I am starting to slowly realize that when it comes to holidays, sometimes it's best to just stick with what people like, instead of going all out to change every single thing. You know what I mean?
Sure, it's cool to show off with some fancy shmancy roasted garlic mashed 'tatoes... It's awesome to come up with some magnificent cake with perfectly iced fall leaves on top for decoration. It's fun to sit there and come up with ways to make your cornbread stuffing that much better than last years stovetop...
It's understandable for a foodie to wanna go all out to impress guests and family.
But sometimes. Sometimes you just needa little somethin' that's traditional.
And i'm thankful for that.
I'm thankful for the instant mashed potatoes, the freeze and bake biscuits, and the simple stick-in-the-oven-and-fuggeddaboutit turkey (that was my awesome donnie brasco impression). I'm thankful for it all. Because regardless of whether it's homemade or store-bought -- it still brings a family together. And that's what actually matters.
I'm also thankful for this Marbled Pumpkin Cheesecake.
And i'm pretty sure everyone else at the dinner table last night was, too.
(P.S: Did I mention that it's lower in fat & calories than the original recipe? Second slice, please.)
"Snappy" Marbled Pumpkin Cheesecake
(Adapted from Taste of Home, August/September 2008)
1 cup cinnamon graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup ground cornflakes (grind them in a food processor until they get crumby)
1/2 cup finely chopped pecans
1/4 cup butter, melted
2 8oz packages of neaufchatel cheese (or 1/2 reduced fat cream cheese), SOFTENED
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup canned pumpkin
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1. Place a greased 9 inch springform pan on a double thickness of heavy duty foil (about 18in. square). Securely wrap foil around pan. Set aside.
2. In a small bowl, combine cinnamon cracker crumbs, ground cornflakes and pecans. Stir in butter. Press to the bottom and 1inch up the sides of your 9 inch springform pan. Bake this at 325F for 9 minutes or until set (should be a darkish slightly golden brown). Take out and cool on a wire wrack.
3. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, beat SOFTENED cream cheese and 1/2 cup sugar until smooth. Beat in vanilla. Add the eggs; beat on low speed until just combined (DO NOT OVERBEAT).
4. Place 1 cup of the cheesecake filling in a seperate bowl. To that seperate bowl, add the pumpkin, cinnamon, nutmeg and 1/4 cup of brown sugar. Stir together to combine. Remove 1/2 cup of the pumpkin filling and set aside.
5. Pour remaining pumpkin filling into the crust. Top with plain cheesecake filling. Now go to the 1/2 cup of pumpkin filling you set aside, and with a large tablespoon, just scoop and drop spoonfuls ontop of the cheesecake. Take a smooth knife (butter knives work best) and just run it through the top of the cheesecake to get a marbled effect. Have fun with it!
6. Place the springform pan into a larger baking pan (like a roasting pan or a large 13x9 baking pan; the kind you'd bake brownies in) . Add some hot water inside the baking pan (NOT ontop of the cheesecake) until the water comes up 1inch. Bake for 50-60 minutes or until the top is just set and looks slightly dull (to check if it's set, tap the sides of the pan. If the center jiggles slightly, it's ready to come out).
7. Cool on a wire wrack for 7 minutes. Run a clean, smooth knife around the edges of the cheesecake pan to loosen the crust from the pan. Cool 1 hour longer.
8. Refrigerate cheesecake overnight. Then remove the sides of the pan and reward your patience with one big slice o' cheesecake. ;]