Mini Raspberry Lemon Cheesecakes

Breaking Bland Eats

Happy (almost) Valentine’s Day! To celebrate, I’m sharing these adorable raspberry lemon cheesecakes with you, because what says love more than cheesecake? I originally developed this recipe for a pink-themed baby shower – they were such a hit. Valentine’s Day seemed to be the perfect excuse to reintroduce these cute, handheld, mini-desserts. Not only do they fit the Valentine’s Day colour scheme, they take a fraction of the time to cook versus making an entire cheesecake. I took my favourite cheesecake recipe, added some raspberry purée, fresh lemon zest to brighten up the flavour, and baked them into individual portions using muffin tins.  I was pleasantly surprised that the recipe fit perfectly into 24 muffin cups – it was meant to be!  Lining the muffin tins with paper liners makes for a quick cleanup and it is easy to get these cheesecakes out of the pan.

Graham Cracker Base

I used frozen raspberries in this recipe, because one;  it’s winter, and two;  it’s what I had on hand. Frozen berries are picked ripe and frozen right away, so often, they have a better flavour than buying fresh imported berries.  I like to keep a stock of frozen berries in my freezer since they make a quick and easy breakfast when mixed with yogurt and homemade granola, or when added to muffins, pancakes, or smoothies.  To make the raspberry purée, I cooked frozen raspberries with just a touch of sugar, puréed the mixture, then passed it through a fine mesh strainer to remove all the seeds.  You can also make this recipe with blueberry or blackberry purée resulting in a lovely purple-coloured cheesecake.

I hope you get to spend this weekend with your loved ones and these adorable mini-cheesecakes ♥

 

Mini-Raspberry Lemon Cheesecakes

Mini Raspberry Lemon Cheesecakes

Ingredients:

    • 2 cups of graham cracker crumbs
    • 6 tablespoons butter, melted
    • 3 pkg (8oz) cream cheese, at room temperature
    • 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
    • 1 cup white sugar
    • 3/4 cup raspberry purée (see recipe below)
    • 1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
    • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
    • 4 large eggs, at room temperature.

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.  Line 24 muffin tins with paper liners.
  2. Combine graham crumbs and melted butter, divide evenly between all the paper liners (~2 tablespoons each). Using a small spoon press the graham cracker mixture down to form the base.
  3. Bake for 5-6 minutes, remove from oven and set aside to cool.
  4. Lower oven temp to 300F
  5. Prepare the filling: in a stand mixer beat the cream cheese, flour, and sugar together until very smooth, about 3 minutes – scraping down the sides often to ensure everything is evenly mixed and there are no lumps. Add the raspberry purée, lemon zest, and vanilla. Mix until well blended.
  6. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating until just combined. You do not want to beat the mixture too much once the eggs are added, otherwise the cheesecake will rise too much and when it cools it may crack.
  7. Divide batter between the 24 muffin cups (~1/4 cup batter per muffin tin)
  8. Bake for 20-22 minutes, the cheesecake will be slightly puffed and will jiggle like Jell-O.  Note: If making a full cheesecake it will take between 60-70 minutes
  9. Allow the cheesecake to cool for 10-15 minutes in the pan before removing.
  10. Keep in the fridge until ready to serve, or freeze for later.  Serve with fresh berries or more raspberry purée.

Raspberry Puree:

1 12-oz bag frozen raspberries
2 tablespoons sugar

Directions:

  1.  Combine frozen raspberries and sugar in a medium saucepan over medium heat and bring to a boil.
  2. Cook the berries and sugar for about 5 minutes,  stirring occasionally until the berries are broken down and slightly thickened.
  3. Cool the mixture, then puree it in a blender.
  4. Using a fine mesh strainer and the back of a spoon, strain the sauce into a bowl to remove the seeds. Make sure that all that is left in the strainer is the seeds – it takes a little while to press all the puree through.


Mini-Raspberry Lemon Cheesecakse

 

New Potato Salad with Green Beans and Basil

New Potato and Green Bean Salad

New Potatoes are such a treat in the summertime.  They are small, freshly harvested potatoes, that have a natural sweetness, and hold their shape after cooking – making them a perfect potato to use in salads.  For this easy side dish, I’ve lightened up a summer favourite, -the classic potato salad.  A tangy lemon-dijon vinaigrette loaded with tons of fresh herbs make for a refreshing twist on the traditional mayo-based dressing. Plus, I’ve added some crunch with tons of green and yellow beans, fresh from my father-in-law’s garden!

Blanching the green beans is an essential step to help them keep their vibrant green hue. Simply boil water, add the green beans, boil for 2-4 minutes depending on their size, then submerge the green beans into an ice-bath (a large bowl filled with ice and some water).  This “shocks” the green beans and stops the cooking process, sealing in the bright green colour and crunch.  I also like to blanche broccoli whenever I make a broccoli salad or even when I assemble a veggie platter – everyone always asks how I got the broccoli to look so green, so now you know.

