The 25 Days of Holiday Goodies Day 16: Mom’s Cheesecake

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This is arguably Muffin’s second-favorite dessert. He absolutely loves my mom’s cheesecake. And this one comes from River Road Recipes (of Spinach Madeleine fame), the Junior League Cookbook of Baton Rouge.

It is called Best Ever Cheesecake for a reason—it truly is the best ever!

And, in growing up, I learned two valuable lessons from my mom concerning this cheesecake: 1) how to fold egg whites into a richer batter and 2) never let your springform pan out of your sight.

It’s a big deal! Well, both of those are very important life skills.

This cheesecake, when prepared correctly, is light and fluffy instead of dense and heavy.

Best Ever Cheese Cake

Source: River Road Recipes

15 graham crackers

¼ cup butter or oleo (Do they even make it anymore with that label?)

4 eggs, separated

1 cup sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 pint sour cream

3 eight-ounce packages soft cream cheese

Set oven to 350 degrees. Grease bottom and sides of 9” x 3” aluminum spring form pan generously. Roll graham crackers fine. Melt butter and combine with crackers (the recipe says with 12…we do all 15 and not sprinkle some on the top). Cover bottom of pan with this mixture. Beat egg whites stiff and set aside. In large mixing bowl of mixer combine cream cheese, egg yolks, ¾ cup of sugar, and vanilla. Beat until smooth. Fold in stiff egg whites. Place mixture in pan on top of cracker crumbs and bake for 40 or 50 minutes or until slightly brown. Remove from oven and pour slowly over top the sour cream mixed with remaining sugar. Return to oven at 475 degrees for five minutes. Remove from oven and cool. When cold, place in refrigerator for at least 12 hours before serving.

This recipe is completely Muffin Approved!

Muffin Approved

What is your favorite cheesecake topping?

The 25 Days of Holiday Goodies Day 15: Rolls

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This recipe is my favorite roll recipe of all time. My mom used to always make these for Christmas and Thanksgiving, and this year I am carrying on the tradition of baking them at Christmas. Soft and yeasty and a bit sweet, they make your mouth water.

Muffin, being a carbo-vore, loves rolls, and these rolls are no exception. This recipe is completely Muffin Approved.



Source: My Mom (original: Better Homes and Gardens)

4 ¼ – 4 ¾ cups AP flour

1 pkg dry yeast

1 cup milk

1/3 cup sugar

1/3 cup butter or shortening

¾ teaspoon of salt

2 beaten eggs

In a large mixing bowl, stir together 2 cups of flour and the yeast. In a medium saucepan, heat an stir milk, sugar, butter, and salt just until warm and butter almost melts. Add liquid mix to dry mix with eggs. Beat with electric mixer on low to medium speed for 30 seconds, scraping bowl. Beat on high 3 minutes. Stir in remaining flour.

Knead with remaining flour until smooth and elastic (six to eight minutes). Shape into a ball. Place in lightly greased bowl. Turn once. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled (one hour).

Punch dough down. Turn out onto lightly floured surface. Divide dough in half; cover; let rest ten minutes. Lightly grease muffin cups.

Shape into desired rolls and place into muffin cups. Cover and let rise 30 minutes. Bake in a 375 degree oven for 12-15 minutes or until golden. Immediately remove from pans. Cool on wire racks. Makes 24-36.

This recipe is completely Muffin Approved!

Muffin Approved

What is your favorite roll shape?

The 25 Days of Holiday Goodies Day 14: Caramel Macchiato Mini Cheesecakes

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Once upon a time, my mom decided not to make her normal cheesecake. She had two options that she found: a red velvet cheesecake with a white topping and a caramel macchiato cheesecake miniaturized below.

I will be perfectly honest: the cookies make this cake (both in the mini form and the biggie form).

I cheat and used jarred caramel topping instead of making my own.


Caramel Macchiato Cheesecake Minis

Adapted from Southern Living

1 ¾ cups crushed crisp, sweet cookies (Pepperidge Farm Bordeaux), about 27 cookies (1 package)

¼ cup butter, melted

4 (8 ounce packages) cream cheese

1 cup sugar

2 tablespoons heavy cream

1 ¼ teaspoon instant espresso powder (or 2-3 teaspoons instant coffee powder, darkest roast possible)

Caramel sauce (at least 9 tablespoons, homemade or the caramel ice cream topping)

4 large eggs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Stir together crushed cookies and butter. Line muffin tins with cupcake wrappers. Barely line the bottom of the cupcake wrapper with the cookie/butter mixture. Spread very thin. (You will use approximately 1 teaspoon of the stuff.)

Bake at 350 degrees for five minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees.

Note: This recipe makes 36 cakes. I ended up having to do two 350 to 325 cycles.

