Tag Archives: Cream Cheese

Cheap Recipe: Black Raspberry Swirl Cheesecake

5 Jan

For a text-only version of this recipe and complete ingredients listing, click here.

I made this cheesecake (out of season) for less than five bucks, once and for all confirming my belief that there is a God and that he is good and loves us.

The trick to making a cheap cheesecake (or, in this case, a cheap, gloriously rich, decadent and twirly homage to raspberry cheesecake) lies in the shrewd purchase of certain components. However, I’m happy to tell you that with a few simple tips, a fancy and delicious cheesecake can be made for around five dollars, if you know what to use and where to look. Click on the link directly below for my money-saving suggestions and hints for making homemade cheesecake on the cheaps, or continue reading for the recipe.

[Click here for a few quick notes from Gracie on Saving Money While Making Homemade Cheesecakes]

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Continue reading


Halloween in Review (Continued): Ghost Cookie Cups

19 Nov

Okay, so this is Day 2 of posting things I’ve been up to in the last month. Today’s project is very easy to pull off in an afternoon and made for a great classroom treat for my younger son, Oliver, and his preschool friends. Because he is just shy of a year old, Eyeball-on-a-Stick didn’t seem like a great idea for the kids in his room, so I devised a softer, more new-teeth-friendly party treat: Ghost Cookie Cups.

These are a pretty straightforward design, with lots of little built-in escape routes for saving time & energy. In all honesty, by the time I got around to making these, I’d already made a million candy eyeballs and a batch of cupcakes, and I still had to stitch together an entire costume for Ollie, who was dressing as the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man to complement his older brother’s Dr. Peter Venkman (Bill Murray’s character in Ghostbusters). I was beat.

Thanks to premade chocolate chip cookie dough in the fridge and a tub of cream cheese frosting in the cabinet, these were banged out in the few minutes here-and-there when I needed a break from cursing loudly at my sewing machine. 🙂 Continue reading

Seasonal Recipe: Pumpkin Cheesecake Brownies

25 Oct

For a text-only version of this recipe and complete ingredients listing, click here.

This was so tempting I forgot to take a photo until after I’d already eaten half of my brownie. My bad.

So I casually posted my status on Facebook yesterday as “pumpkin cheesecake brownies in the oven…”, and by bedtime I had a whole list of messages from friends asking for the recipe.

I guess they just really sound like a good idea. Which, incidentally, they are. So, here goes… Continue reading

Cheap Recipe: Gooey Three-Way Applesauce Puffs!

19 Apr

For a printable version of this recipe and complete ingredients listing, click here.

Three-Way Applesauce Cake Puffs!
2-3 ingredients is all you need! Oh, and did I mention that one of these is FAT FREE???

Okay, so once you read this recipe, you’ll think, “That was so easy it doesn’t even NEED to be a recipe!”

But the beauty of it is, when you make them, everyone is going to say, “How did you make these??” and “What is in them??”

The truth is, you only need 2-3 simple, easily-procured ingredients to whip up a batch, and the 2-ingredient method is…FAT FREE!!! You’ll never believe it from the taste, though!

2 easy basic ingredients!

Can it get ANY easier than this?

In fact, there are sort of three tiers to the diet-friendliness of this recipe: The regular-cupcake-fashioned sort, while still actually better for you than regular cupcakes, has cream cheese frosting on the top and is therefore the most fattening of the three.

Cream-filled apple puffs

I love when people do not realize this is actually EASIER than frosting the tops!

Next, the cream-filled variety is even lighter, because you don’t have to use nearly as much frosting if you’re sticking it in the center of the cupcake as if you put it on top.

(I also love this method because it looks much harder than it is and also makes transporting the cupcakes much quicker and easier–just throw them on top of each other in a bowl and carry to work!)

And lastly, if you omit the cream cheese frosting altogether in favor of powdered confectioner’s sugar and cinnamon sprinkled on top, you’ve got yourself a bona fide, fat-free, scrumptious cupcake. (The applesauce makes the cake so deliciously moist and sticky you don’t have to worry about your “bald” cupcakes being dry!)


