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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 9, 2019

5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress Effectively

5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress Effectively

Everyone experiences mental stress at one time or another. Maybe you’re starting a new career, job, or business, or you feel incredibly overwhelmed between work, parenting, and your love life (or a lack of it). It could even be that you simply feel that you have way too much to do and not enough time to do it,  plus, on top of everything, nothing seems to be going the way it should!

Yup, we all experience mental stress from time-to-time, and that’s okay as long as you have the tools, techniques and knowledge that allow you to fully relieve it once it comes.

Here are 5 tips for relieving mental stress when it comes so you can function at your best while feeling good (and doing well) in work, love, or life:

1. Get Rationally Optimistic

Mental stress starts with your perception of your experiences. For instance, most people get stressed out when they perceive their reality as “being wrong” in some way. Essentially, they have a set idea of how things “should be” at any given moment, and when reality ends up being different (not even necessarily bad), they get stressed.

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This process is simply a result of perception and can be easily “fixed” by recognizing that although life might not always be going as YOU think it should, it’s still going as it should—for your own benefit.

In fact, once you fully recognize that everything in your life ultimately happens for your own growth, progress, and development—so you can achieve your goals and dreams—your perception works in your favor. You soon process and respond to your experience of life differently, for your advantage. That’s the essence of becoming “rationally optimistic.”

The result: no more mental stress.

2. Unplug

Just like you might need to unplug your computer when it starts acting all crazy, you should also “unplug” your mind.

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How on earth do you unplug your mind? Simple: just meditate.

It isn’t nearly difficult or complicated as some people think, so, if you don’t already meditate, give it a try. Whether you meditate for 5 minutes, 30 minutes, or 2 hours, this is a surefire way to reduce mental stress.

Meditation has been scientifically proven to relax your body (resulting in less mental stress), while also reducing anxiety and high blood pressure.

3. Easy on the Caffeine

Yes, we know, we know—everyone loves a nice java buzz, and that’s okay, but there’s a fine line between a small caffeine pick-me-up and a racing heart and mind that throws you into a frenzy of mental stress.

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Try giving up caffeine for a while and see how you feel. And, if that’s completely out of the question for you, at least try to minimize it. You might find that lots of your mental stress mysteriously “disappears” as your caffeine intake goes down.

4. Attack Mental Stress Via the Back Door

That’s right: your body and mind are part of the whole being, and are constantly influencing and affecting each other. If you’re experiencing a lot of mental stress, try to reduce it by calming your body down—a calm body equals a calmer mind.

How do you calm your body down and reduce physical stress? A  great way to reduce physical stress (thereby reducing mental stress) is to take natural supplements that are proven to reduce stress and anxiety while lifting your mood. Three good ones to look into are kava-kava, St John’s wort, and rhodiola rosea:

  • Kava-kava is a natural plant known to have mild sedative properties, and you should be able to find it at your natural health food store or vitamin store. It’s available in capsules or liquid extract form.
  • St John’s wort is a natural flower used to treat depression. Again, it’s found at your local health store in capsules or liquid. Because it uplifts mood (enabling you to see the brighter side of all experiences) it helps relieve mental stress as well.
  • Rhodiola rosea is a natural plant shown to reduce stress and uplift mood, and Russian athletes have been using it forever. Like the other two supplements mentioned, rhodiola rosea can be found at your natural health store in capsule or liquid form.

While these supplements are all natural and can be very helpful for most people, always check with your health care provider first as they can cause side-effects depending on your current health situation etc.

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5. Good Old-Fashioned Exercise

This tip has been around forever because it works. Nothing relieves mental stress like running, kickboxing—you name it. Anything super-physical will wipe out most of your mental stresses once the exercise endorphins (happy chemicals) are released into your brain.

The result: mental stress will be gone!

So, if you’re feeling overwhelmed or just plain stressed, try using some of the above tips. You can even print this out or save it to refer to regularly.

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Featured photo credit: Radu Florin via unsplash.com

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