#CranberryWeek: Cranberry Cream Cheese Bars

It’s the final day of #CranberryWeek hosted by Caroline of Caroline’s Cooking. We’ve been sharing cranberry-inspired creations all week long in celebration of national cranberry day. Search #CranberryWeek to keep up to date and follow the #CranberryWeek Pinterest board for more cranberry inspiration.

My husband chipped away at the dish full of cranberry cream cheese bars with a warmed serving after the boys went to bed. I think he used it as his source of energy before tackling the dishes from dinner. 😉

I on the other hand, would have a little bit in the morning around 10 am. You know, when my first breakfast has worn off but it’s too close to lunch to have a second breakfast.

Cranberry Cream Cheese Bars for #CranberryWeek from Sew You Think You Can Cook (1)

I really like desserts that are acceptable for my mid-morning snack. The crust of these bars is made of oats – breakfast. The filling involves cream cheese – breakfast. Cranberries are a fruit – breakfast!

I liked eating my cranberry deliciousness with whipped cream, but no one would complain if you served yours with vanilla ice cream.

Cranberry Cream Cheese Bars

Ingredients:

  • 2 C flour
  • 1 1/2 C old fashioned oats
  • 1/2 C brown sugar
  • 1/4 C + 1 tbsp sugar, divided use
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 sticks butter, softened
  • 1 block (8 oz) cream cheese, softened
  • 1 can (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/4 C key lime juice (or lemon juice)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 can (16 oz) whole berry cranberry sauce
  • 2 tbsp cornstarch

Steps:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9″ x 13″ baking pan.
  2. In a large bowl, mix the flour, oats, brown sugar, 1/4 C sugar, cinnamon, a pinch of salt, and the butter with a hand mixer. Set aside 1 1/2 C. Press the remaining mixture into the prepared pan. Bake 12 – 15 minutes, until golden. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese with a hand mixer until fluffy. Add in the condensed milk, key lime juice, and vanilla extract. Mix until smooth. Spread over the baked crust.
  4. In a small bowl combine the cranberry sauce, cornstarch, and remaining tablespoon of sugar. Evenly distribute over the cream cheese.
  5. Top with the remaining oat mixture.
  6. Bake 40 – 45 minutes, until golden.

*This recipe is adapted from Danelle at https://www.letsdishrecipes.com/2014/12/cranberry-cream-cheese-bars-with-quaker-whole-grain-oats.html*

Cranberry Cream Cheese Bars for #CranberryWeek from Sew You Think You Can Cook

Be sure to check out these other great cranberry recipes:

Cranberry Bliss Bars (Starbucks Copycat) from Family Around The Table

Cranberry Clementine Gin from Culinary Adventures with Camilla

Cranberry Clusters by The Freshman Cook

Cranberry Cream Cheese Bars from Sew You Think You Can Cook

Cranberry-Pistachio Dark Chocolate Bark from Books n’ Cooks

TBD from Palatable Pastime

Panettone from Caroline’s Cooking

You Make Me Blush Cocktail by A Day in the Life on the Farm

Warm Cranberry Punch from Everyday Eileen

 

#AppleWeek: Apple Cinnamon Rolls

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It’s the second day of #AppleWeek and time for my first recipe! I will be sharing three recipes throughout the week and decided to break them into a breakfast dish, a savory dish, and a dessert.

I’ve already done a German apple pancake this year, so naturally the next logical step is cinnamon rolls.

We love cinnamon rolls and when I make them from scratch the weekend just seems that much better. Instead of going with my typical Christmas morning cinnamon roll dough, I opted for a more busy morning friendly recipe – one hour cinnamon rolls.