If you’ve been following my previous posts this tip will be a repeat. Whenever you make a grain, pasta, or potato salad, ALWAYS toss the starch with the dressing when the starch is still warm.  This way, as the starch cools down it will absorb all the flavours, rather than just coating the outside.

New Potato Salad with Green Bean and Basil

New Potato Salad with Green Beans and Basil

Serves 6-8, as a side

2 lbs new potatoes, washed
1/2 lb green beans, trimmed, sliced into 1 inch pieces

Vinaigrette:
1/3 cup olive oil
3 tablespoons of lemon juice or white wine vinegar
2 teaspoons dijon mustard
1 clove of garlic, finely minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper

2 green onions, sliced
1 stalk of celery, diced
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped

Directions:

1.  Bring a large pot of water to a boil, cook the new potatoes whole, for 12-15 minutes, or until a fork pierced into the potato comes out easily. Remove the potatoes from the water with a slotted spoon, and set aside to cool slightly – reserve the water to blanche the green beans.

2. Bring the water back up to a boil, then add the sliced green beans and cook for 2-4 minutes.  Prepare the ice bath by combining ice and a bit of water in a large bowl.  Test one of the beans at 2 minutes to see if it’s cooked to your liking, if not, continue to cook in one minute intervals.  As soon as they are cooked, drain the beans in a colander, then quickly submerge into the ice bath.  Once the beans are cold, strain the beans and set aside to dry.

3.  While the potatoes are cooling, prepare the vinaigrette by mixing the olive oil, lemon juice/vinegar, dijon, garlic, and salt and pepper.

4.  When the potatoes are cooled enough to handle, slice into rounds and toss with the vinaigrette in a medium bowl.  Add the green beans and refrigerate for at least 30-60 minutes.

5.  Before serving, add the green onions, celery, basil, and parsley.  Taste and adjust salt and pepper to taste.

Spot Prawn Linguine

Spot Prawn Linguine

Growing up I disliked 4 things: peppers, pineapple, pork, and prawns. Maybe I just had a thing against foods that started with ‘P’??

Up until a few years ago, I had only been exposed to those frozen prawn rings, you know the ones with the cocktail sauce? They seemed to make an appearance every Christmas and I just assumed that all prawns tasted like that.  Boy was I wrong.  Spot prawns are in a completely different league and are nothing like the watery prawns of my childhood. They have a wonderful firm texture and a delicate sweetness.  It’s safe to say that I have been converted.

Sunshine Coast Sunset

Gorgeous sunset from our deck

I’m extremely fortunate to have parents that live on BC’s Sunshine Coast.  For the past few years my vacations have consisted of relaxing ocean side and enjoying fresh seafood. Some days we are fortunate enough to catch the seafood ourselves! Each April, before the commercial fishing opens, we try to catch as many Spot Prawns as we can and freeze them to be enjoyed throughout the year.

You can buy fresh BC Spot Prawns between May-June. Spot prawns are caught in traps and hand-picked from those traps, a practice which keeps the fishery sustainable, but also makes these little critters quite expensive.  One tip when preparing the prawns is to use scissors to cut a slit down the back of each prawn. This makes peeling easier once they are cooked, and allows you to easily remove the vein (of poop).  If you want you can peel them before cooking, but I think they look pretty with their shells on.

BC Spot Prawns

Freshly caught BC Spot Prawns

This easy pasta dish really showcases the natural flavour of the Spot Prawns and is simply dressed with garlic, lemon, and a little heat from chili flakes.  Plus, as always, I’ve added tomatoes and spinach for a punch of veggies. If you can’t find Spot Prawns you can substitute your favourite fish or seafood.  I often make this dish using salmon and it’s equally as delicious.

Spot Prawn Linguine

Recipe by Kirsten, serves 4

454g linguine noodles
20 Spot Prawns, deveined, peeled or unpeeled (your choice)
¼ cup butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes or more to taste.
1 pint of cherry tomatoes or 2 large fresh tomatoes, chopped.
2 large handfuls of spinach
juice and zest of 1 lemon
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1 to 2 cups of reserve pasta water
Salt + pepper to taste

Directions:

1. Cook pasta according to package directions in salted boiling water.  Reserve 1-2 cups of pasta water, then drain pasta and set aside.
2.  While the pasta is cooking, melt butter with olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat.  Add garlic and tomatoes and cook until tomatoes soften and begin to release their juices 3-5 minutes.
3. Add prawns and cook until they turn pink, about 2 minutes.  Do not over cook.
4. Add lemon juice, zest, and spinach to the prawns and cook until spinach wilts.
5. Mix together cooked pasta and prawn mixture, if it seems dry add small amounts of the reserved pasta water until desired consistency.
6. Stir in parsley and season with salt and pepper.  Serve immediately.