cooking them. I also opened the door for a minute at the stage of turning the oven down to 200 because when researching this recipe, I read a LOT of reviews saying that theirs burned but those who said they propped the door open for a minute didn’t have that issue. I love the mild citrus flavor they added but feel free to omit them if you’re more a cheesecake purist.

You know the drill… git to cookin’.

New York Cheesecake With Triple Berry Sauce

  • Crust-
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 4 ounces graham cracker crumbs
  • 1 tablespoon sugar (I used about 2 cause I like graham cracker crusts a bit sweet)
  • Cheesecake-
  • 5 8 ounce packages of cream cheese, softened
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/3 cup sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • zest from one lemon
  • zest from one orange
  • 1 tablespoon good quality vanilla extract
  • 6 eggs
  • 2 egg yolks
  • Triple Berry Sauce-
  • 4 cups fresh mixed berries
  • 1/2 cup good quality berry jam (I used Smuckers Triple Berry Preserves)
  1. Spray a 9 inch springform pan with cooking spray. Set aside. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. To make the crust, combine the crumbs and the sugar. Stir to combine. Then pour over the melted butter and stir well until it’s evenly moistened. Pour the crumbs into the prepared pan and using the bottom of a glass, press them onto the bottom and halfway up the sides of the pan. Place in the oven and bake for about 12 minutes or so, until they are lightly browned. After you take it out, turn the heat up to 500 degrees (yes, you read that right)
  3. For the cheesecake- in a large bowl,ย  using a hand mixer (I have tried a stand mixer with this recipe and it simply doesn’t get the bottom of the bowl well enough and you end up with lumps of unmixed cream cheese), beat the cream cheese until smooth and creamy with no lumps. Scrape the bowl once or twice during the mixing.
  4. Add in the sugar and flour and beat until combined, about one minute. Scrape the bowl again, then add the lemon juice,ย  zests, sour cream and vanilla. Beat at low speed until combined. Add the egg yolks, then beat until combined. Add the eggs, 2 at a time, and beat each time until well combined.
  5. Spray the cheesecake crust with cooking spray (yes, the crust… ), set the crust on a baking sheet (in case of drips) then pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 10 minutes at 500. Then turn the heat down to 200 degrees. Prop or hold the door open for about 45 seconds or so so heat goes down a bit quicker then close it back.
  6. bake at 200 degrees for about an hour and a half (like I said up there, mine actually took closer to 2 hours but that may be my oven so check yours at the 90 minute mark.
  7. You want this to come to 150 degrees on an instant read thermometer. It should be set except in the center 2 inches or so of the cheesecake. It’s ok if it is VERY slightly jiggly there. It will firm up during the cooling process.
  8. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool until barely warm, about 3 hours. Using a butter knife, run it along the edge of the pan between the crust and the pan. This will help loosen it up. Wrap tightly and refrigerate until cold, about 3 hours.
  9. About an hour before serving, pour your berries in a medium bowl. Gently fold in the softened jam or preserves (you can soften it simply by giving it a good stir before using it). When ready to serve, either spoon the berries on top of the cheesecake or serve in a bowl alongside it.

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