Beat cream cheese and sugar at medium speed with an electric mixer until blended. Add heavy cream, espresso/instant coffee powder, and 9 tablespoons caramel sauce, beating at low speed until well-blended. Add eggs, one at a time, beating just until the yellow disappears after each addition. Pour and spread batter into prepared crusts.

Bake at 325 for 15-18 minutes, or until the center is almost set. Remove cheesecakes from oven. As soon as you can, remove the cheesecakes from the muffin cups by the cupcake wrappers to cool to room temperature on a wire rack. At this point, I remove them from the wrappers and wrap them in plastic wrap. Chill until “chilled.”

Store leftovers in bags, wrapped, either in the fridge or freezer.

The 25 Days of Holiday Goodies Day 13: Death by Chocolate Mini Cheesecakes

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And now for decadence. And devilish delights. Just in time for the holiday season. The recipe below says it all. The Oreo adaptation makes it easier to make rather than spreading crushed crumbs mixed with butter and pressed into the cupcake liner.

Death by Chocolate Mini Cheesecakes

Adapted from Delish

48 Oreo or Oreo-like cookies

4 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened to room temperature

¾ cup granulated sugar

½ cup packed light brown sugar

4 large eggs

¼ cup cocoa powder

9 ounces bittersweet chocolate chips (I used a 10 ounce package of Aldi brand 60% chips), melted

¼ teaspoon kosher salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, rack in the middle position.

Line muffin tins with cupcake wrappers. (Note: This recipe makes 48 minis, so you may need to do this in multiple batches. I only have 24 muffin-tin openings, so mine took two batches.) Place a cookie in each.

In a large bowl, beat cream cheese, sugars, cocoa powder, and salt until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well between each addition. Fold/stir in melted chocolate.

Using a cookie scoop (Batter will be THICK!), scoop scoopfuls out into the muffin cups on top of the cookie. (Very important: This batter does not spread while baking. Use a moistened butter knife to smooth the batter over the cookie.)

Bake until the cheesecakes are only slightly jiggly in the center, fifteen or so minutes (Mine took 15). Cool to room temperature (or until you can feasibly remove the cakes by the cupcake wrappers to a rack). Repeat lining, cookie, batter, and baking, as needed.

Cool to room temperature before chilling in the fridge (until chilled). Note: I remove the cakes from the wrappers and wrap individually in plastic wrap. Store leftovers in bags, wrapped, either in the fridge or freezer.

Note: This recipe also calls for the addition of a shiny ganache layer on top. It would be endorphin/chocolate overkill. Also, the original recipe is calibrated for standard-sized cakes in a springform pan. Ganaching (another technical term) 48 mini cakes might strain my mind a bit too much.

Makes 48 minis.

Note: These are very decadent and chocolatey. I struggle to consume one, but they give a great endorphin high on a really bad/hectic/sad day.

This recipe is Muffin Approved.

Muffin Approved

What is your favorite chocolatey treat?


The 25 Days of Holiday Goodies Day 12: Vanilla Mini Cheesecakes

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For Easter this year, I made a trio of mini cheesecake delights. Today I gift you with the most basic of the three, a vanilla mini cheesecake that can be adorned in many ways, with fruit, with chocolate, with caramel, or simply on its own merits.

Mini Cheesecakes “Vanilla Cheesecakes”

Adapted from Little Epicurean

24 Nilla wafers

2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened, room temperature

¼ cup sour cream, room temperature

¾ cup granulated sugar

2 large eggs, room temperature

1 large egg yolk, room temperature

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

¼ teaspoon salt

Note: I used cupcake wrappers and then, after they cooled, removed them from the wrappers and wrapped them in plastic wrap individually. This saved me the trouble of having to grease the cups.

Place cupcake liners in 24 muffin tin openings. Place a Nilla wafer in each, centering it.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Beat sour cream and cream cheese on low speed until smooth. Slowly add sugar. Add eggs and yolk, one at a time. Scrape bowl as necessary throughout mixing. Add vanilla and salt and mix until combined. Evenly divide cheesecake filling. I use a cookie scoop, placing and spreading one scoopful in each cup.

Bake 15-18 minutes (Mine took 15). Cool to room temperature. Transfer to fridge to chill (I do this after I have removed them from the cupcake wrappers and wrapped them in plastic wrap). Chill at least 30 minutes. May be frozen. Store leftovers in bags, either in the fridge or freezer.

Makes 24.


This recipe is completely Muffin Approved!

Muffin Approved

What is your favorite kind of cheesecake?


The 25 Days of Holiday Goodies Day 11: Mashed Potatoes

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So, if you look back at the original list, I am not quite following the list for today.  It is totally and completely my fault.  My mom printed out her recipe for cheesecake, and I flubbed it and can’t find where I put it in my house.

Since I cannot find it, and I am going to my mom’s later today so I can take a picture of it with my phone (yay, phone!), I am going to substitute a later-day’s recipe for it.

