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Frozen Raspberry Cheesecake

10 Jun

This is one of my favourite recipes for a fresh, light dessert after a heavy dinner of something like burgers or steak. It’s so easy and can be made WAAAAAAY ahead so you don’t have to do any dessert prep on the actual day of your gathering!  It’s also a handy one to have on hand in case of unexpected guests, and if they don’t come you can eat it bit by bit and freeze the part you aren’t eating so there’s no pressure to eat a whole cake between the two of you before it gets stale – a pressure the two of us around here take very seriously.  If you have a bigger family, ignore that dilemma 🙂

The recipe came to me from the wife of my boss when I was managing a Benjamin Moore store after we enjoyed it at a barbecue at her house one day, and I was amazed (and happy) to find out how easy it was!  Since it doesn’t actually take fresh raspberries it can be made anytime of year.   I would say it tastes more like a sherbet or gelato cake than a cheesecake, since the raspberry flavour is really dominant and the frozen texture is so creamy and fresh, and my non-cream-cheese-eating hubby loves this so the flavour can’t be too strong.

Light and simple for summer

Frozen Raspberry Cheesecake

Crust:

1 cup chocolate cookie crumbs

2 tbsp butter, melted

Combine and press into bottom of a 9″ springform pan. Freeze for 15 minutes, or whatever time it takes you to get the rest ready. (This can also be made in a 9×13″ pan if you want squares, or can be made entirely crustless to be gluten free, and still delicious!)

Filling:

1-250g pkg cream cheese, softened

1 can raspberry juice concentrate, thawed

2 tbsp icing sugar

1 L Cool Whip, thawed

 Directions:

Blend cream cheese until very smooth. Gradually add raspberry juice and icing sugar, beating until smooth. Fold in Cool Whip.  Pour onto crust. Cover and freeze at least 4 hours, or overnight.

Enjoy!

A little more decadent for Christmas

Saturday Sweets: Almond Fudge-Topped Shortbread

4 Jun

I may have missed a week but I intend to make Saturday Sweets a regular occurrence, since Saturday in my mind is a day made for a bit of baking, what with Sunday coming up and all kinds of other chores piled up from the week to put off a little longer.

I love fudge and I love shortbread.  Putting the two together can only be a good thing!  Although based on yesterday’s experiences sweets are the last thing I should be eating…recap of fitness level revelations to follow on a later date.  Let’s just say I have the lung capacity of an 80-year-old smoker, and things like this delicious recipe can’t be helping.

Anyways, make sure your chocolate is good and melted or it will be a challenge to spread it without tearing the shortbread crust, and that would be sad.

Almond Fudge-Topped Shortbread

1 cup butter or margarine, softened

½ cup icing sugar

¼ tsp salt

1¼ cups flour

1 package (350g) semi-sweet chocolate chips

1 can (300 ml) sweetened condensed milk

½ tsp almond extract

½ cup sliced almonds, toasted  (or whole almonds if that’s what you have handy and don’t feel like slicing the slippery suckers, or leave them off entirely if you just love smooth fudge and shortbread)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350º.  Grease 9”x13” baking pan.

Beat butter, icing sugar and salt in large bowl until fluffy.  Add flour; stir until well blended.  With floured hands, press evenly into prepared pan.

Bake 20 minutes or until lightly browned.  Shortly before end of baking time, melt chocolate chips with sweetened condensed milk in heavy saucepan over low heat, stirring constantly until chips are melted.  Remove from heat; stir in almond extract.  Spread evenly over baked shortbread.  Sprinkle with almonds; press down firmly.  Refrigerate 3 hours or until firm.  Cut into bars and store covered at room temperature or in the fridge…I like my fudge cold, so the chocolatey taste doesn’t hit me immediately, and I get the pleasure of letting it melt till it hits me 🙂

Happy Saturday 🙂

Creamy Chicken Taquitos

31 May

I love finding recipes that are easy and delicious enough to be make-againable.  This is definitely one that will be joining my regular rotation and probably becoming one of my go-to recipes when I need to bring someone a freezer meal!  The recipe doubles easily, and you can cook the taquitos from frozen in about 25 minutes.  They taste just like those taquitos you buy in a box for $10 or something equally ridiculous, and these don’t have your entire day’s sodium content in two little rolls.

After making them, a couple people randomly mentioned they had made the same thing that week so I clearly wasn’t the only one who thought these looked good!

I’ve made these a couple times now and the filling ingredients are super flexible, another feature of a great recipe for those of us whose grocery list is sometimes less than perfectly planned.  Adjust the spices to your taste and the number of kids eating with you – Gemma is not a fan of spice so I take out some of the mixture before throwing in the jalapeno and chili powder.

Also, I liked them with regular cream cheese but Carl and my mother-in-law are strongly anti-cream cheese so when I made this for them I substituted a combination of vegetable cream cheese spread and ranch dressing (this blog makes me give away all my secrets, after swearing to them both there was no cream cheese present 😉 ).  I have found in general that the flavoured cream cheese spreads, especially vegetable or herb and garlic flavour, give the same creaminess I’m looking for but don’t have that distinct “cream cheese” taste and they have saved me many a time.  Just don’t try this trick on your next cheesecake.

