Lemon Cheesecake Bars

Lemon Cheesecake Bars

It’s been awhile since I’ve made these, so I had to come up with an excuse for needing them again.

Luckily, there was a potluck party this weekend.

I used that.

But these crumb cake-like, cream cheesy bars don’t really demand an excuse.  They work great even for a random weeknight dessert.

Especially since they’re so easy to make.

{If you keep up with my blog, you know easy=awesome in my book.}

Lemon Cheesecake Bars

Anyway, these bars start with a cake mix.

And you could probably use real lemon juice/zest, but I’ve only tried it with the extract.

Lemon Cheesecake Bars

Once you make the cake mix batter that serves as both the crust of the bars and as the crumb topping, you’ll need to set aside a cup of it.

That cup of crumbs will go on top.

What you’re left with won’t look like enough to cover the bottom of a 13×9 baking dish – but it will.

It rises as it bakes, so it’s okay that it’s really thin.

Just go ahead and press it out to cover the entire bottom.

Lemon Cheesecake Bars

Here it is with the yummy cream cheese mixture spread over the cake crust.

Lemon Cheesecake Bars

And here it is with the cake-ish crumbs sprinkled over the top, just before baking.

Be careful not to let the edges brown too much.  The finished bars should still look a little moist in the center.

But even if the edges cook a little too much, you can always slice them off when cutting the bars to serve.  And, you know, throw them in a bowl and devour them by the forkful when your kids aren’t watching.

Lemon Cheesecake Bars

Lemon Cheesecake Bars

Ingredients:

1 box (18 oz.) yellow cake mix
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
2 eggs, separated
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp. lemon extract

Preheat oven to 350°F.

In a large bowl, combine the cake mix, one egg, and the oil until it reaches a crumbly consistency.

In a medium bowl, use a mixer to beat the cream cheese until smooth. Add in the remaining egg, sugar, and lemon extract and continue beating until fully incorporated.

Reserve one cup of the cake mix batter, and press the remaining batter into the bottom of a greased 13 x 9 inch baking dish. It will be thin.

Spread the cream cheese mixture over the cake mix batter.

Sprinkle the reserved cake mix batter over the cream cheese.

Bake for 25 minutes or until the edges are just golden brown.

Cool completely before cutting.

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To PRINT your free PDF of this recipe click here:  Lemon Cheesecake Bars

Enjoy!

Roaming Rosie Signature

Strawberry Cream Cheese Sandwich Cookies

Strawberry Cream Cheese Sandwich Cookies

These are amazing.

Even though I probably said that about the Easter Bunny Spiced Sandwich Cookies, too.  But that’s only because it’s true.

I developed this recipe when I made the Bunny cookies because I wanted to incorporate cream cheese into both the cookie itself and the icing.  And the results were sooooooooooo good.

Strawberry Cream Cheese Sandwich Cookies

Above are most of the ingredients.  Just add a little confectionery sugar and vanilla extract for the icing, and that’s all you need.

Simple, right?

Strawberry Cream Cheese Sandwich Cookies

When you cream together the butter, cream cheese, and egg for the cookie dough, it should look nice and creamy like this.

Then mix in the cake mix and extra flour.

Strawberry Cream Cheese Sandwich Cookies

It’s a soft dough, so you’ll need to refrigerate it before rolling it out.

And if it’s still a little too soft to handle, just knead in a bit of flour.

Strawberry Cream Cheese Sandwich Cookies

Sprinkle some flour over your counter generously before rolling out the dough.

And be sure to keep the dough a little thick.  The cookies need to be thick and just-ever-so-slightly undercooked so that you can bite through them and the icing without the icing squirting out all over the place.

Strawberry Cream Cheese Sandwich Cookies

Once the cookies are cool, you can add the icing.

I usually make the icing while the cookies are cooling.

Then I like to add a little decoration to the top with some melted chocolate.  I used Wilton’s Bright White Candy Melts here to mimic the shape of the cookies.

Ain’t they just adorable??

Strawberry Cream Cheese Sandwich Cookies

Strawberry Cream Cheese Sandwich Cookies

Cookie Ingredients:

1 box (16.5 oz.) strawberry cake mix
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup butter, softened
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 large egg

In a large bowl, use a mixer to cream together the butter and cream cheese. Add egg and vanilla and blend until fluffy.

Slowly sprinkle in the cake mix and flour and blend until combined.

Shape cookie dough into a flattened disc, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least a half hour.

Preheat oven to 375°F. Roll out dough to a 1/4 inch thick on a lightly floured surface. (If you want to make a sandwich cookie with a cutter that is not symmetrical, then make sure you cut out an equal number of matching cookies, using both sides of the cookie cutter.)

Bake on parchment lined cookie sheets for 5 to 8 minutes, depending on the size and thickness of your cookies. They should not yet be noticeably browning on the edges. Do not overcook them or your sandwiches will be difficult to eat.

