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Funfetti Cheesecake Bites

The past few weeks have been super busy with family events, work and work events, and this whole training for a marathon thing (which is on SUNDAY!). So, my time in the kitchen has been rather sparse – I think my husband has spent more time cooking for himself while I’ve been gone!

So this past Sunday after a successful last “long” run of 8 miles and a trip to get race day supplies, I spent the rest of the afternoon in the kitchen. I started with slow-cooker lasagna, going off of a recipe I saw posted on YumSugar. Growing up I remember my mom always bemoaning lasagna and how labor intensive it was (as you can guess we didn’t have it very often). So after seeing a recipe were I didn’t have to precook the noodles, I was all over it.

While dinner was cooking away, I got to work on my next project – Funfetti cheesecake bites. After the success of the Funfetti fudge I made for Halloween, I figured I could work Funfetti into more things. I had made Mini Oreo Cheesecakes before and they were awesome, so I took the same base recipe but instead used Golden Oreos, some Funfetti cake mix, and sprinkles. Not only was the recipe straight forward, but they are pretty darn tasty. The combination of cheesecake and Funfetti may sound weird, but it works – I promise.

This got me thinking – cheesecake is one of those vehicles that can really take on a whole bunch of different flavors. It might be time to branch out in the cheesecake world and try some different combinations. Or I can just stick to what I know and love – Oreos and Funfetti. Either way, these would be a perfect bite-sized treat to bring to a Holiday party… and you know that’s where you will be spending most of your weekends between now and the new year.

Funfetti Cheesecake Bites
– Makes 20 –

Ingredients:
20 golden Oreo’s
1 lb cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs, room temperature
1/2 cup sour cream
2 Tbsp Funfetti cake mix
2 Tbsp sprinkles

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 275°F. Line your cupcake/muffin tin with paper liners and place one Oreo into the bottom of each lined cup.
2. With a stand or hand mixer on medium-high, beat cream cheese until creamy and smooth, then gradually beat in sugar until combined. Beat in vanilla.
3. Drizzle in the eggs a little bit at a time until combined, scraping the sides of the bowl as needed. Beat in sour cream and Funfetti mix. Add sprinkles at the very end (or the colors start to run).
4. Divide the batter evenly among the cookie-filled cups, filling each one almost to the top. Bake until the cakes are set (about 22 minutes), rotating the pans halfway through.
5. Remove from oven and place pans on wire rack to cool completely. Once cooled, chill the cakes in the pans for at least four hours (or up to overnight).

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Filed under Baking, Home Cooking, Recipe, Running

Creamy and Dreamy

I tend to go through stages with my eating; one week I’ll want sushi all the time, another week it might be pasta, or french fries, or even salads. They usually stick around for a few days, and once I finally have it, the craving goes away. The past few weeks, however, have left me wanting avocados and peanut butter (with chocolate, of course) almost non-stop. Don’t worry, not together. I have visions of creamy guacamole, or avocado sliced atop a sandwich, and following it up with some type of chunky peanut butter dessert.  It’s totally weird, and I’m okay with it – I think about food 90% of my day anyway.

So, when YumSugar linked to one of Oh She Glows‘ recipes that had avocado as a main ingredient, I just knew I had to try my hand at it! I don’t know why I haven’t thought of using avocado in a regular pasta dish to help make a creamy sauce, but seeing the recipe was just what I needed to try and create my own. I’ve actually made two different versions, equally delicious.

Avocado Pasta with Cannelini and Tomatoes inspired by Oh She Glows
– Serves 2 –

Ingredients:
1 ripe avocado, pitted
2 cloves garlic
1/4 cup fresh basil
1 cup cannelini beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup Roma tomatoes, diced
1/2 lb your favorite pasta (I used whole wheat spagetti)
1 Tbsp lemon

Directions
1. Cook pasta according to package directions (since different types of pasta require different cooking times)
2. In a food processor, add avocado, basil, garlic, and lemon juice. Pulse until creamy
3. Combined cooked pasta, beans, and avocado mixture, and add tomatoes.  