Apple Cinnamon Rolls

Ingredients for Rolls:

  • 1 C warm milk (105-110 deg F)
  • 4 1/2 tsp instant yeast (I used Red Star Platinum)
  • 1/2 C sugar, divided use (I used Dixie Crystals)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 C vegetable oil
  • 4-4 1/2 C flour
  • 1/3 C butter, at room temperature
  • 1 C brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 tbsp cinnamon
  • 1 apple, peeled and finely diced

Ingredients for Icing:

  • 1/4 C butter, at room temperature
  • 2 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 tsp light corn syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 1/4 C powdered sugar

Steps:

  1. Dissolve yeast and 1 tbsp sugar into the warm milk. Let proof 5 – 10 minutes.
  2. Place 4 C flour, remaining sugar, and salt into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the yeast mixture and stir on low. Add the egg and oil. Once the dough starts to come together switch the paddle attachment for the dough hook and knead 5 minutes. Add flour 2 tbsp at a time, as needed. Let rest 5 minutes.
  3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with a silicone mat or parchment paper.
  4. Roll dough out on a floured surface into an 18″ x 24″ rectangle. Spread the dough with the softened butter. Distribute the brown sugar and cinnamon evenly, pressing lightly. Add the diced apple.
  5. Roll the dough lengthwise and gently pinch the seam closed. Cut into 1 1/2″ cinnamon rolls. Place cut side down on the prepared baking sheet. Bake 20 – 25 minutes, until lightly golden.
  6. Make the frosting: In a medium bowl, whip together the butter and cream cheese using a hand mixer. Add in the corn syrup, vanilla, and lemon juice. Mix until incorporated. Add in the powdered sugar and mix until smooth.
  7. Allow cinnamon rolls to cool slightly before frosting.

*This recipe is adapted from Lauren at https://www.laurenslatest.com/1-hour-cinnabon-cinnamon-rolls-best/*

Apple Cinnamon Rolls for #AppleWeek from Sew You Think You Can Cook

Dreamfarm provided #AppleWeek bloggers with a set of their Levups and a set of Levoons and my kids instantly became obsessed with them (see!). Firecracker can’t wait to help with baking even more than usual when I pull out these helpful gadgets.

Dreamfarm

When it comes to baking, precision in measurements is key to achieving that perfect cake or bread. These products help make that possible. They have a leveling scraper that you can pinch across the top of your measuring cup/spoon. It’s pretty fun. (Check out my Instagram video of the Levups in action here!)

Don’t forget to enter the giveaway for your own set of Levups and set of Levoons, and check out some great apple recipes:
Apple Almond Butter Manchego Grilled Cheese from A Kitchen Hoor’s Adventures
Apple Almond Chicken Salad from Books n’ Cooks
Apple Bacon Jam from Corn, Beans, Pigs and Kids
Apple Cinnamon Rolls from Sew You Think You Can Cook
Apple Fritter Pie from Dad What’s 4 Dinner
Apple Nachos from Simple and Savory
Apple Pecan Chicken Salad from The Chef Next Door
Apple Turnovers from A Day in the Life on the Farm
Applesauce Cake with Soft Caramel Cream Cheese Frosting from Cooking With Carlee
Autumn Apple Sipper from Culinary Adventures with Camilla
Bavarian Apple Oatmeal Streusel Cheesecake from All That’s Jas
Caramel Apple Cupcakes from Amy’s Cooking Adventures
Grilled Apple Tossed Salad from Jolene’s Recipe Journal
Mini Apple Muffins with Oatmeal Streusel Topping from Family Around the Table
Nutmeg Apple Conserve from Feeding Big
Red Cabbage with Apple from Palatable Pastime
Roasted Apple and White Cheddar Soup from 4 Sons ‘R’ Us
Sauerkraut & Sausage with Apples from House of Nash Eats

Disclaimer: Thank you to #AppleWeek Sponsors: Rodelle, Dreamfarm, Casabella, Flahavan’s Irish Oatmeal, Pryex, Chicago Cutlery, Rainier Fruit, and Veggie Wash for providing prizes for #AppleWeek free of charge. These companies also provided the bloggers with samples and product to use for #AppleWeek. All opinions are my own.

Carrot Cake Cinnamon Rolls #EasterRecipes

What do you do when you can’t sleep?

