Chocolate Chip Cheesecake Ball

Christmas time is here!  I’m always looking for a fun dessert to share at gatherings.  Every time I bring my Chocolate Chip Cheesecake Ball, friends are asking for the recipe.  It’s easy and makes a great presetation on your plate.  Perfect for making early and serving when it’s time for dessert.  Enjoy!- Amanda

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Chocolate Chip Cheesecake Ball

8 oz package cream cheese, softened

1/2 cup butter, softened

1/2 t vanilla

3/4 cup powdered sugar

6 oz. mini semi-sweet chocolate chips

3/4 cup finely chopped and lightly toasted pecans

In a mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese, butter, and vanilla until fluffy. Gradually add sugar, beat just until combined. Stir in chocolate chips. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours. Remove and shape into a ball. Roll cheese ball in nuts.  Refrigerate for at least 1 hour.  Serve with chocolate graham crackers.  (Regular graham crackers work too!)

Toffee Apple Dip

It’s apple season.  I found this recipe a few years ago in Southern Living.  I tweaked the sugars to make this dip a little more visually pleasing.  This toffee apple dip is a perfect match with yummy Granny Smith apples or your favorite seasonal apples.  Make ahead for next get together.  Let the taste of fall take over! -Amanda

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Toffee Apple Dip

1 (8-oz.) package cream cheese, softened

1 (8-oz.) package toffee bits

3/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar

1/2 cup powdered sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Stir together all ingredients until well blended. Serve immediately, or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator up to 5 days.

Chewy Ginger Molasses Cookies

Is there anything that says Christmas more than ginger cookies? It’s that time of year that everyone wants a ginger cookie or two.  Several years ago I was determined to find that perfect, easy, and traditional recipe.  With several experiments in the kitchen, polling friends, and conducting my own taste tests, I found the recipe I give to you now.  You still have several weeks to enjoy this holiday classic.  Your family, friends, and coworkers will thank you!  -Amanda

photo-89Chewy Ginger Molasses Cookies

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

2 t baking soda

1/4 t salt

1 t ground cinnamon

1 t ground ginger

3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened

1 cup packed dark brown sugar

1 extra large egg

1 t vanilla

1/4 cup regular unsulphured molasses

1 cup granulated sugar

Preheat oven to 375 degrees with the rack in the center.  Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.  Set aside.  Sift flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and ginger into a medium bowl.  Set aside.

Cream the butter and brown sugar in a large mixing bowl with mixer on high speed until light and fluffy, about 1 minute.  With mixer on medium speed, beat in the egg, vanilla, and molasses, until the mixture no longer looks curdled.  Scrape the sides with a rubber spatula several times while mixing.  Mix in flour mixture on low speed.  The batter will be rather stiff.

Place some granulated sugar on a small plate.  Use a 1/4 cup measuring cup to form 1/4 cup portions of dough.  Or I have been using a cookie dough scoop to make a little smaller cookies.  Transfer the dough to your hands and roll each portion into a rough ball, then roll each ball into the sugar.  Place six (large) or nine (small) sugared balls on each baking sheet, spacing evenly, because they will spread during baking.  Dampen your fingers with water and press down lightly on each cookie to flatten it a little and dampen the top.  Refrigerate one filled baking sheet while the other bakes.

Bake for 9- 10 minutes, or until the cookies have spread and are slightly firm to the touch.  Rotate the sheet 180 degrees halfway through the baking time.  Remove from the oven and let the cookies cool on the baking sheet.

