Monday, December 30, 2013

Raspberry Cheesecake Bars


There are not a lot of pictures of these beautiful cheesecake bars.  Not because they aren't beautiful but I was probably crying a little too much to take great pictures.  It turns out that crying makes things look blury and apparently blury pictures aren't super cool.  No, nothing is wrong.  These are happy tears...honest, they are.  No really....I'm not just saying it so that it will become true.

My oldest son is a senior in high school and it is college application time.  Actually, he has already applied early for a few colleges and the rest are going through now.  Six applications in all and only one in California....the rest are on the other side of the country.  Do you know how far away that is??  I don't either but it looks like it's pretty far.

I was super excited when we started this process and super proud that he wanted to apply to all of these awesome schools.  I kept encouraging him and telling him how proud I am of him.  Well.....now those colleges are starting to send letters.  He has already been accepted to two of them.  The first was Drexel University....um yep....the one in Pennsylvania (don't worry, I had to Google it too).....we live in California....that's kind of a long commute.  So anyways.....for all of you parents out there....don't be fooled by those darn college applications.  Yes, they seem all cool and fun and exciting...new adventures, growing up, becoming an independent adult, blah, blah, blah!  But really, they are a devious plan to move your kids halfway across the country and far away from you.

To help cheer myself up, I made these delish Raspberry Cheesecake Bars.  They are very pretty and would be the perfect dessert for a New Years Eve party, they are also super good for drowning your parental sorrows! (Eat two and follow with a glass of red wine)

Use any fruit filling or jam that you like....I am partial to raspberry!


p.s. I really am happy for my son.  He is ready to start off on a new adventure and I couldn't be more proud. Also, teenagers are known to have the occasional attitude that makes you think "huh, halfway across the country might not be so bad".


My Turn for us    
Daily Dish Magazine



Raspberry Cheesecake Bars adapted from Kraft Recipes

1 cup  graham crack crumbs
3 Tbsp.  sugar
3 Tbsp.  butter, melted
5 pkg.  (8 oz. each) Cream Cheese, softened
1 cup  sugar
3 Tbsp.  flour
1 Tbsp.  vanilla
1 cup  Sour Cream
4  eggs
1/3 cup  raspberry jam (can use any jam, fruit filling, lemon curd, etc.)

Preheat oven to 325°F.

Line a 13x9-inch pan with foil, with ends of foil extending over sides. Mix graham crumbs, 3 Tbsp. sugar and butter; press onto bottom of pan. Bake 10 min.

In an electric mixer beat cream cheese, 1 cup sugar, flour and vanilla with mixer until well blended. Add sour cream; mix well. Add eggs, 1 at a time, mixing on low speed after each just until blended. Pour over crust. Gently drop small spoonfuls of jam over batter; swirl with knife. (I like to pipe the jam onto the batter in parallel lines and then cut through with knife....play around with it to create different patterns)

Bake 40 min. or until center is almost set. Cool completely. Refrigerate 4 hours. Use foil handles to lift cheesecake from pan before cutting to serve.

Store in refrigerator.

Recipe Shared On:
21st Century Housewife - Hearth and Soul Hop
My Turn For Us - Freedom Fridays
Keep Calm and Cook On - January
Strut Your Stuff Saturday Link Party
What'd You Do This Weekend
Treasure Box Tuesday
Foodie Friends Friday

Sunday, December 29, 2013

French Vanilla Ice Cream


Every year for Christmas Eve we have a Mexican feast and ice cream sundaes for dessert.  This year the boys and I decided to make the ice cream ourselves. (ok, I decided and then encouraged/forced them to make it with me)


We have our own ice cream maker but we haven't used it in years....still works great!  We decided to make French vanilla, if you are gonna make vanilla....you might as well go all the way and make the richest vanilla ice cream there is.  French vanilla has egg yolks and a custard like base rather than just cream and milk.  This of course makes it richer and better tasting (yes...and full of fat...but totally worth it).  


This was the perfect recipe to use up some of my fresh vanilla beans from Costco.  Popped that puppy right into my half and half mixture!


Use any ice cream maker you have on hand.  If you don't have one....well, that is just super sad.  You really need to get one, it is tons of  fun for the family!  (unless you have teenagers....they disappear after it goes in the maker and tell you to let them know when it's done).  :)


Here they are...proof that the boys do exist.  Max is working on the ice cream base while Zack is making chocolate chip cookies.  They disappeared soon after this picture was taken.  I'm not sure what they do in their rooms for all of those hours but I'm pretty sure it has something to do with Xbox or Playstation. 



