No-Bake Cheesecake Bites

No-Bake Cheesecake Bites Three-Way

This is a simple, no-bake dessert idea that’s perfect for summer entertaining (because who wants to turn on the oven when it gets hot outside?) For the graham cracker crust if you don’t have a food processor, you can put them in a ziplock bag and crush them by hands. Uneven crumbles will create different textures that will be even better.

You can cut these into bite-sizes as I did, but you can even serve it in like a typical cheesecake style by adding the mixture to the cake pan.

These creamy dessert bites stay well in the freezer, so make these ahead and whip them out for any surprise parties!

Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Makes: 8 people

INGREDIENTS:

Crust:

  • 12 graham crackers sheets

  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar

  • 2 tsp kosher salt

  • 1 stick melted butter

Cheesecake Base:

  • 1 lb cream cheese, room temp

  • 1 cup powdered sugar

  • 1 tbsp rosewater

Topping:

  • dehydrated rose petals

  • 1 cup chocolate chips, melted

  • 1/4 cup raspberry jam

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. In a food processor, pulse the graham crackers until finely crushed.

  2. In a large bowl, combine graham crackers, 1/4 cup powder sugar, salt, and melted butter. Stir until the mixture is well combined.

  3. Press the graham cracker mixture down into the baking dish, using a cup or spatula - press the mixture until it creates an even layer! Freeze for 15 minutes.

  4. In a stand mixer bowl, whip cream cheese with powdered sugar, and rosewater until everything is fully incorporated and smooth.

  5. Spread the cream cheese evenly on top of the chilled graham cracker crust. Freeze for at least 2 hours (overnight if you can).

  6. Transfer the cheesecake to a cutting board and slice into 1-inch squares - creating mini cheesecake bites.

Topping:

  1. Sprinkle cheesecake bites with rose petals.

  2. Dip some cheesecake bites into melted chocolate and cool in freezer, Finish with sea salt.

  3. Swirl raspberry jam onto the cheesecake bites and freeze.

Pickled Board

Pickled Board

I’m back with another board series. For this time, it’s all about pickles!

I used my favorite seasonal fruits and vegetables, such as tomatoes, cucumber, red onion, and pineapple, to pickle. I paired the pickle board with fresh crudités, a few of my favorite dips, and some potato chips. Such a simple spread for lots of flavors.

Use my base pickle recipe to pickle your favorite veggies and fruits. Cauliflower, watermelon rinds, and even peaches would be excellent.

Stay tuned for more of my board series, and I hope you start having fun with creating your own incredible boards for your upcoming parties.

Pistachio Halva Rice Krispies

Pistachio Halva Rice Krispies

I think Rice Krispie treats are one of the quintessential American desserts that everyone seems to love. It tastes like your childhood! I remember seeing my friends getting so excited when they saw a little blue wrapper during lunchtime while I was eating my halva tartine across from them.

Halva is a sweetened, condensed tahini that is quintessential to everyone in the Middle East. It’s chalky, sweet, and perfect to spread on a piece of toasted bread. I combined my Middle Eastern, American life into one dish: Pistachio Halva Rice Krispies.

Adding crumbled halva to the Rice Krispie mixture adds not only extra nutty, sweet flavors but also flaky texture. To make this extra delectable, I drizzled melted dark chocolate and finished it with even more pistachios. It’s the best of two worlds!

Now, whenever I serve this special treat to my clients, I can see their faces lighting up with joy and memories. But this time, they are tasting both their and my childhood.

Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Makes: 8 people

INGREDIENTS:

  • 10 tbsp unsalted butter

  • 12 cups mini marshmallows

  • 16 cups crisp rice cereal

  • 10 oz pistachio halva

  • 1 cup heavy cream

  • 12 oz dark chocolate chips

  • 1/4 cup pistachios

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Once the butter is fully melted, add marshmallow until it’s fully incorporated to the butter.

  2. In a large bowl, add crisp rice cereal. Pour marshmallow fluff to crisp rice cereal in a bowl. Mix everything with 1 tbsp of salt until everything is well combined.

