Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Lemon Cheesecake with Raspberry Sauce

This lemon cheesecake is perfect for the spring and summer.  I made it for Easter dinner and it was a hit. Lemon desserts are a favorite of mine and find their popularity is often underestimated. Topped with seasonal berries this treat is the perfect combination of sweet and creamy. Cheesecakes are typically a hit, but traditional cheesecake is a very heavy and not-so-healthy dessert. I lightened the sugar in the recipe and went with a lower fat cream cheese to make it a bit healthier.

I invested in my first springform pan to make this recipe and I can't believe I have baked all these years without one! This type of pan has sides that can be removed from the base and is latched together during the baking process. It is commonly used with delicate dessrts like cheesecakes and tortes.  Cutting a cheesecake was never as easy. Even the first piece was perfect, something I would not be bragging about if I used a pie pan. I would suggest buying a non-stick variety to be sure nothing sticks to the sides.

Springform Pan


Lemon Cheesecake with Raspberry Sauce
Serves 10

Ingredients:
2 cups graham cracker crumbs*
2 tbsp white sugar
5 Tbsp melted margarine
3 8oz light cream cheese (Neufechel), softened
1 cup sugar
3 eggs
1/3 cup light sour cream
2 Tbsp lemon juice 
1 1/2 lemon extract
1 jar lemon curd
 
 
2 cups of frozen berries (I used raspberries)
1 Tbsp lemon juice

* You can make your own graham cracker crumbs by crushing plain graham crackers or pulsing in the food processor. They are also sold prepared in the grocery store. I discourage the use of pre-made graham cracker crusts because they and not as flavorful as freshly made crusts.


Directions:
 
1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
2. Make the crust: Combine 2 Tbsp sugar, graham cracker crumbs, and margarine in a bowl. Press into the bottom of aa 10" springform pan, set aside.
3. Whip the sugar and cream cheese in a bowl with an electric mixer, until light and creamy. Add the eggs, one at a time, and beating well after each addition. Beat for 5 minutes.
4. Add the sour cream, lemon juice, and extract and mix well.
5. Add half of the cheese filling to the crust. Drop teaspoons of lemon curd on top. Pour remaining cheese filling on top. Drop teaspoons of lemon curd on top and swirl into filling gently with a knife.
6. Bake for an hour and 10 minutes. Remove from heat, chill for at least 2 hours.
7. Take a knife around the edge of the pan to loosen. Remove the sides of the springpan.
8. Heat the frozen berries in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Cook for 10-15 minutes stirring gently. Add lemon juice and remove from heat. Chill for at least 20 minutes.
9. Top each piece of cheesecake with 2 Tbsp berry sauce.


 

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Edamame and Corn Fruit Salad with Coconut Shrimp

Summer is on its way and that means more fresh fruit and greens. This edamame salad is a delicious no-cook dish that will soon be apart of your regular menu rotation. It is quick to prepare and perfect for a quick dinner or as a side dish for a BBQ or party. I served it over mixed greens and topped it with crunchy coconut shrimp and a cilantro avocado dressing for an entrée salad. It was the perfect sweet and savory mix!

 Edamame is another name for soybeans. The health benefits of soybeans can be quite controversial depending on who you talk to. I include organic soybeans and products in my diet as a plant source of protein. Many are concerned about GMO soybeans and products. If this is a concern for you, select organic varieties, which have not been modified. Soy has been apart of many Asian cultures for centuries and has been related to having a lower risk of heart disease. Soybeans are a complete protein (meaning they contain all of the essential amino acids) and are high in fiber and vitamins and minerals (such as iron, potassium, manganese). They can be found in your local grocery store in the freezer, either shelled or unshelled. I buy both varieties depending on what I plan on doing with them. If you buy edamame in the shell they are delicious steamed and you can eat them out of the pod. If you buy them shelled they are easy to use in salads, casseroles, soups and beyond.

Edamame Fruit Salad
Makes 8 servings

2 cups frozen edamame, thawed
1 cup frozen corn, thawed
1 red pepper, diced
½ cup red onion, diced
1 cup fresh pineapple, diced
1 mango, diced
2 Tbsp lime juice
2 tsp olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste

Mix all ingredients and chill for at least 20 minutes.

 

Crispy Coconut Shrimp

Serves 4

1 pound frozen large and raw shrimp, thawed
1 egg
½ cup unsweetened coconut flakes
2 Tbsp canola oil

1. Heat oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Oil is ready when you sprinkle small amount of water in the pan and it sizzles.

2. Dip each shrimp into egg and in coconut. Cook for 2-3 minutes per side, until golden brown.

Cilantro Avocado Dressing

½ cup fresh cilantro leaves
Meat of 1 avocado
2 Tbsp lime juice
¼ cup apple cider vinegar
1 tsp honey
3 cloves fresh garlic
Pepper, to taste

Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until well combined.

To assemble the salad place 1.5 cups of mixed salad greens on a plate, top with ¾ cup edamame salad, 4-5 coconut shrimp, and drizzle 2 Tbsp of salad dressing on top. Serve immediately.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Turkey and Bean Chili

Spring in Vermont is almost here. I cookd my last batch of chili for the season this weekend. I always look for the change in season for the new weather as well as new seasonal ingredients and recipes. Today was a beautiful day, mid 70s with a nice breeze. The forecast for tomorrow is not as kind, looking at mid 30s again. I guess I’ll take the bad with the good.

 

Ground lean turkey is a healthy alternative to ground beef. I find that it needs a bit more flavorings (herbs, spices) than ground beef, but it can certainly be big on flavor. Chili can be done in 30 minutes if you are short on time, but the longer you cook it, the more flavor it will have. It will also thicken up a bit, which is how I like it. Of course, it always tastes better the next day. This recipe freezes very well so you can enjoy it a few months down the road.

