Candied Chocolate Orange Peels

I Tried It // Candied Chocolate Orange Peels

We’re experimenting with a new idea today, gang! I’ve been feeling lately like I’ve wanted to have some creative endeavors that were just for me, as opposed to putting them together…

Candied Chocolate Orange Peels

We’re experimenting with a new idea today, gang! I’ve been feeling lately like I’ve wanted to have some creative endeavors that were just for me, as opposed to putting them together for the purpose of a blog tutorial. I’ve also been feeling like sometimes we creative bloggers keep putting ideas out into the world and have no clue as to whether people actually try them. It’s one of the greatest thrills for me when a reader contacts me and says that they’ve tried a DIY or recipe that we share here. So I’m spreading that love. I’m starting a new mini-series where I’ll be trying out one of my fellow bloggers ideas and sharing here. Up first? Candied Chocolate Orange Peels from our pal Leah at Freutcake!

First off, you can find Leah’s recipe right here. I actually made these around the holidays when I needed something sweet to share at one of our parties. And these were a total hit! (As evidenced in the photo below, we had a hard time keeping Hank away from them.) I confess, I had to hold myself back from chomping down the whole batch. This recipe is a total testament to Leah’s kitchen goddess status — it’s delicious, easy, and totally fun. And it’s a perfect idea for using up the end of all your winter citrus. The fruit trees in our neighborhood have been absolutely loaded this year and we’re still working our way through lots of it. I bet you could try this recipe with other citrus, too — candied grapefruit, anyone?

So! Hope this little series inspires you to get the ideas out of the computer and into your hands! Big thanks to Leah for the inspiration. Now, what should we try next? xoxo

Make Freutcake’s Chocolate Dipped Candied Orange Peels

Candied Chocolate Orange Peels

How to make an Easter bunny gingerbread house

DIY Easter Bunny Gingerbread House

When Easter candy is as pretty as this, it’s just begging to be made into decorations. We had so much fun making gingerbread houses over the holidays that we decided we needed…

How to make an Easter bunny gingerbread house

How to make an Easter bunny gingerbread house

How to make an Easter bunny gingerbread house

When Easter candy is as pretty as this, it’s just begging to be made into decorations. We had so much fun making gingerbread houses over the holidays that we decided we needed to make an Easter bunny house for Easter, decorated with all of our favorite chocolates! I confess, I find it deliciously therapeutic to decorate these things. And the delicious part is half the fun, because obviously you have to taste test your materials. Am I right?

It was like a pastel wonderland putting this together, with spring-colored M&M’s flying every which way. I’m not complaining, y’all. We stopped at Target to stock up and realized they have Vanilla Cupcake M&M’s for Easter, which are not only perfect for decorating an Easter bunny’s house but also crazy tasty.  We also stocked up on Mars Minis and Dove Chocolate Eggs for extra details and because they’re just so delicious. And bonus — if you use Target’s Cartwheel app while you’re snagging your candy you can save X% on the whole lot!

Materials

  • spring chocolate — we used M&M’S Milk Chocolate Candies (Pastel Colored), Dove Silky Smooth Milk Chocolate Eggs, Minis Mix Chocolates for Spring, and M&M’S Vanilla Cupcake
  • gingerbread house kit
  • colored cardstock
  • double-stick tape
  • scissors
  • tray or platter
  • optional: gold stickers

Make Time: 2 Hours

Easter candy

Easter candy

How to make an Easter bunny gingerbread house

Step 1: Put together your gingerbread house walls and roof from  your kit. Build your house on your platter or tray.

Step 2: While your house sets, slice a few Mini Snickers bars to create “bricks” for a walkway. Set these aside.

Step 3: Use card stock to create a door and a treetop. Cut out the shapes with scissors. If desired, cut small pieces of your gold stickers to create a doorknob and a mail slot.

Step 4: Start laying the Snickers bricks to form a walkway from the area where the door will be, leading toward the edge of your tray. The Snickers will stick by themselves. Line the walkway with Dove Chocolate Eggs; place a small dab of the frosting from your gingerbread house kit on the bottom of each Egg to keep it in place.