Enter that king of side dishes:  mashed potatoes!

Yes, I am probably a bit sleep-deprived.

However, in Muffin’s opinion, mashed potatoes top all side dishes, except possibly macaroni and cheese.  He even eats them (shockers!) sans gravy.

And the doesn’t like the high falutin’ ones like twice-baked potato casserole, chunky mashed potatoes, or potatoes with enough seasonings and “stuff” so that I can eat them stand-alone.

No.  He likes the spud, cream, and butter to stand on their own merits.

As a result, I give you the most boring of pictures:



Mashed potatoes, no gravy.  Muffin’s arguably second-favorite side.

And how do I do it?  This is how…

Mashed Potatoes

Source:  Trial and Error (and Blood, Sweat, and Tears) by Me

5 pounds Russet potatoes, peeled, washed, and cubed

1/4-1/2 cup heavy cream

additional milk as necessary

4 T butter (or buttah)

salt and pepper, to taste

Boil potatoes in a pot full of water until fork tender.  Drain and return to pot.  Add butter to begin melting.  Using a hand mixer, cream potatoes until most lumps are removed.  Add cream (and milk, if necessary).  Continue mixing with hand mixer until mixture is lumpless (yes, that’s a technical term) with a whipped consistency.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Serve topped with gravy or shredded cheddar and bacon bits.  (or, nothing if you are my child)

This recipe is completely and totally Muffin Approved!

Muffin Approved

What is your favorite mashed potato recipe?


The 25 Days of Holiday Goodies Day 10: Funfetti Mug Cake

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Sprinkles.  Cake.  In the microwave.  ‘Nuff said.

Or is it?  Think of a cupcake prepared in a mug in the microwave, start to finish, in under five minutes.  Warm and gooey with frosting, this warm dessert is a perfect treat for one on a cold-ish night or for an impromptu celebration.

Muffin had been bugging me for those (insanely overpriced) microwaveable cake-for-one desserts in the store.  I kept putting him off, knowing I had this recipe in my back pocket to make as a special pre-trick-or-treating Halloween treat.

He…wasn’t as thrilled with them as I thought.  The only thing I can attribute to that is the applesauce meant to replace the oil in the recipe.  It made the texture slightly grainy.

Overall, the texture was better than in other microwave cakes which tend to be bouncy and springy in a bad way, rubbery, almost what I imagine a tennis ball tasting like.

I, personally, loved it, and am stowing it away for the rainy day when I need a pick-me-up.


Funfetti Mug Cake

Source:  Tablespoon

3 T yellow cake mix (preferably one with pudding in the mix

1 T water

1 T unsweetened applesauce (or vegetable oil)

1 T egg (Next time I will use egg in a carton!)

1 T confetti candy sprinkles and more for garnish

3 T rainbow chip frosting, or 3 T white frosting mixed with additional confetti candy sprinkles

1 maraschino cherry

Lightly spray microwaveable mug (8-10 ounce) with cooking spray.

In a small bowl, beat cake mix, water, applesauce or oil, and egg.  Fold in 1 teaspoon sprinkles; immediately pour into mug.

Microwave, uncovered, on high 1 minute.  Let stand five seconds.  Top with frosting, additional sprinkles, and cherry.  Serve warm.

Note:  The frosting melts and turns into a glaze.  Alternatively, wait for the cake to cool and top with the frosting (piped in even), sprinkles, and a cherry.

What is your favorite type of cake to adapt to a mug?


The 25 Days of Holiday Goodies Day 9: Magic Cookie Bars

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Gooey Goodness!

This recipe came to me from one of my best friends in my writing group.  I have seen photos of them before, and, when it came time to bring something to work or a Thanksgiving potluck, this as my chance to ask for the recipe!

It turns out that the recipe comes from the Eagle Brand website.  Now, what is the est-known Eagle Brand product?




That is the creamy, syrupy substance guaranteed to raise your blood sugar several points and bring a huge smile to your face.

I have never tested this, but my guilty secret is that I would like to sit down with an opened can of sweetened condensed milk and a spoon.

If I’m not going to do that, these bars are a much better choice.

And everyone that tasted the first batch loved them (at work and at home!).  My dad, in particular, really liked them.

I was going to take them to a cookie exchange party today, but Muffin is riding in the local Christmas parade for the cub scouts.

Instead, I will be making a Christmas batch on the 20th during that last flurry of holiday baking activity.

Posting the recipe today should give you ample time to join me in that baking quest that will include candy cane cookies, boeterkoek, and decorated sugar cookies.

Oh, and this hardly goes without saying, but this recipe is completely Muffin Approved!

Muffin Approved

Magic Cookie Bars

Source (original): Eagle Brand

1/2 cup melted butter

1 1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs

2 cups chocolate chips

1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk

1 1/3 cup shredded coconut

1 cup chopped pecans (or other nuts)

Set the oven to 350 degrees.

