It’s the most wonderful time of year. Christmas decorations are up, and everywhere you go there is Christmas music playing or bells ringing. I don’t know about you, but hearing those ringing bells outside most stores gives me the warm fuzzies. It’s the sound of people giving back because they care.

The church that we have been attending for the past few months had a big donation drive earlier this month. We participated by shopping for children from other countries with our two youngest children. They had fun picking out items for each box.

They also do different food drives and work days through the year, so we are looking forward to helping out even more. We want our children to see how much it means to help out and give back to others that are in need. My desire is that they will remember these giving moments instead of the gifts under the tree each year.

This month I am partnering with the American Dairy Association Mideast for their annual Cooking Together to Give Gallons campaign. They will be donating 25 cents to The Great American Milk Drive for every new follower on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram through December 13.  One click of a button can help so many families in need.

Did you know that milk is the number one requested item by most food banks, but it is rarely donated?  We go through a few gallons a week at our house.  So, I can’t even imagine not having milk available to drink. The Great American Milk Drive will be delivering thousands of gallons of milk because there are so many families in need.

The daily recommended dosage for dairy is three servings of milk a day, which is about a gallon of milk a week.  Unfortunately even here in the United States there are millions of children and families who only get one gallon per year. If you would like to donate separately, you can do that here as well. Your $5 donation will provide a gallon of milk to one family in need this holiday.

  • For the Brownies
  • 1 cup butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup dark cocoa powder
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 24 holiday Oreo cookies
  • For the Cheesecake
  • 2 - 8 ounce packages cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
  • 1 1/3 cup white peppermint baking chunks
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 batch peppermint whipped cream
  • peppermint candy pieces

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9x13 pan with foil. Spray it with nonstick baking spray.
  2. Mix together the melted butter and cocoa powder.
  3. Beat the eggs and sugar together. Add the vanilla, salt, and butter mixture and beat again.
  4. Slowly add the flour and baking powder until mixed in. Spread in the bottom of the prepared pan.
  5. Place the Oreo cookies on top of the batter side by side.
  6. Using a clean bowl, beat the cream cheese and sugar until creamy. Add the yogurt and extracts and beat again.
  7. Place the white peppermint chunks in a microwave safe bowl. Heat for 30 seconds and stir. If needed, heat an additional 15-20 seconds and stir again until creamy.
  8. Slowly pour the melted chocolate into the cheesecake batter and beat until mixed in.
  9. Add the eggs one at a time beating after each addition. Do not over beat the batter.
  10. Press the Oreo cookies down into the brownie batter gently. Spoon the cheesecake batter slowly on top of the cookies. Spread the batter out and bake for 45-48 minutes. Do not over bake. Remove the pan from the oven and place on a cooling rack. After 5 minutes, use a butter knife to gently loosen the brownies from the edge of the foil. Let cool in the pan for 1 hour, then refrigerate until completely chilled.
  11. Serve the brownies with the peppermint whipped cream and extra peppermint pieces. Makes 24 brownies.

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