Vanilla Cheesecake Bars with Blueberry Sauce

Anne, one of my most favorite bloggers From My Sweet Heart inspired me to write this post.  (She just doesn’t know it yet.)  All it took was one look at her Vanilla Bean Cheesecake with Strawberries and I knew that I needed to make something cheesecakey too.  With a shortage of time and baking supplies I decided to make these Vanilla Cheesecake Bars to hold me over until I get around to making Anne’s delicious recipe which I’ve filed away for future use. 

Typically, I make individual mini cheesecakes but this time I made the recipe into bars.  

*Please note –  if you opt to make bars instead mini’s you will bake them in a 9”x13” foil lined pan. Spray the foil with non-stick cooking spray and bake the bars for about 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick comes clean when inserted in the center.  The foil helps you lift the baked bars out of the pan for easy cutting.

And for this delicious Blueberry Sauce?  The recipe can be found below.

Blueberry Sauce

Makes about 1 1/2 cups

3/4 c. of blueberries, crushed

1 c. of whole blueberries

3/4 c. water

1/2 c. granulated sugar

2 tbsp. cornstarch

1/4 tsp. butter

1/4 tsp. vanilla extract

2 drops of blue food coloring (optional)

In a large saucepan, add crushed berries, water, sugar, and cornstarch.  Mix ingredients using a whip until cornstarch is completely dissolved.  On medium heat, bring mixture to a boil and stir constantly until it thickens.  Add in whole berries and remove from stove top.  Stir in butter, vanilla extract, and food coloring. 

Keep in the fridge until ready to use. Re-warm in microwave if desired.

Oh, and I almost forgot, this topping is also great on ice cream too!

What is your favorite flavor of cheesecake?  And what is your favorite topping? 

Triple Chocolate Brownies

Sometimes you just have to overdose on chocolate.  And I’ve found that one of the best ways to do that is with these Triple Chocolate Brownies.

Triple Chocolate Brownies

This brownie recipe comes from my cookbook, In the sweet of it.

Triple Chocolate Brownies

1/2 c. butter, melted

1 c. granulated sugar

2 eggs, warmed to room temperature

1/2 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips, melted

1/4 tsp. baking powder

1/4 tsp. salt

1 tbsp. baking cocoa

3/4 c. all-purpose flour

1/2 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease 8”x8” square glass baking pan.

In large bowl, add butter, sugar, eggs, and melted chocolate; stir thoroughly.  Add baking powder, salt, cocoa, and flour.  Mix all ingredients together until blended.  Fold in chocolate chips.

Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 30 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the middle of the brownies.  Remove from oven and cool thoroughly before cutting.  

Triple Chocolate Brownies

These brownies are chewy on this inside with a light crusty top.  Many times I will use a double Dutch cocoa when I make these, but I did not do that for this particular batch.

Triple Chocolate Brownies

Do you have a recipe that you are drawn to when you need a chocolate overdose?

My Cookbook!

It’s all said and done!

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Finally, after countless hours in my kitchen baking, photographing, writing, editing, pulling my hair out, biting my nails, and cussing just a little, my cookbook is finally finished.

A while back  I told you that I self-published my own cookbook and there would be more on it later.  Well, it’s later.

With that said, let me get the important stuff out-of-the-way.  First off, let me start by saying that I am not, nor have I ever, professed to be an Ivy League English major.  I am not a copyright editor in any sense of the word,  I am a self-taught photographer who probably values my work far more than any professional ever will,  I am a modest home baker, and I am a sticker. 

By sticker, I mean persistent, determined, and  who doesn’t  give up easily.  Perhaps that is the best quality to have if you ever decide (like I did) to write your own cookbook.

While writing and self-publishing your book may sound easy enough, I eventually concluded that I must have been bordering on the brink of insanity when I made that initial decision.

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My cookbook features a combination of my favorite sweets recipes, along with a full-page color photo for each recipe – 90 pages in all.

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Mission accomplished!  One more thing to cross off my bucket list…

Red Raspberry Custard Pie with Vanilla Crumb Crust

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Last weekend I bought a vintage cookbook titled Good Housekeeping’s Party Pie Book for .25 cents.  What a buy!  The book was copyrighted in 1958 and the condition of the book would imply that it was used frequently.  I always consider wear and tear  a sign of a good book.

