Chocolate chip cookie dough cheesecake

Cheesecake has become one of my specialties. Maybe even a passion. I find it is one of the easier things to bake. Really hard to screw up and really easy to experiment with. I had the idea for this in my head for a little while. Finally, I decided to make it. Since it came out pretty good, I thought I would share it with people. You people!

  • 2 8 oz packages cream cheese (softened)
  • 2 eggs (brought to room temp)
  • 1/2 cup sugar (I like to use cane sugar)
  • 3/4 cup cookie dough (store bought or homemade)
  • 18 Oreo cookies (you could sub for an off brand, I don’t recommend it)
  • 1/4 cup butter (melted)
  • 1 tbs pure vanilla extract (if you don’t have the “good stuff” you can use 2 tbs)
  • 8 inch square or round pan

The crust: Take the filling out (unless you have used this before and prefer to keep it in for extra sweetness) of your cookies and start crumbling in your food processor. Once you get about 1/3 of them in there, add some butter to it. Continue adding cookies and butter and process until mixture is finely ground. Pour out into your baking pan. I use the back of a measuring cup and pack the crust down nice and tight. Bake this at 300 for about 7 minutes (or until you smell it). DO NOT burn your crust. It’s very easy to do, so don’t try and be all multi-tasking!

The Filling: Cream the cheese, sugar and vanilla extract. Add the eggs 1 at a time and beat until well blended. Take 1/2 cup (I actually used more, but this is what the recipe called for) of the cookie dough and break it up into about 1/2 inch sized pieces and drop into batter. Mix well. Pour into your crust. After you smooth out the batter, break up and drop the remaining (1/4 cup) cookie dough into the cheesecake. Again, I added more than the recipe called for. Bake at 325 for about 25-30 minutes.

Tip: Your oven may vary so you need to check on it at about 20-25 minutes and see how it is doing. Use the old toothpick and see if it comes out clean.

There really isn’t a whole lot I can think of to spice this up. Add more cookie dough to the mix maybe? A shot of espresso/Kahlua? Maybe some chocolate chips sprinkled on top? It’s definitely the easiest one of the cheesecakes I have made so far. Hope you like it! I’m sure Charli does!

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Cutler benching 6 games too late

Jay Cutler has been benched by Bears coach Marc Trestman in favor of backup QB Jimmy Claussen. It comes on the heels of another disappointing blowout at the hands of the New Orleans Saints. A team with one of the lowest ranked defenses in the league.

While I don’t disagree with the move, I am stunned by the timing and the fact it took this long. Jay Cutler is not the sole reason for the Bears 5-9 record, he certainly played his part. Waiting until week 16 is more than a little questionable. There is also the fact that they put David Fales on the 53 man roster last week. I am all for playing some younger guys and seeing what they can do, but at week 16, what is to gain?

Moves should have been made after they went to New England and laid an egg. They were on a bye week and had division opponent Green bay waiting for them. They went up north and got blasted. Too little. Too late.

I am all for seeing if a different QB can make the offense run like it was intended. One of the things that excited me about Trestman is that it was an offense that seemingly any QB could come in and run it. Josh McCown kind of set the precedent for that. The combination of McCown and Cutler combined for 4,400 yards and 32 TDs in 2013. The one big difference was the turnovers. McCown had a 13-1 TD to INT ratio. Jay was 19-12. McCown also had a 100% passer rating compared to an 89% for Cutler. Now, that doesn’t seem like a whole lot, but in the NFL where games are won and lost by a few plays, that’s a huge difference.

The other thing it does is, it keeps your defense off the field, which allows a mediocre defense to be a pretty good defense. I’m one of the few people that actually thinks the defense was pretty good at times this year. They were put in a lot of bad situations, mostly from the offense turning the ball over. This wasn’t all on Jay either, but he contributed to more than his fair share.

Even if Claussen has a decent game vs a tough Detroit team, it still doesn’t change the fact that Trestman did nothing until week 16. Didn’t fire Aaron Kromer after that debacle, and basically wasted the 2014 season. Too little. Too late.

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Blizzard thinking about selling gametime for gold

It’s often been asked about in game chat, in guild chat, on fan sites. It’s finally being pushed to the forefront.

It’s certainly a topic of discussion. Polarizing. Controversial. I see both pros and cons to it. One of the cons is the effect on the in game economy, which I think is kind of broken as is. I haven’t even looked at the AH yet in Warlords, since I have yet to craft anything besides Blingtron 5000. From my own limited experience, it feels like crafting items will not yield the same opportunity as it has in past expansions.

