Lime Cheesecake Bars

A cool, creamy lime filling rests atop a thick layer of graham cracker crust in these delicious Lime Cheesecake Bars!


Having lived in Arizona for most of my life–93.5% of my life, to be exact, because I’m a nerd and was just calculated the percentage–I’m no stranger to Mexican food. Like, good Mexican food. None of this Swiss-cheese-on-a-burrito business I sometimes encountered while at college in the Chicago area. Good Mexican food to me means crispy tortilla shells, marinated meats with a zesty mix of the right spices, fresh veggies for the perfect salsa, and a hint of something cool and creamy to balance it all out. Like most Arizonans, I’m basically *always* in the mood for Mexican.

But there’s one perpetual problem I have when serving Mexican food to guests: what to make for dessert. There’s the usual flan or dulce de leche-flavored anything, but I find these can tire out pretty quickly. And as much as I love chocolate cookies or carrot cake, they just aren’t quite right after Mexican. So when my husband’s high school friend group was recently scheduled to join us for an evening of a Mexican dinner and movie night, I needed something appropriate for dessert.

With a bit of tinkering from a handful of other recipes, I was able to create these thick and creamy Lime Cheesecake Bars, which totally fit the bill! I think bright, peppy citrus always goes well with Mexican spices like cumin, chili powder, or oregano, and the combo of and more mellow cream cheese provides a satisfying coda to a spicy meal. I ended up serving these with my Veggie-ful Slow Cooker Chicken (which also feeds a crowd), plus chips and guac (a party prerequisite). Their graham cracker crust is extra thick–because thin lil’ slivers of crust are soooo disappointing–while the filling is the stuff of New York-style cheesecake dreams, but with a generous dose of lime flavor. And like many flavor-melding foods, these bars were even better the next day.

Of course, don’t let me stop you from enjoying Lime Cheesecake Bars with other cuisines (or all by themselves)! They’d be equally at home with Caribbean food, Creole food, or underneath a mountain of whipped cream. But in case you like Mexican…

Don’t miss more these south-of-the-border recipes to serve with Lime Cheesecake Bars!

Print Recipe
5 from 1 vote

Lime Cheesecake Bars

These bars are cool and creamy on top with a sturdy graham cracker crust. The hint of lime is just right for serving with a spicy dinner.
Servings: 18

Ingredients

  • 3 1/2 c. graham cracker crumbs
  • 2 Tbsp. white sugar
  • 6 Tbsp. butter, melted
  • 16 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 16 oz. Greek yogurt-cream cheese blend, softened
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 14-oz. cans sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 c. fresh-squeezed lime juice
  • 2 Tbsp. lime zest
  • whipped cream for garnish

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a 9 x 13 inch baking dish with cooking spray.
  • In a medium bowl, combine graham crackers, sugar, and melted butter. Press into the bottom of the prepared pan evenly. Bake 10 minutes.
  • In a large bowl, beat all cream cheese until smooth. Add eggs and beat until smooth, then pour in sweetened condensed milk and lime juice and continue beating on low until no lumps remain. Stir or beat in lime zest until incorporated.
  • Pour the cream cheese mixture over the graham cracker crust and smooth. Bake about 25 minutes or until filling is no longer jiggly. Let cool completely before slicing and garnish with whipped cream. Store in the refrigerator.

Notes

A Love Letter to Food Original Recipe

Almond Blender Pancakes

Easy blender pancakes with loads of almond flavor!

Do you BFD? I do.

I don’t mean Bidirectional Forwarding Detection (whatever that is). I don’t mean Big Freakin’ Deal. (Though sometimes I’d like to think of myself that way.) I’m talking about…

Breakfast
For
Dinner!

Every once in awhile I remember that pancakes are a totally acceptable dinner option (at least, when rounded out with a fruit salad and some eggs). A few times a year I like to whip up a pancake dinner for the fam. It pleases the kids big time and is super easy to prepare.

And you know what makes pancakes even easier? (Don’t say a boxed mix.) A blender!

When I decided to make pancakes for our most recent BFD, I wanted them to be almond-y–but I’m not one to keep almond flour on hand, so I knew I’d have to make my own from slivered almonds.

No prob! Blender to the rescue!

By mixing all the ingredients for these pancakes right in the blender, you’ll grind slivered almonds up into a flour-like consistency along with everything else. And don’t be deterred by the long-ish ingredient list here. Since everything gets tossed in the blender, it’s a one-bowl meal for the win.

I will say, though, depending on your blender, you might want to pause the blending and stir it up a few times. I love my NutriBullet, but it has a tendency to build dry ingredients up along the sides of the bowl. Pushing them down generally sets things right.

Oh, and one other caveat: with any flour-based food, it’s best not to mix too much. Doing so can overwork the gluten in the flour, resulting in a tough finished product. So don’t leave these ingredients to blend while you, you know, get your nails done or something. You want to get everything to that just-mixed point.

