Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Sugar Cookie Cheesecake

Sugar Cookie Cheesecake: my newest creation! Last week I bought the ingredients to make my Cheesecake Stuffed Strawberries, but life got busy, and I never got around to it. By the time I had a free night to make them, I just wasn't feeling it. I wanted to make something a little more simple, and a little more sweet. So, I decided to make a spin on fruit pizza. It's more cheesecake-y than fruit pizza, but similar because it has fruit on it and the crust is a cookie. This dessert is pretty simple to make, and super yummy to eat! Here's how I made it:

1- 16 oz. package of sugar cookie dough
1 container cool whip (I used lite)
1/2 container of Philadelphia Cream Cheese Cheesecake Filling
6-10 strawberries, sliced (or whatever fruit you choose)
5-6 Hershey's Kisses, finely chopped
Cooking spray

This is the Cheesecake Filling that I use. 

To start, preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 13x9 inch pan. To flatten my cookie dough, I used a rolling pin and flattened about 3/4 of it out on a sheet of parchment paper, and then placed the cookie dough sheet into my baking dish. Then I used the other 1/4 of cookie dough to fill in the holes and pressed it all together until the bottom of my 13x9 inch dish was covered with cookie dough. Bake cookie for 15-20 minutes, or until cookie is cooked through. I kept my cookie a little soft because I knew it would keep cooking in the dish a little once I got it out, and I didn't want it to be too hard once it got cold in the fridge. Let cookie cool.
This is what my dough looked like. 
I didn't let my cookie bake too dark. 

While your cookie is cooling, take the whole container of cool whip, and half the container of cheesecake mix and mix them together, I used my mixer for this. Once your cookie is cooled, spread your fluffy cheesecake mixture on top.

Slice your strawberries and lay them across your cheesecake mixture.

If you're not a chocolate person, you could omit the chocolate and just load yours up with fruit! 

Finely chop your kisses, and sprinkle them on top as well. It's that simple! Serve & Enjoy!


Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Intrauterine Insemination #4

This month, we started our fourth round of fertility treatments. The first cycle I started by taking Clomid, ultrasounds and blood work, and then had an IUI. The second and third cycles I used Clomid, ultrasounds and blood work again, a trigger shot, and finally an IUI both months. Neither of those three cycles resulted in pregnancy, so we decided to go a different route with cycle number four. If you want to read more about our previous cycles, you can find the links to those posts below.

Previous fertility treatments: 
Trying to Conceive: How it all started
IUI #1     IUI #1 Results     Post-IUI #1 Update

IUI #2     IUI #2 Results     Post-IUI #2 Update

IUI #3     IUI #3 Results     Post-IUI #3 Update   

Because we did not get pregnant with either of the first three cycles, we decided to switch things up during month four. Instead of taking Clomid like I had previously, this month I took Femara. Femara is an oral medication that I took nightly on cycle days 3 through 7. I was nervous about taking Femara because I wasn't sure if it was going to be better or worse than Clomid (Clomid made me extremely emotional and impatient, among other things.)  To me, Femara was better than Clomid, but still rough. I was not as down and depressed at the beginning of this cycle like I was last time with Clomid, but I did have a few days where I was pretty emotional. Easter, specifically, was the worst day this month for me. I cried all morning. I just felt really anxious and sad, and didn't want to go to church and be around a large crowd. Lee stayed home with me, and I cried it out. Later that day I pulled it together and we got together with one side of our family. I was so glad we went. Spending a day distracted by family was exactly what I needed, and by the end of the night I felt much better. Besides a few emotional days, I would say this month overall went pretty smooth, and Femara seemed to be better than Clomid.

I had an ultrasound on day 10, as usual, and this ultrasound showed that I had one good follicle on my ovaries, but it was not quite mature enough, so my doctor said we should give them a few days to mature, and scheduled another ultrasound on day 12. This is very similar to my last three cycles.

On day 12, I had my second ultrasound and blood work done. These tests showed that I had one mature follicle, and it was a good size. This is less mature follicles than the previous month, but all it takes is one, so as long as I have one good size follicle, we are okay to proceed. On day 12 in the evening, Lee gave me the trigger shot. We then planned our 4th IUI on day 14. Because day 14 fell over a weekend, we scheduled our pregnancy test with my doctor's office on day 30 of my cycle, or 16 days post IUI. Normally the pregnancy test is scheduled for 14 days after the IUI. To me, waiting until day 16 is a good plan, because the last two months I have started my period exactly 14 days after the IUI, within just a couple of hours of having blood drawn. So this time, at least if this cycle isn't successful, I won't have to waste my time getting blood drawn, and I will just start my period and know it's a negative before my scheduled appointment. Of course we are hoping that's not the case, and we're praying for this month to bring us good news.

