With Sweet Dreams and Even Sweeter Days

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Miniature Oreo Cheesecakes

On more than a few occasions, baking is my favorite type of therapy.

When the world gets a little too loud, or confusing, or dare I say hard, a way to take a step back and relax is exactly what I need.

There's comfort in knowing combining butter, sugar, and flour will usually yield something wonderful.

All they need is a little work from me and a little time.

Idealistically a euphemism for life. Realistically a lesson in not sweating the small stuff.  And more importantly remembering that 98% of it is small stuff.

Take a step back, turn on the mixer and let these easy little cheesecakes whip themselves up. Or lose yourself in mixing them up with nothing but a spoon (while getting a great arm workout I might add).

While cheesecake and Oreos aren't two of my go to treats standing alone, together here they just work.

Highly portable. A built in crust. Just sweet enough. 

A pick me up or a celebration.  Realizing that no matter what life throws at you, you're always in control of the way you see it.  Remembering that you get to choose.

Miniature Oreo Cheesecakes
Servings: 15 individual portioned cheesecakes

- 25 oreo or similar sandwich cookies (15 left whole and 10 roughly chopped)
- 1 lb cream cheese, at room temperature
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- small pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 275 degrees F.  Line two standard cupcake pans with paper liners.  Place an oreo cookie in the bottom of each well.  Beat cream cheese until smooth in a medium bowl, gradually add sugar and beat until combined.  Beat in vanilla.  Drizzle in eggs and beat to combine, scraping down sides of the bowl as needed.  Beat in sour cream.  Stir in cookies and and salt.  Divide batter evenly among liners.  Bake, rotating halfway through, until filling is set (about 21-23 minutes).  Transfer to wire racks to cool completely.  Refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight.  Remove from tins and serve.

Recipe adapted from: Martha Stewart Cupcakes

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Mocha Almond Fudge Cookies

There's no denying that cookies play a prominent role in my baking life.

A quick scan through my recipe index shows they are the biggest category by far, and no matter how distantly I go in other directions, I always seem to come back to them without fail.

And with near limitless options to try, I don't see that stopping anytime soon.

Not that I'd want it to.

This particular combination brings together espresso powder and dark chocolate in a soft and chewy cookie with a crunch from toasted chopped almonds.

They're reasonably sized, and highly portable, which makes eating an unreasonable amount in one day a little too easy.

If almonds aren't your thing, leave them out.  But I highly recommend giving them a try as is.

Coffee + chocolate is hard pressed to go wrong, but in these cookies it couldn't be more right.

Mocha Almond Fudge Cookies
Servings: About 2 dozen cookies

- 2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 1/2 tsp vanilla
- 2 cups flour
- 1/2 cup dark cocoa powder
- 2 Tbsp espresso powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup chopped almonds
- 1 cup dark chocolate chips

In a bowl combine flour, cocoa powder, espresso powder, baking soda, and salt.  Whisk to combine.  In a bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment (or a hand mixer, or in a bowl with a spoon) cream butter and sugar until well combined and fluffy.  Add in eggs, one at a time, beating until combined.  Add in vanilla.  With mixer on lowest setting, add in flour mixture until just combined, finishing by hand.  Pour in chopped almonds and chocolate chips and fold in until well distributed.  Refrigerate dough for at least an hour.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Roll into 2 tsp size balls and place on baking sheets lined with parchment paper.  Bake 7-9 minutes or until cookies have begun to set.  Let cool on wire racks.  Store in an airtight container at room temperature.  Enjoy.

Recipe adapted from: How Sweet Eats

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Peanut Butter Clean Shake

So. Um. Yea.

There's absolutely no way (in my mind) for me to make this look alluring to you.

I tried. And I'm still not convinced I've succeeded. But here I am. And this shake is still worthwhile. So I'll just try to allure you with my words instead.

I've been known from time to time to dabble in healthy eating, whenever I feel the need to redirect myself and start something new.

When I do the physical, emotional, and mental manifestations of just feeling better make me wonder why I've waited so long to bring it back.

I doubt ill ever be perfect with it. And truthfully I don't think I'd ever want to be. A life without pizza, doughnuts, or craft beer is not one I'd like to embark on ever.

