Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Need a Vacation? Avoid the ALS #Icebucket Challenge, Explore Point Arena and Eat Cheesecake!


Last Fall, I took a drive to the coast with my aunt Teri. We stayed at a cute B&B called the Coast Guard House Historic Inn. I like to spend time with my favorite auntie. She is the one of the sweetest people you will ever meet and is like a sister to me. We take weekend trips together whenever we can get away so I can spoil her.

 Teri is a 2 X breast cancer survivor. She is my hero. Instead of contributing to these #icebucket challenges, and Relay for Life fundraisers, I use the money I would normally donate as charity to directly make my aunt’s life better.  This way we can make memories together and I know she is getting the most out of our time left on this planet. We have been to Calistoga, Santa Barbara, and Placerville together just to name a few.

Point Arena California was one of our greatest trips.  It is an old town, not far from Mendocino and is where my husband and I spent our honeymoon. The weather is cool and overcast for much of the year, but perfect for getting out of the heat. Luckily, my aunt and I were able to squeeze in time to visit relatives too, which is a huge bonus because they live in the nearby town of Elk. 

My idea of a good time is checking out the local bakeries. Of course I usually have to taste something and this visit, a slice of blueberry cheesecake was calling me. Oh my! The cheesecake was thick and dense, but creamy and sweet with a touch of tartness from the lemon zest and blueberries.  


This bakery was adorable and had an extra cuteness to it. You basically wanted to buy everything in the store. You could tell the locals loved making #Franny's Cup and Saucer a weekly excursion for their cup of Joe and morning pastry.


My version tastes just as decadent, but can serve a crowd of people. This cheesecake is baked in a bar pan and made with a shortbread crust. It has an extra layer of crunchy goodness that is missing from a plain cheesecake. I usually use frozen blueberries and make a compote with them by adding ½ cup of granulated sugar, lemon zest, ¼ cup of lemon juice and 1 tablespoon of cornstarch.  I wait until the blueberries are boiling before I add the cornstarch and lemon juice. I like this method as opposed to buying blueberry preserves, but that will work also.

Blueberry Cheesecake Bars

16 oz cream cheese softened (leave on counter overnight)
2 lg eggs
¾ C. sugar
1 teas vanilla
1 teas lemon zest
¾ C. blueberry preserves (or compote see above)
Hot shortbread base (recipe to follow)

Preheat oven 350 degrees

Shortbread base

1 ½ sticks (3/4 C) unsalted butter
2 C. All purpose Flour
½ packed light brown sugar
½ teas salt

Cut butter into ½ in pieces. In a food processor, process all ingredients until mixture begins to form small lumps. Sprinkle mixture into a 13X9 X 2 baking pan lined with parchment paper and press down with metal measuring cup. Bake shortbread in middle of oven until golden @ 20 minutes.

In a bowl, whisk cream cheese until smooth and add eggs, sugar, zest and vanilla. Evenly spread blueberry preserves/compote over hot shortbread and pour cream cheese mixture over it. Bake in middle of oven until slightly puffed about 30 min. 

Cool completely in pan and cut into 24 bars.
Bars keep covered and chilled for 3 days or freeze them for up to a month. Enjoy!

Here is a picture taken with the relatives. Aunt Teri, cousin Barbara, me, my mother in law Nilda, Aunt Nita and Uncle Ted below us. We have since lost our Aunt Nita, but we will always love Point Arena and will keep her in our thoughts the next time we make a visit.

Who needs an icebucket challenge when you can make memories with the ones you love. Aunt Teri's birthday is this week, so we are planning our next girls weekend away. Where should we go this time?

That is what I think. Leave me your comments below.

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