Tag Archives: easy recipes

Mini Mason Jar Cheesecakes

Mini Mason Jar CheesecakesThree years ago, I went home to Texas for three weeks over Christmas. I was there for the holidays and a family wedding a week into the new year, and I had determined that it was easier to spend an extended period in my home state than it was to fly back and forth. My little sister was home for her winter break too, so we had an odd period of time where our childhood living arrangements were real again, except that everyone had a driver’s license and their own bathroom this time.

Our parents were happy to have us home, even though three weeks is a long time to have company. They made sure we were fed and had transport and as much access to their miniature schnauzer as we wanted (which was all of the access), and requested little in return. In fact, the only thing that was asked of me was to teach my mom to make a cheesecake. Her mom, my grandmother, made wonderful cheesecakes, so I liked the idea that my mom would know how to make one too.Mini Mason Jar Cheesecakes

Of course, there was one problem: I had never made a traditional cheesecake. I still haven’t. Sure, I have baked layers and swirls of it into other things and I have even made a couple of vegan cheesecakes, but I have never done the full springform in a water bath thing. I know it’s not technically difficult, but I live in fear that water will seep into my cake no matter how tightly-wrapped it is and that the work and necessary 24-hour chill will be for nothing. Other people are afraid of pie crust. I am afraid of cheesecake.Mini Mason Jar CheesecakesBut! But. I was going to make a cheesecake with my mom, even going so far as to have my older sister give her a Fat Daddio cheesecake pan for Christmas. I was going to do this thing. And then…I didn’t because we found 43 other ways to fill our time and there was the wedding and then it was time to go back to NYC.Mini Mason Jar CheesecakesNow it’s Mother’s Day weekend three years later and I still owe my mom a cheesecake. I remain reticent about attempting a big one (yes, I know it’s silly) and I don’t know when I’ll be with her long enough to carve out the time, so I have made it easy on both of us and made miniature versions that don’t involve a foil-wrapped pan. Happy Mother’s Day, Mom! I made you six cheesecakes.Mini Mason Jar CheesecakesMini Mason Jar CheesecakesThis small-batch recipe makes just enough to fill six 4-ounce mason jars, but you can easily scale it up depending on your needs. The cheesecake itself is remarkably easy to make—it has a total of nine ingredients and two major steps (both of which are easy), and most of the time commitment is spent waiting for things to cool.Mini Mason Jar CheesecakesMini Mason Jar CheesecakesAs for the water bath (“bain-marie”) step that I fear so much, it’s a breeze. Mason jars are water-tight, so my fear of soggy cheesecake foiled-by-foil doesn’t apply here. These mini desserts bake up evenly and beautifully every time!Mini Mason Jar CheesecakesThey are delicious, too: rich, creamy and tangy with a brown sugary graham cracker crust. You can top them with anything you like: strawberry-rhubarb compote, cherry pie filling, whipped cream, peanut butter caramel…anything! I kept it simple by piling on fresh berries. Why create more work for myself when the perfect topping is sitting in the produce department, you know?!Mini Mason Jar CheesecakesAside from being cute, delicious, and portion-controlled, I love that these cheesecakes are portable. Just press a little plastic wrap to their surfaces after chilling, screw on the mason jar lids, and pack them into a cooler for premium picnicking. Pack the topping(s) separately and let everyone customize their own!Mini Mason Jar CheesecakesSo, after 3.5 years of blogging, there is my first “traditional” cheesecake! Maybe I’ll be brave enough for the real deal before Labor Day. Got any leak-proofing tips for me? Leave them in the comments!Mini Mason Jar CheesecakesHappy Mother’s Day to all those celebrating, especially my cute mom ❤Mini Mason Jar Cheesecakes

Mini Mason Jar Cheesecakes
makes 6 small cheesecakes

Crust:
9 graham crackers
1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
6 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted

Cheesecake Filling:
1 8-ounce brick full-fat cream cheese, room temperature
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg, room temperature
1/4 cup full-fat sour cream, room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For Garnish:
seasonal berries
strawberry-rhubarb compote
whipped cream
peanut butter caramel sauce

Preheat oven to 325F. Grease 6 4-ounce mason jars.

Make the crust. Place graham crackers in the bowl of a food processor and process until no large pieces remain. Add light brown sugar, melted butter, and salt. Process until the mixture resembles wet sand, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary.