That being said though, when I find recipes that don't taste healthy but still fit the bill, I definitely try to fit them in where I can.

A self proclaimed "non-smoothie" person, I don't put my seal of approval on too many of them, but this one I fell head over heels for.

Simple ingredients. Simple prep. Natural sweetness. Protein filled to keep me full for much longer than most of my other "go to" snacks".

I could drink this every day.

And sometimes do.

Totally customizable. A real winner in my book.

(A very happy Mother's Day to all mom and mom-figures out there, most specifically my mom and gram. The world is a better place because of you. You're appreciated every day.  Today is yours. Enjoy.)

Peanut Butter Clean Shake
Printer Friendly Version
Servings: 1

- 1/2 banana (chopped - frozen or not)
- 1 Tbsp peanut butter of your choosing (or substitute almond butter/sunflower butter etc)
- 1/2 cup milk (any kind!)
- 1 pitted date (chopped)
- 1/4 cup ice

Combine all ingredients in a high powered blender until smooth.  Pour and serve immediately.

Recipe adapted from: It's All Good

Monday, May 6, 2013

Brown Sugar Pound Cake

Simplicity is key.

Live simply. Love abundantly. Laugh often.

Words I try to live by, but I'm not sure I've yet conquered.

In some ways more than others.  On some days better than others.

At times keeping this in mind feels like second nature, and at others it seems as though there are roadblocks in my way, ones that I'm not sure how to navigate around.

The times I find myself taking solace in the fact that I'm sure there is a way, I just have to keep looking.

Enjoying the ride regardless.

Trying not to overlook the simple things, which are actually the only important things.  Being thankful that I've figured that much out at least.  Attempting to live it more every day.

This recipe is extremely simple, and for that matter extremely easy to overlook.

Nothing fancy, nothing out of the ordinary, a few basic ingredients, nothing more.

A testament to the fact of how the simple things are often the best things, this pound cake is a revelation.

Brown sugar and butter come together and create something close to magic in a pound cake that is easy to whip up and big enough to feed a crowd, or feed a few people for days.  It stays amazingly fresh for a record amount of time.  And most importantly so so good.

Happiness and comfort embodied in a low stress easy to pull off dessert.

Keep it simple.  Keep it great.

Brown Sugar Pound Cake
Printer Friendly Version
Servings: 1-10 inch tube pan cake


For Cake:
- 3 cups flour
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 cup milk (I used nonfat and it was great but any fat content or milk substitute should work)
- 1 1/2 (3 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature
- 2 3/4 cups (a 1-lb box) light brown sugar
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 5 eggs

For Icing:
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
- 1 cup light brown sugar
- 1/2 cup evaporated milk
- 4 cups sifted powdered sugar
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract


To make cake preheat oven to 325 degrees F.  Spray a 10-inch tube pan with baking spray (or alternatively butter and then flour).  In a medium bowl combine flour, baking powder, and salt.  Stir to combine.  In the bowl of an electric mixer beat the butter on high speed until light and fluffy.  Add the brown sugar in 3 batches, beating to combine between each batch.  Add the granulated sugar.  Add the eggs, one at a time, beating between each addition.  Stir vanilla into milk.  Add half the flour mixture, beating at a low speed.  Add half the milk mixture.  Continue with the other half of the flour mixture and milk mixture.  Scrape batter into prepared pan and bake for approximately 1 hour and 10 minutes, or until cake is lightly browned and cake tester comes out clean.  Cool the cake in the pan on a wire rack for 20-30 minutes, then loosen cake with knife and turn onto a wire rack (turning again to make it top side up) to cool completely.

To make icing combine butter and brown sugar in a medium saucepan.  Stir over medium heat until butter is melted and sauce is smooth, approximately 2-3 minutes.  Add milk and allow to come to a gentle boil.  Stir well, take off the heat and add in the powdered sugar and vanilla.  Beat well with a spoon (or a mixer) for a few minutes, or until glaze looses shine.  Ice cake IMMEDIATELY.  Glaze sets rather quickly.  Enjoy.

Recipe adapted from: Southern Cakes