Conclusions, Celebrations, and Cheesecake

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Hope smiles from the threshold of the year to come,
Whispering ‘it will be happier’… ― Alfred Tennyson

Happy Cheesecake Day!

Happy Cheesecake Day!

Christmas is done. Watching the kids rub the sleep out of their eyes as they strain to see what Santa brought them is something that will never get old. The house smelled like the ham fairy graced us with her presence along with Santa. Our counter is piled with Christmas candy, cookies from the neighbors, and fudge from Mimi, constantly tempting me to grab a handful. There is still leftover wrapping paper poking up from behind the couch. I love it all. Spending time with my family is one of the great pleasures of my life.

This time of year always causes me to spend time examining my life. My birthday is in December, as is the anniversary of my sobriety (6 years). Each Christmas reminds me that the kids are growing quickly, and New Year forces me to look back at what this year has brought, and what the new year promises. We’ve had a busy year that brought both wonderful blessings and difficult challenges. Next year promises the same. Weddings and births, neither in my immediate family, are coming quickly, and I know that New Year 2013 will be here before we know it. I don’t wish for time to stop, but it sure would be nice if it would slow down a little bit. I want to be able to stop and smell the roses, but it’s tough when you’re passing them at 70 miles an hour. I want to remember Gabby learning to say,”Yuhyoo!” (I Love You) I want to be able to hold Siah and have him fit in my arms just right. I want to snuggle with my honey and hold off the hands of time for a few more years. It’s a good thing I have a camera.

This year, like every year, I hope to lose some weight, do some vacationing, spend time with the family, see new things, cook something interesting, and continue to add to the life we are building. I look forward to every bit of it. I rest assured that whatever happens this year, we will be able to handle it with love, grace, and strength. I look forward to the fleeting glimpses of beauty I see as life goes flying by. I hope your year is as blessed as it can be, and I hope we can share it together.

For my birthday this year, I made a cheesecake. Suffice it to say, it was the best I have ever made. I am usually skeptical about the latest talking heads on the Food Network. I remember watching Emeril, Mario, and Bobby back when it was actually chefs cooking things I couldn’t. Now it seems like TV personalities cooking the recipes from the back of the Kraft Macaroni and Cheese box, but I have found that Tyler Florence seems to know his stuff. This is his cheesecake recipe, and it’s one of the better ones I have found. It is a really creamy cake with some sour cream to give some punch. The blueberries on top give just the right note of acid to complement the creaminess. This would make a wonderful New Year’s dessert. You know, the whole New York Cheesecake, Times Square, Countdown type of dessert.  Your guests will love it, and as you tuck in to a big slice, enjoy the decadence before your New Year’s resolutions kick in.

This is a good Cheesecake.

This is a good Cheesecake.

The Ultimate Cheesecake with Warm Lemon Blueberries

from Tyler Florence

Crust:

  • 2 cups finely ground graham crackers (about 30 squares)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, melted

Filling:

  • 1 pound cream cheese, 2 (8-ounce) blocks, softened
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 pint sour cream
  • 1 lemon, zested
  • 1 dash vanilla extract
  • Warm Lemon Blueberry Topping, recipe follows

Directions

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

In a mixing bowl, combine the ingredients with a fork until evenly moistened. Lightly coat the bottom and sides of an 8-inch springform pan with non-stick cooking spray.

Pour the crumbs into the pan and, using the bottom of a measuring cup or the smooth bottom of a glass, press the crumbs down into the base and 1-inch up the sides. Refrigerate for 5 minutes.

For the Filling:

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese on low speed for 1 minute until smooth and free of any lumps. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, and continue to beat slowly until combined. Gradually add sugar and beat until creamy, for 1 to 2 minutes.

Add sour cream, lemon zest, and vanilla. Periodically scrape down the sides of the bowl and the beaters. The batter should be well-mixed but not overbeaten. Pour the filling into the crust-lined pan and smooth the top with a spatula.

Set the cheesecake pan on a large piece of aluminum foil and fold up the sides around it. Place the cake pan in a large roasting pan. Pour boiling water into the roasting pan until the water is about halfway up the sides of the cheesecake pan; the foil will keep the water from seeping into the cheesecake. Bake for 45 minutes. The cheesecake should still jiggle (it will firm up after chilling), so be careful not to overcook. Let cool in pan for 30 minutes. Chill in the refrigerator, loosely covered, for at least 4 hours. Loosen the cheesecake from the sides of the pan by running a thin metal spatula around the inside rim. Unmold and transfer to a cake plate. Using a spatula spread a layer of Warm Lemon Blueberry topping over the surface.

Slice the cheesecake with a thin, non-serrated knife that has been dipped in hot water. Wipe dry after each cut.

Warm Lemon Blueberries:

  • 1 pint blueberries
  • 1 lemon, zested and juiced
  • 2 tablespoons sugar

In a small saucepan add all the ingredients and simmer over medium heat for 5 minutes or so until the fruit begins to break down slightly. Leave to cool before spreading on cheesecake.

Yield: 6 servings

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