Step 5: Decorate the roof of your house. We chose a rainbow pattern, but be creative! Place a small dot of frosting on each M&M and stick it to the roof until your design is finished.

Step 6: Add the tree and door to your house. On the back of each, cover a 1″ square area with double-stick tape. Then place a dot of frosting on the tape. The tape will keep the frosting from making a greasy spot on your paper. Press the door onto the house and the treetop onto a mini Twix bar. Place a dot of frosting on the bottom of the Twix bar to get it to stand up like a tree.

Step 7: Add any other details that you like! Stack a few M&M’s to make a small topiary, spread some green ones around the sides of the house like grass, or add windows and other decorations to the walls.

I love this! We added it to our Easter centerpiece on our dining room table and it’s so fun to have around. And it looks even better with a few little bowls of chocolate around it so you can grab a sweet snack as you pass by. 😉 Happy decorating, all! xoxo

How to make an Easter bunny gingerbread house

How to make an Easter bunny gingerbread house

How to make an Easter bunny gingerbread house

How to make an Easter bunny gingerbread house

This post is sponsored by Target & Mars. All ideas and opinions are my very own. Thank you for being supportive of the partners who help keep Lovely Indeed rocking!

The Best Beer Bread Recipe

The Best Beer Bread Recipe

Every time Goodie2Spoons stops by with a recipe for us, I’m absolutely positive it’s my new favorite. Let me just preface this recipe by saying: this. bread. is. insane. It’s so perfect for…

The Best Beer Bread Recipe

The Best Beer Bread Recipe

The Best Beer Bread Recipe

Every time Goodie2Spoons stops by with a recipe for us, I’m absolutely positive it’s my new favorite. Let me just preface this recipe by saying: this. bread. is. insane. It’s so perfect for serving on St. Paddy’s day and beyond, and I’m thinking it will be a new go-to to serve with hearty dishes like soups, stews, and chilis. The girls whipped up a brown sugar honey butter that’s just divine to top the bread, and they recommended drizzling a little honey on top as well. Do yourself a favor and take that recommendation! This recipe comes together really quickly, so give it a try!

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Rise Time: 90-120 minutes
Bake Time: 25 minutes
Yield: 2 Medium Loaves

Beer Bread
3 ¼ cup all purpose flour
1 ¾ cup beer (room temp)
½ cup sugar
¾ tsp salt
1 packet active dry yeast
2 tbsp butter (melted)

Brown Sugar – Honey Butter
1 stick unsalted butter (room temp)
1 tbsp honey
2 tsp brown sugar
½ tsp salt

Preheat oven to 375°F. Grease 2 medium loaf pans and set aside.

Sift the flour into a large mixing bowl. Add the salt, sugar and dry yeast. Mix together with a wooden spoon. Add the beer and stir until combined into a sticky dough. (Note: It is important that the beer is at room temp so that the yeast will rise, so if you’re just pulling that beer bottle out of the fridge, give it some time to come to room temp 😉

Split the dough into halves and put one half into each loaf pan. Cover the loaf pans with plastic wrap and set aside in a warm place to rise for 1 ½ to 2 hours. (The dough should almost double in size.) Remove the plastic wrap and bake for 25 minutes.

When the bread has finished baking, remove the loaf pans from the oven and set on a cooling rack for 15 minutes. Drizzle 1 tbsp of melted butter over the top of each loaf. Flip the bread out of the pan and set on a cooling rack to finish cooling.

While the bread cools, make the brown sugar honey butter by combining the ingredients into a small bowl and mixing with a fork until all ingredients are well-incorporated.

NOTE: You can use any beer you like for this recipe. We chose an oatmeal stout made by a local brewery, and it was delish!