I do like the option to be able to sell gold for gametime, as I myself have had periods of time where I had more time than money. I would limit it though so people couldn’t exploit it. I think it does open up “Pandora’s box” a little. Especially if they don’t put strict limits on it.

I would also love an option to level a character for someone, for gold. Whether it be one of your characters or linking up with someone else and leveling their character for them. I think that would by dynamic and amazing for the game.

So what do you think? Good, bad, or “meh”? Feel free to leave your comments in the space below!

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Making a list and checking it twice

The Bears 2014 campaign has been on a downward spiral, at least since they blew a 21-7 lead at the Carolina Panthers back in October. Some would say it started even before that. Perhaps as early as when they made the decision to retain embattled defensive coordinator, Mel Tucker. Now, we are left with the aftermath, which looks like it will lead to the firing of Marc Trestman and the bulk of his staff.

So let’s just play it forward. December 29th, “Black Monday” in the NFL. The first Monday after the season ends is typically when coaches are informed they no longer have a job with their current team. Financially, it might seem a bold move, especially by a Bears team that usually doesn’t cut ties with coaches after only two years. The fallout of this season though, is begging for it.

Marc Trestman may or may not have been put behind the proverbial “8 ball”. If it was his decision to sign Cutler to a multi-year deal, then he definitely deserves the ax. If he was talked into it, then perhaps Phil Emery can join him. I have some scenarios and wild ideas, but now that it looks like a reality, let’s flesh out a nice list:

Jim Harbaugh would make the top of my list. The soon to be ex-San Francisco 49ers coach was a Bears QB. Ironically, he was cut just a year after signing a big contract (at the time) and wildly under-performing. Truth be told, Dave Wannstedt did him no favors. Harbaugh is a tough nosed but offensive minded coach that could probably turn the current roster into a playoff contender. He would also have the stones and the credit to take Cutler on and get whatever you can get out of him. Or, he could pick a new QB. Harbaugh is clearly the most qualified, having won two straight division titles, gone to three NFC championships and one Super Bowl.

Rex Ryan is also soon to be out of work as the head coach of the New York Jets. He could be the man for the job. Ryan did a decent job righting the ship last year after Geno Smith was forced down his throat. Ryan has ties to Chicago as son of formers Bears defensive coordinator, Buddy Ryan. He is also a hard nosed dude who won’t put up with a bunch of BS. He can help turn this defense into a respectable unit. My only concern with him is, he never had much of an offense in New York. He had Mark Sanchez for a few years, then as I said, had Geno Smith thrust upon him. Ryan did go to two straight AFC championship games and is known as a top notch defensive mind.

Darrell Bevell was on my “short list” 2 years ago when the Bears passed on him and Bruce Arians to go with Trestman. Mostly for his work with undersized rookie (at the time) Russell Wilson. If they don’t go with a proven coach, Bevell would be my guy.

Frank Reich. Yeah, that Frank Reich! The former Buffalo Bills backup QB to Jim Kelly. The one who lead one of the greatest comebacks of all time. He is in San Diego with Mike McCoy and QB Phillip Rivers.

Jack Del Rio, the Denver Broncos defensive coordinator has done a fine job at the position. He is another one of those tough nosed, no nonsense types, who was a former NFL linebacker. He would quickly be able to evaluate the defense, especially the young linebackers. Coach them up or ship them out. Del Rio did a nice job with the Jacksonville Jaguars but eventually ran out of talent and time.

Gary Kubiak is a long time favorite of mine since his days with the Denver Broncos. I loved his running game and blocking style. He took unknown and often undrafted players and turned them into stars.

Todd Bowles has done an excellent job as the defensive coordinator with the Arizona Cardinals. While they have some talented players, they have had some key injuries as well. He also got to learn under Bruce Arians who has been a longtime friend and associate.

Dave Toub, former Bears special teams coordinator was always at the top of his field. He was innovative and very successful.

Hopefully the Bears will do something else that is uncharacteristic–act quickly. The Oakland Raiders are another organization in turmoil and have already fired their head coach. They could very well be the front runner for Jim Harbaugh’s services when he hits the market. The biggest thing is being able to assemble a competent coaching staff, and that can’t be done if you take your time (drag your feet) and let the other newly hired coaches snatch them up. Here’s hoping!

 

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1st and 5

Wow! What a crazy week in the NFL and I’m sure in Fantasy Football leagues all over the world! In my league there was a 161-87 match and then a 77-65 contest that came down to Monday Night Football. I was involved in the latter and was sweating it out until the 4th quarter. This is it. This is what we have been playing for all season.