French Vanilla Ice Cream adapted from The Pioneer Woman

1 whole Vanilla Bean, Split And Scraped
1 1/2 cups Half-and-half
1 1/2 cups Milk
2 cups Sugar
8 Large Egg Yolks
3 cups Heavy Cream

Instructions:

Heat half-and-half, milk, and 2 cups sugar in a saucepan over low heat, adding vanilla seeds and the bean to the mixture. Turn off heat when mixture is totally heated.  (Make sure to discard the bean before moving to the next step.)

Beat egg yolks by hand until pale yellow and slightly thick. Temper the egg yolks by slowly drizzling into the 1 1/2 cups of hot half-and-half mixture, whisking constantly. After that, pour the egg yolk/half-and-half mixture into the pan containing the rest of the half-and-half mixture. Cook over medium-low heat until mixture thickens. Drain custard using a fine mesh strainer, then pour into a bowl with the heavy cream. Stir to combine.

Chill mixture completely, then freeze in an ice cream maker following the maker's instructions. Place container in freezer to harden for at least four hours.

Enjoy!

Recipe Shared on:
My Turn For Us - Freedom Fridays
Hearth and Soul Blog Hop


Saturday, December 28, 2013

Cinnamon Twist Wreath

I know!  It's been a long time since I've written on the blog.  For those of you who don't know....I am back in school.  Last spring I was accepted to a two year Interpreter Preparation Program for American Sign Language.  They accept up to 10 students each year and we learn together in a co-hort for the next two years.  I knew the days would be long and that it would be difficult work but I had NO idea that it would be this much work.  There was no time for baking, not even for clients.  Luckily I am on winter break and I have time to catch up on my baking (and sleeping, housework, excercise, etc)! 


This yummy treat was my first venture back into the kitchen.  The boys were begging for cinnamon rolls and I wanted to do something a little different.  So I took a cinnamon roll recipe and rolled it up but instead of cutting it into individual rolls, I cut it lengthwise and twisted it up to make this beautiful wreath.  The recipe is actually makes two wreaths.


This is no more difficult than making any other yeast dough.  You can use my recipe or use your 
own if you have one that you absolutely love.


I filled mine with cinnamon sugar but you could add nuts, dried fruit or anything else that you could add to the filling of a cinnamon roll.  I was tempted to try chocolate chips but was worried it might be a little too messy.


As you can see above, you roll it up just like you do with cinnamon rolls.


Next just cut it lengthwise down the center and fold the two halves open next to each other.  Procede to braid the two halves and then  pinch the ends together and form a wreath.


Let it rise again for another 30 to 60 minutes and then bake!


Honestly, this would be delish with or without the glaze, but my boys wouldn't dream of eating a cinnamon roll without the glaze.  I myself would have prefered a cream cheese glaze but once again....
I am not the boss in the house when it comes to baked goods!



Slice it into wedges to serve.  We had ours on Christmas morning 
(I only got a small slice before the boys gobbled it all up)!



CINNAMON TWIST WREATH Adapted from Salad In a Jar
¾ cup milk (warmed for 1 minute in microwave)
1 package yeast (or 2 1/4 teastpoons)
3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup butter (melted)
2 eggs (lightly beaten)
3 (1/4) cups all-purpose unbleached flour

Filling:
3 tablespoons butter, softened
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon

Icing:
2 cups sifted powdered sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla
2 + tablespoons milk 

Instructions:
Disolve yeast in milk in the bowl of an electric mixer.  Let stand for 5 to 10 minutes until it starts to bloom.  Using a dough hook begin to add your ingredients with the mixer on low. Slowly add the flour until completely combined.  Add flour 1 tablespoon at a time if too wet or water 1 teaspoon at a time if too dry.  Turn the mixer up to medium and mix until the dough is smooth, about 5 more minutes.  Place dough into a large buttered bowl and cover (I cover mine with a dish towel) and place in a warm space to rise until doubled, about 1 hour.  When dough has risen to double, remove from bowl and divide in half. Cover each portion with plastic wrap and let rest 10 minutes.

Roll first half into a 9 x 14 inch rectangle. Spread with half the butter. Sprinkle with half of filling mixture and press it gently into the dough. Starting at long side, roll up jellyroll style, making sure to keep the roll tight.  Pinch seam to seal.

Slice roll in half lengthwise. Place halves side by side, with cut surfaces facing up. Moisten one end of each portion with wet fingers. Push the ends together to join the two pieces of dough. Twist pieces together; shape into a ring and fit into a greased 8 or 9-inch pan. Moisten ends and press to seal.

Repeat process with other half of dough and filling. Cover and let rise in warm place until almost doubled in size, another 30 to 60 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Bake for about 20 minutes, or until golden brown. Let stand 3 minutes and transfer to serving platter with spatula.

Mix icing and drizzle over both of the wreaths.  Slice into wedges and serve!

Recipe shared on:
My Turn For Us - Freedom Fridays