Mini Cheesecakes and a Mega Weekend

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I never meant to wait this long between posts. We got Internet back five days ago, but the past few days have been a very, very busy blur. Please pardon my extra-long post in advance…

Friday was Ian’s birthday, as well as the end of his first year of medical school, as well as the day my sister and her boyfriend flew in from a week visiting his grandparents in Florida. In addition to helping Ruth whip the house into tip-top shape for the weekend, we ran approximately 3.7 million errands. Friday afternoon, Ian and I drove all the way down to Once Upon a Vine downtown for a specially created four-pack of craft beers, Ian’s choice. I knew I could’ve picked out 4 beers for him to try and he would’ve probably loved them, but his favorite part of Once Upon a Vine is the experience ๐Ÿ˜‰

Friday evening, Ruth and Ian and I met Mike, Caroline and Rob (the boyfriend) at Kobe in downtown Richmond for the most delicious hibachi I’ve ever tasted. (Granted, the only other time I’ve ever eaten hibachi-style Japanese food was on a field trip in Kindergarten.)

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For his birthday “party” and end-of-M1 celebration, Ian chose to sit around the fire pit at my parents’ house with a few friends and sip his $4-apiece craft beers. Hey, that’s easy. I’m down!

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Saturday was all work and all play! My family hosted an engagement party for a friend I have literally known all my life, whom our mothers refer to as each other’s “first friend,” and his lovely fiancรฉe. I love an excuse to experiment in the kitchen. Culinary whiz that I am I somehow managed to create a spicy cheese ring accented by strawberry jelly and toasted pecans; fudgy brownies with a secret ingredient (sour cream!); chopped, sliced and diced veggie and fruit trays; and miniature cheesecakes with impromptu garnishes. (By strawberry leaves* I mean the cut-off top of each strawberry, carefully removed so that each ring of leaves is still in an intact circle.) Here is the recipe I used:

Prep time: 20 minutes
Total time: 3 hours, 20 minutes (including refrigerating)
Makes 18 servings

What You’ll Need
1 C graham cracker crumbs
3/4 C + 2 tbsp sugar, divided
4 tbsp butter or margarine, melted
3 packages (8 oz. each) cream cheese, softened
1 tsp vanilla
3 eggs
1 C Cool Whip
1 C blueberries
1 tbsp lemon zest
1 C diced strawberries + strawberry leaves*
handful mini chocolate chips

What You’ll Do
– Preheat oven to 325ยฐ.
– Mix graham cracker crumbs, 2 tbsp sugar and butter until blended; press onto bottoms of 18 paper-lined muffin pan cups.
– Beat cream cheese, remaining sugar and vanilla with mixer until blended. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing on low speed after each just until blended. Pour over crusts.
– Bake 25-30 minutes or until centers are almost set. Cool completely. Refrigerate 2 hours.
– Top cheesecakes with a dollop of Cool Whip.
– Garnish half of cheesecakes with diced strawberries, strawberry leaf, and chocolate chip. Garnish other half with blueberries and lemon zest.

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They sure as heck were delicious, but I never promised they’d be healthy! While cooking, I refrained from BLTs (bites, licks, and tastes).

My mom truly is an incredible cook, and she created this lavish spread for Scott’s and Chelsea’s guests. At this point, I didn’t refrain from sampling anything ๐Ÿ˜‰

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Sunday morning, Ian, Caroline, Rob and I were up early to head to King’s Dominion. The high for the day was supposed to be in the low 80s and there was a 40-50% chance of rain all day, but we decided to take our chances. The park was open 10:30-8:00, the public schools weren’t out for the summer yet, it was an overcast day, the water park wasn’t open yet, and it was a Sunday. With the odds stacked in our favor, we set out at 8:45.

We arrived well before the park opened, parked so close to the gates it was almost ridiculous, and blazed through security. In exchange for a 30-minute wait by the Eiffel Tower, we were able to ride in the front row of every coaster with a maximum of a 15-minute wait for any given ride. I think we rode the Volcano twice, Outer Limits once, Intimidator 305 twice, Backlot Stunt Coaster three times, the Ricochet once, the Avalanche once, the Dominator three times,

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and even a few smaller rides, like the Triple Spin and the Flying Eagle — all in just 6 hours. With so few people in the park, the lines were ridiculously short. Even though I was sweating like a crackhead because of the humidity, I cannot emphasize enough how perfectly we planned our trip yesterday. For four adrenaline junkies, we rode coasters until we literally couldn’t ride them anymore.

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And today, I finally got to sleep in, and I finally got a chance to blog. This weekend was a surreal blur, but it was completely perfect. And with that, I’m off to help prepare chicken fajitas and margs!

What were you up to over the weekend?!

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