Avocado Pasta with Tomatoes and Caramelized Onions inspired by Oh She Glows
– Serves 2 –

Ingredients:
2 Tbsp oil
1 ripe avocado, pitted
2 cloves garlic
1/4 cup fresh basil
1/2 cup onion, sliced
1/2 cup Roma tomatoes, diced
1/2 lb your favorite pasta (I used whole wheat spagetti)
1 Tbsp lemon
2 Tbsp herbed Feta (I used Athenos brand)

Directions
1. Cook pasta according to package directions (since different types of pasta require different cooking times)
2. Meanwhile, heat oil in a skillet on medium high heat, then add onion, sautéing until caramelized, about 10 minutes. 
3. In a food processor, add avocado, basil, garlic, and lemon juice. Pulse until creamy
4. Combined cooked pasta, caramelized onions, and avocado mixture, and add tomatoes.  Top with crumbled feta.

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Filed under Recipe, Vegetarian/Vegan

Spicy Soup and Lots of Packing

You never realize just how much you have until you try and pack it all up to move. Over the past month, I’ve learned that both my fiancé and I have A LOT of stuff. We thought we’d be proactive and start packing as soon as we signed our new lease, but here it was the weekend before the big move, and we spent all day Saturday and Sunday packing… and we’re not done.

Aside from going out for sushi on Friday night, a brief run on Saturday morning (I made it through 1.5 miles pain free! Going for two today!), and going out for a few drinks for a friend’s birthday Saturday night, the rest of our weekend was consumed by packing. We had to go box hunting two more times (we now have 100+ boxes stacked in our front room) and have been doing laundry non-stop. Thankfully, though, I think we’ll be able to safely say we’re done mid-week.

It would probably be smart to completely pack up the kitchen and just do easy dinners for the week, but not me! I’ve decided to make two involved recipes this week, and then keep the rest simple. Sure, the open half-full boxes strewn across the kitchen floor and dining room are difficult to maneuver in the dark and are rather ugly to look at, but they’ll be packed up soon enough. I did, however, pack up our nice dinnerware, so pardon the plastic plates and bowls in any posts this week!

After not getting to cook too much last week due to my company’s conference, I knew I needed to get back in the kitchen Sunday night. I found this recipe on YumSugar a few weeks ago, and since it had the word spicy in the title, I knew it was for me. Recently jalapenos at the grocery store have been HUGE, so when this recipe called for two, I knew it would really be more like 3+. I left out the chicken, and substituted the créme fraiche with plain low-fat Greek yogurt. Other than that, I kept everything else the same. And let me tell you – YUM! This packed serious heat and was really filling. Making homemade tortilla crisps was fun too! This is the type of soup that will definitely warm you up in the winter.

Spicy Broth with Chicken and Avocado
– Serves 4 –

Ingredients:
Extra virgin olive oil
2 medium onions, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
3 medium-size ripe tomatoes, chopped
2 jalapeños, minced
1 quart chicken stock, homemade or store bought
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
canola oil, for frying
4 corn tortillas, cut into 1/8 inch wide strips
1 1/2 cups shredded cooked chicken
3 avocados, halved, pitted, peeled, and diced
1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
1 lime, cut in wedges
4 dollops of sour cream or crème fraiche (optional)

Directions:
1. Put a stockpot over medium heat and coat with a 2 count of olive oil. Add the onions, garlic, tomatoes, and jalapeños and cook for 15 minutes or until the vegetables get pulpy. Pour in the stock, season with salt and pepper and simmer for 20 to 25 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, heat 1 inch of canola oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. When the oil begins to smoke, add the tortilla strips in batches and fry until they are crisp on all sides. Remove with a slotted spoons to a paper towel-lined platter and sprinkle with salt while they are hot.
3. Divide the shredded chicken among 4 soup bowls. Ladle the hot soup over the meat. Top with diced avocado and fried tortilla strips. Garnish with cilantro and lime wedges.

