vanilla caramel cheesecake

here’s another one of those recipes that y’all are going to have to trust my friends opinions on this….

see it’s a cheesecake.

and cheesecakes are made with cream cheese.

and my feelings toward cream cheese are very similar to my feelings about bananas.

i’m slightly less forgiving toward cream cheese than i am to bananas…. i’ll actually eat cream cheese if it’s in something and i can’t taste it.

but cheesecake…. it’s nothing but flavored cream cheese.

gag me.

that’s why you have to trust my friends and family. they LOVED it. this was another one of those work birthday requests and it was made knowing full well how i felt about cream cheese. and when the request was made, i asked if he wanted strawberries or fruit or something and i got a “no… but… there’s this cheesecake at texas de brazil that has a layer of caramel at the bottom.”

that brings us here.

plus making this cheesecake gave me a reason to make caramel. um done.

vanilla caramel cheesecake

vanilla caramel cheesecake

  • 16 oz vanilla wafers
  • 12 tbs butter, melted
  • 2 tbs + 1-1/2 c sugar
  • 1/2 tsp + 1 tbs vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3 lbs (6 – 8 oz packages) cream cheese, room temp
  • 5 large eggs
  • 2 tbs lemon juice
  • 1 tbs vanilla bean paste
  • 1 recipe homemade caramel, room temp
  1. preheat oven to 325F with a rack positioned in the middle of the oven. spray the sides of a 10″ springform pan with cooking spray.
  2. make your crust: add the vanilla wafers to the bowl of a food processor and process to fine crumbs. add the melted butter, 2 tbs sugar, 1 tsp vanilla and salt and mix well. pour the mixture into the springform pan; pressing evenly around the pan and about 2″ in up the sides. (you want a little bit of thicker crust.) pour your room temp caramel on top of the crust.
  3. make your filling: beat the cream cheese until smooth. add the remaining sugar and beat until light and fluffy. beat in the eggs, 1 at a time. scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl. add the lemon juice, vanilla extract and vanilla bean paste and beat 1 min more. pour batter on top of the caramel.
  4. bake your cheesecake until the edges are set and the center still slightly jiggles, 60-75 min. remove from oven and let cool completely. once the cheesecake is cooled, the cheesecake must chill at least 6 hours in the fridge.

one thing… for the recipe i gave you, i doubled the crust amount. you’ll notice in that picture that the crust is kinda skimpy so the caramel got all up in it, which isn’t a bad thing but maybe you want just a bit of crust that’s not super caramelly. i mean maybe you’re that crazy.

oh and that picture up there, aside from being the phone pictures i’m trying to get away from, is one of the hunks i brought to my parents house for them to try. when my stepdad took it out of the fridge to eat it, there was a statement made about how there was no way he could eat it all. sure enough he did.

oh oh oh… and the birthday boy, well he brought about half the cake home to share with his wife. later that night i got a text from her saying that when she cut her piece he told her she wasn’t going to be able to eat it all. so she cut some away from it to save for later, except he ate it ALL!!

so while i may not like cheesecake, you should totally make this for yourself or your loved ones. i promise that they’ll love it!


cheesecake recipe from: pure vanilla by shauna sever

this post is linked up to these fun link parties: what’s cooking wednesday and taste and tell thursdays


king cake bread pudding

so i’ve recently been thinking about making the big move…

… ya know to try to become a bonafide blogger. one that has a “real” address without the .wordpress or .blogspot or .whateverfreehostimusing.

but part of that idea is to be really active on social media. and i kinda am. i mean i have the twitter, instagram and facebook accounts. but lately, not so much. and honestly that’s partly not on purpose. see last week, i was busy and i rarely got on twitter or facebook. and i didn’t check instagram as frequently. and rather than feeling like i was missing out on so much, it was kinda refreshing. so i decided that i was going to take the rest of the month “off” from it. i mean i still get on every now and then, like when i’m waiting for spin class to start but i’m setting the phone down and aside until this weekend.

and why is it that i feel the need to share my self imposed social media diet?

i don’t know.

because it’s been raining here like it’s nobody’s business?

really i have no good reason.

but i do have a good bread pudding.

this bread pudding was inspired after lunch at a local restaurant (bistro byronz)… i was trying to figure out what to have for dessert for a girls’ night and this was brought up. ding ding ding. it’s really a standard bread pudding but it gets amped up with the use of king cake and cinnamon in addition to the brioche. i also added a really simple glaze of powdered sugar, milk and vanilla – so simple, i don’t even have exact measurements – instead of a traditional rum sauce.

i hear you now… “emily, king cakes are long gone until next year and really wouldn’t that be a lot of sugar with that frosting and such?”

