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Apple Walnut Cheesecake {Recipe}

Apple Walnut CheesecakeI don’t know about you, but my kitchen is really getting a workout this fall!  Between work and my kid’s activities, I seem to have less time than ever, and yet I’m making time to cook and bake because I’d hate for the delicious flavors of fall to leave before I get a chance to try them all.  Apple, pumpkin, cinnamon, I dare say there’s not a fall flavor I don’t enjoy.  So when I heard about a recipe for Apple Walnut Cheesecake, I knew I had to give it a try.  Apples and cheesecake with the crunch of walnuts…how could that be anything other than delicious?

The recipe I originally found was fairly complicated, so I decided to tailor it a bit and used a friend’s easy, no bake cheesecake recipe that she swears by.  I won’t lie, I was a bit concerned that it would affect the taste, but it most definitely didn’t – this Apple Walnut Cheesecake is AMAZING!  The cheesecake is dense, the topping has the sweet crunch you’d expect, and the apples make it a can’t miss fall recipe.  It’s sure to satisfy every sweet, fall craving that you have and more.  It will be hard to have just one serving of this cheesecake!Apple Walnut Cheese Cake Easy Instructions

1 Graham Cracker Crust (packaged)
8 oz Prepared Whipped Topping, thawed
8 oz Cream Cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup Confectioner’s Sugar
1 Apple, chopped
3 Tbsp Walnuts, chopped
1 tsp Cinnamon
Half The juice of 1 lemon, zested (reserving the zest)
1/4 cup Water
1 Tbsp Butter
1 Tbsp Sugar
1/2 tsp Cornstarch
1 Tbsp WaterApple Walnut Cheese Cake Ingredients

Step 1 – Using a mixer, whip the cream cheese until fluffy.  Slowly add the confectioner’s sugar and continue to whip until well combined.

Step 2 – Add the tub of whipped topping, first folding it into the cream cheese, and then whipping it briefly with the mixer (30-60 seconds).  Pour mixture into the graham cracker crust, and smooth with a spatula.

Step 3 – Cool in the refrigerator until set, approximately 3 hours or overnight.

Step 4 – Melt butter and sugar in a sauce pan.

Step 5 – Place apples, walnuts, lemon zest, juice, and cinnamon into a pot with 1/4 cup of water.  Bring fruit mixture to a low boil and cook for approximately 5-7 minutes or until apples are soft and tender.  Once soft, add the 1/2 tsp cornstarch and 1 tablespoon of water to the fruit mixture.Apple Walnut Cheese Cake In Process

Step 6 – Remove from heat and allow to thicken and cool.  After cheesecake is set, cut into servings to garnish, or garnish the entire cheesecake at once.  Enjoy!Apple Walnut Cheese Cake Recipe

Ooey Gooey Bacon Cheddar Cheese Dip {Recipe}

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #GameTimeClean #CollectiveBiasOoey Gooey Bacon Cheddar Cheese Dip Instructions

Life as I know it is restored – Football is BACK!  Because if there’s one thing I can say with absolute certainty, it’s that life in my house without football is rough…we simply don’t know what to do with ourselves on the weekends.  No sooner does the last game of the season end, that we start looking forward to the first game of the next season to begin.  It would be fair to say that we’ve been looking forward to September for about 7 months, give or take.   With college and professional seasons both in full swing, we are in our heyday.