Do you just toss and turn, stare at the dark ceiling and hope for rest to return?

Well, today (yesterday) I decided to do something productive with my restlessness. Maybe I’ll be regretting that later, but I was tired of feeling like I was keeping the hubs awake. (Pun unintended.)

So what did I do?

Wash dishes.

Everyone washes dishes at 2am, right?!

I don’t know why I couldn’t sleep. I have a slight head cold, but it’s nothing to write home about. (Hopefully this “just wake up” decision doesn’t come back to bite me with that cold. I’m off to get some Nyquil tomorrow!) I keep having these parenting dreams that seem all too real, involving unplanned pregnancy and horrible mothering.

I think the real culprit has something to do with the first of three preschool tours lined up this month in the morning. All yesterday, while he was playing with his trains and talking up a storm, I just looked at him and thought, “When did you get so big?”

We aren’t looking to start Firecracker in school until the Fall – he’ll be 3 and {hopefully} potty trained by then. He is definitely interested in going to school. My boy is such a social butterfly, it’s just something we need to do for him. He’ll be attending VBS at our church this summer, so it’ll be a great test! (Yep, typing that reminded me to go register him now. Look at all of the productive things one can get done in the 2 o’clock hour!)

Who knew picking a preschool would be such a big decision!? I have a spreadsheet on my computer with our top choices, breaking down stats, including the insane cost that is preschool. We’re only considering 2 or 3 times a week, and half days. Yikes!

Maybe typing out these thoughts will help calm my mind and I’ll be able to go back to sleep soon. Odds are I’m going to end up asleep on the couch, computer in lap!

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Absolutely none of that intro story has to do with the Carrot Cake Cinnamon Rolls I’m sharing with today’s Holiday Fun with our Blogging Friends group. Except that I have to write this post and might as well do it at 2:45 in the morning, right? That way I don’t have to pull out my computer during playtime with my growing boys!

This week, 13 bloggers are sharing 46 recipes and tips to help you serve up deliciousness this Easter. Follow #EasterRecipes on social media to see what we’re serving up!

Yesterday, I shared Carrot Cake Pancakes that came with a confused maple cream cheese topping. All of that leftover maple mixture didn’t go to waste. I simply made cinnamon rolls the next day! Carrot Cake Cinnamon Rolls, of course.

Carrot Cake Cinnamon Rolls

Ingredients for the dough:

  • 1 packet active dry yeast
  • 1 C warm water
  • 3 tbsp room temperature butter
  • 1/2 C sugar
  • 3 – 4 C flour, plus extra for rolling
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tbsp salt

Ingredients for filling:

  • 4 tbsp. butter, softened
  • 3/4 C brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ginger
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 large carrot, grated
  • 1/2 C raisins
  • 1/2 C chopped walnuts

Ingredients for frosting:

  • 1 block (8 oz) cream cheese, softened
  • 1 C real maple syrup

Steps:

  1. Stir yeast into the warm water. Let bloom for 5-10 minutes.
  2. Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle, beat butter, sugar, and salt. Add eggs one at a time, beating until combined. Slowly pour in the yeast and water. Beat until combined. Add the flour about one cup at a time, beating until combined after each addition. Once the dough starts to form switch to the dough hook attachment. After all the flour has been added knead the dough for 3 minutes.
  3. Turn dough out onto a floured surface and knead by hand until smooth.
  4. Place dough in a greased bowl, cover, and let rise to double in size (about 30 minutes) in a warm place. (In the microwave or turned off oven)
  5. Roll out dough onto a floured surface.
  6. Roll into a rectangle. Spread the dough evenly with the softened butter. In a small bowl whisk together the brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg. Sprinkle the mixture over the dough. Add the grated carrot, raisins, and walnuts, pressing into the dough slightly. Roll the dough into a log, lengthwise. Cut the dough into 2″ cinnamon rolls. Place cut side down in a 9×13 casserole dish.
  7. Cover dough with a towel and let rise for 30 minutes before baking. The rolls should have doubled in size again. (Or you can freeze the rolls and after thawing let rise until doubled in size.)
  8. Bake at 425 degrees for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 and bake another 7 minutes, until golden brown. Let cool, slightly.
  9. Meanwhile, make frosting. Using a hand mixer, beat together the cream cheese and syrup. Frost the cinnamon rolls!