Makes 20-22 large (1/4 cup) cookies or 37-30 (dough scoop measurement) cookies

“Say What” Brownies

Honestly! The name says it all!  In a quest to create homemade brownies for some new friends, I stumbled upon a brownie that makes you question everything.  You will be grabbing a chilled glass of milk or a freshly brewed decaf to complete this delectable treat.  To treat my friends, we topped with Vanilla Blue Bell Ice Cream.  Enough is never enough! -Amanda

“SAY WHAT” Brownies

“Say What” Brownies

4 ounces unsweetened Ghirardelli chocolate; coarsely chopped
3/4 cup butter
1 ½ cups white sugar
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1 t vanilla extract
¼ t kosher salt
1 c flour
12 mini Snickers candy bars; cut into fourths

Microwave chocolate and butter in large bowl at medium power for 3-4 minutes or until butter is melted. Then whisk until chocolate is melted. Stir in sugar. Add in eggs, vanilla extract, and salt. Gradually add in flour and stir until just combined. Line an 8×8 inch baking pan with foil and spray with nonstick cooking spray.
Spread ½ the batter into prepared pan. Add an even layer of Snickers and cover with remaining ½ of brownie batter. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes; do not over bake.
Remove to cooling rack.  Cool completely before cutting. Makes about 16 small brownies.

Patriotic Shortcakes

So, I have been busy!  I know it has been a few weeks since I have added any recipes.  At the beginning of the month, we had a great visit with my parents.  I was able sing and dance around the kitchen for fun family meals.  Although my broadway moves are polished and poised, I did receive a few raised eyebrows from my father.  Nevertheless, I wanted to make a special treat on July 4th.  Chris loves REAL strawberry shortcake (not that spongy junk) so I decided to kick it up Uncle Sam style.  Fireworks!  Plus there were leftover shortcakes for a repeat the following evening.  It is easy to say that I believe it has become a family favorite.  Enjoy!- Amanda

Patriotic Shortcakes

1 (16-oz.) container fresh strawberries, rinsed & quartered

1 pint container fresh blueberries, rinsed

3/4 cup sugar, divided

1/4 t almond extract

1 cup whipping cream

2 T sugar

2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

4 t baking powder

3/4 cup cold butter, cut up

2 large eggs, lightly beaten

1 (8-oz.) container sour cream

1 t vanilla extract

Combine strawberries and blueberries, 1/2 cup sugar, and almond extract. Cover berry mixture, and let stand 2 hours.   Beat whipping cream at medium speed with an electric mixer until foamy; gradually add 2 T sugar, beating until soft peaks form. Cover and chill up to 2 hours.


Combine flour, remaining 1/4 cup sugar, and baking powder in a large bowl; cut butter into flour mixture with a pastry blender until crumbly.  Whisk together eggs, sour cream, and vanilla until blended; add to flour mixture, stirring just until dry ingredients are moistened. Drop dough by lightly greased 1/3 cupfuls onto a lightly greased baking sheet.  Bake at 450° for 12 to 15 minutes or until golden. 

Split shortcakes in half horizontally. Spoon about 1/2 cup berry mixture onto each shortcake bottom; top each with a rounded spoonful of chilled whipped cream, and cover with tops. Serve with remaining whipped cream.  Using 1/3 cupfuls you will make around 12 shortcakes

Nana’s Banana Pudding

This week my mom came to visit.  Our first visitor to our new home and state.  One evening for dessert, she whipped up her banana pudding.  A couple things to understand: (1) My mother’s daughter (me) does not like bananas in her banana pudding.  (2) Since I was young, my mother made banana pudding just a little differently compared to others just to please her daughter.  Yes, you will notice that she uses vanilla pudding instead of banana pudding.  And you will notice that two separate containers are prepared.  One container with bananas and one delightful dish containing NO bananas.  Simple and Easy!  Yes, it might be weird but I’m the girl who loves banana pudding without bananas… and no, it’s not just vanilla pudding with vanilla wafers to me! -AF

Nana’s Banana Pudding

1 cup cold milk

2 cups half and half

1 can Eagle brand milk

1 large pkg. (5.1 oz) JELL-O Vanilla Flavor Instant Pudding & Pie Filling

1 (8 ounce) container Cool Whip Whipped Topping , thawed

30 vanilla wafer cookies

3 bananas, sliced

Pour milk into large bowl. Add pudding mix. Beat with wire whisk 2 minutes. Let stand 3 minutes. Gently stir in whipped topping.