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I’ll grill anything – including pizza

I found a recipe for grilled pizza a few weeks ago, and after finally procuring a grill, we had to try it. I’d heard of grilling pizza before (I mean heck – you can grill lettuce) but had never actually done it. I was excited, but a bit nervous for it’s outcome. I had visions of an extremely charred and barely edible crust, or the opposite, a just warmed not crispy crust. My fiance and I somehow managed to grill it pretty perfectly – a nice crunch around the edge of the crust, and keeping it crisp, but not over or under cooked towards the center. Plust, all of the veggies and cheese were just the right temperature.

This “Smoky BBQ Grilled Pizza” comes from Eating Well, which YumSugar had linked to a few weeks ago. I saved it in my Dinner cart on KartMe until the perfect moment, which was this past Thursday. I grabbed a package of pre-made pizza dough from Wegmans’, and it actually had two pizzas in it – enough for a breakfast pizza on Saturday! The recipe calls for tomatoes, but I forgot to grab one at the store (story of my life), so instead I caramelized some onions and tried to salvage what I could of the wilting Jamaican hot peppers. That added a nice sweet kick to the already tangy pizza.

It literally was grilled for 10 minutes, and though a little charred around the edges, overall a decently cooked pizza. My fiancé and I devoured the whole pizza (hey, it was kind of small) with a salad, and we were stuffed! Sure, it’s supposed to serve 6, but after a solid run and a long day of work, the pizza was no match for the two of us! I know BBQ sauce in place of tomato sauce sounds kind of odd, but it works – especially with that smoky grilled flavor! Either way, you can really put whatever you want on your pizza. I made a breakfast pizza Saturday with scrambled eggs, onions, peppers, corn, beans, salsa as the sauce, and cheese. It was equally delicious!

Though we’re out of dough for now, I have every intention of grilling up some other pizza concoctions, so suggestions are welcomed!

Pardon the less than stellar iPhone picture!

Barbecued Smoky Corn & Black Bean Pizza
from Eating Well

Ingredients:
1 plum tomato, diced
1 cup canned black beans, rinsed
1 cup fresh corn kernels (about 2 ears)
2 tablespoons cornmeal
1 pound prepared whole-wheat pizza dough
1/3 cup barbecue sauce
1 cup shredded mozzarella, preferably smoked mozzarella

Directions:
1. Preheat grill to medium.
2. Combine tomato, beans and corn in a medium bowl. Sprinkle cornmeal onto a large baking sheet. Stretch the dough into about a 12-inch circle and lay it on top of the cornmeal, coating the entire underside of the dough.
3. Transfer the crust from the baking sheet to the grill. Close the lid and cook until the crust is puffed and lightly browned on the bottom, 4 to 5 minutes.
Using a large spatula, flip the crust. Spread barbecue sauce on it and quickly sprinkle with the tomato mixture and cheese. Close the lid; grill until the cheese is melted and the bottom of the crust is browned, 4 to 5 minutes.

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Baking Away!

This past week was pretty serious when it came to my cooking. Not only did I make Eggplant Enchiladas and Southwest Soup & Tortas, but I also did some pretty serious baking. Well, for me at least. Of course it was nothing like Serial Baker, but that’s besides the point.

On Wednesday after getting in an argument with our upstairs neighbor about “stinking” because we cook, I decided to finally start my cupcake experiment. Don’t worry; there will be a post about that in the near future. Then on Saturday, I had two occasions to bake for – first, I was going to meet more of my fiancé’s family at Passover dinner, and it was also one of our friend’s birthdays.

For whatever reason when I was little, I wished I was Jewish. It probably came down to the simple fact that I wanted to be something I wasn’t. Just like I always wanted glasses, and secretly hoped I’d break a lower-extremity bone so I could use crutches. At any rate, my fiancé is half Jewish, and though his family isn’t really practicing, they do have Passover dinner just as a way to all get together. They don’t do any thing really traditional (such as the Seder, etc.), but there was some typical fare. That’s where my first baking attempt came in to play.

Early last week I was trying to figure out what I could bring with us. I wanted to make something, but wasn’t sure what. I had remembered my mom’s principle (she’s a school nurse) making “matzo bark” and I had asked for the recipe. She never got it, but conveniently later in the week I was reading YumSugar and stumbled upon a “Toffee-Chocolate Matzah” recipe! We’ve had a box of matzo for awhile, so I knew I was at least half way there with the ingredients. After reading over the recipe, I realized it was completely doable in terms of ingredients, skill level, and time.