And game day isn’t game day without some delicious snacks, so naturally, in addition to watching football, I’ve been cooking up a storm.  Wings, pinwheels, sliders, dips, I’m a sucker for game day food.  I. Want. To. Eat. It. All.  But with lots of games on each day and 3 kids running around the house, this year, I’m leaning towards my easier recipes – fewer ingredients, minimal prep, and speedy cook times.  If you’re doing the same, you must check out this Ooey Gooey Bacon Cheddar Cheese Dip recipe!Ooey Gooey Bacon Cheddar Cheese Dip with Crackers

It’s pretty much all in the name on this one, cheesy, bacon-y (not a word, but it should be) goodness right on a cracker or chip or by itself.  It’s amazing.  Did I mention that it’s ready in about 45 minutes?  It’s true!  And everyone will love it.  Well, except your kitchen table or counter, because it will probably experience the “ooey gooey” part of this recipe just a little too up close and personal for its liking.Ooey Gooey Bacon Cheddar Cheese Dip Clean Up Tips

That’s not a reenactment, either.  That’s what actually happens when I let my kids eat this dip.  It’s a mess.  A complete and total mess.  All over my cutting board, all over my kitchen table, and sometimes even on my floor.

Fortunately, these little messes can be fixed with a little help from Viva® Vantage® Towels
Viva Paper Towel on RollsFiber-packed to help clean your toughest messes, Viva® Vantage® Towels provide stretchy-strength to deliver great scrubbing power.  They’re soft and flexible, so they’re easy to use, while staying tough when wet to resist ripping or tearing.  They’re the perfect towel to have on hand when this cheese dip is being served.  Viva® Vantage® Towels are my game day clean up solution and are conveniently found in my local Walmart where I buy all my game day grub ingredients.Ooey Gooey Bacon Cheddar Cheese Dip with Viva Paper Towels

As a mom, I’m normally trying to avoid messes, but this dip is totally worth it!  Try it, you won’t regret it!Ooey Gooey Bacon Cheddar Cheese Dip Instruction

You will need:
2 cups Shredded Sharp Cheddar Cheese
1 package (4.5 oz) Bacon Pieces
16 oz. Light Sour Cream
8 oz. Cream Cheese (softened)
1/4 cup Chopped Green Onion
1/4 tsp Black PepperOoey Gooey Bacon Cheddar Cheese Dip Ingredients

Step 1 – Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Step 2 – Mix all ingredients together in a medium sized mixing bowl until well combined (making sure that all the cream cheese is broken up).  Pour into a baking dish and bake for 30 minutes or until warm and bubbling around the edges.

Step 3 – Remove from oven and allow to cool for 10-20 minutes before serving.  Ooey Gooey Bacon Cheddar Cheese Dip on a Cracker

Then serve with chips, crackers, or whatever else you’d like – this dip is good on everything!  And don’t say I didn’t warn you about it being addicting…and a bit messy.  Enjoy!Ooey Gooey Bacon Cheddar Dip Recipe

Do you have any game day clean up tips or tricks?  Leave me a comment and let me know what it is!

Open-Faced Chicken Caprese Sandwich with Nature’s Harvest Bread

A huge thank you to Nature’s Harvest® for sponsoring today’s blog post.
Open-FAced Chicken Caprese Sandwich

Well, we’re in the thick of it…school is well underway and extracurricular activities have started.  Each evening I find myself rushing from work to softball games, Girl Scouts, dance, soccer and a million other places.  It feels like there’s a new activity added to our already very busy schedule everyday.  The girls love it, so it’s all worth it, but it definitely leaves me scrambling for easy dinner ideas when we finally get back home at night.  And trust me, the easier the better!  So sandwiches have been on the menu a lot lately.  Because who says that sandwiches are only for lunch?  Certainly not me.  Whether it’s a grilled cheese. PB&J, or a turkey club, sandwiches are fast and filling, just perfect after a long day.  Needless to say, I’m making the most of the Rollback on Nature’s Harvest® Honey Wheat Bread  at Walmart (now only $1.97!) that I told you about earlier this month.  My kids love it!Nature's Harvest Honey Wheat

But what I may not have mentioned earlier this month is that Nature’s Harvest® makes a Whole Grain White bread.  That’s right, soft, delicious white bread with 8 grams of whole grains per serving!  And that’s huge because 56% of Americans are already trying to add whole grains into their diet.  Confession:  I’m one of them.  Since white bread is my absolute weakness, Nature’s Harvest® Whole Grain White bread allows me to have the white bread I want while giving me the whole grains I need.