Coat a 13×9 baking pan with nonstick spray.

Combine graham cracker crumbs and butter.  Press into prepared pan.

Pour sweetened condensed milk evenly over the graham cracker layer.  Layer evenly with remaining ingredients.  Press down.

Bake 25 minutes or until lightly browned.  Cool.  Cut into bars.  Store covered at room temperature.

Note:  My friend recommends chilling the bars before cutting to make cutting easier.  I completely concur!

What is your favorite bar cookie?

The 25 Days of Holiday Goodies Day 8: Caramel Truffles

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I truly am surprised every time I search my blog that I haven’t posted this recipe yet.  In the beginning there were six truffle varieties:  caramel, orange, champagne, mocha, cappuccino, and one more that I cannot remember.

After a couple of years of slaving over them, I asked my family and friends for their favorites to whittle them down to two.

In the end, there were only two:  the orange one and the caramel one.

Full confession:  I am not a dark chocolate person.  So, if I indulge in chocolatey delights, the caramel ones are always my go-to choice.

And, with the advent of the salted caramel craze, frosting the tops of the dipped truffles with your salt of choice makes a delightful contrast (unless you overdo it as I sometimes do).

If you follow along with Taste of Home, where I originally found the caramel truffles recipe, you will note one or two differences.  If you have read this blog for long, you know I do this often.  New readers–I’m sorry in advance!

By the way, Muffin prefers this truffle or “chocolate balls,” as he calls them.  #TeamMilkChocolate!  Oh, and he would want everyone to know that he helped with the truffles.  He unwrapped all 52 Kraft caramels!

(Note:  The caramel truffles are the ones that are light brown in the picture above near the top right/center.)

Caramel Truffles

Adapted from Taste of Home

52 unwapped caramel squares (Kraft)

4 2/3 cups milk chocolate chips

1/2 cup whipping cream

2-3 T shortening

Line an 8-inch square dish with parchment paper; set aside.

In a large Pyrex measuring cup, combine caramels and cream (Ignore the instructions–this works MUCH better!).  Microwave on high, uncovered, or 1 1/2 minutes.  Stir.  Microwave in 15-second increments, stirring after each time, until the caramel is melted and the mixture resembles caramel dip (for apples).

Pour in two cups of chocolate chips.  Stir.  Microwave in 15-second increments, stirring after each time, until melted and incorporated.  Spread into prepared pan.  Refrigerate for one hour or until firm.

Lift, by the parchment, out of the pan.  Pinch of bits and roll into one-inch balls (smaller is okay, too).  Cover and refrigerate another hour.

In another Pyrex measuring cup, melt remaining chocolate chips and shortening; stir until smooth.  Dip balls in chocolate; allow excess to drip off.  Place on parchment.  Allow to set in the fridge.

Muffin Approved

What is your favorite type of chocolate?

The 25 Days of Holiday Goodies Day 7: Velveeta Cheese Fudge

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Today’s “goodie” comes from one of the most hospitable people I’ve ever met.

Back in the early-to-mid 90s, my sister was dating, then engaged, then married to the man who became my brother-in-law.

In the evening of every holiday, we would go to his parents’ house.  Regardless of outside temperature, there was a bonfire outside and a myriad of my brother-in-law’s family.

Inside, the food varied by season.  Summer saw not-quite-mature green tomatoes, breaded and fried to golden perfection, tart and crispy and dunked in ketchup by an awkward and awestruck teen, who had newly discovered that Southern delicacy at my sister’s future mother-in-law’s side.

In wintertime, Christmas meant Velveeta Cheese Fudge, mild in flavor and melty in mouth feel.  During the following years, I must have consumed pounds of both–all prepared by my brother-in-law’s mother’s hands.

Each holiday, she opened the doors to her family–her sisters and their descendants and various spouses–and my family, from the time my sister and now-brother-in-law began dating.

She passed away in 2002, but memories of those gatherings, of her hospitality and her food, live on, for me, in my mind.

Velveeta Cheese Fudge

1/2 pound pasteurized process cheese food, sliced

1 cup butter

1 t vanilla extract

2 pounds confectioner’s sugar

1/2 cup cocoa powder

Spray lightly the bottom of a 9×9-inch square pan with nonstick spray.

In a saucepan over medium heat, melt the cheese and butter together, stirring constantly until smooth.  Remove from heat and add the vanilla.

In a large bowl, sift together sugar and cocoa.  Pour the cheese mixture into the sugar and cocoa mix and stir until completely mixed.  The candy will be very stiff.

Using your hands, remove candy from bowl an press evenly and firmly into pan.  Blot the top of the candy with a paper towel to remove the excess oil. Place pan in fridge until firm.

Cut into squares to serve.

These, by the way, are completely Muffin Approved!

Muffin Approved