Savory Sweets: Japanese Cheesecake

Good morning and Happy Friday, everyone! We made it through the week (relatively) unscathed!

This weekend is shaping up to be a busy one for me- with a friend’s birthday party and another friend’s Wrestlemania party keeping me occupied most of my Saturday and Sunday nights- but I’ve got some things planned for the early morning hours and afternoons, too! This certainly won’t be a weekend where I sleep in late- that’s for sure.

Before I get started on the last of my tasks at my office for this week and try to get a jump start on my weekend plans, I wanted to share a recently discovered recipe that I think I perfected a couple of nights ago while playing around in my kitchen. Japanese Cheesecake, which is sort of a combination of cheesecake and souffle in both taste and texture (it jiggles!) takes a couple of hours to prep and bake- but once it’s done- you have a light, airy, but still delicious dessert to serve with a piping hot cup of coffee or tea!

WHAT YOU’LL NEED:

  • Nonstick cooking spray, for spraying the pan
  • 10 ounces cream cheese, cut into cubes
  • ½ cup whole milk
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 7 large eggs, separated
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • ⅔ cup all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup cornstarch
  • ¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • Confectioners’ sugar, for decorating

READY? HERE’S WHAT YOU DO:

  1. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Spray a 9-inch round cake pan with cooking spray and line the bottom with parchment. Place a 3 1/2-inch-wide strip of parchment around the inside of the pan so that it comes up about 1 inch higher than the edge; set aside.
  2. Heat the cream cheese, milk and butter in a small saucepan over medium heat, whisking occasionally, until smooth. Remove from the heat and let cool slightly, about 5 minutes.
  3. Whisk together the vanilla, egg yolks and lemon juice in a large bowl until smooth. Pour the cooled milk mixture into the yolk mixture and whisk until smooth and combined. Whisk in the flour and cornstarch until combined; set aside.
  4. Beat the egg whites, cream of tartar and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a large bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed until soft peaks form, about 2 minutes. Slowly add the granulated sugar and continue beating on medium speed until stiff peaks form, about 2 minutes longer.
  5. Gently fold the egg white mixture into the yolk mixture in 3 batches, making sure not to overmix (you want the whites to stay as fluffy as possible). As soon as the white streaks disappear from the batter, pour it into the prepared pan.
  6. Place the cake pan inside of a larger pan and pour enough hot water into the larger pan so that it comes 1 inch up the sides of the cake pan. Bake for 30 minutes, then reduce the oven to 250 degrees F and continue baking until the cake is doubled in size, golden brown on top and around the edges and jiggly in the center but set, about 1 hour and 15 minutes.
  7. Let the cake cool for 10 minutes. Carefully invert the cake onto your dominant hand (right onto your palm–this is the most gentle way to handle it), then invert it back onto a cake stand or plate so that the top is facing up. Sprinkle the entire top with confectioners’ sugar and serve while still warm.

If I hadn’t finished baking this fabulous concoction so late at night, I probably would have indulged in more than just one serving. I really enjoyed this cake/custard dish- which I can only describe as tasting like the right amount of cheesecake and yellow cake all at once and with every bite.

I think next time, I’ll be topping it with some strawberries or kiwi slices to give it an extra kick of sweet/sour flavor (plus, fruit balances out the sugar and eggs, right?)– but even eating it as it was didn’t make me that feel guilty at all! This dessert wasn’t “heavy” and didn’t weigh me down after I’d tasted it the way regular cheesecakes tend to do.

But, this deliciousness aside- I’m off to get things done!

Here’s hoping you all have an amazing weekend. I’ll see you all next week!

xx

– Ashley –

“Hippity, Hoppity…”

Good Morning and Happy Hump Day, everyone!

It’s worth asking “is it Friday yet?” even though I already know the answer. This week feels like it’s dragging- and the on/off again snow and rain isn’t particularly helping things around here. That’s right- we’re still getting flurries here in Massachusetts- and it’s enough to make me want to just scream into the abyss at this point!