well first things first…. don’t use a frosted king cake. i promise that you can call your local bakery and ask for a plain one and they’ll make it for you.

secondly… they don’t make king cakes in your area? simple fix! just use a cinnamon bread. try to find one that is a thicker slice rather than a thin slice. make sure that when you cut up the bread, you do it a couple days ahead so it can get good a stale.

king cake bread pudding

king cake bread pudding

  • 3 c stale king cake (or cinnamon bread), cut into 1″ cubes
  • 2 c stale brioche, cut into 1″ cubes
  • 6 eggs
  • 3 c whole milk
  • 2/3 c + 1/8 c sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 tbs cinnamon, divided
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
  • purple, green and gold sanding sugar, for decorating
  1. preheat oven to 375F. butter a 9×13 baking dish; add the bread cubes.
  2. iin a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, 2/3 c sugar, vanilla extract, 1-1/2 tbs cinnamon and vanilla bean paste. pour over the bread cubes and let the liquid soak 10 min.
  3. in a small bowl, whisk together the remaining sugar and cinnamon. sprinkle over the soaked bread cubes.
  4. bake uncovered until the bread pudding is puffy and set, about 45-60 min; a knife inserted into the middle should come out clean. remove from the oven and let cool 15 min before serving.
  5. serve with a glaze made of approximately 1 c powdered sugar, 1 tsp vanilla and 1 tsp milk. you want the glaze to be thick. sprinkle with purple, green and gold sprinkles!

i know mardi gras is over but this is a little way to have it all year long!

laissez les bon temps rouler!!


slightly adapted from: pure vanilla by shauna sever

this post is linked up to these fun link parties: what’s cooking wednesday and taste and tell thursdays

fluffernutter pretzel toffee bars

so do you ever have to make a bargain with yourself to make yourself do something you don’t feel like doing?

i totally do….


no joke. every morning i have to bargain with myself so i get out of bed and get to work on time.

my morning thoughts kinda go a little like this…

“damn… make that noise stop… damn…. seriously…. that was not a 10 min ‘snooze’ cycle…. damn i really do have to get up…. really get up…. you can sleep late on saturday… ok….. damn.”

don’t get me wrong… i’m one of the few people that actually like my job but i’m not a morning person. or maybe it’s more correct to say i’m not a person that wants to get up at 630 in the freaking morning. i do ok if i can sleep until like 8am but i do even better if i can sleep until 9a.

what does that to do with bars?


i just thought i would see if any one else out there makes those kind of deals with themselves.

so these bars…… they are one of those “classic” combinations. i mean let’s be real… it’s a combination that has it’s own name. mint and chocolate can’t claim that. you don’t hear anyone saying chocomint. and even peanut butter and jelly doesn’t have it’s own name. we just shorten the names and keep the “&” for pb&j.

i never partook (partaked?) in a fluffernutter sandwich growing up. i was more of a peanut butter and honey sandwich kid. that was what my grandfather made me and i loved it. but i can fully appreciate the wonder that is peanut butter and marshmallow creme. all the creamy gooiness. then you throw in some pretzels for some salt and chocolate and toffee chips. sold.

fluffernutter pretzel toffee bars

fluffernutter pretzel toffee bars

  • 1-1/4 c flour
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 c sugar
  • 1/2 c dark brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 c (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temp
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 c crunchy peanut butter – i used this honey roasted version
  • 1 egg, room temp
  • 1/2 c semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 c dark chocolate chips
  • 1/2 c crumbled pretzels
  • 1/2 c toffee bits
  • 1/2 c marshmallow creme
  1. preheat oven to 350F. spray a 9×9 baking dish with cooking spray.
  2. sift together the flour, baking soda and baking powder in a bowl; set aside.
  3. beat together the sugars, butter, vanilla and salt until light and fluffy. add in peanut butter and beat until smooth. add in egg and beat until combined and fluffy. slowly add in the dry ingredients and mix until it just starts to come together. add in the chocolate chips, pretzels and toffee bits.
  4. press dough into the prepared dish. dollop the marshmallow creme on top and spread it around (as best as marshmallow creme will let you).
  5. bake 28-32 min until the edges start to brown. remove to a cooling rack and let cool completely before cutting.

now if i could just make it to saturday without trying to cut a deal with myself….


recipe slightly adapted from: bakeaholic mama

this post is linked up to these fun link parties: what’s cooking wednesday and taste and tell thursdays

dark chocolate almond magic bars

i’m gonna tell you a secret…..

i’ve been totally hooked on the biggest loser this season. i’ve never watched it but it was on one night when there was nothing else on so i’ve been hooked.

and if you’ve been watching you know that on this week’s episode their big challenge of the week was no stinking 5k but some crazy trust building exercise on some high wires. the house has been having some crazy tension so they thought it was an awesome idea to put these people up on high wires and make them walk… my whole point… NO FREAKING WAY would they get me up on those tiny stinking wires high up there. and it’s not even about trust.

see… i have a huge fear of falling. it’s not about the height. it’s about falling from the height. like i mean i’m deathly afraid. like watching these people up on those wires was giving me heart palpatations in my own living room.

i’m sorry but no.

i’d rather be sitting my living room making myself feel better by eating some magic bars.

what are magic bars you ask…?

