Cheese and crackers are this month’s #ImprovCookingChallenge theme – and one of my favorite snacks. They’re the main ingredients in this appetizer – but they’re elevated to something perfect for a dinner party.
This savory take on cheesecake features a crust made of crushed crackers and three different kinds of cheeses.
Gingerbread is my favorite holiday flavor. It may be because my German grandfather always sent us enormous batches of gingerbread cookies, but for me the flavors of gingerbread are just synonymous with the season.
This dip is the easiest gingerbread dessert you’ll find – no bake, and ready for company in 5 minutes.
This post is sponsored in conjunction with #AppleWeek . I received complimentary product from sponsor companies to aid in the creation of the #AppleWeek recipes. All opinions are mine alone.
Apple spice cake. Cream cheese frosting. Dark Chocolate. All wrapped up in a portable treat. You’re welcome in advance.
I’m calling them cakesicles because they’re just too big to be cake pops. Hefty squares are like a slice of cake on a stick. Sure, you can totally make them into smaller pops – but one taste and you’ll understand why bigger is better.
This post is sponsored in conjunction with Christmas Cookies Week. I received product samples from sponsor companies to aid in the creation of the Christmas Cookies Week recipes. All opinions are mine alone.
If you make up holiday cookie trays, you know there are two types of cookies: “showpieces” and “fillers”. Your showpieces are the eye-catching ones – the iced sugar cookies, the ones rolled in sprinkles or dusted with peppermint. Your fillers are the cookies that make up “everything else”.
These are fillers.
The thing about fillers is they’re unassuming. It’s probably not the cookie you grab off the tray first, but my goal is always to make my fillers delicious. These fillers absolutely fit the bill.
Another #ImprovCookingChallenge, another opportunity to get outside my comfort zone! I’ve never cooked with lemongrass before – I actually had to google a picture of it so I knew what to look for in the store – but I’m really loving the result here!
The base is beautifully rich and fluffy and then the swirl is the perfect blend of blueberry and lemon to compliment. Right after I tasted it, I texted my mom that this was going to be my contribution for Easter dinner – it’s that good!
The recipe makes more of the blueberry/lemongrass filling than you need for the cheesecake. Since it comes out as almost a jam-like consistency, we used our extras as jam for toast.
You can see the other bloggers’ blueberry and lemongrass creations here:
The #ImprovCookingChallenge is a monthly blogging event where two ingredients are assigned to a month. Bloggers can make any recipe they like as long as it features the two ingredients. If you are a blogger and would like to join us, please visit our Facebook page.
You can also read more about the event on our home page. If you’d like to see previous creations, check out our Pinterest board.
Blueberry Lemongrass Cheesecake (adapted from Taste of Home) Makes 1 cheesecake
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
2 Tbsp. sugar
2 Tbsp. melted butter
3 8 oz. packages of cream cheese, softened
1 cup sugar
1 cup sour cream
2 Tbsp. flour
2 tsp. vanilla extract
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
In a small saucepan, combine the blueberries, sugar, and lemongrass in a saucepan. Cook over medium heat until the berries begin to cook down and the sugar is dissolved. Remove the lemongrass and transfer the mixture to a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Return to the saucepan and whisk in the cornstarch. Bring to a boil and cook until thickened and almost a jam-like consistency. Set aside
Mix together the graham crackers, sugar, and butter until well combined. Press into a 9″ springform pan, going up the sides slightly. Place prepared pan on a baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes at 350 degrees. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.
In a stand mixer, beat together the cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Beat in the sour cream, flour and vanilla. On a lower speed, add in the lightly beaten eggs and mix until just combined. Pour the filling into the crust.
Dollop 3-4 Tbsp. of the blueberry lemongrass mixture. Use a knife to swirl it along the top of the cheesecake.
Return the pan to the baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes, or until the center of the cheesecake is nearly set. Transfer the pan to the cooling rack for 10 minutes, then run a knife around the edge of the pan to loosen. Cool at room temperature for another hour, then refrigerate overnight.
I have been on a total de-cluttering binge lately. Cook all the things forgotten in the freezer! Clean out the cedar closet! Get rid of all the sippy cups that don’t get used! Purge old purses!
The other night I was watching TV and playing on the laptop and decided to start deleting old, unneeded blog photos from the computer. Buried in the blog folder where the shots of this casserole – and I realized I never actually blogged it! I’m sorry. I was holding out on you guys.
This is amazing – hands down my favorite breakfast casserole. I made this for a Mother’s Day brunch and it was so amazingly well received. It’s easy to see why, though – everything bagels, bacon, melty cream cheese – what’s not to love? And the fact that you can prep it ahead is an added bonus.
If you’re looking for a great, filling brunch dish, this is it. I promise you won’t be disappointed!
Everything Bagel Casserole (adapted from Well Plated) Serves 8
6 everything bagels, cut into bite-sized pieces
1/2 lb. bacon, cooked and crumbled
1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese
1/4 cup grated Monterey Jack cheese
2 1/2 cups milk
1 tsp. ground mustard
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/4 cup fresh chives, chopped, divided
8 oz. cream cheese
Spray a 9×11″ casserole dish with non-stick spray. Spread the bagel pieces evenly in the bottom of the dish and top evenly with bacon crumbles, 1/4 cup cheddar cheese, and Monterey Jack cheese.
In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, mustard, salt, and pepper until well combined and pour over the bagel pieces. Press down lightly on the bagel pieces to make sure they all absorb some of the liquid.
Cut the cream cheese into small chunks and sprinkle over the bagels.
Top evenly with half of the fresh chives and the remaining cheddar. Cover tightly and refrigerate for at least two hours – overnight is perfect!
Preheat the oven to 350 when ready to bake – let the casserole stand at room temperature during preheating. Cover lightly with foil sprayed with non-stick spray and bake for 40 minutes. Uncover and bake an additional 15-20 minutes, until the center is set. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter, cold and cut into chunks
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
3/4 cup sour cream (not low fat)
1 tsp. vanilla extract
8 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 cup fresh strawberries, cut into pieces
3 Tbsp. sugar
1 Tbsp. water
1.5 tsp. cornstarch
Chop the strawberries and toss them with sugar. If you want a more jam-like layer, finely chop the berries. I wanted distinguishable berry pieces in mine so I just gave them a rough chop. Heat them in a saucepan until they release their juices – about 5 minutes. In a small bowl, whisk together the water and cornstarch. Add this to the strawberries and stir to combine. Cook a few minutes until thickened. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature.
Using a mixer, combine the cream cheese, sugar and egg. Set aside.
In a large bowl, stir together the flour and sugar. Cut in the butter until it resembles coarse crumbs. Remove 3/4 cup of the crumbs and set aside. To the remaining crumbs, add in the baking powder, baking soda and salt and stir.
In a medium bowl, beat together the sour cream, egg and vanilla until well combined. Add this mixture to the large bowl of crumbs and stir until just combined. It will be lumpy.
Grease or line an 8-9″ springform pan. Press the cake batter evenly into the bottom, letting it rise up 1/2″ on all sides, making a well. Pour the cream cheese mixture into the well. Top with strawberry jam. Sprinkle with reserved crumbs.
Bake for 45-55 minutes, until golden brown on the sides. Let cool for 20 minutes before removing sides of the pan and letting cool completely.