You ever feel like sometimes you may be spending a little too much time inside hissing at the sun and hiding in the sweet sweet luxury of air conditioning? Aside from the excellent driver's tan I seem to have acquired this year, my complexion indicates I may need to get the hell out of the house soon.
Eff it, y'all, let's have a picnic.
I don't care how hot and sweaty and humid and full-of-children it is, picnics are the shit. Almost every Sunday during the summer my family and I would go to a local park and enjoy a free concert while dining on either subs, sanwiches, or things shoved between two slices of bread. With all that fabulous variety, it's no wonder that I've taken picnicking to a whole different level in my adult life. I mean...drink flavored desserts?!?! What is this madness?!?! That kind of stuff would have been completely unheard of to my ten year-old self.
Here's what you're gonna need to blow your pb&j picnic out of the water.
2 c. Cookie of your choice, crushed. (I recommend shortbread, nilla wafers, or graham crackers)1TBsp gelatin (I'm using "natural desserts" brand vegan gelatin. It was like $2.50 on amazon.com.)
1 lb. strawberries
3 lemons, juiced and zested
2 packages very soft cream cheese (16 oz.) (or tofutti better than cream cheese for vegan-style)
1 pint Heavy cream (or use cool whip or whipped coconut cream to go vegan.)
1 1/2 c. Sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
Couple pinches of salt
10 8oz. Jars/individual portion things (or you can just slap it into one big pan. I won't mind.)
Roughly chop up some strawberries and throw them into a pot with a cup of sugar and the lemon juice. Stir it and cook on medium low just long enough to dissolve the sugar. If you're using normal gelatin then you don't have to worry about the heat, but if you're using vegan gelatin you're supposed to put it in cold stuff and also non-acidic stuff. I figure might as well go for one out of two.
Once the sugar is dissolved, blend it into a fine purée. You can strain it if you'd like to make it super smooth, but I didn't because that seemed entirely too much like more dishes to clean.
Take your heavy cream and put it in the blender with your 2tsp of vanilla. Gradually raise the speed to whip on high until they make those infamous stiff peaks.
Put the now-whipped cream into a separate bowl if you're using a stand mixer. Hand mixers, just use a second bowl for this part.
Put your softened cream cheese (mine was left on the counter for most of the day.), lemon zest, remaining 1/2 cup of sugar, and gentle pinches of salt into the bowl. Mix 'em up good and nice until it also looks nice and fluffy like the cream.
At this point, I put the vegan gelatin into the strawberry puree since the instructions said to use it as quickly as possible. The whole package was about 1TBsp and did the trick just fine, should you be in the market for some.
I suspect that this would have been even easier if, at this point, I had taken the strawberry stuff and mixed it into the cream cheese while it was still in the kitchen aid. I recommend doing it that way rather than what I did, which was fold together the two fluffed creamy whatsits and THEN gently stir in the strawberry.
Then it really just came down to assembly, honestly. Throw some crushed cookies into your jars, and follow it up with some strawberry lemonade fluff. Repeat until out of fluff.
If you want it to really FEEL like you're eating something truly sinful, only make half the whipped cream. Otherwise you're going to trick yourself into thinking that this sweet and tart delicacy has no calories at all because it doesn't nearly have the kind of weight to it that a baked cheesecake does.