….well i’m not exactly sure where they come from but i saw these over on dorothy’s website and knew i needed to make them right away. first off they’re SUPER easy and we know i like easy thanks in part to part 2….this version of her’s had a sugar cookie crust made from sugar cookie mix and i’m always down for sugar cookies. lastly, there was condensed milk involved.


oh and that sugar cookie mix crust… calls for melted butter. let’s be honest…. i hear the words melted butter and i take it a step further. i use brown butter. HOLLA!

dark chocolate almond magic bars

dark chocolate almond magic bars

  • 1 (17.5 oz) package sugar cookie mix
  • 1/2 c (1 stick) brown butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3/4 tsp almond extract
  • 7 oz dark chocolate, chopped
  • 1 c silvered almonds, toasted
  • 1 (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk
  1. preheat the oven to 350F. grease a 10″ tart pan or a 9×13″ pyrex dish.
  2. stir together the cookie mix, brown butter, egg, vanilla extract and almond extract together. press evenly in your tart pan or pyrex dish. sprinkle the chocolate chunks evenly over the dough followed by toasted almonds. pour your condensed milk all over the toasted almonds.
  3. bake 23-30 min until the crust and top are golden. cool completely before slicing.

oh one quick note…. these are a little rich so you might want to invest in some vanilla ice cream to go on top. just saying.

for real… i may not be well acquainted with magic bars just yet but just give me time my friends. give me time.


recipe adapted from: crazy for crust

this post is linked up to these fun link parties: what’s cooking wednesday and taste and tell thursdays

red velvet sandwich cookies

ah valentine’s day….

you either love it or loathe it.

personally, i’m not a huge fan. i mean i just don’t get it. but a day to celebrate being in love… shouldn’t you celebrate all the time?

but i mean i guess i could potentially get on the bandwagon of a holiday that involves presents and chocolate and champagne.

that sounds like my kind of holiday.

and let’s face it… in the food blog world, valentine’s day means red velvet. while i’m not a traditional red velvet fan, i am a huge fan of these cookie sandwiches. see red velvet usually means cream cheese frosting which i could totally do without. but you take some super simple cake mix cookies and add in my new favorite marshmallow buttercream….

*ding ding ding*


for real. these cookies take the simplicity of cake mix cookies and throw in the homemade buttercream and they are addicitive. like i couldn’t-walk-into-the-kitchen-at-work-without-trying-to-practice-some-serious-restraint addictive. even one of the guys at work who swears he doesn’t like red velvet liked these and there may have been a request for some for a birthday in there.

red velvet sandwich cookies

red velvet sandwich cookies

  • 1 box red velvet cake mix
  • 1/2 c vegetable oil
  • 2 tbs water
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 oz white chocolate, chopped
  • 1 recipe marshmallow buttercream 
  1. preheat oven to 350F. line two baking sheets with parchment paper or use a silpat if you have one.
  2. pour dry cake mix into a mixing bowl and whisk to break up the chunks. add oil, water and eggs. stir to blend well. stir in the white chocolate chunks.
  3. use your handy cookie scoop and drop the cookie dough on the cookie sheets about an inch apart.
  4. bake 10-12 min or until lightly browned. let sit on the cookie sheet while you put the second sheet in the oven then remove to cool on a cookie rack. once completely cool, pipe (or spread) a good amount of buttercream on one cookie and place another one on top.

i think this is my favorite version of cake mix cookies.

if you’re a valentine lover than you should totally make some of these for those you love.

if you’re a valentine loather than you should totally make these for yourself because they’re totally awesome.


this post is linked up to these link parties! what’s cooking wednesday

vanilla frosted sugar cookies

true story…

i made you a king cake…

and then i overbaked it until it was toast.

i know… i’m sad. i was trying to be really on top of having a festive mardi gras treat for y’all today and it was toast.

another true story.

i’m making up for it with cookies.

shocking no?

but for real. these cookies. y’all these cookies.

there aren’t the words for these cookies. seriously… i’m rendered speechless.

we all know that i like good vanilla so needless to say i’ve been pining for shauna sever‘s newest cookbook pure vanilla and i finally gave in a bought it for myself for my birthday. can i just say HOW.FREAKING.EXCITED. i am about this cookbook. so when it came in i sat in myself down… ok i lie… it was delivered to my office so it was my lunchtime reading….. i knew i needed to make something out of it ASAP and these cookies jumped off the page at me.

these are super soft cookies slathered with a super vanillaly buttercream. shauna created them to rival the ones that you find in the grocery store with the bright and seasonal frosting. to say she nailed it is a complete and utter understatement. these are soft like those cookies but have a punch of vanilla.

and hey if you really wanted… you could add some food coloring to the buttercream and throw some sprinkles on there.

vanilla frosted sugar cookies

vanilla frosted cookies

  • 3-1/2 c cake flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 c (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temp
  • 2 tbs vanilla extract
  • 1-1/3 c sugar
  • 1/2 c vegetable oil
  • 2 tbs light corn syrup
  1. sift together the flour and baking powder in a medium bowl; set aside. in a small bowl, whisk together oil, eggs and corn syrup until well blended; set aside.
  2. beat together the butter and vanilla extract until creamy. add the sugar and salt; beat until light and fluffy. reduce mixer speed and beat in egg mixture into the butter/sugar mixture until smooth and fluffy. reduce mixer speed to low and gradually add in the dry ingredients until just combined. cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 2 hours.
  3. preheat oven to 325F. line your baking sheets with parchment paper.
  4. using your cookie scoop, scoop out dough about 2 in apart. bake until just brown around the edges 12-15 min, be careful not to overbake. let cookies cool 10 min on the baking sheet before transferring to a cookie rack to cool completely. once cooled competely, frost with a generous amount of vanilla buttercream.

vanilla buttercream

  • 1 c (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temp
  • 4 c powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1/4 c milk
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 2 tbs vanilla paste
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  1. place all the ingredients in the mixer bowl and begin beating on low gradually increasing mixer speed. beat until the buttercream is smooth and creamy.

seriously. you need to make these cookies today and eat them all before you decide to give up sweets for lent tomorrow.

happy mardi gras y’all!!


recipe from: pure vanilla by shauna sever 

this post is linked up to these link parties! what’s cooking wednesday

chipotle chorizo chili

so today is looking like a miserable day…. it’s all gray and drizzly outside.

and speaking of gray… what’s the difference between gray and grey? i mean why have 2 different spellings?

anyways… it’s perfect nap weather. but i won’t be napping today. boo.

and if i lived anywhere other than south louisiana this might mean that the temperatures outside are chilly and perfect for things like chili. but the temperatures will never be perfect chili weather around here for longer than a day. but that doesn’t mean we can’t pretend and eat chili anyways….

i’m a big fan of chili. especially when it’s made with beer. i mean let’s be honest… it’s a pot of meat with beer in it and topped with things like cheese, sour cream and cilantro. how can you not be a fan?

chipotle chorizo chili

chipotle chili

  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • 1/2 of an onion, chopped
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 lb chorizo, removed from casing
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 c beer
  • 14 oz stewed, diced tomatoes
  • 1 chipotle pepper, minced
  • 1 tsp adobo sauce
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 2 tbs worcestershire sauce
  • your choice of chili toppings – cheddar cheese, cilantro, sour cream, crushed corn chips, crushed pork rinds, whatever your fancy
  1. in a large dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. add the onion and bell pepper; cook until the onion softens but doesn’t brown. add in the chorizo and ground beef; cook until the meat mixture begins to brown. add in the garlic and stir around.
  2. stir in the beer, diced tomatoes, chipotle pepper, adobo sauce, worcestershire and seasonings. reduce heat to medium-low and simmer the chili until thickened, about 30 min.
  3. serve in bowls and top with your preferred toppings.

a couple quick notes…. jackie developed this recipe using chipotle stout. the store i went to didn’t have chipotle stout so i used a locally brewed bock style beer. i’m sure the chipotle would have given the chili a little extra something but i thought the chili was delicious with what i had.

she also developed the recipe without using beans. i’m not a bean person so this works for me…. but i know some people like beans in their chili so just add a can or two in if you chose to. in fact, jackie even says the same thing.

last thing… i’m not a fan of chunks of onions, bell peppers and tomatoes and such. i adore using my food processor to get all of it really finely chopped then i just proceed as normal. in this case, when i threw in the tomatoes, i threw in the chipotle at the same time.

and i know that tailgating season is over and so is the big game but hey… mardi gras is tuesday so bring a pot of chili!


recipe from: the beeroness

this post is linked up to what’s cooking wednesdays and taste and tell thursdays