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Thursday, April 10, 2014

Thursday Treats: Fluffy Cheesecake {Kraft-Cheesecakes & More}

Whenever I want to make a super yummy and simple dessert, cheesecake never fails. Specifically, one that doesn't have to be baked. Like my Creamy, Dreamy Oreo Dessert. From start to finish, it takes me about 15 minutes to put this dessert together. Even shorter if one uses cool whip instead of whipping cream...which I don't suggest, because it won't taste as good :)



This past Sunday, I made Fluffy cheesecake out of my Kraft book. It's a 3-1 type of thing, with recipes including the Jello brand, Cool Whip, Philadelphia cream cheese, and Baker's chocolate. This recipe I pulled from the cheesecake section. Normally, I make this recipe off the top of my head; I don't use a recipe. However, for the purpose of this post, I decided to {kinda} follow this one!



It is creamy and light with just the right amount of texture with the graham crust. I served mine with cherry pie filling, but you can top your cheesecake with whatever you want :D



Fluffy Cheesecake
Philidelphia Cheesecakes and More
Kraft
{Original recipe as written, but I always double my recipe}

1 pkg (8oz) Philadelphia cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup sugar
1 tub (8oz) Cool Whip topping, thawed {I use 2+1/2 cups whipping cream, whipped}
1 Honey Maid graham pie crust
Topping of choice

*If you only have one mixer, ie a stand or hand-held, you should whip your cream first so that you don't need to wash your bowl, but can just use it for the
cream cheese mixture. Unless you love doing dishes--then, by all means, make as many dirty bowls as you wish :D*

1. With your mixer, whip your cream until stiff peaks form. Set aside.

2. Beat the cream cheese and sugar together until well blended. Gently fold in your whipped cream.

3. Spoon into crust and top with topping of choice. {For fresh fruit, I would wait until just before serving to put it on.}

4. Refrigerate for 3 hours or until set.

5. I always make these into squares, so for this, you omit the pie crust. Mix 1 cup of graham cracker crumbs, 2 tablespoons of sugar, and 1/3 cup of melted butter. Press onto the bottom of and 8 inch square pan. Continue as directed.

6. Enjoy!


Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Bonus Treats: Homemade Pop Tarts {Classic Snacks} + Classy Nautical




I saw this cookbook at the Superstore, and having restricted myself to shop cookbooks with a purpose, I didn't get it the first few times I went grocery shopping.

Every time I would pass by the book aisle [...yes, yes...I didn't have to go down that aisle, but--whatever, I always do :P] I looked and picked it up; tried to find some justification in buying another cookbook--apparently, loving cookbooks doesn't count ;)



Then! I saw a recipe for these babies. You see, I have a dear friend who adores pop tarts, but whose husband doesn't...approve of pop tarts {ya know, 'cause they're bad for you and all. Plus, they taste like cardboard} and I thought this would be perfect for her.



I was supposed to make them several weeks ago for her birthday...but, yeah, I missed that boat. Here's to hoping she'll love them so much, it won't matter if they're a few weeks late :D I took some over to her house last night for us girls to test them out after we helped her pack. Moving and a baby all within 2 weeks? You go, girl :D

I made raspberry, and brown sugar/cinnamon. While I wouldn't call them out of this world good...they are pretty good. I think the more I practice making them, the better they'll be. I used raspberry jam, and I think that had a part in making the tarts a little too sweet. For the brown sugar/cinnamon ones, I need to add more spice. Although, maybe if my crust was rolled out a little more thin, I wouldn't have overfilled the pop tarts and they would've been perfect?



Overall, I'm pretty pleased with how these turned out, but, I have plans for making them taste spectacular :D



Homemade Strawberry Pop Tarts
Classic Snacks Made from Scratch
Casey Barber
*I used raspberry jam filling, but only because I was running out of time. My next try will be true to the recipe :D*

Crust

2+1/2 cups flour
2 tsps sugar
1/2 tsp salt
8 tblsp chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2in cubes
1/4 cup ice-cold water
1 tblsp distilled white vinegar
1 large egg whisked with 1 tblsp water, for egg wash

Make the Dough

1. Pulse the flour, sugar, and salt together in the bowl of a food processor to sift and combine.

2. Add the butter and shortening and pulse in 3-second bursts until partially incorporated with pea-sized chunks visible and a texture resembling moist cornmeal.