Sunday, however- was lovely- and not just in terms of the weather (which was sunny and warm most of the morning/afternoon.) My family- immediate and extended- gathered for a huge Easter dinner together and it was so much fun since the last time all of us were together was on Thanksgiving!

Being able to catch up with everyone all at once was refreshing. One of my cousins announced he was expecting a baby with his longtime girlfriend, while another cousin is heading down to New Orleans for a vacation through this coming weekend. The food was fantastic, the Sox won, and my mom surprised everyone with mini Easter baskets/presents loaded with candy- which was a huge hit with my niece and my cousin’s younger step-sons.

And while there was definitely tons of snacks/desserts- my mom planned ahead and stocked up on some cheap Tupperware so she could send each and every single person home with plenty of leftovers at the end of the night! Smart thinking- since none of the food will go to waste- and also because she had a lot less to clean up the following day!

But I’ve got to get to work. Today is filled with meetings and phone calls- so I’m really looking forward to getting home tonight and being able to decompress (and work on perfecting a recipe that I’m hoping to share this coming Friday!)

Hang in there, everyone! We’re almost to the weekend!

xx

– Ashley –

“Lilac wine is sweet and heady…”

Good Morning and Happy Monday, everyone!

I hope those of you who celebrated Easter had a lovely one- and those who didn’t had a wonderful weekend anyway! I spent most of my Sunday afternoon with my family at dinner, but I’ll get into those stories and photos a little later on this week. Today, before I jump right into my case load at the office- I wanted to talk about this season’s trendiest color and some of the ways I’ve been incorporating it into my Spring ensembles/makeup without going completely overboard.

That color? Lilac! Maybe one of the most feminine and universally flattering shades to break through all the pinks and peach tones that are typically seen around this time of year. The great thing about Lilac, apart from how light and bright it looks- is that it also compliments many of the prints/patterns that start to make their annual comebacks throughout April and May- like florals and pastels. It also goes well with darker shades (for those still clinging to some of their Winter wear- I feel you!) and on-trend metallic pieces.

And as much as lilac makes my blue eyes pop or my dirty blonde hair stand out when placed side by side- I try not to overdo it. Too much of the shade all at once can make me look like an extra-terrestrial or someone getting ready to go dance under the blacklights at a seedy club (probably one that has foam parties or something). Not exactly a good look.

Instead, I stick to one, typically subtle Lilac-hued makeup product- and match it to an accessory- like a clutch or a bracelet- or article of clothing (as in a floral-printed blouse or a cute kitten heel.)

In the photo above, I’m wearing Sephora’s Colorful Shadow & Liner stick in ‘Lilac Shimmer’. This waterproof, long-lasting formula applies and blends easily- almost with a cream-like texture- but it then dries to a powder finish and catches the light on my lids just right to give me a beautiful and bright glow all day.

If I’m feeling particularly daring (usually on the weekends)– I take the lilac to my lips with Sephora’s #Lipstories Lipstick in the shade ‘Trippin’. This creamy matte formula- that never dries out or flakes off- is such an unexpected and fun way to wear this color while making a bold and fearless statement that I’m not afraid to wear more than just nudes or pinks on my pout.

With the lipstick, I keep the rest of my makeup as minimal as possible- a swipe of mascara and a little bit of concealer. The lips do the rest of the talking for me, I think.

In regards to lilac accessories- I find that less is more. A pair of simple earrings. A bangle bracelet- or, as shown below- stacked rings that incorporate the color and some sparkle. I love these flower and “diamond” ones I picked up at Old Navy while I was grabbing some new gym attire a couple of weeks ago.

I even painted my nails a sparkling shade of lavender- the other big color of the season- to look even more ready for the Spring! The shade, a powder dip by NuGenesis- is called ‘NL-08: Bridal Party’. It will last me- without chipping or peeling- until May. I’m never going back to regular nail polish or gel polish ever again.

Finally, while I love a good heel- I also needed some sensible flats for the Spring and didn’t want to back myself into a corner by purchasing a one-toned shoe that only matches certain things. So, it was a bit of a small miracle when I stumbled upon these floral, multi-colored and pointed toe flats- also from Old Navy- that match SO many things in my wardrobe and also include lilac in small measurements.

