2 pkgs Cream Cheese (8 oz), softened
1/2 C Sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla (get the good stuff, it's worth it)
Mix all this up with an electric mixer until smooth and pour into a ready-made graham cracker crust, bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes or until the center is almost set, let it cool, refrigerate for 3-4 hours and it's done.
To the basic recipe you can add several different flavors and if you really want to get fancy you can get a set of springform pans and make your own crust. A basic graham cracker crust is as follows:
1 c Graham Cracker crumbs
3 Tablespoons Sugar
3 Tablespoons butter, melted
Combine the crumbs and sugar, stir in the butter and continue to stir until the graham crackers have absorbed the butter and they are more or less evenly coated. Assemble your springform pan and press the graham cracker mixture into the bottom with the back of a spoon to make a smooth even layer. Make a double batch of batter or use a small pan, the above recipe is good for a 6" pan but no bigger. Pour the batter into the pan and smooth the top, bake as before.
I made a pumpkin cheesecake this week for Middle Daughter's birthday. To the basic batter add 1/2 cup canned pumpkin (plain pumpkin, NOT the mix), 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, and one dash each ground cloves and nutmeg. Mix until smooth, bake as before.
Other variations are chocolate (4 squares semi-sweet bakers chocolate, melted), peanut butter (1/2 cup) or Key Lime juice (2 Tablespoons). Another variation is to make two complimentary flavors of batter, layer them in the pan and run a knife through the layers to swirl them together. (This works extremely well with chocolate and peanut butter, it would work just as well with chocolate and 1/3 cup caramel ice cream topping.)
The possibilities are endless, but beware that once you start making real cheesecakes you won't go back to the no-bake kind.