And as it turns out, Nature’s Harvest® Whole Grain White bread is the absolute best bread for my newest creation – The Open-Faced Chicken Caprese Sandwich!  Ready in just 10 minutes, this sandwich is perfect for those nights when you’re on the go, but want a toasted sandwich that will fill you up on a chilly fall night.  As an added bonus – there’s virtually no mess!Open Faced Chicken Caprese Sandwich with Whole Grain Wheat

You will need:
Nature’s Harvest® Whole Grain White Bread
Grilled chicken breast
Mozzarella cheese
Fresh Basil leaves
Salt & Pepper (to taste)
Balsamic Vinaigrette (optional)Open Faced Chicken Caprese Sandwich with Nature's Harvest

Step 1 – Spread a thin layer of butter on a slice of Nature’s Harvest Whole Grain White Bread. Toast for 2 minutes and then remove from the toaster oven.

Step 2 – Layer chicken, tomatoes, and Mozzarella cheese on top of the toasted bread. Open Faced Chicken Caprese Sandwich in processToast in toaster oven for 4 minutes.  Add the Basil to the top of your sandwich as soon as it’s removed from the toaster oven.Open Faced Chicken Caprese Sandwich Melted

Note: Lots of people prefer chopping the basil and placing it between the tomatoes and cheese, but I much prefer it on top of my sandwich.  Either will be delicious!

Step 3 – Top with salt and pepper (to taste) and, for a little extra flavor, splash on a bit of Balsamic Vinaigrette.Open Faced Chicken Caprese Sandwich with BalsamicAnd while you’re nibbling on this delicious sandwich, be sure to check out the Nature’s Harvest® Sandwich Art Contest entries on the Nature’s Harvest® Facebook page and visit to take a quick 10 minute opt-in shopper survey.  The first 100 people to do so will receive a $5 Walmart Gift Card (must be a U.S. Citizen, 18 years or older)!  Good luck and enjoy!

Sweet Treats: Rocky Road Brownie Bread {Recipe}

Rocky Road Brownie BreadBy now, you probably know that I’m a sucker for a sale.  I just love getting things cheap, and free is even better.  So each week when my grocery store lists their “buy one, get one free” deals, I’m sure to stock up.  And that practice has lead to lots and lots of brownies…because it seems that each week another brand of brownie mix is on sale and I just can’t resist.  My inability to pass up a sale was incredibly apparent last weekend as I tried to squeeze all my newly purchased brownie mixes in to my tiny cupboard.

With a surplus of brownie batter on my hands, I started thinking of other things that I could make with the mix – cake, dessert cups, bread…and then I had it.  I wanted needed to make brownie bread.  But of course, I had no idea how.  I hit the internet to find a recipe only to come up empty handed.  Sure, people make chocolate flavored bread all the time, but I had a hard time finding people who had used a brownie mix.  All of which left me wondering if it could even be done.  Could you make bread from a brownie mix?

So I decided it was time to get a little creative and invent my own recipe.  Maybe even add a few ingredients to make it a bit more interesting?Rocky Road Brownie Bread Sliced

The result was a deliciously, gooey chocolate brownie bread, with a bit of a crunch to it.  And it’s oh-so-easy to make.  Seriously, go stock up on some brownie mix.  I know what I’m going to do with the rest of mine!

You will need:
1 box brownie mix & ingredients to make brownie mix (oil, eggs, etc.)
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1/4 cup almonds (chopped)
1/2 cup mini marshmallowsRocky Road Brownie Bread Ingredients

Step 1 – Preheat oven to 350.  Grease 9×5 loaf pan.

Step 2 – Prepare brownie mix as instructed on the box, using the “cake-like” brownie instructions (boxes typically have instructions for cake-like and fudge-like brownies, if yours doesn’t have two different sets of directions, just make them as indicated in the instructions).

