Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cheesecake Bars

Need a dessert to bring to your 4th of July party this weekend?  Make these!  I figured that these would be good since they're a combination of cheesecake and chocolate chip cookie dough, and I was right.  These were incredible!  Seriously, you need to make these.  You may want to go for a little jog after eating them, but trust me - they're worth the calories.

I came across this recipe on this really great cooking blog, Beantown Baker, and decided I had to make it right away.  It's a great recipe to make ahead of time for a party.  It's a little more time consuming than normal cookie bars since there are 3 different layers (graham cracker crust, cheesecake, and chocolate chip cookie dough), but this recipe is very easy to follow.  Now I just need to make sure I have the self control not to eat the rest of these out of the refrigerator today.


Crust -
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
5 Tbsp butter, melted
2/3 cup mini chocolate chips

Cookie Dough-
5 Tbsp butter, room temp.
1/3 cup brown sugar
3 Tbsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup flour
1 cup chocolate chips

Cheesecake Filling-
10 oz. cream cheese, room temp.
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract


Preheat oven to 325.

For the crust-
Grease a 8x8 pan with butter, line pan with parchment paper and butter the paper, leaving enough to extend over the sides (lining with parchment paper makes this so much easier to get out of the pan and slice...if you want these to look pretty, definitely don't skip this step).  Crush graham crackers into crumbs to make 1 & 1/2 cups.  Add to butter and stir until crumbs are moistened.  Stir in chocolate chips.  Press crust mixture into bottom of pan. Bake for 6 minutes. Set pan on wire rack to cool.

For cookie dough-
Using mixer and the paddle attachment, mix butter, brown sugar, sugar, salt, and vanilla extract at medium speed until smooth.  Adjust mixer speed to low and add flour.  Mix just until incorporated.  Stir in chocolate chips.  Set aside.

For cheesecake-
Using mixer, beat cream cheese and sugar until smooth.  Add egg and vanilla extract, beating just until blended.  Pour batter into cooled, baked crust.  Drop cookie dough by teaspoonfuls over the top of the filling.

Bake about 30 minutes, or until set. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Place in the refrigerator to chill for several hours before slicing into squares (I cut mine into 16 squares).

Monday, June 28, 2010

Grilled Pineapple

We've been grilling a lot so far this summer, and we've made grilled pineapple several times already.  The picture doesn't do it justice, but this is amazingly simple and delicious.  It makes a perfect side dish to anything grilled or you could even add a little ice cream and turn this into dessert.

While Kevin is grilling our dinner, I will get this ready to go and have him throw the pineapple on the grill about five minutes before we eat.  It always ends up sweet and juicy :)


1 pineapple - peeled, cored, and cut into strips (I cut about 8 big strips per pineapple)
1/2 stick of butter, melted
About 1/2 cup of brown sugar (I've also used regular sugar when I didn't have brown sugar, but I just used less)


Brush the prepared pineapple strips with the melted butter on both sides.  Sprinkle both sides with the brown sugar and rub into the butter.  Grill over a medium flame for about 2 or 3 minutes on each side and enjoy!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Spaghetti Carbonara

I've seen both Giada and Rachel Ray make spaghetti carbonara while watching the food network, but before tonight I hadn't actually tasted it.  It always looked so creamy and delicious (and I figured, how can pasta with bacon and parmesan cheese not be great!) so I decided to give it a try.

I used this recipe from allrecipes, and I thought it tasted pretty good.  I have to admit that I prefer pasta with alfredo sauce, but this recipe doesn't have all of the butter and cream that alfredo sauce does (not that this pasta is at all healthy with all of the bacon haha).  This is pretty heavy for the summer, but I will definitely make this again sometime this winter.  PS - Use good parmesan cheese that you grate yourself if you's much better than the pre-grated stuff!


1 pound spaghetti
8 slices bacon, diced (I used a whole 3/4 lb. package)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup dry white wine (I used Savignon Blanc)
4 eggs
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese (I used a little over a cup)
Salt and fresh cracked pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley, for serving
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese, for serving


1.  In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook spaghetti pasta until al dente. Drain well. Toss with 1 tablespoon of olive oil, and set aside (I timed this so the pasta was ready around when I was ready to mix everything in).

2.  Meanwhile in a large skillet, cook chopped bacon until slightly crisp; remove and drain onto paper towels. Reserve 2 tablespoons of bacon fat; add remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil, and heat in reused large skillet. Add chopped onion, and cook over medium heat until onion is translucent. Add minced garlic, and cook 1 minute more. Add wine; cook one more minute.

