Saturday, November 21, 2015

Best Cheesecake In the World Recipe - with photo illustration directions!

The Best Cheesecake In the World!
Cherry Topping Shown
I'm pretty nervy calling this the best cheesecake in the world, but people always ask for it, guests fight over it, and there's never even a crumb left. Even better, if you follow the directions and make no substitutions, it will turn out perfectly for you.

What;s special about this cheese cake recipe, is the homemade crust, the amount of butter I use, and my "creaming" technique for blending the cream cheese and sugar together perfectly (described below). Note: I use a food processor (Cuisinart) for this recipe, otherwise the cream cheese layer turns out less smooth and less creamy. Besides, it's much faster.

★Don't forget to bookmark this page so you don't lose the recipe, or print it out as a reference!★
Ingredients for Cheesecake Recipe
World's Best Cheesecake Recipe!

INGREDIENTS:

1½  cups graham wafer crumbs
2 tbsp sugar
1 cup sugar (in a separate container than the sugar above)
½ cup melted, unsalted butter (if you use less butter, do note that the crust will be hit and miss)
550 g / 19 oz plain cream cheese bricks, cut into small rectangles (this equates to 2 & 1/5th bricks of cream cheese "bricks", in the 250 g size). Recipe has not been tested with cream cheese in a tub. 
½ tsp vanilla (pure vanilla or vanilla extract both okay)
3 eggs
*Optional: 595 g / 21 oz canned fruit topping or filling (ie: cherry or field berry/bumbleberry work best)

DIRECTIONS:
1. Preheat oven to 350° F / 180° C.
2. Mix graham wafer crumbs and 2 tbsp of sugar together. Stir in melted butter thoroughly.
3. Press graham wafer crumb/butter mixture into the bottom of a standard pie plate (I use a ceramic pie plate).
4. Bake for 10 minutes on middle rack, then remove from oven to cool while you prepare the "cream cheese" layer. *Note: crust will not look done, and will appear butter-soaked and wet. This is correct.
5. Reduce oven heat to 300° F/ 150° C.
6. Beat cream cheese and sugar in a food processor (I use a Cuisinart), alternating the cream cheese and sugar until both are depleted.  Next, add in the  vanilla.  (You can mix by hand in a large bowl, but it will take longer and will not turn out as "smooth".)
7. Beat in eggs one at a time, making certain that no shells join the mixture.
8. Pour over hardened graham wafer crust, and bake for one hour on middle rack.  Circumference of cake should be very lightly brown, and center should be firm.  Cake will rise, so walk softly in the kitchen.
9. *Optional: If desired, add a canned fruit topping after cheese cake has cooled for 30 minutes (I generally use cherry or bumbleberry/field berry).
10. Chill for at least 3 hours (I make the cheesecake the night before, and chill overnight).
My Blueberry Cheesecake
Just change topping!
Other Ideas for Toppings:
-peach
-raspberry
-blackberry
-strawberry
-chocolate
-cookies
-...you decide
How to Make the Graham Wafer Crust
How to Make the Cream Cheese Layer
Before & After Baking!
This Best Cherry Cheesecake...or bumbleberry, or peach, or raspberry or...
If you baked my world's best cheesecake recipe, please leave a comment below and let me know how you enjoyed it! Did you top it or serve it plain?

Monday, November 16, 2015

Columbia Sportswear Winter Outdoor Gear Review!

