Monday, May 18, 2015

Crispy Cheesy Zucchini Quinoa Cakes

Spring is here and summer is around the corner and you know what that means, right? It means I am once again faced with an overabundance of beautiful zucchini and need to come up with lots of new ways to use it up. Enter these cute little babies. With Shavuot coming up I wanted to make something dairy but also light as I tend to eat lighter as the weather warms up. These are the perfect little bites of spring- hints of lemon and basil that I think go beautifully with zucchini, some Parmesan cheese because everything is better with cheese, and the exceptionally crispy crust made by crisped quinoa. Delish! Serve with some sour cream mixed with a little lemon and basil and you are good to go. Enjoy!

2 cups shredded zucchini (preferably the dark zucchini not the lighter squash)
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup quinoa
1 cup vegetable stock or water
1 medium onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic
2 Tbl olive oil
1 tsp fresh lemon zest
2 Tbl minced fresh basil
1/2  tsp dried oregano
1 egg
1 cup bread crumbs (or up to 1/2 cup more as needed)
1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste
oil for shallow frying

Place the zucchini in a colander and sprinkle with the salt. Let the zucchini drain for about half an hour. Meanwhile, cook the quinoa in the vegetable stock or water- rinse the quinoa well, place in a small pot, pour in the water, season with salt and pepper, bring to a boil then lower to a simmer and cook about 15 minutes, until the water has been absorbed. Turn off the flame and keep the pot covered for another 5 minutes. Remove cover and fluff the quinoa with a fork.
In a frying pan (the same one you will use to fry the cakes) heat the 2 Tbl of olive oil and saute the onion and garlic.
Mix together the drained zucchini, quinoa and the rest of the ingredients. Season well with salt and pepper. Form mixture into cakes, pressing them together well so they won't fall apart and fry them in a little bit of oil until crispy on both sides.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Pretzel Crusted Triple Peanut Cheesecake Bars

You're gonna want to sit down for this one. And by sit down I mean get up and make it immediately. This is THE dessert you need to make this Shavuot. Four layers of chocolate and peanut butter goodness with a salty pretzel and peanut crust, a creamy peanut butter cheesecake filling and an over the top chocolate peanut butter ganache. Sweet and salty, creamy and crunchy and with the winning combo of chocolate and peanut butter you CANNOT go wrong serving this dessert. It is the ultimate Reese's Peanut Butter Cup in cheesecake form and you'e going to have to trust me on this one that it is worth every calorie. The good news is that because it is so rich and decadent you only need a small square to get your fill. You're welcome!

For the crust:
1 cup finely crushed salted pretzels
1/2 cup roasted salted peanuts, finely chopped
8 Tbl butter
2 Tbl brown sugar
1 cup chocolate chips

For the filling:
450 grams (16oz) of cream cheese
1/4 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 cup peanut butter
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
pinch of salt

For the ganache:
1/2 cup heavy or whipping cream
1 cup chocolate chips
1/4 cup peanut butter

Preheat your oven to 350.
Line a 9x9 inch pan with baking paper and spray it well.
Melt the butter and mix in the crushed pretzels, peanuts and brown sugar. Press it well into the bottom of the pan and bake 10 minutes until set. Remove from oven and immediately sprinkle the chocolate chips on top. Return to oven for one minute. Remove from oven and quickly spread the melted chocolate over the crust. Let the crust cool.
Meanwhile make the filling- In a mixer combine the cream cheese and sugar. Add the eggs one at a time, then add the vanilla, peanut butter and salt and mix well. Once the crust has cooled, pour the filling over crust and bake for about 30 minutes until the edges are light golden brown and the cheesecake has set. Let cool completely and refrigerate a few hours to set. Once the cheesecake has cooled you can make the ganache.
In a saucepan heat the cream, chocolate chips and peanut butter together and mix constantly with a spatula until completely smooth and uniform in color. Pour over the cheesecake and refrigerate up to 3 days before serving.