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Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies: Dark Chocolate Cream Cheese Cookies

Dark Chocolate Cream Cheese Cookies 2

DAY 11: Dark Chocolate Cream Cheese Cookies

Rich, dark chocolate cookies studded with chocolate chips. Cream cheese (I think this may be a theme this year) keeps them soft and chewy. For the chocolate lover.

Dark Chocolate Cream Cheese Cookies 1

RECIPE:

Dark Chocolate Cream Cheese Cookies 2

Dark Chocolate Cream Cheese Cookies

1 cup unsalted butter, softened
4 oz cream cheese, softened
1 ½ cups light brown sugar
½ cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 Tbs vanilla extract
3 ½ cups flour
½ cup Hershey’s special dark cocoa powder
2 Tbs cornstarch
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 cups chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone liners.

In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter, cream cheese, and sugars until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs and vanilla.

Stir together the flour, cocoa, cornstarch, baking soda, and salt. Beat into wet ingredients. Mix in the chocolate chips. Chill dough for 20-30 minutes.

Drop by tablespoonfuls onto baking sheets. Bake for 8-9 minutes, or until barely set. Cookies will continue to set as they cool.  Cool on baking sheet for about 5 minutes before moving to a wire rack.

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Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies: Chewy Pecan Cheesecake Cookies

Chewy Pecan Cheesecake Cookies

DAY 6: Chewy Pecan Cheesecake Cookies

These cookies were some of my favorites growing up. They are a chewy cookie with lots of nuts and a slight tang from the cream cheese.

They are also egg-free if you are baking for people with allergies.

Thanks Mom!

RECIPE:

Chewy Pecan Cheesecake Cookies

Chewy Pecan Cheesecake Cookies

1 cup butter, softened
8 oz cream cheese, softened
2 cups sugar
2 tsp vanilla
3 cups flour
1 tsp salt
1 ½ cups chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone liners.

In a mixing bowl, cream butter and cream cheese. Add sugar and vanilla and beat until light and fluffy. Add flour and salt and beat well. Stir in nuts.

Shape dough  into 1” balls. Place on prepared baking sheets. Flatten each cookie slightly with the palm of your hand.

Bake for 12-14 minutes. Cool 2-3 minutes on baking sheet before removing to wire rack.

Makes about 4 ½ dozen cookies

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Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies: Cream Cheese Chocolate Chip Cookies (Egg Free)

Cream Cheese Chocolate Chip Cookies

DAY 2: Cream Cheese Chocolate Chip Cookies

These cookies are soft and chewy, and egg-free for those with allergies. I like to keep them on hand for my daughter’s friend who has an egg allergy (if I can keep other hands out of the container!).

Here are some other egg-free cookie recipes:

RECIPE:

Cream Cheese Chocolate Chip Cookies

Cream Cheese Chocolate Chip Cookies (egg-free)
(recipe adapted from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe)

8 oz cream cheese, softened
½ cup butter, melted and slightly cooled
¾ cup brown sugar
½ cup sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups flour
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
1 ½ cups  chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 325°F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone liners.

In a mixing  bowl, cream together the cream cheese, melted butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Mix in the vanilla.

Combine dry ingredients and then mix into the butter mixture. Add the chocolate chips and mix well.

Roll the dough into 1 to 1 ½-inch balls and place about 2 inches apart on the baking sheets. Flatten each ball slightly with the palm of your hand.

Bake for 12-14 minutes until the edges are just barely golden brown. Cool for 2-3 minutes on the baking sheet and then move to a cooling rack.

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Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies (and Treats): Cream Cheese Mints

Cream Cheese Mints

DAY 10: Cream Cheese Mints

Melt in your mouth cream cheese mints.

Making these mints is like playing with scented edible Play Doh. The hardest challenge will be keeping your kids from playing with it and eating it before you can roll the mints.

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RECIPE:

Cream Cheese Mints

Cream Cheese Mints

4 oz cream cheese, softened
1 Tbs butter, softened
1 lb powdered sugar (plus additional, if needed)
¼–½  tsp peppermint extract (or a few drops of peppermint oil)
Red and green gel food coloring

Place cream cheese, butter and powdered sugar in a food processor and process until smooth. Add ¼ tsp peppermint extract or a few drops of peppermint oil. Taste mixture and add additional flavoring, if desired. (Mixture can also be mixed and kneaded by hand.)

Divide dough into thirds and place in separate bowls. Add red and green food coloring to two of the bowls. Knead in coloring until color is consistently smooth. Add additional powdered sugar if the dough is too sticky. It should be Play Doh consistency.

Shape dough into small balls and then flatten with a fork. Place on a sheet of parchment paper. Allow mints to dry for 2 hours (longer in humid locations) at room temperature before storing in a covered container.