Chilling in Columbia Gear
We are big fans of Columbia Sportswear in our household.  From my newborn's very first one piece snowsuit many years ago, to my kid's winter snowsuits, to some of my favourite trail shoes, fall jackets and a trusty raincoat.  Columbia plays an important role in my family's active outdoor lifestyle, and Columbia's lifetime warranty really stands behind the gear they make.  This is a company that wants you to put their clothing to the test!
In Bounds 650 TurboDown Interchange Jacket (Nocturnal, Atoll Colour ) &Carson Pass Beanie (Graphite Colour)
Women's In Bounds 650 TurboDown Interchange Jacket ★★★★★ - When I first put on this 2-in-1 jacket, I felt like I was in a cozy "nest". It was snuggly and warm, and hugged my curves in all the right places. Fit like a glove and was the perfect weight for winter. The outer jacket had lots of great features like an "arm pocket", and zippers under the arms should you need to vent your heat while exercising. The outer jacket's hood I found very lightweight, and not substantial enough for the Canadian winter (although fine for spring). The outer jacket fit like Columbia's usual size medium, which allowed for two layers of clothes beneath (ie: a t-shirt and hoody).  I would have loved the outer jacket's pockets to be lined with warm fleece (for my cold hands), as Columbia does with some of my other jackets.

The inner jacket was as fluffy as a cloud with 650 TurboDown fill.  I was sorry that the inner jacket was hoodless, although I can appreciate the "two hoods" dilemma.  I'm all about the hood, and will never wear a hoodless jacket, which rules out wearing the inner jacket on its own for me.  The inner jacket was not a standard size medium (as it obviously needs to fit inside the outer layer).  However, this meant that  I could not "layer" underneath (photo above shows two tight layers).  In the Canadian winter, layering is a necessity for me in order to keep warm, and I wonder if I will be chilly without being able to fit in that second layer?  However, the outer jacket does feature an adjustable, snap back powder skirt, which prevents wind from blowing up the jacket.  It might bug some that dark-coloured down is visible on the outside of the inner jacket, and gives it a dirty appearance.

Final words: A great-fitting, warm jacket.  Perfect for winter driving in the car, or normal winter situations.
Carson Pass Beanie (Graphite Colour)
Carson Pass Beanie ★★★★★ - I was really delighted with the Carson Pass Beanie pom-pom winter hat, shown above.  Not only did it have a handknit look (it's not), but the inner band is fleece-lined, which means it didn't feel scratchy on my skin.  I even received a compliment about the hat, saying it was what they are "showing" this season in high fashion magazines.  And oh, it was just as warm as it looks.

Final words: I would highly recommend the Carson Pass Beanie.  If you like it too, you can purchase it in three different colours.
Columbia Women's Conspiracy Razor OutDry Shoes (Charcoal, Fuscia Colour)
Women’s Conspiracy Razor OutDry Shoes - When I put the shoes on to do some trail hiking, I fell in love with the soles and could hear the sucking "grip" sound they made as I first tried them out on the hardwood floors in my house.  What a great grip for a walk off the beaten path!  The shoes fit me true-to-size, and they were instantly comfortable.  They also looked great, and I immediately received compliments from friends.  I really liked how the pattern on the shoe's fabric, continued on the side of the soles.  

However, after 3 wears they had really cut deeply into both my achilles tendons, and I had to rest them.  I've never had the same happen with other Columbia shoes, (which count as some of my favourites), so I'm thinking that the part behind the achilles tendon was designed on too much of a "sharp" angle. 

Final words: I love Columbia shoes, and this pair is worth having a look at.
Columbia Luminescent Boot Cut Pants (Black Colour)
Women's Luminescent Boot Cut Pants - What an extremely comfortable pant, that holds your tummy in as if by magic! I loved that the pants were stretchy, which would make them perfect for every figure. The inside waistband had a tiny pocket to keep a key or cash, which I appreciated. I noticed that the pants fit about one size too big, so medium (my usual Columbia size) was swimming on me (and the "boot" cut was exaggerated with excess fabric). I also observed that the length of the pants were extremely long. I'm tall at 5'8", but these would best fit a woman around 6' in weight.