Once I had made that recipe, I moved onto my next task – Kahlua Espresso Chocolate Chip Cookies. Say that 10 times fast! I found the recipe from Recipe Girl, who also provided me with the delicious Pumpkin French Toast I had made this past fall. Again, I had to cream the butter by hand with the back of a spoon, which I complained about continuously. But other than that, the recipe was pretty straight forward. I did have to go out and get more chocolate chips and powdered Espresso, but that was it!

I did make a few alterations to the Kahlua Espresso cookies… I didn’t have any Kahlua, but I did have Bailey’s (from my Guinness & Bailey’s cupcakes). So instead of going out and buying more alcohol that would just sit around, I figured I’d use what I have. Also, between the two recipes, I ran out of brown sugar. But I did have a brown sugar and Splenda mix, so I was able to use that for the rest of the cookies. While I haven’t had the original recipe, I can’t imagine mine tasted much different from them.

When we arrived at my fiancé’s Aunt’s house, I was thrilled to hear that everyone was a huge fan of chocolate covered matzo. They were definitely enjoyed by everyone, and since there was so much food we got to take home the leftovers! Say hello to a delicious little snack during the week! The cookies were also a hit at our friend’s party. By the time we got there, they had an ice luge out and in full force, so some sustenance was in order. I’m pretty sure everyone enjoyed those as well.

So, if you ever find yourself with some extra Matzo hanging around, or the inability to eat leaven bread, I suggest giving the Toffee-Chocolate Matzah a try. Here’s the recipe from YumSugar, who got it from Martha Stewart:

Ingredients:
4 sheets unsalted non-egg matzah
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 cup packed dark-brown sugar
1 (12-ounce) package semisweet chocolate chips (2 cups)
Coarse sea salt

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees.
2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper Place matzah in an even layer on baking sheet and set aside.
3. Melt butter in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Add brown sugar and immediately reduce temperature to low. Cook, stirring, adjusting heat as necessary, until sugar has completely dissolved and begins to bubble. Drizzle toffee over matzah and spread to cover using a spatula.
4. Transfer toffee-covered matzah to oven and bake until toffee has a rich, shiny sheen, 10 to 20 minutes.
5. Remove from oven and sprinkle with chocolate chips. Tent matzah with aluminum foil and let stand 20 to 30 minutes.
6. Remove foil tent and spread melted chocolate over matzah to cover; sprinkle with sea salt. Transfer matzah to refrigerator and let chill at least 2 hours.
7. Break chilled matzah into pieces. Matzah will keep in an airtight container for up to 4 days at room temperature.

And, if you’re ever looking for some chocolate, coffee, liquor and cinnamon, give these Kahlua Espresso Chocolate Chip Cookies a whirl!

Ingredients:
2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
½ tsp. salt
½ Tbsp. espresso powder
1 Tbsp. Kahlua
1 cup butter, at room temperature
1 cup light brown sugar, packed firmly
½ cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, melted & cooled a little bit
1 (12-ounce) package semisweet chocolate chips

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt; set aside.
3. In a small dish, dissolve espresso powder in Kahlua; set aside.
4. In a large bowl, use electric mixer to cream butter and sugars together. Add Kahlua mixture, eggs and vanilla; beat until thoroughly combined. Add cooled, melted chocolate and continue to beat until it’s mixed in. Add flour mixture and beat at low speed until all flour is incorporated into the dough, scraping down sides of the bowl as needed. Stir in chocolate chips.
5. Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls (or use a cookie scoop) 2-inches apart onto prepared cookie sheets. Bake 8 to 10 minutes, or until they are golden brown and no longer look gooey in the middles. Cool completely on wire rack.
Yield: About 5 dozen

Being in a rush after all the baking, I didn’t take a picture of them after they were done. Then, I wound up eating all of the cookies and matzo before I realized I still needed a picture! So my sincerest appologies for not having pictures of the deliciousness. But I promise they were yummy!!

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