Cheesecake-Stuffed Strawberries

It has been well-documented that my favorite thing to do, any day of the week, any hour of the day, is cook. I've become known as the one who will never show up empty handed to a get-together and will never let you leave my house hungry. But I also have a tendency to be a "behind-the-scenes" cook - meaning when guests arrive I have been so busy cooking that I usually don't have anything for them to help me with.

So when I received a text from my friend Missy, an aspiring home cook herself, simply stating "I have a recipe I want to do with you," I was thrilled that not only would I get the chance to try something new, I'd get to try it with my girlfriends and hang out in the kitchen for a couple of hours. What could be better than that?

These strawberries may have been better than that. They're incredibly simple but I would imagine people would think you spent a lot more time on them than they actually take. Add a couple of friends, a bottle of wine, and some finger foods and it sure beats a night out - with no money spent and without fighting for a parking spot!

You will need:

2 lbs strawberries, trimmed and hulled
1 8-ounce brick cream cheese, softened
4 tablespoons powdered sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup crushed graham crackers
Mint leaves, for garnishing (optional)

Wash, trim and hull strawberries to create a bowl in the center of the strawberry. If you want to stand yours up (which I recommend as it's easier to fill and present), slice off about a quarter inch of the bottom of the strawberry so it will lie flat. Dry strawberries and arrange them on your serving plate.

In a medium bowl, combine cream cheese (make sure it is very soft), powdered sugar and vanilla extract. Stir until the mixture is smooth and free of lumps. Spoon cream cheese mixture into a piping bag (or Ziploc bag with a corner snipped off) and fill strawberries until the cream cheese just crests the tops of the strawberries.

Add the crushed graham crackers into a small bowl. Immediately roll the tops of the strawberries in the graham crackers, coating the cream cheese, and return to serving plate. If desired, garnish each strawberry with a mint leaf.