Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Lemon Blueberry Cheesecake Cookies

Summer has officially made itself known.

It's a hundred billion degrees outside. There is nothing like walking outside and having the humidity getting all up in my business.

I love the hot weather, don't get me wrong, but not the sticky, muggy, swimming in lava with dragons breathing fire down my neck while the sun is shooting mega solar flares right in my face kind of weather.

Yeah, it's freakin hot. 

Thankfully, there are many ways to cool down when one doesn't have the amenities at one's fingertips. Can I just tell you how thankful I am for central air and a finished basement? 

Cool as a cucumber.

Speaking of cucumbers, I love lemons this time of year. (What? When you think of cucumbers, you don't think of lemons?) I will literally suck the life out of them and not feel the least bit guilty doing so. They are such refreshing little buggers.  

But pair them with blueberries? Brilliant. 

These cookies are immense and perfect with a cup of tea or a cold glass of milk, although I'll forgo the cup of tea today. Ya know, with the heat and all. I don't need my insides burning as well.

But not the cookies. 

I will never forgo on the cookies.

Recipe adapted and slightly modified from Hot Polka Dot

1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
4 tablespoons lemon zest
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 eggs
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
3 cups flour
1 cup fresh blueberries - frozen for about an hour
1 package cream cheese, cut into 1 inch cubes

Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Line cookie sheets sheets with silicone mats or parchment paper; set aside. 

In a large bowl using a mixer, cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Blend in the lemon zest, juice, and eggs, scraping down the bowl as you go. 

 In a separate bowl, sift flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt together and slowly add into wet ingredients. Gently fold in the blueberries. I used my hands to incorporate them so they didn't burst and make the cookies blue. Refrigerate the dough for about 20 minutes. 

Roll a generous tablespoon of dough into a ball and flatten slightly. According to Hot Polka's post, she placed a cube of cream cheese in the center of the cookie and covered the cookie around it, but I pushed several cubes around the cookie. I love the way cream cheese bakes and tastes when exposed. 

Bake for 10-14 minutes until the edges brown slightly. This time is about right. One batch took 11 minutes, another took 14. Go figure.

Transfer to a wire rack and allow to cool completely. Hot fruit on lips is not a nice feeling.

Yields: About 3 dozen cookies.

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Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Patriotic Cheesecake Dip - Happy Birthday USA!

Happy Birthday America!

Although I moved to Canada 10 years ago, the USA will always have a very special place in my heart. Always.

Here's to another 236 years of being a great nation. I made you some dip. 

Please, don't all applause at once.


1½ cups fresh cherries, pitted
½ cup fresh blueberries
1 block (8 ounces) cream cheese, at room temperature
½ cup sugar
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 cup Cool Whip
5 tablespoons cherry, strawberry or raspberry jam
1 teaspoon water 

Place cherries in one bowl and blueberries in another. Using a microwavable safe dish, warm jam and water in microwave for 30 seconds. Stir. Spoon a generous tablespoon of jam over blueberries and the rest over the cherries. Set aside.

In a mixing bowl, using a hand mixer, beat cream cheese, sugar, and lemon juice together. Add in Cool Whip and mix just until incorporated. 

Drop onto a square dish, approximately 12x12. Using an offset spatula, spread cream cheese mixture all over plate. You can also use an 8x8 square baking dish for this dip.

Begin layering fruit to resemble Old Glory. Don't worry if the juices ooze onto the 'white stripes'. It's delicious hazards of the job. 

Refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Serve with graham cracker sticks. 

HAPPY 4th of JULY!

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Thursday, June 28, 2012

Irish Cream Chocolate Chip Cookies

A riddle.

What do you get when you cross a bottle of Irish cream liqueur in the pantry, the last day of school, and hankering for a chocolate chip cookie? 

I don't know for sure, but it could very quickly become happy hour in the teachers lounge courtesy of one very delicious cookie.

I think being a teacher is a tough job, but I can imagine, it's a very rewarding one. I don't think they always get the credit they deserve either. Sure, there are some rubbish teachers out there (yeah, I'm talking to you, Mrs. Matthews, my 9th grade Biology teacher with skirts up to there, ALWAYS flirting with the other male teachers and cute boys in class. It was so gross and I learned absolutely nothing that whole year, thankyouverymuch), but for the most part, these scholars inspire our children. You really do have to be a certain kind of person to do that everyday. I know how far my daughter has come since her first day of school, so I have all the respect and admiration in the world for them. 

I'm especially not a fan of those that criticize teacher wages. If I had a dollar for every time I heard, "Well, they make enough money" or "That's why they earn the big bucks", I'd have a lot of money in my possession.

Like $543.28.

Hey, I didn't say I was good at the math, I just said I'd have a lot. This is no reflection on you, Mr. Benson, my awesome 5th Grade Math teacher. I may not be smarter than a 5th Grader anymore, but I can bake better than one, so it evens itself out. 

