I’ve been feeling a bit nostalgic about summer lately. About when long days stretched into even longer nights and the only thing you had to worry about was whether your shorts were short enough so that you wouldn’t have a weird tan once you put your bathing suit on.
In the heat of the day, my friends and I would slip into our swimsuits, coat ourselves in baby oil or butter and lay in the sun for hours. We’d flip ourselves over and over, applying new layers of oil with each flip because inevitably the towel we were laying on would take half of it off, and that would result in uneven browning.
We would hook up the ghetto blaster in the backyard, slide in a mixed tape that we made by recording our favorite songs off the radio, pop open a can of Coke, and prepare for an afternoon of relaxation. Occasionally we’d flip through a magazine or a copy of the Saturday comics, but definitely no reading material that required any thought process or concentration.
We would gossip about make up, boys, fashion, and other worldly pursuits while we smoked menthol cigarettes that we stole from my mom’s purse. It didn’t matter what was going on in the big wide world, it only mattered what was going on in our world. Carefree, homework-free days were before us. No exams, no teachers, no getting up before 10 a.m. and definitely no going to bed before midnight.
We would snack on sunflower seeds, potato chips, and watermelon, spitting the seeds across Dad’s newly cut grass to see who could spit the furthest. It didn’t matter if we ate anything else that day, we had a some of the basic food groups covered didn’t we?
When it got too hot to lay out any longer, we’d slide a pair of shorts over our suits and go for a walk or bike ride around the neighborhood, periodically stopping to chat with other friends and all the while trying to catch a glimpse of the hottie who lived down the street who was years too old for us.
We didn’t worry about skin cancer or UV rays. We didn’t worry about our diets or jobs. We didn’t worry about what time dinner was on the table or whether we had clean clothes. All we worried about was…nothing.
Add the Ritz crackers to a food processor and pulse until the crackers are fine crumbs. Add the sugar and melted butter and pulse 5 or 6 times to combine. (If you don't have a food processor, you can add the crackers to a Ziploc bag and smash them into crumbs with a rolling pin or other heavy object. Transfer the crumbs to a bowl and add the sugar and butter. Mix to combine.)
Line muffin/cupcake pans with paper liners and spoon 1 heaping tablespoon of crumbs into each (You should get 18.). Gently shake the pan back and forth on the counter to evenly distribute the crumbs within each liner. Use a small glass or other similar object to press the crumbs into the bottom of each liner. Do not remove the liners from the pans. Set aside.
With an electric mixer or a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, on medium speed, begin to whip the cream. Slowly add the icing (powdered/confectioners) sugar and vanilla extract. Turn the mixer to high and whip the cream until it forms stiff peaks. Transfer the whipped cream to a separate bowl and set aside.
To the bowl of your mixer, add the cream cheese. Begin by whisking the cream cheese on medium speed and then slowly add the granulated sugar. Once the mixture begins to soften, scrape down the sides of the bowl and turn the mixer to medium high speed. Add the lemonade Kool-Aid drink mix. Whisk until the cream cheese is light and fluffy, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add a few drops of pink food paste coloring and mix well to combine.
To the cream cheese mixture, mix in 1 cup of the previously whipped cream, reserving the remainder of the whipped cream for topping.
Transfer the cream cheese mixture to a disposable piping bag or Ziploc bag with the end cut off. This is the easiest method of getting the mixture onto the crumbs, but spoons will work as well. Evenly distribute the cream cheese mixture among the 18 liners.
Use a piping bag with your desired tip (I used an 827 open star tip) or a Ziploc bag with the end cut off to add the remainder of the whipped cream on top of each cream cheese layer.
Cut each decorative paper straw into 3 pieces. Add 1 piece to each cheesecake. Add 1 fruit jelly candy to the top of each cheesecake. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
Once ready to serve, use a knife placed between the liner and the side of the pan to gently lift each cheesecake out of the muffin/cupcake pan.