Oreo Cheesecake & Strawberry Oatmeal Jam Bars... and CIA!

I can't save this news for last; I got accepted to the Culinary Institute of America for Winter 2007 in the AOS program for Baking and Pastry! The woman called me yesterday on the phone to congratulate me; My dream come true is really happening.

Anyway, let me report on some backed up culinary adventures since there are gonna be another good handful with the upcoming days including my mother's birthday which is today. I am in the process of making a slightly altered version of an authentic Silician Cassata Cake or Cannoli Cake. Everyone is greatly anticipating this tonight for dessert... as am I.

Last weekend during my families time of mourning we all gathered everyday for about 4 days and what would any family event be without an over abundence of food. I wanted to keep morale up and tried to do so one of the best ways I know how - providing delicious comforting desserts. I received an interesting magazine from a co-worked who knew my love for baking and desserts after showing up at work with goodies to share; It was a Kraft Food and Family magazine she received in the mail. I browsed through and everything was mostly easy and quick recipes for food and desserts. Like, use these Kraft's products here, use this brownie mix for these... kinda thing; You get the picture. On the back cover however was a very inticing picture for Oreo Cheesecake Bars; Oreo's being a Kraft division product of course. The recipe is prepared with ease and minimal ingredients and looked so delicious; who doesn't love Oreos? This was my first venture in cheesecake and putting together the ingredients was simple however judging bake time and cutting these bars were not.
Oreo Cheesecake Bars
adapted from Kraft Food & Family Magazine (Backcover)

1 pkg. Oreo cookies, divided
1/4 cup butter, melted
4 pkg. (8 oz each) Cream Cheese, softened
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup sour cream
4 eggs

Preheat oven to 325 degrees and prepare a greased 13X9 baking dish (the original called for foil but I've never used that method).

Place 30 of the cookies into a food processor and process until finely ground. Add butter and mix well. Press firmly to bottom of prepared pan.

Beat cream cheese, sugar and vanilla in large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed until well blended. Add sour cream; mix well. Add eggs, one at a time, beating just until blended after each addition. Chop the remaining cookies and fold into cheesecake mixture (You can reserve some to sprinkle on top but I forgot).

Bake 45 minutes or until center is set. Cool and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight. Cut into bars and serve! I cut mine much more bite size than the original serving suggestion of 16; these are dense and filling.

I also made my favorite loved Oatmeal Jam Bars which I filled with Strawberry Preserves. I first blogged about them - here where you'll find the recipe as well. This time I actually had enough ingredients so I could double the crust and still put a generous amount of crumbles on top. Delicious as usual... I think raspberry preserves are still my favorite for these. These bars always get raved about and they are so adaptable to different fillings; Next time I would really like to tried a spiced pear butter. They work better in my opinion with a mild sweetness to the filling as opposed to very sweet.

I'm off to continue birthday baking and blog reading for the morning.


Brilynn said...

My grandma makes similar oatmeal bar, those look really good.

I'm a huge fan of cheesecake, but getting it cooked just right is sometimes a challenge, I find recipes that call for leaving the cheesecake in the oven either with the door open after cooking or with the oven turned off work best.

But most importantly- Congrats on the CIA!!!

Helene said...

Both the cheesecake and the oatmeal bars look succulent!
Congrats on the CIA! Which campus are you gonna go to?

eliza said...

Lauren! i'm tempting to make Sicilian Cassata too! seems like this is appropriate for easter, but hey, why can't we make it now? :)
wow...winter 2007 seems so far away..but yes, what campus are you going to?

Lauren said...

Thanks so much!! Well Winter 2007 is considered this coming year - I go February 12th.

I had debated for awhile but I ended up choosing Hyde Park wanting to be closer to my family.

Claire said...

Congratulations! I'm glad that you are getting the chance to live out your dream! The oatmeal jam bars look SO good~

Anonymous said...

Oreo cheesecake is one of my favorite things to order at The Cheesecake Factory. It's so deliciuos!

Ari (Baking and Books)

peabody said...

Congrats on the CIA...get ready for lots and lots of work and start building your tough skin up now.

Alicat said...

congratulations girl!!! that is beyond exciting. that is so fantastic!! :)

Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm my god, both the oreo bars and the jam bars are to die for. Def. going on my to try soon list. :D

veuveclicquot said...

CONGRATULATIONS!!! You rock. I would give my left leg to drop out of my phd program and go to cooking school instead...