Are you gonna try this one? Just imagine serving it up on St. Patrick’s day with some corned beef and cabbage — so good. And by the way, if you haven’t checked out the Goodie2Spoons website recently, pop on over and take a peek. They’ve got the prettiest gallery of all their recipes. Follow along on Instagram too for lots of foodie inspiration! xoxo

The Best Beer Bread Recipe

The Best Beer Bread Recipe

The Best Beer Bread Recipe

The Best Beer Bread Recipe

The Best Beer Bread Recipe

Champagne Truffles with Edible Sparkles Recipe

Champagne Truffles with Edible Sparkles

Guess who’s back!  The Goodie2Spoons girls have been dreaming and scheming this gorgeous little recipe for months now and we’re all so excited to finally share it! These sparkly champagne truffles are the…

Champagne Truffles with Edible Sparkles Recipe

Champagne Truffles with Edible Sparkles Recipe

Champagne Truffles with Edible Sparkles Recipe

Guess who’s back!  The Goodie2Spoons girls have been dreaming and scheming this gorgeous little recipe for months now and we’re all so excited to finally share it! These sparkly champagne truffles are the exact perfect thing to try if you’re in a festive spirit with Christmas and New Year’s Eve on the way. And yes, the glitter is edible. 😉

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Freeze Time: 1 hour (or up to overnight)
Yield: 12 truffles

  • 1½ cups white chocolate chips
  • ¼ cup champagne
  • ¼ cup heavy cream
  • Sugar and/or sprinkles for decorating (we used lots of Disco Dust!)

Add chocolate chips and heavy cream to a double boiler, and stir until just melted. While the chocolate and heavy cream are melting, warm champagne in a small pot on the stove until it just starts to simmer, then remove from heat. When the chocolate has melted, add the champagne and stir until completely combined. Transfer to a bowl and place in the freezer for at least an hour – we prefer to let the mixture freeze overnight.

Once the chocolate is firm, use a small cookie scoop to get about 1 oz portions. Using your hands, form the chocolate into small truffle balls. Immediately roll the truffles into decorative sugar, or drizzle with chocolate! We put these in small paper cups to set, and prefer to store them in the fridge or freezer until ready to eat.

Note: If the chocolate gets too soft while making the truffles, you can put it back in the freezer. The colder the chocolate, the easier it is to work with.

Voila! Think you’ll try these? I just couldn’t get enough of the twinkles while we were photographing these little babies! And the best part? They taste divine. Go check out Goodie2Spoons and follow along on Instagram to see what else they’re making for the holidays! xoxo

Champagne Truffles with Edible Sparkles Recipe

Champagne Truffles with Edible Sparkles Recipe

Champagne Truffles with Edible Sparkles Recipe

Champagne Truffles with Edible Sparkles Recipe

Elf Quote Christmas Cookies

DIY Elf Christmas Cookies

As we prepare to head out for the holidays, I’m sharing one final best-of-Lovely Indeed post! These Elf Quote Christmas Cookies were maybe one of our most popular posts ever, and…

Elf Quote Christmas Cookies

Elf Quote Christmas Cookies

As we prepare to head out for the holidays, I’m sharing one final best-of-Lovely Indeed post! These Elf Quote Christmas Cookies were maybe one of our most popular posts ever, and I was so pumped to see that you all loved them as much as I did! They were a total ball to make and I remember having fits of laughter with Ryan as we were deciding which quotes to use from Elf. I mean, there are just too many to choose from, right?! I still can’t pick a favorite. But in case you need one more baking idea, you can get the recipe and how-to for these fun cookies here. Happy baking! xoxo

MAKE OUR ELF QUOTE CHRISTMAS COOKIES

Elf Quote Christmas Cookies

Elf Quote Christmas Cookies

Elf Quote Christmas Cookies

Color Splattered White Hot Chocolate on a Stick

DIY Color-Splattered White Hot Chocolate on a Stick

Been waiting to share this one with you! It’s a project that we put together for Swooned, and I just love how it turned out! Not to mention the fact…

Color Splattered White Hot Chocolate on a Stick

Color Splattered White Hot Chocolate on a StickBeen waiting to share this one with you! It’s a project that we put together for Swooned, and I just love how it turned out! Not to mention the fact that a cup of white hot chocolate is duh-licious. Like, seriously over the top good. The fun paint-splattered look on these white chocolate sticks is a cool alternative to your usual chocolate-on-a-stick-situation. And you can make ’em any colors you like!

