blueberry lemon cheesecake

I’m obsessed with this new cheesecake recipe. Like really, every excuse to make it, I do. It’s been a birthday cake twice now.

Blueberry Lemon Cheesecake

It’s not like I don’t talk all the time about how much I love summer fruit, so blueberries in cheesecake is a no brainer. But it’s the tangy lemon that takes this one over the top. And it makes cheesecake refreshing on a hot day. So, really, no complaints.

Blueberry Lemon Cheesecake

The process is super simple – cream cheese, sugar, lemon zest and juice, and two eggs get beat together until they are silky smooth. Then you add the blueberries, reserving about a quarter of them to sprinkle on the top, and pour the mixture into the crust and then sprinkle the reserved berries on top.

Blueberry Lemon Cheesecake

The crust is the hardest part, and it’s not even that hard, it just takes a little patience. You have to grind up the graham crackers in a food processor (or go old school and crush them by hand), add a little cinnamon and sugar and melted butter, tossing it all together until you can press the cracker crumbs against the side of the bowl and they stay. The last step is to press them into the bottom and sides of a greased springform pan. You can also stretch this recipe out and make cheesecake bars using a rectangular pan and in that case, just don’t put the crust on the sides of the pan (note: line the pan with parchment paper to make it easier to get them out after they’re baked).

That goes into the oven for about 30 to 35 minutes until it just slightly jiggles in the center. The residual heat continues cooking it after you take it out of the oven, so it firms up as it cools. Speaking of cooling, you want cheesecake to be nice and cold when you eat it, as its cooled down enough, put it in the fridge for at least 3 hours.

Blueberry Lemon Cheesecake

There she is!

This recipe is adapted from Tyler Florence, or at least so says the blogger behind Epicurean Mom. Her pictures are really pretty, so if I haven’t convinced you, she will!

 

Blueberry Lemon Cheesecake

Crust:

9 graham crackers

2 tablespoons sugar

1/8 tablespoon cinnamon

1/2 stick butter + extra for greasing the pan

Filling:

16 ounces cream cheese, room temperature

2 eggs

1 lemon, juice and zest

1/2 cup sugar

1 & 1/2 cup fresh blueberries

What to do:

1. Preheat the oven to 325 F. Grease the bottoms and sides of a springform pan.

2. For the crust: crush graham crackers in a food processor until they have the consistency of bread crumbs, add sugar and cinnamon. Melt the butter and mix into the graham crackers, pulsing  a couple of times until fully incorporated. Press evenly into the bottom and sides of the springform pan.

3. For the filling: mix the cream cheese, eggs, lemon, and sugar in the food processor or using an immersion blender until smooth. Add most of the blueberries and pour the mix into the crust. Sprinkle the remaining blueberries over the top (it’s just so that some of them show).

4. Bake for 30 t0 35 minutes, until the center only jiggles slightly. Cool completely before refrigerating for at least 3 hours.

Enjoy!

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beer & orange glazed chicken and barley risotto

Sometimes, you just gotta have a bunch of your friends over and feed them. I love dinner parties. Maybe because you don’t have to wear shoes. Or maybe because you can just keep opening bottles of wine all night, long after the last of the food has been eaten, just enjoying that special chemistry that can only exist over a table full of empty plates.

Anyway, I’ve been needing an excuse to try this chicken recipe I found on another food blog that just looked so yummy and I needed some guinea pigs to try out the concept of barley risotto. Luckily, when food is involved, usually your friends will be willing subjects.

This beer and orange glazed chicken recipe, which I got from How Sweet It Is, is so so good. Also, it’s super easy, but it tastes like a lot of work went into it – perfect for impressing guests.

Beer orange glazed chicken

The chicken comes out juicy with a crispy skin and that sauce…oh, the sauce… The key to that crispy skin is searing both sides in a piping hot pan before putting it into the oven to finish cooking. In the original recipe, she uses a cast iron skillet, but I don’t have one, and even if I did, I needed to make chicken for 7 people. So I seared the pieces in a pan – super important: don’t move it around, just be patient and leave it about 2 minutes on each side so that it gets golden brown – then used some of the beer to get the yummy bits off the bottom of the pan and added both the chicken and the glaze to the dish before popping it into the oven.

Citrus chicken barley risotto

Then I also made risotto, which is a little more labor intensive, but always worth the trouble. I read about using barley for risotto in the Cooks Illustrated and was curious. I’ve been experimenting with grains lately because, while rice will always hold a special place in my heart, it doesn’t give you a whole lot of nutritional benefits on it’s own, whereas barley, for example, has much more protein and fiber. It also has a nutty flavor and a chewy texture, like al dente pasta, so it works perfectly for risotto which can get a little mushy if you overcook it even slightly.

I used white wine (what was left from a bottle of verdejo that love), mushrooms, chicken broth and a little parmesan cheese to pack in as much flavor as possible as that barley cooked and I have to say it was a successful experiment. I’m not saying I’ll never make it with rice again, but it’s going to be perfect for a vegetarian meal on it’s own since it will keep you full longer than rice.

orange beer glazed chicken and salad

And to round it off and get some green in there, a nice light salad. I’m also really into adding fruit to salads lately. I adore summer fruit, so I try to consume as much of it as I possible can to make up for the fact that I have to go back to eating bananas and apples in the fall. It’s like a three month race to eat as many peaches, cherries and heirloom tomatoes as I possibly can. So yeah, I’ve been throwing them into big ol’ salads lately, especially on those really hot days, and it’s awesome. This one’s got some mixed greens, white peaches, toasted pumpkin seeds, and goat cheese with a lime juice and olive oil vinaigrette – simple stuff.

plated

Mmm hmm, that’s some dinner right there.

 

Beer Glazed Citrus Chicken recipe from How Sweet It Is – check her out, she makes some good lookin’ food!

Barley Risotto with Mushrooms (as a side dish, serves 8, at least)

What you need:

2 cups pearl barley (rinsed)

5 – 8 cups of broth (chicken, veg, whatever you like)

1 cup white wine

1 onion, diced

2 cloves of garlic, minced

Salt and pepper

1 tablespoon of olive oil

1 lb mushrooms (I used cremini)

1/2 cup parmesan cheese (freshly grated if possible)

1/4 cup parsley, chopped

What you gotta do:

1. Bring the broth to a boil, then leave it on the minimum heat, covered on the stove to keep warm. Meanwhile, in a large sauce pan, heat 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil and add the onion, cooking on medium-low heat until soft (about 10 minutes) and then add the garlic, cooking another minute or so.

2. Stir in the barley and increase to medium heat, cook stirring often for about 5 minutes until the barley is lightly toasted and aromatic. Add the cup of wine and continue to cook, stirring often, until it’s absorbed completely (about 2 minutes).

3. Stir in 3 cups of broth and continue cooking, stirring occasionally until absorbed completely and the bottom of the pan is dry (22 – 25 minutes). Add 2 more cups of broth and continue cooking, stirring occasionally until all of the liquid is absorbed again (18 – 20 minutes). Then continue to cook, adding 1/2 cup of broth at a time and stirring occasionally until it’s completely absorbed, until the barley is cooked through but still a little firm in the center.

4. While the barley is cooking, wash and slice the mushrooms and then, in a large pan add the remaining 1/2 tablespoon and cook them on medium high heat until lightly browned. If any liquid accumulates in the pan, you can drain it off into the barley (more flavor!) and then continue browning.

5. When the risotto is done, turn off the heat and stir in the parmesan cheese, mushrooms and half of the parsley. Add salt and pepper to taste. Use the other half of the chopped parsley on top, to garnish.