Brownie Bottom Cheesecake Bites

Brownie Bottom Cheesecake Bites- Punkinoodle.comThere are times you just need a little cheesecake and chewy brownie in your life. But baking cheesecake AND brownies? Aint nobody got time for that! Brownies and cheesecake taste surprisingly great together, and even better when drizzled with chocolate (who knew?).

Here’s a recipe that calls for just a handful of ingredients and minimal baking time, and it’s not marbled together like some recipes- because I like to appreciate the textures separately. Plus it’s just fun to say “brownie bottom”.

I found this recipe at Roxanna’s Home Baking, and adapted it to make a slightly healthier, quick to whip up, and in little bite-sized portions. The cheesecake layer already calls for Greek yogurt (awesome!) and I replaced the sugar with agave. You could also use Stevia or Honey and I believe it would turn out great. I chose to use a brownie mix for the bottom layer for time and convenience. There are some great recipes for brownie mix, like this one at findourwaynow, that would also make a great brownie bottom. Possibly healthier too.

Brownie Bottom Cheesecake Bites- Punkinoodle.com

Ingredients:

Brownie Layer

– Your favorite brownie recipe or a mix

Cheesecake Layer

– 2 1/4 cups Cream Cheese room temperature

– 1/2 cup Agave or honey (or sweetener of choice)

– 3 Eggs

– 1 tsp Vanilla Extract

– 1/2 cup Greek Yogurt

Instructions
Preheat oven to temperature found on brownie mix. Lightly grease a mini or regular muffin tin. Set aside. Mix brownie batter according to instructions. Pour into muffin tin and bake 5-10 minutes- until the top layer just starts to look solid. Remove from oven and cool. For the cheesecake layer- in a mixing bow beat together the ingredients for the cheese cake until there are no lumps. Pour into a plastic bag, cut off the tip and squeeze on the lightly baked brownies. Bake 20-30 minutes until the centers are almost set. Run a knife or toothpick around the edges of each to loosen them from the pan. Drizzle with chocolate mixed with a little bit of oil for a pretty effect. I like to use a cup of chocolate chips and a 1/2 tablespoon of coconut oil- microwaved for 30 seconds to 1 minute.

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Strawberry Danish Dessert

Light and refreshing Strawberry Danish Dessert - cream cheese, cool whip, and strawberries, yellow cake. So easy, so pretty, and one cake mix makes 2-3 cakes. Punkinoodle.com The dog days of summer are here. That means strawberries are on sale or popping up in your garden! Whenever I get my hands on a pound of strawberries, I love to make my family’s  secret weapon- Strawberry Danish Dessert. Friend or foe, no one can withstand it’s power! A moist layer of yellow cake topped with sweet cream cheese and cool whip, adorned with sweet ripe berries. I’ve seen similar recipes online for this, but not the exact same as my families yet. This variation came from my sweet grandma, a quarter Danish herself.

This year I’ve made it a personal tradition to make 3 cakes. I keep one and deliver the others to two neighbors who I learn are having a hard time or who I want to get to know better. I’ve met some amazing people this way and made new friends. In fact, any time I want to whip something together that’s easy, uses just a few ingredients and makes a beautiful impression– this is the go-to recipe. What’s even better is it makes between 2-3 cakes depending on the pans you use. So potluck, family dinner, whatever you make it for, there is always an extra cake or two– because one is PLENTY for an event, if you catch my drift ;)!

Fluted tart pans - perfect for Strawberry Danish Dessert

ONE thing you will need are round fluted tart cake pans pictured here- like this one.  I suppose you could use regular round cake pans too, but where’s the fun in that? For this recipe you can use either two 11 inch pans, or three 8 inch ones… just be sure they are indented in the middle to hold the berries and creamy goodness. If you want some but don’t want to spend a lot, keep in mind your local thrift store. I’ve had great luck finding these at Deseret Industries for a steal.

Ingredients:

– One box yellow or lemon cake mix, along with whatever eggs, oil and water the cake requires

– One box of Junket brand Danish Dessert  (in stores it’s usually by the gelatin and Jello. Or see *alternative recipe below

– 2-3 cups fresh strawberries (sliced) or raspberries

– One 8 0z package of cream cheese

– One 8 oz tub of cool whip

Directions:

Make cake mix according to box. Grease and flour two 11″ fluted pans, or three 8″. Pour mix evenly between pans. Bake until toothpick comes out clean (10-15 min). While cakes are baking, prepare Danish dessert following “Fruit Sauce” recipe on box. Mix in berries and refrigerate (setting aside 3 berries for garnish). When cakes are done, use toothpick to loosen edges before dumping onto plates. Mix coolwhip and softened cream cheese with electric mixer until there are no lumps. Place cream cheese mixture in the fridge, setting aside 1/2 cup for garnish. Take the fruit sauce/berry mixture out of the fridge. Divide cream cheese mixture between cakes, and spread from the center of the cake, forming a rim along the edges. Then spread fruit mixture in the center of the cream, leaving a rim of cream cheese mixture. Top with a dollop of the cream cheese mixture and a berry. Refrigerate before serving.

