Reveal Your Inner Cheesecake

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Happy Belated Cheesecake Day!

ICYMI, Tuesday was a day of pure glory and gluttony. To make matters worse better, The Cheesecake Factory offered slices at half-price, ensuring that my that dinner was adorned with cream cheese and Snickers chunks.

#noshame #noregrets

Even though the cheesecakes from this eponymous restaurant are very heavy, I will forever love them simply because I will forever love cheesecake.

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And speaking of desserts, I had the opportunity to showcase my lust for sugar through Hyperallergenic’s “Revealing Your Inner Selfie” feature. It’s always fun to hone my writing skills, and this piece allowed me to further push what I try to do here – make private moments available for public consumption…literally.

In a combined effort to celebrate National Cheesecake Day and bring out the best in what I love to eat, I whipped up some classic versions of this magical dessert.

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This is straightforward recipe with tons of room for modifications. The addition of flour stabilizes the cake so it travels well and will hold up to whatever you choose to add to it. I kept it simple with chocolate ganache and fresh strawberries from the farmer’s market, because I’m classy like that (if only that were true).

Use this recipe to reveal a bit of yourself, whether it’s in the crust, filling, or topping. It doesn’t happen very often that we get to be ourselves so candidly, so take advantage and nom on!

Cream cheesin’ it.

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Classic Cheesecake

3 packages chocolate graham crackers
4 Tbsp butter (1/2 a stick), melted
16 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup powdered sugar
2 eggs, room temperature
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp salt
2 Tbsp flour
1 cup chocolate ganache or chocolate sauce
1 pint strawberries, sliced

  • Spray the bottom and sides of a 13×9 pan and line the bottom with parchment paper. Spray the parchment paper. Allow for enough overhang so you can lift the cheesecake out of the pan once it’s done baking.
  • Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. In a food processor, grind the graham crackers until they turn into a fine powder. Place in a bowl, add melted butter, and mix with a fork until it resembles wet sand. Spread in prepared pan and pat it down so it is distributed evenly. Put pan in the freezer until ready to use.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time. Add in vanilla, salt, and flour and mix until just combined.
  • Remove pan from freezer and pour cheesecake over the crust. Use a spatula to spread it out evenly; it will be thin, so be careful not to work too quickly or you risk poking through to the crust and ruining the bottom.
  • Bake for 45-50 minutes or until the middle is bare jiggly. Cool completely on a wire rack. Wrap with plastic and refrigerate 2 hours or overnight.
  • When ready to assemble, remove cheesecake from the fridge. Make sure you have enough counter space before the next step.
  • Firmly hold the parchment paper overhangs and lift the entire dessert out of the pan and onto the counter. It is important that the cake is cold for this step so it holds together and doesn’t break while you lift.
  • Keep a tall glass of hot water near you. Take a serrated knife and dip it into the hot water. Wipe it clean with a towel and slice your cheesecake into 16 pieces, taking care to dip and wipe your knife before each subsequent cut. This ensures that the slices look clean and there aren’t stray crumbs everywhere.
  • Once cut, take your chocolate ganache or sauce and make sure it is pliable. Warm it up in the microwave for a few seconds if you have to. Using a pastry bag, Ziplock with a whole in it, or simply a spoon, carefully spread stripes of chocolate over the cake.
  • Top with sliced strawberries. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

The Weekend E.A.T. – What Happens in Vegas

Stayin’ healthy with some multi-vitamins

I realize that it’s Wednesday and halfway through the week, but after Black Label, pool parties, phone losses (R.I.P. Galaxy S3), and delayed flights, give me a break – Vegas happened.

Everything is a little more baller in Sin City, and that includes the food. While we munched on whatever would sustain us during the daytime (hello Earl of Sandwich, the least expensive and delicious meal in the land); the nighttime brought disco lights and dinner delights. It was also the last weekend I could effectively pull the birthday card and snag some desserts, essential before any tequila shot.

As I slowly, and I mean slowly, acclimate back to the real world, here are some photos of the yummz from the weekend. This was the first time I had the opportunity to eat out in  this fashion, and I’m glad I could. While alcohol is all well and good, to me, food is ultimately worth spending money on because it’s much more delicious and it is much more innovative and creative than a $20 Red Bull-vodka (why?).

If you’ve been to Vegas before, where all have you eaten that you liked/disliked?

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Purple drank at Marquee Day Club. I didn’t try this myself, but I’m sure Lil Wayne would be proud of this grape-flavored sizzurp.

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Although not as good as the Earl of Sandwich (seriously, this place hits the spot, day or night), the Oscar Mayer truck tries to show Vegas who the hot dog king is.

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Our final dinner out was at STK, a steakhouse in the Cosmopolitan hotel. I don’t eat steak, but there were a good amount of options for me to choose from. Also, did I mention that this steakhouse was also the restaurant equivalent of a clubhouse? Think people dancing on tables, strutting down the aisles, and spontaneous sing-a-longs to rap songs. We could have easily stayed here all night if we hadn’t make other plans.  The food is delicious too – these complimentary buttery rolls with pesto were on another level.

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A dramatic presentation with the seafood platter, my entree for the night. I wasn’t a fan of the lobster, as it was too fishy for me, but the oysters were unbelievable, and the marinated prawns turnt up.

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The last of the birthday eats, and what a fitting one – a peanut butter, Oreo, and raspberry cheesecake. Yes, cheesecake, my all-time-favorite food ever, and a fitting ending meal to carry me through the rest of the trip.