Cheesecake Crumb Bars

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After some things didn’t go *quite* according to plan today, I ended up taking on the 7 hour drive to my hometown all by myself.  This made an abundance of room for Sara Lynn time, which included motivating self-talks, judging everyone’s driving besides my own, and running through Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not three times.  Recipes were developed, life plans were made, and I’m pretty sure I had at least four revelations.

All in all, it was a pretty spiritual day.  And now, I have a cheesecake crumb bar recipe.  Sometimes, things just work out.

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While I won’t say that cheesecake is one of my favorite desserts, I also never pass it up when offered.  Realistically, I had big plans of making a huge cheesecake before reminding myself that 1. I didn’t have the ingredients to make a whole cheesecake and I was already wearing pajamas, which meant that there was no way in hell I was going to the grocery store, and 2. No one should ever make a whole cheesecake when they live alone.  But cheesecake bars?  Portable.  Sliceable.  Freezable.  Slightly more social acceptable to have hanging around the house.

These ended up being a mix between cheesecake, shortbread cookies, and crumb cake.  They’re everything you want from each of those desserts, but I think next time I’ll cut the dough in half and double the filling.  If you like more of the “cheese” part of cheesecake, I would recommend following that method.  If you prefer shortbread, stick with the original.

Customize with pumpkin, raspberry, lemon, caramel, chocolate, etc.  If it fits in a cheesecake, it fits in these bars.  I opted for simplicity and added a little vanilla.  Okay a lot.  Whatever.

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Song of the Day: Fake Tales of San Francisco–Arctic Monkeys

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Rocky Road Chocolate Bark

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Raise your hand if it’s only December 5, and you’re already tired of peppermint chocolate bark.

*raises hand*

As much as I love December and all the food that comes with it, I get bored of the peppermint chocolate bark you inevitably get offered 1,000 times between Christmas parties, work, and everywhere else ever.  Chocolate + crunchy crushed peppermints is tired, but luckily, rocky road isn’t.

The best part of this recipe is that you don’t necessarily have to measure the ingredients, so you can kind of just throw everything down on a piece of foil or waxed paper and walk away for a little while.  If holiday baking is not your thing, this is the best way to contribute.

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Have a Merry Christmas ♥

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*Song of the Day: Horchata by Vampire Weekend*

Cranberry White Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies

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Merry Christmas Eve my lovely readers!

I hope your Christmas Eve (and Christmas) are beautiful and I hope you get to drink lots of wine.  Or eggnog if that’s your thing.

I really recommend the wine…

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These cookies are really special ♥

They have tons of cranberries and white chocolate in them, and I promise you, they do not taste like raisins.

Raisins=no but craisins=yes.

Especially with white chocolate in oatmeal cookies.

When I was really little, and my mom and one of her best friends (whose recipe this is) would make the oatmeal cookies around Christmas time.  And I would watch.  And color my coloring books.  And help when they would let me.  These cookies were always one of my favorites, but my dad’s favorite is chocolate chip, and he would normally win the cookie battle when my mom asked, “What kind of cookies should I make?”.  Anyway, this year I decided to make them and add the white chocolate and cranberries, since it’s Christmas and all.

I’ll be taking a blogging break tomorrow, but I want to leave you with a few more recipes in case you want to make some last minute cookies tomorrow, or even After Christmas cookies!

(After Christmas cookies are definitely a thing).

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Ingredients:

1 1/4 c. flour

1 tsp. baking soda

1 c. butter, softened

1/4 c. sugar

3/4 c. brown sugar–packed

1 small package instant vanilla pudding

2 eggs

3 1/2 c. oats

1 c. white chocolate chips

1/2 c. dried cranberries

Preheat oven to 375* F.  In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the flour and baking soda.  Cream butter, sugars, and pudding together in a separate bowl.  Beat until smooth and creamy.  Beat in eggs, one at a time.  Gradually add flour mixture.  Stir in oats, white chocolate chips, and cranberries.  Scoop in to 1 inch balls and bake for 10-12 minutes.  They will seem very soft, so let them cool slightly on the baking sheet before removing.  Enjoy!

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I just love how pretty and festive they are, plus they’re sooo good.

