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Cookie Cheesecake Bars

I love cheesecake bars because it’s cheesecake, bite-sized!

I wasn’t sure how they’d turn out, because I’ve had mixed results with this magazine.  The only problem I had was that the cream cheese mixture didn’t pour over the cookies and crust really well, so it had a cookies and cream kind of appearance.  Which is what it tasted like, come to think of it.  So while it doesn’t look very pretty (or in nice layers like it did in the magazine), they taste really good!

I think next time I make these, I’ll mix the cookies and the cheesecake together.  Or maybe I’ll add the cookies to the crust.  I crushed them by putting the cookies into a plastic bag and using a rolling pin.

Enjoy!

Cookie Cheescake Bars

Slightly adapted from Betty Crocker Best Baking Recipes

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups coarsely crushed Oreo’s

Directions:

  1. Heat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. In a large bowl, beat 2 cups of flour, the brown sugar and butter on medium speed.
  3. Press mixture into ungreased 13×9 inch pan for 15 to 20 minutes or until golden brown.
  4. Beat cream cheese, granulated sugar, 1/4 cup flour and the eggs until thick and fluffy.
  5. Sprinkle cookies over the crust, then pour the cream cheese over the cookies.
  6. Bake 12 to 16 minutes or until the topping is set.
  7. Cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes and then refridgerate for about an hour, or until firm.

Whole Wheat Spaghetti with Buttery Tomato Sauce

I love spaghetti.  It’s one of my favorite foods ever, and it doesn’t matter how it’s made, as long as I can eat it.  For one of my favorite foods, I don’t eat very often.  But when I do, I’m always amazed by how versatile spaghetti is.

Like spaghetti sauce.  For the longest time, I wasn’t a fan.  I had no problem eating my spaghetti plain with parmesan cheese.  But I’m warming up to spaghetti sauce, especially because you can do it so many ways.  And sometimes, I’m all about cleaning out the pantry, which can work out really well with something like spaghetti.

This spaghetti is so good!  Especially the sauce.  To me, it was more sherry than buttery, but then again, that is what I get for tasting it while it’s cooking.  It’s simple and doesn’t take forever to make which is always a plus.  Enjoy!

Whole Wheat Spaghetti with Buttery Tomato Sauce

Adapted from the July/August issue of Everyday with Rachael Ray

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound whole wheat spaghetti
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 2 to 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/3 cup dry sherry
  • 1 can (28 to 32 ounce) whole tomatoes (preferably san marzano, but any kind you can get is good)
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 onion, chopped (optional)

Directions:

For the pasta:

  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Salt and add the pasta.
  2. Cook pasta just shy of all dente.
  3. Reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta water, than drain the rest of the water.

For the tomato sauce:

  1. In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium heat until foaming.  Stir in garlic (and onions if using) for 2 to 3 minutes, then add the sherry.
  2. Stir in the tomatoes and season with salt and pepper.  Lightly crush the tomatoes with potato masher.
  3. Bring the sauce to a bubble.  Lower the heat and then simmer for 20 minutes.
  4. Add the nutmeg, reserved water and pasta.
  5. Toss to combine, serve and topped with grated parmesan cheese.

Browned Butter Peanut Butter Crispy Rice Treats

The more I bake from the Joy The Baker cookbook, the more I love it.  These rice krispy treats are so good and I love that they have peanut butter in them!  I also love that they’re no-bake, which is great because it’s been really hot here over the last week, and I didn’t really want to turn on the oven, you know?

I love how they’re not perfectly shaped.

For some reason, I’m really hesitant to post this recipe, and I think it’s because I actually stuck to the recipe.  But I’m posting it anyway, because of peanut butter.  I’ve seen the Peanut Butter and Co brand in the grocery store, and finally got some last week.  The’yre known for selling gourmet peanut butter, with honey or chocolate added into their peanut butter.  Their Dark Chocolate Dreams peanut is so good, and I was really tempted to add some in.  But I still have half a box of cereal, so I may have to use that next time.

But back to my point.  I definitely think one of their peanut butters would work, but since I haven’t tried it, I don’t know how well it would work.  But it’s worth a try, right?  Come to think of it, that might work with marshmallows too.  Wait, do they even make, like, chocolate-flavored marshmallows?  Because if they do, that could be just as fun as “special” peanut butter.  Next time, I think I will cut them into smaller bars.  I don’t mind the bigger ones, but smaller bars next time would work better for me.

Enjoy!