Line the bottom and sides of your serving bowl(s) with vanilla wafters.  Choices are to be made here.  Do you want a big container or individual containers?  My mom makes two larger containers.  (one with bananas, one without bananas) Now, top wafers with bananas.  Then top with of the pudding mixture. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Prior to serving sprinkle banana pudding with crush vanilla wafers.

And For Dessert: Oreo Truffles

Final Course: And for dessert… I was inspired that Oreo Cookies and Chris shared the same birthday week.  It was easy to settle on these mini treats.  I made the Oreo Truffles early in the day and honestly it did not take long.  Oreo Truffles were a perfect way to end the birthday dinner.  Added bonus- we enjoyed truffles for several days.  I enjoyed my day in the kitchen preparing a birthday dinner for the man I would marry again.  Love you, Chris! -AF

Oreo Truffles

1 package of Oreos

1 package of cream cheese, softened

white and milk chocolate almond bark

Put all Oreos in a ziplock bag and crush into small pieces, almost powder.  Place Oreos and cream cheese in mixer.  Blend until the mixture is consistent throughout.  Roll the mixture into small balls.  Place Oreo balls on a plate covered with wax paper.  Put the Oreo balls in the freezer.

After at least two hours, the Oreo balls are ready to dip in chocolate.

Melt four or five squares of almond bark (your choice of white or milk chocolate) in a microwave safe container and stir with a fork, making sure all of the chocolate is melted.  Begin by taking out a few Oreo balls out at a time.  Dip the balls in the chocolate, making sure the surface is covered.  (I used a cake tester to dip the Oreo balls- work fast!)

Melt the opposite colored almond bark in the microwave.  Using a fork to drizzle the melted chocolate over the drying truffles that were dipped in first chocolate. 

Get creative.  Divide the Oreo balls in half.  Dip one half in milk chocolate and the other half in white chocolate.

I feel that the white chocolate Oreo Balls allow you to taste the true Oreo flavor.

Great "Pick-me-up" treat for teachers or friends!

 

Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars

Oh my goodness!  It’s clear that my house loves peanut butter and chocolate.  The combination of these two heavenly ingredients turn this dessert into a rich, decadent treat.  I will admit it was hard not to devour the complete pan while the boys were out.  Sorry! No one needs that visual!  Seriously, enjoy your delicious square of goodness and then do 100 push-ups (on your toes) or just say you did.  -AF

Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars

1 (18.25) package plain yellow cake mix

1/2 cup butter, melted

1 cup creamy peanut butter

2 eggs

1 (12 oz) package semi-sweet chocolate chips

1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk

2 T butter, melted

2 t vanilla

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Combine cake mix, butter, peanut butter, and eggs in a large bowl using a mixer or spoon. Press this into a 9X13 pan reserving 1 1/2 cup of the mixture to crumble on top.  In a small pan, melt chocolate chips, sweetened condensed milk, and butter. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla.  Spread chocolate mixture over the mixture pressed in the pan and then crumble the 1 1/2 cups of reserved cake mixture on top evenly.   Bake for 20-25 minutes. Cool completely before cutting into bars.

Look at that pan of goodness

Football Rice Krispie Treats

Preparing for our Super Bowl party, my little chef and I whipped up a tasty treat.  We took the classic rice krispie treat recipe and added chocolate. They were so tempting, we sampled early.  Worth it!  Getting Ready for Some Football!  -AF

Touchdown!

Football Rice Krispie Treats

3 T butter

1 pkg. (10 oz., about 40) regular marshmallows

6 cups rice krispies

4 pieces chocolate almond bark

1 piece vanilla almond bark

In large saucepan melt butter over low heat. Add marshmallows and stir until completely melted. Remove from heat.   Add rice krispies. Stir until well coated.

Using a buttered spatula, press mixture into 13 x 9 x 2-inch pan coated with butter. Cool. Cut into footballs.  Makes about 15 (depending on the side).

Melt chocolate bark using directions on package.  With a knife, coat rice krispie footballs with chocolate.  Melt vanilla bark.  Create football laces using an icing decorating bag.

Think of all the cute holiday shapes you can design- hearts, shamrocks, & eggs… the list goes on.

Could Not Resist