December 27, 2010

Christmas Week & Cheesecake Recipe

Despite the craziness of the season, it really was a beautiful Christmas.  Knowing that I was again going to be away from my L.A. friends & family, knowing that V was going to Cali for nine days, knowing that I had no job to get to... I was very aware that I was going to be very alone this holiday season.

Now hold up, Argentina... I'm not looking for tears or pity here. I had a few offers of places to go and I knew BF was in town so its not like I was crying myself to sleep at night.  I've actually been craving downtime like nobody's business and I just knew that God had me here for a reason. 

One of those reasons being:  The lesson of simplicity.  In L.A. the holidays were always crazy.  Feeding people, working 800 hours, being overwhelmed... It was a lot.  I made it a lot.  This year I've had no choice through Thanksgiving or Christmas to do anything but just be.  BF and I had a really lovely Thanksgiving.  We're both in the same 'life spot.'  We bring zero stress to the table-- 'It's not allowed.'  And it's been really, really lovely!!!

So here's how the week progressed...  :)

It was my first 'White Christmas' in 12,000 years.
I could just die right now. :) :) :)

***Weird random factoid: 'Close Encounters' is playing on my computer right now. My Itunes music list is sooo random, lol... John Williams, though? Genius!!! Anywaaaaaaaaaaaaaay...

I made a Chocolate Orange cake for Dr. Beth. Lots of December birthdays at the lab!  Including Dr. Beth!!!

I LOVE YOU, MY FRIEND!!!  :)  :)  :)

I had an interview Friday morning that got postponed to Monday (today) but only after I had arrived.  (HA!) So instead I got to enjoy the city!  I walked to Caribou Coffee, had some sugary delicious mint white chocolate coffee Christmas holiday in my mouth (I know, Sean- I know) and reflected on what I wanted to bring into 2011. It was PERFECT.

Then I walked all over the city.  And look!  It's Macy's.  :)

I love that the big department stores still do stuff like this.
It's sooo pretty and just makes the city look so magical.  :)

***Itunes update:  'That's When I'll Stop Loving You'- N'Sync. WOOOOOOW.

And loooook at these little shmoos in their red coats & black hats!!!
How adorable!!  I want a red coat & black hat!!!  :)

Then I did some holiday baking for my friend Sean's firestation.
TOTALLY made my Christmas to bake for these guys. 
:)  :)  :)

Chocolate Peppermint Oreo Cupcakes 

Mini pumpkin tarts.

At Susina Bakery they used to do these delicious tarts called 'Apple Fantes.'  It was pastry dough, pastry cream and a few slice of apple.  I basically did the same thing except I diced my apple and made mine with a crumble topping. Crumble topping girl right here!  *raises hand* 

And I'm always looking for ways to raise the ante and/or make it more fattening!

I made some Peanut Butter Marshmallow Brownies, Go Nuts Brownies and Oatmeal Carmelita Bars as well. 

Then I think the favorite part of my YEAR happened:
Bacon Cheddar Chive Scones

The bakery I got fired from made Cheddar Chive Scones.
They were well and good but I knew how to make them better.


I could take a bath in these.
It's a 'Bathtub Food,' if you will.

Then it was Christmas morning. I decided it was going to be all about 'Dolce Far Niente' as talked about in Eat, Pray, Love. The sweetness of doing nothing.

I woke up and lazily made myself a vanilla latte and some Doughnut Muffins.

There was no panic about dinner.
No set time BF was coming over.
No stress.Again, 'It's not allowed.'

***This is the part of the show where Ipod, Dingy Dongy and Tim laugh collectively at the stress I put myself under cooking for everyone at the holidays back in L.A and just HOW DIFFERENT this year was.  In the words of John Connor, 'Are we learning yet?'  :)  ***

Then I opened my 'Christmas winnings.'

YOU'VE EVER SEEN!!!???  :)  :)  :)
Marie. Chris. Mess.
Merry Christmas.

They live thousands of miles away & they STILL make my day.
Chris is from Maine so OF COURSE they sent me this:


Now I have no idea when the heck Lobster Day is but I tell you what...

(By the way, you flip that lobster around & it looks like... well, not like a lobster. It was a confusing 30 seconds of Bachelorette Party and 'Marie, what did you SEND me!!???' there for a moment. Lol... NICE.)

BF bought me some wonderful, delicious things to use as a way to pamper myself and just 'be with me.'  We've been having discussions on self-esteem & what it means to really love yourself.

Right as I was thinking, 'How DO you fall in love with yourself?  I'll have to ask BF what her thoughts are.' I opened Bf's gift.  That Bf...


WITH cookbook included.
AND it's a SOUTHERN LIVING cookbook.

Southern Living is THE SH*T of the online recipe world let me tell you.

