Mini cherry cheesecake bites

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Last week my friend threw a Pinterest/wine tasting party. We all had to make a recipe we had been wanting to try off Pinterest and bring a rare or favorite  bottle of wine for tasting. Since I couldn’t participate in the wine part, I brought my own bottle of alcohol-free merlot, which sort of made me feel like a part of the fun! Boo! I can’t wait to have my first glass of wine after baby and breastfeeding. The food tasting however, I was all about that. I made 2 recipes: the first was a super easy, to-die-for version of salted caramel creme brûlée from Tastefully Simple, and the second were these adorable mini cherry cheesecake bites. I have had my eye on them for a while via Pinterest of course, and this seemed like the perfect opportunity to whip them up!

mini cherry cheesecake bites

The great thing about this recipe is that it’s easy peasy to throw together, and the finished product looks so fancy. I mean all you really have to do is mix the cheesecake ingredients; beyond that the hardest part is separating all the mini baking liners and spooning a cherry on top of each little piece. So simple! One tip I have is to make sure you bake them long enough…I ended up baking mine a few minutes longer so the wafer became more of a crust and wouldn’t get mushy. 
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Mini cherry cheesecake bites
Author: 
 

Ingredients
  • 2 packages cream cheese (8oz)
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • Vanilla wafers
  • Mini aluminum baking cup liners
  • Cherry pie filling

Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Mix together cream cheese and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating until well combined, stir in vanilla and lemon juice.
  3. Place a vanilla wafer in the bottom of each mini aluminum baking cup, rounded side down (they won’t lay perfectly flat).
  4. Spoon the batter evenly over the wafers.
  5. Bake for ~15 minutes or until edges appear set; remove from oven and let cool.
  6. Top with cherry pie filling and refrigerate.

One more helpful hint before you go: The vanilla wafers are slightly too large for the mini cup liners so they won’t sit just right. Don’t freak out though, once you start filling the cheesecake mixture on top of them, they will straighten out a bit, trust me. Even if the wafers are a little slanted in the bottom of the liners, you won’t even be able to tell once they are baked and covered with the cherries.

 

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Jack Timothy, 6 year old

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I have a six year old and that sounds so weird. Our oldest son, Jack, turned six last week and I can’t help but feel a little weepy about it. You really can never say “it goes by so fast” too many times, because there are no truer words about parenting ever spoken. Although it does make me weepy to watch my kids grow so fast, I enjoy every single stage of life and each birthday means another exciting year of changes and growing.

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Jack continues to amaze us every day. His love for reading and playing piano make me the proudest mama in the world. I always hoped he would get some of his dad’s patience, and watching him practice and learn piano has shown me that he certainly did. So far though my proudest parenting moments with Jack have been the moments of watching him learn to read. I can’t really explain how incredible it has been. In a matter of months he has gone from struggling to sound words out & reading beginner books, to cruising through chapter books. And the best part is that he really enjoys reading; one good quality that I am happy to say he got from me!

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We let Jack have big birthday parties the last two years in a row, so this year we kept it simple. Plus as much as I love throwing kids parties, there was no way I had the energy this year. Jack had a half-day of school on his birthday, which he thought was so cool, and then my friend Katie took him and his friend Hudson out to lunch, and back to their house for the day to play. Then there was a giant chocolate cake, presents, and most of all family time, which is all a birthday really needs in my book.

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Happy birthday Jack, mom and dad are so proud to call you our son. You bring us incredible joy. We can’t wait to see what the “6 year old” chapter of your life brings.