3. With the processor running, drizzle the water and vinegar through the feed just until a shaggy and crumbly dough starts to form. Transfer to a bowl; divide the dough in half and shape into 2 discs. Wrap plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour {or overnight}

Strawberry Filling

1 lb. strawberries, hulled
3/4 cup sugar
1 tblsp lemon juice

1. While the dough chills, cut the strawberries in halves or quarters, depending on size, and mash roughly with a potato masher in a large bowl. Keep a bunch of big chunks in there; they'll break down in the jam, but it'll be more interesting that way.

2. Stir in the sugar and lemon juice and let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes to break down the berries slightly. Stir once or twice while the berries sit to dissolve the sugar.

3. Pour the strawberries and their liquid into a high-sided pan or Dutch oven. Bring to a low boil over medium heat. Once the berries come to a boil, remove the strawberry chunks with a slotted spoon or flat mesh strainer and reserve in a medium bowl. Continue to let the syrup boil, stirring often, until thickened and jelly-like, about 15-20 minutes.

4. Return the strawberry chunks to the pan and cook for 5-10 minutes more, until the jam is the desired thickness and consistency. Transfer to a clean bowl or Mason jar.

Assemble + Bake

1. Preheat the oven to 375F. Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper or Silpat liners.

2. On a floured surface, roll one of the dough discs to a 10x12in rectangle about 1/4in thick.

3. Use a pastry or pizza cutter to divide into 6 {3x5in} rectangles; place on the prepared baking sheets. Repeat with the second disk, but leave those 6 on your work surface.

4. Spoon 2-3 tablespoons of filling into the center of each rectangle on the baking sheets. Brush the edges with the egg wash.

5. Place a reserved dough rectangle atop each filled rectangle and seal the edges by pressing with the tines of a fork. Use the fork to poke vent holes in the pastry tops.

6. Bake for about 30 minutes or until golden brown and puffed. Transfer the tarts to a wire rack and let cool completely before eating or frosting.

Frosting

1+1/2 cups powdered sugar
2-3 tblsps milk
1 tsp vanilla

1. Whisk the powdered sugar, 2 tablespoons of milk, and vanilla together to form a thick glaze. Add the final tablespoon of milk a drizzle at a time until the glaze has the consistency you want.

2. Use a basting brush to spread the glaze on the cooled pastries.


Enjoy your homemade pop tarts!!



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My friend Sarah is still in the contest! She won last weeks theme, with her Springtime in Paris look--thanks for voting for her!!

This week, it was all about designing your own fabric. Just look at the adorably simple dress her daughter has on. And, suspenders on her little guy? Cute!!

I love how her nautical theme is classy and yet fun. Head over to her blog to see many more shots of her outfits and sweet kiddos.

And, don't forget to cast your vote for your favourite look! Voting is open through Thursday night at 8 :)

Click HERE.

Thanks so much, guys and enjoy those Pop Tarts while perusing Sarah's blog :D

Have a great evening!







Thursday, April 3, 2014

Thursday Treats: Oatmeal CC-M&M + Oatmeal Raisin-Craisin Cookies {Betty Crocker}

Last Thursday, I made these soft, buttery Toffee Bars. In my haste, however, I mis-read the recipe and started off with a "whoopsie".


All was not lost though! I flipped through my cookbook, and just a couple pages after this scrumptious recipe, I found one that would work for my "mess-up"....

Ultimate Oatmeal Cookies! And, guys...I have been wanting to make Monster Oatmeal Cookies for a loooonnnnnngggggg time, so these were a wonderful variation! I took'em to church for a snack after our Bible study and prayer because I just knew I would eat all of'em...that night. They are absolutely delicious.