All I'm trying to say is that teachers earn and deserve their paychecks. Sit down with one and ask them all that they do. You may be surprised.

Show them your love and support. You'll get back so much more than what you give.

Even if it has to be explained by using a Venn Diagram, word problems, or by opening your Calculus book and turning to page 146. 


2¼ cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature 
1¼ cup packed brown sugar 
1 egg
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract 
¾ cup Irish cream Liqueur 
1 teaspoon Irish whiskey, optional
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips 
1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts OR ½ cup of both

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Prepare cookie sheets by lining with silicone mats or parchment paper.

In a large mixing bowl, sift flour, baking soda, and salt together. Set aside.

Using a mixer, cream butter and sugar together until fluffy. Add egg, vanilla, and Irish cream, and whiskey, if using. Mix in dry ingredients and blend until creamy. STIR in chocolate chips and nuts.

Drop by tablespoons onto cookie sheet or by using an ice scream scoop with a retractable mechanism.

Bake for 10-14 minutes. Please know that times will greatly depend on the size of ice scream scoop you use. I used a large scoop, so my cookies took approximately 13 minutes in the oven. You can probably tell from the lettering on the silicone mats how big my scoops actually are. 

Remove from oven and transfer onto a wire rack. Allow to cool completely.

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Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Chocolate Cheesecake Pops

That's right. Chocolate Cheesecake Pops. There are no words.

Wanna know the best part? With my version, you can even eat the stick. Hazardous to the hips, but environment friendly to the landfill. 

All the more you should eat them. 

Waste over waist.


3 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, at room temperature
½ cup sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla bean paste (extract works fine as well)
2 eggs
1 egg yolk
¼ cup whole milk
1 teaspoon lemon zest

24 Pocky Sticks OR 24 lollipop sticks. Pocky Sticks come in a box of 24, but you'll want extra in case of breakage....and this will happen.

16 ounces semi-sweet baking chocolate squares
1 cup graham cracker crumbs

* These can be made gluten-free! Omit graham cracker crumbs and use crushed crispy rice cereal.

Preheat oven at 350ºF.

Using a mixer, beat cream cheese, sugar, vanilla bean paste, and flour together until creamy. Add eggs, lemon zest, and milk and mix until combined.

Pour into a 10 inch pan with a removable base or a springform pan. Place pan on a cookie sheet and pour hot water into the sheet. This will help to keep the top from cracking.


Bake for 40 minutes. remove from oven and allow cheesecake to cool to room temperature. Place in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours. Overnight is best. 

Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Using an ice cream scoop with a retractable mechanism, scoop out balls. You may need to roll them to by hand for a more uniform ball. Don't worry if they look a bit wonky, they will be coated with chocolate. Place on prepared cookie sheet.

I used Pocky sticks in place of lollipop sticks for an extra treat. These are sold in most grocery or convenient stores, so you shouldn't have a problem finding them. If you do use these, it's VERY important that you use extra caution as they will break very easily if you're a bit heavy handed. I placed mine in the refrigerator to keep the chocolate from melting and some added support. 

Place one stick in the center of the cheesecake balls and freeze for several hours, overnight for best results. 


Melt chocolate using a double broiler method. Carefully dip balls into melted chocolate. The chocolate will freeze quite quickly, so you need to work a bit fast so the graham cracker crumbs will adhere to the chocolate.

Dip pops into graham cracker crumbs and place on lined cookie sheet.

Keep refrigerated for best results. 

Yields: 24 Cheesecake Pops.

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Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Caramel Crunch Bars

It is an absolute scorcher outside today. Like, fry-an-egg-on-the-pavement kind of day. It's also the kind of day that is perfect to sit on a dock, under a big oak tree and dip my toes into the bustling river, speaking to me in a way only I can understand.

Well, that is if I had a dock. Or a big oak tree. Or lived by a river. I'm quite fluent in river language, so that part is actually a shame.

Instead, I'm improvising by sitting on the deck, under my purple lilac bush, with my feet being soaked by our Walter the Whale sprinkler. In tow is a cold glass of iced tea and these lush Caramel Crunch Bars. 

Funny enough, these bars have been deemed a 'homemade version' of the ever popular KitKat Bars, but as a *a-hem* professional KitKat connoisseur, I don't think they taste anything like them. In fact, I think they favor more so on the side of a Twix bar, which is equally amazing. Either way, these bars have the satisfying factors of both, but in their own delicious way. The best part about these bars is that no oven is required. 

I'm going to go and enjoy a nice conversation with my buddy Walter while noshing on these, but I implore you make these. 

You'll be happy you did. 

Your thighs may not, but you definitely will. 


