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Sicilian Lemon Ricotta Cheesecake

I hope you all had a relaxing and enjoyable Thanksgiving break. We spent the holiday by my parents, but that didn't stop us from making our own turkey on Thursday morning. I love making roasted chicken in the oven, its one of our favorite go-to meals so I figured a turkey had to be pretty much the same thing. I preheated the oven on roast at 350 degrees and gave our bird a good scrub down of freshly squeezed lemon and kosher salt. I mixed together a baste of salt, pepper, minced garlic, smoked paprika and extra virgin olive oil and brushed it all over the turkey. Of course making my first turkey was a little nerve racking so after a few phone calls to my mother and my aunt and a quick google search on "How long do you cook a 14 pound turkey for?" I set my timer and hoped for the best. After a few hours of cooking, our bird started to crust up beautifully and I continued to baste it every couple of minutes. Once the top became browned I covered it with foil and let cook a few more hours, a total of four to be exact.

We popped out our bird and let it rest covered until we got home later that night to carve it. What a hit! So much flavor and super juicy. Since we are hosting Thanksgiving next year, I'm happy we gave it a test run. Over the break we indulged on some tasty treats and ate like there was no tomorrow. John lit the fire in the living room and made his infamous hot toddies. One of our favorite cocktails to sip on a cold night in front of the fireplace. Make sure not to skimp on the full-fat whipped cream either. Here's what you'll need for four mugs of hot toddies:

-1 cup of Piehole Whiskey in Apple Pie flavor
- 4 cups of apple cider (I like using Trader Joe's spiced cider)
-4 cinnamon sticks
-whipped cream

Warm up your cider in a saucepan and stir in your cinnamon sticks over medium heat. After about 10 minutes or so add in your whiskey and let heat up. Once your cocktail comes to a simmer, poor into your mug and top with whipped cream and cinnamon sugar topping. Don't forget to garnish your toddy with a whiskey soaked cinnamon stick.

This cocktail warms your insides up! We love making these when friends or family come over and any leftover mixture can be refrigerated for next time. On Friday John had requested we make a cheesecake he has been obsessing over for a while now. Most of you know I do not admire baking as much as I do cooking. Frankly, baking is more stressful than enjoyable for me. I love to open a bottle of wine and get to cooking, but baking is too precise. One wrong measure and your cake can be an instant flop. When he asked me to try and make a Sicilian lemon ricotta cheesecake I was a little intimidated. The ingredients seemed pretty doable, but cheesecakes are hard to nail. I figured I'd take a stab at it. Why not? I took out my never been used spring form pan and my Kitchenaid and got to it. Here's everything you'll need:

For the Cheesecake
-Two 15-oz. containers whole-milk ricotta
-1 tbsp unsalted butter (room temperature)
-1 tbsp plus 1 cup sugar
-3 tbsp unseasoned dry breadcrumbs
-Two 8-oz packages of cream cheese (room temperature)
-2 large eggs, room temperature
-3 tbsp salt-free matzo meal
-1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
-2 tbsp fresh lemon zest
-2 tsp vanilla extract
-1/8 tsp. kosher salt

For the Lemon Curd Topping
-2 lemons
-4 egg yolks (room temperature)
-3/4 c sugar
-4 tbsp butter (cold)

Pour ricotta into a large strainer set over a bowl. Drain for 30 minutes. Arrange rack in lower third of oven and preheat to 350°. Grease an 8" spring form pan with 2 1/2"-high sides with butter. Mix 1 tablespoon. sugar and breadcrumbs in a small bowl; sprinkle into buttered pan to coat sides and bottom. Tap out excess crumbs. Transfer ricotta to a processor. Pure for 15 seconds. Scrape down sides of processor and mix until smooth. Add cream cheese and mix until smooth. Add the remaining sugar and all other ingredients; mix and remember to scrape down sides occasionally, until smooth. Scrape batter into prepared pan. Bake cheesecake until golden brown for about and hour and 15 minutes. The middle of the cake should be slightly wobbly. Transfer to a rack and let cool in pan (your cake will fall slightly). Refrigerate uncovered until cool, about 3 hours. Then cover and chill overnight. Next, prepare your lemon curd topping by zesting and juicing your lemons. In a bowl, mix together the egg yolks and sugar until smooth. Stir in lemon juice and zest. In a saucepan, over medium heat, bring to a simmer. Continue cooking, stirring constantly until the mixture coats the back of a spoon. Stir in the butter 1 tablespoon at a time. Cover lemon curd with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. Once ready to serve, top your cake with the lemon curd. I added a few sprinkles of coconut flakes to finish.

I'm happy to report this cake was a success! The consistency was perfect and was super light and airy to eat. The topping was just sweet and tart enough. I couldn't be more happy with how it came out. This recipe will definitely be one that comes out during the holidays. Maybe I am a better baker than I thought after all? ;)


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