Greek Yogurt Cheesekcate With Ouzo Poached Figs
15 plain melba toasts (about 4 ounces; not Melba "snacks")
One-third cup walnut halves
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
14 ounces reduced-fat Neufchâtel cream cheese
1 1/3 cups sugar
2 1/2 cups low fat or nonfat plain Greek yogurt
7 large egg whites
1 teaspoon cinnamon
16 whole dried figs
1 cinnamon stick
1 3-inch strip orange zestOne-half cup Ouzo, Mavrodaphne or port wine2 rose geranium leaves, plus more for garnish (optional)
To prepare crust: Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Put a kettle of water on to heat for the water bath. Coat a 10-inch springform pan with cooking spray; tightly wrap the bottom and outside with a double layer of foil.
Process Melba toasts and walnuts in a food processor until fine crumbs form. Transfer to a medium bowl. Add oil and 2 tablespoons sugar and toss until evenly moist. Press the crumb mixture into the bottom of the pan. Bake until lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool to room temperature, about 30 minutes.
To prepare cheesecake: When the crust is almost cool, beat cream cheese and 1 cup sugar in a large mixing bowl with an electric mixer until smooth. Add yogurt, egg whites and cinnamon; beat until well blended. Pour the batter over the cooled crust.
Place the cheesecake in a roasting pan and pour in enough boiling water to come 1 inch up the outside of the springform pan. Bake the cheesecake in the center of the oven until set around the edges but the center still jiggles, about 45 minutes. Turn off the oven and let the cheesecake sit in the oven with the door ajar for 1 hour. Let cool on a wire rack for 1 hour more.
To prepare topping: Meanwhile, place figs in a small bowl, cover with warm water and let soak for 1 hour.
Strain the figs, reserving the soaking water. Strain the soaking water into a medium saucepan. Add ouzo (or wine); bring to a boil over high heat. Add geranium leaves (if using), cinnamon stick, orange zest and the figs. Reduce the heat to medium and cook until the figs are plump and the liquid is the consistency of a thin syrup, 10 to 15 minutes. Remove the figs with a slotted spoon and set aside to cool. Stir 1/2 cup sugar into the liquid, adjust the heat to maintain a gentle simmer, and cook until the liquid is reduced by half, 15 to 25 minutes. Discard the geranium leaves, cinnamon stick and orange zest. Chop the figs and return them to the syrup.
Remove the pan sides from the cheesecake. Serve each slice topped with some of the fig sauce and a rose geranium leaf, if desired.
Ingredient notes: Greek yogurt is made by removing the whey from cultured milk, which gives the yogurt an extra thick and creamy texture. Look for it with other yogurt in large supermarkets. Unstrained regular yogurt cannot be used in its place for this recipe, but you can strain plain yogurt to give it the same thick texture as Greek-style yogurt. Line a sieve with cheesecloth and set it over a bowl. Spoon in 4 cups nonfat plain yogurt and let it drain in the refrigerator until reduced to about 3 cups, about 2 hours.
Ouzo is a sweet Greek liquor with a pleasant anise flavor; mavrodaphne is a sweet, Greek red wine similar to port; port is a fortified dessert wine from Portugal. Find ouzo in liquor stores and Mavrodaphne and port in wine shops and liquor stores. Rose geranium (Pelargonium) is part of a larger family of "scented geraniums." The edible leaves impart a delicate rose flavor when added to desserts, beverages and other foods. The plants can be found near other herbs at garden centers or in gourmet food shops when in season.
Featured Family Meal
Rock Cornish Game Hens
4 Cornish game hens
Salt and pepper to taste
1 lemon, quartered
5 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
3 tablespoons olive oil
24 cloves garlic
1/3 cup white wine
1/3 cup low-sodium chicken broth
4 sprigs fresh rosemary
1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Rinse hens and pat dry with paper towels. Lightly season cavities with salt and pepper to taste.
3. Place 1 lemon wedge and 1 sprig rosemary in the cavity of each hen.
4. Rub hens with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Season outside of hens with salt and pepper to taste.
5. Arrange in a large, heavy roasting pan. Scatter garlic cloves around hens.
6. Roast in preheated oven for 25 minutes.
Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
7. Pour wine, broth and remaining 2 tablespoons of oil over hens.
8. Continue roasting about 25 minutes longer, until hens are golden brown and juices run clear.
9. Baste with pan juices every 10 minutes.
10. Transfer hens to a platter, pouring any cavity juices into the roasting pan.
Tent hens with aluminum foil to keep warm.