Place 3 tablespoons of the crust mixture into eat prepared mason jar. Press down to form a crust. Place mason jar crusts in a high-rimmed dish. Bake crust for 10 minutes. Cool on a rack while you prepare the filling.

Make cheesecake. In a medium mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat cream cheese until fluffy. Mix in sugar, followed by egg, sour cream, and vanilla, until mixture is smooth.

Place 3 tablespoons of the cheesecake mixture in each mason jar. Use the back of a spoon to lightly smooth out the tops, then tap each one on the counter a few times to release any air bubbles. Return jars to the high-rimmed pan, and place the pan on a counter near the oven.

Bring a small pot of water to a boil. Remove from heat. Carefully pour water into the baking pan until it is halfway up the sides of the cheesecakes. Do not get water in the mason jars. Carefully move pan into the oven. Bake 30 minutes until puffed and ever-so-slightly golden.

Carefully remove pan from oven. Use tongs to remove mason jar cheesecakes to a rack. Do not get water in the mason jars.

Let cheesecakes cool completely on a rack. Transfer to the refrigerator for at least 3 hours, or until thoroughly chilled. If not serving immediately, press plastic wrap to the surface. Garnish with berries or other desired topping before serving.

Store leftover cheesecakes in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. To freeze, press plastic wrap to the surfaces of the cheesecakes and screw on mason jar lids. Freeze for up to one month. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight or in a dish of lukewarm water at room temperature for 90 minutes.Mini Mason Jar CheesecakesMini Mason Jar CheesecakesMini Mason Jar Cheesecakes

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Double Chocolate Cashew Butter Cookies

Double Chocolate Cashew Butter Cookies {Vegan, Grain-Free}Cashew butter cookies began as a last-minute recipe a couple of years ago, but now they’re one of my favorite things. Every time I finish testing and posting one version, I start formulating another.Double Chocolate Cashew Butter Cookies {Vegan, Grain-Free}I started dreaming of these Double Chocolate Cashew Butter Cookies when I posted their classic chocolate chip sisters last spring. As with many of my recipes, they were in the back of my mind for months before I ever cracked open a jar of creamy cashew butter and started playing around. But once I did…whoa.Double Chocolate Cashew Butter Cookies {Vegan, Grain-Free}These thick, puffy, chewy chocolate cookies are so, so good. And vegan. And grain-free. And dead-easy. Just…what?! Give me alllllll the cashew butter cookies!Double Chocolate Cashew Butter Cookies {Vegan, Grain-Free}This is a one-bowl, no-mixer, no-chill, cookies-within-30-minutes-of-a-craving recipe. Oh, and should you have some modicum of self-control, these two-bite treats keep incredibly well at room temperature for upwards of a week. In fact, I think they get better as time goes on. The buttery cashew flavor mellows and melds with the cocoa and chocolate chips, and the results are brownie-like and wonderful ❤Double Chocolate Cashew Butter Cookies {Vegan, Grain-Free}I find good quality, reasonably-priced cashew butter at Trader Joe’s, but if you don’t happen to live in a spot smack in between two TJ’s, never fear. I haven’t tried it, but I am 96% sure you could make these with well-stirred natural peanut butter. And honestly, I think the only way to improve this recipe would be to add peanut butter.Double Chocolate Cashew Butter Cookies {Vegan, Grain-Free}

Double Chocolate Cashew Butter Cookies {Vegan & Grain-Free}
makes about 2 dozen small cookies

1 cup creamy-style cashew butter
1/3 cup cocoa powder (natural or dutch process)
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
3 tablespoons aquafaba (chickpea canning liquid) or 1 flax egg*
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup dairy-free chocolate chips + more for topping

Preheat oven to 350F. Line two baking sheets with parchment. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together cashew butter, cocoa powder, light brown sugar, baking powder and salt until combined. Mix in aquafaba (or flax egg) and vanilla. Fold in dairy-free chocolate chips.

Scoop dough by the tablespoon and form into balls. Place dough balls 2 inches apart on prepared pans and press down to flatten. Bake 10-11 minutes, until puffy and no longer wet looking. Allow cookies to cool on the baking sheet for ten minutes before removing to a rack to cool completely. Top warm cookies with more chocolate chips, if desired. Repeat baking process with any remaining dough.

