Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Cranberry White Chocolate Cheesecake

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving, a day to ponder our blessings. A day to be grateful for all we have. A day to enjoy time spent with friends and family. A day to bask in the glory of delicious food.

And boy do I have something delicious to share with you today! White chocolate cheesecake topped with homemade cranberry sauce on a gingersnap crust. Yum! I cannot wait to eat this cheesecake. Oh, it's gonna be good.


I combined 3 different recipes to create this beauty.

First, I started with a gingersnap crust from Our Best Bites.


The original recipe calls for pecans, but since my kids have nut allergies, I skipped them. Honestly, we generally prefer our desserts to be nut-free anyway {except when it comes to creamy peanut butter. Yum}. You can add the pecans back in if you want, of course :)

Gingersnap Crust:
1 3/4 C gingersnap crumbs (about 30 small cookies)
6 T real butter, melted
3 T brown sugar

Use a food processor to crush gingersnaps. Combine gingersnaps, brown sugar, and butter and stir well to combine. Press into a 9″ spring form pan. Evenly spread across the bottom of pan.

For the cheesecake filling, I used the Philadelphia Cream Cheese white chocolate cheesecake recipe.


The recipe calls for 2 6-square packages of Baker's white chocolate, but I used a bag of Nestle white chocolate chips instead. 1 6-square package of Baker's white chocolate cost almost a dollar more than a bag of white chocolate chips - over 2x as much!

White Chocolate Cheesecake:
4 pkg. (8 oz. each) Philadelphia Cream Cheese, softened
1/2 C sugar
1 t vanilla
1 12 oz bag white chocolate chips
4 eggs

Preheat oven to 325, or 300 if using a dark pan.

To melt the white chocolate, dump the bag into a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave for 1 minute and stir. Microwave for another minute and stir again. You should have perfectly melted white chocolate :)

Beat cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla in a large bowl with mixer until well blended. Add chocolate; mix well. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating on low speed after each addition until just blended. Don't over-beat or you'll have cracks in your cheesecake. Pour over crust.

Bake 55 min. to 1 hour or until center is almost set. Run knife around rim of pan to loosen cake; cool before removing rim. Refrigerate 4 hours.

Before baking, I topped with fresh cranberry sauce. Next time I might add the cranberry sauce after baking. It took longer to bake with the cranberry sauce on top. Since I couldn't see the cheesecake itself through the cranberry sauce, it was harder to tell when it was done. And it made the pan a little too full during baking. Live and learn, right?

I made this super simple cranberry sauce recipe from AllRecipes. I made a double batch so we can have plenty for Thanksgiving.

While cooking:

Finished perfection:

Cranberry Sauce:
1 cup white sugar
1 cup orange juice
1 (12 ounce) package fresh cranberries

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, dissolve the sugar in the orange juice. Stir in the cranberries, and cook until they start to pop (about 10 minutes). Remove from heat, and transfer to a bowl. Cranberry sauce will thicken as it cools.

I like to cook it a little longer; I like to have more popped cranberry goodness loose in the sauce.

Ready to go in the oven!


And the finished, pre-cooled product {I'll take the sides off tomorrow, just before serving}.



Don't you just want to eat it? I'll understand if you lick the screen ;) I licked the spoon with everything combined and it was delicious. I can't wait to try it tomorrow!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Nathan's 1st Birthday

I'm 2 months behind on posting this, but hey, better late than never, right? Our little baby isn't a baby anymore. Well, he'll always be MY baby...but he's officially a toddler now. Little Nathan turned ONE on September 14th. We adore our sweet little redhead. We threw a cute Very Hungry Caterpillar party for him. We invited a few families over to celebrate.

The invitation:

Photobucket Credits: papers: Merry and Bright, Kraft 2; green button: Just Peachy; red button and stitches (caterpillar legs): Oh Boy!; alpha: Markered Up, all by geniaBeana Scraps

I made a caterpillar out of cupcakes: Photobucket


We had foods from each day in the book. Photobucket

I found the cutest food labels on Polka Dots and Puppies (gotta love Pinterest). Photobucket


I made a caterpillar out of red and green balloons: Photobucket

The birthday boy eating some fruit. He wasn't sure what to think of it. Photobucket

Emma, Hyrum, and our neighbor friends eating yummy food. Photobucket

We didn't want to go overboard since he's only one (ha, I still did with the could I not with those cute labels?). Since Nathan is too young to really play party games, we opted not to plan any. We mostly ate food, played with friends, and opened presents.

Presents! Photobucket



After presents, it was time for cake! I always like to do the cake last at kid parties so I don't have to deal with post-cake cleanup until the end.



This is by far my fave cake smash pic! Photobucket



The other kids loved the cupcakes, too. Doctored cake mix + whipped cream cheese frosting? What's not to love? Photobucket


Begging for more!




Once all the cake clean-up was done, we let the kids just play for awhile. They were having so much fun together, it seemed a crime to send their friends home.

Nathan loved his play tent and tunnel set and the bag of 100 balls. Instant ball pit!



While they played, Nathan took 18 steps! What a perfect way to end his birthday party! I love that he officially started walking ON his birthday. He had a wonderful birthday. We love our sweet little Nathan so much. He is such a joy. He brings so much light and happiness into our family.