Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Putting down roots (plus my mom's cheesecake recipe!)

We moved into this neighborhood twenty years ago...this blows my mind! My kids have always lived in the same house (well, the eldest moved in when he was 2 so it's the only house he remembers). When I was growing up, it seemed like we moved constantly. At 6 we moved to Japan, and though we lived there for 5 years, we lived in three different apartments. Then we lived in Korea for a year, and moved back to Pittsburgh when I was entering 7th grade. Then when I was out of college, I lived in 4 different places until we finally settled here. I feel like I've grown roots that anchor me to this house.

When we moved into our neighborhood, it was brand new and there were lots of people starting families as we were. We've stilled stayed close with five of these families, our children having grown up together, some even going to the same university now. They are like a second family in a way. We've watched our families grow and change but still share the common experience of raising our kids together.

When the kids were small, we started the tradition of having a Christmas celebration. For years we'd go on a railroad ride to nowhere, where Santa was on the train and we'd sing Christmas carols. Then we'd congregate at one of our houses and have dinner and rousing charades games. This tradition has continued without the train ride....dinner and charades. The crowd is now over 20, nearly all adults now and it is a blast. I'm hosting this year. Everyone brings a dish so that makes is relatively simple.

Since the kids all have different college schedules, we are having it Thanksgiving my planning has doubled. This week, I'm being efficient and making two types of lasagnas and freezing them as well as three types of cheese cakes. The lasagnas are both from Epicurious: the "Grandma's" and the Portobello mushroom and proscuitto one with a white sauce. The cheese cakes are going to be pumpkin, chocolate and my mom's recipe, which I'll share with you.

Kate's Cheesecake


  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 t lemon peel, grated
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 egg yolk, slightly beaten
  • 1/4 t vanilla
Cheese filling:
  • 5 8oz packages cream cheese, softened to room temperature
  • 1 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3 T flour
  • rest of lemon peel
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 1/4 t vanilla
  • 5 eggs + white from yolk in crust
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
Crust: Combine the flour, sugar & lemon peel.Cut in the butter. Add egg yolk and vanilla. Pat 1/3 of the dough on bottom of 9" spring form pan. Bake at 400 degrees about 6 min. Cool and pat remaining dough evenly on side of pan.

Filling: Beat cream cheese till fluffy, add sugar till well blended, then flour, peel, salt and vanilla gradually. Add eggs one at a time, till blended (Don't over beat). Gently stir in cream. Pour in pan and bake at 500 degrees for 5-8 minutes, reduce oven to 300 degrees and bake for 1 hour longer. Leave in turned off oven for 1 hour more then refrigerate.

This can be frozen after it has sat in frig for a bit. Defrost it the day before and store in frig.
Crumbled crust with melted butter poured in but not mixed yet.

Finished crust patted onto bottom of pan before baking

Bottom crust baked, unbaked side crust added. Ready for the filling!

Ready to go into the oven!

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