Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars- SRC

At the urging of some Twitter friends, I joined The Secret Recipe Club. I kept reading how they were enjoying participating in the online food blogging club so I decided to join in on the fun that they were having. This is my first month for the club so it was a new fun experience of getting someone’s blog to make a recipe of my choosing, while some mysterious member of my group had mine.

 

I ended up in Group D and was given Cookin’ with Cyndi. I browsed her recipes and as soon as I was the post for Spiced Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars I knew we had a winner. It would be perfect for a fall recipe and it reminded me of the Cheesecake Cookie Bars I had been making in the spring. I loved the simple bar that consists of a creamy cheesecake filling sandwiched between 2 layers of cookie bar crust.

 

Another thing that appealed to me about this recipe was that it could easily be made Gluten Free very easily. No special mixtures or reworking of the recipe for me. I have plenty of Gluten Free Bisquick on hand so I just used that and did not have any issues with flavor or texture with the substitution.

 

I brought most of the bars into work and they were well received. Everyone thought the bars had a very good pumpkin flavor, creamy cheesecake middle texture, and nice contrasting nutty crust. They were even surprised that they were Gluten Free since still so many people think Gluten Free is not as good as regular baked goods. My neighbor is already requesting for me to bring in some more when I make another batch.

 

Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars

*yields 24 bars*

Ingredients

Crust:
1 cup packed light brown sugar
2/3 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 cups Bisquick baking mix
1 cup finely chopped pecans
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

Filling:
12 ounces cream cheese (1.5 packages), softened
½ cup light brown sugar
¼ cup sugar
3 eggs
¾ cup canned or fresh pumpkin puree
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla
1 heaping tablespoon pumpkin pie spice

Preheat oven to 350˚. Generously grease a 13″ x 9″ pan. Cream together the brown sugar and butter. Once they are combined add in the pumpkin pie spice.  Gently add in the Bisquick and nuts until mixture is crumbly. Reserve two cups. Press remaining mixture in pan with fingers. Bake 10 minutes.

To make the filling, beat the cream cheese until smooth. Add sugars, eggs, pumpkin, vanilla, and pumpkin pie spice. Mix well until smooth. Pour mixture over crust in pan, and sprinkle with remaining two cups of crust mixture. Bake until center is set and top is golden, about 30 minutes. Cool completely before cutting, serve well-chilled.

Secret Recipe Club

Check out all the other great Secret Recipe Club recipes for this reveal!


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Spark the Event: Day 1 Recap

I had the pleasure of attending Spark : The Event this year. This was the 3rd Spark, so I will often affectionately refer to it as Spark #3. Every since I learned about Spark from Liz Kartchner’s blog from the first event I knew that I would have to make it out to Utah and get to get my creative juices flowing and have a lot of fun.

I will save you all the horrendice details about my trip to Utah. In summary it involved  a cab ride, tears, lots of photo calls, texting (which I hate), stress, running, and 2 plane rides. We arrived in Salt Lake City 3.30 east coast time so my mom and I were very tired but VERY relieved to be there. We were able to enjoy our Thursday in SLC, Park City, and to have a great photo session with the super talented (and funny) Collin Kartchner– to be shared later.

So that brings up to Friday- the first day of Spark….

Registration started at 8 but we were up bright and early!

Noah’s Event Center was the facility that housed Spark. Margie and Team did a lot of hard work decorating entire building. Out first glimpse at Noah’s was this entry with the book paper lights and vintage luggage.

 

Welcoming decor greeting all the attendants.

The Main Hall was  elaboratly decorated with ribbons, yarn, pom poms. fabric wrapped hoops, and sewn paper garlands.

Margie explained how all the decor has been reused from her own stash or old from second hand stores. She also said that when they break down the event the pieces will get a new life when it is transformed for another Spark.

Each table had a center piece, which had been used and transformed previously! Giving something old a new life makes that piece so much more special. Each setting had a box and note book for us to use during and after attending Spark.

 

After checking out the Main Hall, we went back to the 2 vendor halls to check out the shopping we could do. Each vendor was special in their own way from specializing in handmade shirts, vintage clothes, baked goods, an

 

At one of the tables I found this amazing vintage pink metal cake carrier. Such an amazing find for jsut $12!!!

And then we began! Margie came up and talked to us about what Spark really means and how we get to become Spark Sisters from the event. We get to make special connections with other creative women who each bring a different skill and perspective to the table.