Have a beautiful, wonderful, amazing Christmas.

XO Sara

Song of the Day: I’ll Be Home for Christmas–She & Him

The Best Homemade Snickerdoodles

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I like the name snickerdoodle because it’s cute and funny, although it does not sound appetizing in the least.

But I think most people will agree that snickerdoodles are actually super appetizing.

I may or may not have already eaten like, 10 of them.

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These cookies are a family recipe, and they’re by far my brother’s favorite.  He asks me to make them whenever I bake, and they’re gone in just a few minutes.  And I normally do make them because they’re sooooo easy.

However, I will warn you that they have shortening in them.  I am totally against shortening in almost all cases, but not in a few family recipes (where shortening is used a lot).  The shortening makes these cookies chewy and gives them a great texture, so just go ahead and trust me on this, okay?

I wouldn’t give you guys any recipe that wasn’t amazing, I promise.

Cause you guys are da besss.

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Ingredients:

1 1/2 c. sugar

1/2 c. butter

1/2 c. shortening

2 eggs

2 3/4 c. flour

1 tsp. baking soda

2 tsp. cream of tartar

1/4 tsp. salt

2 Tbs. sugar mixed with 1 Tbs. cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350*.   Whisk together flour, baking soda, cream of tartar, and salt.  In a mixing bowl, cream sugar, butter and shortening until fluffy.  Add eggs one at a time.  Gradually mix in flour mixture.  Form into 1 inch balls and roll in cinnamon sugar mixture.  Bake for 8-10 minutes.

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I really did make the dough for these in about 8 minutes.

Go make them you beautiful people.

XO Sara

Song of the Day: NYC Baby–Karen O

Orange Drop Cookies

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This is the first time I have left the kitchen all day.  Literally, I have been in the kitchen since I woke up this morning.

(Granted, I slept in til 10:30, but that is irrelevant).

Every single year my mom makes this whole big deal about how “we’re not doing any holiday baking this year!”

And then I say, “Hahaha okay, if you need me, I’ll be in the kitchen baking cookies” (Because baking around the holidays is just a thing.  It’s the only time you can eat as much as you want and blame it on a holiday…?!?!)

We then proceed to make about 100 more baked goods, because once you start, you can’t stop.  Luckily, we have a good compilation of holiday recipes going on.

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These orange cookies are one of my family’s favorite recipes.  It’s my grandma’s recipe, and the family always gets excited when these are around.  We make them for all occasions, but I thought they’d be good for Christmas since oranges are a winter fruit (although I always associate them as summer-y?)

They pretty much taste just like cupcake tops with sticky, melty icing, which would normally be my worst nightmare, but when something is this good, exceptions can be made.

Thanks to Grandma for passing this recipe along.

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Ingredients:

1 c. brown sugar

1/2 c. white sugar

1 c. shortening

2 eggs

1 c. buttermilk

1 scant tsp. baking soda, dissolved in buttermilk

1/2 tsp. salt

3 1/2 c. flour

2 tsp. baking powder

Grated rind of 1 orange

Juice of 1/2-1 orange (about 1/2 cup)

1 tsp. vanilla

Preheat the oven to 350* F.  Cream the shortening and sugars until fluffy.  Add eggs one at a time.  Mix in buttermilk, orange rind, orange juice, and vanilla.  Add flour, salt, and baking powder until smooth.  Drop by the spoonful on a greased baking sheet.  Bake for 10 minutes.  They will seem too soft and will dent if you press them in, but they will be done and slightly browned on the bottom.  Frost with icing.

Icing:

3 c. powdered sugar, sifted

1 Tbs. butter, softened

3 Tbs. orange juice

1 Tbs. orange rind

1-2 Tbs. milk, or enough to desired consistency

Mix ingredients together with a mixer until desired consistency.  Frost slightly warm cookies with icing and let it harden before stacking and storing!

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To make them more Christmas-y you could even add dried cranberries!  That might be my project next year…

Keep an eye out for more holiday recipes in the next few days!

XO Sara

Song of the Day: This Girl’s in Love with You (cover)–She & Him

Soft Almond Sugar Cookies

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Way to go with posting all the holiday stuff two days before Christmas, Sara.

