My husband is out of the country for a couple of weeks. He recently had his birthday, and my gift to him was a trip to Israel. He is visiting Jerusalem, Nazareth, Bethlehem, the Dead Sea, and myriad other locations set up by the tour.

My poor sweetheart, who does not like vegetables, is now in an area where vegetables and rice are a staple. He is an eggs and bacon kind of breakfast guy, and he is having to eat granola and yogurt every morning.

He apparently got a BIG stink eye from the server when he asked if there was a possibility of a side of bacon available….(Yes, I told him to read the literature prior to his trip, to become familiar with local customs but it appears he did not.)

California Girl comments: I am laughing my butt off here… howling at the idea asking for bacon in a predominately Jewish/Muslim country for Bacon.  Good luck with that one Kelly! 

While he is away, I have been cooking less. There is no one here to eat the treats, and normally I send them with him to work to share with his coworkers. I do have a recipe to share this week, however, and it is a fabulous one! I made it just before he left on his trip, and sent it to work and it got rave reviews, as well as many requests for the recipe. I think the ladies at work are getting used to hearing “check the blog, it will be out soon….” So, here it is. Those wonderful raspberry cheesecake bites!

You will need:
for crust-
2-1/2 cups of graham cracker crumbs
3 TBSP granulated sugar
1 cube melted butter (1/2 cup)

for filling-

4 packages of cream cheese (8 oz. size)
1 cup of sugar
1 TBSP lemon juice

zest from 1 lemon (zest prior to squeezing for lemon juice)
3 cups of fresh raspberries
4 eggs

Preheat the oven to 325ºF. Prepare a 9 x 13 baking pan as follows: Tear a piece of foil several inches longer than the length of the pan. Press the foil in to the pan to line, bringing the foil up the sides evenly. Fold the end of the foil that are hanging over the ends of the pan to form handles…so that when the bars come out of the oven, you can lift them out of the pan using the folded ends of the foil liner as handles.

Mix the ingredients for the crust together with a spoon or fork until well mixed, and then press it into the bottom of the foil lined pan to make an even layer.

Press firmly so it all sticks together. Place in the preheated oven and bake for about 10 minutes.

In a mixing bowl, place the cream cheese blocks and allow to warm a bit after being refrigerated. They will be easier to blend if chilled.

Using an electric mixer, blend the cream cheese until smooth. Add the sugar and the lemon juice, and continue beating with mixer until velvety smooth. Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat until smooth. Add 1 TBSP of lemon zest, and mix. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold in about 2-1/2 cups of the raspberries.

Once the crust comes out of the oven, allow to cool for a few minutes. Pour in the cheesecake mixture and smooth over the cooked crust with a rubber spatula.

Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the center of the pan is almost set. (It will look a little moist in the middle).

Remove from the oven and allow to cool a bit before placing in the refrigerator to cool. Allow it to chill about 4 hours.

Take the remaining 1/2 cup of raspberries, and cut them in half. Place randomly over the surface of the baked cheesecake, sprinkle with 2 tsp of the remaining lemon zest. Using the foil handles at each end of the pan, lift the cheesecake out of the pan and place on the cutting board. Using a sharp knife, cut into squares.

These are so delicious, I doubt you will have any left to store…but if you do, make sure you put in a covered container and in the refrigerator!

These are a favorite at our house, and if you aren’t a raspberry fan, I have substituted both blueberries and blackberries and both were yummy! I have also made these using Splenda as a sugar substitute. They turned out perfect. So, if you are like me, and have to watch your sugar….there is an option for you! I love using Splenda because it substitutes cup for cup in recipes and doesn’t have a funny aftertaste to it.

Wouldn’t these be pretty during the holidays?

California Girl comments: Mmm…yes, I know what I am putting on my Christmas wish list!

Have a wonderful week! Hugs~ Ms. April

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