Happy Monday! I hope you have the day off today and are able to spend the day relaxing or doing something you love. I’m taking the husky to get fixed and my husband is 100% convinced that I’ll spend the entire day sitting in the vet office, biting my nails and waiting for her surgery to be over.

I will actually probably spend the day stuffing my face because I tend to do that when I’m worried. Good thing I have these Mocha-Chip Cheesecake Bars in the fridge, huh?

I made this over the weekend because my husband had 24 hour duty and I do what I always do when he’s gone for 24 hours: sit on my butt and watch a marathon of whatever show I’m currently into. I took time away from that important stuff to make these so it looked like I actually did something.

I really, really love cheesecake and cheesecake is even better when it’s baked in bars instead of a fussy water bath. These bars have a delicious oat crust and crumble. Then the cheesecake itself is coffee flavored with mini chocolate chips. It’s good, really good.

Three years ago: Orange Ricotta Pancakes
Four years ago: Cinnamon Swirl Bread
Five years ago: Devil’s Food White Out Cake

Mocha-Chip Cheesecake Bars
from Pillsbury
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups old-fashioned oats
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 cup butter softened
  • 1 teaspoon instant coffee granules
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3 packages 8 ounces each cream cheese, softened
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking cocoa
  • 1 teaspoon instant coffee granules
  • 3 eggs
  • 3/4 cup mini semisweet chocolate chips
  1. Heat oven to 350F. Grease bottom and sides of jelly roll pan, 15 1/2x10 1/2x1 inch, with shortening or spray with cooking spray. Beat flour, oats, brown sugar, butter, 1 teaspoon coffee (dry), the salt and baking soda in large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed, or mix with spoon, until crumbly. Press about 4 cups of the mixture in pan; reserve remaining crumb mixture.
  2. Beat remaining ingredients except chocolate chips in large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed until blended. Stir in 1/2 cup of the chocolate chips. Spread over crust. Stir remaining 1/4 cup chocolate chips into remaining crumb mixture. Sprinkle over cream cheese mixture; press lightly.
  3. Bake 32 to 40 minutes or until center is set and topping is light golden brown. Cool 30 minutes. Refrigerate at least 3 hours until chilled. For bars, cut into 8 rows by 6 rows. Store covered in refrigerator.

I haven’t made brownies since February. That is way too long to go without a brownie.

I remedied that whole situation recently when I made these marbled brownies that are topped with M&M’S® Brand Milk Chocolate Candies before baking to add a little something special to them. I make a bunch of goodies with these candies but there’s something about the M&M’S® Holiday Blend that speaks to me. I swear they taste better when they’re green and red.

This recipe comes from BrightIdeas.com which has tons of fun recipes, featuring M&M’S® Brand Chocolate Candies like these Reindeer Antlers and even craft ideas like these Festive Reindeer Favors.

I think it goes without saying that these brownies are spectacular. Brownies + cheesecake = perfection.

It starts with a boxed mix which is always a plus since it cuts down significantly on the prep time. Then the cheesecake mixture is swirled into the brownie batter. And then it’s all topped with festive M&M’S® Brand Milk Chocolate Candies.

Don’t forget to check out BrightIdeas.com to get all sorts of holiday baking inspiration!

One year ago: Pizza Sauce
Two years ago: Dinner Rolls
Four years ago: Blueberry French Toast Bake
Five years ago: Black and White Arborio Rice Pudding

Marbled Brownies
  • 1 box 8 oz. reduced fat cream cheese
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/8 cup milk
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 package brownie mix choose directions for the cake-style brownies
  • 1 cup M&M’S® Brand Chocolate Candies
  1. In a mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese with the sugar. Add the egg, milk and vanilla extract. Set aside.
  2. Prepare the brownie mix according to the package directions. Spoon 2/3 of the brownie batter into a parchment-lined 9 x 13-inch baking pan. Spoon the reserved cream cheese mixture over the brownie batter. Now scrape the remaining brownie batter over the cream cheese mixture. Swirl the tip of a knife through the batter to make a marbled effect. Press M&M’S® Brand Chocolate Candies into the batter.
  3. Bake for 45-50 minutes in a preheated, 350-degree oven until slightly moist in the center. Cool completely before cutting 8x4 into 1½-inch squares.

