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1 3/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/ 4 cup sugar
1 /3 cup margarine, melted

3 – 8 ounce packages cream cheese, softened
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 eggs
1 cup sugar
1 – 8 ounce sour cream

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
2. Grease a cheesecake (spring form) pan.
3. In a bowl mix the graham cracker crumbs, ¼ cup sugar and melted margarine with a fork till all the crumbs are coated. Press into the bottom of the greased pan using your fingers. Bring crumbs up the sides of the pan all around to about 1 ½ inches.
4. In a bowl mix together with an electric beater, the cream cheese, 1 cup of sugar and vanilla. Add eggs one at a time. Mix everything until smooth scrapping the sides of the bowl often.
5. Spread the cream cheese mixture into the crumb filled pan.
6. Bake for 65 minutes or until center is set. Turn off oven and leave the oven door slightly ajar for 1 hour.
7. Remove cheesecake from oven and cool completely. Refrigerate for 4 hours or more
8. This recipe serves 10 to 12.

ENJOY – Cheesecake so creamy, so yummy!

This column is dedicated to my uncle mario, I wrote this on the celebration of his 90th birthday.

Cheesecake is also something I usually bake during the holiday season.

Cheesecake! When I think of Uncle Mario, as I so often do, the next thought that pops into my head is….cheesecake! For more years than I care to remember, anytime we visited or Aunt Ellia and Uncle Mario came to visit us, I baked Uncle Mario a cheesecake just to see that sweet smile on his face. While he never complained whenever I attempted to bake some other dessert that I thought might pique his interest, nothing could compare to the look on his face when that darn cheesecake appeared. I have to say that I will always think of you, Uncle Mario, every single time I make a cheesecake.

This past year, I baked and prepared foods for Tom to take along with him whenever Tom was working near Uncle Mario’s. At times it was just a mini bread or cake or maybe some homemade soup…just a bit of homemade comfort food for Uncle Mario and Tom to enjoy together. I’m glad they have enjoyed such a great relationship all these years.

I recall chatting with Uncle Mario one day and I said, “Do you want me to bake anything for you?” “Yeah, he said, I love biscotti to dunk in my coffee, but I don’t want it too sweet or too hard or too soft”. It kind of reminded me of the Story of the 3 Bears….but I was up for the challenge! I’ve baked a lot of biscotti in my lifetime, but I didn’t know if I could bake one not too sweet, hard or soft. Well, not too long after that conversation, I came upon a recipe for sesame polenta biscotti. I just felt this might be THE biscotti of Uncle Mario’s dreams. So, I played with the recipe and baked a batch. Tom and I tasted them with hope in our hearts. Well, they weren’t too sweet, or too hard, or too soft. However, they were definitely different, probably because of the polenta. Since I worked so hard baking it, I decided to bring it to Uncle Mario anyway. Wow, I hit the jackpot because he actually ended up loving it. I have to admit that I thought he was kidding at first, but when we sat down for a cup of coffee, he brought out the packaged store-bought biscotti and quietly put my biscotti in a cookie jar and back in the cabinet. I knew he liked them because he saved the rest for later. Now, that’s always a good sign.

Uncle Mario, I love you. You are my biggest fan and I always appreciate it when you tell me how much you love my baking and writing. I am always grateful for your heartfelt compliments. You have always made me feel so special….not just like your niece-in-law…but a true niece.

*Footnote: This recipe was on the back of the Graham Cracker Crumbs box. I made many different cheesecake recipes over the years but this recipe always worked best for me.

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