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Just purchasing the book encouraged me to make a pie.   I  made an Old-Fashioned Blueberry Custard Pie last summer and I loved everything about it.   I decided since that was such a hit I’d make a red raspberry custard pie this time around.

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I picked a pie crust recipe out of the Good Housekeeping’s Party Pie Book and the custard recipe is from Food.com.

Vanilla Crumb Crust:

Makes one 9” crust

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

1 1/3 cups vanilla wafer crumbs

1/4 c. margarine or butter, softened

In small bowl, add vanilla wafer crumbs and margarine.  Mix with a fork until well blended.  Press into pie plate with a spoon, or by hand.

Bake for 8 minutes.  Cool prior to using.

Raspberry Custard Pie Filling:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

2 c. raspberries, fresh or frozen

1 c. sugar

1 tbsp. all-purpose flour

1 c. evaporated milk

3 large eggs, beaten

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1 pinch of nutmeg

1 pinch of cinnamon

Place berries in the bottom of  the crust; set aside.  In medium bowl, mix flour and sugar.  Gradually add milk; stir until smooth.  Whisk in eggs, vanilla, nutmeg and cinnamon.  Pour into pie crust covering berries.

Bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake for additional 35 minutes, or until knife comes out clean when inserted into the center of the pie.

I have made the custard filling once with evaporated milk, and once with skim milk, and I did notice a difference between the two.  I think the skim milk separated a bit more, where the evaporated did not.  I actually liked the flavor of the custard made with the skim  better than the evaporated milk.  The next time I make  a custard pie I will use a half of cup of each and see if it balances everything out.  One other  recommendation;  use a pie crust shield around the edge of the crust to prevent over browning. 

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I’m sold on custard with fruit pies.  They are so tasty and simple to make. 

I recently won a Cuisinart stick blender with a chopper attachment in a cool recipe contest hosted by  BeBetsy.com.  I used the chopper to grind up the vanilla wafers for this pie crust.  It was so powerful and really got the job done.  I guess that gives me an excuse to make more pies – doesn’t it?

Sharing this delicious pie over at Tidy Mom’s – I’m Lovin it Friday’s!  Check out all of the great entries posted there.

Cinnamon Rolls, or Kanelbulle

Did you know cinnamon buns (kanelbulle) originated in Sweden?  The Swedish even celebrate cinnamon roll day on October 4th.  Since I missed that celebration I’m proclaiming today, March 16th, cinnamon roll day in our house.

Hey, any excuse to make cinnamon rolls works for me.  How about you?

Honestly, I didn’t know this until I did a little research before writing this post.  I love knowing where foods originate from, or at least see who claims its origin first.

I’m thinking Sweden would be a  pretty good place to visit.   I love Swedish meatballs, cinnamon rolls, and Smörgåsbords.

I made these rolls as a project I’ve been (secretly) working on.  See below!

If you could visit another country, other than the one you live in, where would you want to go?  If you’re a traveler, where is your favorite travel destination?

The recipe for these cinnamon rolls is featured in my recently released cookbook;  In the sweet of it.  The e-book version is very affordable.  It offers 90 pages of my favorite recipes and full-page photos to drool over, all for the low price of $4.99!

 

Tuxedo Brownie Re-make

A considerable number of years ago I worked part-time as a Pampered Chef consultant.  I loved that job!  Talk about incentives – every month there was one, and let me tell you I loved them too.  If you could sell Pampered Chef, you could earn free products.  Let’s just put it this way, I earned so many free products I couldn’t carry all of them to my shows anymore.

Today I still have, and treasure, all of my Pampered Chef products.  And of course, I have favorites.  One of my most favorites is a cookbook I earned.  It’s called The Pampered Chef Celebrate!  Family, Friends & Great Food.  I always thought Pampered Chef’s concept where food preparation was concerned was to keep it easy, make it taste great.

