2 pkgs Cream Cheese (8 oz), softened
1/2 C Sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla (get the good stuff, it's worth it)
Mix the first three ingredients with an electric mixer until smooth, add the eggs and mix just enough to blend them in and pour into a ready-made graham cracker crust, bake at 325 degrees for 45 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. Don't make the crust too thick because it will be too tough, it should just fill the depression in the bottom of the springform pan. You can also press the crust up the sides of the springform pan, but again be careful not to make the crust too thick.
As an added note, you can use this crust in a regular pie pan as well if you don't have or would rather not use a springform pan.
You might have to make a double batch of batter when you are using the springform pans (or use a smaller pan) depending on how tall you want your cake to be, in my opinion the above recipe is good for a 6" pan but no bigger. Using the springform pans is easy, just press your crust into the pan, pour the batter into the pan, and bake as before. Personally I like the looks of a springform pan baked cheesecake better than the pie pans.
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. The pumpkin cheesecake is very good in a springform pan with 1/2 teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice (or 1/2 t cinnamon with a dash of cloves and nutmeg) mixed into the crust.
Other variations are chocolate (4 squares semi-sweet bakers chocolate, melted), peanut butter (1/2 cup) or Key Lime juice (2 Tablespoons, if you like key lime pie you will love this). 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.