Mindy Gledhill took us on an activity that had us writing down goals, people we admire, and things that make us happy in our new Spark journals. She also serenaded us with some songs. I really love her music so you should check it out too! Love the song Anchor.

We all broke up into our groups to attend the morning classes. My favorite morning class was the jewelry making class taught by Cathe Holden. We made nest necklaces. We used shimmery beads to represent eggs and wrapped around them with wire to create the nest. I used to different colored wires for an extra level of detail. Lastly, I stamped on a metal tag to complete the necklace.

Group A also took the stamp carving class in the morning taught by April Meeker. This class was a bit more difficult but still rewarding because it was something completely new for me. Knowing how the pressure of the carving tool, as well as what you carve out, allows you to create a unique handmade stamp.

 

Then all the groups broke for lunch. Mom and I grabbed our lunches and immediately headed outside to enjoy the beautiful view.

We had a post lunch update where Margie introduced Amy Tan. In addition to having her own business of designing handmade shirts, she has her own scrapbooking line with American Crafts.

I loved the 2 hour long junk journal class where we took an old book and began to transform it to create an album for a scrapbook. I had altered a book previously for a Liz Kartchner class but this was very different and fun. I love how you can start with an old book and apply various techniques to alter it to get such different effect and finished product. I am going to complete my junk journal and use it as the scrapbook for the long weekend in Utah.

After the junk journal class we had our session with Amy to make hour reverse applique shirts. I love the process and I can really see myself making more shirts for gifts and myself. I love hand sewing so the process was fun and relaxing. The best part of the class was hearing about Amy’s vast experiences as a small business owner of a fashion line called Amy Tangerine, who creates specialty reverse applique tops. She explained how she was discovered, she started the shirt alteration business with a vendor market fair in NYC and how the rest became history.

 

After dinner we particiapted in make and takes from 7-9pm. There were several stations throughout the building that had different designers and product manucturers set up having us do quick crafts. My favorite was the earring station on the roof because I liked the pace of the craft and the look of the earrings. Friskar’s set up was also really fun because we made Halloween flags. I’m so predictable and boring that I only used orange and black to design my flag. Of course mom used all the color possibilities on her flag.

And that was DAy 1 of Spark the Event #3.

Stay tuned for my Day 2 recap!

Charlotte Motor Speedway- Charlotte Vacation {3}

Price and I recently went on vacation in Charlotte, North Carolina. We had a fantastic time visiting the Queen City. I will do a series of blog posts recapping some of the fun things we did while down there. I hope you enjoy!

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While we were visiting Charlotte, we decided to head over to The Charlotte Motor Speedway. The speedway is located in Concord, NC, which is not that far from the city of Charlotte. A quick ride on I-85 and we were there to check out the track and the gift shop.

 

I was really under dressed for the day since it was a lot cooler than I anticipated. The wind was pretty strong so we only hung around on the grandstands for the bit. We watched one of the many race schools/driving experiences that are offered at the speedway.

 

After a bit of watching the racing school drivers on the track we signed up for the Speedway Tour. For just $9 a person, we had a 45 minute tour that started from the main building and took us around the track while our guide told us various things about the track. The best part of the tour is when you go out on the track to experience the feeling of the banking. Going 85 miles an hour in a van is no where near as fast as a NASCAR stock car, but it still is a lot of fun

Check out the angle in the photo!

We took a video while we were going around the track!

 

While going around the speedway and the track we learned history of the speedway, starting with when it was built in 1959 by O. Bruton Smith and Curtis Turner. From there the track has had an interesting history as it has hosted countless races at its track and been the setting for movies, including Talladega Nights.

 

The tour guide explained  how the world’s largest high definition television debuted during the May race at the track. The 32-and-a-half-ton TV is 200 foot-wide, 80 foot-tall and created by Panasonic. The face of the TV is made of 158 and is illuminated by nine million LED lamps. Pretty impressive!

One of the really cool things we learned was that there are condos at the track. People thought it was foolish for Smith to build forty condos over turn 1 in 1984. However, they were so popular that another 12 luxury ones were built in 1991. Over the years there have been families that lived there and as a result school buses would have to stop at the track to pick up the kids.

The tour took a stop at the Winner’s Circle for some photos.

 

We had a great time at the tour. It was a fun way of learning about the race track and the history behind it. And of course I had to go back and watch clips of Talladega Nights to see the track in it. ha!