11. Transfer pan juices and garlic cloves to a medium saucepan. Mash garlic and boil until liquids reduce to a sauce consistency, about 6 minutes.
12. Remove lemons from cavity and squeeze over breast. Cut hens in half lengthwise and arrange on plates. Spoon sauce and garlic around hens.
Garnish with rosemary sprigs and serve.
Ginger Almond Pears
5 firm ripe pears
3 cups apple cider
2 tsp finely chopped fresh gingerroot
3 tbsp cornstarch or arrowroot
1/2 tsp pure almond extract
Salt to taste
1. Peel the pears, quarter them lengthwise, and core. Slice pears thinly and place in a saucepan with the apple cider and gingerroot. Add a pinch of salt.
2. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until pears are tender, about 15 minutes.
3. Dissolve cornstarch or arrowroot in 1/3 cup cold water and add to the simmering pears, stirring, until the sauce is thick and clear.
4. Remove from heat and stir in almond extract. Serve warm or cold.
Other Featured Recipes
Easy Bread Pudding
4 cups cubed day-old bread, such as raisin, sourdough, or oatmeal
2 cups skim milk, scalded
3/4 cup each: fat-free egg substitute, packed dark brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. Brandy or rum, optional
Confectioners' sugar, optional
Heat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Coat a 2-quart nonstick baking dish with cooking spray. Place cubed bread in baking dish and set aside. Combine milk, egg sub, brown sugar, vanilla, and brandy and pour over bread cubes in dish. Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until set. Cool on wire rack for 10 minutes. Lightly dust with confectioners' sugar, if desired.
This is delicious served warm or cold. Low-fat, as well-155 calories and 1g fat per serving.
Filet Mignon with Peppercorn-Orange Sauce
2 tsp grated orange rind
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons Balsamic vinegar
2 tsp honey
1/2 cup coarsely chopped green onions
1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons drained brine-packed green peppercorns
1 garlic clove, peeled
2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp sesame seeds, toasted
1/2 tsp salt
12 (4 oz) beef tenderloin steak
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
To prepare sauce, combine the first 7 ingredients in a small saucepan; bring to a boil. Cook until reduced to 1/3 cup (about 6 minutes). Cool. Place the onions, cilantro, peppercorns, garlic and oil in a food processor; process until finely chopped. Add orange juice mixture, sesame seeds and 1/2 tsp salt; pulse to combine. Set aside.
To prepare steaks, sprinkle the beef with 1/2 tsp salt and black pepper. Place steaks on a grill rack coated with cooking spray; grill 3 minutes on each side or until desired degree of doneness. Serve steaks with sauce. Garnish with cilantro sprigs, if desired.
Cook's notes: Sauce can be made ahead of time. 12 servings (serving size: 1 steak and about 1 tablespoon sauce).
1/2 cup egg substitute
4 tablespoons sugar
1 can (13 ounces) evaporated skim milk
3/4 cup skim milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
Whip egg substitute and sugar. Combine with both types of milk, and vanilla. Mix well and chill overnight (this enhances the flavor). Serve in chilled mugs and top with a sprinkling of ground nutmeg.
Italian Fudge Filled Cookies
8 oz. cream cheese
1/2 lb. butter or margarine
2 cups flour
1/4 cup confectioner's sugar
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 package (12 oz.) chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1 tsp vanilla
Cream together cream cheese and margarine. Add flour and confectioner's sugar. Chill for 1-2 hours
Place sweetened condensed milk into a medium pan and place over a medium to medium high heat. Stir constantly until it starts to bubble. Add chips and vanilla and mix until smooth. Remove from heat. Let cool. Divide the chilled dough into thirds, sprinkle surface with some flour and sugar, and roll each piece out to 1/4 inch. Try to work as much of the flour and sugar into the dough as possible -- to make a smooth and nonstick consistency. Place 1/3 of the chocolate mixture in your hand and shape into a cylinder that will fit along the center of the rolled out dough. Fold over the sides. Seal and tuck in ends. Place seam side down on a greased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes, or until light golden brown. Repeat with remaining dough and chocolate. When cool, slice into 1/2 inch pieces.
Cook's notes: Use a pillowcase that is just for the kitchen to roll out the dough on. I put the flour and sugar right on the pillowcase and roll away. After you are through, just throw it into the washing machine for the next time.
For more healthy meal planning made simple, go to www.mealsmatter.org
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