Monday, January 23, 2017

Easy Cheesecake Cupcakes

Easy Cheesecake Cupcakes
I love cheesecake!  It is one of my favorite desserts.  I've learned to make a pretty good baked cheesecake but it takes some time to get it smooth and creamy.  These little Easy Cheesecake Cupcakes are quick and easy.  You can enjoy that delicious cheesecake texture and taste with minimal effort and they look adorable.

My friend Teresa gave me this recipe several years ago when I needed a portable dessert.  They work perfectly for toting to parties or for serving as a delicious dessert after a meal at home.

I'm thinking we'll use these on Valentine's Day for a fun ending to our meal.

Easy Cheesecake Cupcakes

1 C. sugar
3 8 oz. packages cream cheese, softened to at least room temperature
4 eggs
2 tsp. lemon juice
1 pkg. NILLA Wafers
Cherry or Blueberry pie filling
Whipped Cream, optional
24 paper muffin cups

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.   Mix sugar, cheese, eggs and lemon juice until smooth.  

Place paper muffin liners in muffin tin.  Place one Nilla Wafer in the bottom of each cup.  Spoon cheese mixture over wafers to fill cups 3/4 full.  

Bake in preheated oven for 18-20 minutes.  Cool.  Cupcakes will sink in the middle while cooling,  Spoon pie filling on each cupcake and refrigerate at least an hour.  Add whipped topping if desired.   Makes about 24 cupcakes.

Joy's Notes:  It helps to have the eggs at room temperature.  If I haven't remembered to take them out, I just set them in a bowl and cover with fairly warm water for a few minutes to warm them up.  This help keep the cream cheese from being lumpy when you mix it together.  Also - NILLA wafers are a little larger than any other vanilla wafer cookie I've found.  I like them best for the crust on these.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Double Chocolate Chip Pecan Cookies

Today feels like a baking day.  It's chilly outside and nothing warms the house up like the aroma from a busy oven. Especially when that aroma includes chocolate!

These chocolaty cookies are delicious!  I don't often put nuts in my recipes because my children don't love them.  However, I DO love them and did you know that pecans are a pretty healthy nut?  We'll focus that direction and forget about the cup of butter in these that might offset the health benefits!

Every bit as easy to mix up as regular chocolate chip cookies, but a nice change of pace when you're in a nutty mood.

Double Chocolate Chip Pecan Cookies

1 C. butter, softened
1 C. brown sugar
3/4 C. white sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 T. water
2 eggs
2 1/2 C. flour
1/3 C. cocoa
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
2 C. semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 C. chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 375.

Blend the butter, sugars, vanilla and water until light and fluffy.  Add the eggs and beat until well mixed.   Add flour, cocoa, salt and baking soda and mix until dough is consistent texture throughout.  Stir in chocolate chips and pecans.

Drop dough by spoonfuls onto a cookie sheet (about 12 per sheet) and bake for 9-11 minutes.   Cool for at least 2 minutes on cookie sheet and then remove to cooling rack.  

Eat. (But then that's sort of a given, isn't it!)

Joy's Notes:  I like to use a cookie scoop - like an ice cream scoop but smaller. The 1 oz. size is best for these cookies, or use a rounded teaspoonful of dough.  The cookies should look not quite done when you take them out of the oven and they'll finish while sitting on the cookie sheet.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Cinnamon Swirl Bread

My husband loves Cinnamon Swirl bread from the bakery.  I love it too but it's just pricier than I like!  I found that I can use my regular bread recipe and tweak it a little with great results!

You can find my favorite bread recipe HERE.  Scroll down to the bottom of it and you'll find the measurements for 2 loaves.  That's the easiest.   Today I did a recipe for 4 loaves and then left 2 of them regular and made Cinnamon Swirl from the other two.

Cinnamon Swirl Bread

1 batch of dough enough for 2 loaves of Tender Homemade Bread
2 T. butter, softened
1/4 C. sugar
2 tsp. ground cinnamon

Divide the dough in two.  Let rest 10 minutes. (this step really makes it easier to work with the dough when rolling it out)

Mix the sugar and cinnamon.

Roll out half of the dough.  Make it as wide as the length of your bread pan. (mine was 8 inches).  Roll it so it's about 1/2 inch thick.   Using a knife or the back of a spoon, spread half of the the softened butter on the dough. sprinkle with approximately half of the cinnamon sugar.  Roll tightly, pinching the seam closed.  Don't worry about pinching the ends closed. Place into greased bread pan.

Let rise until doubled and bake for 30 minutes in a 350 degree oven.  Cool and slice.  

Joy's Notes:  The swirl may separate some in the slices but it will stay together well enough to toast and use as desired.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Creamy Pork Chops and Potatoes

The other day I needed a dinner that I could make ahead and leave in the oven.  I combined a couple of recipes to come up with this.  It was a hit with our entire family.

I like to buy full boneless pork loins at Sam's Club and then cut them into chops or leave the size we need for a roast.  The price is usually cheapest that way and I'm all about cutting our food budget.  I keep everything in this recipe on hand (aside from the French's Fried Onions) so it is something I could throw together  spur of the moment.

Creamy Pork Chops and Potatoes

6-8 pork loin chops (boneless or bone-in)
6 russet potatoes, peeled and sliced

2 cans cream of condensed cream of mushroom soup
1 can evaporated milk
3/4 C. water
3 T. onion soup base (1 package of lipton onion soup is a little over 2 T. so just use that if you'd rather not have a package open.  I buy mine in bulk so it's easier for measuring)
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/4 tsp. salt

French's fried onions, optional

Grease a 9x13 baking dish.  place sliced potatoes in the bottom and set the pork chops evenly spaced on top of them.

Mix together the soup, milk, water, onion soup, and salt and pepper.  Pour over the pork chops and potatoes.   Sprinkle a few handfuls of the French's Fried Onions over the top.  Cover with foil and bake at 325 for 2 hours. 

Joy's Notes:  I used 8 pork chops and put this in an 11x14 pan this time.  The French Fried onions are a nice touch but not critical.  I just had them leftover from Thanksgiving dinner's green bean casserole so I used them.  Also - I needed this to bake while I was at church so I set my oven for 275 and left it in for 4 hours.  Perfect!