Lemon Coconut Magic Bars

Hi all!  Is it finally starting at act like spring where you are?  I think the temperature here in NJ actually got above 60 degrees today!  Of course, it’s supposed to be all crappy and rainy today but that’s okay because I just baked a batch of sunshine last night.  🙂  Lemon cake, coconut flakes, Lemon Creme Oreos, pretty pastel White Chocolate M&M’s.  These Lemon Coconut Magic Bars look like spring and taste like summer!

Lemon Coconut Magic Bars | Shake Bake and Party

 

Lemon Coconut Magic Bars
Adapted from Samoa Magic Bars by The Domestic Rebel

Ingredients

1 box of lemon cake mix
1 egg
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 cup Easter White Chocolate M&M’s
1/2 cup white chocolate chips
1/2 cup coconut flakes
10 Lemon Creme Oreos
1 14 oz can sweetened condensed milk

Directions

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.   Line a 13×9 inch pan with foil, spray the foil lightly with cooking spray and set aside.  (I used a metal, nonstick pan.  The baking times may vary if you use glass.)

2.  In a large bowl combine the cake mix, egg and butter until a soft dough forms.  Press the dough evenly in the bottom of the pan.  Bake for 10 minutes.

3.  While the dough is baking, roughly chop the Oreos into small pieces and measure out the M&M’s, white chocolate chips and coconut flakes.

4.  Remove the pan from the oven and pour about 3/4 of the sweetened condensed milk on top of the cake.  Next, evenly cover the cake with the chopped Oreos, white chocolate chips, coconut flakes and White Chocolate M&M’s.  Drizzle the remaining sweetened condensed milk on top.

5.  Return to the oven and bake for approximately 15 minutes.

6.  Remove from the oven.  Allow the bars to set at room temperature until cool before cutting into bars.  I stored mine overnight in a covered container in the refrigerator before taking them in to work the next day, but according to the original recipe these will keep at room temperature in an airtight container for several days.

Lemon Coconut Magic Bars | Shake Bake and Party

I’ll be honest – this might be the best (non-alcoholic) thing I’ve made to date.  The house smelled wonderful while it was baking, the lightness of the lemon and the coconut flavors keep it from being TOO sweet and I just love the colors of the M&M’s.  This would be an easy treat to make for Easter, or for the weekend, or for Monday…  You really don’t need any reason to make these bars other than the fact that they are absolutely delicious!

Lemon Coconut Magic Bars | Shake Bake and Party

Happy Friday everyone!  Hope you all have a great weekend!

The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap!

I was SO excited to participate in the 3rd Annual Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap this year!  The second I read about it on Facebook I knew I wanted to get in on the action!  The premise was simple – sign up, make a donation to Cookies for Kids’ Cancer and await your matches!  I would get the names and info for three other food bloggers, each of whom I would send one dozen cookies to.  There would also be three people sending ME a dozen cookies each.  No one would know who they were matched with until the cookies started to arrive.  Ummm, cookies in the mail?!  YES PLEASE!!

Every day after work as I pulled into the driveway I would check the doorstep for a box from the post office.  Would I have any cookies today??!  Who would they be from?  What flavor would they be?  While the anticipation itself was fun, eating all the cookies was the best part!  They were all absolutely delicious!

PicMonkey Collage fb cookieswap

I received cookies from Becca at Two Places at Once, Karyn at Pint Sized Baker and Kristy at Sweet Treats & More.  Make sure you check out their blogs for their cookie swap recipes!

Cran Pumpkin Cheesecake Cookies

Since my Pumpkin Toffee Cheesecake cookies were such a hit, I decided to use the same base recipe but this time I added dried cranberries and white chocolate chips.  I was mailing the cookies out before Thanksgiving, and I thought the cranberry and pumpkin were perfect flavors for Turkey Day!

Cran-Pumpkin Cheesecake Cookies

My cookies were sent to (and hopefully enjoyed by!) Meghan at Stir & Scribble, Betsy from Betsylife and Megan at Nutrition Awareness.