  3. Add crumbled pistachio halva to the crisp rice cereal mixture. Mix everything well again.

  4. Transfer the mixture to the sheet pan to form the shape. Spread it thinly to make sure that it covers every inch of the sheet pan, and press it thoroughly, making sure there are no holes. Keep it in the fridge for an hour until it hardens.

  5. While the crisp rice cereal is in the fridge, make the chocolate drizzle by pouring heated heavy cream to dark chocolate chips in a bowl. Whisk it thoroughly until it becomes glossy and saucy.

  6. Drizzle the chocolate ganache on crisp rice cereal. Grate pistachios on top and generously sprinkle more pistachios to your liking.

Mediterranean Cheeseboard

Mediterranean Cheeseboard

I fell in love with putting together boards from cheese and charcuterie one to get things started to a colorful fruit one to end the feast. My clients LOVE seeing my boards, and they always request one for their party! It’s a perfect way to showcase seasonal, colorful ingredients that will impress the crowd. After being inspired by so many great ones on Instagram, I am excited to share the beginning of my ongoing How To Make Your Own Board series.

I created this beautiful Mediterranean Cheeseboard to kick off. I used Mediterranean cheese, such as halloumi, feta, and labneh, along with fresh, seasonal ingredients, like scallions, cherry tomatoes, and strawberries! It can feed the crowd on a budget, is super versatile (feel free to swap in and out whatever you want!), and is perfect for summer entertaining!

Also, this is vegetarian-friendly so it will please everyone! A gorgeous centerpiece at the party that can feed the crowd. I mean, what else can you ask for more?

I hope this cheeseboard has inspired you to have fun and create your own gorgeous boards, and I will continue to share more boards here and my IGTV channel so that YOU can be the new queen of entertaining.

Riz a Jej (Lebanese Chicken & Rice)

Riz a Jej, Lebanese Chicken & Rice

This traditional Lebanese chicken and rice dish is one of my favorites. Flavorful, seasoned rice, topped with juicy chicken and studded with nuts—it is, for me, the purest definition of comfort food. I have so many memories around this dish with my grandmother, so I wrote a sweet story around this for Food52. Hope you all get to taste my grandmother’s simple Lebanese chicken and rice dish.

PHOTO BY JULIA GARTLAND

Total Time: 1 hour
Makes: 4-6 people

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 tbsp butter

  • 1 tbsp EVOO

  • 1 cup onion, chopped

  • 2 lbs ground beef or lamb

  • 2 cups long-grain white rice

  • 2 tbsp salt

  • 4 tbsp bahārāt (seven-pepper spice)

  • 4 cups shredded rotisserie chicken

  • 5 cups chicken stock (preferably homemade)

  • 2 bay leaves

  • 1/2 cup cashews

  • 1/4 cup pine nuts

  • 1/4 cup silvered almonds

  • 1/4 cup sesame seeds

  • 1/4 cup pistachios

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. MAKE RICE: In a large pot, add the butter, olive oil, and onion and cook for 5 minutes until the onion softens. Make sure the onions don’t brown. Add the ground meat and cook, stirring regularly, for 10 minutes until the meat starts to brown. Add the rice, salt, and 2 tablespoons of the bahārāt to the pot, and cook for 2 minutes as you're stirring and coating the rice with the spices. Add 4 cups of chicken stock and bay leaves to the pot and bring to the boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for 20 to 25 minutes, until the rice is fully cooked.

  2. MAKE CHICKEN: In a medium-sized pot, add shredded chicken and remaining 2 tbsp bahārāt. Mix well until fully seasoned. Add remaining 1 cup of chicken stock to the mixture and bring it to a gentle simmer on a low heat. This process will keep the chicken moist and flavorful.

  3. TOAST NUTS: Set the oven at the 450°F. In separate batches, toast each nut in the oven for 3 to 5 minutes until lightly golden. Once toasted, mix all the nuts together. Set aside.

  4. ASSEMBLE: To assemble, place the rice mixture on a serving platter and cover with shredded chicken. Garnish with toasted nuts.

Garlic-y Labneh (Labneh bi Toum)

Labneh bi Toum

Labneh: a creamy, tangy Middle Eastern yogurt strained until extra thick. It’s sort of a cross between whipped cream cheese and sour cream—but better. Lebanese people eat labneh with chips, chicken, kibbeh, fries. I shared my love of laBneh and how I used to watch my grandma making it in the kitchen, growing up on Food52. Hope you fall in love with labneh as much as I do.