I wear these with my work outfits, or with jeans, or dresses, etc. and they match it all. Best of all? Not only were they affordable but they’re so comfortable, too! My feet don’t ache or feel like they’re being squeezed in these things- even when I have them on all day!

Expect these to make an appearance in an OOTD post soon!

Do you have any lilac pieces/accessories/makeup products that you’ve been sporting lately? Anything on the market that may have been added to your wish list for the Spring? I’d love to hear about them!

But now I’m off to get my work week started and prepare to argue with Attorneys (as detailed in my job description.)

Enjoy your Monday, everybody!

xx

– Ashley –

March 2018: In a Nutshell

Brooklyn, New York. March 2018

Good Morning, everyone! Here’s to it finally being the weekend!

It always feels a little odd updating on a Saturday- especially so soon after my monthly favorites post went up only yesterday morning- but it’s the last day of March and attention must be paid!

March started off pretty crazy- bringing four severe blizzards and a ton of coastal flooding within a two week span here in New England- but over the past few days it seems to have warmed up considerably. There’s still some snow remaining on the ground, but it’s slowly melting away with each sunny day that passes! What’s that saying? “In Like a Lion, Out Like a Lamb”? That basically sums up the weather in March where I live.

And although a lot of my time was spent shoveling my way out from beneath feet of snow day after day- I did manage to get out into the world and have some fun, too! March saw my take a long overdue trip to NYC to celebrate David Bowie, as well as take to the streets here at home to call for sensible gun legislation on March 24th’s Nationally organized “March for Our Lives” protest.  I wore my greenest-greens for St. Patrick’s Day (and am now sporting my Lavender-est Lavenders for the season!) while phasing out my Winter wardrobe to make room for my lighter, more colorful Spring-appropriate ensembles. I spent time with friends, made sure to pencil in dinners with my family- and went on a couple of dates that were a lot of fun.

Tomorrow is Easter- and April Fools Day- and from there I have a lot of fun things planned for the coming month: including another trip to Brooklyn to see the cherry blossoms, a ‘Wrestlemania’ party at my friend’s apartment next weekend, some outdoorsy posts now that the warmer weather is en route, a dive back into Urban Exploration photography with some new locations I’ve recently come across, a few delicious (and healthy!) recipes to share for those who need some help getting out of the Winter funk and who want to get motivated again- and finally- some of my favorite fashion/accessories for the Spring!

I had every intention of opening up my closet to the world this past month- but those aforementioned snowstorms caused my Winter wardrobe to hang around just a little while longer.

But for now I’m off to run some errands and start cooking/baking for tomorrow’s big family dinner. Be sure to peep my Instagram for photos along the way!

For those of you celebrating- have a wonderful Easter- and a great weekend, everybody!

xx

– Ashley –

Favorites: March 2018!

Good Morning and Happy Friday, everyone!

I’ve had a pretty busy week- both at the office and in the evenings after work where I’ve been going to various social functions/meet-ups- so I am admittedly pretty tired. I’ve really been looking forward to the weekend so I can kick back, relax, and spend some time with my family on Easter (all while eating way too much food, of course)– but wanted to share a few of my favorite things from March, first- before my “In a Nutshell” month-in-review post goes up tomorrow morning.

March was a bit tricky in terms of favorites- and a lot of it had to do with the weather here in New England. Some days were spent buried under feet of snow while others were spent out and about in nothing more than t-shirts or light sweaters, soaking up the sun. Many of my favorite items from January and February carried over as I tried to keep warm- and then some days newer, more Spring-appropriate things would find their way into my daily regimen.

I was able to narrow my list down to the essentials, however- and I’m hoping that there will be plenty more floral print and pastels to share when it comes time to write about my favorite things for April! I’m praying Spring is finally here to stay for a while!

Although my leopard print coat still got plenty of wear this past month, I also found a new favorite in this gold moto jacket throughout March, too. Form-fitting and eye-catching, this coat kept me warm on cooler days and dressed up even the most basic or “boring” of office ensembles.