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Our space // bedroom

bedroomOur bedroom was the last room in the house that we decorated. Until about a year ago it was just a hodge podge of mismatched furniture and random décor. It never really bothered me too much though because I just love the coziness of our bedroom. Letting it go undecorated for a few years never really mattered to me. It is the perfect place to read a book in the afternoon when the kids nap, because of the great light, and the best space to pile in for family movies. It was time we gave the space a little loving though.  bedroom (8)bedroom (3) bedroom (7)The walls are a really subtle mint color, which I wanted to keep, and I knew I wanted to use navy for sure. The coral just kind of happened. The first thing I searched for was the perfect comforter. I found it at West Elm and it really is perfect; hand stamped, reversible, and light as a feather just the way we like our comforters. Unfortunately about a month ago, Liam painted his fingernails with red nail polish on our bed and dumped the rest of the bottle out on the comforter. If you look close you can see the spot. That was a rough day. I kept telling myself that it was only a “thing” and I shouldn’t be upset about it, plus I did leave the red nail polish laying out. But still! I searched for SO long for that darn bedding! We have tried everything and that stain isn’t coming out and of course they don’t make the bedding anymore. Anyway, a new comforter is on its way and Liam still walks the earth a free man. bedroom (2) bedroom (4) bedroom (5) bedroom (12)bedroom (17) bedroom (16) bedroom (15)bedroom (14)  add bedroom (1) add bedroom (2)

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Most other things in our bedroom are thrifted, although there are a few new items. I am sure you will notice that seems to be a theme in my decorating style: mixing old with new. One of my hobbies is searching through thrift stores and in the past few years I have been slowly trying to incorporate all my treasures into our space. However, I am also really drawn to the bold patterns of modern designs which is where the “new” comes in. I couldn’t be happier with the way our bedroom turned out and it was way fun to collect all the pieces that brought it all together. My favorite vintage item in our room is the wooden Pepsi crate that I keep all my make-up organized in on my vanity. My dad actually found this one for me, he is where I get my love for treasure hunting from, and it’s in really great condition. I love the way this crate turns the feel of my feminine vanity, a little more rustic.

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Before I forget, Ralph really wants me to mention the perfectly hung t.v. in our bedroom. He also wants you to know that I thought hanging a t.v. this size in our tiny bedroom was a horrible idea, but in time I began to love where the t.v was and even the size. As you can see it’s on a slanted wall, so when you lay down to watch a movie the angle is perfect and you don’t strain your neck at all. Once again, Ralph knows best. Seriously. bedroom (1)

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Twitter birds & ugly, happy cries

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This past weekend my friends threw the most touching, surprise, baby party for me and it was more perfect than I could have ever imagined. I can’t really even describe the emotions I felt when I walked in the room and saw them all there. I had absolutely no idea and I honestly didn’t know what the surprise was at first! I thought it was maybe an early birthday get together to try and throw me off (my birthday is in August)? Seeing all these women that I love dearly, together, out celebrating our 4th little baby and I, just made me the happiest girl in the world. The girls put so much work into all the little details of the party, which I think is what made me break down the most. These girls are the busiest people I know, with kids of their own and they did all of this for me. It’s so easy for me to “lose myself” in motherhood and consume myself with only the needs/wants of my children, that sometimes I forget how important it is to celebrate yourself. I am the first to admit I am terrible at taking care of myself sometimes and my friends know that. Well you all know how to make a girl feel special and so loved!

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The theme was Twitter. If you know our family, Twitter has played an important role in our life in the past couple years–one reason being that Ralph works for Twitter. We all had #hashtag nametags by our chairs, cute Twitter birds everywhere, and even our own special hashtag for the night (#howmanymoreholz). I loved it! There was the prettiest little cake that you ever did see(chocolate with sea salt caramel), mini cookbooks by each spot with all my recipes and photos in them, pictures of my baby bump all over the place, the cutest party games, thoughtful gifts, hand sewn table runners, and unbeatable company. It was so obvious that every detail was meant to reflect everything that I love.