The IUI went smooth this time. We had a good wait time between Lee's appointment and mine that day, and sat in the waiting room for a while. Usually its really quiet in the room except for the TV being on. This day, it was different. There were 4 other women who were waiting for their ultrasounds, and they were all talking about their experiences thus far. Every single one of them said Clomid was really hard on them emotionally, and the women who had then moved on to injectables said it was a much more pleasant experience. This is good news for me, because Lee and I are thinking if Femara doesn't work for us, we will move onto that next, assuming our doctor says that's okay.

Each time after an IUI I tell myself that this could be the last one I ever have to have, and that is a really great feeling. We are now in our two week wait between IUI and pregnancy test. In just a few weeks we will have our results, and I really hope that means soon we will have super exciting news to share with you all!! We are praying daily for this to be the month we get pregnant,and would love for you to pray for the same. God is good, and a friend reminded me last week that He is bigger than infertility. We know that he hears our (and your) prayers, and that He has a plan for us. Thanks for your continued love and prayers, and thanks for reading!

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Loaded Rice Krispies

Here is a pic of my loaded treats while my chocolate was still gooey. Yum!!

Loaded Rice Krispies...these things are A-MA-ZING! Seriously. So quick and easy, but very very good. I originally got the idea from Mix and Match Mama, but once I made them and tasted them, I realized that I've had them before! I've also seen several similar recipes on Pinterest. If you have a mom, aunt, or grandmother, chances are one of them have a recipe similar to this. I like to call them Loaded Rice Krispies because they are loaded with yummy goodness, but I've also heard them called Scotch-a-roos, and Chocolate Butter Scotch Rice Krispies. If you want to see Shay's original recipe, you can find it here.  I tweaked and combined the recipes that I found, and here's how I made mine:

For the treats:
1-10 oz. bag of mini marshmallows
4 tablespoons of butter
1 cup peanut butter
5 cups Rice Krispie Cereal

For the topping:
1 cup chopped Hershey pieces (I had some Easter candy I needed to use up, so I chopped 4 solid Hershey's bunnies, and used them. You could chop up a regular Hershey's bar, use kisses, or even use milk chocolate chips.)
1 cup butterscotch chips (If you don't like butterscotch, you could use all milk chocolate, or use peanut butter chips, or even white chocolate chips if you wanted)
1/4 cup chocolate chips (or chocolate chunks, or M&M's, or sprinkles...whatever you like!)

To make them, start by melting your butter in a big pot on the stove. Once your butter is melted, dump in your marshmallows. Stir to coat them in butter, and leave them on the heat until they are melted. Once the marshmallows are melted, turn off your burner and remove the pot from the heat. Mix in your peanut butter. Then mix in your Rice Krispies, a cup or so at a time. Next, spray your 13x9 pan, and spread your Rice Krispie mixture out into the pan. Press your treats down so they are compact and flat. You can use a spatula for this if you don't want to get your hands sticky.
Press your treats down so they are compact and flat. 

For the topping, put your chocolate chunks and all of your butterscotch chips in a small bowl and microwave until melted and stir together. You may want to take your bowl out and stir the chips a couple of times while melting. I heated mine for about 1 minute and 30 seconds. Lastly, spread your melted chocolate mixture evenly over the top of your treats. Then sprinkle your 1/4 cup of chocolate chips over the top. Let them cool for about 30 minutes so the chocolate topping can harden. Then serve and enjoy!
Final product.... YUM!!

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Mini Cadbury Egg Cookie Bars

Mini Cadbury Egg Cookie Bars...Yum!!

For Easter, I made some Cookie Bars with Cadbury Eggs in them... they were so good! If you know me, then you know one of my favorite desserts is cookies and milk. Especially when the cookies are chocolate chip and warm from the oven. These cookies are basically just a chocolate chip cookie bar, but I subbed mini Cadbury chocolate eggs instead of the chips. I know Easter is over now, but you could use this recipe with milk or white chocolate chips, M&M's, or any candy that you like! I used this recipe on Valentine's Day and made a red M&M Cookie Cake.

Whenever Lee and I were planning our wedding, my mother-in-law and sister-in-law planned a bridal shower for me. My mother-in-law gave me a cook book full of family recipes from both her and Lee's dad's side of the family. 3 years later, this is still one of my favorite gifts, and I use the cook book all the time. This cookie recipe is from that book, and I have just spiced it up a little to make it my own. Here's how I make my cookie bars:

2 1/2 Cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cups brown sugar
1 cup butter, softened (2 sticks)
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs
1 cup Cadbury Eggs (or M&M's, chocolate chips, etc.)

These are the kind of candies I put in the cookies. 

Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees. Start by mixing the softened butter, vanilla, brown sugar, and granulated sugar together. I used my Kitchen Aid Mixer for this part. Mix the eggs in, one at a time. In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, salt, and baking soda. Add the flour to your butter/sugar mixture, a little bit at a time. Mix thoroughly. Stir in Cadbury Eggs.