Browned Butter Peanut Butter Crispy Rice Treats

From the Joy the Baker cookbook

Ingredients:

  • 1 stick of unsalted butter
  • 1 10-ounce bag of marshmallows (any kind will do)
  • 1/2 cup smooth all-natural peanut butter (the recipe calls for your standard all-natural peanut butter, but I imagine something like Peanut Butter & Co’s Dark Chocolate Dreams would work just as well)
  • 1/3 teaspoon salt
  • 6 cups (around half a box) of crispy rice cereal
Directions: 
  1. Butter an 8-inch square baking pan.  Set aside.
  2. In a large, heavy bottom pan, melt the butter over medium heat until just browned.  Whisk the browned bits off the bottom of the pan.
  3. Just as the butter starts to brown, add the marshmallows, peanut butter and salt.  Stir with a wooden spoon until the mixture is smooth.
  4. Remove from heat and add cereal.  Quickly stir, until all of the cereal is coated in the marshmallow mixture.
  5. Put the mixture into the pan.  Press into the sides and bottom with buttered or oiled fingertips.
  6. Let cool and set for 30 minutes (or more).  Cut into 9 blocks (or 12 if you want something smaller).
  7. Serve and enjoy!

Cold Chicken Satay Noodles

I just love this recipe!  Rachael Ray is big on make your own take out, and I was intrigued enough to make this recipe myself.  I just love the peanut butter in the recipe, and the hot sauce was a great addition too.  I couldn’t really taste the lime or garlic.  As for the soy sauce, it did add a nice salty flavor, which was great, but other than that, I couldn’t really taste it in the recipe.  Maybe that’s because I used soy sauce and not the Tamari that the recipe called for.

And speaking of sticking to the recipe, I realized that I didn’t have any vegetables when I went to toss them with the recipe.  It was great without them, but I think they would have added something extra.

There aren’t pictures for today, but I will have some tomorrow!  Next up?  Get ready for some browned butter peanut butter rice krispy treats!  Enjoy!

Cold Chicken Satay Noodles

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound spaghetti
  • 1/4 cup peanut butter (any kind)
  • 2 tablespooons honey
  • 1/4 cup warm water
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • juice of 2 limes
  • 1 teaspoon hot sauce
  • 3 tablespoons peanut oil
  • 2 cups cooked chicken (shredded, chopped, cubed, or however you want to cut it up)
  • 1 cup spinach, thinly sliced
  • a handful or two of shredded carrots

Directions:

  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Cook spaghetti according to package directions.  Drain well and rinse under cold water.
  2. While the pasta is cooking, heat the peanut butter in the microwave in 10-second intervals until soft.
  3. Put peanut butter in a large bowl with the honey and water.  Whisk soy sauce, garlic, lime juice and hot sauce, then whisk in the oil.
  4. Add the noodles, spinach and carrots to the bowl and toss until well mixed.
  5. Serve topped with chicken.

Sausage With Garlic Lentils

I made Sausage With Garlic Lentils today, and they were good!  I am (slowly) becoming a big fan of lentils and barley.  I definitely want to branch out into other grains like quinoa.  Actually, I’m not completely sure if they’re considered grains.  I think they are.

Note To Self: Pay attention to the thing that tells you that you need to change the batteries in your camera. Otherwise, you end up with one picture.

But anyway, eventually I’ll start cooking with quinoa.  But for now, I’m still trying to figure out what to do with lentils and barley.  I definitely prefer barley (at the moment) but I am warming up with lentils.  This recipe seemed so good, and it didn’t disappoint.  Plus, you can’t go wrong with garlic or olive oil.  I love that this particular recipe is for 1 person!  I think I may need to spend some time flipping through that chapter, because it means no leftovers for a week.

Enjoy!

Sausage With Garlic Lentils

Slightly Adapted From Rachael Ray’s Big Orange Book

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 pound lentils
  • 1/4 cups olive oil, divided (3 tablespoons, 1 teaspoon, and 2 teaspoons)
  • 1 bay leaf (fresh or dried)
  • 2 cloves of garlic, grated or minced
  • 1 small onion, peeled and halved
  • 2 fresh sausages, any kind
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 cup arugula or spinach
  • 1 teaspoon aged balsamic vinegar

Directions:

  1. Place the lentils in a sauce pot with water to cover the lentil by 2 inches.  Add the bay leaf and onion and bring to a boil.
  2. Boil for 20 to 22 minutes, or until the lentils are tender with a little bite left.  Discard the bay leaf (and onions if desired).
  3. Combine the garlic and 3 tablespoons of the olive oil in a shallow bowl.  Let stand.
  4. Place the sausages in a small pan and add 1/4 inch water and 1 teaspoon olive oil.  Bring the water to a boil over high heat, then reduce to medium-high heat.  Let the water simmer for 8 or so minutes.  Then cook for an extra 3 to 4 minutes to crisp the casing on the sausage.
  5. Toss the greens in the vinegar and remaining olive oil.
  6. Drain the lentils amd toss with garlic oil and parsley.
  7. Serve with sausages on top and arugla on the side.

