Saturday, June 19, 2010

strawberry icebox cheesecake

It sometimes feels as though our fridge is over-flowing with food. And I'm crazy about throwing any of it away. I feel an obligation to use up as much as we can because it's essentially throwing money out. It's also become a bit of a fun challenge to take a look at what we need to use up and devise a menu plan around it. That's how I invented my first ever dessert recipe.

Left over ricotta, cottage cheese, fresh strawberries and whipped cream. Those ingredients brought to mind a real retro icebox cake! But I haven't ever made one before. So I pulled out Kraft's 'What's Cooking' free magazine collection I've had delivered for years. I've never tried anything from it because I always saw it as a bunch of recipes created to have you run out to your nearest WalMart and buy Kraft Singles and assemble a jazzed up grilled cheese sandwich. But this magazine does in fact have loads of ideas that you can use. So I applied what I read about icebox cake recipes to assemble my own take on it.

Strawberry Icebox Cheesecake
1 cup ricotta cheese

1 cup cottage cheese

2 cups milk

1/4 cup sugar

1 Jell-O Vanilla instant pudding

1/3 cup strawberry jam (from the jam I made last week)
1 tbsp lemon juice and zest of 1 lemon

10 strawberries, chopped

27 graham crackers

1/2 cup whipped cream

5-10 whole strawberries for garnish. Sliced or whole

In a food processor blitz ricotta & cottage cheese until very smooth. Transfer blended cheese mixture to a mixer with a paddle attachment. Begin slowly beating in 2 cups of milk taking time to scrape down sides of mixer bowl. Once well blended slowly add sugar and then vanilla pudding powder and beat for 1 minute further. Finally add strawberry jam and lemon juice & zest until incorporated. Stir in chopped strawberries.
In a 9x9 baking dish layer graham crackers and pudding mixture in thirds. Spread whipped cream on top and whole (or sliced) strawberries. Refrigerate overnight to set.

It actually worked out amazingly!! My family enjoyed it so I'm really pleased. Next time I give this a go I might just end up using Cool Whip (which most icebox cakes seem to ask for) to help it set up a bit more firm. I've never bought Cool Whip before and the idea of it kinda grosses me out. So we'll see...

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