Candy molds can also be used to make shaped mints. If you are using candy molds to shape the mints, roll the balls in granulated sugar before pressing into the candy molds to keep them from sticking.

Makes about 50 mints.

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Twelve Days of Christmas Cookies: Cake Mix Snowball Cookies

Cake Mix Snowball Cookies 1

DAY 7: Cake Mix Snowball Cookies

Cookie Making Simplified. Easy to throw together, and a delicious cookie for those who like their cookies soft and gooey.

Cake Mix Snowball Cookies 2

These cookies are also delicious made with a lemon cake mix, but then you might not want to call them Snowball Cookies. You might not get many takers when you offer “Yellow Snow”ball Cookies.

RECIPE:

Cake Mix Snowball Cookies 1

Cake Mix Snowball Cookies

½ cup butter, softened
8 oz cream cheese, softened
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg
1 box white or yellow cake mix (or lemon)
Powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats.

In a large mixing bowl, combine butter, cream cheese and vanilla. Use an electric mixer to beat until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and then cake mix. Chill dough in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour.

Place powdered sugar in a small bowl. Roll dough into balls (about 1” in diameter) and then roll in powdered sugar. Place on baking sheets. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes, and then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.

Dust cooled cookies with additional sifted powdered sugar.

 

Makes 2 ½ – 3 dozen cookies

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Creamy Citrus Cheesecake

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For Brian’s birthday a couple of weeks ago we had this wonderful cheesecake. It is a very creamy cheesecake flavored with lemon and orange zest and juice. You can use blood oranges or regular naval oranges. Lime would also be a great flavor, instead of the lemon. The recipe comes from Aimée Bourque, who is the editor of Simple Bites and author of the blog Under the High Chair.

The original recipe did not have you bake the cheesecake in a water bath, but I did because I think it helps the cheesecake cook more uniformly, and reduces cracks on the top of the cheesecake. To prepare your pan for a waterbath, wrap the springform pan in a double layer of foil. Or: this time I did one layer of foil and then put the pan in an oven-safe bag (the kind used for roasting turkeys). Place wrapped pan in a larger roasting pan and add hot, almost boiling, water to the roasting pan to a level about halfway up the outside of the springform pan.

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If you are nervous about moving a pan full of boiling water: pull the oven rack out slightly from the hot oven. Place roasting pan on the oven rack, place springform pan in the roasting pan, and then add boiling water to the roasting pan. Carefully push oven rack back into the oven.3711 150-1

Just out of the oven-No Cracks!

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A citrus zest-spiked sour cream makes a perfect topping and hides any imperfections that develop in the top of the cheesecake as the cheesecake cools.

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I served this cheesecake with fresh blueberries and this fabulous homemade Blueberry Syrup.

It is flavorful enough that it could also be served on its own without any topping.

RECIPE:

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Creamy Citrus Cheesecake
———(adapted from Aimée Bourque on Savory Sweet Life)

Crust:
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
1 1/2 Tbs granulated sugar
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted

Filling:
3 pkg (24 oz) cream cheese
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup sour cream
Zest and juice of one lime or small lemon (wash before zesting)
Zest and juice of half an orange (wash before zesting; remaining half will be used in topping)
5 large eggs, room temperature

Topping:
1 cup sour cream
Zest and juice of half an orange
6 Tbs granulated sugar

Place oven rack on the lowest level of the oven. Preheat oven to 350°F.

For the crust:
In a small bowl, combine graham cracker crumbs and sugar. Add melted butter and mix. Press onto the bottom of a nine-inch springform pan. Bake crust for 8-10 minutes until slightly golden. Cool. Wrap springform pan in a double layer of foil, or one layer of foil and then place in an oven bag (like the kind used for turkeys). Place springform pan in a larger roasting pan.

For the filling:
With a mixer, beat together cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Add sour cream, citrus zest and juice. Mix well. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing until just incorporated.

Pour filling over crumb crust.  Fill roasting pan (not springform pan!) with very hot (almost boiling) water to about 2-inches deep.

Bake cheesecake in the water bath for about 60 minutes. The cheesecake will have puffed significantly, and the middle will still be slightly jiggly. Remove pan from water bath and run a sharp knife around the sides, but do not remove ring. Cool for 15 minutes on a wire rack on the counter.

For the topping:
Combine sour cream, orange zest and juice, and sugar together in a small bowl. Pour over slightly cooled cheesecake and let stand for half an hour at room temperature.
Cover cheesecake pan tightly with plastic wrap, taking care not to disturb the surface of the cheesecake. Chill for at least four hours or overnight.

