Strawberry cheesecake dip

Some people love cooking but hate baking, and for others, vice versa. Me? I love both equally, but in different ways – sort of like what my parents say when I ask which child is their favorite. (I only have one kid, so I can answer that question honestly.)

But cooking and baking? There’s so much to love with both of them.

I love the sounds of the cooking process – whether it’s hearing the ingredients be chopped or the sizzle of those ingredients when they hit a hot pan. I love the laissez-faire approach, letting flavors mingle together and adding a pinch of this or a dash of that.

But baking nurtures my soul. Yes, it sounds totally cheesy, but I can’t think of any other way to describe it. The science of baking fascinates me, but the process also requires creativity and artistry. It’s also my favorite form of stress relief and my own form of meditation. When I’ve got my hands in a pile of dough, I’m only thinking about everything that’s right with the world. I could bake something new and exciting every single day and never tire of it.

Unfortunately, I haven’t been doing as much baking lately, and if it seems evident by my crabby face, it’s probably partly true. We’ve been trying to cut back on the sweets in our house (aside from my daily quota of Cadbury milk chocolate bars) and if we have baked goods lying around, I will eat them. I will eat them all. So we just don’t have baked goods lying around.

I also don’t tend to bake as much this time of year because I don’t like when it’s hot outside and using my oven makes it similarly hot inside. (That’s the other reason I seem crabby this time of year. Also whiny. I’m very whiny about summer.)

I still have a major sweet tooth – I wouldn’t turn down a cookie – but cranking up the heat on the oven when it’s warm and sunny outside (basically June through August) just isn’t my thing. I gravitate more toward cooler desserts, like ice cream pies and no-bake treats, that I can tuck in the fridge or freezer and grab at my convenience.

This cheesecake dip is incredibly easy to whip up and store in the fridge (especially if I keep the strawberry topping in a separate container), and can be used as a dip for graham crackers, sugar cookies, pretzels, fruit, you name it.

It’s great for entertaining because it can be prepared ahead of time, and it can pull duty as both an appetizer and a dessert.

And a snack.

And sometimes even supper.

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