3.  Return cooked bacon to pan; add cooked and drained spaghetti. Toss to coat and heat through, adding more olive oil if it seems dry or is sticking together. Beat the eggs together with the grated parmesan cheese and add this mixture to the pasta and cook, tossing constantly with tongs or large fork until eggs are barely set. Add salt and pepper, to taste.

4.  Serve immediately with chopped parsley sprinkled on top, and extra Parmesan cheese at table.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

My First Caprese Salad of the Summer

In addition to the mint I'm growing this summer to make mojitos, I'm also growing 3 tomato plants.  I love summer tomatos - I usually use them to make caprese salads, bruschetta, or BLT sandwiches.  In recipes like these with so few ingredients and the tomatoes playing a star role, tomatoes bought in the winter just aren't the same. 

I was so excited when I realized I actually have a couple tomatoes that were turning red!  I picked two tomatoes and used them to make a caprese salad to go with our dinner tonight (I picked some fresh basil from my garden as well).  This isn't really a recipe, but I'll give you an idea of how I put this together and some tips. 

The #1 most important thing when making caprese is to use high quality ingredients - that's where my summer tomatoes come in.  Also, use good fresh mozzarella - That rubbery ball of fresh mozzarella wrapped in plastic won't taste as good as the higher quality mozzarella balls that float in the liquid (buffalo mozzarella is really good).  Use good EVOO and more importantly (in my opinion) use good balsamic vinegar.  I use this amazingly sweet 18-year balsamic vinegar that costs about twenty bucks a bottle - I had a taste of it a few years back, and now that I know what good balsamic tastes like, I just can't bring myself to stop buying this incredible, yet expensive stuff.

The second most important thing is to salt your tomatoes - if you don't salt them enough they will taste bland....don't be scared of salt!  Just add a little at a time and take a quick taste to see if it tastes right. 

Sometimes when I make a caprese salad, I use chunks of tomatoes and the little fresh mozzarella balls mixed together, but tonight I made a layered caprese salad.


Ripe summer tomatoes - I used two
Fresh mozzarella - I used two of the mozzarella balls that came in a container of four
Basil (either whole leaves or chopped, whichever you prefer) - I probably used around 12 basil leaves
Balsamic Vinegar
Salt & Pepper, to taste


Slice each tomato into 3 or 4 slices, depending on how big they are, and slice the fresh mozzarella.  First, lay the tomato slices on a plate and salt the tomatoes to taste.  Layer the tomatoes with the mozzarella and basil.  Drizzle with EVOO and balsamic vinegar and season with salt and pepper, to taste. 

This is a perfect side dish for any summer meal :)

Wednesday, June 23, 2010


I absolutely LOOOOVE mojitos!  Any time I see these on the drink menu at a restaurant, chances are I will end up with one (or three).  I like regular mojitos, and I've also had some great flavored mojitos (mango mojitos, pineapple mojitos, coconut mojitos).  YUM :)

Anyways, I'm growing a pot of mint out on our deck this summer, and pretty much the reason for growing this mint is so that I would be able to make my own mojtos at home.  Well, the mint is growing like crazy so I finally bought a few ingredients so that I could make my mojitos.  I found this recipe on my go-to recipe site ( and I was set to go.  I used my muddler that I use when I make guacamole, and these turned out delicious :)  They were a little time consuming to make so I would probably never make these if we had company over, but now I'm glad I'll be able to make these for me and Kevin this summer.

PS - My pictures may not be too great because I'm using pictures I've taken with my cell phone (although I have to say the quality is much better than what my old phone took), but I have waited way too long to update my blog so I figure cell phone pics are better than nothing!)


10 fresh mint leaves (I actually used 11 or 12)
1/2 lime, cut into 4 wedges
2 tablespoons white sugar, or to taste (I probably ended up with 2 1/2 tablespoons)
1 cup ice cubes (or as many will fit into your glass)
1 1/2 fluid ounces white rum
1/2 cup club soda (I used a little more - enough to fill the glass to the top)


Place mint leaves and 1 lime wedge into a sturdy glass. Use a muddler to crush the mint and lime to release the mint oils and lime juice. Add 2 more lime wedges and the sugar, and muddle again to release the lime juice. Do not strain the mixture. Fill the glass almost to the top with ice. Pour the rum over the ice, and fill the glass with carbonated water. Stir, taste, and add more sugar if desired. Garnish with the remaining lime wedge.