Cran-Pumpkin Cheesecake Cookies
(adapted from Funfetti Cheesecake Cookies by Kitchen Meets Girl)

Ingredients

1 box Pillsbury Perfectly Pumpkin cake mix
1 small box instant cheesecake pudding mix
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
1 cup dried cranberries
1/3 cup white chocolate chips for garnish (optional)

Directions

1.  Preheat oven to 350.  Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.
2.  Combine cake mix, pudding mix, oil and eggs in a medium bowl until a dough forms.  Mix in dried cranberries.
3.  I just grabbed blobs of dough and rolled them into balls, but you can use a cookie scoop if you prefer.  Place 2 inches apart on cookie sheets.  Press a few white chocolate chips into the tops of each cookie if you desire.
4.  Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, or until cookies begin to brown slightly.  Remove from oven, cool for 2 minutes and then move to a wire rack.

Makes about 24 cookies.

fbcookieswap2013_badgewhite

I had an AWESOME time participating in the cookie swap and I can’t wait to do it again next year!  Over $13,000 was raised for Cookies for Kids’ Cancer and I got to discover wonderful new bloggers and stuff myself with enjoy some fabulous cookies.  Win, win, win!  Many thanks to Lindsay from Love & Olive Oil and Julie from The Little Kitchen for all their hard work at putting the swap together!  Be on the lookout for an amazing round-up of ALL the cookie swap recipes.  I am sure there will be plenty of cookies you will want to add to your holiday baking lists!

Black Friday Giveaway – $500 Value!!

Hi Everyone! I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving. Once you have emerged from your food coma, or returned from a marathon Black Friday shopping session I have an awesome giveaway for you to enter! I have joined up with 41 other bloggers to give you the chance to win one of the fabulous items below.

Since I’m currently running on WordPress.com the Rafflecopter form for the giveaway will not display on my lowly blog – you will need to click the link at the end of the post that says “a Rafflecopter giveaway” OR head over to Living Better Together – the blog of the lovely lady who organized this whole thing (thanks Rebecca!) – and enter there. Good luck!

42 blogs are bringing you an amazing giveaway to get your holiday season underway! We’re hoping to make the holiday season easier for one of our lucky readers, $500.00 worth of easier that is! 
 
The winner will be able to choose from an XBOX 360 Kinect Nike+ Bundle, a Kindle Fire HD 8.9″, or a KitchenAid 5 Quart Stand Mixer in the color of your choice! Oh and to top it all off, we’re going to give you the difference in an Amazon gift card to make your grand prize total $500.00
 
For example, if you choose the Kindle Fire HD 8.9″ as your prize, it’s $229.00. 
$500.00-$229.00=$271 Amazon gift card. 
Amounts based on price at time of shipment.
 
Sounds like something you’d like to win, right? Well, without further rambling, on to the giveaway! Good luck!

Goat Cheese Cheesecake with Rum Raisin Compote

SPIKEDRECIPECHALLENGE_zps72efc014

I LOVE goat cheese.  My grocery store sells little logs of the tangy cheese flavored with all kinds of wonderful things – honey, fig, blueberry.  One of my favorites is the goat cheese rolled in rum raisins.  Give me that and a package of water crackers and I’ve got dinner a very lovely snack.  So when I saw that this month’s Spiked Recipe Challenge ingredient was spiced rum, I knew I wanted to make something with goat cheese and rum raisins.  But what???

Goat Cheese Cheesecake with Rum Raisin Compote

This was the very first cheesecake I have ever made and it is definitely a keeper!  It has that added tang from the goat cheese that I just love, and the Biscoff cookie crust is to die for… but more on the ingredients later!  First let me say – there are SO many opinions on cheesecake!  Butter in the crust, no butter in the crust, egg whites, no egg whites, water bath, no water bath, bake, no bake, remove from the oven, leave in the oven to cool.  My head was spinning trying to figure out how to make this darn thing!