And make sure you line your baking sheet with foil or parchment paper since there is cheesy spillage and that stuff is a you-know-what to clean off.

CREAMY CHICKEN TAQUITOS

3 oz cream cheese, softened (or substitute Ranch dressing)

1/4 cup salsa

1 tbsp fresh lemon or lime juice

1 tsp chili powder

1/2 tsp cumin (this is what really makes them taste like the store-bought taquitos!)

1/2 tsp onion powder

2 cloves garlic, minced or finely grated

3 tbsp chopped parsley

2 green onions, chopped

1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped

1/2 cup chopped red or yellow pepper

2 cups cooked chicken, shredded or finely diced

1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese

12 6″ flour tortillas

Cooking spray

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 425.

In large bowl, combine all ingredients except tortillas and cooking spray, mixing until very well combined.          Microwave tortillas for 20 seconds to make rolling easier, then spoon 2 heaping tablespoons of filling down the middle  of each tortilla.  Roll tortillas up tightly and place seam-side down on a foil-lined baking sheet.  Spray the tops lightly with cooking spray (this helps them brown and crisp).  At this point, you could freeze the taquitos and cook from frozen another day, or bake for 15-20 minutes until crisp and golden brown.  Serve with sour cream.

Recipe adapted from Annie’s Eats.

Saturday Sweets: Peanut Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

21 May

Even more cookies!


When you make cookies every week or so, you can easily get stuck in a rut of making the same ones, so you need a LOT of great recipes to cycle through to keep everyone on their toes.  I think plain ol’ chocolate chip cookies are probably my favourite food ever, and recently I updated my only-food-for-the-rest-of-my-life choice to cookies…this is a constant dilemma in my mind between cheese, soup, berries and cookies, but for now the cookies are on top.  

If YOU could choose only one food you had to eat for the rest of your life, what would you choose?

I hope this doesn’t keep you up at night like it does me.

Anyways, in the one-food-for-rest-of-life scenario, I am torn as to whether that means I have to choose ONE cookie (or soup, cheese, berry), or if that means anything that is any kind of cookie.  Obviously this makes a big difference in the choosing. In the cookie department, assuming it is a cruel. cruel world I find myself in and have to choose only one variety, I am torn between the plain ol’ chocolate chip cookies and these cookies.  


Try them and tell me what you think…these definitely have more health value and would probably sustain me longer, but the saltiness of the peanut butter is troublesomely addictive, and if my cruel world also comes sans freezer there might be trouble of the waistband variety.

PEANUT BUTTER OATMEAL CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES

1 cup whole wheat flour

1 cup quick-cooking oats

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup peanut butter (not low fat)

1 egg

1 1/2 tsp vanilla

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 375.  Mix flour, oats, baking soda, baking powder and salt; set aside.  Beat butter, sugars and peanut butter in large bowl on medium speed until pale and fluffy.  Add egg and vanilla; mix well. Gradually add flour mixture, mixing until well blended. Stir in chocolate chips.                                                                                                                                                                     Drop rounded tablespoonfuls of dough, 2″ apart, onto ungreased baking sheets.  Bake 10-12 minutes, until lightly browned on the edges.  Cool 1 minute on pan, then remove to racks to cool completely.  

Mmmm…chewy and salty and sweet and practically breakfast thanks to the oats and peanut butter.  Enjoy!


Raspberry Chia Cheesecake

16 May

I am notorious for buying ingredients for recipes I intend to make and then forgetting what recipe I had in mind 3 seconds after I get my groceries home.  This results in random ingredients that languish in my pantry and fridge until I notice that they are about to expire and have to put them in something.

I also tend to buy extra of things on sale with every intention of using them, but sometimes I buy too much extra and the months go by too quickly for me.

This time I had an extra package of low fat cream cheese, and a tub of Cool Whip that had to move to make room in the freezer so muffins and chicken would stop falling on me every time I opened the door.  Combine that with too much yogurt, a lemon and the crumbly end of bag of frozen raspberries, and you get something surprisingly creamy and delicious!

Too-Tall Grizzly (Berenstain Bears, anyone?) has also been on a health and energy quest of late that resulted in the end of coffee drinking and late-night ice cream, and the advent of green tea, ground flax seed, avocado smoothies and chia seeds, the latter of which makes an appearance in this recipe since I figured with the raspberry seeds you’d never notice a few extra seeds and I was right.  You could make this recipe without the chia, but if you research the health benefits you won’t want to…I dare say they’re worth that trip to the uniquely guilt-inducing health food store with all the oddly glowing employees.

We first heard about chia seeds when Too-Tall read “Born to Run” by Christopher McDougall, and was inspired by these amazing runners who consume huge amounts of the natural energy source:

Anyways, I remain uncertain about my personal “born to run-ness” but I’ll eat chia seeds if they will help me stay awake, and they also serve as a thickener; I’ve seen some recipes where they replace flour or cornstarch thickeners with a chia and water mixture, which is what made me think I could add it to this recipe for the same reason, since I was worried about it being too runny given my random ingredients.  I think now it would have set just fine without them, but you really can’t taste them and it was delicious with them in there.

RASPBERRY CHIA CHEESECAKE

CRUST:

1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs

1/4 cup sugar

1/3 cup butter, melted

Zest of 1 lemon

CHEESECAKE:

1 (250 g) package low-fat cream cheese, softened in the microwave for 15 seconds

1/4 cup sugar

Juice of 1 lemon

1 individual serving yogurt, any berry flavour

1 tub Cool Whip 

1 cup frozen raspberries, smushed

1-2 tbsp chia seeds

DIRECTIONS:

For crust, combine all ingredients and press into a 8×11″ baking dish.  Bake at 375 for 9 minutes.  (If you really want to avoid baking, you can just press this into the pan and skip baking it – I just prefer a crisp crust.)

For cheesecake, beat cream cheese and sugar until smooth and creamy.  Add lemon juice and yogurt and beat until well combined.  Gently fold in Cool Whip (I used about 2/3 of a tub since I had already used some…use the whole tub or save some for topping), then fold in raspberries and chia seeds.  Pour onto crust, spreading evenly.  Refrigerate 3 hours or until set before serving; store in the fridge or freezer, this is also good as a frozen dessert.

Light and fresh and fruity, this is totally guilt-free cheesecake.  It also doesn’t taste very cream-cheesy thanks to the addition of the yogurt, which meant it was a hit with Carl who is normally not a fan of the flavour of cheesecake because of that main ingredient.  My other taste tester also gave it a thumbs-up, as you can see.

   

 

Now to find something to do with those dried apricots, poppy seeds and rice vinegar…perhaps not all in the same day.

I love zucchini

11 Apr

I love zucchini.

I’m just gonna put that out there and recommend that if you do NOT love zucchini, you not read the rest of this post, as I know some people have it in for harmless, delicious, not-that-nutritious zucchini, and I won’t have any of that attitude here.

I kind of grew up on zucchini, as it was one vegetable that always proliferated wildly in our family garden.  While I have many fond memories of (unsuccessfully) digging in my heels in protest of picking beans or hoeing potatoes, I did love the fruits (or vegetables?) of the forced labour, and now look forward to one day having space of my own to have a garden.

We always had so much zucchini that mom would go on a blitz, making zucchini bread, chocolate zucchini cake, zucchini muffins, chocolate zucchini muffins, minestrone soup and chili full of zucchini, bags of zucchini in the freezer for future baking…and she would STILL have boatloads of zucchinis-as-big-as-your-leg to give away.  She told me the old expression, “You know you don’t have any friends when you have to buy zucchini”, since everyone who grew zucchini had so much they would give it anyway to anyone they could catch.

Mom, I do so have friends.  Just not the right kind apparently.  But I always feel a little lonely when I buy zucchini thanks to that.  So I strap my zucchini into the passenger seat for company.  Such a good listener.

Anyways, thanks to this deliciously zucchini-filled upbringing, I have a soft spot for mass baking zucchini goods.  A single batch of zucchini muffins was never to be found at our home, so last week I made 2 batches of zucchini muffins and 2 loaves of zucchini bread and realized my freezer was eensy and put the rest of my zucchini in spaghetti, teriyaki noodles, and omelettes.  Carl and Gemma didn’t like zucchini.


Until I made these muffins.  I have a plain zucchini muffin recipe I like with a thick slab of cheddar cheese, but these ones are amazing all on their own (and the cheese wouldn’t go too well with the chocolate anyways – how can my two favourite foods get along so badly?).   These, in my opinion, and being well-versed in zucchini goods it is a pretty well-formed opinion, are the best zucchini muffins ever.  And Carl and Gemma love them too, and even the green bits can’t throw them off.  I always double the recipe since it only makes 10 muffins and that just isn’t enough.  This time I made a dozen regular ones and 20 mini muffins, perfect evening snacks and before-bed filler for Gemma, and a fun answer when someone says “Did you have breakfast?” to say, “Yes, I grabbed a handful of muffins.”



CHOCOLATE CHIP ZUCCHINI MUFFINS

1 cup whole wheat flour

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

3/4 cup sugar

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp salt

1 egg, lightly beaten

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1/4 cup milk

1 tbsp lemon juice

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 cup shredded zucchini, unpeeled

1/2 cup chocolate chips, ideally miniature ones

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line 10 muffin cups with paper liners.

In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon and salt.

In small bowl, whisk egg, oil, milk, lemon juice and vanilla.  Stir into dry ingredients just until moistened, then fold in zucchini and chocolate chips.  Fill muffin cups about 2/3 full and bake 22-25 minutes or until tops are browned and firm to the touch.

Zucchini bread recipe coming soon 🙂

Muffins adapted from allrecipes.com

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