Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Key Lime Cheesecake

We are making a cheesecake today!

This particular variety is, in fact, a Key Lime Cheesecake, and it is the perfect dessert to celebrate the end of summer.

Key Lime Cheesecake is exactly what it sounds like. It is a classic cheesecake, pumped up with the refreshing taste of lime juice and zest. A graham cracker crust is absolutely essential. And, also, this may or may not be a cheesecake with which I won an office bake-off (spoiler: it is!)

Now, look. I am no master baker. For a long time, cheesecake seemed like one of those dishes that you just leave up to the professionals. I first dipped my toes into the cheesecake world with a pumpkin cheesecake around Thanksgiving a couple of years ago and it went surprisingly well and was also insanely delicious. Fast forward to today, I am no longer totally petrified of cheesecake, thanks to a few key tricks I learned. For a smooth and creamy cheesecake that sets up perfectly, doesn't run all over the oven and doesn't crack down the center, always be sure to do the following:

- Bring ALL ingredients to room temperature, and make sure your cream cheese is very well softened (but not melted). Room temperature ingredients blend together so much better, and things are less likely to seize or congeal.

- If you are making a homemade crust, such as graham cracker, chocolate wafer or ginger snap crusts, be sure to pack it into the bottom of the pan VERY well. I like to use the bottom of a measuring cup. This ensures the crust goes out to and up the edges, and also has no cracks or holes.

- Do not over mix ingredients. Mix until smooth and thoroughly combined, but do not whip at high speed! Whipping the ingredients will introduce air bubbles into the batter, which burst in the oven and ultimately lead to the dreaded crack down the middle.

- After making the filling, tap the bowl on the countertop with some force about 30 times before pouring into the crust. The purpose of this is again to release any lingering air bubbles.

- Double line the outside of your springform pan with aluminum foil. You want to be absolutely sure that no filling will run out and no water from your water bath seeps in. The water bath should come up about halfway to the foil line.

All you need to do is follow these techniques, as well as being sure to follow any written measurements, for a truly irresistible cheesecake. This cheesecake is sooo creamy, yet is still light and refreshing from the citrus. The graham cracker crust is a perfectly sweet compliment to the tart lime juice. If you like whipped cream, feel free to garnish the top with a few squirt of whipped cream! I needed to make sure this particular cake traveled well, so I decorated it simply with a few extra graham cracker crumbs and a lime wedge!

The upcoming holiday weekend is the perfect time for a big baking adventure, and I think you are ready for cheesecake!! Let's get cooking.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

The Best Virtual Invitations For Your Next Party

I absolutely love entertaining! I never thought I'd love being a hostess, but as I've gotten older. learned to cook new dishes, and amassed a collection of dinnerware and serveware, I crave having friends and family over. Whether it is celebrating a special occasion, a holiday, or a dinner party just because, any reason to gather around the table is good enough for me.

Of course, the style of party I've thrown over time has certainly grown and evolved. While it used to be an excuse to have people over and throw back a few drinks, now I love the idea of a more classy soiree with an intentional theme or decor. Kitschy cocktail napkins are something I truly can't resist. Lots of party supply stores have come out with the cutest paper plates, cups, and silverware that makes entertaining with easy clean-up easier than ever before. 

But there is one element of planning a gathering that hasn't quite caught up with the rest. That is the invites! Surely, the easiest way to reach a crowd without sending out physical invites is through a Facebook event...but there's no denying that it doesn't quite measure up in terms of style. Finally, we have a solution! 

Paperless Post is a company specializing in online stationary to help connect people in real life through thoughtful, personal and well-designed virtual cards and invitations. I have been both a user and a recipient of countless Paperless Post invitations, and it couldn't be any easier! 

The first thing you notice when you get onto Paperless Post is just how simple it is to find exactly what you're looking for. Whether you are scheduling a casual movie viewing party with a group of girlfriends, organizing a company holiday party, throwing a birthday party, sending out a moving announcement, or looking for the perfect thank you card, Paperless Post has countless options - including Flyer, which is a collection of free designs you can use anytime!

Paperless Post has also partnered with top designers to curate some of the most beautiful and precious invitations, like this Kate Spade Ice Cream design I am using for an upcoming Labor Day barbecue! I added a background that reminded me of a picnic, to reinforce the outdoor locale! These invitations are so colorful that I was able to ensure the invites would be cohesive with any decor, food, and cocktails offered at the actual event!

There are countless ways to customize your invitations, including the text, the backdrop, the envelop and liners. Embrace the default styles they created, or change things up to perfectly match the theme of your event! Oh, and they even have photo card options perfect for wedding or birth announcements, holiday cards, or birthday parties! Once you create an account, you can also save a list of your favorite invites and see all your prior invites (both sent and received!)

As if the loveliness of the cards weren't enough to convince you to use Paperless Post for your next get together, did I mention how easy it is for your guests to reply and stay in touch with you as the host?! Once invites are sent, recipients receive an e-mail to view the invitation and are able to choose right in the invitation whether or not they can attend. All cards also have the option to add a comment and show the attendee list; you can also add your phone number, a map of the location, and a gift registry! It is a truly complete invitation experience without all the paper, licking envelopes and stamps, and waiting for the mailman! 

Have you used Paperless Post before? What was the occasion? 

Check back later in the week for a Key Lime Cheesecake recipe that will be perfect for your own end-of-summer BBQ!

This post was created in sponsorship with Paperless Post. I received coins in exchange for my review, but all words, experiences and opinions are my own.