Allow cookies to rest on the hot pan for a few minutes, then remove to cooling racks. Cool cookies completely before adding icing.

Icing:

4 ounces cream cheese, softened
3 Tbsp. butter, softened
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 cups confectioners sugar
White chocolate chips or candy melts (optional)

With a mixer, cream together the butter and cream cheese. Mix in the vanilla. Add in the sugar a half cup at a time, blending well.

Put icing in a decorating bag or a baggy with the corner cut off, and squeeze it onto the bottoms of half of the cooled cookies. Place another cookie on top of the icing and press down gently.

If desired, melt some white chocolate chips to draw a pattern on top of the cookie.

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To PRINT the free PDF, click here:  Strawberry Cream Cheese Sandwich Cookies

Enjoy!

Roaming Rosie Signature

Feeling the Heat

Me on a hot day funny dog in fridge

Me on a hot day?

Yeah.  Pretty much.

I know they’ve got some “dry” heat going on over in the west, but when the Floridian humidity sticks to you, sometimes the only way to get relief is to attempt to encase yourself in the freezer.

Thanks to The Chive for the photo.

And be sure to follow me on Facebook at Roaming Rosie Remix to get glimpses of my deranged, and occasionally grammatically correct, sense of humor!

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“Nevermore Awesome” Edgar Allan Poe Shop

Nevermore Awesome Edgar Allan Poe Store

My latest Zazzle venture is a store with an Edgar Allan Poe theme.

It’s a lot of fun for me to make these designs.  I always liked Poe, but I really fell in love with him in college.

Anyway, the store itself, like all my Zazzle stores, features t-shirts, mugs, keychains, cell phone cases, and all manner of gifts, from journals to toothbrush holders.

Check it out by clicking:  www.Zazzle.com/Nevermore_Awesome or the photo above.

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Orange Creamsicle Cookies

Orange Creamsicle Cookies

If you’re looking for an amazing cookie that just screams “summer,” you need to try these.

I love anything orange creamsicle related.  Including the Popsicles, of course.  And these were just so much fun to eat.

Plus, they were super simple, since I started with a box mix.

Orange Creamsicle Cookies

If you follow the directions on the box, they suggest adding the matching flavored icing to the cookies, but I tend to avoid icings that may not actually dry.  Too difficult to store.

So I dipped them in white chocolate instead.

And to really get the creamsicle-flavor, I also added a cup of white chocolate chips to the batter.

If you were in a bind and didn’t have the time to dip the cooled cookies in chocolate (even tho it only takes a few minutes), you still need to add in the chocolate chips.  They really send the cookies over the edge.

Orangesicle Cookie Mix

Above is a pic of the box mix that I used.  Picked it up at the grocery store in the cake mix aisle.

But if you can’t find it in your local store, the Pillsbury Orangesicle Premium Cookie Mix is also available online.

Orange Creamsicle Cookies

Here you can see the batter with the chocolate chips mixed in.

Like little gooey balls of creamsicles……

Orange Creamsicle Cookies

After they were baked and fully cooled, I dipped them in some melted Bright White Candy Melts (tho regular white would work, too).

It looks like I dipped the cookies in halfway, but the chocolate really only covers the top and sides – not the bottom.  I didn’t want the chocolate overpowering the orange flavor.

Orange Creamsicle Cookies

Orange Creamsicle Cookies

1 box Pillsbury Orangesicle Premium Cookie Mix
1 cup white chocolate chips
1 cup white or bright white Candy Melts

Make the cookie dough according the package directions.  Stir in chocolate chips and drop dough by rounded teaspoonfuls onto baking sheets.  Bake according to package directions.  Allow to cool completely.

Melt the Candy Melts in a small bowl.  Dip half of the top of each cookie into the melted chocolate and allow to set on waxed or parchment paper.  Store covered.

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Practice Measuring with Rice

Pretend Cooking And Practice Measuring With Rice Activity For Kids

This is one of those activities I love:  easy to set up, great for learning, and free.

That’s a hard-to-beat combination.  :)

Anyway, while busy in the kitchen/laundry room, I set this up for my girls and was amazed at how involved they became.  We’ve done similar things with dried pasta, but we hadn’t used rice for anything in awhile.

I put two large, two medium, and two small bowls on an old cookie sheet.  I provided two small measuring cups and two measuring spoons, and dumped some rice into the two big bowls.  Then I stepped back.

There was measuring, scooping, pouring, touching, and a general sense of busyness.

And silence.

It was so strange.  I’m not used to my 2yo and 4yo sitting so quietly together for so long.  But they were involved in their project.  There wasn’t even any arguing.  No “she’s touching me!”

Just concentration.

It didn’t last forever, of course.  Eventually the 2-year-old discovered that the rice made a neat sound as it sprinkled out over the tile floor, and so I wasn’t really able to keep and reuse most of the rice as I’d hoped.

