February… A month has now passed since the New Year’s Resolution craze. The once- packed gym with those resolutioners sweating it out on the treadmill, stair climber, and elliptical machines is now thinning out. Come March, I’m pretty sure I can go to the gym after work and there will be plenty of machines that I can use. In fact, I can reclaim that treadmill that’s located in front of the flat screen tv. As for me, I did not bother making new year’s resolutions this year. It’s bound to be broken anyway… Oh wait, I forgot that I did! and my resolution was this: to try to be better physically, emotionally and spiritually every day. So I try to go to church every Sunday, I try to have a positive outlook everyday, I still keep up with my kickboxing and zumba classes, and I try to run two to three times a week. However, the past few weeks are undeniably so stressful for me so in the process of juggling different responsibilities, I let the half marathon training slip away. Third week into my supposed-to-be training schedule, I finally half-heartedly admitted to myself that there’s a very high possibility that I won’t be able to do the half-marathon in April. That’s a real bummer, and that made me so mad at myself for “failing” to stick to my training schedule. In a way, I felt so disappointed at myself. I failed my expectation. If only I was disciplined enough to stick to the plan… So, to make me feel better [remember, my new year’s resolution is to be better physically, EMOTIONALLY, and spiritually?], I made something that no doubt would put a smile on my face — cheesecake. But this time, I made a mouth-watering, deeply satisfying Oreo cheesecake bars! This yummy goodness is a very nice treat on a gloomy day.
Ahhh… chocolate and cheesecake make everything better. 🙂
Oreo Cheesecake Bars
adapted from Thedelishdishblog
For the crust:
- 23 Oreo cookies
- 2 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
For the cheesecake:
- 12 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
- 6 tbsp sugar
- 6 tbsp sour cream, at room temperature
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- ¼ tsp salt
- 1 large egg plus 1 egg yolk
- 12 Oreo cookies, roughly chopped
- Preheat the oven to 325˚F and line an 8 x 8-inch baking dish with foil.
- For the crust, process Oreos in a food processor until finely ground. Add in the melted butter and pulse until the mixture is moistened. Transfer the mixture to the prepared baking pan and press the crumbs into the bottom of the pan.
- Bake the crust for 10 minutes and set aside.
- For the filling, beat the cream cheese in an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment on medium-high speed until light and smooth, about 2 minutes.
- Mix in the sugar until well combined. Blend in the sour cream, vanilla and salt. Beat in the egg and egg yolk on medium-high speed until incorporated, scraping down the bowl as needed.
- Stir in the chopped Oreos with a rubber spatula.
- Pour the cheesecake batter over the prepared crust, smoothing the top with a spatula. Bake for about 40 minutes, until the cheesecake is set around the edges but slightly wobbly in the center.
- Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool about 1 hour to room temperature. Cover the pan and refrigerate until well chilled, about 3 hours. Keep refrigerated until ready to serve.
My mother-in-law recently hosted her grade school reunion party and she asked if I can prepare a dessert for the event. She said there would be at least 30 guests who will attend. So I immediately thought of making cheesecake because it’s easy, does not need a lot of preparation, and it always satisfies the palate. And who doesn’t want cheesecake for dessert?? So I was excited to do it! I settled on New York Style Cheesecake because it is not too sweet, and it is, for me, still the best cheesecake variety. What’s even more fun with the New York Style Cheesecake is, for the minimalist, you can eat it just the way it is. Or you can put fresh fruits for garnish, or add a little bit of chocolate or berry sauce (just like what I did). Mmmm… yummy!!!
New York Style Cheesecake
adapted from Good Housekeeping
Graham Cracker-Crumb Crust
- 1 1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs (either from 11 rectangular graham crackers, or you can buy a box of cracker crumbs)
- 4 tbsp butter or margarine, melted
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 3 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese, at room temperature
- 3/4 cups sugar
- 1 tbsp all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 3 large eggs
- 1 large egg yolk
- 1/4 cup milk
- Fresh berries, for garnish
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Prepare Crumb Crust: In 8 1/2- to 9-inch springform pan, with fork, mix crumbs, melted butter, and sugar until crumbs are evenly moistened. With hand, press crumb mixture firmly onto bottom and up side of pan. Bake 10 minutes; cool crust in pan on wire rack. Turn oven control to 300 degrees F.
- Prepare Cheesecake: In large bowl, with mixer at medium speed, beat cream cheese and sugar until smooth and fluffy. Beat in flour and vanilla until well combined. Reduce speed to low and beat in eggs and egg yolk, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in milk just until blended.
- Pour batter into prepared crust. Bake 55 to 60 minutes, until set but still slightly jiggly and moist in center, and pale gold near edge.
- Cool completely in pan on wire rack. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours to overnight before serving. To serve, remove side of pan. Place cake on plate; garnish with fresh fruits.