Let cookies cool completely before storing in an airtight container. They’ll keep well at room temperature for at least a week.

Note:

To make a flax egg, use a fork to whisk together 1 tablespoon ground flaxseed and 2 tablespoons warm water. Let sit for five minutes, until thickened. Continue with recipe as written.Double Chocolate Cashew Butter Cookies {Vegan, Grain-Free}Double Chocolate Cashew Butter Cookies {Vegan, Grain-Free}Double Chocolate Cashew Butter Cookies {Vegan, Grain-Free}

Vanilla Malt Magic Bars

Vanilla Malt Magic BarsI must have a thing for sweetened condensed milk right now—this is the third post in a row that requires cracking open a can of the good stuff.Vanilla Malt Magic BarsCan you blame me? It’s just so versatile! If you want something to be smooth, creamy, or structurally sound without a million ingredients, sweetened condensed milk is probably the ingredient you want. See exhibits A, B, and C. And these brownies. And these cookie bars. Oh, and this no-churn ice cream. This one, too.

I told you, I’m a little obsessed.Vanilla Malt Magic BarsVanilla Malt Magic BarsVanilla Malt Magic BarsSweetened Condensed Milk is probably most popular as the key ingredient in Magic Bars (aka 7 Layer Bars, aka Hello Dollies). In those, it acts as a soft, chewy filling and a vehicle for various chocolate chips, nuts, and coconut. I don’t currently have a recipe for traditional Magic Bars—rest assured, you can find a million of them online—but I have taken the basic formula and put it on a blondie and made two chocolate variations, including Chocolate Malt Magic Bars! Today, I’m taking that recipe and giving it a vanilla malt makeover 😍 Vanilla Malt Magic BarsThat’s right—Vanilla Malt Magic Bars, y’all! They’re soft and chewy with a big vanilla malt flavor and a buttery cookie crumb crust. The filling is studded with white chocolate chips and broken pieces of Golden Oreo, and the tops are ever so slightly crackly thanks to the way sweetened condensed milk caramelizes in the oven.Vanilla Malt Magic BarsThese bars require just seven ingredients and come together quickly and easily…again, because sweetened condensed milk makes things a snap.Vanilla Malt Magic BarsOh, and they stay soft and delicious for days on end because…well, you know.Vanilla Malt Magic Bars

Vanilla Malt Magic Bars
makes 1 8- or 9-inch pan, about 12-16 bars

30 vanilla sandwich cookies (like Golden Oreos), divided
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, divided
1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2/3 cup malted milk powder
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
1/2 cup white chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350F. Heavily grease a 9-inch square pan and line with parchment paper, leaving overhang on two sides. Grease again. Set aside.

Place 24 vanilla sandwich cookies the bowl of a food processor and process until pulverized. Add 5 tablespoons of melted butter. Pulse until combined. Transfer mixture to the prepared pan. Press into an even layer. Bake for five minutes, until set. Set crust aside to cool while you prepare the filling.

In a small mixing bowl, whisk together sweetened condensed milk, 1 tablespoon melted butter, and vanilla. Whisk in malted milk powder and salt. Mixture will be thick and slightly grainy.

Drizzle sweetened condensed milk mixture over crust. Use a silicone spatula or the back of a spoon to carefully spread into an even layer.

Break remaining 6 vanilla sandwich cookies into pieces and scatter over sweetened condensed milk mixture, followed by white chocolate chips. Bake for 30-32 minutes, tenting pan with foil at the 10 minute mark. Bars are done when the center jiggles just slightly when the pan is jostled.

Let bars cool completely in the pan on a rack. Use overhang to remove bars from the pan to a cutting board. Peel off foil. Slice with a lightly-greased knife and serve.