As for flavor, the addition of almond milk and almond extract makes these Almond Blender Pancakes as almond-y as can be. (Let’s just say almond a few more times. Almond. Almond. Almond. Thanks, got that out of my system now.) You can even sprinkle a few extra slivered almonds on top of each one while they cook on the griddle–not necessary, but it makes them prettier to look at. Meanwhile, they’re nice and moist with just enough sweetness, and my nutritionist brain loves that the addition of the nuts provides extra protein, vitamin E, and calcium. (You’ll also soak up protein from Greek yogurt and whole wheat flour.)

For a weeknight BFD (or of course a breakfast or brunch), almond fans will want to dig right in!

Almond Blender Pancakes

Full of almond flavor, these pancakes mix up easily in the blender!
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time15 mins
Servings: 8

Ingredients

  • 1/2 c. slivered almonds
  • 1 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1 c. whole wheat flour
  • 2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 5 Tbsp. white sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 3/4 tsp. baking soda
  • generous 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 c. plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 c. almond milk
  • 1 tsp. almond extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
  • additional almonds for garnish

Instructions

  • Place all ingredients in a blender and mix until smooth.
  • Heat a nonstick griddle over medium heat. Pour about 1/4 cup batter per pancake onto the griddle and cook until the surface of the batter bubbles. Sprinkle a few slivered almonds on top, if you like. Flip and cook the other side.
  • Serve plain or with butter and maple syrup.

Notes

A Love Letter to Food original recipe.

Loaded Sweet Potato Nachos

Loaded Sweet Potato Nachos add fiber, nutrients, and unique flavor to this classic appetizer!


I’m sorry/not sorry about how many sweet potato recipes I have here on the blog. I’ve got Sweet Potato Enchiladas, Sweet Potato Goat Cheese Galette, Sweet Potato Kale Curry, and even Cinnamon Sweet Potato Muffins. And you can add one more to the list: these delicious Loaded Sweet Potato Nachos.

What can I say? I’m crazy about tubers. They’re chock-full of potassium, fiber, and vitamin A–and it doesn’t hurt that they’re virtually fool-proof for roasting, mashing, and sautéing. They’re starchy but not too starchy, with an earthy, sweet taste that goes with everything from Mexican to Indian cuisine. What’s not to like?

I’ve (obviously) used these veggies in lots of recipes already, but have been wanting to sub sweet potato medallions for chips in nachos for literally years. Back when I worked at the American Heart Association’s children’s museum and did their social media, I’d post AHA recipes to the museum’s Facebook page every few days. One that always caught my eye was their heart-healthy sweet potato nachos. I have nothing against regular tortilla chips in nachos, but this seemed like an interesting twist.

Since then, I’ve seen nachos done with thin, super crispy sweet potato chips, but I far prefer tender over crispy. This version of loaded sweet potato nachos doesn’t cut the veggies too thin, allowing them to retain their starchy tenderness (but still hold up to lots of toppings). Twenty minutes’ baking time is all it takes to get them just right.

Once your sweet potato coins have softened in the oven, it’s time to top them with all your favorite nacho fixin’s! I used cheddar, salsa, avocado, and sour cream, but you could try jalapeños, shredded chicken, or fresh tomatoes.

Final verdict: Major noms! I’d never give up regular nachos entirely, but this more nutritious variation is going on my regular menu!

Loaded Sweet Potato Nachos

Full of fiber from sweet potatoes and beans, these nachos are a healthy spin on a classic.
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time20 mins
Servings: 6

Ingredients

  • 4 medium, narrow sweet potatoes
  • olive oil cooking spray
  • salt, pepper, and paprika to taste
  • 15 oz. can kidney beans, rinsed
  • 15 oz. can black beans, rinsed
  • 1 1/2 shredded sharp cheddar
  • 1 c. salsa
  • 1 small avocado, diced
  • 1/2 c. sour cream

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray two baking sheets with olive oil cooking spray. Peel sweet potatoes and slice into 1/4-inch-thick medallions. Spread in a single layer across both baking sheets. Spray tops of potatoes with olive oil spray and sprinkle with salt, pepper, and paprika. Bake 20 minutes or until tender.
  • Transfer all sweet potato slices to a single baking sheet. Distribute kidney beans and black beans evenly over them, then sprinkle with the cheddar.
  • Broil 5 inches from heat about 2 minutes or until cheese is melted.
  • Top with salsa, avocado, and sour cream.

Notes

A Love Letter to Food Original Recipe.

Smoked Salmon and Cream Cheese Frittata

For fans of smoked salmon, this Smoked Salmon and Cream Cheese Frittata is a delightful brunch or lunch!


I remember the first time I heard of smoked salmon. I was in junior high, and a bagel place had just opened up at the intersection nearest my house. That summer between seventh and eighth grade, my mom and I would walk over to Bagel Nosh and grab bagel sandwiches, then come home and watch movies to stay out of the punishing Arizona heat. Good memories.

What always seemed weird to me, though, was this bagel topping called “lox.” I had never encountered the concept of cured fish, and it definitely seemed bizarre that anyone would want to eat it on a bagel…with cream cheese…and something called capers? No, thanks. I stuck solidly to my tuna salad or turkey and cheese.

