An Amber Original

Cheesecake has sort of become a tradition on Valentine’s Day for us. This year, I decided I wanted a Monster Cookie Cheesecake. When I couldn’t find a recipe that matched what I was looking for, I modified this Mr. Food’s Tasty Toffee Cheesecake. The first time I made this recipe, I prepared it for my sister’s birthday. I’m pretty sure I made it for a Friday night dinner at my friends Kassie and Joe’s house too. It’s delicious!

I hope you enjoy a small slice of this cheesecake spin on one of my favorite cookies – my mom’s monster cookies. I just can’t make the cookies as good as she does.

fullsizerender-13Monster Cookie Cheesecake by Amber Bourek Slater
2 – 8 oz. packages of cream cheese
½ c. sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. of vanilla
1 package of refrigerated peanut butter cookie dough
quick oats
M&Ms
chocolate chips

In a sprayed pie pan, spread out peanut butter cookie mix. Top with quick oats and press into crust. In a bowl, mix together cream cheese, sugar, eggs, and vanilla. Stir in M&Ms and chocolate chips. Pour into crust. Bake at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes.

Notes:

  • I used one package of fat free and one reduced fat cream cheese. I did that because the fat free bricks were on sale for $.39. I think it turned out ok.
  • I’m thinking mini M&Ms and chocolate chips would work great. I used regular size through because that’s what I had on hand.

Mini Maple Bacon Rolls

I normally work on Sunday mornings. Recently, it’s been my one day a week off from work. A few weeks ago, I promised Jeremiah that I’d cook us breakfast instead of going out to eat at The Big Biscuit (our go-to breakfast spot) before church. We had some leftover bacon in the fridge so I cooked up this little dish. So good!!!! Even my husband who usually avoids cinnamon to prevent heartburn scarfed them down.

I’d encourage you to use the suggested rolling pin and dental floss tips from the creator. They are very helpful. Plus, bake bacon and avoid grease l over your kitchen. We line a cookie sheet with foil and place a baking rack on top of the foil. This allows for easy bacon grease clean-up. We bake at 350 for 30 minutes.

fullsizerender-9Mini Maple Bacon Rolls from Pinterest
Rolls
2 cans of refrigerated crescent rolls
4 oz. cream cheese, softened
3 T. maple syrup
¼ c. brown sugar
¼ tsp. cinnamon
6 slices of bacon, cooked and crumbled

For Glaze
4 oz. cream cheese, softened
½ c. powdered sugar
1 T. maple syrup
2 slices of bacon, cooked and crumbed

Preheat oven 375 degrees. Mix cream cheese, maple syrup, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Unroll crescent rolls and make a rectangle. Use a rolling pin to put seams together. Cover dough with mixture, leaving about ½ inch around the edges. Crumb bacon on top. Roll up the long way. Use dental floss to cut each crescent roll log into 18 pieces. Place into mini muffin cups. Bake for 10 minutes. Let it cool for a few minutes. Top with glaze mixture and crumb with bacon.

Fall French Toast

You know how much I love breakfast. French toast is one of my favorites. This recipe came from my most recent issue of Simple and Delicious by Taste of Home. I saw this recipe created by a Kansas City suburbanite and it just screamed fall. I baked it while we were at the gym and it smelled amazing when we walked back into our apartment. Jeremiah and I thought it wasn’t super sweet so I would definitely recommend serving it with a little syrup. We did not the first day and figured it out quickly.

Cranberry French ToastCranberry Cream Cheese French Toast by Sandie Heindel
12 c. cubed French bread
2 pk. (8 oz.) cream cheese
1 can (14 oz.) whole berry cranberry sauce
12 eggs, lightly beaten
2 c. milk
1/3 c. maple syrup
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
Dash of nutmeg

Spray a 13 x 9 pan with non-stick spray. Arrange half the bread in bottom of the pan. Top with cream cheese and spoonfuls of cranberry sauce. Cover with remaining bread. In a large bowl, mix eggs, milk, syrup, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Pour over the casserole. Cover and place in the fridge overnight. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake uncovered for 50-60 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Notes:

  • I halved the recipe and baked it in a 9 x 9 pan for the same amount of time.
  • I used skim milk and third less fat cream cheese.

Pistachio Pudding Dessert

My sister found this recipe on Facebook a few months ago and begged me to make it.  I finally got around to making it Memorial Day weekend. It does take a while though because of softening and mixing three separate layers.

The recipe was something my mom used to cook when we were kids. I think it was one of her funeral committee recipes. I grew up in the northeast part of Nebraska. Tonight, one of those towns (Pilger) was distroyed by a tornado. Until the age of 14, I went to Wisner-Pilger schools. My Grandpa and Grandma Bourek lived in Pilger until they passed. My grandpa was the custodiam for the school in Pilger and my grandmother was very active in her church and community center. My parents met at a service station just outside of town where my father worked. In fact, my parents lived there when they were first married before moving to Wisner. This little town of about 400 lost everything today. I dedicate tonight’s post to the people I knew whose lives were forever changed in a matter of two minutes. Please keep them in your prayers as this town and those injuried by the storms have a long road ahead of them.

