It’s already time for another #RecipeRedux post! I cannot get over how quickly this summer is flying by. . .so exciting but also so many more things to get done before August! For this month’s challenge we were asked to get creative with produce:
With produce galore, now’s a great time to enjoy lots of fruits and vegetables. Show us how you’re serving the bounty of gardens and orchards in shapes like ribbons, noodles, cut-outs, or other creative cuts.
I clearly have wedding-brain and decided to give a shot at strawberry roses. And guys, it is not has hard as it looks! (Trust me, I have no drawing, painting, sculpting, etc abilities)
Start by holding your strawberry by the stem. Using a paring knife, place the blade about half way up the strawberry and cut straight down, being careful not to cut all the way through. That’s your first lower petal. Repeat around the strawberry – you will likely get 4 petals.
Next, we are going to cut the next layer of petals in between the first row. See those edges between the first row of petals? Take your knife and, at an angle, cut inward and carefully bed you knife back to get the petal to round out. Repeat with remaining 3 edges (if you had 4 lower petals).
Now for the top. Take you knife and starting at the base of the remaining strawberry part (the portion that hasn’t been cut into yet) cut into the strawberry and spiral up until you cut the very tip of the strawberry off.
To add some texture to the top you can make little slits and fan them out a bit. There you go! It took me about 2 strawberries before I got the hang of it.
While these roses are gorgeous on their own, I wanted to continue with the wedding theme and put them on something white. Yes, I could have made a white cake, but I’m trying to save my cake-stomach compartment free for actual wedding cake in a few weeks. Instead I went with a recipe I made for Bry the first summer we were together. He had just come back from 6 weeks in Italy (which when you just start dating someone feels like an eternity) and I wanted to surprise him with some home-baked goods. The first baked good was bagels as he said it was the one food he missed the most while he was gone. Done. But I also remembered him saying once that cheesecake is one of his favorite desserts. These lemon cheesecake bars are a lighter take on the originals I made for him.
While there is nothing earth-shatteringly new about using lighter cream cheese (NOT fat free cream cheese though), Greek yogurt, and egg whites to lighten up the calories, I put my lemon twist by subbing out graham cracker crumbs with lemon cookie crumbs. Simple yet SO good. Specifically I used mayer lemon cookie thins, which you can find at Trader Joes, but any crispy lemon cookie will work.
Beautiful, summery, and at only 135 calories per bar no need to worry about fitting into my dress ;P
So here’s a toast to making something beautiful out of a summer fruit staple!
Light and Lemony Cheesecake Bars
For the Crust
- 28 meyer lemon cookie thins 3/4 cup-worth of crumbs
- 2 Tbs butter melted
For the Cheesecake Filling
- 8- oz low fat cream cheese softened
- 3/4 cup 0% fat plain Greek Yogurt
- 2 Tbs flour
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 2 large egg whites
- 1 Tbs lemon juice
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- Strawberry roses for garnish optional
- Preheat oven to 350 and line an 8x8 baking pan with foil.
- Place lemon cookies in food processor and pulse until small crumbs form.
- Combine cookie crumbs and melted butter in a small mixing bowl, then press mixture into baking pan.
- Place crust in oven and bake for 8 minutes.
- Remove crust from oven and make filling while crust cools off a bit.
- Using a mixer, beat softened cream cheese until nice and smooth. Add in Greek yogurt, flour, sugar, and egg whites. Beat until creamy, it took me about 2.5 minutes.
- Add in vanilla extract and lemon juice. Beat for an additional 30 seconds to combine.
- Pour filling evenly over prepared crust and place in oven for 20 minutes.
- After 20 minutes, place foil over cheesecake to prevent it from getting too brown. Cook an additional 5 minutes, or until set.
- Remove cheesecake from oven and place in fridge for at least 3 hours.
- After your 3 hours are up, slice into 12 pieces, serve, and enjoy!