 

Yes this chili has some vegetables, but the more the merrier. Serve with a side salad or your favorite steamed vegetable and dinner is ready.

 

Turkey and Bean Chili

Makes 8 servings

 

Ingredients:

1 sweet onion, diced

1 red pepper, diced

1 jalapeño, seeded and diced

2 Tbsp chili powder

½ Tbsp garlic powder

Dash of cayenne powder (optional)

¾ pound 93% lean ground turkey

1 cup canned crushed tomatoes

2 cans (15 oz) of diced tomatoes

2 cans (15.5 oz) dark kidney beans

Black pepper to taste

 

For serving:

Shredded Mexican cheese

Sour cream

Sliced avocado

 

Directions:

  1. Brown the ground turkey in a frying pan over medium heat.
  2. Meanwhile heat a large covered saucepan or dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onion, red pepper, and jalapeño and cook for 3 minutes.
  3. Add the spices and stir. Cook additional minute.
  4.  Combine the meat with the vegetable spice mixture. Add tomatoes and kidney beans and cook covered for 1 hour. Remove cover and cook over medium to desired thickness (at least 15 minutes).
  5. Serve immediately.

 

Monday, March 31, 2014

Meatless Monday...Balsamic Tempeh Stuffed Portabellas

There was a time when I was cooking with tempeh a lot, but it had fallen off of my radar up until recently. I picked some up the other day and was excited to experiment with some new recipes. What's not to love about a juicy stuffed portabella? Tempeh is a fermented product made from soybeans and packed into patties. Often it is mixed with a variety of grains or seeds as well.

Tempeh is easy to digest and is higher in protein, fiber, and vitamins when compared to tofu because the whole bean is used. This also gives it a much heartier and stronger flavor. Tempeh is a wonderful meat substitute and is versatile in a variety of dishes. Try it in stirfrys, stews, or as a filling for tacos and sandwiches! Concerned about GMOs in your soy? Go for an organic variety! 

The nutrition facts vary by brand and flavor. I use organic Lightlife flax, 4 oz (usually ½ a package) contains 220 calories, 9 g fat (1.5 saturated), 16 g carbohydrates, 20 g protein, 10 g fiber, 0 g sodium. It is also a good source of calcium and iron. 

Balsamic Tempeh Stuffed Portabellas
Makes 4 servings

Ingredients:
4 large portabella mushrooms
3 Tbsp balsamic vinegar, divided
2 Tbsp olive oil, divided
1 tsp chopped garlic
1/2 cup sweet onion, diced
½ cup red pepper, diced
1 tomato, diced
4 oz tempeh, diced into 1/2" cubes (I use LightLife flax) 
2 cups fresh spinach 
1/3 cup shredded provolone cheese
¼ cup crumbled feta cheese
1/3 cup chopped kalamata olives
Pepper, to taste
½ tsp dried basil

Directions: 
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Drizzle 1/2 tsp of both olive oil and balsamic over the mushrooms. Bake for 15 mins. 
Meanwhile, heat remaining olive oil in a large frying pan. Add garlic and sauté for 2 mins. Add onions, peppers, tomato, tempeh, and remaining balsamic vinegar and cook for 5 minutes. Add spinach and wilt. Remove from heat and add olives, cheese, and pepper/basil. 
Remove mushrooms from oven and stuff each with ~3/4 cup mixture. Bake for 5 minutes or until cheese is melted. 
Serve with a garden salad or your favorite steamed vegetable! 


Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Buffalo Chicken Quesadilla

Love buffalo chicken? Yes, buffalo wings are delicious, but they are deep fried meaning they are a "sometimes" food for me. To fill my buffalo chicken craving I get creative with other casseroles, wraps, and salads. This dish is reminiscent of buffalo chicken pizza for a fraction of the calories, fat, and carbohydrates.  Definitely a kid-friendly recipe. If the kiddos aren't fans of spicy foods simply substitute hot sauce for a low-sugar BBQ sauce (or better yet, make your own!). Serve with a salad or your favorite vegetable and dinner is ready.

Too often my clients will tell me they don't have time to cook, so they go out to dinner or rely on processed foods out of boxes or the freezer. This recipe uses leftover chicken for a super quick stovetop dinner.

Think burrito shells are unhealthy transports for fillings? Think again; there are plenty of nutritious wraps on the market now. Watching your weight or calories? Look for a lower calorie version (many are burrito size for 100 calories or less). Some of my favorites are the "La Tortilla Factory", "Wrap-Its", or "Joseph's" brand. Go for a whole grain variety for extra fiber and nutrition. Some even have flax and other seeds for healthy fats and omega 3s.

Buffalo Chicken Quesadilla
Makes 1 quesadilla

Ingredients:
1 whole wheat 100 calorie burrito shell
1/3 cup cooked chicken breast, chopped
1 Tbsp Franks Buffalo Sauce
1/3 cup low fat shredded mexican cheese
1 Tbsp low fat blue cheese dressing
1/4 cup shredded carrots
Salsa, for serving

Directions:
1. Mix the chicken breast and buffalo sauce in a bowl.
2. Heat a large frying pan over medium heat.
3. Spread 1/4 cup of cheese on one half of the tortilla. Spread chicken on top of the cheese and sprinkle remaining on the other half of the tortilla.  Allow to cook for 3-4 minutes.
4. Sprinkle carrots on top, drizzle blue cheese dressing and fold the tortilla over the fillings. Cook for 3-4 minutes until golden brown and cheese is melted.

Nutrition Facts: 1 Quesadilla
250 calories, 10 g fat (3 g saturated), 20 g carbohydrates, 12 g fiber, 30 g protein.

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