But it was worth it.

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Smoked Gruyere Mac and Cheese with Capicola

Smoked Gruyere Mac and Cheese with Capicola

In case you didn’t notice with recipes like Sausage and Gouda Mac and Cheese, I’m a huge mac and cheese fan.

And I like to experiment a little.  Change things up.

Sure, I keep some box mac and cheese mixes on hand for days when I’m feeling super lazy, but macaroni and cheese is not a complicated dish.  One of the things I love about it is the casserole nature of the baked mac and cheese that allows me to wash up all the dishes and such while it’s baking.  Which means easy cleanup after dinner.

For me, easy cleanup = easy dinner.

Smoked Gruyere Mac and Cheese with Capicola

Anyway, here are the ingredients for this dish.

I chose Gruyere, which is something I used to eat more of when I lived in Germany, so I like to use it occasionally.

The Capicola is a spicy ham that we put in our cold cut pies around Easter.  Apparently this is an Italian thing.  Either way, I like the ham.

But it CAN be spicy.  And the spice is intensified a little when you fry it, which is why you can see that I only added a small amount to the top of my dish right before serving.  You don’t need a lot.

Smoked Gruyere Mac and Cheese with Capicola

I don’t always use heavy cream when making mac and cheese, but usually just because I don’t have it on hand.

It adds a nice thickness.

Whether you use it or just straight milk, though, your roux should reach a point of being thick enough that the cheese doesn’t fall straight to the bottom when you sprinkle it in.

To get to that point, bring your roux JUST to a boil, stirring frequently.

Smoked Gruyere Mac and Cheese with Capicola

I switch between Panko and regular bread crumbs.  Whatever I’m in the mood for.

In this recipe, I used Panko.

Smoked Gruyere Mac and Cheese with Capicola

Doesn’t that look awesome?

It’s the cooked noodles mixed into the cheese sauce before it’s baked.  You do want it to look a little soupy, because the sauce will thicken up in the oven.

Smoked Gruyere Mac and Cheese with Capicola

Here are the bread crumbs before baking.

Smoked Gruyere Mac and Cheese with Capicola

I used a 1/4 lb. of Capicola, slicing it rather thinly.

You could use more:  it shrinks significantly when you fry it (like bacon), but, like I said, you don’t really need a lot.

It’s just an accent.

Smoked Gruyere Mac and Cheese with Capicola

I threw the Capicola into the pan with just a touch of olive oil to help keep it from sticking.

Fry until nice and dark, but not quite burnt.

Then drain it on paper towels and serve separately.

Smoked Gruyere Mac and Cheese with Capicola

Doesn’t that look good??

If your bread crumbs don’t brown enough during the last few minutes of baking, go ahead and broil it for two or three minutes – just keep a close eye since it can burn.

Smoked Gruyere Mac and Cheese with Capicola

And there’s the finished product:  scooped into a bowl with a pinch of the crispy, spicy ham.

Serve with some salad and you got a meal.

Smoked Gruyere Mac and Cheese with Capicola

 Smoked Gruyere Mac & Cheese with Fried Capicola

Serves: 6+

Ingredients:

3 cups Rigatoni pasta
2 Tbs. butter
2 Tbs. flour
2 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
2 cups Smoked Gouda, shredded
1/2 cup Swiss, shredded
1 tsp. pepper
1 tsp. paprika
1/4 to 1/2 lb. Capicola

For Breadcrumbs:

3 Tbs. butter, melted
1/2 cup Panko breadcrumbs

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Cook the pasta until al dente, or one minute less than the recommended cooking time.

In a medium saucepan, melt the 2 Tbs. of butter. Stir in the flour to create a roux. Whisk in the milk and heavy cream. Cook over medium to medium high heat until just boiling, stirring frequently. Once it starts to boil, remove from heat and stir in the cheeses and spices. Continue to stir over low heat until the cheese has melted.

Mix the 3 Tbs. of butter with the breadcrumbs.

Stir the pasta into the cheese sauce. Pour into an 8 x 8 inch or a 9 x 13 inch pan. Sprinkle breadcrumbs over the top. Cover pan with foil.

Bake for 20 minutes. Uncover and bake for 5 to 10 minutes more, or until the cheese sauce is bubbling around the edges. If the breadcrumbs are not browned, broil for 2 or 3 minutes, watching closely.

Meanwhile, while the macaroni is baking, slice the Capicola thinly and fry over medium heat. Add a touch of olive oil if it seems to be sticking. Once the ham is crispy, drain on paper towels. Serve in a separate dish, to be used as a topping.

[Note: if you use a different shape of pasta, you may need to adjust the amount. Also, the ham is only meant as an accent. If you want a significant portion in your macaroni, use 1/2 to 1 lb.]

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Click here to print the free PDF version:  Smoked Gruyere Mac and Cheese with Capicola

Enjoy!

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