Saturday Sweetness: Faux Cheesecake

I stumbled across this recipe while browsing Pinterest the other day and decided I needed to try it.  Cheesecake is one of my absolute favorite desserts. I love the creaminess and the delicate sweetness with the little tang from the cream cheese.  And this little recipe has that same cheesecake flavor but is packed with protein and doesn’t have all the sugar and fat that the traditional cheesecake has.  Why not try it?

So, when I stopped at the grocery this morning to pick up Big Girl’s birthday cake I picked up the ingredients.  The website shows putting the little cheesecakes in individual storage containers but I decided I’d try these cute little individual pie pans.

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It was very quick to put together.

I took the Greek yogurt, plopped it in a bowl and gradually sprinkled the cheesecake pudding into the yogurt and stirred it with a whisk. Then I added a few drops (maybe 1/2 teaspoon each?) of the extracts just to give it a little more rounded flavor. Once the ingredients were mixed together, I just spread them into the little crusts and put it in the refrigerator to chill.  When I serve them, I’ll top them with a dollop of blueberry or strawberry pie filling.

I can hardly wait.

The original website says they’re about 112 calories and 12 grams of protein (only 1 gram of fat!)  You certainly can’t beat that for dessert!

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“Faux” Cheesecake

  • 1 16 ounce tub of Greek yogurt (plain)
  • 1 small box of Jell-O sugar free cheesecake flavor pudding mix
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract
  • 1 package Keebler Ready Crust mini graham cracker crusts
  1. Mix the yogurt with the pudding mix, adding the mix gradually to avoid clumping.
  2. Add the extracts and mix thoroughly.
  3. Spoon into the pie pans and chill before serving.

 

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Saturday Sweetness from the Crock Pot

I know, I know, goodies in the crock pot?

I will admit I’ve never successfully cooked very many sweet things in the crock pot. To me, the crock pot is reserved for savory dishes, soups and stews.  But I just had to share this with you.

My neighbor’s mom makes this every year and we are always so thrilled when they bring a little bit over to share with us.  Nana makes the best treats and this one is a particular favorite of mine.  This week, she came to visit (we had “Nana Central” in our cul-de-sac, with two grandmas visiting, Little Bit said.)  and she made a batch.  Luckily we were the recipients of a sample.

crock pot candy

After trying it, my mom said, “We need to make some of this.” So we set out to find the recipe online. We found several blogs and websites with the recipe, even a Redbook article that dubbed it “Trisha Yearwood’s candy” although I do wonder if she really invented the candy herself. It seems to me to be one of those ubiquitous candies that appears every holiday – kind of like fruitcake and fudge. Which, truthfully, is just fine with me, because I LOVE it. (Here’s another link to a source recipe we used as our base.)

It’s sort of a cross between a Payday candy bar and peanut butter fudge.  Which is crazy because even though I swore it had to have peanut butter in it, I found out that it doesn’t!  Not one drop.

The secret ingredient is dry-roasted peanuts. That, and I think, the crock pot.  When you cook this, the layering in the crock pot is apparently critical. I think the roasted peanuts are on the bottom and as they heat up directly on top of the heating elements of the crock pot, they must infuse the chocolates (yes, plural) with the roasted peanut flavor.  What you end up with is so delicious. And, so stinkin’ easy, it’s almost embarrassing.

This will definitely be on my list of goodies to make for our friends this holiday season.  I hope you give it a try.

Crock Pot Chocolate Peanut Candy


2 jars (16 oz.) dry roasted salted peanuts
1 package (12 oz.) semi-sweet chocolate chips
4 oz sweetened Baker’s German chocolate (green packaging), broken into pieces
3 lb (two 24 oz. pkgs.) white almond bark, broken into pieces (some packages of almond bark may have “candy coating” as the name on the package)

Directions

  1. Put ingredients into a 4 or 5-quart crockpot in EXACT order as listed.
  2. Cover and cook on LOWEST setting for 3 hours. DO NOT remove lid!
  3. Turn off and allow to cool slightly.
  4. Mixture will not be melted but will be soft.
  5. Mix thoroughly and drop by teaspoon size cookie dropper or a teaspoon onto parchment paper.
  6. Let cool thoroughly. Makes approximately 100 pieces, depending, of course, on how large you make the pieces.

A few notes:

  • My large crock pot barely held all of this – you need a BIG crock pot.
  • I had to turn it from Low to Warm about 2 hours into cooking as I noticed the white chocolate was starting to turn brown on the sides.
  • I used a tiny ladle to drop this on the parchment paper. We made 100 candies about 3/4 of a ladle full and let it sit on the counter overnight to cool.

crock pot candy

Saturday Sweetness: Apple Cake

 

Hello, Sweet Things!Saturday Sweetness

Happy Saturday to you!  It’s an overcast, gloomy day here in our neck of the woods… looks like it will be rainy around here for the next four or five days. I’m not complaining, though, because it means the weather will cool down even more and that means I might get my first fire in the fireplace for the season! Yippee!