Carrot Cake Cinnamon Rolls Sew You Think You Can Cook #EasterRecipes

Be sure to check out these other Easter Recipes:

Cinnamon Crescent Rolls by Tip Garden

Individual Easter Breads by Cooking With Carlee

Tomato Asparagus Quiche by Caroline’s Cooking

Peeps Whoopie Pies by Palatable Pastime

Rosemary Garlic Herb Rib Roast by Family Around The Table

Honey butter Peas and Carrots by Jolene’s Recipe Journal

Pea and Pasta Salad by A Kitchen Hoor’s Adventures

Roasted Eggplant Salad by A Day in the Life on the Farm

In case you missed them, here are the recipes from Monday and Tuesday:

Monday

Deviled Ham Bites by A Kitchen Hoor’s Adventures

30 Minute Dinner Rolls by Amy’s Cooking Adventures

Easy Pecan Sticky Buns by Corn, Beans, Pigs & Kids

Easy Citrus Ham by Jolene’s Recipe Journal

Sausage and Vegetable Strata by A Day in the Life on the Farm

Prosciutto Wrapped Asparagus With Lemon Herb Sauce by Tip Garden

Dipped Strawberry Carrots by Family Around The Table

Easter Malted Milk Dip by Hezzi-D’s Books and Cooks

Sharadan’s Lemon Blueberry Parfaits by Cooking With Carlee

Easter Egg Cooking and Dyeing Tips and Tricks by Palatable Pastime

Tuesday

Italian Easter Bread by Palatable Pastime

Carrot Cake Pancakes by Sew You Think You Can Cook

Torta Salata Pasquale by A Day in the Life on the Farm

Dill Roasted Radishes by A Kitchen Hoor’s Adventures

Roasted Parmesan Asparagus by Family Around The Table

Praying Arm Pretzels by Amy’s Cooking Adventures

Creamy Coconut Mini Tarts by Making the Most of Naptime

Cocoa Carrot Cake from The Chef Next Door

Two months ago I reviewed  The Migraine Relief Plan by Stephanie Weaver and I loved the assignment of digging into a cookbook to really understand the author and explore more than one recipe at a time.

My friend, Tara of Tara’s Multicultural Table, does a lot of cookbook reviews in serious detail and so, I decided to give cookbook reviewing a trial session before jumping into it on an official scale.

I decided to take to my personal cookbook selection and review those I already own. To start off, I chose The Chef Next Door by Amanda Freitag.

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links.

You probably know Amanda from her roles on Food Network as a judge on Chopped and a contestant in Next Iron Chef America. She is a highly talented chef and a successful restaurateur.

She opens her book with a very heartfelt introduction admitting her insecurities when it comes to cooking at home. For her, the kitchen comfort zone is her busy restaurant kitchen with a loud atmosphere, staff, and countless kitchen tools at her fingertips.

To help the reader learn to feel more comfortable in their own home kitchen, she provides tips and skills that any cook can learn to call on. Spoiler alert – none of them cost a dime.

The book is broken into 9 chapters and even has a section with menu suggestions for special occasions. Each recipe includes a miniature story including tips before the ingredient list. To really help out the home cook, Amanda has included the steps for prepping each recipe before the official list of steps on how to complete the dish. There are also photographs to accompany each recipe.

Because it’s Easter week, I’m featuring her Cocoa Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Icing. The frosting is incredible – cream cheese icing is usually my go-to, but her version features far less sugar than my grandmother’s and I’m sorry, Busia, but I like this cheesier alternative better. As for the cake, it’s a rich, dark cake chocked full of carrots and walnuts.

