Monday, July 23, 2012

White Mocha Caramel Cheesecake

A few months ago, I ran across a contest to come up with a recipe. The only requirements were two ingredients: white chocolate and caramel. I can't even tell you how thrilled I was! I thought the only thing that would make it better would be if coffee was
 involved (I have a soft spot for white mocha caramel Starbucks frapps!). I was also craving cheesecake at the time, so thus this one was born. WARNING: this is not quick. This is legit cheesecake using classic methods, so it's tedious; but it's SO worth it!

White Mocha Caramel Cheesecake

2 1/4 cups graham crackers (crushed)
1/4 cup melted butter
1/4 cup sugar

3 8oz pkg cream cheese (softened)
1 cup sour cream
4 eggs (lightly beaten)
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
3 T cornstarch
1 T instant coffee granules
2 T boiling water)
12 oz white chocolate baking chips
2 regular size or 8 fun size caramel-nougat candy bars chopped (I used Snickers)

About 3/4 cup of your favorite caramel topping
I made a caramel crunch topping by using:
1 cup powdered sugar
1 T butter
A few cracks from a sea salt grinder

*Preheat oven to 325 degrees F and grease a 9 inch springform pan.
*Double wrap the outside of the pan in foil to prevent leaks from the hot water bath.
*Combine crust ingredients until moist and press into the bottom and one inch up the sides of the springform pan
using the bottom of a measuring cup.

*Dissolve coffee granules in water.
*Melt chocolate according to package directions.
*Cream the cream cheese and the sugar until smooth. Add in sour cream, vanilla, and corn starch and continue
to beat until smooth.

*Add 4 eggs and carefully beat JUST UNTIL MIXED.
*Pour half of the batter into a separate bowl.
*Stir in white chocolate into one bowl of batter.

*In the other bowl of batter, stir in the dissolved coffee mixture.

*Alternate spooning HALF of each mixture into the spring-form pan. Carefully swirl with a butter knife.

*Arrange candy bar pieces on top.

*Repeat spooning the remaining batters and swirl again.
*Set the spring-form pan inside a larger pan that you can pour water into for a water bath. It needs to be large
enough to be able to cover up an inch on the springform pan.
*Place the pan with the spring-form pan in it inside the oven and using a kettle, or something large enough to hold
a lot of water, pour water to fill up to an inch from the bottom of the spring-form pan.

*Bake at 325 for 50 minutes. Turn the oven off and leave it in the oven for another hour.
*Let rest on cooling rack for 10 minutes and then run a butter knife around the edge to loosen.

*Allow to cool all the way.
*Once it has cooled, place it in the refrigerator for 12-24 hours to chill.
*Once ready to serve, remove from the spring-form pan and top with caramel sauce.
*If you wish to do the caramel crunch, in a saucepan on med-high heat let 1 cup powdered sugar until caramel-
ized. Stir occasionally and allow to come to a golden brown (we're going soft-ball stage here). Add 1 T butter and a few cracks sea salt from a
grinder. Quickly pour over cheesecake.

And if you happen to not like coffee, then just don’t add it and you’ll have a white chocolate caramel cheese-
cake...everyone wins!

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Friday, July 20, 2012

Love is in the air!

     As of today, my husband and I have been married for 7 years. SEVEN years! I know everyone thinks it, but I’m seriously going on a quest to find out where the time goes. It’s been a whirlwind, for sure. A deployment, four moves, two kids, four promotions for him, my never-ending college career (I’m without a doubt, a professional student), and the list goes on. Now here we are, in the middle of the U.S., winding down our first year in our first home (that we OWN); and besides the location, I couldn’t be happier. Well, I could. But that would require a wine cellar and a library. However, we don’t make that kind of money yet J With that being said, yes, I intend to! At some point. If we could ever get to one place long enough for me to actually finish my masters.

     And there I go, off topic, as usual. Where was I? Ah, yes. My marriage to that handsome soldier who puts up with me and keeps me happy day in and day out (let’s just not mention wine or books again and we’ll stay on track!) . How did we get here? Well, I’m glad you asked! Rewind about 7 ½ years ago and you’ll find a girl who fell in love with a soldier, completely unintentionally. As a matter of fact, I really tried my best not to. I tried to stay away. I tried not to get caught up in it. After all, I had been in a relationship throughout high school and was coming out of that. But when you are not looking, it finds you. No matter what “it” is. 