I started off by looking for a recipe that sounded tasty yet relatively simple.  I found one on Oprah.com of all places.  After a few ingredient swaps I was ready to bake.  I decided to do the whole water bath thing since so many people seemed adamant about it.  No, you do not dunk your cheesecake in the tub.  You are supposed to wrap the outside of the springform pan in tinfoil, place the pan with cheesecake filling in a larger pan, fill the larger pan with water (boiling, not boiling.  I went with boiling.) about halfway up the springform pan and THEN carefully put the whole setup in the oven. . All this is supposed to prevent your cheesecake from cracking on top.  Mine did not crack, but whether is was due to the water bath or just my mad cheesecake baking skills we will never know.

Rum Raisin Goat Cheese Cheesecake

After letting my cheesecake chill in the fridge overnight I made my rum raisin compote.  Then it was time to plate and photograph.Just one minor problem… my cheesecake was stuck to the bottom of the pan!!  I had sprayed it with baking spray but apparently that was pointless.  My previously crack-less cheesecake was turning into the Grand Canyon as I tried in vain to lift it off the pan bottom.  A quick internet search let me know that I should have covered the bottom of the pan in parchment paper first.  WHERE was this info in all of my previous cheesecake research?!

Luckily I was able to get a few nice pieces out of the cheesecake.  The rest isn’t pretty but it doesn’t really matter because it’s damn delicious!

Goat Cheese Cheesecake with Rum Raisins | Shake Bake and Party

Goat Cheese Cheesecake (adapted from Goat Cheese Cheesecake with Spiced Cherry Topping on Oprah.com)

Ingredients
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1 3/4 cups Biscoff cookie crumbs (I just put a bunch of cookies in a plastic bag and crushed them with my rolling pin)
  • 3 – 8 oz packages cream cheese at room temperature
  • 8 oz goat cheese at room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tbsp all purpose flour
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla bean paste (that’s where all the little flecks you see in the pictures come from; it’s not dirt – I promise)  You can use vanilla extract if you do not have the paste.

Directions

Crust: Preheat oven to 325°. Melt butter; then mix it with Biscoff cookie crumbs. Press crust into the bottom of a greased 9-inch springform pan (or try the lining it with parchment paper trick!). Bake for 10 minutes.

Filling: Combine cream cheese, goat cheese, and sugar in the bowl of a mixer using a paddle attachment. Blend on low speed until smooth. Scrape down sides of bowl; add flour. Mix until flour is thoroughly incorporated. Add eggs one at a time, mixing well and scraping down sides of bowl between additions. Add vanilla; mix until incorporated.

Remove crust from oven and pour in filling. Smooth top with a small knife or spatula. (Now is the time to put together your water bath if that’s the route you are taking). Bake cake until edges are slightly cracked and center is jiggly, 30 to 40 minutes. Remove from oven; set pan on a wire rack until it cools to room temperature, then remove sides of pan. Refrigerate cake until ready to serve.

Rum Raisin Compote

Ingredients

  • 1 cup spiced rum (I used Captain Morgan’s)
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/3 cup golden raisins
  • 1 cup regular raisins
  • 3 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch and 1 tbsp water (optional)

Directions

Combine all of the ingredients except the cornstarch and water in a small saucepan and bring to a low boil.  Boil until raisins plump and sauce starts to thicken.  It will still be rather liquid, so if you want to really thicken it up mix together one tbsp cornstarch and one tbsp water in  small bowl, then pour the mixture into the sauce and stir.   Remove from heat, let cool slightly and then serve on top of a slice of the cheesecake.

All in all, my first cheesecake making experience was a pretty good one!  I will definitely use the goat cheese cheesecake recipe again, and I’m already thinking about topping the next one with some blueberry preserves!  I think the only thing I would do differently is double the recipe for the crust – it was a little thinner than I like.  Oh, and maybe make some whipped cream to top the whole thing off with! 🙂

Many thanks to Carrie from Frugal Foodie Mama and Julie from This Gal Cooks for hosting another fun Spiked Recipe Challenge!

 

 

Boo to You!

It’s almost Halloween!  I bought my candy for the trick-or-treaters (and my boyfriend and I have already eaten half of it), watched It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown with some cool kids on Saturday night, and I whipped up another set of Halloween cookies!