Cocoa Carrot Cake | Sew You Think You Can Cook | http://sewyouthinkyoucancook.com

This recipe will make a 10″ round cake or a 9″ round cake and 10-12 cupcakes.

Cocoa Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Icing

Ingredients for cake:

  • 2 C packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 C vegetable oil
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 3/4 C flour
  • 1/4 C cocoa powder
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1 lb carrots, peeled and grated
  • 1/2 lb walnuts, chopped

Ingredients for icing:

  • 3 stick butter, at room temperature
  • 3 8 oz pkgs cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 3 C powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Steps:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a cake pan with parchment paper and then grease with nonstick spray.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine brown sugar and oil until combined. Add the eggs two at a time, mixing well.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, cinnamon, baking soda, nutmeg, and salt. Slowly add it to the stand mixer, mixing until combined.
  4. Fold in the carrots and walnuts.
  5. Pour batter into prepare cake pan. Bake 45-60 minutes, until a toothpick inserted comes out cleanly. Allow cake to cool slightly before turning out of the pan onto your hand and flipping again onto a cake stand to cool completely.
  6. Make icing: In a large bowl, beat together the cream cheese and butter with an electric hand mixer. Add the powdered sugar and vanilla extract, mix on low to start. Mix until smooth.
  7. Frost the cooled cake. Decorate with extra chopped walnuts, if desired.
  8. Keep in refrigerator at least an hour. Allow cake to come to room temperature before serving.

Cocoa Carrot Cake | Sew You Think You Can Cook

One of Amanda’s tips is to not be afraid to veer from the recipe. If you’re missing an ingredient, figure out something else that would work. All it takes is practice in the kitchen to become comfortable understanding the purpose of each ingredient in the recipe.

Following that advice, I made her Puerto Rican Pernil using a boneless pork shoulder and my slow cooker instead of the oven. I made Salmon with Peas, Pearl Onions, and Mint taking advantage of frozen pearl onions instead of peeling fresh ones myself. I also made Cornmeal-Crusted Chicken Thighs with Jamaican Spice, reducing the cayenne to appeal more to the little ones in my home.

The Chef Next Door cookbook review | Sew You Think You Can Cook

#FoodieExtravaganza: Caramel

foodieextravaganza-300April is here and with it another Foodie Extravaganza! This month Kathleen from Fearlessly Creative Mammas decided we should celebrate National Caramel Day, which is on April 5th – today!

I still had some caramels left over from those Salted Caramel Shortbread Cookies I made in December, so why not use some more in a delicious caramel apple dip!?

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links.

This dip was the perfect “redemption” snack to bring to my Bible study group yesterday morning. (“Redemption” because two fevers and three infected ears kept me from sharing the King’s Bundt Cake with the group in March.) Yesterday was our last meeting studying the book Hope for the Weary Mom: Let God Meet You in the Mess. We’ll take a three week break before digging into some more study material, so it was time for a potluck party!

I served this dip with two apple varieties and cinnamon graham crackers.

Caramel Apple Dip for #FoodieExtravaganza from Sew You Think You Can Cook

Caramel Apple Dip

Ingredients:

  • 16 soft caramels, unwrapped
  • 1/4 C water
  • 1 block (8 oz) cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1/2 C brown sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Steps:

  1. In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, melt the caramels in the water until smooth. Set aside to cool.
  2. In a large bowl, cream together the cream cheese, brown sugar, and vanilla with a hand mixer until combined.
  3. Mix in the melted caramel.
  4. Serve with apples, graham crackers, or pretzels.