®/TM/© Mars Inc. 2013

Holiday’s are better with M.  Go to Brightideas.com for recipes using M&M’S® Brand Chocolate Candies Holiday Blend.  Click. Create. Celebrate.

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of MARS®. The opinions and text are all mine.


S’mores Cheesecake Bars – delicious chocolate chip cheesecake bars topped with marshmallows, graham crackers, and Hershey’s bars! 

S'mores Cheesecake Bars - delicious chocolate chip cheesecake bars topped with marshmallows, graham crackers, and Hershey's bars!

When I’m not eating cheesecake, I am 100% convinced that I don’t like it. Which is ridiculous for a couple reasons. A) Cheesecake is DELICIOUS and B) I once admitted to eating an entire cheesecake with my BFF while myspace stalking our ex-boyfriends.

So when Nicole and I set out on this s’mores week project I decided to make a cheesecake because I, like just about every other wife of a deployed serviceman, am trying to lose a few pounds before my husband comes home and I knew without a doubt that the cheesecake would not sit in the fridge and call my name until I finally got out of bed at 5:30 am to have a piece. Because I don’t like cheesecake.


But guess who was standing in front of the fridge yesterday morning with a cheesecake bar in her hand while she waited for the coffee to brew.

(Nicole made S’mores Campfire Banana Splits – go check them out!)

Click for the full recipe


I am obsessed with espresso. When our coffee maker pooped out on us recently I decided to invest in this guy because hello, $40 espresso machine? You can’t go to Starbucks 6 times for that! So I have a latte or a cappuccino every morning and it’s pretty much the best way to start the day. Needless to say, I was pretty excited with Sarah’s Project Pastry Queen choice of Cappuccino Cheesecake.

These cheesecakes start with a crust made of crushed Oreos (always a good way to start a cheesecake) and then the actual cheesecake itself has espresso and chocolate chips inside. It’s topped with a chocolate ganache after cooling. It’s a very simple cheesecake but it’s so rich and the little muffin-sized portions I made were the perfect sweet ending to dinner.

The changes I made: halved the recipe & got 8 tiny cheesecakes. Instead of covering the entire thing with the ganache, I made a dark chocolate drizzle with a tablespoon of butter and a handful of dark chips. You can get the original recipe over at 20 Something Cupcakes if you’re interested. And make sure you visit the Project Pastry Queen page to see how everyone else did.


Yesterday was National Ice Cream Day. Better late than never, right?

Cheesecake ice cream is my favorite kind (after birthday cake, of course) and I hate how most store-bought ones contain strawberries but for some reason I couldn’t bear to leave out the strawberries that I had sitting in my fridge.

The ice cream turned out great! If you get a bite of the strawberry with a cream cheese piece it really does taste like a frozen cheesecake. You could definitely make it more cheesecake-y if you were willing to actually make a cheesecake and cut it up but I think that’s kind of unnecessary. The tanginess of the cream cheese provided a nice contrast which would be almost lost if you used an actual cheesecake.

Strawberry Cheesecake Ice Cream

2 egg yolks
2 cups heavy cream
1/3 cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup strawberries (diced)
2 ounces cream cheese (cut into small pieces)

Whisk egg yolks in a small bowl. Set aside.

In a small saucepan, heat cream and sugar until sugar dissolves and cream is almost boiling. Pour a small amount of the mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly. Pour eggs into the cream while you continue to whisk the entire thing. Cook at low heat until the mixture has thickened. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Chill in refrigerator.

Once chilled, freeze in ice cream machine according to manufacturer’s instructions. About 10 minutes it, add strawberries and cream cheese. Store in airtight container.