Uncharted

Friends forging a course together through the unexpected

Say Cheese for Cheesecake! April 11, 2012

Filed under: Karla — Uncharted @ 5:20 pm
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Last year for Christmas Jill gave me three spring form pans to make cheesecake. Ever since I’ve been collecting delectable recipes, hoping one day to try them out. There are so many versions of cheesecake: New York, Turtle, Chocolate, Strawberry Swirl, Mocha and the list just keeps going and going. I always forget how many possibilities there are to cheesecake!

But I had to start with the original. Thanks to my good friend, Allrecipes.com, I found an excellent New York style cheesecake to make for Easter.

Thanks to Kelly’s voice in my head about remembering to take photos for the blog, I actually have some photos to show complementing each step.

I went to Trader Joe’s on Saturday morning to pick up my ingredients. The list was nice and simple.

  • Eggs
  • Milk
  • Cream cheese
  • Graham crackers
  • Sour cream (already had)
  • Butter (always well stocked in the freezer)
  • Flour (already had)
  • Vanilla extract (wouldn’t use anything but Penzey’s!)

To start, it’s all about the crust. I ground up the graham crackers in our food processor to get them nice and fine. Then I added my melted butter, mixed and pressed the concoction into the pan firmly.

Next step was getting the filling together. I read a few recommendations on how to mix the ingredients. One key trick is not to “overbeat” the mixture. To help, I kept my faithful Kitchen Aid on low and got to work creaming the cream cheese, eggs, sour cream and milk together. Once it reached the proper texture I added the vanilla and flour.  I slowly poured the filling into my pan and let the baking time do its magic.

I might have sneaked one or two licks from the bowl in. I mean, I had to make sure it tasted ok before I put it in the oven. After one spoonful I was a little excited about the prospects, and yes, I had another spoonful.

One hour later this little tasty treat was ready for me! Well almost ready. I had to let it sit in the oven (that was turned off) for about three hours to help prevent cracking. Then it went to the refrigerator for its final setting over night.

The results on Sunday were unanimous.  The cheesecake hit the spot.

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4th of July Festivities July 5, 2011

This weekend was full of so much fun I can hardly concentrate on one thing to write about.  First off, some of my friends invited me to try out the Green City Market in Lincoln Park and {minus the early wake up} we had fun exploring.  Here is my haul:

 One cool thing about this market is each vendor has a sign on their stall which tells a bit about their operation and tells you how many miles away it is located.  I was fascinated by this and was happy to see MI, WI, and of course IL Farmers represented:

  All in all it was a nice market and it was fun to explore a new one, but it was a bit of a trek and didn’t carry much that our local one doesn’t already have.  We ran over to Whole Foods after that and I was amazed at how ginormous this place is.  There is even a 3-4 story parking garage attached…pretty snazzy!  Once inside, I was struck by how their produce department is set up to look like a Farmer’s Market…check out their layout and a sign about their support of local produce:

  • I hung out with Dave’s family and played Bocce Ball for the first time.  I wasn’t too bad…at least the team I was on won.
  • I spent a lot of time at the pool which really means reading in the sun {don’t worry I was wearing my SPFs} and jumping in the pool once or twice.
  • Sunday I needed to get to work on the dessert I promised to bring to my cousin’s 4th of July BBQ.  I decided to make a flag out of mini cheesecakes!  I know it’s a bit late to make a flag now, but you could make the mini cakes for any occasion and just switch up the décor.  Here is what you’ll need:

By the way I got this recipe from Ms. Bakerella and you can find it here.  I loved making this because it was ridiculously easy.  This coming from a practical non-baker {I swear}.  Here are the things I changed up: the size of the cupcake holders {I couldn’t find 2 inch cups ANYWHERE- not in the 6 stores I tried!}, I used strawberries and blueberries instead of cherry pie filling, and I put the cupcake holders into a muffin tin when baking instead of standing them on a cookie sheet {I tried the cookie sheet but the cups kept spreading out and threatening to spill in the oven}.

All you do is mix the ingredients together, place vanilla wafers in the bottoms of the cupcake holders and then pour the mixture on top.  Bake for 20 minutes and wala!  I waited until the day of the party to add the fruit so it wouldn’t run and here is how they look:

PS- Go Cubbies!

 

Simple ways to be thoughtful. March 3, 2011

Last week was a rough week for me.  I was having a hard time sleeping, standardized testing at school was fast approaching, and I was getting sick.  Sometimes when you’re having a rough week (or in general, a rough patch in life), the little things really make a big difference.  

One day a student from my team member Linda’s class came in with a wrapped package for me.  She said I should just open it, that Linda said I would understand.  Inside was a box of mix for key lime cheesecake bars.  I had complimented Linda on them when she brought them for meeting treats for the team, and told her how much I LOVE cheesecake.  She had gone to the store where she got them only to find that they did not sell them anymore. So she went online and had them SHIPPED to her to give to me at school.  I smiled, and felt a little better.

The next day,  a student from my team member Arlen’s class came in with a card for me.  It was just to say hi and that she’s happy we’re ‘teacher friends,’ and that she hoped I was having a good week.  I smiled, and felt a little better.

A few days later, I got a phone call from my friend Ashley, who I haven’t heard from in a while.  I missed it, and she left a message. We haven’t been able to chat yet, but just to know that she was thinking about me and called was nice.  I smiled, and my week was looking up.

I know it sounds super cheesy, but when life is stressing you out, the people who take the time to do something small to cheer you up (whether they realize you are stressed out or not) really help.  I’m looking forward to making those key lime cheesecake bars to share with my fellow Uncharted authors at a little dinner party we’re having this weekend.  Because you all know already from my past posts and my bio, that baking is my small way of spreading a little cheer.

Hopefully mine will look this good!

 

 
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