Final words: Very comfortable pants, but purchase one size down.  Unless you are a very tall woman, prepare to alter the length.
Inner Luminosity Hoodie (Purple Dahlia Colour)
Inner Luminosity Hoodie ★★★★★ - I only have rave reviews for the inner luminosity hoodie, shown above in the purple dahlia colour.  It was very lightweight and a great fit.  As it was see-through, I needed to put a second layer beneath, (ie: tanktop or t-shirt).  This would not be a piece for the winter, but would work for any of the other three seasons.  This will become a staple of my casual wardrobe.  I tested out the hoodie while I was coaching my son's soccer team, and I was very comfortable indeed.   

Final words: Great shirt - nice cut and fit.  If this shirt looks like your style, purchase it in both colours available.
Women's Bugaboo Snowpants (Black Colour)
Women's Bugaboo Pant (Snowpants) ★★★★★ - I fell in love with these snowpants, because of the beautiful, tailored fit.  They actually fit as meticulously as a dress pant.  They were super warm, and featured four pockets (2 rear, and 2 front), and boasted an internal leg gaiter, so snow, ice and slush wouldn't find their way up the pants.  They were the perfect length for me, at 5'8".  Whereas the waistband was adjustable smaller, it was not adjustable upwards to fit larger.  

I would have really loved an elasticized waistband, as I tend to wear my dayclothes beneath snowpants (ie: jeans and non-athletic bottoms).  I'm not sure how the snowpants were intended to be worn, (ie: only with panties beneath, with long underwear, or just with regular clothing), but I am the warmest in the winter wearing a full clothing layer beneath.  

Final words: A great snowpant with an excellent fit, and well worth the purchase!  If you have a big tummy or if you're planning on wearing your day clothes beneath, consider purchasing (or trying on) one size up.  Otherwise, the snowpants will fit well - but only with a slim layer beneath.
Columbia Minx Fire Tall Boots (Ruby, Acid Yellow Colour Shown)
Minx Fire Tall Omni-HEAT Waterproof Boot - When I first ordered these boots, I mistakening thought that they would be tall because of their name "Minx Fire Tall".  However, these are not in fact a tall boot.  You will get you noticed if you wear the red colour, although they are also available in a standard black.  If you're a "lazy lacer" like me, do note that these boots cannot be worn as slip-on ones.  The soles have decent grips for winter, and the top 2.5" of the inner boot are lined with a very cozy fleece.  

Just like the Women's Minx Mid II Omni-Heat Boot I tested last year, I think it's a shame that the fleece does not line the entirety of the inner boot, as they would feel much warmer.  I love that these are a waterproof boot, and not just for fashion.  These comfortable boots fit me true-to-size, and are rated to -25° F/-32° C.  If your feet give off good heat, the Omni-Heat thermal reflective warmth will work well for you.  If you have cold feet during the winter, the Omni-Heat feature may prove ineffective.

Final words - I would recommend these boots to -10 ° C/14 ° F, or to wear as "car boots".  If you don't spend an extended amount of time outdoors in the winter, these will keep your feet dry from car to work.

Columbia Lumianation Longsleeved Shirt (Black Colour)
Lumianation Long & Short Sleeve Shirts - This is a very comfortable, lightweight shirt, that feels silky to the touch, but check if the fit is right for you.  I found that both the longsleeved and shortsleeved shirts fit very generously, so I would recommend purchasing at least one size down.  I like how this shirt is a longer one, so it can be worn with low-rise pants.  It also has beautiful ruching at the sides, and the fabric flows nicely.  If you are a slim woman, this will be a good fit for you.  However if you have a tummy or fatty upper body, the shirt will accentuate your faults and appear as maternity wear on your figure.    

Final words: Purchase one size down.  Great for a slim build; not flattering for heavy builds.

Columbia Women's Winter Catalyst Gloves (Black, Light Grey Colour)
Women's Winter Catalyst Gloves - Columbia winter gloves provided a really great fit and were comfortable to wear.  I loved that the Women's Winter Catalyst Gloves were lined with a plush "fur" at the top of the hand, which extended into the finger compartment.  It's a shame that they did not line  the thumb or the other side of the finger compartment, as it would have made for a warmer glove.  I would have also liked to see the finger tips of the gloves plushed up with fleece, as I had found that this is where Columbia gloves had been lacking in the past.  I loved that the gloves featured both a cinching belt at the wrist and an elasticized one at the forearm.  These made for a better fit, and helped to seal the cold out.