Head over to Swooned to see the full tutorial and make these babies yourself. xoxo

Color Splattered White Hot Chocolate on a Stick

Color Splattered White Hot Chocolate on a Stick

Jalapeno Popper Crostini with Spiced Milk Shots

Jalapeño Popper Crostini with Spiced Milk Shots

Who’s having people over for the holidays?! We’ve had lots of peeps coming and going from our house with the new little one and the holiday season. I was messing…

Jalapeno Popper Crostini with Spiced Milk Shots

Jalapeno Popper Crostini with Spiced Milk Shots

Jalapeno Popper Crostini with Spiced Milk Shots

Who’s having people over for the holidays?! We’ve had lots of peeps coming and going from our house with the new little one and the holiday season. I was messing around in the kitchen recently and came up with this fun appetizer snack that I love having around when people are stopping by. It’s kind of a deconstructed jalopeño popper on a cute little crostini. So good! And for the folks who need an extra compliment to something spicy, I’ve been making these refreshing spiced milk shots to go with the crostini, because, after all, #FoodLovesMilk.

Ingredients

  • milk
  • cinnamon
  • nutmeg
  • thin baguette bread
  • olive oil
  • jalapeños
  • cream cheese
  • shredded cheese (we used a mix of cheddar and monterey jack, but you can choose your fave!)
  • pancetta
  • fried onion strings (substitute bread crumbs if you like!)

Make Time: 20 Minutes

Jalapeño Popper Crostini with Spiced Milk Shots

Start by dicing and pan frying your pancetta until you have small, crispy pieces. Set aside to cool.

Prep your jalapeños. Slice off the stem, cut them in half, and scoop out all the seeds. Place them skin-side-up on a cookie sheet and broil for about 2-3 minutes, or until the skins start to blister and turn black.

Slice your baguette into 1/2″. Mist or brush on a light layer of olive oil on each piece. Spread in a single layer on a cookie sheet and broil for 1-2 minutes, until the tops of the slices become slightly crisp and begin to brown.

Leaving the bread on a cookie sheet, spread a layer of cream cheese on each slice of bread. On top of that, stack a piece of jalapeño, topped with a sprinkle of shredded cheese, a few pieces of pancetta, and some onion strings or bread crumbs. Place the pan under the broiler for a quick burst (you may only need about 30 seconds), just until the shredded cheese melts. Remove and set aside.

While your crostini is cooling just a bit, mix up some spiced milk shots! Fill a rocks glass half full with cold milk; add a dash of cinnamon and a dash of nutmeg. Whisk quickly with a fork. If you’re feeling fancy, whip up a batch ahead of time and pour it from a bottle just for fun.

Jalapeno Popper Crostini with Spiced Milk Shots

Jalapeno Popper Crostini with Spiced Milk Shots

Serve your guests a few crostini with a milk shot and enjoy! The milk is a perfect chaser for the slight spice of the jalapeño, and the added spices in the milk are a subtle nod to the holidays that’s just right (although I’d serve this all year!). It’s a little unexpected but a totally fun combination, and a great way to get some milk in your day. Have fun! xoxo

Jalapeno Popper Crostini with Spiced Milk Shots

Jalapeno Popper Crostini with Spiced Milk Shots

Jalapeno Popper Crostini with Spiced Milk Shots

This post is sponsored by got milk?. All ideas and opinions are my very own. Thank you for being supportive of the partners who help keep Lovely Indeed rocking! 
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Rum Balls

Easy Rum Ball Recipe

When I told the Goodie2Spoons girls that I wanted to test out some rum balls for a holiday recipe to bring to you guys, neither one of them had ever…

Rum Balls

Rum Balls

When I told the Goodie2Spoons girls that I wanted to test out some rum balls for a holiday recipe to bring to you guys, neither one of them had ever tried them before! (Something about too many rum and cokes in college, you’ll have to ask them yourselves… 😉 ) But that didn’t stop them from concocting some of the best rum balls I’ve ever had. I don’t know why, but I have such a special place in my heart for these things! Maybe it’s because my sassy aunt used to make them for Christmas all the time. Or maybe because they seem like such a fun throwback treat, very midcentury and fun. Either way, this recipe is so simple and perfect for serving at parties, sending treats home, or just a little fun holiday experiment in the kitchen.

