Saturday, May 28, 2011

Episode Three: To Bake or Not To Bake? The Answer is YES!

Alright, so grammar aside, YES is the answer to the question queried in this post's title. Today marks my first recipe posting, and not only is there one sinfully delicious (and remarkably healthy!) recipe for you to sink your teeth into, there are THREE, all with seven ingredients or less (7 Points Plus or less for you fellow Weight Watchers out there), and all requiring very little in the way of kitchen utensils. Plus this recipe is so simple, you can literally make it with any variety of ingredients to satisfy any palette.

Today we'll be unbaking, thank you Lewis Carroll, with a simple No-Bake Cheesecake recipe (Thus the YES to our baking without baking enigma). I did a little poking around online, just to scope out the other Cheesecake contenders on the table. Your average store-bought no bake mix (such as Jell-O) is already between 7-10 Points Plus, which is over 200 calories per serving, PRE-PREPARATION! And don't even get me going on The Cheesecake Factory's delectably-anti-trim-waist-line offerings. We'll just not go there today. Cheesecake is one of my absolute favorite desserts, and I hate hearing myself or fellow "dieters" (I ABHORE that word) say, "Oh, I can't have that." Yes you can! Healthy weight maintenance is most definitely not about deprivation, it's about moderation. And while Weight Watchers may not be everyone's choice for a weight loss plan, they have a remarkably simple motto, Don't Eat Less, Eat SMART. Thus, my foray into the world of guilt free cheesecake consumption! 

**The base recipe is NOT my creation, but came from a recipe site called Gina's Recipes. She's a fellow Weight Watcher and strives as I do to create healthful recipes based on old favorites. The modifications I'll talk about are some of my own ideas to make Gina's base recipe more versatile.

Me with my mother
from the show
This post also commemorates the closing of Church Basement Ladies: A Second Helping, which I've been working on in Fort Myers, FL since February! I tested out several of my Weight Watchers friendly recipes on this cast (including soda cupcakes and some devastatingly delicious pistachio parfaits), and my no-bake cheesecake was my final thank you for a fabulous run of over 90 performances! A few weeks prior to closing I told the cast I'd be baking for them one last time before our time together ended and I told them they could choose the ingredients and I'd supply the dessert. Simply and unanimously: Chocolate and Peanut Butter. They could care less what else was involved. I, of course, was happy to oblige, especially since these two are among my top 5 favorite ingredients to bake with (or just eat together, let's be honest). I had recently discovered the no-bake cheesecake recipe and thought it'd be the perfect base for my delicious deviation.

The original recipe calls for Whipped Topping, Cream Cheese, Splenda, Lemon Juice, and a reduced-fat Graham Cracker Crust. And don't worry about writing all this down, I have a handy-dandy easy to download PDF linked at the bottom of this post. Just download and print and you'll be ready to hit the super market! For my Chocolate/Peanut Butter concoction, I simply added reduced-fat peanut butter to the mix, some mini chocolate chips, and substituted a chocolate graham cracker crust

Pictured at Right is everything you'll need to make my Peanut Butter Chocolate No-Bake Cheesecake!

8 oz fat free whipped topping, thawed
8 oz fat free cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup Splenda
1/4 cup reduced fat peanut butter
5 teaspoons mini chocolate chips (or you can shave 2 pieces of Dove dark chocolate)
1 teaspoon Lemon Juice
1 9-inch Keebler Chocolate Redi-Crust

To start, place the 8 oz of cream cheese in a large bowl. I softened mine first, but I found microwaving it for approx. 45 seconds makes it easier to incorporate with the other ingredients. After microwaving, stir with a spoon until smooth. Add in the 1/4 cup of Splenda and 1 teaspoon Lemon Juice and stir until well combined. Add the 1/4 cup of Peanut Butter and stir until well combined. Slowly mix in the 8 oz of whipped topping (it will be the whole carton). Stir until the mixture has a warm brown tint from the peanut butter. Spoon the mixture into the Chocolate Redi-Crust and spread evenly along the bottom and up the sides.
Finally, garnish with the 5 teaspoons of mini chocolate chips or the two shaved pieces of Dove Dark Chocolate. Cover and refrigerate for a few hours, until firm. Cake! Well, CHEESEcake...

YIELD: 6 Slices.

Now, the beauty in this recipe is how easy it is to modify. If you like Strawberry Cheesecake, try substituting 4 oz of Philadelphia 1/3 Less-Fat Strawberry Cream Cheese into the recipe. You can garnish it with Strawberry slices and even make your own sugar-free strawberry sauce (take 1 cup thawed frozen strawberries, 1 teaspoon Splenda, and 1 Tablespoon water, place in saucepan on the stove over medium high heat and stir continuously until sauce forms). Craving that Jello-Oreo Cheesecake? Use the chocolate Redi-Crust and crumble some reduced-fat Oreos into the cheesecake mixture. And, of course, if you just want plain and simple delicious (but healthy!) cheesecake, just follow the recipe as directed.

For all you Weight Watchers out there, the Points Plus as figured on the PDF are listed for the base cheesecake, the strawberry, and the chocolate peanut butter. If you make your own creation (which you should!) be sure to re-calculate the Points Plus for any modifications you make.

To get this amazing recipe for your recipe book, simply right click and save the image to your desktop. 

Let me know any crazy delicious creations you make! I'm always looking for new, tasty ideas!

Happy Baking!

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