 We were, and still are, very much alike, yet different enough to keep things very interesting. We are both old souls and grew up before we had to. Thankfully, he came along at just the right time in my life. You see, I never wanted a soldier. Didn’t think I wanted that life. I thought it would be so lonely and just not worth it. I couldn't have been more wrong. Just in what he does, he has shown me so much about myself that I didn’t know. We’ve both chilled out and grown tremendously in these 7 ½ years. We’ve come to define to ourselves what the terms “unconditional love”, “honor”, and “respect” mean. Are we perfect? No. I’m still hot-headed as you can get.This is where I like to say he’s the sane to my crazy J But I would also like to throw in here that I’m not the only one with the temper. Something as simple as buttons on a uniform will send this man into a raging fit to where I don’t recognize him. That’s pretty funny to witness, actually. I can honestly say, though, that our “hard times” can be put on one hand and not count my pinky or thumb. Maybe it’s the no-nonsense attitude we share or maybe it’s the fact that we find even the most inappropriate things hilarious—I don’t know. But it works for us and for that I’m incredibly thankful.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Cookies 'N Creme

Last week, I did a guest post for Jill over at Create.Craft.Love. Jill has an awesome blog where she shares craft tutorials, DIY ideas, and co-hosts a once-a-week link party to share any creation you've done. She asked me to take part in her series for Summertime BBQ and asked to share something that I take. Since I was out of town and didn't get to link that over to ya'll, I thought I'd post it here for you as well! (Be sure to go over and see Jill to check out the other summertime bbq recipes from the series!)

When we go out to others' BBQs, I usually like to bring a dessert, unless specifically asked what to bring. And if not asked to bring anything, who can argue with dessert?! The cool treat I'm going to share with you today is quick, simple, and something I've learned that no matter how full the tummies seem to be, no one can turn it down. My mom used to make this when I was a kid and it's came to be a go to recipe that I've loved to whip up over the years. Hope ya'll enjoy it!

Cookies 'N Creme

2 small pkg instant vanilla pudding
4 cups milk
1 8oz pkg softened cream cheese
1 8oz. tub frozen whipped topping (thawed)
1 pkg cookies 'n cream cookies (I used summer edition Oreos), crushed and divided

Prepare the instant pudding according to package directions.

Beat softened cream cheese until smooth.

Once pudding forms, mix cream cheese into it.

Fold whipped topping into the mixture.

With half the crushed cookies, cover bottom of 9X13 dish.

Pour mixture over cookies.

Top with remaining cookies.

Doesn't get much more simple than that, right? Who wants to spend hours in the kitchen during the summertime anyway?!

****Tip: Freeze in popsicle molds (or Dixie Cups!) for the perfect summertime treats that you your kids will LOVE********

Enjoy and prepare to take home an empty dish! 


Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Secret Summer Swap

Hey there! Well, the summer of hell is officially over so I can resume my time here with ya’ll--which I’m thrilled about. I’ve missed my spot in the blogosphere so much! I can’t wait to get back into the swing of the things. I’ll give a more detailed look into everything that has gone down later, but I just wanted to touch base with ya’ll quickly before we run and pick up our baby girl from her grandparents’ house.

Today, I want to reveal my package I received from Jacinta’s Sweet Summer Swap over at My Beauty Boxes. This was a little fun swap that I signed up to do with some other girls back in May. This was the first package swap I have done. I’ve done a mug swap before, but this one was a little bigger. This was such a fun way to get to know other bloggers and find new and exciting blogs out there. I was excited to get my package from NYC from a blogger that is just awesome! Her name is Kristina and she is definitely a must check out. Her blog From City Corporate to Suburb Mama is filled with inspiration and excitement! We actually have several things in common and she did an awesome job picking stuff out for me.

How cute is that owl mug?! I have a serious love for owls (and coffee), so this just made my day! Plus the fun little owl note pad with the personalized note just completed the package J If she only knew how bad I am about losing pens, she would know how much that bundle of pens means to me!! AND to make it even better, they are the little injection pens in different colors, which I haven’t seen in years. The nurse in me is thrilled! She also sent me a coconut chamomile body lotion. It is a solid lotion and I’ve not been able to use it yet, but if it’s anything like other solid lotion bars I’ve used, I’m sure it will be awesome!

There you have it! If you’ve never taken part in a blog swap, I’d highly recommend it. It was so much fun putting together a package for other someone you know nothing about…as strange as that sounds. I have family members that are harder to buy for! Hop on over to and see what the other girls got! 

Since I'm back full swing, come join me on Facebook where I link up even more of my favorite finds from all across the blog/webosphere! Or like me on my box on the right--------> if you don't have time to visit now. 

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I'll be back after a few days with a new recipe for you to try!