Leftovers will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days, or in the refrigerator for up to a week.Vanilla Malt Magic BarsVanilla Malt Magic BarsVanilla Malt Magic Bars

Chocolate Macaroon Tart

Chocolate Macaroon Tart {Five Ingredients, Grain-Free}I had no intention of making a third (or fourth?) Easter dessert, but then I discovered macaroon crust on Pinterest and, well, here we are talking about a Chocolate Macaroon Tart.Chocolate Macaroon Tart {Five Ingredients, Grain-Free}So, what’s so special about a macaroon crust? For one, it’s basically a big chewy, crisp-edged coconut macaroon cookie that you can bake and fill with whatever no-bake filling you like.Chocolate Macaroon Tart {Five Ingredients, Grain-Free}There is no “for two.” It’s that simple.Chocolate Macaroon Tart {Five Ingredients, Grain-Free}Now, there are many ways to make a macaroon crust. Some have flour, some contain egg whites. I looked at a few options before realizing that it would probably work with just two ingredients: sweetened flaked coconut and sweetened condensed milk.

Oh, and salt. Can’t forget the salt.Chocolate Macaroon Tart {Five Ingredients, Grain-Free}Chocolate Macaroon Tart {Five Ingredients, Grain-Free}I folded the ingredients together and pressed the mixture into a heavily-greased springform or tart pan.*

*I think the only piece of baking equipment that I don’t have is a tart pan, which is probably why there have not been many tarts on here. Feel free to use whatever you have.Chocolate Macaroon Tart {Five Ingredients, Grain-Free}Half an hour later, it was toasty at the edges and light-golden in the center.Chocolate Macaroon Tart {Five Ingredients, Grain-Free}Chocolate Macaroon Tart {Five Ingredients, Grain-Free}Chocolate Macaroon Tart {Five Ingredients, Grain-Free}Chocolate Macaroon Tart {Five Ingredients, Grain-Free}Chocolate Macaroon Tart {Five Ingredients, Grain-Free}I filled it with chocolate ganache and let it set up in the fridge before slicing.Chocolate Macaroon Tart {Five Ingredients, Grain-Free}(I also gave it a few swipes with the back of a hot spoon for some rustic glossiness and because I am a control freak.)Chocolate Macaroon Tart {Five Ingredients, Grain-Free}Who knew five Ingredients and no grains could make something this irresistible?! Silky chocolate ganache filling + toasty coconut crust 🙌🏻🙌🏻🙌🏻Chocolate Macaroon Tart {Five Ingredients, Grain-Free}It’s like eating a chocolate-coconut candy bar…but classier because it’s a tart. We all know how much classiness matters when you’re sneaking cold wedges of Chocolate Macaroon Tart out of the fridge after your bedtime. Not that I’ve ever done that. Twice. On the same night.Chocolate Macaroon Tart {Five Ingredients, Grain-Free}Happy Easter to those celebrating! Chag sameach to those observing Passover! And if you’re not celebrating/observing anything, have a great weekend anyway.

Chocolate Macaroon Tart {Five Ingredients, Grain-Free}
makes one 9- or 10-inch tart, about 12 servings

Macaroon Crust:
1 14-ounce package sweetened flaked coconut
2/3 cup sweetened condensed milk
1/4 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt

Ganache Filling:
12 ounces dark chocolate, chopped
1 cup heavy cream

Preheat oven to 350F. Heavily grease a 9- or 10- inch tart pan or springform pan. Line the bottom with parchment and grease again.

Make the crust. Combine sweetened flaked coconut, sweetened condensed milk, and salt in a large mixing bowl. Use a silicone spatula or wooden spoon to fold together until combined. It will be thick.

Transfer mixture to prepared pan. Lightly grease your hands before pressing mixture onto the bottom and up the sides. Bake 25-30 minutes, or until edges are browned and center is turning pale golden. Remove to a rack and cool completely.

Make ganache filling. Place chopped chocolate in a large measuring cup or heatproof mixing bowl. Heat heavy cream in a small saucepan over medium heat until it is steaming and bubbles are forming at the edge.

Pour warm cream over chopped chocolate. Do not stir. Cover bowl with a lid or aluminum foil for 5 minutes. Remove lid/foil. Use a fork to stir until chocolate and cream are combined and smooth. Pour into crust. Tap a few times to release air bubbles. Let tart sit at room temperature until filling is set (a couple of hours), or chill uncovered in the refrigerator. Remove tart from the fridge at least 15-20 minutes before running a thin, flexible knife around the edge and releasing from the pan.

