So I have been craving cheesecake for a few days. I get this cheesecake craving a couple of times a year…usually after watching “The Golden Girls” eat a “Sara Lee.” We live pretty close to an “Achatz Handmade Pie Company”, and their cheesecake is really yummy, but it’s been a few years since I made one so I decided to give it a try. I dug out a really old recipe for fat-free cheesecake. I haven’t used this recipe since Dan and I lived in our apartment right after we were married. I, of course, was on that “fat-free” kick just like everyone else in the 90’s, so I baked this cheesecake and then ate way more than I should have…I mean it’s fat-free right??☺ I have come a long way since my “newly married” cooking days in my tiny apartment kitchen. I am embarrassed to admit that after Dan and I were first married, I hardly cooked at all. Oh sure I could make pasta, and I baked, but make dinner?
Not so much. Actually, Dan did most of the cooking in those days, and I was all too happy to let him flex his culinary muscles. I was working full-time and enrolled in graduate school, so I had no interest in spending my free time in the kitchen. The reason this is embarrassing to me is that I grew up literally surrounded by fabulous cooks. My Grandma Ann, my Sito Georgia, my Sito Vicky, my Jido Eddie, and my Mom were all great cooks. My Dad owned a restaurant for God’s sake, and I got married not knowing how to cook…scandalous! I mean you think just by mere exposure, or osmosis, or default, I’d have picked up something in the way of culinary skill. Nope. I remember not long after we were married, Dan and I were both under the weather, so were weren’t really hungry for dinner. We decided just to make toast and mashed potatoes and call it good. Carb city I know, but at the time toast was Dan’s favorite snack, and mashed potatoes are a total comfort food. When I am not feeling well, I crave comfort food so mashed potatoes and toast it was. My Mom happened to call during the time I was “cooking dinner” and she asked what I was making. She and my Dad laughed hysterically when I told them what I was making for dinner. They even had my cousin Chuck call me and ask what I was cooking. My cousins lived only a few miles from our apartment, so my Mom had them call and tell me that they could smell my scrumptious dinner all the way at their house!
I don’t have a ton of fond memories from that apartment kitchen, but I do remember making this cheesecake. Truth be told it really wasn’t very good. Perhaps it was the crust. The recipe calls for a graham cracker crust, but I didn’t have one so I used a regular pie crust. I don’t know about you, but I think cheesecake just begs for a yummy graham cracker crust. Dan and I literally just ate the filling and threw the crust away! I swear I don’t know what I was thinking. I literally lived within walking distance of a “Farmer Jack”, and instead of going to pick up a graham cracker crust, I used the frozen pie crust I had in the freezer. The only other thing I really remember from those days are chicken nuggets. I was at school one night, and came home to dinner that Dan had made. He made chicken nuggets and tater tots. As I was eating my dinner, Dan popped a chicken nugget into his mouth and said “…hey these chicken nuggets aren’t too bad.” No big deal except for the fact that Dan never liked chicken…NEVER…not even before he was a vegetarian. I was shocked. The rest of the conversation went like this:
Me: “…but you don’t like chicken!”
Dan: “It’s not chicken!”
Me: “then what the hell am I eating???”
Dan then produced the box of “Morning Star Farms Chick’n Nuggets”, and put my fears to rest. It was not long after this that we both became vegetarians. Anyway, as my cheesecake craving kicked in over the weekend, I remembered that silly cheesecake that I made back in our apartment’s kitchen, and decided to redeem myself and make it again.
This time, however, I didn’t use fat-free cream cheese. My “fat-free” days are over. In my experience, the products that are fat-free are usually loaded with salt, or sugar, or both. So yes they are better for your cholesterol, but your blood pressure and glucose levels take the hit. Nowadays, I look for salt free, low sugar, and low-fat. This cheesecake recipe is a really nice compromise, and I am happy to report it is delicious! It’s rich enough to feel like an indulgence, but health conscious enough to thwart “eater’s remorse” after dessert.
Here is the recipe:
- 8 graham crackers (crushed…should equal 1 1/3 cups crumbs) I actually only had 5 graham crackers left in the house so I used them and then added organic vanilla wafers from Whole Foods to make up the difference.
- 3 TBS. melted butter (I used organic salt free butter)
- 6 TBS. Splenda (I used 9 single serve packets of Splenda)
Mix all together and spread into the bottom and up the sides of a 9 inch pie plate. Set aside.
- 3 packages of cream cheese softened (I used organic low-fat cream cheese from Trader Joe’s)
- 3 eggs (I used Eggbeaters to equal 3 eggs)
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1 TBS. flour (I used white whole wheat flour)
- 1 TBS. vanilla extract
1. Soften the cream cheese. 2. Add sugar, flour, vanilla, and eggs. 3. Beat with a mixer on high until well blended. 4. Pour into the crust and bake at 350 degrees for 25-40 minutes or until just set. 5. Cool to room temperature and then cover and refrigerate.