Simple Vanilla Cupcakes

There is nothing better than a cupcake.  I love cupcakes because they’re bite-sized pieces of cake, and they are so much easier to eat, serve and store than cake.

Cupcakes seem like the perfect summer treat.  I’m not sure why, but all of a sudden, they make me think of summer.  In my case, that is pretty much every single day of the year, so why this only occurred to me, I don’t know.

I love how simple this recipe is.  Otherwise, they wouldn’t be simple vanilla cupcakes, right?  It should be no surprise that I needed to change the recipe a little, but that’s only because I didn’t realize the recipe called for vanilla beans.   I used vanilla extract instead of the vanilla bean, and while I’m not sure if I want to buy vanilla beans for future use, the cupcakes.  These are so good, and they’re the perfect shade of yellow, with the right amount of vanilla.

I ended up using a peanut butter cream cheese frosting (found in the cookbook), because I didn’t have all of the ingredients for the best chocolate buttercream frosting.  I think I’ll go with that next time I make these.  I really do recommend the Joy the Baker cookbook.  The more I bake from it, the more I love it.  I think I shall be making Sausage with Garlic and Lentils this week too, and that will be posted either tomorrow or on Saturday!  Enjoy the cupcakes!

Simple Vanilla Cupcakes

Slightly Adapted from The Joy The Baker Cookbook

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (or 1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract (or 2 teaspoons vanilla extract and 1/2 vanilla bean, seeds scraped out)
  • 1/2 cup whole milk

Directions: 

  1. Preheat oven to 35o degrees.  Line a 12-cup cupcake pan with cupcake liners and set aside.
  2. Whisk together flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl and set aside.
  3. Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy, or 3 to 5 minutes.  Add eggs one at a time, beating for 1 minute after adding each egg.
  4. Beat in the vanilla extract (and vanilla beans, if using) until incorporated well.
  5. Add half of the flour and beat (on low speed) until almost incorporated.
  6. Add the milk and blend.
  7. Add the rest of the flour and beat until almost incorporated.
  8. Finish incorporating the ingredients with a spatula.  Divide the batter amongst the liners and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center of the cupcakes comes out clean.
  9. Cool and frost with your favorite frosting!

June Round-Up

So, there was not a lot of cooking going on in the month of June.  However, I have a plan for the month of July that I hope will work better than the one for June.

I’ve come up with a total of 8 recipes: 4 baking and 4 cooking.  I have the intention of baking one thing and cooking one thing each week.

Here’s what I’m cooking:

  • Shells with Fresh Tomato-Tarragon Sauce, from the July/August issue of Everyday With Rachael Ray magazine
  • Farro Spaghetti, from the July/August issue of Everyday With Rachael Ray magazine
  • Sausage with Garlic Lentils, from Rachael Ray’s Big Orange Book
  • Cold Chicken Satay Noodles, from Rachael Ray’s Big Orange Book

And here are my baking plans:

  • Simple Vanilla Cupcakes, from the Joy The Baker Cookbook
  • Peanut Butter Birthday Cake, from the Joy The Baker Cookbook
  • Browned Butter Peanut Butter Crispy Rice Treats, from the Joy The Baker Cookbook
  • Cookie Cheesecake Bars, from The Better Crocker Baking Magazine

Clearly, I’m inspired by Joy the Baker and Rachael Ray this month, but that’s okay with me.

Now, onto something important.  I’ve been thinking about the twice-a-week posting schedule.  I like it, and since I’ll be making a couple things a week, I’m going to stick with that.  However, posts may be on the Monday/Friday schedule, but they might not be.  I’ll be blogging twice a week, I just don’t know which days.  The Monday/Friday thing isn’t working too well for me, so I want to see how a much more flexible posting schedule works out.  I’ll actually have 3 posts this week: this one, plus two others, so I’ll be back with something yummy to share!