Lemon Cheese Squares

Summer is almost here! Temperature’s rising, people start grilling and lemonades are again in demand. I have a dessert that is perfect for summer. Main ingredient: Lemon! Lemon is always connected to summer, because the tangy, citrus flavor makes the food so refreshing. So try it and you won’t regret making this. Very tasty and yet so easy to make, you will surely impress your guests when you serve this in one of your bbq parties! Enjoy!

Lemon Cheese Squares

adapted from Taste of Home

  • 1/3 cup stick margarine or butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

FILLING:

  • 1 cup (8 ounces) 4% cottage cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg white
  • 3 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp grated lemon peel
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  1. Pre-heat oven to 350°F.
  2. In a bowl, cream margarine and brown sugar. Combine the flour, salt and nutmeg; gradually add to creamed mixture. Press into a greased 8-in. square baking dish. Bake at 350° for 18-20 minutes or until golden brown.
  3. For filling, place the cottage cheese, egg, egg white and lemon juice in a blender or food processor. Cover and process until smooth. Add the sugar, flour, lemon peel and baking powder; cover and process until blended. Pour over crust.
  4. Bake at 350° for 30-34 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Cool on a wire rack for 1 hour. Refrigerate until chilled. Cut into squares.

 Yield: 9 servings.

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Baked Potato

I know, I know… It’s just baked potato. But I have tried so many recipes for baking a potato and by far, this is the best and easiest baked potato I’ve had. The taste is unbelievable. I love eating the skin too. Just make sure you wash the potatoes really well. This is a perfect no-fuss side dish that you can just stick in the oven while making the main dish. As an added bonus, the aroma of the potatoes baking in the oven is so heavenly. I know, I know… it’s just baked potato. But a very delicious baked potato indeed!

Baked Potato

adapted from Good Eats by Alton Brown 

  • 1 large russet potato
  • Canola oil to coat
  • Kosher salt
  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees and position racks in top and bottom thirds. Wash potato (or potatoes) thoroughly with a stiff brush and cold running water. Dry, then using a standard fork poke 8 to 12 deep holes all over the spud so that moisture can escape during cooking. Place in a bowl and coat lightly with oil. Sprinkle with kosher salt and place potato directly on rack in middle of oven. Place a baking sheet on the lower rack to catch any drippings.
  2. Bake 1 hour or until skin feels crisp but flesh beneath feels soft. Serve by creating a dotted line from end to end with your fork, then crack the spud open by squeezing the ends towards one another. It will pop right open. But watch out, there will be some steam.

NOTE: If you’re cooking more than 4 potatoes, you’ll need to extend the cooking time by up to 15 minutes.

 

New York Style Cheesecake

My mother-in-law recently hosted her grade school reunion party and she asked if I can prepare a dessert for the event. She said there would be at least 30 guests who will attend. So I immediately thought of making cheesecake because it’s easy, does not need a lot of preparation, and it always satisfies the palate. And who doesn’t want cheesecake for dessert?? So I was excited to do it! I settled on New York Style Cheesecake because it is not too sweet, and it is, for me, still the best cheesecake variety. What’s even more fun with the New York Style Cheesecake is, for the minimalist, you can eat it just the way it is. Or you can put fresh fruits for garnish, or add a little bit of chocolate or berry sauce (just like what I did). Mmmm… yummy!!!

 

New York Style Cheesecake

adapted from Good Housekeeping

Graham Cracker-Crumb Crust

  •  1 1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs (either from 11 rectangular graham crackers, or you can buy a box of cracker crumbs)
  • 4 tbsp butter or margarine, melted
  • 1 tbsp sugar

 

Cheesecake:

 

  • 3 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cups sugar
  • 1 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1/4 cup milk
  •  Fresh berries, for garnish

 

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Prepare Crumb Crust: In 8 1/2- to 9-inch springform pan, with fork, mix crumbs, melted butter, and sugar until crumbs are evenly moistened. With hand, press crumb mixture firmly onto bottom and up side of pan. Bake 10 minutes; cool crust in pan on wire rack. Turn oven control to 300 degrees F.
  2. Prepare Cheesecake: In large bowl, with mixer at medium speed, beat cream cheese and sugar until smooth and fluffy. Beat in flour and vanilla until well combined. Reduce speed to low and beat in eggs and egg yolk, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in milk just until blended.
  3. Pour batter into prepared crust. Bake 55 to 60 minutes, until set but still slightly jiggly and moist in center, and pale gold near edge.
  4. Cool completely in pan on wire rack. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours to overnight before serving. To serve, remove side of pan. Place cake on plate; garnish with fresh fruits.