I know that’s what you’re all thinking.

Don’t lie.

But I’m just now getting to it because 1. I was waiting until I got back to Vegas so I could bake with my mom and 2. I decided not to bake at home since I’m the only one there to eat all of this stuff.

That’s my excuse(s) and I’m sticking to it (them)!

But on the bright side, these are the best sugar cookies I’ve ever had.  I know that you’ve seen that phrase a sickeningly obnoxious amount of times on Pinterest but this is the for real truth.  I mean it!

They’re soft and biscuity and not to sweet and almondy and just plain delicious and the frosting is perfect okay?  So just take my word for it and make them, OKAY?!

Okay.

Also, I’m posting two different recipes for frosting.  The first is Royal Frosting and you use it to outline your cookies so the flood icing (second recipe) does not spill over the sides and give you a huge headache-y mess.  Just outline your cookies and designs with the royal icing (the thick white icing in my pictures) and fill it in with the colored flood icing and sprinkles and stuff.  Just add some food coloring to your flood icing to make a bunch of pretty colors and have fun!  Also, I recommend you use these kinds of bottles…

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…to spread your flood icing on your cookie.  It makes your life sooooo much easier, I swear.  You can get these at Michael’s in the baking section and probably at other grocery/baking stores.  Use a pastry bag (or plastic bag) and small round tip to outline the royal icing.

If you have any questions for me about these cookies, feel free to ask!  I have become an expert.

Cookies:

1 1/3 c. butter

1 1/2 c. sugar

3/4 c. buttermilk

2 eggs

1 Tbs. vanilla extract

1 1/2 tsp. almond extract (if you’re allergic, you can just leave this out!)

5 1/2 c. AP flour

2 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. baking soda

1/4 tsp. salt

In a bowl, combine butter and sugar until creamy.  Add the buttermilk, eggs, and extracts.  It will look kind of curdy and gross, but don’t worry.  Combine all of your dry ingredients and add to the wet mixture in 3-4 stages.  If the dough is too runny, add more flour.  If it seems good and sturdy at 5 cups of flour, just stop there.  Seal the finished dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours or more.

Roll the dough about 1/4 in. thick on a floured surface and use cookie cutters to make your favorite shapes.  I recommend rolling in batches and keeping unused dough in the fridge because when this gets warm, it becomes a huge mess.  Lay your cut out cookies on a parchment paper lined baking sheet and refrigerate for 5 minutes.  Bake them for 8-12 minutes at 350*.  They should be slightly browned around the edges and when you press them, they will feel soft.  Let them cool before frosting them!  *The time it takes to bake them depends on the size of your cookie cutter(s) and the thickness you roll out the dough*.

Royal Icing:

1/4 c. meringue powder or dried powdered egg whites

1/2 c. water

3 3/4 (1 lb.) powdered sugar

2 tsp. light corn syrup

1/4 tsp. vanilla extract

1/4 tsp. almond extract (use vanilla if allergic)

Combine water and meringue powder (dried egg whites) and mix until frothy.  Add the rest of the ingredients and beat for about 6-8 minutes or until thick and stiff.  It should not be runny!  Outline the cookies using a pastry bag and small round tip.

Flood Icing:

1 c. powdered sugar

1 Tbs. milk

2 tsp. light corn syrup

1/4 tsp. vanilla extract

1/4 tsp. almond extract (or vanilla)

Combine ingredients together with a whisk.  It should be the consistency of syrup.  Add more milk if it is too thick.  Add food coloring and put in bottles!  You can do as many or as little colors as you like.  We did dark green, light green, red, blue, and white.  I think we ended up making about 4 recipes of this for our cookies, but we had a bit leftover so I would start with maybe 2 or 3 batches and add more if needed.

Then just fill the outline of your designs with icing!  And add sprinkles or whatever else you like.  We used some black gel frosting from the store to make small designs on our cookies.  But be careful not to add too much or there will be a funky taste.  Which is bad joo joo.

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Aren’t they just so cute and happy?  These are a few of my favorites.  But we had some real gems.

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Merry Christmas!  I hope you all have a wonderful holiday with your families.  P.S. These cookies would be good for any holiday in any shape!

XOXO Sara