Applesauce + dry cake mix = AWESOME.

Begin by preheating oven to 350 degrees. In a large mixing bowl, empty the contents of one regular-sized white cake mix.

Take a 24-ounce jar of applesauce (about 2-1/4 cups), open it, and dump it in over the mix. Stir well, remembering that batter will still be bumpy after mixing, unlike regular cakes made with water, eggs and oil.

lumpy batter

Batter is supposed to be a little bit lumpy!

(Don’t bother unloading your electric mixer for this one, folks–a plain old batter spoon or wire whisk will do fine.)

Once all cake mix has been stirred into applesauce, spray or line 12 muffin cups. (This is a denser batter, so don’t expect to still get 24 cupcakes out of that mix!)


1 mix will make 12 big cupcakes.

Pour or spoon batter evenly into the muffin tins. Bake for approximately 25-30 minutes (start checking after 20 or so), until tops are golden brown and inserted toothpick comes out mostly clean.

Remove from oven and allow to cool in muffin pan for a couple of minutes before transferring to wire cooling rack.

Cooling on wire rack.

Nothing wrong with sticking those bad boys in the fridge for a few minutes!

Once airing on the rack, transport to refrigerator for quicker cooling time (about 15 minutes).

While muffins are cooling, prepare a frosting decorator bag (or large Ziplock!) with desired decorator’s tip dropped into an open corner. Spoon prepared cream cheese frosting (canned frosting is fine!) into bag.

Powdered sugar & cinnamon

I always keep a large-sized set of shakers filled with powdered sugar & cinnamon around for breakfasts/desserts.

Remove cooled cakes from fridge and decorate tops, if desiring regular-looking cupcakes.

(Or, if you like your cupcakes fat free, skip frosting altogether in favor of cinnamon or powdered sugar!)

Creamy frosting filling makes it go down smoothly!

My boss's words: "Boy, those sure went down smoothly, didn't they?"

For the “light” cream-filled variety, stick the frosting tip directly down into the center of the cooled cupcakes and squeeze until center tops shift slightly, indicating the cupcake is now filled with frosting. Repeat until all cupcakes are filled/decorated!

Cheap Recipe: Creme-Filled Apple Dumplings

30 Mar

For a printable version of this recipe and complete ingredients listing, click here.

Ready to eat in under 30 minutes. What are you still sitting there for?

On Sunday morning, I cleaned my kitchen top-to-bottom. That afternoon, the boys miraculously both fell asleep at EXACTLY the same time. It was amazing. I heard angels sing.

Hubby was at work, dinner wasn’t for hours, and I had the place to myself. A smart mom would’ve probably followed the good old “sleep-when-the-baby-sleeps” adage and sacked out for a little while, but the kitchen just kept calling to me and I couldn’t resist fooling around in there for a spell, no strings attached.

Purchased crescent roll/pastry dough.

Low on groceries, I finally decided to give pastry-making a whirl (after a fashion, at least–I admit the dough isn’t from scratch) and whipped up these lil babies.

An hour later, the kids were awake, Hubby was home, and every one of the 6 pastries was already gone.

Cut dough into six roughly equal blobs.

Gulp. Gosh, those were good. I guess I should have made a double batch. Or a few. 🙂


The great thing about this recipe is that it can easily be

Dough "patties."

doubled, tripled or quadrupled using few ingredients! (A 4-pack of pudding and an 8-oz tub of cream cheese exactly quadruple the recipe, for instance.)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Open a can of refrigerated crescent roll dough OR a canned, uncut pastry dough sheet (available in the same aisle, depending on your grocer).

Pastry "shells."

Pull the dough out, work it into a good blob, and slice the dough into six roughly equal portions with a sharp knife.

Warm, softened cream cheese.

Take each dough portion and knead it into a flat “patty” about 1/4″ thick. Place these dough patties down in the cups of an ungreased muffin tin. Let dough come up the sides as far as it can.

(About halfway is good–if one patty turns out to be skimpier than another, you can always “steal” a little dollop of dough from one to stick

Ah, pudding. Is there anything you can't do?

inside the other.)

In a small bowl, microwave 2 ounces (about 1/4 small container) cream cheese on HIGH for 20 seconds. Stir in the contents of one vanilla pudding cup (or abour 3-4 ounces prepared vanilla pudding) and 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon.

The filling.

Add a spoonful of filling mixture to the center of each pastry cup.

Next, cut about 12 very thin slices (about 3/16″ thick) of an unpeeled apple and then halve each slice (see photo) as if you’d folded the two long

A spoonful of filling helps the apples go down.

ends back on themselves.

Stick about 4 apple slice halves, peel-side-up, down into the filling of each pastry cup.

Cut apples so they look like a tiny opera singer should wear them on her head.

Bake uncovered for about 15 minutes, or until visible portions of pastry dough have turned golden brown and filling develops a texture similar to toothpaste when touched.


(I know…I paint the most appetizing pictures with words, don’t I?)

Remove from oven; let cool 2-3 minutes before removing pastries from muffin tin.

Try sliding a butterknife down one side if they don’t want to pop right out of their holes. It shouldn’t take much coaxing to get them out in one piece.

Waiting to be glazed.

Meanwhile, mix a few teaspoons of sugar with a very small amount of hot water (add water a few drops at a time) to form a sort of goopy syrup you will use to glaze each pastry with.

Add water a few drops at a time to sugar. (Check out my son's awesome bumblebee bowl. Jealous?)

Brush or spoon the wet sugar in thin layers onto the warm pastries. Allow a few minutes for the glazing to dry.

The brushed-on sugar will crystalize as the water evaporates and form a shiny, professional-bakery look to your

Note: If a viking raids your kitchen, he can generally be appeased with a few apple slices.


(The glaze will also lend that plain crescent roll dough an extra bit of sweetness and flavor as well.)

Top with additional sprinkled cinnamon or drizzle with caramel syrup. Each can of crescent roll

The perfect size...for cramming whole into your mouth when no one is looking.

dough should make 6 finished dumplings.


Cheap Recipe: Chicken Quesadilla Stew

4 Feb

For a printable version of this recipe and complete ingredients listing, click here.

Another great use for leftover cooked chicken!

This is a sort of variation on tortilla soup I invented a while back. I didn’t feel like putting tortillas in the soup, and I wanted something a bit thicker and heartier so I wouldn’t have to worry about making sandwiches to go with dinner.

I left out the tortillas, added some new ingredients like cream cheese, and Chicken Quesadilla Stew was born. I liked it so much I may never make traditional tortilla soup or chili again! 🙂

Start with 2 or 3 cups of thawed, leftover cooked chicken (see this post for great tips on scavenging chicken & stock) and a can of

Chopped scallions lend some greenery to this pretty stew.

 chicken broth. Heat the chicken and broth in a large saucepan until slow simmer is reached. Refill the empty broth can with water one time and add water to mixture.

Give your leftover chicken a cheap, easy Mexican makeover with a seasoning packet.

Meanwhile, chop several green onions (or one small yellow onion would work) and add to the saucepan. Once chicken is simmering, stir in a store-bought packet of fajita or taco seasoning (or just add your own spices like cumin and chili powder if you prefer). Stir until spices are well-distributed.

Add a 10-ounce, undrained can of diced tomatoes with chiles (think RO*TEL), a 15-ounce undrained can of black beans, and a small, drained can of whole kernel corn (you

Hubby kept commenting on the yummy aromas while the pot simmered!

 can use frozen corn instead just as easily, too). Stir well and return to simmer.

I promise you'll want seconds.

Once stew is hot, stir in 4-6 ounces of cream cheese, adding a little bit of water or milk if broth is not substantial, or if you prefer the recipe to be closer to soup than a creamy stew.

Serve immediately topped with shredded Mexican cheese.

P.S.–The leftovers freeze beautifully!