Sunday, February 27, 2011

Black-Bottom Raspberry Cheesecakes

I'm posting this recipe without having actually tasted the results yet! Yikes, maybe I'll have to re-post after I've served them this evening. :)

(Note: I've tasted them now. They were yummy!)

Black-Bottom Raspberry Cheesecakes

1 cup of finely crushed Oreos or chocolate wafer cookies
3 tablespoons butter, melted
8 ounces of cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup sugar
6 ounces Greek yogurt
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/4 cup Solo brand raspberry cake and pastry filling

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line regular muffin tin with 12 foil baking cups. Spray the cups with cooking spray.

If you haven't already crushed your Oreos, do so now. You can use a food processor or just smash them in a ziploc bag with a rolling pin like I do.

Drop the cookie crumbs into a small bowl. Add the melted butter and stir until butter is completely incorporated into the cookie crumbs. Spoon crumb mixture into muffin cups evenly. Use bottom of a glass to press them down.

Bake for 5 minutes at 350. You can leave the oven on after you pull them out.

In a medium bowl, beat the cream cheese and the sugar until smooth. Beat in the Greek yogurt. Then add the eggs and vanilla and beat again.

Pour or scoop the batter into the baking cups. They should be about 3/4 full.

Bake the cheescakes for 15 minutes at 350. They should be soft in the center still. Warm the raspberry filling in the microwave for 20 seconds. Then spoon no more than a teaspoon on the top of each cheesecake.

Transfer muffin tin to freezer and chill for at least 15 minutes. Remove tin from freezer and peel foil baking cups off cheesecakes. Place cheesecakes on a platter to serve. The cheesecakes can be refrigerated for up to 4 days.

Yields: 12 cheesecakes

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Writing News!

Hello all! I've had an article published by a Catholic kids online magazine called My Light. You can click here to read my article on Saint Cecilia. I didn't get paid for this one, but it's still a publication credit to my name!

I wrote this article for a writing class last summer. It was accepted awhile ago, but then the magazine seemed to falter for a bit. It's back on track now, and my article is in their January/February issue--complete with a lovely illustration by Candace J Hardy!

And for those of you who have been following along--yes, I'm still waiting for my short story in
Pockets magazine. That will be a good, old-fashioned hard-copy magazine. Only one more month until my story comes out in their April issue! :)

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Banana Pudding Dessert

I had some leftover vanilla wafers from the rum balls recipe, so I decided to make some banana pudding. I combined a few different recipes to come up with this very rich and creamy version.

Note: This recipe is basically egg free, but if you are really trying to avoid eggs because of allergies, be sure your vanilla wafers are egg-free. I've found some with eggs and some without.

Banana Pudding Dessert

70 vanilla wafers, crushed
1 stick of butter
4 bananas
1 package (8 oz.) cream cheese, softened
1 can (14 oz.) sweetened condensed milk
1 package (5.1 oz) vanilla instant pudding
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 cups cold milk
1 tub of Cool Whip, thawed
a few extra vanilla wafers for garnish (optional)

Be sure to thaw the Cool Whip in the refrigerator and soften the cream cheese before starting.

Preheat oven to 350.

Crush the vanilla wafers. (I just use a Ziploc bag and a rolling pin.) Put them in a 13 x 9 inch pan. Melt the stick of butter and mix it into the crushed cookies. Press into bottom of pan. Bake for 10-12 minutes.

Beat the softened cream cheese until fluffy. Add the sweetened condensed milk, pudding mix, vanilla, and cold milk. Beat for 2-3 minutes until creamy. Fold in half of the Cool Whip.

Slice the four bananas on top of the baked cookie crust. Smooth pudding mixture on top of bananas. Finally, top with remaining Cool Whip. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

If desired, garnish with extra cookie when ready to serve. (I wish I had taken a picture of this because the slices looked really cute with the little vanilla wafer sticking up on top.)

Serves about 20 people.

Monday, February 14, 2011

A Blogging Award!

Thanks to Ginny Marie over at Lemon Drop Pie for sending me this beautiful blogging award. :)

Upon receiving this award, I am supposed to write seven things about myself that you may not know. Since the foodie blog roll requires that I keep this blog about food, I will try to tie in my seven things to baking.

1) In the first grade, two friends and I lip synced the song "If I Knew You Were Coming, I'd Have Baked a Cake" for our school talent show. We had an Easy Bake Oven (sadly, not mine) on stage with us, and at the end of the number we
magically pulled a finished cake from the oven. I'm sure the junior high kids must have been rolling their eyes at us.