Today I’m going to be spending some time in the kitchen – I’m planning to make a batch of my beef stew for a get together with some friends.  We’re not getting together until tomorrow evening, but I’m making it today so the flavors can meld and be even tastier by tomorrow.  I’ll cook it in the crock pot and then I can stick the crock in the fridge until it’s time to warm it up tomorrow.

I’m also going to make this awesome Apple Cake recipe. I’ve shared it with you before (years ago) but I thought I’d share it again. To me, it’s the quintessential fall cake recipe. My mom and I make it many times throughout the fall. Baking this sort of signals the beginning of the fall baking season to me.

It’s so simple to make and you probably have most of the ingredients on hand… and it is so worth it. It tastes super good.

I’m off to the kitchen – well, I am as soon as SuperMan relinquishes control in there. Right now he’s making our weekly Saturday breakfast smorgasbord and since it is one of the highlights of our weekend, I’ll just stay out of his way and let him go.  THEN I’ll get in there and do my thing the rest of the day. Smile

Here’s the recipe.  I hope you enjoy.

APPLE NUT CAKE

1 cup vegetable oil
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup chopped pecans (optional)
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp vanilla extract
3 cups apples, peeled & chopped (the smaller the pieces the better)
1 cup raisins

  1. Cream oil, sugar.
  2. Add eggs and vanilla.
  3. Sift flour with salt and baking soda.
  4. Slowly add (in 1/2 cup increments) to wet ingredients.
  5. Add pecans, raisins and apples.
  6. Pour into greased Bundt pan.
  7. Bake at 350 for one hour.

 

Saturday Sweetness: Lunch Lady Peanut Butter Bars

Saturday SweetnessI stumbled across these bar cookies on Pinterest.  I decided they were going on my must-make list right away.  So, on a Saturday afternoon a couple weeks ago, I made them.

All I can say to you is this – You need to make these.

Like now.

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Go, get thee to the grocery store and get the ingredients if you don’t have them already.

Seriously.

These make great after-school and lunch snacks.  And because you’ve made them yourself, you know they only have real food in them, not a bunch of artificial junk.

And they’re deliciously addictive. It is hard to eat just one.

You’ve been warned.

(here’s the link to the original recipe)

Lunch Lady Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars

Ingredients

1 1/2 C All-Purpose Flour
1¼ tsp. Salt
½ tsp. Baking Soda
¾ C Butter
¾ C Sugar (I used Sucanat with Honey)
¾ C Brown Sugar (I used Sucanat)
1 ½ tsp. Vanilla
1 1/2 C Creamy Peanut Butter (split – I ended up using a whole jar of Peanut Butter)
2 Eggs
1 ½ C Quick Oats

Frosting:

½ C Butter (1 stick)
3 ½ C Powdered Sugar
(I used Sucanat with Honey and just “powdered” it in my blender)
2 T Cocoa
¼ C Milk (I used 1%)
1 tsp. Vanilla

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a small mixing bowl, mix together flour, baking soda and salt.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, cream together butter, sugars, 3/4 C peanut butter, eggs and vanilla until light and fluffy.
  4. Gradually add dry ingredients, just until incorporated.
  5. Then, stir in the oats.
  6. Spread onto a greased 11 x 15 Jelly Roll Pan (cookie sheet). (I used my Silpat mat and it worked great)
  7. Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until golden brown. Cool for 10 minutes.
  8. The frosting is a two step process.
  9. First, whip the remaning ¾ C Creamy Peanut Butter until it becomes lighter colored and fluffy.
  10. Carefully spread the whipped peanut butter over the pan cookie. (the cookie should still be warm so the PB will spread, but not melt)
  11. Then, add butter to a small sauce pan and melt the butter.
  12. Add the milk and cocoa.
  13. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly. Heat just until boiling.
  14. Remove from heat and add vanilla.
  15. Then, gradually add the powdered sugar. Stir until thickened.
  16. Pour over the peanut butter and gently spread over the cookie.
  17. Cool completely, and slice into bar cookies.

And devour them like you’re the Cookie Monster

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Saturday Sweetness: Lemon Pound Cake

As I was mixing this up on Friday afternoon, I thought I’d share this recipe with you again. It’s one of those family favorites that we go back to again and again… especially for special occasions.  And this weekend, we’re having special visitors and so I thought it was appropriate to bake.