Halloween Cookie Set

Halloween Cat Cookie

Halloween Ghost Cookie

Happy Halloween Plaque Cookie

Candy Corn Cookie and Bat Cookie

To make the ghosts, I used a “Why didn’t I think of that?!” technique I picked up from a ghostly post over at Semi Sweet Designs.  Instead of flooding the whole ghost white and then adding the black accents on top, I painted the area I wanted the eyes and mouth with the black icing first and then outlined the face and filled the cookie with white flood icing.  Like I said… why didn’t I think of that?!

Spooky Cookie

This week I whipped up some fun Halloween themed cookies for another round of Operation Cookie Takeover!  Back in March I made ice cream cookies for the first mass shipment of cookies to our troops serving overseas and I was so excited when I saw the Facebook post calling for volunteers again.  I got to play with my new bat and giant spiderweb cookie cutters!  I love the way the bats turned out!  🙂  These are shipping to Afghanistan today!

Spooky Halloween Cookies

Halloween Bat Cookie

Mummy Pumpkin Cookie

Spiderweb Cookie

Disgustingly Good – Pumpkin Caramel Apple Magic Bars

It’s time for another

SPIKEDRECIPECHALLENGE_zps72efc014This is a funtastic recipe challenge from Julie at This Gal Cooks and Carrie at Frugal Foodie Mama.  The challenge is to use the chosen booze to make anything other than a drink, and the for this go-round we had to use a fall beer!  This challenge was very, well, challenging to me because I really don’t like beer.  Here is a picture of me the last time I actually consumed an entire glass of the stuff:

Me, with a beer

That was almost 4 years ago, on my 30th birthday.  I’m going to be 34 in a little less than a month.  Ugh.  Anyway, the birthday was awesome, the beer was raspberry wheat and it was… tolerable.  Most times, when my boyfriend insists that I try a sip of whatever beer he is drinking I end up having to gargle with a chocolate cupcake just to get the taste out of my mouth.  This beer didn’t make me run for the nearest bakery, but I didn’t ENJOY drinking it.

So, to create an awesome tasting recipe with a seasonal beer sounded like a daunting task.  However, I think I got lucky when I stumbled upon Shock Top Honeycrisp Apple Wheat beer in the liquor store.  It still tastes like beer, but it also tastes a lot like apple.  I might actually slightly like it.  Maybe.  It still does taste like beer, after all.

Regardless, it doesn’t really matter what it tastes like straight from the bottle because when it’s mixed together with a can of sweetened condensed milk and drizzled over top of yummy things like pumpkin cake and Caramel Apple Milky Way bars you end up with a magic bar fittingly described as “disgustingly good.”

Pumpkin Caramel Apple Magic Bars | Shake Bake and Party

Other reviews:

“This is the best thing I’ve ever had!”

“I don’t normally like sweets but those magic bars are really good.”

“Oh My God!  This smells delicious!”

Many thanks to my coworkers for being my guinea pigs, although in this case I get the feeling I was the one doing them a favor.  Everyone was raving about these bars.

Pumpkin Caramel Apple Magic Bars | Shake Bake and Party

These bars were inspired by a recipe that I had pinned from The Domestic Rebel for Samoa Magic Bars.  I have yet to try the original recipe but Hayley’s stuff is always awesome, and how can anything soaked in sweetened condensed milk be bad?  There are quite a few magic bar recipes out there any everyone seems to go nuts over them, so I took the basic concept and ran with it.

Pumpkin Caramel Apple Magic Bars | Shake Bake and Party

Pumpkin Caramel Apple Magic Bars
Adapted from Samoa Magic Bars by The Domestic Rebel

Ingredients

1 box of Perfectly Pumpkin Cake Mix from Pillsbury
1 egg
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 cup Kraft Caramel Bits
1 and 1/2 cups Harvest Blend M&M’s, divided
1 cup chopped Caramel Apple Milky Way Miniatures (about 20 wrapped pieces)
1 14 oz can sweetened condensed milk
2 tbsp Shock Top Honeycrisp Apple Wheat Beer

Directions

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.   Line a 13×9 inch pan with foil, spray the foil lightly with cooking spray and set aside.  (I used a metal, nonstick pan.  The baking times may vary if you use glass.)

