Strawberries & Cream Icebox Bars

strawberries & cream bars

strawberries & cream bars

On any given spring day, I would normally advocate for eating fruit as-is. Especially strawberries — they are so sweet and pretty to begin with… so why mess with that?

On the other hand, strawberries were my favorite fruit growing up. I ate strawberry-flavored everything. Ice cream, frosting, cupcakes, you name it. It didn’t matter if they were real or artificial. I loved the flavor, and I loved that they turned everything pink.

Can you blame me?

strawberries & cream bars

strawberries & cream bars

I’ve gone through a transition over time, as we all have. I not only want to fit into my clothes, but I’ve wanted to eat more healthily. Fruit has enough sugar, right?

Well, on this Sunday Funday, we’re just going to take strawberries to the next level.

I found this recipe on Pinterest a while back, and I’ve been itching to make it ever since. I found that there was not nearly enough crumbles to make both the bottom and the top crusts, so I’ve doubled those measurements here.

strawberries & cream bars

strawberries & cream bars

strawberries & cream bars

strawberries & cream bars

Strawberries & Cream Icebox Bars, via Pip & Ebby

1/2 cup pecans, toaste
8 whole gram crackers, broken into pieces
1 cup butter, melted
2 cup flour
2/3 cup brown sugar

2 egg whites
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup whipping cream
Juice from 1 lemon
4 oz. cream cheese
2 cups diced strawberries

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

In a food processor, combine the pecans and graham crackers. Pulse-grind until uniformly mixed in a pretty, crumbly mix. Then, transfer to a large mixing bowl with the melted butter, flour and brown sugar. Mix with a fork, and spread out onto a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Pat down with your fingers to make one giant cookie (you’ll be crumbling this later). Try to keep it about 1/4 to 1/2-an inch thick.

Bake for 15 minutes, and remove to cool. Crumble into a bowl.

In your stand mixer, beat the egg whites until you have soft peaks. Then, gradually add the sugar and heavy cream. Beat for another 4 minutes, until the mixture is light. Beat in the lemon juice and cream cheese until evenly mixed, and then fold in the strawberries.

Line a 9×13 cake pan with parchment paper. Spread half of your cookie crumbles into the pan, coating the surface evenly. Then, pour your strawberries and cream mixture on top of the crust, using a spatula to spread the cream all the way to the edges. Sprinkle the remaining crumbs over the top, coating the cream entirely.

Let freeze for AT LEAST four hours, but preferably overnight. When fully frozen, slice with a very sharp knife, and wrap individually with plastic wrap or parchment paper. Distribute to your friends on a pretty spring day.

Marscapone Pound Cake with Whipped Cream and Balsamic Strawberries

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There are a few good reasons why I let myself fall into freelance black holes.

The most obvious is, on several levels, financial. Freelancing = more money. More money = less debt, nicer things, and sometimes, slightly less anxiety. When I dedicate a weekend to freelance, I cloister myself. I seal my bedroom door and plug in my head phones, and I get. shit. done.

When I spend a Friday night freelancing, I chug water and green tea. I go to sleep only when I’m satisfied with the progress I’ve made, so my sleep is sound. I reward myself by silencing my phone and not setting an alarm. And when I wake up refreshed that Saturday morning, I sip my French press coffee while putting on make up and getting dressed.

Getting dressed and made up for a working weekend is key… because whether I spend my day designing from bed or designing from Ebenezer’s, that Saturday is a day of work. I am a creature of habit. There are certain things I need to do to prepare myself for a day of work, be it at home or at the Energy Department. And this ritual is one part physical, one part psychological.

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Freelancing, I’ve learned, is not for everyone. It’s not easy, and there are days and nights and weeks at a time where I feel myself slipping into a state of anxiety — an antsiness that transcends stir crazy.

There are times when I absolutely love it. Like when I was in Los Angeles for Christmas vacation, on the phone with Google from my parents’ dining table, sipping a cup of coffee from one hand, and scratching the floppy ears of my family’s grumpy yellow lab with the other. On days when I have only one job, when my makeshift office is cozy, and I have a dog under my arm — yes, those are the days. I envision my future exactly like that. One job, working from home, with a dog. Am I a grown-up yet?

Then, there are times when I’m an absolute crazy person. I’m overbooked, I say “yes” to too many projects, I have a full load of creative work at the Department, and friends celebrate birthdays over the course of entire weekends. Those days. Those days make me want to curl into a variation of the fetal position, preferably in my bathtub while periodically sitting up to swig Bulleit straight from the bottle.

The depressing part is that when I find myself so stressed out that the only mode of comfort is a bubble bath and a Manhattan, there usually isn’t time to calm down. Too much stress, too little time.

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But since 2013 began, I’ve been trying to take care of myself. To treat myself better. I work hard. I love my job(s). And I’ve taken a good hard look at several areas of my life. I’ve made goals and priorities. Three months ago, I wrote on this blog that 2013 would be my year. I wanted 2013 to be your year, too.

It’s quarter-end. In the same way that I review my tax information and prepare forms and files for record-keeping and for completing my civic transaction as a tax payer, looking back on the past three months has only magnified how much my life has changed. How incredibly different my life is. What a different place I’m in, and what a different person I’ve become. Hopefully, for the better.

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Mindy and I were discussing 2013. How 2013 would be is my year, and how 2013 would be is hers.

For both of us, 2012 started off in the dumps. And then, little by little, things started to change. It started with a new job, and just trickled into every aspect of our lives.

So this spring, I’m taking a look at 2013 and checking in on my goals. Take better care of yourself. Floss your teeth. Invest in skincare. Sleep in. Drink less.

Spend time with the people you care about most, and make time for those who stood by you through thick and thin. And remember where you came from, because when you needed help, someone came to the rescue. And someday, you’re going to be the rescuer.

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In the end, we are all creatures of habit. We have rituals before we go to bed, and rituals after we wake up. Those habits are not instinctive; you train yourself with repetition, and the action becomes part of your every day life, and part of your whole self. The things you say and the things you do over and over again are the things that will define who you think you are, and how the world interprets your own well-being.

Breaking bad habits is an art form in itself: unbelievably both simple and complex in nature, but not lacking in any psychological depth. If you bite your nails, sleep in your make up, or simply have issues being honest with yourself and with the people you love, break it. Do whatever it takes to break those habits — even if it means taking the babiest of baby steps. Love yourself, and make every decision a good one, if anything, out of self respect.

I’m going to say this one more time. Repeat after me: this — 2013 — is my year.

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Recipe after the jump.  Continue reading “Marscapone Pound Cake with Whipped Cream and Balsamic Strawberries”