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Sunday, July 31, 2011

Foodbuzz 24 x 24: Cheesecake Extravaganza

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There's a reason The Cheesecake Factory restaurant is always packed. People love cheesecake, particularly on National Cheesecake Day (Yesterday, July 30th!) when they can stop in at the popular restaurant for a piece of half-priced cheesecake.

National Cheesecake Day is not a holiday I've celebrated in the past, but this year Foodbuzz selected my proposal as part of their monthly 24 x 24 event (24 bloggers are selected to create 24 meals on a given day). My idea? A Cheesecake Extravaganza!

After moving in to our new house in April, we never officially threw a housewarming party. Granted, we entertain friends on a weekly basis and have hosted several out of town guests. However, this was the first "big" party we threw. And big it ended up being! As it turns out, people can't resist cheesecake!

I wanted to show our friends a more creative side of cheesecake, so I created a party menu that showcased several different spins on cheesecake, including a few savory options!

Our Menu:
Southern Banana Pudding Cheesecake
Mexican Brownie Bottom Cheesecake
Chocolate Covered Peanut Butter Cheesecake Pops
No Bake Orange Vanilla Creamsicle Cheesecake
Cheesecake Stuffed Strawberries
Lemon Blueberry Ginger Cheesecake Parfaits
Greek Cheesecake
Blue Cheese Cheesecake with Pear Onion Jam
Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cheesecake Bars
S'mores Cheesecake Bars
Caramel Apple (Cheesecake) Dip
Oreo Pretzel Cheesecake Bites

And if that wasn't enough...we finished it off with Cheesecake Martinis!

All in all, the evening couldn't have gone off any better. I had a blast watching our friends sample the many varieties of cheesecake, updating me on their favorites throughout the evening. It was interesting--there was no one favorite that stood out among the others. Everyone seemed to have a different cheesecake of choice, and there wasn't a single type on the table that went neglected or uneaten. Several people told me they spent extra time at the gym that morning, in preparation for the big event...and I don't think anyone regretted the extra calories consumed last night. Life's too short not to celebrate National Cheesecake Day!

The party prep was rather insane. 150ish ounces of cream cheese purchased. At least four different grocery trips. More than twelve hours spent in a very hot kitchen (that's what you get for living in St. Louis in July!). Random meals of freezer foods to make room for all of my cheesecakes. Tons and tons of dirty dishes. But it was all worth it to spend a summer evening with some of our closest friends, stuffing our faces with cream cheese, and taking part in a true Cheesecake Extravaganza! Thank you Foodbuzz!

And while I'm on the subject of thank you's...My creative side (little of it that there is) comes through in the kitchen. Decorating and crafting are quite a different story. Still, I really wanted to up the ante for this party and have a bright and colorful atmosphere to match our fun theme. Special thanks to Maggie who patiently talked me through decorating ideas, helped me pick out supplies at Hobby Lobby, and even made the adorable labels to accompany each of my foods (despite the fact that she couldn't make it to the party). She's kind of the best (and I didn't even mention all of the chocolate dipping she did last week for me!).

By the way...Recipes for all of the foods we enjoyed at our party will eventually be posted. I'm going to try to space them out over the next several weeks or so, lest I lose any readers who may not like cheesecake (the shock and horror!). Bear with me as The Sweets Life might be dessert heavy for awhile ;) Don't forget to browse my recipe index for some healthy meals to balance all this cheesecake!

Now excuse me, I'm off to finish some banana pudding cheesecake...! (it might not look like much but I assure you it's to die for!)

(if you're dying for one of the above recipes before I get a chance to post it, shoot me an email at natalie.mclaury@gmail.com and I'll be email you the recipe!)

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