To serve:
Remove plastic wrap and lift off the outer edge of the spring form pan. If desired, slide a sharp knife under the crust and slide the cheesecake off the spring form base and onto a cake stand or serving platter.

Serve cheesecake alone, or topped with fresh berries or homemade blueberry syrup.

 

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Twelve (More) Days of Christmas Cookies: Cream Cheese Cut-Out Cookies

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DAY 7: A nice alternative to regular Sugar Cookies, this dough can be rolled flat and cut into shapes with cookie cutters, or rolled into logs and cut into circles (super fast and easy!). For decorated “log-rolled cookies”: either roll the entire log in sprinkles before slicing, or slice and then top with sprinkles (press sprinkles into dough slightly).

I made these during the summer, so they don’t look very Christmassy, but with some fun Christmas sprinkles (I love the large variety packs that they sell at Target and other stores with the shaped sprinkles-trees, gingerbread men, holly, snowflakes!), they are an easy way to add fun sugar cookies to your Christmas Cookie Plate.

I also like to use this recipe when I am using cookie cutters with an imprint on the top (one that shows on the face of the cookie). Frosting covers up all of those great details. For those cookies, I mix sprinkles directly into the dough. Chill and roll out like regular sugar cookie dough and cut out with your cookie cutters. That way you get the imprint on the face and some festive sprinkles throughout the cookie.

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RECIPE:

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Cream Cheese Cut-Out Cookies

1 cup butter, softened
1 (8 oz) pkg cream cheese, softened
2 cups sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
4 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
About ¼ cup “sprinkles” candies

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Beat butter and cream cheese with a mixer. Beat in sugar, egg and vanilla. Add half of the flour and the baking powder; mix well. Beat or stir in remaining flour and sprinkles (**For round cookies, don’t mix in sprinkles; see note below).

Chill dough for 1-3 hours. Roll to ¼” thickness. Cut out with cookie cutters. Bake at 375°F for 8-10 minutes. For a soft cookie, be sure not to overcook! Cool on a wire rack.

**For round cookies: Do not mix sprinkles into dough. Divide dough in half and roll into logs. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill dough. For sprinkles on outside edges: roll entire log in sprinkles, then cut into slices and bake. For sprinkles on top of cookies: Cut logs into slices; top with sprinkles. Press sprinkles into cookies slightly; bake as directed above.

 

TWELVE DAYS OF CHRISTMAS COOKIES (2010) RECAP:
DAY 1: Raspberry Crumb Bars
DAY 2: Pumpkin Snickerdoodles
DAY 3: Chocolate Nutella Cookies
DAY 4: Glazed Lemon Poppy Seed Cookies
DAY 5: Almond Macaroon Brownies
DAY 6: Trail Mix Cookies

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Twelve (More) Days of Christmas Cookies: Almond Macaroon Brownies

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DAY 5: An easy way to dress up a boxed brownie mix!

Brownies topped with a coconut and almond cheesecake layer: thick, rich and delicious. As a real nut-lover, this recipe is one of my favorites.

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RECIPE:

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Almond Macaroon Brownies

1 brownie mix for 9×13” pan PLUS ingredients for preparing (usually water, oil and eggs)
1 cup coarsely chopped almonds, toasted
16 oz (2 pkg) cream cheese, softened
½ cup butter, softened
¾ cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
½ tsp almond extract
2 Tbs. flour
1 pkg (14 oz) flaked coconut

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Prepare brownie mix according to box directions. Add half of almonds to brownie batter. Spread in two greased 8×8” pans (or one greased 9×13” pan: see NOTE below).

With a mixer, beat cream cheese, butter and sugar. Beat in 2 eggs, vanilla and almond extracts and flour. Stir in coconut and remaining almonds. Carefully spread over brownie layer. Bake at 350°F for 40-45 minutes (50-60 minutes for 9×13” pan) until center is completely cooked (cover with foil if top layer starts to get too brown). Cool completely before cutting.

NOTE: I usually bake this in 2 square baking pans because the center will set faster. You can use a 9×13” pan instead, but be sure the center is completely cooked before removing from oven.

 

TWELVE DAYS OF CHRISTMAS COOKIES (2010) RECAP:
DAY 1: Raspberry Crumb Bars
DAY 2: Pumpkin Snickerdoodles
DAY 3: Chocolate Nutella Cookies
DAY 4: Glazed Lemon Poppy Seed Cookies

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Creamy Chicken Enchiladas Verdes

This is one of those recipes for which I very rarely measure ingredients. The recipe below includes specific amounts, but feel free to just use these as guidelines. I usually use chicken that I have prepared another day (for shredding chicken in a crockpot, see this other recipe for enchiladas) and frozen in Ziploc bags.