Light and refreshing Strawberry Danish Dessert - cream cheese, cool whip, and strawberries, yellow cake. So easy, so pretty, and one cake mix makes 2-3 cakes. Punkinoodle.com

These cakes taste the best when they are able to sit in the fridge for a few hours. They keep well for a couple weeks in the fridge… but never make it that long in my house.

After making these cakes since I was little, I have some tips to make it extra tasty below.

– I like to add an extra egg and substitute oil for butter for a homemade taste.

– To grease the pans, spread Crisco on the bottom. This can be messy but it’s KEY to keeping the cake from sticking to the fluted pans! I like to use a paper towel. Then dust the pans with flour- I do this by plopping less than 1/4 cup in the bottom, then shake and tap against the sink while turning the pan to spread it around.

– Dumping out the cakes so they stay in one piece can be tricky. If you’ve greased it well and floured it too, then just run a toothpick along the entire fluted edge of the pan, two times if needed until the cake starts to lift out. When you turn the cake pan upside down they should come out cleanly.

– Because I like to use the 11″ pans, it can be difficult to find a plate big enough! But I’ve found rattans work nicely. Just big enough to hold the cake, but not too big to place in the refrigerator.

– When making the fruit sauce, I like to add a little lemon juice and a bit of cinnamon to enhance the flavor.

– To warm the cream cheese leave it at room temperature for a while, or pop it in the microwave for 30 seconds or until melty.

– When garnishing the middle of the cakes, I like to slice a strawberry from the bottom, and spread it out, leaving the green on top. Raspberries are easier, I just place 3 on top of the cream cheese.

Origins of this recipe- My grandmother (a quarter Danish) told me that she learned the recipe from a Scandinavian neighbor. She adapted the recipe to add cream cheese sweetened with powdered sugar– she said it was too dry otherwise. My mother then adapted the recipe further replacing the powdered sugar with cool whip, which makes the cake require refrigeration but it’s lighter and delicious right out of the fridge.

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No Sugar No Flour Banana Oat Muffins

After biting into perfectly soft, moist muffins, you won't believe they have no flour or sugar!  Pop them in a ziploc bag in the freezer for instant healthy breakfast on the go.

After biting into perfectly soft, moist muffins, you won’t believe they have no flour and are sweetened with just agave or honey! Ok ok, and chocolate chips if you choose 🙂

They say if you give a mom a muffin, she’ll probably never have time to enjoy it. So what are we moms to do? We do what we do best… make our own muffins! And maybe if you are especially awesome, you make them for a mom you love.

Here is a recipe for delicious banana muffins with – wait for it – NO flour OR sugar/artificial sweeteners. Perfectly moist, flavorful and sweetened with natural agave nectar or honey if you prefer, and with flaxseed. Truly guilt free! I’ve adapted this recipe from one online with 702 reviews and 4.5/5 stars to date (that’s a winning sign, right?).

The chocolate chips are optional, and of course mine do have sugar. I can always justify chocolate, especially dark! But rest assured my friend, they are just as good without the chocolate chips.

No Flour, No Sugar Banana Oatmeal Muffins

1 1/4 cup rolled oats– blended in a blender or food processor to a powder – like oatmeal flour

1 cup rolled oats

2 Tbs Milled Flax seed (optional)

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup Agave (or honey)

1 egg

3/4 cup milk

1/3 cup vegetable oil

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup mashed bananas

1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (optional)

Directions Combine ground and rolled oats, flax seed, baking powder, soda, and salt. Stir in the egg, milk, oil, agave and vanilla. Add the mashed banana and chocolate chips and combine thoroughly. Grease or line a muffin tin with paper bake cups, and divide the batter among them. Bake at 350 degrees F for 15-20 minutes (10 minutes for mini muffins). Enjoy!

Pictured above are mini muffins. Have you ever tried popping muffins into the freezer? It makes the perfect bite-sized snack on the go, they only take a minute to thaw! The muffin tin I used can be found here, that bad boy was on my Amazon wishlist for Christmas. Since when did kitchen tools become so exciting? Maybe since they held little pockets of ooey-gooey-sweet goodness…

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Valentines Day! Conversation Heart Cookies

Cream cheese conversation heart sugar cookies with a smooth glaze.

Cream cheese conversation heart sugar cookies with a smooth glaze.

Oh the understated sugar cookie. It’s a pearl among diamonds and rubies. Though it doesn’t attract attention like it’s opulent chocolate chip cousin, EVERYONE has a tried and true recipe just the same. My mom’s recipe uses sour cream, making a pillowy soft texture. And it can be made with no refrigeration– a trademark of my mom’s last-minute cookie baking with us kids. Good memories!

I recently ventured out and tried Cream Cheese Sugar cookies with a hard, smooth glaze. I thought they would be just as soft or chewier than my mom’s recipe. Instead they had a flaky texture that was delightful just the same. This is the perfect recipe for decorating cookies. While the dough is a little soft and difficult to work with, when it bakes they are very solid and easy to decorate without breaking. They are still soft and wonderful!