QB: Alex Smith, Chiefs- He’s still there. Ready to fill in for your QB. Chances are, if you got to the championship, you have 1, if not 2 decent QBs. There is also RGIII who is going to start vs the Eagles. Obviously, both plays are out of need/desperation.

RB: Doug Martin, Buccaneers- I kind of hesitate to even mention Martin, who burned me so badly last year. His head coach is also kind of odd when it comes to running backs and running the football in general. Last week I mentioned Pierre Thomas could have a sneaky game vs my Bears. This week it’s James Starks. Even if Lacy carries the full load, there should be plenty of opportunities for a 2nd RB vs the Buccaneers.

WR: Harry Douglas, Falcons- Could be a good play even if Julio Jones is back. Has a foot injury, so keep your eyes on that. Jarvis Landry, Dolphins- Has been on my radar for a few weeks. Decent matchup at home vs the Vikings.

TE: Coby Fleener, Colts- I will keep mentioning him. Especially in a big game vs Dallas, who gives up lots of points to the Tight End position.

D/ST: Panthers- At home vs Johnny Football. You know he is going to throw a couple picks and probably get sacked. Although I have a sneaky feeling he’s going to do better than he did last week. Still, very good matchup. If the Packers D/ST is available they have a nice matchup at the Buccaneers.

That’s it ladies and gentleman. Hope you got to the championship. Good luck!

 

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Getting started with Garrisons

I thought I would make a basic post about Garrisons and getting started with them. This is going to be alliance side, because that is what I play 99% of the time. I will possibly include the horde part later, when I level my tauren paladin to 100. For now, sorry!

Baros Alexston

Baros in Shadowmoon.

So you planted your banner and Baros Alexston steps through a portal from Stormwind (just how could he do this if they needed a–never mind!) He asks you to take care of a couple things: mark trees to be used as lumber and rid the area from these pesky birds. You get a quest from Yrel to take out Quakefist–a mini boss. After that you return to Baros and boom! You have your Garrison! Go inside and he gives you a couple more quests.

My philosophy is to get my followers as soon as possible. If you are on you first run through, you might want to just hit things organically, and that is totally cool. If you don’t, I will walk you through getting your followers as soon as you can.

Tip: While out adventuring and even within your Garrison, make sure to explore. There are things scattered about that will give you experience and/or Garrison resources!

Head out the north path from your Garrison to the shore to take care of business. When you return, Baros will send you to an area that is under construction to get some blueprints. Go pick those up. Right click on them to “learn”. You can find plans for the garrison from drops or quests and ultimately purchase them from a vendor. You are then instructed to use the Architect’s table to place your newly learned Town Hall on the map so it can be constructed! Whenever you build something, you will have to run over and click on it to “finalize it”. Anytime you construct anything new it will put you outside of your Garrison and phase it in. Go back and talk to Maraad, who has a quest for you. You learn a neat spell (Call to Arms) and a quest to get your first follower!

garrison zone ability

Qiana and the Garrison ability.

Qiana Moonshadow was so taken with your heroic abilities she wants to join you as soon as your garrison is set. Which is cool. After you set things up you can send her on a mission. There is a little tutorial of the garrison UI. It’s real easy.

Qiana Moonshadow- Growl is her main ability and she gets a random trait. I got inscription on this character. Which is a good candidate to swap out for me.

Tip: When you get most followers, they have a chance to be upgraded to rare or epic level. There are a few that are already at that level. Good luck!

garrison tutorial

Garrison UI and tutorial.

Send her on her first mission and pick up your second follower–Bruma Swiftstone. Yrel asks to accompany you to go to Embari Village. On your way, you can pick up your third follower. He’s waiting on a hill just west of the town. There is no ? quest marker, just a little X (crossed swords) like you see on Timeless Isle when there is a rare event going on.

Bruma Swiftstone- Is a nice little rogue with Fan of Knives and the alchemy trait.

location of romuul

Artificer Romuul is right where the little arrow is, on a hill.

Artificier Romuul- Has Rebuke for his main ability and Jewelcrafting as a trait.

After you are finished in Embaari Village you can go a few different ways. Follow Velen to Twilight Glade, where you will unlock a quest to get another follower or head to the Draakorium. Near the Draakorium you can go a little further south and start the questline to get Fiona. The other option is to turn in “Migrant workers” which you should have picked up before leaving your Garrison. It starts a quest that leads you to Elodor–probably my favorite village in Shadowmoon. There is also another follower to be had there, one you will have to choose from 3 available.