To make triple berry sauce:
- 3 cups frozen berries
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 2 tbsp water
- 1 1/2 tbsp cornstarch
- 1 1/2 cup frozen or fresh berries
- Place 3 cups of berries and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir until the frozen berries are soft and sugar is melted (you don’t need to add water).
- Puree berry mixture with a blender; replace in saucepan.
- Mix together water and cornstarch and stir into berry mixture.
- Add 1/2 cup frozen or fresh berries and boil over medium heat until thick. Chill to serve
So I recently noticed that whenever I’m extremely happy and satisfied with my day, I go to my kitchen to bake. I made it a golden rule to not bake when I’m mad, because I know that it will not turn out right. I think your emotions emanate to the food that you’re making at that moment. For example, if you’re angry and you’re cooking, there’s a tendency for the food to be overly spiced. So one night, I decided to bake because that was the first day that I got to relax and not worry about a single thing. And because I had positive vibes that night, my carrot muffins turned out to be so moist, and the cream cheese filling was so creamy with the right sweetness. I shared the muffins with my family, and my husband’s co-workers, and they all loved it!
And a bonus: this muffin is great with coffee 🙂
Carrot Muffins with Cream Cheese Filling
adapted from Fix Me A Snack
For the muffins:
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup white whole wheat flour (or all-purpose)
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
2 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup canola oil
1 cup finely shredded carrot
1/4 cup raisins, chopped
For the filling:
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 large egg yolk
3 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit
- In a small bowl, make the filling by mixing together the cream cheese, egg yolk, sugar, and vanilla until smooth. Set aside.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, and nutmeg. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, mix together the eggs, sugar, brown sugar, and oil. Stir in the flour mixture until combined. Then add the carrot and raisins. Stir to incorporate.
- Spoon the muffin batter into a well-greased mini muffin pan, filling each cup only half way. Then place one teaspoon of the filling in each cup. Cover the filling with the remaining muffin batter.
- Bake for 13-15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the largest muffin comes out clean. Cool the muffins in the pan for 5-10 minutes before gently moving them to a cooling rack. Serve. Store in an airtight container for up to 48 hours or freeze in an airtight container in a single layer.
Who wants beer for dessert?
Last week was Ryan’s sister Lauren’s birthday, and I wanted to make something special for her. Usually, people always prepare or buy the usual birthday cakes – red velvet, chocolate, black forest… but I wanted something quite unique to the taste and not overly sweet. I wanted to prepare something that she (and her family) has never tried before. So I searched for cupcake recipes, and I came across this recipe from my friend’s blog. This is a perfect match! First of all, who wouldn’t be interested in eating dessert with beer and liquor as two of the main ingredients? I must admit, the Guinness beer made a HUGE difference on the texture of the cupcakes! I have never had the most moist cupcakes with interesting beer flavor! And I also noticed that the beer flavor gets more pronounced when the cupcakes are kept in the fridge for 3-4 days. Actually, my friend’s recipe used Bailey’s Irish Cream as part of the frosting, but I wanted to try a coffee flavor so I decided to use Kahlua instead. They are still good! If you want to make this recipe (and frosting) perfect, put 1 pound of confectioner’s sugar, as stated. I did not want it to be too sweet that’s why I decreased the amount of sugar, but that also made my frosting soft and runny. But hey! It was still oh-so-delicious!
So, who wants beer for dessert?
Guinness Chocolate Cupcakes with Kahlua Cream Cheese Frosting
modified from thedelishdishblog and smitten kitchen
To make the cupcakes:
- 1 cup Guinness
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
- 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 2 large eggs
- 2/3 cup sour cream
- Preheat oven to 350F. Line 24 cupcake cups with liners.
- Bring 1 cup Guinness & 1 cup butter to simmer over medium heat. Add cocoa powder & whisk until smooth. Cool slightly.
- In a large bowl, sift flour, sugar, baking soda and salt.
- In another bowl, beat eggs & sour cream with an electric mixer.
- Add Guinness mixture to egg mixture & beat just to combine.
- Add flour mixture & beat briefly on slow speed. Use spatula to fold everything in.
- Fill cupcake liners 2/3 to 3/4 of the way. (Will end up with 20-24 cupcakes).
- Bake about 15-17 minutes (test with toothpick to make sure they are done).
- Cool completely the cupcakes before frosting.
To make Kahlua Cream Cheese Frosting:
- 1 8-oz package cream cheese, softened to room temperature
- 3/4 cup heavy cream
- 1 pound box confectioners sugar
- 3 Tbsp Kahlua
- With a mixer beat cream cheese on medium speed until light & fluffy. Gradually beat in heavy cream (use a bit less than the 3/4 cup if you want the frosting to come out thicker).
- On low speed mix in confectioners sugar till smooth. Add in the Kahlua.
- Refrigerate till it thickens up for prettiest frosting results. Otherwise it might be a bit soft & runny like mine, but still delicious.