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I still just can’t believe they all pulled this off without me knowing. I am the queen of being nosy and always knowing what’s going on. Just last weekend we had a surprise party for my sister-in-law’s birthday and I told my friends, “Nobody would EVER be able to surprise me”. Little did I know, huh?! I only wish I would have had some make-up on or styled my hair a bit! I almost came in yoga pants and tennis shoes because the plan was just to meet my 2 friends for dinner, yikes!

twitter baby party (12)twitter baby party (2) twitter baby party (3) twitter baby party (1) twitter baby party (5)twitter baby party (10)twitter baby party (13) twitter baby party (19) twitter baby party (16)Thank you so much to Emily & Theresa for putting this together and all your hard work, you 2 are the most thoughtful women I know. And thanks to everyone that could make it, some of my friends came from Madison and Milwaukee straight from work just to be there. This is truly a night I will remember for the rest of my life. My present to you was the ugliest, happy, cry you will ever see me cry! I usually only pull that cry out for my newborn babies, so you should feel pretttty special!

(special thanks to my mother-in-law for capturing this moment on video)

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Chicken salad w/ almond honey mustard dressing

chicken salad with honey dressing

So we had a couple GORGEOUS days outside in Wisconsin these past couple weeks. And by gorgeous I mean it has consistently been below zero or slightly above all winter, and it was 50 degrees and sunny the other day. Some days have only been in the 40’s, which honestly feel like summer with the sunshine. Yesterday I seriously wore crop jeans and a jean jacket, but I think baby keeps me a little warmer than normal too. Granted we still have a bunch of snow and everything is really muddy and wet, but we will take it. We have been slapping on our rain boots to go walks, going to the park, and playing outside after school gets out. Our clothes may get soaked but it’s nothing a load of laundry and a bubble bath can’t fix.

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All this “nice” weather made me want to ditch all the casseroles, soups, and hearty bakes I had planned for the week and substitute with something fresh and light. Also I have been craving salads my whole pregnancy so coming across this recipe on Pinch of Yum had me pretty excited. Besides all the delicious-ness topping this pretty salad, the dressing is phenomenal. It certainly is not your typical honey mustard–it’s tangy but sweet, and the garlic is strong but not overpowering. If you are not a honey mustard fan, have no fear! I actually altered a few ingredients from the original recipe because Ralph isn’t a honey mustard fan and it turned out fantastic! I was licking the food processor with my fingers after I made it. So one word of advice: if you are going to make this salad you have to make the dressing to go with it, don’t use a store bought, I promise you it will be worth it! It’s really simple too–basically you just toss a bunch of ingredients in a food processor and call it a day.chicken salad with honey dressing (2)

We lived on this salad all week and I am already planning on making another trip to the store so we can have again next week. Do you guys do that too? We always seemed to get hooked on something and have it a bunch of days in a row before we get sick of it.

One more thing–my kids loved this salad! I don’t know about your little ones but I know it’s hard to get most kids to eat their leafy greens. Topping them with fruit, nuts, and cheese really worked well for mine. I made a small amount of the dressing with a little extra raw honey and half the garlic for the kids–they loved it!

 

Ingredients
  • 2 cups rotisserie chicken, shredded
  • 2 cups grapes
  • 1 cup blueberries
  • 3 cups lettuce (your choice) I used a blend
  • ½ cup feta cheese
  • ½ cup almonds slivers
  • 3 tablespoons almond butter
  • 1 tablespoon liquid coconut oil
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 3 tablespoons grape seed oil
  • 1 tablespoon stoneground mustard
  • ½ tablespoon raw honey
  • ¼ teaspoon salt, more to taste
  • 2 cloves garlic

Instructions
  1. Toss salad ingredients together.
  2. In a large mixing bowl combine: chicken, grapes, blueberries, lettuce, feta cheese, and almond slivers.
  3. In a food processor or blender ( I used my ninja), prepare your dressing.
  4. Blend together: almond butter, coconut oil, orange juice, grape seed oil, stoneground mustard, honey, salt, and garlic cloves.
  5. Add more of anything after you taste it. I ended up adding more oil for the consistency.

Today’s forecast is high of 49 degrees and sunny, plus it’s Friday! What a dream!

 

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