Could Not Be Simpler Ice Cream Sandwiches

Last week, on the last day of school, I planned to have hot dogs and root beer floats for dinner. Then I realized, at 5:30, that we didn’t have hot dogs.  But we did have some turkey Italian sausages, so those worked. Then I realized that the hooligans had helped themselves to the cans of root beer in the garage and we didn’t have that, either. To be clear, it was a six-pack of root beer I bought last fall to celebrate the first day of school, so they’ve had 10 months to consume the three cans that were left. Ice-Cream-ChaosServedDaily

Happily, I had some plain sugar cookies that I hadn’t yet decorated for a Fourth of July post I’m doing for next week.  I just put a half-scoop of ice cream on three cookies, smooshed it down a little flat, and added another cookie on top.  I rolled the edges in sprinkles (I had to press them on a little, but that was easy) and put them in the freezer until dinner was finished.

The kids said I’m the best mom ever. But they might be biased.

If you’re like me, you rarely have plain sugar cookies sitting around waiting on an ice cream sandwich emergency to arise. I’m thinking you could use vanilla wafers to make super cute mini sandwiches, still with sprinkles, of course.  Or those chocolate wafer cookies might work, if they’re not too thin. Or chocolate chip or any other cookie you happen to have, really!

And, again if you’re like me, you may rarely even have ice cream on hand. I do always have yogurt, though…check out these fun Easy-Peasy Yogurt Pops I made last summer!

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Hope you’re enjoying a summer filled with plenty of treats, planned or not!

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TBT: Strawberry Tiramisu

This is one of my favorite summer desserts, and when I realized I had signed up to bring snacks to my Bible study group this week, I decided it was time to kick off summer! What makes this so perfect for summer is that is more of an assembly rather than actual cooking or baking. The hooligans could probably make this by themselves, if not for the fact that they might chop off a digit or two in the food processor. Then I’d have that mess to clean up, AND have to find something else to take to my group!

I originally published this last June, but it bears repeating!

Before I show you this recipe, let me say this…I generally avoid using Cool Whip, because of the partially hydrogenated oil and numerous chemicals in it. However, unless you’re willing to suck up all the fat and calories in real whipped cream, I’ve not found a good alternative.

***UPDATE since I wrote this post in May:  I DID find a substitute at Trader Joe’s called House Whip and is pretty much just like Cool Whip in flavor and texture, but made with organic ingredients. You’re welcome.***

This Strawberry Tiramisu might just be worth the indulgence, though.  Layers of creamy whipped sweetness with berry-soaked ladyfingers make a perfect ending for a grilled dinner on the deck (or so my family thinks!).Tiramisu-ChaosServedDaily

Strawberry Tiramisu

  • 1 pint strawberries, hulled and quartered
  • 3 Tablespoons vanilla syrup (or Amaretto, if not for kids!)
  • 1/3 cup powdered sugar
  • 12 oz lowfat cream cheese (Neufchatel)
  • Another 1/3 cup powdered sugar
  • 3 cups fatfree Cool Whip, or 1-1/2 cups whipping cream, whipped to stiff peaks
  • 24 dry ladyfinger cookies

1. Combine strawberries, syrup, and 1/3 cup powdered sugar in food processor or blender  and puree. Save ½ cup and pour remaining mixture into a pie pan or pasta plate.

2. Cream together cream cheese and other 1/3 cup powdered sugar, then fold in Cool Whip or whipped cream.

3. Line the bottom of an 8×8 pan with ladyfingers, cutting them to fit. Mine took 9 per layer instead of 12. Dip each ladyfinger in strawberry mixture in dish, coating both sides, and place back in 8×8 dish.

4. Top with reserved strawberry mixture and half the cream cheese mixture. Repeat layers with other ladyfingers, then whatever strawberry mixture is left in the plate, then the remaining cream cheese mixture.

5. Refrigerate for at least 6 hours, until cookies are soft and have absorbed all the strawberry juiciness.

Click here for the printable recipe

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Glazed Lemon Shortbread Cookies

I have a longtime love affair with lemon. And shortbread. And icing. So what could be better than combining the three?  Very little, that’s what. Hence, these delectable cookies I whipped up the other day.

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I used powdered lemon juice from King Arthur Flour, but since the recipe only calls for a teaspoon and a half, you could also use the powdered lemon juice packets in the juice aisle at the grocery store. Have you tried those?  They’re quite tasty to add to your water at a restaurant or when out and about. I don’t care for plain water…it’s a quirk.  Anyway, don’t feel you have to order the 8 oz bag from King Arthur if you’d rather not.

The powdered juice is optional, but I think it adds so much lemon flavor to whatever you make, and it’s especially nice in these cookies.  Anyway, here’s the easy-peasy recipe…it takes about 30 minutes, plus another 30 for cooling and glazing, and makes about 36 cookies.

Glazed Lemon Shortbread Cookies

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice powder, optional
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • ¾ teaspoon salt

Glaze:

  • ¾ cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon butter, melted
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • ½ teaspoon lemon juice powder, optional
  • Lemon, for the zest

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Whip butter until very creamy, then stir in powdered sugar and lemon juice. Add lemon juice powder, if using, flour, and salt. Stir until well-mixed.