PHOTO BY TY MECHAM

Total Time: 24 hrs
Makes: 1 pint

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 pounds non-fat Greek yogurt

  • 2 garlic cloves, grated or finely chopped

  • 1 lemon, juiced

  • 2 tsp kosher salt

  • Extra-virgin olive oil

  • Dried mint (optional)

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Line a large strainer with cheesecloth, and set into a large bowl.

  2. In a large bowl mix the yogurt, garlic, lemon juice, and salt, until fully incorporated.

  3. Place the yogurt mixture in the cheesecloth, and cover it by bringing the edges of the cloth towards the middle. Let drain in the fridge for 24 hours.

  4. After 24 hours, squeeze any excess liquid and place into an airtight container, or serve immediately, garnished with olive oil and dried mint, alongside warm pita and olives.

Blackberry Basil Soda

Blackberry Basil Soda

Here is a fun, spring drink for your next brunch or backyard party since it’s finally getting warm to sit outside. The basil brings the freshness and herbaceous flavors to the drink while blackberries give this drink such a cool, deep purple color.

If vodka is not your thing, you can replace with gin, or even tequila. Have fun with this drink! Play with different ingredients like lemon or lime to add a burst of zing. Basil is not your thing? Make thyme or rosemary simple syrup instead. Possibilities are limitless!

Total Time: 15 minutes
Makes: 1 pitcher

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 pints blackberries

  • 1 bunch of basil

  • 1 cup sugar

  • 1 cup vodka (or gin)

  • lime-flavored sparkling water

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Put blackberries in a blender with 2 cups of water until it becomes a juice consistency. Set that aside.

  2. Make basil simple syrup by boiling 1 cup of sugar, basil, and 1 cup of water in a pot until everything is dissolved for 5-7 minutes.

  3. Combine 2 cups of blackberry juice, 1/2 cup of basil simple syrup, vodka, and sparkling water in a pitcher. Mix it well. Garnish the drink with extra basil and blackberries.

Chocolate Beet Cake

Chocolate Beet Cake

Inspired by this gorgeous cake from Martha Stewart Kitchen, I decided to bake this extra moist, satisfying, chocolate cake. It’s perfect for a dessert after a holiday meal — it has just right amount of decadence without being heavy and beet flavors in a fudge-y chocolate batter make all the difference.

Of course, I had to add my twist to the cake, so I added Greek yogurt, which made the cake even more moist.

Instead of a dark chocolate glaze, I made a white chocolate ganache because spring has sprung! Vibrant fruits, such as blood orange, kiwi, or pomegranate seeds, make fantastic garnishes.

Total Time: 3 hours
Makes: 1 9-inch cake

INGREDIENTS:

  • 4 medium beets, trimmed, peeled, and cut into 2-inch chunks

  • 1/4 cup and 2 tbsp of Greek yogurt

  • 2 cups AP flour

  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

  • 1/2 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder

  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda

  • 1 tbsp salt

  • 2 large eggs

  • 3/4 cup warm water

  • 1/4 cup canola oil

  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

  • 12 oz white chocolate

  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter

  • 1 cup heavy cream

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Puree cooked beets and 2 tbsp of Greek yogurt in a food processor until smooth.

  2. Preheat oven to 350 degree F. Whisk together flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. Whisk in eggs, water, oil, vanilla, and 1 1/4 cups beet and Greek yogurt puree.

  3. Coat a 9-inch round cake pan with cooking spray. Line bottom with parchment, and coat with softened butter or cooking spray. Pour batter into the pan

  4. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean with no crumbs for about an hour. Check in and rotate the pan after 45 minutes.

  5. Once it’s done, take the cake out of the pan and let it cool completely.

  6. While the cake is cooling, make the ganache by pouring hot, heavy cream to a bowl of white chocolate and butter. Whisk it well until it’s fully incorporated.

  7. Pour chocolate glaze over the top, and let it set about for 30 minutes. Garnish with slices of blood orange.