When I found a brownie mix on sale at Target this weekend for .65 cents,  Tuxedo Brownies from this cookbook immediately came to mind. These are such cute little treats and have a great taste – you can’t go wrong.  Because I was out of white baking chocolate I had to alter the recipe slightly.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Spray mini-muffin pan with nonstick cooking spray.  Prepare brownie mix (19-21 oz)  according to package for cake-like brownies.  Fill each cup 2/3 full.  Bake for 14 minutes or until edges are set.  Do not overbake.

Remove pan from oven and set on cooling rack.  Press tops in (making a small well).  Cool for 15 minutes in pan and remove.

Microwave 2 (1 oz) squares of white baking chocolate  (I used 1 (1 oz square) of semi-sweet baking chocolate) and 2 tablespoons of milk (I used 1 tablespoon of milk)  for 1 minute.  Stir until smooth.  Cool slightly.  Mix 8 oz of softened cream cheese and 1/4 cup powdered sugar in separate bowl.  Gradually stir in melted chocolate mixture.  Fold in 1 cup of thawed whipped frozen topping.

Fill pastry bag, or Easy Accent Decorator (star tip) and pipe into center of brownies.  Garnish with mini – chocolate chips.

Refrigerate 1-3 hours before serving.  Yields 4 dozen

Warning –  Make sure you take a picture of them because they will go so fast that’s all you’ll have left to remember them by!

The baking buzz

 

You know how you feel when you’ve had too much caffeine?  That’s how I felt Saturday afternoon after I got a new cookbook.  As I flipped through the pages from one recipe to the next I became more and more inspired.  Suddenly, I had my second wind and was ready to bake.    It was either that, or mow the lawn.  What would you rather do?

Rye bread is one of the things I’ve been wanting to make for a while now. We bought caraway seeds and rye flour some time ago.  However, it seems like I haven’t had the energy, time, or the right recipe to make bread.  Typically, if I’m craving homemade bread I get out the old bread machine and let it do the work for me.   It hasn’t always been that way.  It’s something that I discovered started happening after I received the bread maker as a gift. 

Saturday was different though.  I knew it was all or nothing….  The dough went together quite quickly, the recipe was straight forward.  During the bread making process I also found the time to make chocolate chip cookie bars and watermelon ice (see my previous posts) and my time  was well spent.

The bread turned out wonderful.  We’ve eaten nearly a whole loaf, and froze the other for a day when I just don’t have the baking buzz.   

And here is the finished product!

Lemon Meringue Pie

Recipe

 

The day before Easter this year, I needed a little baking therapy.  Not to mention I needed an Easter dinner dessert.  So, to kill two birds with one stone I picked out something a little more challenging.  I’ve made a lot of pies, but never made a lemon meringue pie – probably because I wasn’t a very big fan of them.  But now, something has changed and I like lemon pie.   After searching for a recipe I settled on one from Better Homes & Gardens New Cook Book – Souvenir Edition.  Making the pie was a bit time-consuming but I liked the way everything seemed to come together.         

Instructions

 

I used a store-bought freezer crust.  Typically, I would make my own but I had one on hand and decided since I was attempting a new, and time-consuming recipe, I’d cheat a little.            

Baked Pie Crust

 

 I used a fresh lemon for zest and juice.       

Lemon Zest

 

Lemon Juice
Lemon Juice

 

Cooked Pie Filling

 

Peaked Meringue

 

The meringue was a lot easier to make than I had anticipated.  Turned out great – wouldn’t hesitate to make it again.         

And, here is the finished product… Not bad for a newbie!          It was a hit!        

The Finished Pie

In the middle of making a carrot cake

I have procrastinated all day long.  I had good intentions of baking a cake earlier in the day but it’s been a lazy day for me.  The weather is crummy, and frankly, my time this morning was spent watching Runaway Jury.  Good movie…  When I couldn’t make up my mind what kind of cake to make today I  asked my husband.  Would he prefer a yellow cake with a lemon filling, or a carrot cake with cream cheese frosting?  I knew what his answer would be.  Carrot of course!  I found a great recipe for carrot cake in a Williams Sonoma Baking cookbook that I bought for his birthday one year.   I’ve made this cake before and the first time it turned out great – nice and moist..   When the cake is finished I’ll post a picture or two and the recipe. 

I spent some time looking at some vintage recipe books today too.  That’s  a topic I definitely will have to spend more time on in a future post.