Here is the recipe:

Ingredients
1 cup white sugar
1 cup butter, softened
1 (3 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg yolk
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

Directions
In a large bowl combine the sugar, butter, cream cheese, salt, almond and vanilla extracts, and egg yolk. Beat until smooth. Stir in flour until well blended. Chill the dough for 8 hours or overnight.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough 1/3 at a time to 1/8 inch thickness, refrigerating remaining dough until ready to use.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).

Cut into desired shapes with lightly floured cookie cutters. Place on lightly greased cookie sheets.

Bake for 7 to 10 minutes until light and golden brown. Cool cookies completely before frosting.

Simple Cookie Glaze

2 1/4 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon milk
Food coloring (optional)

Whisk ingredients together until well combined. This frosting should have the consistency of cold honey, thick but still drizzles off the whisk. Be careful adding the milk, adding a little more as you go to get a good consistency. Remember a little goes a long way. You can always add more milk but you can’t remove it!

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Easy, Homemade Rice Cereal – one batch for two weeks, baby!

ricecerealpinterest-sizedright-1

Homemade rice cereal is easy to make, will save you money, and it’s rather scrumptious if you ask me. After testing several methods, I came up with a recipe to make a large batch. If you’re a busy mom and your Punkinoodle is eating rice cereal daily, you’re going to love this…  with just 2 cups of rice and spending just 15 minutes in the kitchen you can whip up enough rice cereal for weeks! When it’s time to eat, it’s just as easy as grabbing a cube, microwaving or thawing it, and it’s ready to be mixed it with whatever baby food you like or eaten plain. Instant creamy goodness!

So let’s recap. If you like to save time and money, and like the idea of feeding your baby something homemade and organic, then I think you and this recipe are meant for each other.

You will need:

– About 15 minutes every two weeks
– A big bag of short grain brown rice — The same 12 lb bag is also avaliable at Costco for a great deal.
– A food processor (Magic Bullet, other, or a blender that can process food)
Ice cube trays — I picked some up at a thrift store, sturdy, affordable and retro. Love ’em!
Freezer bags
– A big pot and a whisk (I love this one!)

So, let’s get straight to the point. Below is the recipe straight up and below that are photos of each step. If you want to make a smaller batch of this recipe, to see if your baby approves, check out this post at Live Extraordinary. Estelle has great instructions and the perfect ratio for a batch that will last for a couple meals. Be aware that your child will need to get used to the texture. It’s much thicker than store bought rice cereal, so you may want to add water to thin it out, or as I prefer, add some baby food.

HOMEMADE RICE CEREAL RECIPE

*Prep/cook time- 15 minutes
*Makes 28 small servings (I thaw one cube and mix with about a 1/2 jar of baby food per meal)

Ingredients:
– 2 Cups Short Grain Organic Brown Rice
– 6 Cups COLD water

Directions: Grind rice into a fine powder using a food processor. Dump into a large pot, and gradually whisk in 6 cups of cold water. Cook on medium/high-ish for about 10 minutes, whisking often to prevent lumps from forming. Add more water if needed. The cereal is done when it thickens and the particles of rice are very soft or undetectable. Store in the fridge for 2-3 days, or in the freezer. Freeze in two large ice cube trays for 3 or more hours. Then transfer to a freezer bag (by running hot water over the underside to loosen).

In a not-so-blind and fully supervised test, the Punkanoodle picked homemade rice cereal.

In a not-so-blind and fully supervised test, my Punkinoodle picked homemade rice cereal. (Oh, I’m so flattered! I’d like to thank my friends, my family… *choking up)

Grinding rice into homemade rice cereal. Click to see the set I use for baby food.

In 1/2 cup increments, grind 2 cups of rice in a food processor (I use my magic bullet) until it’s a churning powder. I blended each 1/2 cup for 30 seconds to a minute to make sure it was very fine.

coarse rice cereal

If your rice looks like this after processing– keep going! Unless your baby is older and likes a little more texture.

fine-ground organic rice for homemade rice cereal

Your rice cereal should look like this when it’s done — very fine indeed!

Mix 6 cups of COLD water into the pot while whisking to prevent lumps from forming.

Mix 6 cups of COLD water into the pot while whisking to prevent lumps from forming.

This little guy is by best friend. For coil whisks click here.

Cook for about 15 minutes until thick. Shown above is my favorite kitchen tool. This little guy keeps almost anything from sticking while not scratching your pan– a coil whisk.

Freezing the rice cereal for later. Click for ice cube trays that will give you similar portions.

Fill ice cube trays to the right serving sizes for your little Punkanoodle. You should have enough for two trays, or more.

Click to see the bags I use.

Viola! Tasty, organic, homemade rice cereal for weeks. Just plop one into a bowl and microwave for 30-45 seconds. Or bring one with you on the road and let it thaw.

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