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 0 minutes

Rum Balls

  • 1 package of vanilla wafers (12-14 oz.)
  • ½ cup powdered sugar
  • ¾ cup finely chopped pecans
  • 2 tbsp light corn syrup
  • 1 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ¼ cup spiced rum

Pour cookies into a sealable plastic bag, and smash with a rolling pin until finely ground. Take 2 cups of the smashed vanilla wafers and combine in a bowl with powdered sugar, chopped pecans and cocoa powder and stir. Add corn syrup and spiced rum to the mixture of dry ingredients and stir until well combined.

Form into 1 inch balls. Roll in cocoa sugar (recipe below) and enjoy.

Cocoa Sugar

  • 6 tbsp powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp cocoa powder

Combine ingredients, spread in a shallow bowl and roll the rum balls before serving!

The girls and I agreed on this one, these get better with age! If you prep and serve the same day, the rum flavor will be pretty potent. But after a day or two it mellowed and they were even better. (Although if you like a boozy rum ball, go ahead and serve them right away!) So they’d be perfect to make ahead for a holiday party or for some take-home sweets; that way you don’t even have to think about them on the day of your shindig.

Go check out Goodie2Spoons and follow along on Instagram to see what else they’re making for the holidays! xoxo

Rum Balls

Rum Balls

Rum Balls

Pretzel Bites with Dipping Sauces

Pretzel Bites with Dipping Sauces

They’re baaaaack! It’s my favorite chefs, Katie and Allie from Goodie2Spoons, with an appetizer that is so good we literally ate them all by the time we finished shooting them….

Pretzel Bites with Dipping Sauces

Pretzel Bites with Dipping Sauces

Pretzel Bites with Dipping Sauces

They’re baaaaack! It’s my favorite chefs, Katie and Allie from Goodie2Spoons, with an appetizer that is so good we literally ate them all by the time we finished shooting them. (That’s not a joke, guys. We ate them. All of them.) These delicious pretzel bites are just the snack for game day or to have around while you’re waiting for Thanksgiving dinner. They’re the perfect mix of doughy pretzel & salty sprinkles, and when you combine them with either the sriracha or the pesto dipping sauces they’re next level. 

Prep Time: 30 Minutes (Plus 1 hour for dough to rise)
Bake Time: 8-10 minutes

Pretzel Dough

  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tbsp butter (room temp)
  • 1 tsp table salt
  • 1 tbsp coarse kosher salt

Baking Soda Slurry

  • 2 cups warm water
  • ¼ cup baking soda

Heat milk to 110°F and remove from heat. (As soon as bubbles form around the edges of the sauce pan, about 2 minutes.) Pour milk into a separate bowl and add the yeast. Let the yeast soften in the milk for a few minutes.

Stir in the brown sugar and mix until dissolved. Add half of the flour and stir with a wooden spoon. Add diced butter and mix until it’s fully incorporated. Stir in the table salt and the remaining flour, and mix until a loose dough forms—dough may be sticky.

Sprinkle rolling surface with flour and knead the dough, adding flour if necessary, for about 5 minutes. The dough should be slightly sticky but smooth and consistent. Form the dough into a ball and place in a greased bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise in a warm place for at least 1 hour. After the dough has risen to double its size, remove from the greased bowl and separate it until smaller pieces on a floured surface.

Roll the smaller pieces into long snakes, and cut into 1 inch “bites”. Dunk each bite into the baking soda slurry and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Separate the bites about an inch apart, and sprinkle with coarse kosher salt.

