2 cups (5 to 6 ounces) crushed chocolate graham crackers
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
2 packages (1 pound total) cream cheese, at room temperature
2 teaspoons orange or lemon juice
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 cups heavy cream
2 cups (about 8 ounces) fresh or frozen cranberries
1 teaspoon finely grated fresh orange or lemon peel
Line a 9-inch square baking dish with a 14-inch-long piece of foil or parchment paper and grease the foil. In a medium bowl, mix the graham cracker crumbs with the melted butter and 2 tablespoons sugar. Press the crumb mixture into the bottom of the baking dish. Freeze for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, using an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese, 1/3 cup sugar, the orange juice and vanilla at medium speed until smooth, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the heavy cream and mix at low speed until blended, then beat at medium-high speed until thick and fluffy, 1 to 2 minutes. Spoon the cream cheese mixture on top of the crumbs. Refrigerate for 1 hour.
In a saucepan, bring 1/2 cup water, the remaining 2/3 cup sugar and the cranberries to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring once or twice. Lower the heat and simmer until the cranberries begin to pop, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from the heat, transfer to a small bowl and stir in the orange peel. Refrigerate while the cheesecake is chilling.
Holding the ends of the foil, pull the cheesecake out of the pan. Cut into 9 squares. Spoon the cranberry sauce onto the cheesecake.
Hummingbird Cupcake & Vanilla Cupcake with Vanilla Buttercream
In 2009, my girlfriend and I braved the long lines and got our first taste of this famous bakery’s delightful desserts. Years later I had to bring my mother here. We were visiting Grand Central Terminal and visited Magnolia Bakery’s location there. Magnolia Bakery first opened in 1996 in New York’s West Village. Steve and Tyra Abrams took over in 2007 and expanded it to locations all over the world. You can pick up orders at their stores or order products nationwide. Each location is unique with its vintage decor and inviting atmosphere. Although they are known for their cupcakes, they bake all sorts of pastries and cakes and even have a coffee bar. Magnolia is world-renowned, they still consider themselves a neighborhood bakery. Everything is made on site and you can watch them make these wonderful delights through the window. You cannot come to New York City without visiting Magnolia Bakery.
Grand Central Terminal
Magnolia Bakery at Rockefeller Center
A couple of days later, my mother and I stopped in at the location next to Rockefeller Center. This is the popular spot that you see on Jimmy Fallon’s opening montage. This was also the first location I visited with my girlfriend. This one can get a little busy because there are may tourist attractions nearby. I personally enjoy visiting here because you can see the horse and carriage rides pass by the window while you are inside ordering. Or you can stand outside and watch the crew makes some beautiful cupcakes. Around the holidays, this is one of the things that makes Christmas in New York magical. There is always a crowd here, but these guys still manage to make you order and send you home satisfied.
I will never forget the first time I visited Manhattan. I had my first taste of New York when I stayed over briefly on my way to Boston in 2006. In the summer of 2009, I walked out of this exit at Penn Station for the first time and was completely overwhelmed by the fast pace and the tall buildings. Listening to the taxi cabs honking and the sounds of sirens bouncing off the buildings, I remember telling myself how beautiful this place is. I’m a native of Arizona and New York City is a completely different animal to us newbies. I ate my first slice of NYC pizza at Spinelli’s Pizzeria and caught my first glimpse of the Empire State Building. I returned later that year with my girlfriend and we had a wonderful time exploring the city. We visited Lady Liberty, Central Park, Times Square, MOMA, Canal St and saw Phantom of the Opera. NYC has a special place in my heart and this time I’m excited to spend a good of my week here for various art and photography projects and events.
My first trip to New York City – 2009
New York Taxis
Empire State Building
Madison Square Garden
Hotel New Yorker
I Love NYC
My return trip – 2009
Staten Island Ferry
Statue of Liberty
Joie de Vivre – Mark Di Suvero
Starry Night – Vincent van Gogh
Radio City Hall
One Times Square
Ed Sullivan Theater
St. Patrick’s Cathedral
Flat Iron Building
Empire State Building
Phantom of the Opera
Cheesecake at Hot & Crusty
Imagine – Central Park
American Museum of Natural History
The Rink at Rockefeller Center
Prometheus Statue at Rockefeller Center
NYC Horse Carriage
Pizza at Cafe 71
Grand Central Terminal
After a great time in Philly, I headed on over on an Amtrak to New York City. I’m a huge fan the Amtrak. It’s comfortable and convenient. I was able to get some photo projects done on my few hour trip to Penn Station. I spent my first hour just walking along Fashion Ave and taking in sites of the Empire State Building, Macy’s, Madison Square Garden and other iconic buildings. I was surprised on how easily I knew my way around. My my first destination of the day was the Chelsea neighborhood for some foodie adventures.
It’s a tradition of mine to get cheesecake at the Cheesecake Factory on National Cheesecake day because it is half off a slice. My son Jake and I came here after working out and filled our stomachs with some yummy goodness. The Cheesecake Factory is known for their huge variety of cheesecakes and large entree portions. I got the White Chocolate Caramel Macadamia Nut and Jake got the Snickers Cheesecake.