Cool Strawberry Cream Pie

It's been in the 90s all week... the perfect time for a no-bake pie made from freshly picked strawberries. You can short-cut this recipe by using a purchased graham cracker crust and topping my cream filling with your favorite strawberry jam. But I'll guarantee my made-from-scratch version is luscious! My short-cut is to use the food processor for each of the three layers.

2 c granola*
2 T softened butter or coconut oil

8 oz Neufchatel cheese (or cream cheese), softened
1/2 c cottage cheese or plain yogurt
2 T lemon juice
1 t grated dried orange peel
2 T honey

3 c fresh cleaned and hulled strawberries
10 drops liquid stevia (or other sweetener)
1/2 t ground cinnamon
1/3 c fruit juice
1 t agar agar flakes** (or 1 T corn starch or arrowroot)

Whirl the granola into fine crumbs in a food processor and mix well with the butter or oil. Press the mixture into the bottom and sides of a 9" pie plate.

Rinse the food processor and mix all the cream filling ingredients until smooth. Dump the filling into prepared pie shell, spreading to the top of the granola crumbs and smoothing the top flat. No one will ever guess that cottage cheese is used in this delicious slightly sweet filling!

Rinse out the food processor and chop the strawberries by pulsing a just a few times - don't over process or you'll end up with a wet puree. Put the chopped berries in a bowl and add the stevia (or your choice of sweetener) and cinnamon. If the berries have shed a lot of juice, pour this off into a measuring cup; otherwise use 100% fruit juice, like blueberry or grape juice, and heat 1/3 cup to boiling. Stir in agar agar flakes and simmer 5-10 minutes until the mixture thickens. Add this to the strawberries and mix well. Let this mixture cool. Spoon the strawberry mixture over the cream filling, and refrigerate for at least one hour before serving.

This recipe will work well with other fresh fruit, like blueberries, blackberries, peaches, and others. Try fresh red raspberries with a chocolate cookie crust - yum!

* See this blog for my recipe for homemade granola, or use your favorite purchased mixture

** Agar agar flakes are a thickener, much like unflavored gelatin, derived from a sea weed. It is commonly sold in health food stores. Alternately, you can thicken the juice with cornstarch, used in the same way as the agar agar flakes.