As I’ve become more open-minded about food through the years, however, I’ve come around to smoked salmon as one of my favorite proteins. I now love its smoky flavor and tender texture in dips (like this Creamy Smoked Salmon Dip), on sandwiches, or just with crackers and cheese. So a smoked salmon and cream cheese frittata? A big YES from me!

This frittata is a modification of a recipe in a cookbook I’ve especially been enjoying lately: Ellie Krieger’s Whole in One: Complete, Healthy Meals, which features meals you can make in a single pot, skillet, or sheet pan. (This also gets a big YES from me, for obvious reasons.)


This cookbook has so far been a total winner, and I’m sure you could cook anything in it exactly as written for a fabulous finished product. But to make this particular frittata, I took some substantial liberties! Like most egg dishes, this is one you can play with to tailor to your tastes–but the basic ingredients of smoked salmon, cream cheese, fresh dill, and chives are the primary non-negotiables. (Oh, and eggs, I guess.)

I made this for a quick lunch on a Lenten Friday and it was just perfect–light, herby, and fluffy. At least thought so. My preteen, non-smoked salmon-loving son was less convinced. So note to junior highers everywhere (my former self included): Get on the smoked salmon train ASAP. You won’t be sorry.

Print Recipe
5 from 1 vote

Smoked Salmon and Cream Cheese Frittata

Smoky, creamy, and herb-y, this frittata is an ideal meatless brunch or lunch.
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time10 mins
Servings: 4 people

Ingredients

  • 7 large eggs
  • 1/4 c. milk
  • scant 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/8 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/4 c. green onions or scallions, sliced
  • 4 oz. smoked salmon, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh dill (or 2 tsp. dried)
  • 2 oz. cream cheese (I used light, which tends to be easier to spread)

Instructions

  • In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, salt and pepper. Set aside.
  • In a large oven-proof skillet, heat 1 tbsp. olive oil over medium-low heat. Add green onions and cook about 1 minute. Add smoked salmon and dill and stir to distribute evenly across the skillet. Pour whisked egg mixture on top and cook (without stirring) about 8 minutes over medium-low heat. The eggs should be set around the edges but a bit jiggly in the center.
  • Preheat broiler. Dollop the cream cheese by teaspoonfuls on the surface of the frittata, then broil for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes until the surface turns golden brown. Let sit a few minutes, then dig in!

Notes

Inspired by a recipe in Ellie Krieger's Whole in One.

Espresso Sugar Cookies

Espresso Sugar Cookies are light and chewy, loaded with espresso flavor!

Nowhere is the phrase “necessity is the mother of invention” truer than in recipe development. And, for me, at no time is it truer than during Lent. These Espresso Sugar Cookies were born out of a little bit of culinary and spiritual necessity.

Let me explain.

In the 40 days of fasting, prayer, and almsgiving that we Catholics observe this time of year, it’s customary to make sacrifices that unite us with the sufferings of Jesus in some small way. It may sound lame or insignificant, but this year one of my sacrifices is giving up chocolate.

But mannnnn I want chocolate so. bad. every. day. I’ve had a few Reese’s pieces, which technically don’t contain any chocolate, but my husband claims that’s cheating. And hey, maybe having any sweets might be considered cheating, but for me, relinquishing chocolate for six weeks is sacrifice enough. I’m okay continuing to eat other, non-chocolatey dessert foods here and there.

That said, it’s kinda tough to find desserts I actually like that aren’t chocolate. In my efforts to scare up something a little bit like chocolate, but not chocolate, in the last nine days since Ash Wednesday, I thought I might turn to the flavor of coffee. After all, chocolate and coffee often pair together, and according to The Flavor Bible, they’re complementary tastes.

Plus, I happened to have some espresso powder hanging around from when I recently made this totally indulgent, craaaaazzy layer cake for a friend’s husband’s birthday. Why not give espresso powder a spin in non-chocolatey cookies?

Trouble is, almost every baked goods recipe on the internet that uses coffee also calls for chocolate. I mean, mocha is KING in cookies, pies, cakes, cheesecakes, and more. So it was up to me to create my own espresso sugar cookies! I’m so glad I did!

These cookies are chewy and light, with just a hint of crispiness around the edges. They taste like coffee, of course, but not in an overpowering way. They’re the perfect accompaniment to an afternoon or after-dinner cup of joe. Leaving chocolate out of the equation actually allows the espresso flavor to shine through all on its own.

So, believe it or not, I kinda love that these cookies don’t include any chocolate! Who’da thunk?

Espresso Sugar Cookies

Chewy and light, these espresso sugar cookies are perfect with a cup of coffee!
Prep Time15 mins
Servings: 18 cookies

Ingredients

  • 1/2 c. butter, softened
  • 1 1/4 c. white sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp. espresso powder
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 3-4 Tbsp. milk

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease two cookie sheets.
  • In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar. Add vanilla and egg and mix.
  • Mix in flour, espresso powder, baking powder, and salt. Slowly add milk, t tablespoon at a time, and mix until the batter holds together but isn't visibly wet.
  • Drop cookies by the tablespoonful onto the greased cookie sheets. Bake 12-14 minutes or until set. Store in an airtight container.

Notes

A Love Letter to Food original recipe.