Recipe adapted from Paula Deen's Best Desserts Magazine

Club Crackers or Toppables Crackers (in Canada), about 2 sleeves
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
½ cup milk
⅓ cup sugar
⅔ cup creamy peanut butter
½ cup butterscotch chips
½ cup chocolate chips
Sprinkles, if desired

Line a 9 x 13 inch baking dish with foil, leaving some hanging over the sides. This will help with removal upon cutting. 

Line the foil with one layer of club crackers. Don't worry if they don't line up or are are a imperfect. Any flaws will be covered.

In a large saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add graham cracker crumbs, brown sugar, milk, and sugar. Bring mixture to a bubbling boil and allow to bubble for 5 minutes, stirring constantly. 

Remove from heat and spread half of the butter mixture evenly over crackers, using an offset spatula to help smooth over. Place another single layer of crackers evenly over the butter mixture. Spread remaining butter mixture evenly over crackers, again, using an offset spatula to coat evenly. Add a third layer of crackers over top. 

In a small saucepan, combine peanut butter, chocolate chips, and butterscotch chips and melt over medium-low heat, stirring constantly until smooth and creamy. You can also use the microwave to melt the chocolate, just be sure to use a microwaveable-safe dish and stir after 30 second intervals. 

Spread chocolate evenly over top of crackers, using an offset spatula to smooth over. Add sprinkles at this time, if desired. 

Cover and chill for at least 4 hours. Remove from fridge and allow chocolate to rest for a minute or so before cutting. This will help avoid breaks in chocolate as it's being cut. I used a pizza cutter to create uniform lines. 

Store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. 

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Sunday, June 17, 2012

Happy Father's Day!

To all the superhero Dads. Today is all about you. Enjoy and be blessed, because you truly are.

I wish you the best Father's Day ever.  

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Saturday, June 16, 2012

Inside Out Carrot Cake Muffins

Thank God it's Saturday. Oh, and thankful I am.

Yesterday, I did not once proclaim, 'Thank God it's Friday!' If I did, it would have implied that I was happy it was Friday and could deal with the day's worth of issues because tomorrow was Saturday.

Yeah, not so much. Not this time.

I had the *craziest* week. I can't remember the last time I felt so many emotions in one go. It was ridiculous. I won't bore you will all the details of my going-ons, but trust me when I say that if I had a button to stop the world just so I could get off, I would have pushed in on Tuesday at 7am. It's like the saying goes, 'When it rains, it pours'. Someone for sure got that right. It's also like the....sorry, I'm going to stop. Now. I'm starting to sound like those frustrating friends that put vague statuses on their Facebook page.

Yeah, and can we just talk about that for one quick second? Seriously, what is that? We all have at least ONE friend on our list that does this, so I know you know what I'm talking about.

"Jane Bag of Doughnuts is weighing out the options..." or "Jane Bag of Doughnuts is hoping for the best...." or "Jane Bag of Doughnuts thinks it's a good thing this has happened..." 

And that's ALL they give you.  

Really? REALLY? You're gonna make me go there? You're going to make me ask, "What options, Jane?" "What's going on?" "Are you alright Jane?" Even when I feel like indulging them and ask, I still don't get an answer much of the time! Why Jane? I deserve at least that much. Of course I care about you and truly hope you're okay, but don't make it like pulling teeth. It's frustrating as all get out.

However, I don't need a Facebook status to say these muffins are incredible, but they are. Oh, they are. The weekend already looks brighter.

"I think it's a great idea..." 

"...to make these muffins! Now."

Don't worry, I'd never leave you hanging. 

Unless you're hanging off the side of a skyscraper. Then it's all you baby.

Recipe adapted and slightly modified from King Arthur Flour 

1 (8 ounce) package of cream cheese, at room temperature
¼ cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract 

2¼ cups all purpose flour
½ cup granulated sugar
½ cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
1½ teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon
½ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice or nutmeg
¾ teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
¼ cup buttermilk
½ cup water
⅓ cup butter, at room temperature
1 cup grated carrots
Preheat oven to 375ºF. Line a 12 cup muffin tin with paper liners.  

In a large bowl, using a hand mixer, beat cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla; Set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk the dry ingredients together. In another bowl, beat the eggs, butter, buttermilk, water, and vanilla together. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients.

Fold in the grated carrots.  

Drop about 2 tablespoons of batter into each muffin cup, making sure to completely cover the bottoms. 

Drop about a tablespoon of filling into each cup on top of batter. I piped the filling into the centers of the muffins as it was less of a mess and I knew that the filling would be right in the middle.

Cover with enough batter to fill the muffin cups. You can sprinkle with sanding sugar if you like. We added pink sanding sugar to half of the muffins because, well, why not?

Bake for 20 minutes or until you can insert a toothpick into the muffin (not the filling) and it comes out clean

Yields: 12 muffins.

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