Slice into thin wedges and serve. Leftovers will keep covered in the refrigerator.Chocolate Macaroon Tart {Five Ingredients, Grain-Free}Chocolate Macaroon Tart {Five Ingredients, Grain-Free}Chocolate Macaroon Tart {Five Ingredients, Grain-Free}

15 Minute Stovetop Mac & Cheese

15 Minute Stovetop Mac & CheeseWhen I first moved to New York and was in grad school, I spent a lot of time on student film sets. It didn’t take long for me to get bored with that situation because it turns out that I find the repetitive hurry-up-and-wait of being on set to be utterly dull. I like screenwriting and production design, but with the way the course (and life) worked, I couldn’t be in charge of those things on every shoot.15 Minute Stovetop Mac & CheeseUnfortunately though, I’m not gifted with much else in that realm. I’m not confident enough to direct. I like to act, but was/am too timid to pursue it in any real way. My hearing is terrible, so sound is out. My arms aren’t strong enough to hold the boom mic for very long. Editing is just a “no.” The list of disqualifications goes on and on, save for one notable exception: I can cook. And so it was that the majority of my production course credits came from being craft services, a.k.a. the on-set caterer.15 Minute Stovetop Mac & CheeseNow, being “crafty” for a student film isn’t the same as what you see when you spot film shoots on the streets of New York. Not even close. I didn’t have a truck or a crew; there was no oven or microwave. I was limited to what I could make in my Upper West Side apartment and transport in a cooler and what I could prepare on-set on a single electric burner. Oh, and it had to be cheap. Options were extremely limited—there were a lot of prepared salads and sandwiches—but my 15 Minute Stovetop Mac & Cheese was always a crowd pleaser.15 Minute Stovetop Mac & CheeseI mean, what’s not to love? This macaroni & cheese has all the cheesy flavor and creamy texture you want, but is less than half the work of most traditional recipes. Where those often require a pot, a pan, a roux, making a mornay sauce, and probably an oven, this recipe requires almost none of that…but it still delivers big-time.15 Minute Stovetop Mac & CheeseIt also requires just six ingredients (seven, if you want to garnish with parsley) and two of them are salt and pepper. Whaaaaat. Since 15 Minute Stovetop Mac & Cheese is a from-scratch recipe, it will cost a few dollars more than the stuff in the blue box, but it’s also infinitely tastier. I’ll take real melted cheese over reconstituted powdered cheese any day. It’s not even a contest.15 Minute Stovetop Mac & Cheese15 Minute Stovetop Mac & Cheese15 Minute Stovetop Mac & Cheese15 Minute Stovetop Mac & CheeseThis recipe really does comes together in fifteen minutes, so it’s ideal for busy weeknights or filling a craving or feeding a bunch of student filmmakers on the fly.

  • Set a pot of water to boil.
  • Grate the cheddar and cut the cream cheese into pieces.
  • Boil and strain the macaroni. Return it to the pot.
  • Stir in the cheeses, a touch of dijon mustard, and salt & pepper. Loosen the sauce up with a little pasta water if you like.

That’s literally it. The entire recipe. Boom. Done. Finito.15 Minute Stovetop Mac & CheeseRight now, you’re just one pot, four steps, six ingredients, and fifteen minutes away from diving fork-first into a bowl of creamy, cheesy magic. What are you waiting for?!15 Minute Stovetop Mac & Cheese

15 Minute Stovetop Mac & Cheese
makes 6-8 servings

16 ounces (1 pound or 4 cups) dry elbow macaroni noodles
12 ounces freshly grated cheese of choice (I like extra sharp cheddar)
6 ounces (3/4 brick) full-fat brick-style cream cheese, cut into pieces
1/2 teaspoon prepared dijon mustard
1/2-1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
1/4-1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt, to taste
parsley, to garnish (optional)

Bring 6 quarts of water to a boil in a large pot over high heat. Season well with salt. Prepare elbow macaroni according to package directions. Drain, reserving 1 cup of the starchy cooking liquid.

Return cooked macaroni to the pot. Fold in grated cheese. Add cream cheese, stirring until melted. Add splashes of reserved starchy pasta cooking liquid until desired consistency is reached. Stir in dijon mustard, salt and pepper. Taste for seasoning. Garnish with parsley, if desired, and serve.

Mac & Cheese is best fresh, but leftovers may be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 3 days.15 Minute Stovetop Mac & Cheese15 Minute Stovetop Mac & Cheese15 Minute Stovetop Mac & Cheese