I made the recipe as is, until I got to the mix-ins. I divided the dough in half and added chocolate chips and M&M's to one, and raisins and craisins to the other!


I preferred the ones with chocolate...simply because they are yummier. I'm not a fan of fruit in my cookies, such as raisins, but mostly because of the texture. However, I have plenty of friends who would much rather prefer raisins to chocolate chips! I just call'em weird :D




Honestly though, the raisin/craisin cookies were much softer. I think it was because I had to boil my raisins...they had lost their plumpness sitting in their little snack-size cartons. I have no kids to eat them, and I have no idea what possessed me to buy them in the first place. Perhaps I was on a healthy-snacks-only kick.

Either way, they were put to good use and lent themselves to be quite useful in making my cookies soft :D



Ultimate Oatmeal Cookies
Betty Crocker

1+1/2 cups packed brown sugar
1 cup butter
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp salt
2 large eggs
3 cups old-fashioned or quick-cooking oats
1+1/3 cups flour
1 cup raisins, craisins, chocolate chips, and/or M&M's

1. Heat oven to 350. In a large bowl, stir the brown sugar, butter, baking soda, cinnamon, vanilla, salt, and eggs with a wooden spoon until well mixed. Stir in the oats, flour and mix-in{s}.

2. Using a cookie scoop, or tableware spoon, place rounded tablespoonfuls of dough onto an ungreased cookie sheet, 2 inches apart.

3. Bake 9-11 minutes or until light brown. Remove cookies from the sheets onto cooling racks. Continue with the rest of the dough.

4. Share with your neighbour and Enjoy! :)




Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Timeless Treasures: A Little Miracle + Springtime in Paris

Remember when this little guy was so excited to share his news?



And, a week ago today, I shared how my friend was going to have her baby pretty soon? 



Well.....my little darling nephew was born on Sunday night at 11:28 pm!



T was having contractions throughout the night on Saturday, and then all morning at church the next day. As her husband was out of town, we decided to go to the hospital and just find out how things were going so she could notify him.

She came over to my house after our afternoon service, and we had a supper of hot dogs before heading out. T was convinced she would be told it was false labour and end up being sent home, so we brought Russell with us.

We made a quick pit stop at Tim Hortons, but T was soon registering in Emerg and we were told to head upstairs to Triage. The nurse hooked her up to some monitors and we hung out for about half an hour. R was having a grand time looking at all the new things and he was totally fascinated by the beeping machines :D

Sure enough, the nurse told T that she was having contractions, but Baby wasn't ready to come just yet. Maybe in the next day or two. So, we packed up and after dropping me off at my house, T went on home. But, just in case...I had my phone on and beside me for the rest of the evening.


I had just finished folding my laundry, when T called me and told me to come NOW. This was around 9:45? Time started getting fuzzy about this time! I grabbed my keys and wallet and jumped in my car...only to realize I had no gas. {Since I've moved right behind work, I seldom gas up as I don't do very much driving}. Eek! I had just enough in there to get me to the gas station where I did the self-serve and got out in about 3 minutes. T called me and was like "Where are you?!?!?! This baby is coming now!!" ...I flew down the highway. On my way, David called me to let me know he had Theresa call an ambulance.


When I got to their house--thank goodness T had the foresight to tell me to keep the house key when I tried to give it back a couple months ago!!--I let my self in and called out for her. She was upstairs, laying down, on the phone with the 911 operator. She had just had a contraction when I got up there and the lady was timing them. They were about 3 minutes apart, but T was doing good. Their hospital bags were in the middle of the room so--after checking to make sure she was fine--I headed out to put them in the car. Russell and I would follow behind the ambulance. I also had to switch his car seat over to mine and couldn't for the life of me figure out how to get it unhooked from the bolt in the seat. Finally, I got one to come out, and I went back upstairs to check on T, and although she was breathing a little harder, she seemed ok. {One thing [of many!] I learned: don't leave a pregnant woman who is on the verge of giving birth no matter how much she says she's fine!} I went back out to the car to work on the other latch. I was just about to go back in when I saw the amber, blue, and red lights of the ambulance. I waited to show them into the house and lead them up to Theresa. The first thing I noticed when I got upstairs {followed by 4 EMT ladies}, was that T was on the floor. My first thought was--"how in the world did she get down there!!?"