Spray cookie pan, and spread out dough in pan. I use an 11x17 insulated jelly-roll pan for my cookie cake, and I really do think it's what makes the cookies good. It helps bake them evenly every single time. I got mine as a wedding gift, and I believe it came from Kohl's. I can't find the exact one I have online, but here is a similar pan.

Bake your cookies for about 25 minutes, or until golden brown. Let them cool, cut into squares, and serve!
These cookies were delish! 

Monday, April 6, 2015

IUI #3 Results

During the month of March, we had our 3rd IUI, and unfortunately, it did not result in pregnancy. We were really hoping that the 3rd time was going to be a charm for us, but as it turns out, God has a different plan. Since we have now tried Clomid + IUI 3 times, my doctor does not think it will be beneficial for me to take Clomid anymore. This news alone is a huge blessing, and honestly kind of a relief.

Negative results are obviously not what we were hoping for, and we were bummed that the 3rd IUI was not successful. We're trying to stay positive and remember that God has a plan for us, and someday this will all make sense. Hopefully the day will come that we are holding a sweet baby, and then we will know that all of this struggle and pain was 100% worth it.

Since our 3rd IUI was not successful, now we're onto something new. We met with our doctor late in March and talked about what our options were if IUI #3 didn't work. You can read about that appointment and what options he gave us here. We decided that option number 1 would be best for us this month, so now we will start cycle 1 of Femara, and if all goes well, later this month Lee will give me the trigger shot, and then we'll have our 4th IUI.

We really were open to all three of the options offered to us, but we could only choose one to start with. We started by ruling out IVF for the time being. We are interested in trying IVF in the future, but we know that once we go that route, if it doesn't work, our next options are very limited, and the idea of that was a little intimidating. With IVF ruled out, that means we will definitely be continuing with IUI. So next we just had to choose between Femara (oral medication), or injectable medication. At first, we were really leaning towards the injectable medication because it does increase our chances of getting pregnant each month. Ultimately, we decided that since I did have a good response to the Clomid, we would start with Femara. If Femara doesn't do the trick, we still have the option to try both the injectables and IVF. If we get to the end of our options and still aren't pregnant, we will at least be able to find peace in knowing that we tried every possible option.

At this point, we are praying that my ultrasounds show that I respond well to the Femara, and that this is the month we get pregnant. We would appreciate for you to pray for the same thing! Once again, we are so thankful for everyone's kind words, thoughts, and prayers. We are so lucky to have such loyal friends and family, and we know that whatever curve ball God throws our way, he has sent all of you to help us get through it. With His unending love, and the support we are receiving from all of you, we know we can make it through anything, especially infertility. So thank you all for your love and prayers, and of course thank you for reading our blog. Check out my next post to see how our 4th IUI goes!

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Carrots in the Dirt

Aren't these so cute? A fun Easter dessert for the kiddos!

Today, I made these adorable creations to bring to my family Easter parties this weekend! I saw this idea on Pinterest and decided to duplicate it. Here's how I made them: 

  • 1 box strawberry cake mix, and ingredients that go along with making the cake. Mine required 1 cup water, 1/4 cup vegetable oil, and 3 egggs. 
  • 1 can Hershey's Chocolate Frosting
  • about 1 row of Oreos, crushed finely (I put my in my food chopper and crushed them that way)
  • 18 cupcake liners
  • 18 strawberries
  • 1 pound orange colored chocolate
  • 18 strawberries
  • cooking spray
This recipe makes 18 cupcakes. 

To start, Spray your cupcake liners with cooking spray, and mix your cupcakes according to the cake mix instructions.  Fill your sprayed cupcake liners about 3/4 of the way full with cake batter. Bake your cupcakes according to the cake mix directions. 

Next. melt your orange chocolate and dip your strawberries in them. I melted mine at 50% heat and stirred the chocolate every 45 seconds until it was smooth. Set them on a plate or cookie sheet lined with wax paper to dry.

I split my cupcakes into two batches of 9 so I could have some for two different parties, so here are my first 9 strawberries.

Next, use a melon ball maker and scoop out a small amount of cake from each cupcake. 

Then, put your icing in a baggie with an icing tip and ice the cupcakes around the middle hole. If you want to see step by step instructions on how I ice my cupcakes, check out my Cookies n Cream Cupcakes recipe!

Next, crush your Oreos in a chopper or food processor. I got my food chopper for Christmas several years ago, and used it so much that it finally went out on me. I bought another one on Black Friday for $10 and it was worth every penny! Seriously. If you don't have one of these, you should get one. I use mine several times a week. 

I put my chopped Oreos in a shallow container, and put my iced cupcakes upside down in the cookies. This was a good way to cover the icing with cookies and not make a huge mess. 

Last, add your strawberry to the top and enjoy!! These were a big hit with my family, especially with my niece and nephew!