2.  In a large bowl combine the cake mix, egg and butter until a soft dough forms.  Press the dough evenly in the bottom of the pan.  Bake for 10 minutes.

3.  While the dough is baking, mix the 2 tablespoons of beer and the can of sweetened condensed milk together in a small bowl.  If you haven’t done so already, now is also the time to chop your Milky Way bars into small chunks.

4.  Remove the pan from the oven and pour about 3/4 of the sweetened condensed milk/beer mixture on top of the cake.  Next, evenly cover the cake with the caramel bits, chopped Milky Way bars and 1 cup of the M&M’s.  Drizzle the remaining sweetened condensed milk on top.

5.  Return to the oven and bake for approximately 15-20 minutes.   I’m not sure you can tell that it’s done just by looking at it since it’s covered in melted candy.  I took mine out at 15 minutes and it was done.  You can leave it in a bit longer if you like,  just keep an eye on the condensed milk to make sure it doesn’t start to brown too much.

6.  Remove from the oven.  Let cool for about five minutes and then sprinkle the remaining 1/2 cup of M&M’s on top.  Allow the bars to set at room temperature until cool before cutting into bars.  I stored mine overnight in a covered container in the refrigerator before taking them in to work the next day, but according to the original recipe these will keep at room temperature in an airtight container for several days.  They won’t last that long though, so you don’t need to worry about it!

Pumpkin Caramel Apple Magic Bars | Shake Bake and Party

These bars are fantastic.  The apple beer brings a wonderful flavor to the sweetened condensed milk, and the pumpkin and caramel apple – each a great fall flavor in its own right – combine to make on hell of a sweet treat.  The recipe can also be made without the beer for those not old enough to imbibe and it would still taste fantastic!  This is definitely something to make to feed a crowd.  If I hadn’t taken this in to work to share I’d probably still be in a sugar coma on my couch.  It would have been worth it though… : )

The Obsession Continues – Caramel Apple Cheesecake Cookies

Hey all!  I’m back, and I brought more cake mix cookies!!  If you happened to miss my last post about these UH-MAYYY-ZING Pumpkin Toffee Cheesecake Cookies that I made using cake mix, you should definitely go check it out!  Go ahead, I’ll wait… : )

…So you can see why I am totally digging cake mix cookies, right?  They are so easy to make, and every time I have made them the cookies are perfectly soft, chewy and full of flavor!  They have yet to disappoint, unlike some other recipes I have tried lately.

Even though it’s supposed to be almost 90 degrees again tomorrow here in NJ, I am in full on fall recipe mode.  I spent last weekend baking pumpkin and apple cake mix cookies (as well as a sweet treat for this month’s Spiked Recipe Challenge – Seasonal Beers) and I spend a ridiculous amount of time pinning pumpkin related everything to my Fall Pinterest board.  I can’t wait for crisp weather, crunchy leaves and cozy fires in the fireplace.

Fall leaves in Vancouver
Fall leaves in Vancouver (Photo credit: VancityAllie)

To help usher in my favorite season, I would like to introduce you to my Caramel Apple Cheesecake Cookies!  As I mentioned, these are cake mix cookies and I used another one of the new seasonal Pillsbury cake mixes I found at the grocery store a few weeks ago.

Caramel Apple Cheesecake Cookies

Let me tell you, this cake mix smells heavenly.  I mean, it’s got caramel in it – how could it not?  I used white chocolate chips in this recipe, but regular chocolate chips would be also be a delicious add-in.  I’ve ogled those chocolate dipped caramel apples on numerous occasions, haven’t you?

Caramel Apple Cheesecake Cookies

Same simple concept as the Pumpkin Toffee Cheesecake Cookies.  Cake mix, pudding mix, oil, eggs = YUMMY COOKIES!

