Lunch With Loni

Just another weblog

Lemon Berry Cheesecake Bars October 31, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — lonislens @ 11:32 pm

Recipe courtesy of: Tyler Florence

Original recipe located at:

I’ve made these bars several times.  The first time I used blueberries, which the original recipe calls for.  The second time I had raspberries that needed to be used up and I liked the flavor combination but didn’t like how the raspberries caused the cheesecake to crack so much.  This time I made the raspberries (one pint) into a sauce, adding a little bit of sugar, some organic strawberry rhubarb jam, and corn starch.  I put healthy dallops all over the cheesecake batter.  I did cut down on the lemon a bit because the raspberries have more tartness to them than blueberries.


For the base:

  • Butter, for greasing
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 9 graham crackers
  • 1/2 stick unsalted butter, melted

For the filling:

  • 16 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 lemons, zested and juiced
  • About 1/2 cup sugar, eyeball it
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries
  • Powdered sugar, for dusting


Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

For the base:

Grease the bottom of a 9 by 9-inch baking pan with butter. Then place parchment paper over the top, pressing down at the corners. In a food processor, process the sugar, cinnamon and graham crackers until you have the texture of bread crumbs. Add the melted butter and pulse a couple of times to fully incorporate. Pour into the lined baking pan and gently pat down with the base of a glass. Bake in the oven for 12 minutes until golden. When done set aside to cool.

For the filling:

Add cream cheese, eggs, lemon zest, lemon juice and sugar to the food processor and mix until well combined. It should have a smooth consistency. Pour onto the cooled base and then cover with blueberries. They will sink slightly but should still be half exposed — as the cake bakes they will sink a little more and break down.

Bake in the oven for 35 minutes or until the center only slightly jiggles. Remove from the oven and cool completely before refrigerating for at least 3 hours. Once set, remove from pan using the parchment lining and slice into 10 rectangular bars. Dust with powdered sugar.


Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins October 29, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — lonislens @ 4:56 am

Recipe courtesy of: Annie’s Eats blog, but the recipe is a Cook’s Illustrated recipe

Original recipe located at:

This is another one of the many recipes on Annie’s Eats blog that I have saved to try.  I happened to have a bunch of bananas on hand that I wanted to use up and I knew she must have a great banana bread recipe.  She did!  Of course, I am a much lazier baker.  I took out some of the (okay a lot of the) steps and although I haven’t tried the original recipe for comparison, this turned out very well! 

Annie made an excellent point on her blog that banana bread often turns out quite sticky and I didn’t have that problem with this.  It was such a hit at work that I brought it in again the next week in muffin form and added chocolate chips this time (how could that ever be a bad decision)?!  I will say that I think you do yourself a disservice if you don’t buy good quality chocolate chips (my favorite are Ghirardelli).  I also think semisweet chips balance out well with the sweetness of the bananas, as opposed to a milk chocolate chip.

1¾ cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
6 large, very ripe bananas (about 2¼ lbs.), peeled
8 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
2 large eggs
¾ cup packed light brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 tsp. granulated sugar

Preheat the oven to 350˚ F.  Lightly spray a loaf pan (about 9 x 5 inches) with cooking spray.  In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking soda and salt; whisk together and set aside.

What the recipe says:

Place 5 bananas in a microwave safe bowl; cover with plastic wrap and make several slits in the wrap to act as steam vents.  Microwave on high until the bananas are soft and have released liquid, about 5 minutes.  Transfer the bananas to a fine mesh strainer set over a medium bowl and let drain, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes (you should have ½-¾ cup liquid).

What I did:

Mash all 6 bananas (I knew I wouldn’t bother decorating the top with the 6th one), microwave on high for 1 minute, notice there’s really not a ton of extra liquid….then become too impatient to wait 5 minutes + 15 minutes straining and decide to just mash them and see how it turns out! 

What the recipe says:

Transfer the reserved banana liquid to a medium saucepan over medium-high heat.  Cook until reduced to about ¼ cup, 5-10 minutes.  Remove the pan from the heat.  In a large bowl, combine the bananas and the reduced banana liquid.  

What I did:

Well, since I had no banana liquid to reduce…I skipped this altogether (I told you I took out a lot of steps, okay?!).

What the recipe says:

Mash with a potato masher or whisk until fairly smooth.  Whisk in the melted butter, eggs, brown sugar and vanilla.  Add the dry ingredients to the bowl with the banana mixture.  Fold together gently, just until all of the dry ingredients are incorporated.  Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth with a spatula.

What I did: 

I followed this step!  =)

What the recipe says:

Slice the remaining banana diagonally into ¼-inch thick slices.  Layer the banana slices along both sides of the top of the batter, leaving a couple of inches in the center to allow an even rise.  Sprinkle the sugar evenly over the assembled loaf.

What I did:

Remember when I said I knew I wouldn’t do this?  Yeah…I didn’t.  Man, Annie and Cook’s Illustrated would be so disappointed in me.  My co-workers weren’t, though!

Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 55-75 minutes.  Transfer to a wire rack and allow to cool at least 15 minutes in the pan before removing.  Continue to cool and serve warm or at room temperature.

I know I made a lot more adjustments to this recipe than usual, but the main thing I got out of trying this out is that the proportions of ingredients in this recipe are perfect and I really love the brown sugar vs. regular sugar.  Oh, and sometimes you can get away with being lazy!


Creamy Taco Mac October 5, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — lonislens @ 3:11 am

Recipe courtesy of: Annie’s Eats

Original recipe located at:

Annie has quite the reputation among food bloggers and message board frequenters.  Now don’t get the wrong idea, I mean a GOOD reputation, a great one in fact!  I often look at her blog in awe, mainly because I will never be that kind of a baker.  I’m just not patient or as talented as she is!  But I have tried a few of her recipes, and you’ll see more in the days to come.  This taco mac went together very quickly and I was particularly glad to discover the homemade taco seasoning recipe on her blog because I know the sodium content of the pre-packaged blends is through the roof!

1¼ lbs. ground turkey
8 oz. dry pasta shapes
1 small onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 (14 oz.) can diced tomatoes, drained
4 tbsp. taco seasoning
3 oz. cream cheese
½ cup sour cream
Salt and pepper
Shredded cheddar cheese (optional) She says it’s optional but it’s not optional in my house.  The more cheese the better, right?!

1 small can diced green chilis (I added these to give it a little more kick and dimension…I think diced green peppers would be great, too…an extra vegetable plus a pop of color)

Bring a large pot of water to boil.  Cook pasta according to the package directions.  Drain, reserving ½ cup of pasta water.  Set aside.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet or sauté pan, cook the ground turkey over medium-high heat until no longer pink.  A few minutes before the turkey is cooked through, add the chopped onion to the skillet.  Once the turkey is cooked through, mix in the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.  Mix in the diced tomatoes and taco seasoning and let simmer over medium heat for about 5 minutes.  Stir in the cooked pasta, cream cheese, sour cream and reserved pasta water, and continue stirring until the cream cheese is melted and the sauce is well blended.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Simmer over medium-low heat 3-5 minutes to reduce the sauce a bit.  Remove from the heat and top with shredded cheddar cheese, if desired.

This recipe turned out very flavorful and was no more time-consuming than preparing Hamburger Helper.  I will say that just like HH, I find that the meat to pasta ratio is a little greater than I typically care for.  I wound up not using the entire amount of meat mixture when blending it with the noodles.  I know it’s probably better to have more protein and less carbs, but that’s just how I roll!