If you like NASCAR and are in the Charlotte area I suggest you swing by the Charlotte Motor Speedway so you can have a quick tour of the track to learn some cool facts about the track while you take a spin around in a van. You won’t soon forget those 24 degree turns!

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Thanks for visiting. Please leave me a comment to provide some feedback. I appreciate all the comments I receive. 

‘Miss C’ LO

My niece Cara is turning 1 in a less than a week. I love her to death. She is just so adorable. It has been amazing to see her grow so much from this adorable little newborn. Over the year I have seen her every few months so I have the chance to document her growth. I took these photos at the end of August. I can’t wait to see her next week to see how much she has grown.

I am so addicted to my Studio Calico kits that arrive every month in our building vestibule every month. (Price is less excited… ‘great more stuff’) I love the kits but I really love getting to see awesome design inspiring layouts from the design team. I looked back on layouts from Stephanie Howell and Kelly Purkey for each of them for inspiration.

Andshedreams  Youarehere  Blog lucky

When I saw these layouts I knew that I wanted to keep them in mind for future inspriation. I loved the use of these butterfly chipbaord peices that Stephanie used in 2 of her layouts. Kelly used airplanes in her layout but I was looking at how they radiated from a central point on her page. Keeping the looks of all these layouts in mind, I got to work to create this page about Cara.

 

I am not a butterfly person. I actually was bummed when I first saw these since I have gotten quite a few butterfly things over the year since I have been subscribing to SC. And yet, Stephanie’s layouts sold me on actually using these Sassafras ones.

If you happen to like what is including in the Field Guide kit, including the butterflies, I suggest you hop over to Studio Calico and buy a kit, while it is still available!

Caprese Bites

I have really been struggling with coming up with any ideas. This always happens to me when we begin to transition from light summery meals to warm, heartier ones. I don’t want to slip awa from my light fresh salads and grilled chicken,  and to dive into roasted root vegetables or heavy stews just yet. So at this point I spend more time wandering around the grocery store or Haymarket, where I get the majority of my fresh vegetables. However, during one visit to Haymarket I spotted pearl tomatoes and knew exactly what I wanted to make… Caprese bites!

 

Grabbing some mozzarella balls and fresh basil this came together easily and quickly. I decided that the simplest approach would be to make the tomato the vessel for the mozzarella and the basil. Basil is really flavorful so I would not need much so just a little piece could be layered with the cheese and tomato, possibly even hidden entirely so it would surprise the person enjoying the caprese bite.

I decided to create 2 different sizes of caprese bites allowing serving to be flexible. Halving the tomatoes makes more smaller bites which could be appealing when needing to serve a large crowd. These are perfectly bite size.

I also decided to make larger bites by only slicing part of the tomato and scooping out the inside guts creating a larger cup. This would allow the entire mozzarella ball to snuggly fit inside the tomato with the basil leaf. This makes for a larger bite for someone but I think that serving these could be a bit easier as someone would just need to snag one with a toothpick.

 

Caprese Bites

*Makes 20 or 40 caprese bites, depending on preparation*

Ingredients

  • 20 Cherry Tomatoes
  • 10 or 20 Mozzarella balls
  • 10 to 20  Fresh basil leaves
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Salt and Pepper

Process to prepare 20 bites

  1. Wash tomatoes and basil leaves
  2. Cut a small portion of each cherry tomatoes at one end. Scoop out the wet flesh and seeds.
  3. Rip the basil leaves in 2 or 3 pieces, depending on size.
  4. Lay a piece of basil leaf into the tomato cup, and then carefully add the mozzarella ball.
  5. Repeat the stuffing process for the rest of the 19 tomato pieces.
  6. Slice a sliver of the tomato to make a flat bottom to prevent it from rolling around.
  7. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper prior to serving.

Process to prepare 40 bites

  1. Wash tomatoes and basil leaves
  2. Halve cherry tomatoes and clean out the wet flesh and seeds
  3. Halve the 20 mozzarella balls
  4. Rip the basil leaves in 2 or 3 pieces, depending on size.
  5. Lay a piece of basil leaf into the halved tomato, and then add the halved mozzarella ball, curved side down.
  6. Repeat the stuffing process for the rest of the 39 tomato pieces.
  7. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper prior to serving.

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Thanks for visiting. Please leave me a comment to provide some feedback. I appreciate all the comments I receive.