I found this out later, but the operator lady told her to get up, gather a sheet, blankets, and a string...preparing for birthing her baby at home. She also asked her where her friend was {me} and I think freaked out a little when T told her I was gone {outside, switching the car-seat} [Sorry operator lady--I've not had kids and had NO idea how fast labour, labour progresses!! Now, I know :P] T was yelling out for me, but two stories below and outside--I heard not a thing.

Well, while the first group of EMT's were there, another ambulance showed up and those 4 ladies came up as well. They were so eager to help in the delivery, but since T had no complications with either of her pregnancies, they decided to take her to the hospital...and deliver on the side of the road if need be!

Can I just say how I'm very thankful for D's wisdom in getting his wife to call 911?! Because, I don't think we would've made it to the hospital in my car for her to deliver! 


Once T was in the capable hands of the EMT's, I rushed around getting Russell ready to go to the hospital. I had finally gotten the car-seat switched over, and 5 minutes after the ambulance left, we sped off in the dark night.

The poor EMT ladies didn't get their wish that night of delivering a baby--but almost! Little Andrew was born about 5 minutes after T arrived at the hospital at 11:28 pm.

A perfect, amazing Miracle.


Welcome, little Buddy! I know your parents are so happy you're here and Russell is so excited to have a playmate! Right now, your cries make him laugh :D And, your Auntie can't wait to take pictures of your chubby little face :)

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I have wanted to travel to specific parts of Europe for a long, long time. In fact, for my 30th birthday, I plan on taking 6 beautiful weeks to explore to my heart's content.

Until then, I'm happy to dream :)

Well, this week in Project Run & Play, the theme is Spring Break, and my dear friend created this beautiful look for her daughter! Springtime in Paris! Who's up for that? Too bad this wasn't just a dream. One day. One day :D

Anyway! It's time to vote for this weeks theme, and voting is open until tomorrow {Thursday} until 8:00. But, don't wait till the last second--use this handy link {PR&P SPRING BREAK LOOK} to pick your favourite look for this week.


Check out the Eiffel Tower...she drew by hand on her wall. Amazing, I tell ya! And that coat--I totally want one in my size!! Visit her blog for some more details on this outfit and for more fabulously darling pictures of her model--The Crazy Tailor :D

Thanks!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Thursday Treats: Toffee Bars {Betty Crocker}

I was looking for something both simple and quick because I didn't have very much time before our Thursday night Bible study and Prayer night, and these Toffee Bars fit the bill.


Actually, they might've been too easy because I messed up in the first step. I let my mind wander and put the egg in before separating the yolk and white.


It was ok though, because I quickly found another use for my "mess-up" and started over again on these. I paid attention to the egg part...


...but not to the butter. I was wondering why my mixture was so dry and crumbly and kept going over the list of ingredients. Egg, butter, sugar, vanilla, flour, salt...simple line-up and all there. Oh! But wait...I needed two sticks of butter, and I...I only put in one.


Ooops! Good thing I'm pretty ;)


Anyway, there wasn't very much else I could mess up on and if this recipe turned out a fail...it would be no fault of Betty but my own.


They were a success. Soft, shortbread type of crust with enough chocolate  to make it good but not sickeningly sweet. I subbed out the milk chocolate chips {I used those in my rescued mess-up!} for semi-sweet. I also added toffee bits to the top instead of nuts. Whether you make them with my substitutions, or as the original, I'm sure you'll love these treats.