After skype-ing with my seesters (and making sure to annoy them as only I can with my annual rendition of 'Dominique the Donkey'),  I made a cheesecake with my friend's recipe.
(YOU RULE, KURT!  Thank you!!!)  :)
Big Toe helped!

Not for too long, though.  Once he realized there were snacks he totally petered out. We split the Christmas Heineken.  (Green bottle= Christmas)

***Itunes Update:  Oooh, Stereophonics 'Dakota' playing now... See?  Random.


It's super light and delicious!
Makes you feel like you're eating dreamy cheese clouds.

I love dreamy cheese clouds.
And there is  A LOT of dreamy cheese cloud left.
I need more friends!!!

Then BF came over later, we stuffed our pieholes with vegan fare and watched 'Love Actually.'  (I HATE UNCLE JAMIE!!!) During which time, I went into sugar coma, felt 800% drunk and crashed on the couch while she did the dishes.  I seriously could not move.  SHE DID MY DISHES WHILE I PASSED OUT ON MY COUCH!!!  She's the sh*t, I'm telling you what.   Someone send her a lobster cutter!!!!

So, boys and girls... *sigh*  It was a lovely, relaxing, wonderful and blessed day. :)  I truly hope your Christmas was equally as joyful!!! 

From Windy The Mixer, Big Toe and myself...



Kurt's Amazing Fluffy Cloud Cheesecake
by:  Amazing Kurt in his own words!

Crust: (I usually just follow the recipe on any box of Graham Cracker Crumbs, but what I usually do is..)

1-1/2 c Graham Cracker Crumbs
1/4 c sugar (I sometimes cut it to 2 T)
1/3 c melted butter
1 t Cinnamon

Combine until everything is moist, and then press this to cover the bottom and lower 1-1/2" of a 9" Greased Spring form pan. (I've taken to lining the pan with Aluminum foil just in case the pan leaks) I've had mixed results baking the crust before adding the filling, but usually just cook it enough to set it.

**Mandi's thoughts:  I didn't prebake the crust for ten minutes like some cheesecake recipes call for.  I just pressed it into the bottom & then added the filling on top.  Turned out perfect!

Filling: (make sure all of the ingredients are room temp)
3- 8oz Pkgs Cream Cheese
1- 16 oz Sour Cream
1-1/4 c sugar
6- eggs, separated (you will only need 3 egg whites)
1 t Vanilla Extract
2 T Fresh Lemon Juice
1/3 c All Purpose Flour (sifted)

**Mandi's thoughts:  It still tastes wonderful without the flour that you might forget to add... *cough*

(I've heard that over mixing can cause the cheesecake to "crack" (have faults in the surface) when it cools. For me it "cracks" either way, but it cracks less if I mix it at bare minimum, so you might want to experiment)
Mix cream cheese and sour cream until smooth, then add sugar. Add egg yolks, one at a time until combined. Add vanilla and lemon juice, and then the flour until everything is well mixed. Finally, beat the 3 egg whites into soft peaks and fold into the batter. (There is no need to be gentle folding the whites in. This isn't a souffle, you just want it to lighten up the cake so it doesn't become a brick.)

Pour the batter into Spring form pan with crust, and bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour. After 1 hour, turn the oven off, crack the oven door, and let it sit in a cooling oven for another hour (minimum, although I usually let it sit for 2) then remove cake and put it in the refrigerator overnight. Viola!


I usually place the spring form pan inside a roasting pan while it bakes, but NOT in a water bath. This catches anything that might leak out, but I find that it kind of buffers the cake as well. Also, you might try running a knife between the cake and pan after the initial 1 hour cooking, so that the walls don't stick, leaving you with a concave cake. I usually don't do the knife thing because I'm lazy and don't often have that problem with the cake, but I'll leave it up to you.)

**Mandi's thoughts:  I did use a water bath and it turned out great.  So either way works!  :)


Sean said...


I can't thank you enough. You are the kindest, brightest, smartest, bestest. Everything that came out of your kitchen was incredible! And you brought a lot of happiness to our firehouse! Not only with your delicious sugary goodness, but with your appearance. You being there changed the atmosphere that day and I can't thank you enough! I'm truly blessed.

MandiCrocker said...

Whatever, hero, the blessings are all mine!!!??? EMT's saved my dad's life... It's the LEAST I can do. And you all work so hard without any recognition. Totally my pleasure.

AND you're forgetting the very selfish part about me wanting to bake just because I like it... and was looking for a place for 8,000 brownies to go, lol... :)

Anonymous said...

Everyone should order a chocolate orange cake. My lab LOVED it and then my labmates roomates loved the rest since we could only finish half of its hugeness! Absolutely, the best birthday cake I ever had. Please don't tell my mom or MIL I said that... -Dr. Beth

MandiCrocker said...

Soooo glad you loved the cake, Dr. Beth!!! :) :) :)

Anonymous said...

Hi Mandi, happy new year! Saw this and thought of you: