Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Lemon Cheesecake Bites

Let's talk sports for a little bit.

My favorite sport (to watch) is college basketball. Obviously my favorite team is Duke, but I can (and do) spend Saturday afternoons and evenings watching back-to-back excellent college basketball games. For the most part it can be fast-paced and exciting. I love love love a close, nail-biting, ending to the game. It just makes me happy.

The weekend before last I spent all of Saturday watching my favorite sport and prepping food for that other game on Sunday. You know which one I'm talking about. The "Super" Bowl. Can I just say it? There was nothing super about that game. It was just terrible. I do enjoy football on fall weekend, but that game. Nah, bro, nah.

Needless to say, I was ready for basketball again. Good thing we've still got almost two full months left. Bring on the madness! :)

Oh and if you are watching again sporting event, you should probably have some snacks. Like these delicious lemon cheesecake bites. Perfect for sharing with all of your friends. The gingersnap crust adds enough spice that complements the lemon creamy filling.

They are just the cutest little bites. So yummy!

Lemon Cheesecake Bites (adapted from Baking Bites)
For crust:
1 cup crushed gingersnap cookies
2 tbsp sugar
zest of 1 lemon
pinch of kosher salt
2 1/2 tbsp butter, melted

For filling:
16 oz cream cheese, softened (I used 1/3 less fat)
1/4 cup sour cream
2/3 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp lemon extract
zest of two lemons

Preheat oven to 350 F. Line mini-muffin tin with paper liners.

Mix the crushed cookies, sugar, zest of 1 lemon and salt in a medium bowl. Drizzle in the melted butter and stir with a fork until it is moistened. Scoop about 1 tsp crumb mixture into each muffin liner and pack down with your fingers.

In the bowl of your stand mixer (or large bowl), cream together the cream cheese, sour cream, and sugar until smooth. Beat in the eggs and extracts. Fold in the lemon zest. Top the crust with the filling, about 1 tbsp per cake. Bake for 15 minutes until the cheesecakes are set.

Allow to cool completely before refrigerating.

Makes 48 mini-muffin cheesecakes.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Italian Stuffed Peppers

When I was a little girl, I was a figure skater. I would spend early mornings before school at the rink. And evenings for team practice. Saturdays I would volunteer to teach even littler kids. It was great.

I think I need to dust off my skates. Our weather warmed on Saturday afternoon resulting in freezing rain and a whole lot of melted snow. Of course when it refroze Saturday night, we got an ice rink on every surface. Like an inch of frozen solid ice on the parking lots and sidewalks. That makes walking (even in boots) difficult. Hence the need for ice skates.

These stuffed peppers are hearty and delicious for the cold weather. They may not protect you from the inevitable slipping and falling on your behind, but they will make you feel safe and warm at your kitchen table.

Italian Stuffed Peppers
1/3 lb ground beef
1 medium tomato
1/4 cup chopped red onion
1/4 cup chopped peppers (red, banana, green, etc)
1 baby eggplant, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
handful of basil, roughly chopped
1/3 cup tomato juice
1/3 cup bread crumbs
handful of shredded mozzarella cheese
2 whole green bell peppers, tops removed, cored and seeded

Preheat oven to 375 F.

Brown the ground beef in a pan over medium heat until no longer pink, about 4-5 minutes. Drain fat. Add the tomato, onion, chopped peppers, eggplant, and garlic. Cook until the veggies are softened, about 4-5 minutes. Add the basil and tomato juice and stir to combine. Stir in the bread crumbs. Remove from the heat.

Place the whole green peppers in a baking sheet sitting up. Fill with the beef mixture. Top with shredded cheese. Bake for 40 minutes.

Serves 2.