Birthday traditions and a cheesecake extraordinaire!

As evident by my "Cooking 101" page, this is not a food blog. I usually share recipes that are easy or ones I have put my simple "twist" on.

But today I am going to share one that may seem a tad intimating but honestly, super easy. And because it APPEARS to be difficult, it not only tastes great, it will impresses everyone.

One of the great traditions in this home has developed as the kids got too old for traditional birthday parties. For your birthday dinner, you get to pick the meal and the birthday dessert.

I can usually guess the favorite desserts...but occasionally one of the kids will surprise me.

Last month Brandon requested a "Reese's peanut butter chocolate cake." Hum...that was a new one. No biggy...I baked a two layer chocolate fudge box cake, spread peanut butter buttercream icing and chopped peanut butter cups between the layers, topped with chocolate butter cream icingused my little frosting tip to make some little peanut butter frosting edging and them mounded the middle with chopped peanut butter cups. OH. MY. GOSH! Not only did it taste amazing, but it was the star of the dinner! 

My opinion....if you want to impress people with your box cakes (and save some money) ALWAYS make a buttercream icing! 

My oldest daughter's birthday is not until next month, but since she was here this past weekend I decided we would have her birthday dinner. No surprise that her dinner consisted of my famous Alfredo I shamelessly "borrowed" from the Olive Garden (plus 2 tablespoons of cream cheese for thickness!) Usually over a pasta with shrimp or chicken. 

This year her dessert request threw me for a loop...her usual is my grandmother's lemon cake...definitely one you need to try! But she requested TURTLE CHEESECAKE!

Seriously? I have no idea where that came from, and honestly, I have never made one! Sam's use to carry frozen turtle cheesecakes that were awesome, but they no longer have them...after 20 years, go figure!

So I did what I always do when I have to make something I am not familiar with...I went to the internet.

For the first few decades of my adult life, I had to do what everyone did when needing a recipe...dig out the cookbooks. Not complaining...the absolute best (and simplest) brownies you will ever eat are from the Betty Crocker cookbook. The most luscious peanut butter cookies you will ever eat came from an old church cookbook my mother received as wedding gift. And there is no better recipe for plain ole' chocolate chip cookies than on the back of the Nestle chocolate chip bag. 

But the internet has changed a lot of things, so I googled "Turtle Cheesecake" and found a recipe that looked like one I could manage. The only change I made was using caramel ice cream topping rather than going through the tedious process of unwrapping a 14 oz bag of little caramels. I'm a lazy! 

The cheesecake turned out amazing.

One of the little tips I want  to share is how I "drizzle" criss cross patterns on cakes and other baked goodies without a fancy piping bag. I also use this method for layering ricotta cheese in lasagna and anything else that needs to be layered or drizzled.  

First, take a plain ole' ziplock bag and put it in a cup with the tip of one corner pointing down....

Fill the bag with your "stuff" this case, melted chocolate.

Lift the bag out of the cup and gently "squeeze" all the goody into the tip of the bag by twisting the top of the bag. Then nip the corner of the bag with scissors....

There you go...a simple "pipping" bag!

I actually have a REAL pipping bag, but this is much easier...I can toss the bag when I am done...told you I was a lazy! 

Baking is a lot like DIYing...we are so intimidated by the THOUGHT of the process, we don't even attempt it! 

Think of all the awesome refurbished furniture and cheesecake we miss out on when we don't even try!