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And I thought you should be able to enjoy it too! And since I can’t bake one for ALL of you – sharing the recipe is the closest I can come…

Grandma Achord’s Lemon Pound Cake

Ingredients

3 cups white sugar
1 cup sour cream
2 sticks butter
1/4 tsp baking soda
6 eggs
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp lemon extract
1 tsp almond extract
zest from one lemon (optional)

Instructions

  1. Cream sugar and butter.
  2. Add sour cream and extracts.
  3. Add eggs, one at a time.
  4. Add flour and baking soda slowly.
  5. Beat only long enough to get flour mixed in well.
  6. Pour into greased tube or Bundt pan and bake at 325 for 1 hour 20 min.

We usually don’t ever get around to it because we gobble up the cake so quickly, but Grandma always made a glaze by mixing a few teaspoons of lemon juice with some powdered sugar (about 2 cups) and drizzled it over the cake.

More Sweets for the Sweets

Hi, Sweet things! 🙂

Here’s another favorite recipe of the family. My mom has been baking this cake since I was a small girl. It was a recipe that she loved and received from a friend who I remember as an excellent cook and a wonderful baker.

It is not the healthiest, but I figure you can’t go wrong with apples in a cake. Mom has even substituted pears before with much success. Once you try it I think you will do like I did and add it to your standard repertoire of cakes to make for friends.

It’s great with coffee, tea, or just a big glass of milk.

Apple Nut Cake

1 cup vegetable oil
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup chopped pecans (optional)
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp vanilla extract
3 cups apples, peeled & chopped (the smaller the pieces the better)
1 cup raisins

  1. Cream oil, sugar.
  2. Add eggs and vanilla.
  3. Sift flour with salt and baking soda.
  4. Slowly add (in 1/2 cup increments) to wet ingredients.
  5. Add pecans, raisins and apples.
  6. Pour into greased bundt pan.
  7. Bake at 350 for one hour.

Mom sometimes makes this caramel icing to go on top, although my family is not much for icings on cake, so I usually don’t bother. We like our cakes au naturel.

Caramel Icing

1 stick of butter (softened) (4oz for you Europeans)
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup canned milk
1 tbsp vanilla

Bring all ingredients to a boil. Continue boiling for 2 1/2 minutes. Cool. Pour over cake.

Enjoy!

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Saturday Sweetness

Every one needs a good banana bread recipe.

Seriously.

Everyone should have one.

It’s not rocket science to bake and it tastes so good.

And, it’s a great, easy to make, gift at holiday time.

My mom and I used to bake thousands (or so it seemed) during the holidays when I was growing up. She’d use these cute little mini-loaf pans and mini-muffin pans and we’d bake banana bread for what seemed like days. And then we’d give it all away.

Because that’s what we Italian women do. We feed people to show them we love them.

It’s how we do things.

Anyway, I had my great-grandma’s recipe that Mom and I had used for years – my whole life, I think – and I never strayed from that.

Then, I found a recipe somewhere browsing on the web that claimed it was the “best banana bread ever” and I thought I should at least give it a shot and see how it compared to Grandma’s recipe.

Well, all I can say is I hope Grandma forgives me.

It really is the best banana bread I’ve eaten. And when I bake it I can’t seem to keep it around long enough to give it away. My family gobbles it up.

So, if you want a really good banana bread recipe to add to your recipe book, here you go.  I’ve altered it just a teeny bit from the original with the addition of some flaxseed meal to make it a little healthier. I like the nuttiness it gives the bread, even if you leave out the nuts the recipe calls for (Big Girl doesn’t like the nuts so this is my compromise)

You can leave that out (the flaxseed) if you want. It doesn’t affect the texture of the bread if you do.

Best-Ever Banana Bread

4 whole, overripe bananas
1/3 cup melted butter
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup turbinado sugar
1 whole egg, lightly beaten
1 tsp Vanilla extract
1 tsp baking soda
1 pinch salt
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 tbsp flaxseed meal
1/2 cup chopped pecans (optional)

  1. Preheat oven 350 degrees.
  2. Put the peeled bananas in a bowl and mash with a wooden spoon or potato masher.
  3. Add melted butter and mix together.
  4. Add sugar, egg, vanilla.
  5. Sprinkle baking soda, salt & cinnamon and mix together with banana mixture.
  6. Add flour and combine.
  7. Finally, add flaxseed and pecans.
  8. Pour into well greased loaf pan. (you can use one 4×8 loaf pan or 3 small loaf pans)
  9. Bake for one hour (the large loaf pan)
  10. Cool on a rack before serving.

(if it lives that long – mine always “mysteriously” has a slice cut out of it (or two or three) before it cools)

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