Toffee Bars
Betty Crocker, Baking Basics

1 large egg, separated
1 cup butter, room temperature {2 sticks :)}
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups flour
1/4 tsp salt
2/3 cup milk or semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped nuts or toffee bits

1. Heat the oven to 350.

2. In a large bowl, place egg yolk, butter, brown sugar and vanilla and stir with a wooden spoon until well mixed.

3. Stir in the flour and salt until mixed. Using your fingers, press the dough firmly and evenly on the bottom of an ungreased 13x9 pan.

4. Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until very light brown {the crust will be soft}.

5. Immediately sprinkle the chocolate chips over the hot crust. Let stand about 5 minutes or until chocolate has softented; spread chocolate evenly over bars, using a metal spatula. sprinkle with the nuts and/or toffee bits.

6. Place pan on cooling rack. Let stand 30 minutes before cutting.

7. Share and enjoy!


There are no calories in these bars because you burn them off mixing the dough by hand.

Therefore, go. Make and eat :)




Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Timeless Treasures: Suspense + Contests

T is getting down to the last week or so before she has her baby boy!! I'm super excited for them and I know they can't wait to welcome Baby U :D



T says the baby always kicks R when he falls asleep on T's lap :)


A Timmies is always refreshing!


Baby likes French Vanilla too!! He was KICKING after he had a taste of that! :P



My friend, Sarah over at The Crazy Tailor, is an amazing seamstress who is in a contest called Project Run & Play. There are 6 contestents who sew their hearts out making the best outfit possible for their little {or big!} munchkins. There are different themes each week for 4 weeks--Put me in the Zoo! is the theme for this first week and the posts are up for voting! Pick your favourite and vote! {I'd love it if you voted for my friend!!} If you head over to PR&P, you can see the hard work all the ladies put into their outfits and even be inspired to dust off your sewing machine and create something beautiful. {Incidentally, there is also a "sew-along" contest, so if you are handy with needle and thread--submit your work! I'm thinking of doing one for the signature week, because I've been inspired by the amazing work from the last couple seasons!}



E wearing his cute outfit. Doesn't even look homemade :D

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Thursday Treats {Pinterest}: Carmelitas

I had wanted to make these last Thursday, but didn't get around to it until the weekend. I made these for our church potluck on Sunday.


And, because Ema Boo reminded me of this pin that I've had on my board for a long time!



The recipe comes from Melissa over at Lulu the Baker. She writes a funny post of entering these into a contest expecting to win but losing to white chocolate & cranberries oatmeal cookies.



If I had been a judge, I would've picked these as winner. More so because I'm not fan of white chocolate OR dried cranberries, than being totally in love with these bars.

 

These bars were...good, but not my favourite. I loved that they were simple to make with ingredients I had on hand. These are quite rich and one small piece is quite enough. I did add salt to my cream/caramel mixture and that helped cut back on the sweetness.


I think the biggest thing for me was that it was almost too sweet to actually enjoy it. I think if I make this again, I'll probably use dark chocolate and add a bit more salt to the caramel layer. Or, as one of my friends suggested, use apple pieces instead of the chocolate.


Overall, it's a good recipe and one that I would make again. It IS delicious when eaten in small quantities though, so I don't think I'd double the recipe again.

Caramelitas
Melissa @ Lulu the Baker
Pinterest

32 caramel squares, unwrapped
1/2 cup cream
3/4 cup butter, melted
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup flour
1 cup rolled oats
1 tsp baking soda
6 oz semisweet chocolate chips

1. Combine caramels and cream in a small saucepan, stirring over low heat until smooth. Set aside.

2. In a bowl, combine the butter, sugar, flour, oats, and baking soda.

3. Pat half of the mixture into an 8x8 pan; bake at 350 for 10 minutes.

4. Remove pan from the oven and sprinkle the chocolate chips over the crust and then pour the caramel mixture on top.

5. Crumble the remaining oatmeal mixture on top of the caramel and return the pan into the oven for 15-20 minutes or until the edge is lightly browned.

6. Remove from the oven and let the bars completely cool before cutting into squares.

7. Enjoy with a tall glass of ice cold delicious {chocolate} milk while reading the original post here :)