To make triple berry sauce:

  • 3 cups frozen berries
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 1 1/2 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1 1/2 cup frozen or fresh berries
  1. Place 3 cups of berries and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir until the frozen berries are soft and sugar is melted (you don’t need to add water).
  2. Puree berry mixture with a blender; replace in saucepan.
  3. Mix together water and cornstarch and stir into berry mixture.
  4. Add 1/2 cup frozen or fresh berries and boil over medium heat until thick. Chill to serve

 

 

 

Chicken Buffalo Dip

I have never tried making a chicken buffalo dip, although a few people told me that it is really easy to make. I like easy recipes, especially when you’re entertaining friends. I feel like the past couple of months were a blur, and getting my girl friends together is the only way that will make me stay sane. So I decided to have them over, have some drinks and some appetizers, and just chat and relax. Along with other appetizers, I decided to finally make Chicken Buffalo Dip, and serve it with chips and crackers. I can’t believe I waited this long to make this! It was really good and so tasty. I made mine spicy (by adding extra hot sauce) to really feel the chicken buffalo flavor. I also used blue cheese instead of mozzarella cheese to give that extra sharp and salty flavor. From now on, every time I’m entertaining, chicken buffalo dip will be on the menu. 🙂

Chicken Buffalo Dip

modified from allrecipes.com

  • 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup Ranch dressing
  • 1/2 cup cayenne pepper sauce (such as Frank’s Red Hot)
  • 1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese or shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 2 (9.75 ounce) cans Premium Chunk Chicken Breast in Water, drained
  • Assorted fresh vegetables or crackers
  1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Stir the cream cheese in a 9-inch deep dish pie plate with a fork or whisk until it’s smooth. Stir in the dressing, pepper sauce and blue cheese. Stir in the chicken.
  3. Bake for 20 minutes or until the chicken mixture is hot and bubbly. Stir before serving. Serve with the vegetables and crackers for dipping.

Classic Lasagna

When it comes to comfort food, nothing beats a classic lasagna. This is a tried and tested recipe, easy to make and will please the tummy. I love cheese, and you can never go wrong with putting a lot of mozzarella and Parmesan with this food. To put a twist on a classic lasagna, I added Italian sausage. I realized that having at least two meat varieties will heighten the taste. Some people even use ground beef, pork and lamb and they swore that the taste is so superb. I would like to try that someday…  The other twist I did was to add spinach leaves. It breaks the monotony of an all-meat lasagna. Best paired with red wine and garlic bread on the side, this dinner will surely put a smile on everyone’s face and satisfaction to the tummy.

Enjoy!

Classic Lasagna

modified from Tyler’s Ultimate (Tyler Florence)

  • 1 pound dried lasagna noodles
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 pound ground Italian sausage
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, sliced
  • spinach leaves
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh basil
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped Italian flat leaf parsley
  • 1 tsp chopped oregano leaves
  • 2 tbsp all purpose flour
  • 1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained
  • 1 can spaghetti sauce
  • 1 quart ricotta cheese
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound mozzarella, shredded
  • Grated Parmesan and mozzarella, for topping

 

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Cook the lasagna noodles in plenty of boiling salted water with salt until al dente, follow the cooking instruction in the box. Stir with a wooden spoon to prevent sticking. Drain the noodles thoroughly and coat with olive oil to keep them moist and easy to work with.
  3. Coat a large skillet with olive oil, add beef and sausage and brown until no longer pink, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add garlic, onion, basil, parsley and oregano to the pan with the ground meat and stir to combine. Stir in the flour.
  4. Stir in the diced tomatoes and add pasta sauce.
  5. In a mixing bowl, combine ricotta and eggs, and season with salt and pepper.
  6. Assemble the lasagna.
To assemble the lasagna:
  1. Coat the bottom of a deep 13 by 9-inch pan with 1/4 cup of lasagna sauce. Arrange 4 noodles lengthwise in a slightly overlapping layer on the sauce. Then, line each end of the pan with a lasagna noodle. This forms a collar that holds in the corners.
  2. Dollop 1/2 of the ricotta mixture over the pasta, spread to the edges with a spatula.
  3. Spread 1/2 of the meat mixture over the ricotta. Add spinach leaves to cover the meat mixture.
  4. Sprinkle 1/2 of the mozzarella on top of the ricotta.  Add a sprinkle of parmesan cheese.
  5. Repeat with the next layer of noodles, ricotta, sauce, spinach leaves and cheeses.
  6. Top last layer with noodles, sauce, shredded mozzarella and Parmesan.
  7. Tap the pan to force out air bubbles. Cover the pan with aluminum foil and bake for 25 minutes. Remove  the aluminum foil and bake for another 15min.  Remove lasagna from oven.
  8. Let lasagna rest for 20 minutes so the noodles will settle and cut easily. Cut into 2-inch squares and serve.