Oreo Cheesecake Bars

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SUMMER IS HERE!!!!!!!!! (Insert High School Musical). It’s here, and I’m so excited! It hasn’t really hit me yet, though. Has it really been two years? Am I really halfway done? Am I really graduating soon?!?!

I’m still in shock, but I still remain thankful. Thankful for this past year because God has been faithful to me (as always!). I am thankful for my apartment, because a) where would I live and b) they are some of the craziest girls I’ve ever met who are always there to encourage me. I am thankful for J and my family, because who would I be without them, and they’re always the light at the end of a crazy week. I am thankful for brothers and sisters in Christ both at church and AACF because of our brotha and sista-hood, holla~! For reals though, they have been extremely encouraging this past year, caring for me, taking me home, asking me how I’m doing, loving me, playing with me, feeding me, and so on. I am thankful for my home church, for solid teaching and for helping me grow in my walk with Christ. I am thankful for work, and it’s always a blessing to be able to have a job and to have such wonderful coworkers and bosses. I am thankful for old hallmates and high school friends who are always a blast to be around–they’re great. I am thankful for school because it means I have an education. At the end of the day, life is good. I guess the underlying theme is thankfulness, which is something I’ve been trying to remind myself of recently. Because at the end of the day, you have Christ, you have your salvation, and that is always something to be thankful for.

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My friend Aaron (aka musicgoon) recently covered a few hymns with the high school students at church. One of the songs is My Heart is Filled With Thankfulness, and it speaks so much truth about how we always have something to be thankful for because of Christ. I think this part of the song stands out the most:

For every day I have on earth
Is given by the King
So I will give my life my all
To love and follow Him

This is what I should strive for–to live and serve the one and only God. The rest of the lyrics are good too =). You can watch the videos here and download the album for free (called All To Jesus To Receive) here.

It’s funny that I mention Aaron, because the reason why I baked these Oreo cheesecake bars was to test out a recipe for Aaron’s wedding. I have to make 300 bars for the wedding, and I figured it’d probably be a good idea to at least test it out before the big day. This cheesecake is loaded with Oreos–it uses a whole package for 16 bars. Normally I don’t care for the crust in cheesecakes, but I really liked the thick Oreo crust in this one. The cheesecake is creamy, bursting with Oreo chunks, and the nice thing is that it’s not too sweet either. It’s good enough to make for a wedding, if that tells you anything =)!

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Oreo Cheesecake Bars
Makes 16 bars
From Brown Eyed Baker

Ingredients:

For the Crust:
23 Oreo cookies
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

For the Cheesecake:
12 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
3 eggs, at room temperature
6 tablespoons sour cream
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
12 Oreo cookies, coarsely chopped

1. Preheat the oven to 325˚F. Line an 8×8 square baking pan with foil or parchment paper, allowing it to hang over two of the sides.

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2. For the Crust: Place the Oreo cookies in a food processor and process until they are fine crumbs. Drizzle the melted butter over the top and pulse until the butter is evenly distributed and the crumbs are moist. They need to be moist to form a firm crust. Pour the crumbs into lined pan and press into an even layer. Bake for 10 minutes; leave the oven on when done.

3. For the Cheesecake: Beat the cream cheese until smooth; about 2 minutes. Gradually add the sugar; beat until incorporated. Slowly add the eggs, and beat well after each addition. Mix until it’s completely combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl; add the sour cream and vanilla. Beat until incorporated.

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4. Fold in the chopped Oreos, and pour the batter over the prepared crust. Bake until the edges are set but the middle still jiggles slightly, about 40 to 50 minutes.

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5. Let the pan cool to room temperature, then cover the pan with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for at least three hours before serving. To serve, lift the cheesecake out of the pan using the parchment or foil handles. Slice into bars and serve. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week.

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Until next time,

Soli Deo Gloria, and Happy reading, eating, and baking!

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Banana Crumb Muffins

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Summer: T-7 days. I’m almost there. One final this Friday, and two more next Tuesday, then HALLLOOO SUMMMERRR 2013!!!!!!! I can’t wait. I have a long to-do list already–PowerPlant, work, bake, J+A Wedding, date nights, arts academy, bake, retreats, relax, and hang out with people.

Another thing on that list is to bake with people. I love being able to catch up with friends while doing something in the kitchen. I love conversation over food, even more over baking. Last Friday I met up with Norah and Nathan, the two biggest kids I know. Totally kidding; it’s encouraging to see how much they’ve grown these past ten years =). Norah and Nathan used to come over for piano and violin lessons, and after class their parents and my parents would chat for a couple hours. So we played together every week, from blowing bubbles, to playing with my PS2, to sleepovers, to driving me CRAZY!, to eating chex mix and drinking Sunny D. We had our own little club, “GNN Headquarters.” They drove me crazy when we were younger, but now they’re alright. Just alright. (Just kidding you two, love you both!!! =)

We made banana crumb muffins, mainly because I had rotting bananas sitting on my counter. I’ve been using this recipe for over a year and a half, and it’s great! The muffins come out to be super moist and the crumb topping is like the cherry on top. It’s super easy to make, perfect for using up your old bananas, and you’ll have muffins in no time =).

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Banana Crumb Muffins
Makes 12 standard sized muffins
Adapted from All Recipes

Ingredients:

For the muffins:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 bananas, mashed
1/2 cup white sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 egg, lightly beaten,
1/3 cup oil
1 teaspoon vanilla

For the crumb topping:
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon butter

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Preheat the oven to 375˚F. Lightly grease or line a standard muffin pan. In a large bowl, mix together the 1 1/2 cups flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon. In another bowl, mix together the bananas, white sugar, 1/4 cup brown sugar, egg, oil, and vanilla. Stir the banana mixture into the flour mixture just until moistened. Spoon the batter into the lined/greased muffin cups.

For the crumb topping, mix together the 1/3 cup brown sugar, 2 tablespoons flour, 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon. Cut in 1 tablespoon butter until the mixture resembles coarse cornmeal. Sprinkle the topping over the muffins. Bake the muffins for 18 to 20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean. Enjoy!

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Nowwwww back to studying for finals. Seven more days, Grace. seven. more. days.

Until next time,

Soli Deo Gloria, and Happy reading, eating, and baking!

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P.S. We’ve grown!

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