Sunday, October 28, 2012

Say Cheesecake!

 We had a late birthday celebration for Roger last weekend, and although he's not much of a sweets person, Chels did say that he's a cheesecake fan. I set out to bake him a birthday cheesecake, but was much dismayed by the difficulty of some of the recipes. I stumbled across Emeril Lagasse's New York Style Cheesecake, tried it, and loved it! Seriously, it was a hit! The best part was that it was one of the easier recipes I found. This will definitely be my go-to recipe, as there are quite a few of us in my circle who can hardly pass up a piece of cheesecake covered with fresh strawberries or caramel.

If you love cheesecake, you must try this.

  • 1 cup graham cracker crumbs
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 1/2 pounds cream cheese, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 lemon, zested
  • 1 orange, zested
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 5 eggs
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Butter the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan. In a mixing bowl, combine graham cracker crumbs, butter and sugar and mix well. Press onto bottom of springform pan and bake until golden, about 8 minutes. Set aside to cool. When completely cooled, butter the sides of the pan.
Increase oven temperature to 500 degrees F.
In a large mixing bowl with an electric mixer, combine cream cheese, sugar, zests and vanilla and beat until light and creamy. Add the flour, then the eggs and yolks 1 at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add the sour cream and mix until smooth. Pour mixture into prepared pan and bake for 12 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 200 degrees F and bake for 1 hour more. Transfer cake to acooling rack and let cool completely. Refrigerate cake overnight before serving.
To serve, top with sauce of choice. Slice with a knife dipped in hot water and wiped with a clean cloth, and serve.
Note: The only changes I will make in the future are the following: cut back just a tad on the zest, add a dash of salt to the batter, bake the crust a bit longer so it's really firm, and bake the whole cake another hour. If you like a creamy cake, leave bake time as is, but if you like it a bit firmer, add time.


Saturday, October 27, 2012

Camille's Engaged!

Last weekend was the greatest weekend ever, so prepare for exclamation points! Chels and Roger came to visit (the first time we've all been together since their wedding!), and while we were celebrating their arrival, Camille and Scott showed up with a wonderful announcement! There's going to be a wedding!!! I can't believe my baby sister is getting married. We are all thrilled and already in excited-planning mode! Pinterest, are you ready for us??

Sunday, October 7, 2012

DC at Night

DC has this amazing characteristic of being especially beautiful at night thanks to the lit monuments everywhere. For Rob and Jeff, it was a real highlight to go out together and take pictures three of those nights. Jeff, an experienced photographer, gave Rob some great tips--as well as a loan of a tripod--and helped him produce some real beauties.
Just outside the Capitol Building...before a policeman came and told them to move! Apparently, tripods are not allowed this close to the Capitol, and one must have a permit at any rate. Oops!
Washington Monument
Look closely! That's Abraham Lincoln sitting up there.
The Capitol...after the said permit was acquired.
Another great one of the Washington Monument
The Smithsonian Castle
The Jefferson Memorial
Reflection of the Washington Monument
Jefferson Memorial...see him?

Friday, October 5, 2012

DC Days 6 & 7: The Biggies

Our last two days in DC included all the biggies we hadn't yet seen, a few littles, and a couple revisits to places. We started Thursday with a trip to the Library of Congress and the Supreme Court, then split off while Robby and I went to see the Holocaust Memorial Museum and the rest of the family revisited the Space Museum. On our way to the HMM, we had to swing by the Folger Shakespeare Museum...but it was closed :( We did get a peek at a rehearsal as well as a wander through the garden, but those couldn't cover up my great disappointment.

The Holocaust Museum was amazing and horrible. I kept it together most of the time until we entered the room of shoes. Thousands of shoes taken from those who would be murdered. The last part of the museum is a beautiful open Hall of Remembrance where candles and an eternal flame burn in honor of those who died.

The Supreme Court was neat, especially the viewing of the Declaration of Independence and other key documents from our nation's history. No building could quite compare to the Library of Congress, though. Absolutely stunning!

A quick stroll through Alexandria and a tasty dinner ended that night. Today started out just lovely with brunch and coffee at the cafe down the block. After our fill, we headed out to a two-hour tour of the Capitol. It was amazing! After the tour, we revisited the Botanic Garden, ate a tasty dinner, got bundled up (more covered fend off the mosquitos!) and went to see the monuments at night. We had yet to visit the Jefferson Memorial, so that was our final DC destination.

We've had a wonderful time, and I'm so grateful for the week we had together!
Robby peering over the second floor at the Library of Congress
Library of Congress
The gardens at the Shakespeare Museum
Coffee and chess at Ebenezer's Cafe
Nathan being silly and explaining why he wouldn't smile for the camera :)
The dome in the Capitol
Outside the Jefferson Memorial
TJ in all his glory
A highlight of the night and the entire week -- getting to spend lots and lots of time with our nephew Nathan

Thursday, October 4, 2012

DC Days 5 & 6: Battles and Presidents and Cupcakes (Oh my!)

Days 5 and 6 blended together a bit, with a visit to the site of the Battle of Bull Run, followed up by a journey through George Washington's home of Mt. Vernon. The next day, we went back for Day 2 of Mt. Vernon, then traveled back to see Arlington National Cemetery. We finished off the day with a trip to Georgetown because I had to try a treat from the famous cupcake shop, made popular by the TLC show DC Cupcakes.
A cannon at Bull Run
Mt. Vernon, the home our first president
Pretty enough for a postcard!
Like father, like son
Just a tiny piece of Arlington National Cemetery
The moving ceremony of the Changing of the Guards near the Tomb of an Unknown American Soldier
Debbie and Nathan
Robby said it looked like I was going to be on the show :)

Monday, October 1, 2012

DC Day 4: Archives and Gardens

Today was Robby's and my favorite day so far even though it did not go as planned. We had been planning a White House tour, and Debbie had gone through all sorts of preparation to make sure it happened, and we had the day wrong :( We're hoping to make it happen afterall, but you actually need to schedule it ahead of time. It doesn't matter, though. We had a great day visiting the National Archives and the US Botanic Garden.