100_1203Pistachio Pudding Dessert from Facebook
Pie crust
1 stick of butter
1 c. flour
1 c. chopped walnuts

Layer 1
1 c. powder sugar
8 oz. of cream cheese
1 c. whipped topping

Layer 2
2 packages of pistachio pudding mix
3 c. milk

Mix crust and press into pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Cool.

Mix layer one and spread on crust. Mix layer two and spread on top of layer one. Refrigerate until serving.

Notes:

  • I finely chopped my nuts because I don’t love nuts.
  • I used reduced fat cream cheese and low-fat Cool Whip.
  • I used sugar free pudding and skim milk.

Festivus

What gets you in the holiday spirit? Is it watching that classic Seinfeld episode where we learn that Frank Costanza invented his own holiday entitled Festivus? Is it watching your favorite holiday movie? Is it shopping and wrapping presents?

I have always enjoyed listening to Christmas music while baking. In my college days, it meant staying up into the middle of the night baking Chocolate Crinkles, red and green colored Snickerdoodles, and Chex Mix.

Since I recently asked all my friends what their favorite Christmas songs are, I thought I would share a few of my favorites.

  • A Christmas Festival by The Boston Pops – I’m a sucker for classical music at the holidays. This song also reminds me of playing it when I was in the Wayne High School concert band.
  • Sleigh Ride – This song makes me think of The Northland Symphony Orchestra. I served on the board of directors for several years. Although I wasn’t able to make it to this year’s concert, I’m sure Jim Murray included this piece featuring the percussion auxiliary instruments of sleigh bells and the clapper.
  • Put a Little Love in Your Heart by Al Green and Annie Lennox – Ok, maybe it isn’t a traditional Christmas song but it is in the movie Scrooged. Although I was totally scared by it when I saw it in the movie theatre as a child, it was just one of the many holiday movies I’ve seen with my family. We usually go Thanksgiving weekend or Christmas Day to see a movie together.
  • Carol of the Bells by Mannheim Steamroller – Chip Davis, a fellow University of Nebraska-Lincoln alum, did a great job arranging this piece. It always makes me think of my Grandpa Fletcher. He is a huge fan of this group and a great lover of music.
  • Christmas/Sarahevo 12/24 by Trans-Siberian Orchestra – A few years ago, we went to one of their concerts for my mother’s birthday. Not only do they play cool Christmas music but they put on another show entirely of their non-Christmas stuff. I bet they played for three hours. You can catch them in Kansas City on December 22nd. But don’t forget to bring canned goods for Harvesters.
  • All I Want for Christmas is You by Mariah Carey – Sure, lots of artists put out Christmas albums remaking classics but Mariah invented a Christmas modern day classic.
  • Rocking Around the Christmas Tree by Brenda Lee – Doesn’t it make you want to reenact the puppet/record player scene from Home Alone?
  • You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch – It’s Dr. Seuss – enough said!
  • Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays by N’sync – It makes me wish all the boys would be joining JT when I see his tour next July.
  • O Holy Night from Home Alone – E.T., Indian Jones, The Boston Pops – I love John Williams. My sister and I were talking about although he will never be compared to the likings of Bach or Beethoven, his classic movie scores will probably go down in history as our generation’s contribution to musical history.

Like holiday music, no Christmas gathering would be complete without a cheese ball. I made this one for my Volunteer Services Team holiday party. It was a big hit served with Grinch drinks (Sprite and lime sherbet).

Peppermint Oreo Cheese BallPeppermint Cookie Cheese Ball from Pinterest
1 – 8 oz. cream cheese brick
1/2 c. softened butter
3 T. brown sugar
2/3 c. powder sugar
1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 a bag mini-chocolate chips
Peppermint chips/peppermint bark/broken candy cane
5 holiday Oreos

Blend together cream cheese, butter, and vanilla. Then, add dry ingredients (except Oreos and peppermint). Refrigerate for 30 minutes. Then, roll in crushed Oreos and peppermint bark.

Serve with apples, graham crackers, Oreos, and pretzels.

Pumpkin Spice

Who doesn’t love the taste of pumpkin spice in the fall? This recipe is an easy way to capture the taste of pumpkin pie without all the mess.

Mini Pumpkin Pie CroissantsMini Pumpkin Pie Croissant from Pinterest
1 tube crescent rolls
2 oz. cream cheese
1/2 c. canned pumpkin
1 T. pumpkin pie spice
1 1/2 T. sugar

Topping
2 T. sugar
1 1/2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice

Cream together pumpkin, cream cheese, pumpkin pie spice, and sugar. Spread 1 1/2 tsp. of filling on each crescent roll and roll up. Sprinkle sugar and pumpkin pie spice on top. Bake at 375 degrees for 13-15 minutes.

Notes:

  • I used spreadable light cream cheese and reduced fat crescent rolls.
  • I would suggest maybe cutting the amount of filling by 1/3 or 1/2. It seemed to be a lot. I had to bake for 15 minutes to fully cook the pumpkin.
  • I would also suggest cutting the amount of topping in half. It was twice as much as I needed. I also would suggest maybe even cutting the amount of pumpkin pie spice if you don’t want to be overwhelmed by it.