The filling is a simple mix of shredded chicken, cheese, taco seasoning, green onions or chives (one of the few things still growing in my garden) and some of the sauce that also gets spread on top.

The sauce for these enchiladas is made from a mixture of prepared Green Enchilada Sauce (in the big cans), cream cheese and canned diced green chilies. I could eat it with a spoon!

Then topped with additional cheese (can there ever be enough?) and green onions.

This is also a great freezer meal once it is prepared. To prepare this for a freezer meal, I usually double or triple the recipe (one for tonight, one/two for meals later), and roll the chicken filling in the tortillas. Line a baking sheet with foil or waxed paper and place the filled enchiladas on the pan, being careful not to let them touch. Freeze for several hours, until solid, then put the frozen enchiladas into a Ziploc bag. The sauce can be frozen separately in several smaller bags. Then you can pull out as many pre-made enchiladas as you need for dinner: you are not committed to a whole 9×13” pan. They can be cooked frozen (thaw sauce); just increase initial cooking time to about 1 hour.

RECIPE:

Creamy Chicken Enchiladas Verdes

5 cups cooked and shredded chicken (about 4-6 breasts)
2 Tbs taco seasoning mix
1/4 cup chopped green onions or fresh chives
2 1/2 cups shredded cheese (cheddar, Monterey Jack and/or mozzarella), divided
28 oz can green enchilada sauce
8 oz cream cheese, softened
4  oz can chopped green chilies
Flour or corn tortillas (about 8 large)
2-3 green onions, chopped

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Combine cooked chicken, taco seasoning, 1/4 cup chopped green onions or chives and 1 1/2 cups shredded cheese. Using a mixer/blender/immersion blender, mix green enchilada sauce and cream cheese until no lumps remain. Stir in canned chilies. Add about 1 1/2 cups of the creamy sauce to the chicken; mix well.

Pour a small amount of sauce into the bottom of a 9×13” baking pan. Roll chicken filling in tortillas. Place enchiladas in pan. Pour remaining sauce over enchiladas. Sprinkle with remaining 1 cup cheese and chopped green onions. Cover and bake for 35-45 minutes, or until hot and bubbly. Uncover and bake 10 minutes longer.

If desired, serve with Roasted Green Tomato Salsa

 

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Fruit Pizza

080610 078-1 Summer is birthday season at our house. With one child’s birthday at the beginning of summer and then three more within four weeks of each other later in the  summer , we have a lot of cake and sugar floating around our house. So I am grateful for Big J for going with a lighter dessert for his birthday yesterday. He usually goes for the more non-traditional birthday desserts. And with all of the fresh fruit available, I was really happy to make a Fruit Pizza.

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Eighteen Years! Eighteen years, in a land far, far away, my life changed forever. I can’t decide whether those 18 years have flown by, or that I’ve been a mom forever. Either way, it has been a wonderful journey. I love you J! It’s these coming years, as my babies slowly start leaving the nest that are making me nervous.

080610 051-1 This Fruit Pizza has a shortbread crust, a thin layer of slightly sweetened cream cheese, luscious summer fruit, and a light glaze on top. The fruit I used, from the inside out: blueberries, mango, raspberries, kiwi and strawberries.

The glaze is made from any light-colored fruit juice (I used a peach-mango, which turned out great!), some sugar, cornstarch and lemon juice (to keep cut fruit from browning, especially if you are using bananas or peaches).

Pre-Glazed Fruit Pizza:

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RECIPE:

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Fruit Pizza

Crust:
½ cup powdered sugar
1 ½ cups flour
¼ tsp salt
¾ cup butter, softened
½ tsp vanilla extract

Filling:
8 oz cream cheese, softened
2 Tbs powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract

Fruit (strawberries, blueberries, bananas, kiwi, mangos, peaches, grapes, pineapple, raspberries, etc.)

Glaze:
½ cup sugar
2 Tbs cornstarch or Clear Jel
2 tsp lemon juice
1 ½ cups clear fruit juice (apple, white grape, peach-mango,lemonade, etc)

Preheat oven to 325°F.

Crust: Using a pastry blender, mix ½ cup powdered sugar, flour, salt, butter and ½ tsp vanilla. Press onto a pizza pan. Bake for 10-15 minutes. Cool completely.

Filling: Combine cream cheese, 2 Tbs powdered sugar, and 1 tsp vanilla. Spread over cooled crust. Arrange fruit on cream cheese layer.

Glaze: Combine sugar, cornstarch, lemon juice and fruit juice in a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat until sugar is dissolved and mixture is thickened. Cool and spoon over fruit (all of the glaze may not be used). Chill. Slice into wedges to serve.

 

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