Final words - Great fit! If you generally have warmer hands in the winter, the Columbia Women's Winter Catalyst Gloves will be a great purchase and you'll love them.

Do you own any favourite Columbia Sportswear items?  Do you have all your winter outerwear set for winter this year?

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

My Dyson V6 Absolute Vacuum Cleaner Party! See How It Stacks Up

Flashback: My Son With His Toy Dyson Vacuum Cleaner
My very first experience with the Dyson vacuum cleaner company was 7 years ago, when my now 10-year old son was only a 3-year old toddler. He was obsessed with vacuum cleaners, and spied a toy Dyson vacuum cleaner that was free with the purchase of a regular Dyson vacuum at Best Buy. The day he saw the toy Dyson vac, it took me over an hour to get him out of the store! Then, we could not bypass Best Buy without him wanting to spend time pretending to vacuum with the toy Dyson!

Back to the story: I called the Dyson company to see if I could purchase that same purple, toy Dyson vacuum cleaner.  And to my chagrin, they were not sold separately.  However, the extremely nice Dyson customer service representative sent the toy Dyson to my son as a gift!  When it arrived at our house, he was flabbergasted and could not believe it was the same toy Dyson as the one he had played with at the store!  It even sucked up small scraps of paper.  And henceforth, my son and the Dyson were inseparable.

Almost a decade later, and my son still brings up the toy Dyson that he used to play with; he wishes that he still had it.

A video posted by Jenna Em (@snymed) on

I recently had an opportunity to host a party for my nearest and dearest friends--with vacuum cleaners!  The premise of the party was to measure how the Dyson V6 Absolute compared to my regular vacuum cleaner.  Of course, there were awesome tunes, spontaneous dancing, and great food.  You can see the Dyson V6 Absolute unboxing video I made on Instagram, above.
Getting Ready for the Party
I shopped for the party, including ingredients for my famous cherry cheesecake (whose recipe I will share in the near future).  As I prepared the food, the kids strung up balloons and did a pretty nice job of decorating.
A First Look at the Dyson V6 Absolute
Once I got the food on the grill, guests started arriving and getting a feel for the Dyson.  Some of the comments I heard included that the Dyson is so lightweight, and that they could not believe that it is a cordless vacuum cleaner (just charge in between uses).  Actually, watch the video below to hear the comments for yourself, and see how the Dyson performed against my usual vacuum cleaner!
VIDEO: The Dyson V6 Absolute VS. My Regular Vacuum Cleaner!

In between dancing, sharing laughs and having nibbles, the ladies tested the Dyson V6 Absolute against my regular vacuum cleaner.  Some of the challenges they performed included vacuuming up dry cereal off a hardwood floor, sucking up ribbons from the rug, cobwebs from the corner of the ceiling, and vacuuming under a chair.  Throughout the challenges I repeatedly heard the ladies say how surprised they were by the Dyson's power, and how well it swivelled and turned on a dime.
Let the Games Begin!
Take a look at how the Dyson V6 Absolute compared to my regular vacuum cleaner.  If you watched the video above, the results are hard to argue with.  The cordless Dyson did a better job at cleaning, and a much faster job too!

The Results Are In
Then it was time for my famous cherry cheesecake.  As usual, there was not a crumb left on anyone's plate and it was very well-received.
My Famous Cherry Cheesecake and Coffee
Lastly, it was time for lootbags as the party drew to a close.  As my guests prepared to leave, I got not one but two requests to take my Dyson home to try out some more.  Nice one, guys, but take your hands off my Dyson!
Dyson Bags All In a Row
Do you own a Dyson vacuum cleaner?  Are you satisfied with the vacuum that you're currently using?
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