2) The first thing I remember baking on my own was a batch of corn muffins. Not the Jiffy kind, although I've made those, too. These I made from scratch! I was probably in junior high then, and I was very proud of myself. For a while there, all my mom had to say was, "How about some corn muffins with dinner tonight" and I'd grab the cornmeal!

3) Years later, I saw the musical
Of Thee I Sing with some high school friends, and when the lead character started singing the song "Corn Muffins" I cracked up because all I could think about were all those corn muffins I made back in junior high. Luckily, the play is a comedy, so my laughing fit in.

4) I was inspired to decorate cakes because of my Aunt Dorothy. She made ALL the cakes for family parties: birthdays, first Communions, Confirmations, weddings--you name it. The woman is a cake-baking fiend! :)

5) I've taken all three Wilton cake decorating classes offered at Michaels.

6) Because of the cake decorating classes I've taken, I could theoretically make a wedding cake, but the closest I've come is a two-tiered wedding anniversary cake for my parents. Maybe I'll scan a photo and post it.

7) I'm really hungry for some corn muffins right now. ;)

Note to my writing friend Mary: I think you deserve this award for your blog on writing. Right click on the photo and add it to your own blog. Then tell us seven things about yourself.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Chocolate and Peanut Butter Heart Cookies

Looking for a last minute cookie to make for someone you love this Valentine's Day? Grab a heart-shaped cookie cutter (I got mine at Target) and have some fun!

The idea for this cookie came from a friend of mine who's been asking me to make them for ages. He didn't have a recipe for me to follow, just a description for a cookie that someone else used to make for him: a peanut-butter heart-shaped cookie half dipped in chocolate.

I couldn't find anything like this online so I made up my own recipe. When I gave him some to try, he said I got it right--yippee!

Chocolate and Peanut Butter Heart Cookies

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
3/4 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 squares of semi-sweet baking chocolate

Beat together the butter, peanut butter, and both sugars until creamy. Add the egg and vanilla and beat again.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Add the flour mixture to the peanut butter mixture one cup at a time and beat again. The dough should be pretty thick.

(I put the dough in the refrigerator for an hour before rolling it out, but I don't know if that was really necessary.)

Roll out half the dough at a time. If it crumbles, you may need to kneed it in your hand for thirty seconds first. When the dough is rolled out to 1/8 inch, use heart-shaped cookie cutters to cut them out. Place on cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake at 375 for 9 minutes. Remove immediately to cooling racks.

When cookies have cooled completely, melt three of the chocolate squares in the microwave. (Follow package directions) Dip half the cookie into the melted chocolate and let dry on waxed paper. When you've run out of chocolate, melt the three remaining squares and continue dipping the cookies.

My cookie cutter set came with four different sizes. I used the smallest two and ended up with about 40 cookies.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Filled Football Cookies

I realize this cookie recipe will be posted too late for most people to make it for this year's Superbowl, but as we all know, what's put on the Internet, stays on the Internet. So this will be around for plenty of future tailgating parties. :)

If you're like me and don't have a football-shaped cookie cutter, you can improvise by making a pattern for yourself. Just cut a piece of cardboard in the shape of a football. Cover it with aluminum foil so that it won't stick to the dough. When you're ready to cut out your footballs, place the pattern on the dough and cut around it.

I've made these cookies in three different sizes. The first time I made a pattern that was 3 1/2 inches long. The cookies were too big. The second time I used a 2-inch pattern; this was better, but it took a long time to cut out these bite-size cookies. The third size I tried was 2 1/2 inches. If I make these cookies again, I think I'd use the 2 1/2-inch size.

In case you're wondering, the flavor is a nice mix of chocolate and cinnamon--kind of reminds me of Mexican hot chocolate.

Filled Football Cookies

1 cup butter or margarine (2 sticks)
1 cup brown sugar
1 large egg
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
2 1/2 cups flour
1/3 cup cocoa
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 or 2 batches of the Perfect Icing for Piping

In a small dish, microwave the butter for 30 seconds at 50% power to soften it.

In a mixer, cream together the softened butter and the brown sugar. Add the sugar and cinnamon. Beat until fluffy. On low speed, blend in the flour, cocoa, baking soda, and almond extract.

Split dough in half. Wrap each half in waxed paper and refrigerate for an hour.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

On surface dusted with flour, roll out dough to 1/8 inch. Cut out dough with cookie cuter and place on cookie sheet that has been greased or lined with parchment paper. Bake cookies at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes. Remove from cookie sheet and cool on rack.

When cookies have cooled, make at least one batch of my Perfect Icing for Piping (click here for the recipe). If you like lots of filling in your filled cookies, make two batches.

Pipe the filling onto the backside of one cookie. Top with another cookie. Use a small tip to pipe laces onto the top cookie.