Baked Cream Cheese Spaghetti

Spaghetti has been one of my favorite food since I was a kid. As you know, I’m a bit of a snob who really only loves my Great Grandma Reith’s recipe. During my Social Supper days, I did make a baked spaghetti recipe that I really enjoyed. Although this isn’t exactly the same recipe, I thought it turned out pretty good. I hope you enjoy this spin on a classic recipe.

cream cheeseBaked Cream Cheese Spaghetti from Pinterest
12 oz. spaghetti, cooked
1 lb. ground beef
1 (28 oz.) jar marinara sauce
1 tsp. Italian seasoning
1 clove garlic
8 oz. cream cheese
1/2 c. parmesan cheese

Brown ground beef. Add marinara sauce.  In a separate pan, cook spaghetti. Pour into bowl. Add cream cheese, seasoning, and garlic. Stir until cream cheese is melted. Lightly grease a 13 x 9 pan. Pour a little of spaghetti sauce in the bottom of the pan. Top with spaghetti mixture. Pour remaining sauce onto of spaghetti. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

Notes:

  • I halved the recipe and baked in my bubble and brown dish.
  • I used chopped garlic from a jar.
  • I used spreadable light cream cheese to make it melt easier.
  • You could omit the beef for my vegetarian friends. For my non-vegetarian friends, you could use ground sausage to make it more like a Cavatina recipe.
  • Fresh basil would be a great addition.

Monster Dip

If you have followed my blog for awhile, you might know I love M&Ms. In fact, a eat a few of them out of my candy dish probably every day. One of my all time favorite cookies is Monster Cookies because it contains M&Ms. My mother makes them perfectly but mine never turn out quite as good.

A few days ago, I spotted this recipe on an old friend from high school’s Facebook page. I just knew I had to make it. Without eggs, you can eat the raw dish without having to worry about salmonella like you do when you sample uncooked cookie dough. I’ve tried this dip with Teddy Grams, pretzels, and apples. I liked it the best on pretzels. I think it might also be good on graham or animal crackers.

Monster Cookie DipMonster Dip
1 package of cream cheese, softened
1/2 c. butter, softened
1 c. peanut butter
2 c. powdered sugar
3 T. brown sugar
1/4 c. flour
1 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 to 2 1/2 c. oats (less makes a smoother dip)
2/3 c. M&Ms
1 c. chocolate chips

Use a mixer to blend cream cheese, butter, and peanut butter until smooth. Add powder sugar, brown sugar, flour, and vanilla. Add oats. Stir in M&Ms and chocolate chips. Refrigerate until serving. It makes a large storage container full.

Notes:

  • I used reduced fat cream cheese and peanut butter.
  • I only used 1 1/2 c. oats and my recipe was fairly smooth.

Red Velvet Gooey Butter Cookies

One of my friends and old co-workers loves red velvet cake. When I saw this recipe, it seemed like the perfect surprise thank you gift. You see, he asked his wife (another friend and co-worker) to give me a ride to pick-up my car from the repair shop. I truly appreciate the kind gesture and never forgot it.

In January, I shared a post from a friend on my Facebook wall. You may have seen it, if you “like” the post, you will receive the surprise at some point from me throughout the year. Four of my friends responded and I haven’t forgotten. I started with Nick in celebration of Kindness Week. I couldn’t think of a better time to repay the favor. Since his wife helped me with the surprise (as well as the ride), I asked him to be sure to share with Sara.

Nick, Sara, and my family all loved this recipe. Very soft and moist.

100_0904Red Velvet Gooey Butter Cookies from Pinterest (adapted from a Paula Deen recipe)
8-oz cream cheese, at room temperature (I used reduced fat)
1/2 c. butter, at room temperature
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 box red velvet cake mix
confectioners’ sugar

In the bowl of a mixer, cream together the cream cheese and butter. Beat in the egg, then add vanilla. Beat in the cake mix until completely combined. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Roll the dough into balls. Roll dough balls in confectioners’ sugar, and place on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake for 12 minutes. Remove to a wire rack to cool.

Creamy Spaghetti Sauce

I think recipe came from an issue of Kraft Foods. It incorporates cream cheese into the sauce. It’s a nice quick dinner recipe.

Spaghetti a la PhillySpaghetti a la Philly
1/2 lb. spaghetti, uncooked

1 lb. extra-lean ground beef
1 jar (24 oz.) spaghetti sauce
4 oz. cream cheese
2 tsp. grated Parmesan cheese

Cook spaghetti according to package. Meanwhile, brown hamburger. Add sauce and cream cheese. Cook on low for 3-5 minutes until sauce is heated. Add drained spaghetti to sauce. Top with Parmesan cheese and serve. Makes four servings.

Notes:

  • I used 1/3 less fat cream cheese. Fat free would probably work OK as well in this recipe.
  • I made my sauce using a can of tomatoes and Wildtree seasoning. I still added the meat and cream cheese. It was a little healthier but took longer to taste the favors. I might add some fresh basil, spinich, or zucchini the next time I make it.