Step 3 – Gently fold in the chocolate chips, then the almonds, then the marshmallows.  Pour batter into loaf pan.

Step 4 – Bake for 55 minutes or until it’s cooked through.  Remove from oven and allow to cool.Rocky Road Brownie Bread Slice

Note: The marshmallows will melt in the recipe (probably due to the lengthy time this bread is in the oven), but they are still very much there.  This bread has a marshmallow-y goodness that’s baked right in.  Keep this in mind when testing the bread to take it out of the oven though.  I thought my bread was underdone, but it was actually the marshmallows!

Slice and enjoy!Rocky Road Brownie Bread Loaf

Mini Chocolate Swirl Cheesecakes

Last weekend while our families were in town, Erajh and I had the idea of inviting everyone over for dinner on Friday night before Greenleigh’s party on Saturday.  We quickly set a menu, determined who would make what, and decided that we would have dinner on our back patio (due to our ridiculously small kitchen and dining room).  Erajh would grill and I would make the side dishes and dessert.  But then it rained.  Really hard.  For a long time.  So much for our plan to have a leisurely meal on the patio.  We quickly moved the dinner inside and began to rearrange our plans.  Then the repair man came to fix our hot water heater that had “exploded” the day before – a post for another day, just know that a good portion of my upstairs and downstairs was soaked for much of the weekend…  In short, it was chaos, and desert was forgotten.  For that day at least.

But I just couldn’t stop thinking about this recipe for mini cheesecakes that I had found a while ago.  Even if I didn’t have a crowd of people to bake for, I decided to just try it – then I would know if they were really that good.  Could cheesecake really be that easy to make?  I’ve never made a cheesecake before, so I wasn’t sure.  Best to try it first, right?  I decided to change it a bit, making my own Oreo crust for the bottom, but stuck to the recipe for everything else.

You will need:

2 (8 oz) packages of cream cheese

3/4 cup sugar

2 eggs

1 Tbsp lemon juice

melted butter

10-12 Oreo cookies

cupcake liners

Step 1 – Preheat oven to 375.  Place cupcake liners in muffin tins.

Step 2 – Crush Oreo cookies until fine.  I used my small Cuisinart’s “Grind” function to do this, but I’ve heard others just crush the cookies and it turns out just the same.  The Cuisinart definitely saved me some time though – forty-five second and they were done!

Step 3 – Add melted butter to the finely ground cookie crumbs.  I didn’t use any specific amount, I just added butter until the mixture started to stick together.  It didn’t take more than 2 tablespoons or so to get it to the perfect consistency (although as you can see, I originally melted much more than that).

Step 4 – Spoon the cookie crumb crust mixture into the cupcake liners and press down firmly using the back of a spoon.  You want it to be firmly packed.  I actually did this while the liners were still in the pan, but took one out so you could see how it is firmly packed.

Step 5 – In a medium-sized bowl, mix the cream cheese and sugar until smooth and well blended.  Add the eggs and lemon juice, then continue mixing.

Step 6 – Spoon the cream cheese mixture into each muffin pan, filling each cup 3/4 full.

Step 7 – Bake for 6 minutes, then remove from oven.  Drop chocolate chips into the cream cheese batter and allow 1-2 minutes to melt.  The original recipe said 4-5 chocolate chips, but I used lots more than that…I love chocolate.  Once melted, swirl using a knife or a tooth pick.  Put back in oven for another 9 minutes.

Step 8 – Remove from oven, take the mini cheesecakes out of the pan, and allow to cool.   Store in the fridge until ready to serve.  Enjoy!

It turns out cheesecakes really can be that easy – minimal ingredients, 15 minutes in the oven, and hardly any mixing time at all!  The only thing I would change about this recipe is the baking time or temperature.  Mine weren’t burned, but many of them came out a bit more toasty than “golden brown”.  It could just be my oven, but in the future, I will reduce the cooking temperature to 350 degrees or reduce the time by 2 minutes.  I will be making these again!