*This recipe is adapted from Nikki at http://www.chef-in-training.com/2013/08/caramel-apple-dip/*

Caramel Apple Dip for #FoodieExtravaganza from Sew You Think You Can Cook

Be sure to check out these other caramel recipes:

Affogato – Vanilla Ice Cream With Espresso, Caramel Sauce And Salted Almonds from Sneha’s Recipes

Banana Chia Pudding with Date Caramel from Caroline’s Cooking

Caramel Apple Granola from Hardly a Goddess

Easter Coconut Bird’s Egg Nests from Palatable Pastime

Fa’ausi (Samoan Coconut Caramel Bread) – Tara’s Multicultural Table

Gooey Caramel Cake from Fearlessly Creative Mammas

Ooey Gooey Salted Caramel Cake from A Day in the Life on the Farm

If you are a blogger and would like to join our group and blog along with us, come join our Facebook page Foodie Extravaganza. We would love to have you! If you’re a spectator looking for delicious tid-bits check out our Foodie Extravaganza Pinterest Board! Looking for our previous parties? Check them out HERE.

Broccoli Artichoke Dip

Right before the Super Bowl the Sunday Supper Movement hosted a Big Game Day Recipes event. During that event I shared Slow Cooker Thai Wings. There were a good number of recipes I wanted to try, but the Roasted Broccoli Artichoke Dip by Cooking Chat was the one I’d picked to make first! With only two (maybe 2.5) of us, I halved the recipe. I shouldn’t have though, because I ate about half of it for lunch that day! The rest of it was inhaled by my husband. Between the two eating sessions, I stored the dip in the fridge. When cold, it got a little too hard for the chips to hold up against, but a quick 10-15 seconds in the microwave fixed the broken chip problem.

We ate this dip with multigrain tortilla chips (our favorite!), but it would be wonderful with pita, too.

broc dip 1 FG1

Broccoli Artichoke Dip

Ingredients:

  • 1 head broccoli, florets chopped
  • ½ tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp minced garlic, divided use
  • ½ can (14 oz) artichoke hearts, drained
  • 4 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
  • ¼ C sour cream, at room temperature
  • 1 scallion, chopped
  • ¼ tsp dried parsley
  • ¼ tsp cumin
  • 1/8 C Parmesan cheese
  • Lemon juice, as needed

Steps:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Toss broccoli in olive oil with ½ the garlic. Season with S+P. Place on a baking sheet and roast 15-20 minutes, until softened. Set aside to cool.
  3. Place broccoli, artichokes, and scallion in a food processor. Pulse until finely chopped.
  4. Add cream cheese and sour cream to the food processor and pulse until combined. Mix in the parsley, cumin, and Parmesan, pulse until fully incorporated. Add lemon juice, S+P to taste.

*This recipe is adapted from David at http://cookingchatfood.com/broccoli-artichoke-dip/*

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Sausage Macaroni and Cheese

Macaroni and Cheese is one of those comfort foods that everyone seems to have a soft spot for. I know it’s one of my guilty pleasures. I say that because I still (in my upper 2os) prefer the highly processed boxed macaroni to a homemade pasta. I think what I don’t care for is a baked casserole dish of mac and cheese. I don’t care for the extra cheese or breadcrumb crust on top and baked noodle dishes to me always seem dry.

But I do give a “fancy” mac and cheese a chance every now and then. And when one is a stove-top version of the comfort food I’m more inclined to give it a try. Especially when cream cheese is one of the ingredients!

And with sausage being a main ingredient I know that my husband would definitely approve. That makes this pasta a main dish and not a side.

Sausage Macaroni and Cheese

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 lb uncooked macaroni noodles
  • 2 links Italian sausage, casings removed
  • 1 1/4 C milk
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 3/4 C shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/3 C shredded Monterrey Jack cheese
  • 1/4 C cream cheese
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder

Steps:

  1. Cook pasta according to package directions.
  2. In a large, high-sided skillet over medium-high heat cook the sausage, breaking it up.
  3. In a measuring cup, whisk together the milk and flour. Add to the skillet and bring to a boil, whisking continuously. Reduce to a simmer and whisk in the cheeses, spices, and salt to taste. Stir until cheese is melted.
  4. Add cooked pasta to the skillet, coating it in the sauce.

*This recipe is adapted from Deborah at http://www.tasteandtellblog.com/cheesy-goodness/*

sausage macaroni and cheese | sew you think you can cook