Bake at 450°F for 8-10 minutes, rotating the baking sheet 180° half way through the baking time.

While the dough is rising, you can prepare these delicious dips!

Sriracha Dip

  • ¼ cup whipped cream cheese (room temp)
  • ¼ cup sour cream (room temp)
  • 1 tbsp sriracha

Combine ingredients until you get a smooth consistency.

Pesto Dip

  • ¼ cup whipped cream cheese (room temp)
  • ¼ cup sour cream (room temp)
  • 1 tbsp jarred pesto sauce

Combine ingredients until you get a smooth consistency.

Pretzel Bites with Dipping Sauces

Now, don’t be scared of trying these, y’all. It may sound fancy to make your own pretzel dough, but you’ll be masters in no time. And I’m dying to know which dip you like better! I think the sriracha dip is my jam, but then again sriracha anything is my jam. And now, can we all just high five Katie and Allie for this crazy good recipe?! Be sure to follow Goodie2Spoons on Instagram to keep up with more fun eats. xoxo

Pretzel Bites with Dipping Sauces

Pretzel Bites with Dipping Sauces

Pretzel Bites with Dipping Sauces

Pumpkin Donut Holes

Pumpkin Donut Holes Two Ways

It’s a red letter day, gang! Today is the day that I finally get to introduce you to our new food contributors, Goodie2Spoons! The girls behind Goodie2Spoons are Katie and Allie….

Pumpkin Donut Holes

It’s a red letter day, gang! Today is the day that I finally get to introduce you to our new food contributors, Goodie2Spoons! The girls behind Goodie2Spoons are Katie and Allie. We met through mom stuff (Katie’s little girl is one of Hank’s BFFs) and I quickly discovered that these two gals might be the best cooks I know in real life. Every once in a while they’ll be trying out a new recipe and a magical plate of something delicious will show up on our doorstep for us to “taste test.” So it hit me like a ton of bricks one day that DUH we should collaborate so they can bring some of their recipes to you lovelies! They’ve whipped up some insanely good stuff that we have coming up for the holidays, and today we’re starting with one of my favorites: Pumpkin Donut Holes!

Prep/Glazing Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes

Pumpkin Donut Holes

  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 ½ tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 2 eggs
  • ¼ cup whole milk
  • ½ cup pumpkin puree (room temp)
  • 1 ½ tbsp melted butter
  • vegetable/canola oil for frying

Add oil to a heavy-bottomed large pot so that you have at least 2 inches of oil in the pot. Heat the oil to 375°F. (Note: it’s important that the oil doesn’t exceed this temp to ensure that the donuts cook evenly.)

While the oil is heating, combine the dry ingredients together in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk the wet ingredients together until smooth. Add the wet ingredients to the bowl of dry ingredients and stir together with a wooden spoon until combined. Dough will be sticky.

Using a small ice cream/cookie scoop (we used ½ oz scoop), drop dough balls into the hot oil and let cook for 2-3 minutes on each side. We fried between 5-7 dough balls at a time. The donuts should be golden brown on both sides.

When the donuts are finished cooking, remove from oil with strainer or slotted spoon and cool them on a wire rack until ready to sugar/glaze!

Caramel/Bourbon Glaze

  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • 4 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp bourbon

In a small sauce pan on the stove, melt the butter into the heavy cream over medium/low heat. When the butter melts, add the bourbon and cook until small bubbles form around the outside edges of the sauce pan.

Whisk in the brown sugar and cook over low heat until the mixture thickens, about 5-7 minutes. (Mixture will bubble to a boil, whisk frequently so the sugar doesn’t burn.) Remove from heat and allow to cool before transferring to a separate container. To glaze, dip a spoon in warm mixture and drizzle over donuts. Leftover glaze can be kept in the refrigerator for a week.

Cinnamon Sugar

  • 6 tbsp powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon

Combine ingredients, spread in a shallow bowl and roll warm donuts. Yum!