3. Roll into one-inch balls and place 2” apart on ungreased cookie sheet. Flatten slightly with a glass or your fingers (the glass will stick, fingers work best).

4. Bake 13-15 minutes, until barely browned on bottom.

5. Remove from oven and let cool for a minute on the cookie sheet, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.

6. When the cookies are cooled, mix the glaze ingredients. Dip the top of each cookie into the icing (don’t submerge it, just quickly dip and twist to get any excess off) and place the cookies back on the wire rack. Before the icing dries, zest a lemon and sprinkle the strips on top to make the cookies beautiful!

Click here for the printable recipe

They would be a delicious gift for Mother’s Day, don’t you think? Too bad my children and husband don’t read my blog!

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Carrot Cake Cupcakes and Gift Boxes

Another favorite from the past…delicious Carrot Cake Cupcakes and adorable boxes to hold them. We made these as teacher gifts for Easter last year, using some gift boxes from World Market and adding an insert to hold the cupcakes securely. It really didn’t take as long as you might think!
I decided to make from-scratch Carrot Cake Cupcakes so I used a recipe from my King Arthur cookbook, similar to this King Arthur Carrot Cake Cupcake Recipe.  Mine had only 2-1/2 cups shredded carrots, 8 oz crushed pineapple(drained), and 1 cup shredded coconut, but otherwise was the same. It was doggone delicious, though, so let your conscience be your guide as to whether to substitute in the ingredients I used.

Cupcake-and-Box

I found some really cute boxes at World Market that were 3”x 3”.  A package of six was $4.99.Cupcake-Box

When I bought them, I had in mind using snack mix or cookies to fill them, so when I decided on cupcakes, I realized I needed to make a cupcake holder to insert into the boxes.  It’s really quite simple.

I cut cardstock to 4-3/4” x 4-3/4” and scored it an inch in from every edge. I snipped one corner line in each corner, and cut out one side piece so I could slide my punch in far enough. CUpcake-Insert-Cut

I punched out a 2-1/2” scallop circle, then put adhesive on all the corner pieces and assembled a little stand.  I adhered the side piece I had cut out back onto the two corner pieces, too, for stability.Cupcake-Insert-ready

Then it slid right into the box, ready to have a cupcake in it!Cupcake-Insert

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Now there’s a life skill I bet you never planned to learn today…cupcake stabilization. And don’t judge me for those giant marshmallow carrots…Thundercloud insisted we needed to add them.

Happy Easter, y’all!

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A Bit of Spring Sunshine: Pineapple Upside Down Cake

One of my favorite desserts as a kid was Pineapple Upside Down Cake.  My mom made a great one, and so did our babysitter.  She watched us at our house, before we started  school, and I remember my mom asking her to make the cake in our cast iron skillet.  I don’t know why, but it seemed to taste much better that way!  So when I make it now, I always use a cast iron skillet…not only does it taste better, it turns out of the pan much better as well, it seems, since it’s so well-seasoned. The skillet, not the cake.

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I love this cake because it’s as though it’s already frosted for you, with the ooey-gooey caramelized butter and sugar surrounding the bright gold pineapple rings and vibrant cherries…and who doesn’t love maraschino cherries, I ask you?

I’ve tried using fresh pineapple, peeling it, cubing it, and caramelizing it, but it’s nowhere near as pretty when it’s not rings, and THERE ARE NO HOLES FOR MARASCHINO CHERRIES!  So why bother?  And it tasted pretty much the same, and I worked a lot longer on it than a canned pineapple one.

This recipe is from King Arthur Flour, my go-to for no-fail, from scratch recipes (as you may have noticed!). I don’t put nuts in mine, but go right ahead if you’d like them in yours!

Pineapple Upside-Down Cake
Topping
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 20-ounce can pineapple rings in juice, drained
  • maraschino cherries
  • diced pecans or walnuts, optional
Cake
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup milk

Directions

1) Preheat the oven to 375°F. Lightly grease a 9″ round cake pan.

2) To make the topping: Melt the butter, and mix with the brown sugar, cinnamon, and ginger. Spoon the mixture into the prepared pan.

3) Space the pineapple rings atop the brown sugar mixture. Place a cherry in the center of each ring. If you’re using nuts, scatter them in any empty spaces.

4) To make the cake: Beat the butter and sugar until fairly smooth.

5) Beat in the egg, then the salt, baking powder, vanilla, and coconut flavor.

6) Add the flour alternately with the milk, mixing at medium speed and beginning and ending with the flour. Once the last of the flour is added, mix briefly, just until smooth.

7) Spoon the thick batter into the prepared pan, spreading it to the edges of the pan. It may not cover the pineapple entirely; that’s OK.

8) Bake the cake for 30 to 35 minutes, until a toothpick or cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean.

9) Remove the cake from the oven, wait 3 minutes, then turn the pan over onto a serving plate. Wait 30 seconds, then lift the pan off. If anything sticks in the pan, just lift it out and place it back on the cake.

