2015 Holiday Season: Starring Cheesecake

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Somehow, everything post our Oregon trip just flew right by and now it's 2016. From November to December, we managed to host at least four get-togethers with family and friends. AND we succeeded in keeping Viggo from destroying the Christmas tree. Although he really, really wanted to. 

Below are a few highlights from the last few months I actually took photos of, and a recipe for Bourbon Pumpkin Cheesecake, the best dessert I've ever made. 
 Thanksgiving table decor. I served champagne and cranberry liquor cocktails. 
 Trouble-maker in action.
 THE cheesecake. Recipe below!
 For the husband's birthday, we roasted a pig and had a massive potluck. Unfortunately, I didn't snap any photos of the impressive spread, but take my word for it, it was impressive. 
 Another caroling concert took place with year. Viggo had a blast eating meatballs and trying to sneak sips of everyone's wine. 
Our favorite day, Friends Xmas Eve Eve featured time-tested recipes like Scandinavian chowder and home cured gravlax.
 Our tradition of taking ridiculous group photos by the Xmas tree lives on. Although this year, due to Viggo's lack of patience , we only took six instead of 26, and let me tell, there was a lot of blurry going on. But here's a couple of my faves. 
 Christmas Eve dinner was two full courses - homemade linguine and clams and pan fried quail. Then, we made Viggo take MORE photos by the tree. 
 Cookies for breakfast on Christmas morning. Along with a delicious ham and cheese strata.
Viggo received a recycling truck from his daycare. Are they sending him a message?
After Christmas, we headed to Yosemite to enjoy the snow and ring in the New Year. Which I did from my bed. We went with a small group of friends and my brother (above).

Our family didn't have babies until Viggo, so it's been fun to watch my brothers interact with this crazy kid. I guess I wasn't really sure what kind of uncles they'd be. But their enthusiasm to see him and spend time with him is so sweet, I can't help but smile when they FaceTime or drop by for a quick visit. And it doesn't hurt that my one brother usually brings over a box of diapers so Viggo can "poop all he wants". The kid likes to poop.
Viggo wasn't the biggest fan of the snow. Mostly, because he could barely move. But, he sure liked to touch it, and was really into the melting icicles. He loves water, especially if it's falling from the sky.

Hope your holiday season was just as fun. We're looking forward to not being so tired in 2016. Although a 9 pm bedtime is pretty cool.

In the meantime, here's the cheesecake recipe. There's no reason to only make this in the fall. It's soooooo good.

Bourbon Pumpkin Cheesecake
via Smitten Kitchen
Serves 12 to 14

For crust
3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs (from five 4 3/4- by 2 1/4-inch crackers)
1/2 cup pecans (1 3/4 ounce), finely chopped
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, melted and cooled

For filling
1 1/2 cups canned solid-pack pumpkin
3 large eggs
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon bourbon liqueur or bourbon
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, at room temperature

For topping
2 cups sour cream (20 ounces)
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 tablespoon bourbon liqueur or bourbon
Garnish: pecan halves

Make crust: Invert bottom of a 9-inch springform pan (to create flat bottom, which will make it easier to remove cake from pan), then lock on side and butter pan.

Stir together crumbs, pecans, sugars, and butter in a bowl until combined well. Press crumb mixture evenly onto bottom and 1/2 inch up side of pan, then chill crust, 1 hour.

Make filling and bake cheesecake: Put oven rack in middle position and Preheat oven to 350°F. Whisk together pumpkin, eggs, brown sugar, cream, vanilla, and bourbon in a bowl until combined.

Stir together granulated sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and salt in large bowl.

Add cream cheese and beat with an electric mixer at high speed until creamy and smooth, about 3 minutes. Reduce speed to medium, then add pumpkin mixture and beat until smooth.

Pour filling into crust, smoothing top, then put springform pan in a shallow baking pan (in case springform leaks). Bake until center is just set, 50 to 60 minutes. Transfer to rack and cool 5 minutes. (Leave oven on.)

Make topping: Whisk together sour cream, sugar, and liqueur (if using) in a bowl, then spread on top of cheesecake and bake 5 additional minutes.

Cool cheesecake completely in pan on rack, about 3 hours.

Chill, covered, until cold, at least 4 hours. Remove side of pan and bring to room temperature before serving.

Baked cheesecake can be chilled, covered, up to 2 days.