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Niki’s Italian Cheesecake Recipe

Niki’s Italian Cheesecake Recipe

Every time the weather begins to cool the slightest bit, I find that perfect reason to make my family famous Italian cheesecake. This cake is fluffy yet creamy, light yet rich, and so delicious! There is definitely a secret to this recipe… and I’m about to tell you!

Cheesecake filling:

  • 2 lbs ricotta cheese ( room temperature)
  • 2 packages cream cheese (8 oz. each at room temperature)
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/4 cup melted butter
  • 1/2 tsp. lemon juice and a couple shreds of lemon zest
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 3 tbsp. cornstarch
  • 3 tbsp. flour
  • 1 pt. sour cream

Graham Cracker Crust:

  • 2 packages graham crackers — flavored or plain (the cinnamon sugar are good for this recipe)
  • 1 stick butter (room temperature)

Steps:

First, start with the crust. Completely crush the graham crackers in a bag or in a food processor. Transfer into a bowl and add the stick of butter, blending completely with a rubber spatula or your hands, then pour and press the mixture into two 10-inch buttered springform pans. You can press the crust either just on the bottom for a thicker crust or spread up the sides (whatever suits your tastes!). Set this aside while you make the filling.

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For the filling, blend the ricotta and cream cheese well and then blend in the sugar. Beat in eggs one at a time. Add vanilla, lemon juice, cornstarch, flour, and butter. Fold in the sour cream and blend until completely smooth with no lumps or chunks of any kind.

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Pour the cheesecake filling evenly into the cake pans. Alternatively, you can also use the pre-made graham cracker crusts from the grocery store.

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Pre-heat your oven to 325 degrees. Bake for 1 hour. Do not open oven door. I repeat: Do not open the over door. You’re just gonna have to peek through the glass. Turn off the oven and leave the cheesecake for another 2 hours without opening the oven (no peeking!). Take it out and let it cool in the refrigerator. You can leave it plain or add your favorite cheesecake toppings — blueberry and cherry are good options!

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Last Updated on December 2, 2018

How to Flow Your Way to a More Productive Life

How to Flow Your Way to a More Productive Life

Ebb and flow. Contraction and expansion. Highs and lows. It’s all about the cycles of life.

The entire course of our life follows this up and down pattern of more and then less. Our days flow this way, each following a pattern of more energy, then less energy, more creativity and periods of greater focus bookended by moments of low energy when we cringe at the thought of one more meeting, one more call, one more sentence.

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The key is in understanding how to use the cycles of ebb and flow to our advantage. The ability to harness these fluctuations, understand how they affect our productivity and mood and then apply that knowledge as a tool to improve our lives is a valuable strategy that few individuals or corporations have mastered.

Here are a few simple steps to start using this strategy today:

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Review Your Past Flow

Take just a few minutes to look back at how your days and weeks have been unfolding. What time of the day are you the most focused? Do you prefer to be more social at certain times of the day? Do you have difficulty concentrating after lunch or are you energized? Are there days when you can’t seem to sit still at your desk and others when you could work on the same project for hours?

Do you see a pattern starting to emerge? Eventually you will discover a sort of map or schedule that charts your individual productivity levels during a given day or week.  That’s the first step. You’ll use this information to plan your days going forward.

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Schedule According to Your Flow Pattern

Look at the types of things you do each day…each week. What can you move around so that it’s a better fit for you? Can you suggest to your team that you schedule meetings for late morning if you can’t stand to be social first thing? Can you schedule detailed project work or highly creative tasks, like writing or designing when you are best able to focus? How about making sales calls or client meetings on days when you are the most social and leaving billing or reports until another time when you are able to close your door and do repetitive tasks.

Keep in mind that everyone is different and some things are out of our control. Do what you can. You might be surprised at just how flexible clients and managers can be when they understand that improving your productivity will result in better outcomes for them.

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Account for Big Picture Fluctuations

Look at the bigger picture. Consider what happens during different months or times during the year. Think about what is going on in the other parts of your life. When is the best time for you to take on a new project, role or responsibility? Take into account other commitments that zap your energy. Do you have a sick parent, a spouse who travels all the time or young children who demand all of your available time and energy?

We all know people who ignore all of this advice and yet seem to prosper and achieve wonderful success anyway, but they are usually the exception, not the rule. For most of us, this habitual tendency to force our bodies and our brains into patterns of working that undermine our productivity result in achieving less than desired results and adding more stress to our already overburdened lives.

Why not follow the ebb and flow of your life instead of fighting against it?

    Featured photo credit: Nathan Dumlao via unsplash.com

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