Caramel Apple Cheesecake Cookies (Once again inspired by and adapted from Kitchen Meets Girl’s Funfetti Cheesecake Cookies)

Ingredients

1 box Pillsbury Caramel Apple cake mix
1 small box instant cheesecake pudding mix
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
3/4 cup white chocolate chips, divided

Directions

1.  Preheat oven to 350.  Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.
2.  Combine cake mix, pudding mix, oil and eggs in a medium bowl until a dough forms.  Mix in 1/2 cup of the white chocolate chips.
3.  Form dough into balls and place 2 inches apart on cookie sheets.  Use the remaining white chocolate chips to press into the top of each cookie.
4.  Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, or until cookies begin to brown slightly.  Remove from oven, cool for 2 minutes and then move to a wire rack.

Makes about 24 cookies.

Caramel Apple Cheesecake Cookies

I ate quite a few of these and then had to take the rest to work before I ate them ALL.  Looking at these pictures now though, I wish I hadn’t.  I’m hungry and I could really go for a cookie…

Sundae Funday

Here we are folks, Monday AGAIN.  Another weekend has passed by all too quickly and another week looms long on the horizon.  Right now you are probably saying to yourself, Monday mornings are bad enough without this chick bringing me down.  What gives?

I give!  I give you this!

Boozy Banana Split in a glass!

That’s right – I am turning Mondays around!  Okay, well maybe just this Monday but it’s a start, right?

One day a few weeks ago, while perusing Malibu Rum’s Facebook page, I discovered the existence of Malibu Sundae.  Chocolate ice cream, coconut, rum… This sounded SO GOOD that I had to have it!  I hit my usual liquor store which has a huge selection of pretty much everything.  They did not have this.

Neither did any of the other liquor stores within a 15 mile radius of my house.  I know this because I called them all.

“Hi!  I was calling to find out if you carry Malibu Sundae?”

“Malibu Sunday?”

“Sundae like ice cream sundae.”

“Oh, no, we don’t have that.”

I finally found it on the website for a nearby liquor store.  They didn’t have it in-store but I could special order it through their site.

And then it arrived.  And it was good.

It’s delicious by itself, straight out of the bottle.  It’s awesome mixed with Baileys Caramel and half & half.  It’s AMAZING in my Tropical Sundae Cocktail!

Tropical Sundae

Tropical Sundae Cocktail

2 oz Malibu Sundae
1 oz Creme de Banana
2 oz half & half
1 oz pineapple juice
1 banana cut into chunks
ice
chocolate syrup, 1 maraschino cherry, 1 pineapple chunk for garnish (optional)

Combine all ingredients except the garnish ingredients in a blender and blend.  Swirl chocolate syrup inside the glass, pour and enjoy!  Adding a hokey cocktail umbrella ups the cheer factor – especially helpful after another soul-crushing Monday at work.

Malibu Sundae, Banana Liqueur, Pineapple Juice

Cheers!

Classic Powdered Doughnuts (with Fresh Lemon!)

I’ve been blog slacking lately and don’t have any of my own creations to share with you, so when I saw this fabulous donut post from On Sugar Mountain I knew I had to share it! Enjoy! (and try not to lick your computer screen!)

On Sugar Mountain

Hello friends!

I am so so excited to share these delicious doughnuts with you today.

Growing up, powdered doughnuts were my absolute favorite sweet treat. I remember being at the grocery store with my mom and spotting a bag of Pop Ems’ (I think that’s how you spell it) Mini Powdered Doughnuts and begging my mom to buy them. It really wasn’t a hard sell though; everyone in my house loved those adorable little powdered messes.

I say “mess” in the most endearing way possible; we all know that you cannot eat these doughnuts without getting covered in powdered sugar.

Or is that just my problem?

Don’t answer that. Let me believe you inhale doughnuts like I do. 😉

Classic Powdered Doughnut Recipe - On Sugar Mountain

That’s part of the fun! I had a blast making these, and of course eating them, because it reminded me of being a kid again. Even though I tend to be an extremely…

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