With Valentine’s Day only two days away, thoughts of love abound in people’s minds – romantic love, love for family members and friends. I started preparing for Valentine’s Day this past weekend. I took quite a while to pick out cards for many special people in my life. I picked out candy and some small gifts to go along with the cards. Then, I thought to myself, “I put time, money and care into each purchase I made, but I should stir up some treats for the folks I love.” So, I flipped through my stack of easy-to-make recipes that are simple enough to allow your children and/or grandchildren to help you stir up if you so desire.
I pulled out “cheesecake” because it can be transformed with a decorative swirling of chocolate, caramel or strawberry syrup. Too, you may choose to put blueberries, strawberries, cherries or other fruit on top. As I continued to browse, I also chose some no-bake treats that contain two healthy ingredients – peanut butter and rolled oats. And, I selected the Fantasy Fudge because you may choose to use caramel, butterscotch or white chocolate chips to customize the fudge to your loved one's liking. I hope you and your loved ones will enjoy these recipes, all of which contain vanilla extract. Please remember to use vanilla extract, NOT vanilla flavoring or these desserts will not “set” correctly. Finally, I remind you all of my favorite saying: “Every good recipe includes love.”
Easy to customize cheesecake
3 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/3 cup sugar
3/4 cup margarine, softened
3 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
1-1/4 cups sugar
3 eggs, room temperature
1 cup sour cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Preheat your oven to 300 degrees. In a small bowl, stir together the three crust ingredients. Press firmly onto the bottom and halfway up the sides of a 9-inch spring-form pan that has been “greased” with butter.
In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese until it is light and fluffy. Gradually beat in sugar. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating at low speed until the ingredients are blended. Add sour cream and vanilla extract, and beat at low speed until well combined. Pour this mixture into the crust.
Bake at 300 degrees for 50 to 60 minutes. Cheesecake is done when it springs back when lightly touched in the center (cheesecake will shake slightly when moved). Remove the cheesecake from the oven and gently run a knife around the inside edge of the pan.
Cool the cheesecake on a wire rack at room temperature for one hour. Cover the pan with foil, then chill overnight. Remove the pan from the refrigerator and release the spring to separate the sides of the pan from the bottom. This recipe serves 10 to 12. Top the cheesecake as desired with fresh fruit, a drizzling of chocolate syrup or your choice of other popular toppings.
Fudgy cocoa no-bake treats
3 cups quick-cooking rolled oats (raw from the cylinder)
2/3 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup chopped peanuts (optional)
2 cups sugar
1 stick butter or margarine
1/2 cup whole milk
1/2 cup Hershey’s cocoa
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Line a cookie sheet with wax paper or foil. Measure the oats, peanut butter and peanuts; set aside. Combine the sugar, butter, milk and cocoa in a medium saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture comes to a rolling boil. Remove the pan from the heat. Add oats, peanut butter, peanuts (optional) and vanilla; stir quickly until the ingredients are well combined. Immediately drop the mixture by heaping teaspoons onto wax paper or foil. Allow the treats to cool. Store them in a dry place. This recipe makes about four dozen treats.
3/4 cup margarine
3 cups sugar
2/3 cup evaporated milk
12-ounce package semi-sweet chocolate chips
7-ounce jar marshmallow cream
1 cup chopped nuts (optional)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
In a heavy saucepan, stir the margarine, sugar and evaporated milk. Bring these ingredients to a full boil, stirring constantly. Continue boiling for five minutes over medium heat, stirring constantly to prevent scorching. Remove the saucepan from the heat. Gradually stir in chocolate chips (may use butterscotch, white chocolate or caramel chips) until melted. Add marshmallow cream, nuts and vanilla extract and stir well. Pour this mixture into a 9x13-inch-dish or pan that has been “greased” with butter. Allow it to cool at room temperature. Cut the fudge into squares. This recipe makes three pounds of fudge.
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