Party bites: Pesto cheesecake and caramelized bacon

Lifestyle expert and former caterer Elizabeth Mayhew knows a thing or two about easy entertaining. With summer in full swing, she's showing you how to make a savory pesto cheesecake and caramelized bacon.

Pesto cheesecake
Servings:

Makes 12 to 14 servings

Ingredients

    • 1 tablespoon butter
    • 1/4 cup panko bread crumbs
    • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
    • 2 8-ounce packages of cream cheese, room temperature
    • 1 cup ricotta cheese
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt
    • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
    • 3 large eggs
    • 2/3 cup fresh or store-bought pesto
    • 1/4 cup pine nuts

Preparation

Baking Directions:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Rub butter over the bottom and sides of a 9-inch springform pan. In a small bowl, mix together panko and 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese. Sprinkle mixture over buttered pan and turn to coat. Using an electric mixer, beat cream cheese, ricotta, remaining Parmesan cheese, salt and cayenne until light. Add eggs one at a time and beat well. Transfer half of the batter to a medium-sized bowl. Mix pesto into remaining half. Pour pesto batter into the prepared pan and smooth top. Spoon plain mixture over top and gently spread to cover pesto layer. Sprinkle with pine nuts and bake in until set, about 45 minutes. Transfer to rack and cool completely. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 6 hours. Pesto cheesecake can be made 3 to 4 days in advance. Serve with crackers, pita chips or thin slices of French bread.

Caramelized bacon
Servings:

Makes 12 to 14 servings

Ingredients

    • 1 cup dark brown sugar
    • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
    • 1 pound sliced bacon

Preparation

Baking Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil and place a cooling rack on top of it. In a large, plastic resealable bag, combine brown sugar and mustard. Add bacon, one slice at a time and turn to coat. Place as many bacon slices on rack as can fit and roast for 20 minutes or until crisp. Remove cooked strips to a separate rack to cool and repeat process with remaining slices. When cooled, cut slices in half and stack on serving platter.

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