Pumpkin Donut Holes

Pumpkin Donut Holes

Pumpkin Donut Holes

I truly can’t decide which I like better! I think maaaayyyybe it’s the cinnamon sugar, because once it soaks into the donut it makes a sugary, crusty, delicious coating that’s fun to crunch through. But you’ve gotta try ’em both ways. To serve, you can just set them out on a platter if you’re hanging out at home. If you want to make them portable, toss a few in a glassine baggie or skewer them on a kabob to go. These are perfect with a cup of coffee or hot tea, and will be awesome to serve all season long.

Stay tuned through the holidays to see what else Goodie2Spoons is cookin’ up for us! Be sure to follow them on Instagram as well, to see their other kitchen adventures (hello, homemade pierogies!). xoxo

Pumpkin Donut Holes

Pumpkin Donut Holes

Easy Strawberry Vanilla Bean Cheesecake Bars

Easy Strawberry Vanilla Bean Cheesecake Bars

I think everyone around here pretty much knows that even though I love food, I don’t really cook. I bake, yes, but I stick to pretty simple things and only really…

Easy Strawberry Vanilla Bean Cheesecake Bars

Easy Strawberry Vanilla Bean Cheesecake Bars

Easy Strawberry Vanilla Bean Cheesecake Bars

I think everyone around here pretty much knows that even though I love food, I don’t really cook. I bake, yes, but I stick to pretty simple things and only really commit if the final product is gonna be worth it. I mean, who wants to bake something mediocre?! Nobody, that’s who. So the folks at King Arthur Flour must have totally had my number when they created the new Essential Goodness mixes — they’re box mixes but, like, next level. This ain’t your standard chocolate cake in a box. There are so many fun recipes (hello, sour cream coffee cake? cinnamon sugar puff muffins?!) and you can jazz them up with your own spin on their basic mix. Here’s our take on their cheesecake bars!

Ingredients

Melt your butter and combine with the graham cracker crust mix until the crumbles are nice and even. Press into a greased, 8×8 baking pan. Bake the crust at 325 for about 15 minutes.

While the crust is baking, prep the rest of the ingredients. Slice up your strawberries and set aside. Open the package of filling mix and just take a second to get a whiff because that stuff smells so good. I actually made Ryan come in and smell it because it was so delicious. (Must be the whole, simple ingredients they use for the mixes. No corn syrup or any artificial flavors — this one has pure, real vanilla bean). But I digress! Mix the contents of the filling package with the cream cheese until soft. Stir in one egg at a time, just until the egg is blended.

Once your crust comes out of the oven, place a layer of your cut strawberries on the hot crust. Then pour your filling mix over the berries and smooth out the top with a spatula. Bake again at 325 for about 35 minutes; you’ll have to keep an eye on it because when you add elements to the recipe (like the strawberries) baking times start to vary. It should be done when most of the filling layer is set but still has a little jiggle in the center.

Let cool for an hour at room temperature and then move to the fridge. Chill for at least three hours (overnight if you can!) before you cut into it.

I tell ya, I’ve never made anything remotely cheesecake-y before because I was scared it wouldn’t turn out, but these. are. bomb. We made a batch on a day when we had a whole mess of people working on our house for the remodel and the bars were gone in about 5 seconds flat when we started offering them around. Seal of approval right there. Another thing to love: King Arthur Flour donates the cost of a meal to Feeding America for every box mix they sell. I’m always so heartened to see companies I love working to make a difference and spread goodness.

So what kind of baker are you? Are you the I-don’t-know-how-to-turn-on-the-oven type, or the I-make-recipes-in-my-sleep-with-one-hand-tied-behind-my-back type? Somewhere in between? I’d love to know how you’d put your own spin on one of these mixes! xoxo

Easy Strawberry Vanilla Bean Cheesecake Bars

Easy Strawberry Vanilla Bean Cheesecake Bars

Easy Strawberry Vanilla Bean Cheesecake Bars

This post is sponsored by King Arthur Flour. All opinions are my very own. Thank you for being supportive of the partners who help keep Lovely Indeed rocking!