I go for Elodor, but I have done this 5 times now. I think I went to Twilight Glade my first time through. Eventually the quests will take you to Exarch Naielle in the Rangari Enclave. Completing those quests will bring you back to Exarch Nataaru to compete the quests that will open up your choice of 1 of 3 followers:

Apprentice Artificer Andren- He has Heroic Leap and Engineering–which only 1-2 other followers have. The other one you will not pick up until level 96 I think, so if you want to assign a follower to your engineer thing, you might want to pick him up.

Rangari Chel- Multishot is her ability and she has a random trait.

Vindicator Onaala- Has Cleanse and a random assigned trait.

At this point, you can go south and pick up Fiona or go Twilight Glade and get that going. You might want to head back to your garrison and send some of your followers on missions first. Unlocking the quest for Rulan will also open up the quest to upgrade your Town Hall to level two, which is cool.

When you get back to your Garrison you may have other quests pop up. Not sure exactly what triggers it, but there is a quest to send you to Ashran. I do suggest going there ASAP because you get a rare follower:

Delvar Ironfist- He has Bone Shield and has the Bodyguard trait, which is only possessed by a handful of followers. He also has one more random trait. Ashran is kind of neat and all the quests are simple “talk-to” different NPCs.

I decided going to Twilight Grove is probably the best option if you are looking to progress your Garrison further. After you complete “The fate of Karabor” Baros sends a messenger for you to come back. This opens up level 2 of your Town Hall and should prompt a quest to go after another follower, in addition to the quest that unlocks Rulkan.

Rulkan- She comes with the Hex ability and the Blacksmithing trait. I lucked out on my druid and got a rare version. The extra trait was Gronnslaying. Which is nice.

When you come back to Baros he suggest upgrading your Town Hall. Who am I to argue? For a paltry 200 resources to boot. Level 2 of the Town Hall unlocks a slot for a medium building and an additional small building. Feel free to set those up. It also opens up Garrison invasions and a couple more quests. You may want to explore things at this point.

upgrade your town hall

Upgrade your Garrison at the architect table!

The quest “Lost lumberjacks” will pop up but the camp has moved to west of your Garrison Entrance. This is the questline that leads to Shelly. You can either do that one or go south to get Fiona.

I went to get Shelly because I can do that pretty fast. The quest is kind of annoying. At one point they say you need to go to the “pond” to get a clue, you start following the Phlox and he disappears. This takes you away from the area. Double back a little and you will see him again. The clue you need will be to his left. I was going around for about 20-minutes trying to find this the first time.

Shelly Hamby- Has Sprint and Leatherworking.

The last follower I pick up in Shadowmoon is Fiona. You have to do all the quests for her and the two other NPCs in her caravan. After that, she asks to be your follower.

WoWScrnShot_121514_163301

Fiona’s caravan in Shadowmoon Valley.

Fiona- She has a nice AoE heal and has the herbalism trait, which later on, you can put her to work in your herb garden.

This should give you a nice start to Garrisons and collecting some followers. Hopefully you get a few rare and maybe even an epic follower. Good luck!

 

 

 

 

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Rex Ryan might be the man for the job

The Bears need a lot of things. Toughness. A Defensive Coordinator. Someone who is not going to take a lot of BS. A leader who will deflect the focus off his players. Yeah, he is a bit of a meatball. So are Bears fans (myself included–at times). He would fit right in a town who has coach Q, Thibs and now Joe Maddon. They can even sneak him in, sort of. Here’s how.

Hire him as the Defensive Coordinator and slap the assistant coach title on him. That would put Trestman on notice. We are probably looking at at least one more year of Cutler. If Trestman can’t get him to stop giving the ball away, he won’t be long for the job. Maybe even a mid-season replacement. They would already have their man. If things work out, you are looking at a playoff run.

I personally, would launch Trestman and draft a QB in the 2nd or 3rd round at this point. I was a big Trestman/Cutler supporter but that all fizzled out hearing them both talk week in and week out. Saying things will change and then not changing a damn thing. So I’m done. I’m almost to the point where I was back when Dave Wannstedt was running the franchise into the ground.

In today’s NFL a team can go from worst to first in one season. We see it year in and year out in the NFC South. The Bears are too talented to have complied the record they have. The right coach could get them into the playoffs. There will be at least 2 on the street at the end of the season. Here’s hoping one of them make it into the storied franchise that is the Chicago Bears.

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