I paired it with everything- flared jeans and t-shirts, maxi dresses with boots, jumpsuits with wide-brimmed hats. It just looks so effortlessly cool and dare I say- futuristic- and I know I’ll be wearing it well into April, as well!

March also marked my picking up a new David Bowie t-shirt while I was visiting Brooklyn a couple of weeks ago- and I’ve been wearing it pretty much non-stop on my days off as part of my usual “band tee and comfortable jeans” Weekend Uniform. It’s soft and baggy- which is exactly what I look for when I simply want to be comfortable while running errands or just hanging out in casual settings.

I can’t stress it enough- if you can make it to the Brooklyn Museum anytime soon- you have to check out the “David Bowie Is” exhibit! So worth the ticket price and the lines to get in!

While I’m still experimenting with new colors for the Spring (hello, lavender lipstick)– two products rarely left my face or my makeup bag throughout March- and both were so bright and so fun that at times I felt like I was getting dolled up for a pool party in the middle of Summer.

The first, a cool metallic blue/teal eye liner from Sephora– made my eyes pop and added an unexpected swipe of color along my lash line and against otherwise muted, subtle shadow shades. I love the hue and it’s longevity- which when applied over a primer- lasts all day and well into the night.

And, on my lips- ‘Yacht Week’ by Tarte– a really bright and slightly iridescent orchid/pink/purple shade. The formula is long-lasting and moisturizing, so this color doesn’t dry my lips out or bleed out to the edges of my mouth and leave it looking patchy. Instead, it hydrates my lips and keeps them looking bright and sparkly for hours. I’m in love with this color!

Exfoliation is key- especially in those weeks that transition us from Winter to Spring. Me, personally? I’m prone to dry patches and breakouts when the weather can’t seem to make up it’s mind- but proper exfoliation can slough away dead skin cells and make it easier for my moisturizers/lotions to sink deep into my pores and keep me feeling comfortable and looking dewy fresh.

I have been head over heels in love with the new, gentle exfoliating body scrubs by Dove– particularly this macadamia and rice milk one because it smells like heaven. I use the scrub every 3-4 days, and it’s gentle enough not to strip my body of essential oils- but effective enough to smooth my skin and keep it soft between uses.

It’s also super affordable and can be found at pretty much every drug store/pharmacy- so consider me a devoted fan!

And, with that marking the end of the photogenic items/products- let’s get into some of the other things I loved throughout March!

– MUSIC/MOVIES/TELEVISION –

Franz Ferdinand: ‘Always Ascending’ – Although this album was released in early February, I wanted to give it a few spins before I weighed in on it, first. I’m a big Franz Ferdinand fan- and it’s always so exciting when they suddenly release an album every few years. Although a couple of the tracks on this one took a little while to grow on me (‘The Academy Award’, for example)– the rest of the album has a sort of dark, discotheque feel to it- and I’m really, really into it!

MGMT: ‘Little Dark Age’ – Another early February release by another one of my favorite bands- MGMT were the light, poppy counterpart to Franz Ferdinand’s dark broodiness throughout my morning commute soundtrack. I’ve been listening to this one, track for track, for the better part of the month now and it’s still just as good as the first time around! I’m really excited to see these guys live soon.

‘Flip or Flop: Las Vegas’ – One of my guiltiest pleasures, really- and not just because I’m moving to Vegas. The couple who star in this obviously-edited-heavily-for-HGTV series spend the bare minimum to fix up houses that otherwise should be condemned due to how dangerous and neglected they are- and then they decorate them in the most gaudy, tacky ways imaginable and try to sell them. It’s an absolute train wreck- but one I can’t turn away from for the life of me!

– MISCELLANEOUS –

Starbucks’ Iced Hazelnut Mocha Coconut Milk Macchiato – If you can get past the ridiculous name when ordering this one, you won’t regret it. I had every intention of cutting back on caffeine this Spring- but then Starbucks came out with this combination of the best flavors ever and I can’t stop drinking them.

And I think that’s it, everyone! I’ll see you all again here tomorrow when I talk about the month overall- but until then- enjoy your Friday!

xx

– Ashley –