Sunday, August 17, 2014

Raspberry Lemonade Cheesecake Bars (or a cheesecake fit for two)

When life gives you lemons, make lemonade…or get really creative, pick some raspberries, soften some cream cheese and make Raspberry Lemonade Cheesecake Bars.

Multiple Sclerosis and all of its challenges have given me an abundance of opportunities to make lemonade, metaphorically speaking. With MS there are so many unknowns and unpredictable circumstances. Life can be going along one way and then in the blink of an eye a nerve can flare, a muscle can spasm and life can be thrown into a state of complete fritz. For the sake of sticking with our fruity metaphor I'll call those all-to frequent instances "lemons".
The question then becomes what will the fritzy, ailing body do with their lemons?

In my years with a chronic, ongoing, unpredictable illness I've had my share of opportunities to do some lemon experimentation. Sometimes I've gotten mad at my lemons. I've thrown my lemons, smashed my lemons and yelled at my lemons. I've come to find that this is a ridiculous response. First of all it is a waste of perfectly good lemons. Secondly they never, ever respond to my harassment. In the end this tactic only leaves me horse and frustrated.
I've also tried the ignorance is bliss response to my lemons. On the face of it this seems like a logical response. Just ignore the lemons. How can a person be upset about lemons if they aren't even acknowledging their existence? Well, lemon deniers let me tell you a little secret - lemons go bad. They get moldy spots. They rot. If you ignore your lemons you will pay. Trust me, I have.

Let me assure you it didn't happen over night (sadly it took far too long) but I have in time learned that there is a better way to deal with the lemons of life. Are you ready for my bombshell of a revelation? Make the lemons work for you. 
It's true that this isn't a revolutionary concept. Back in the early 1900's a man named Elbert Hubbard penned a famous obituary in which he gave voice to the lesson I've learned. He wrote of his friend who had passed away, "He picked up the lemons that Fate had sent him and started a lemonade-stand."
Well, I don't believe in "fate." I believe in God. Never the less, the point that Elbert hit on back in the 1900's is still applicable to me today. When you find that you have been given a basket full of lemons you have a choice to make. You can start a fit or you can start a stand.

God doesn't always hand you and I the lemonade ready to drink and enjoy. It seems that more often than not He gives us the lemons (sometimes a lot of lemons) and instructs us to make something wonderful with them. God gives us hard, sour fruit with no odor until cut and once cut a vicious pain if met with a cut finger (for example), and wants us to trust Him that something beautiful can come from that abundant, cheap little fruit.
Just today I was handed another bucket full of lemons. This one came in the form of a flare up that left me indoors, off the beach and out of the pool as I vacation on an island. This isn't exactly what I had expected when I packed my bags.
Once again I've had to ask myself the question, what will you do with these lemons?
This time around the answer has come easily and simply: I'm going to bake with them.

The treat d'jour is a Raspberry Lemonade Cheesecake Bar. The hot temperatures of Hilton Head Island have called out to my inner baker and asked to provide a dessert that is light and refreshing. With my bucket full of lemons in hand I have just the treat to satisfy the hot, humid and hungry! 

I found this recipe at Handle the Heat - quite an appropriate name given today's temperature of 92 degrees, don't you agree? 
The idea behind the recipe is to create cheesecake inspired bars with a raspberry swirl. With a lack of kitchen equipment on hand (no mixer, no food processor, very few baking dishes), my dessert ended up  in a round pan that created a cheesecake fit for two. This actually turned out to be an accidentally genius baking decision. I was only baking for two tonight and the presentation of a miniature cheesecake was more appealing than a few bars cut up on a plate. 
So you see, when you have lemons but no dish, don't fret. All you have to do is get creative, take a stand, and keep on baking. 

Recipe adapted from

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