10) Serve warm or at room temperature.

Yield: 8 to 10 servings.

You can mix this up and bake it in less than an hour, and, on yet another rainy Northwest day, it’s a bit of sunshine for a weeknight dessert splurge!

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Happy Pi{e} Day and Peanut Butter Cream Pie

So it’s finally here…3.14, March 14, Pi Day…possibly my favorite day of the year, combining my math geekiness with my love o’pie!

As Pi(e) Week comes to a close here, I think I’ve saved my favorite for last…Peanut Butter Cream Pie.  Of course, I say that about almost all pies, so take it with a grain of salt (and check out the links at the bottom for all my OTHER favorites!). But, if you love peanut butter and chocolate, this is a marvelously flavor-packed pie. We eat peanut butter more than any other food at our house, I think.  Even though we’re not big chocolate fans, it does serve to help the spotlight shine on the peanut butter in this recipe, so we love it.  I hope you do, too!

This is a lightened up version, so feel free to substitute the “real thing” for any of the lower fat ingredients if you’d like. I love that it makes two fluffy pies, so you can share the Pi Day love with a friend! Or one yourself before your kids get home from school. Not that I would do that. It’s just an idea.

Peanut Butter Cream Pie

8 oz reduced fat cream cheese, softened
1 cup natural peanut butter
14 oz. can Fat Free Sweetened Condensed Milk
12 oz Cool Whip Free
2 chocolate graham (or Oreo) pie crusts
2 cups mini peanut butter cups (the really small ones…mine were from Trader Joe’s)
About 6 Tbsp chocolate syrup(3 Tbsp per pie), for drizzling

1. With an electric mixer (yes, I used a wooden spoon), blend together cream cheese, peanut butter, and sweetened condensed milk until completely smooth.

2. Fold in Cool Whip until blended.

3. Divide evenly between the pie crusts. Top with mini peanut butter cups and chill for at least 8 hours. The pies can be frozen at this point, if you think that will slow your consumption of them.

4. Just before serving, drizzle with chocolate syrup. Then enjoy it!

Click here to print the recipe

And if you’re thinking this looks familiar, I posted it a couple of years ago…but it still is just as tasty every time I make it!

Just because I am addicted to pie, and only feel justified rhapsodizing about it once a year, here are a few of my other favorites among the many pies I’ve blogged about…just click on the photo to open the link!

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Rasp-Cream-ChaosServedDailyHappy Pi{e} Day!

 

TBT: Balsamic Raspberry Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

Do you know how hard it was for me to narrow down my four favorite pie recipes to blog about this week?  Well, it was quite the task, and I had to make a lot of pies in order to recover from the stress. Anyway, here’s another favorite from last summer…Balsamic Raspberry Strawberry Rhubarb Pie…it can be made with frozen rhubarb, berries, and premade pie crusts, so don’t think it’s an all-day, only in-season event!

I’m not blathering on today about how the flavors of this pie meld together in an explosion of yumminess. You just need this in your life. It’s perfect for Independence Day (or any day you happen to find rhubarb in your flower beds and do a little happy dance, as I did), and you’ll make people smile if you make it. So do it already.

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Balsamic Raspberry Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

  • 2 Piecrusts for a 9” pie pan
  • 1-1/4 cups sugar (1-1/2 cups if you’re using raspberries instead of Jammy Bits)
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups lightly packed diced rhubarb, fresh or frozen
  • 3 cups hulled, quartered strawberries, fresh or frozen (it’s easiest to cut the strawberries when they’re only slightly thawed, if you’re using frozen)
  • 2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 cup raspberry Jammy Bits (from King Arthur) or 1 cup fresh or frozen raspberries
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • coarse white sparkling sugar, to garnish

1. Line a 9” pie pan with one crust, crimping the edges. Refrigerate while you make the filling.

2. To make the filling: Whisk together the sugar, flour, and salt.

3. Toss the rhubarb and strawberries with the vinegar, then with the sugar mixture. Stir in the Jammy Bits or raspberries. Spoon the fruit into the pan, filling it about 3/4 full and mounding the filling a bit in the center.

4. Place dabs of the butter atop the filling.

5. Preheat the oven to 425°F.

6. Roll out the remaining crust, and cut it into star shapes.

7. Place the pastry stars atop the filling. Brush with water and sprinkle with coarse white sparkling sugar, if desired.

8. Bake the pie for 30 minutes, then reduce the oven heat to 375°F and bake for an additional 30 to 40 minutes, until the filling is bubbling and the crust nicely browned. Cover the edges with foil if it starts to get too brown.

9. Remove the pie from the oven, and let it cool. The pie really needs to cool for at least three hours before serving, or it will be really messy. Top with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream, if desired.

Click here for the printable recipe

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Fresh Blueberry Pie

So are you enjoying Pi{e} Week so far?  We certainly are. Today’s pie, Fresh Blueberry Pie, is one we anticipate all fall and winter, waiting for fresh blueberries to appear at the market.  Happily, Costco had beautiful ones this week!  I realize I could just use frozen blueberries anytime and make a traditional fruit pie, but I find blueberry pies like that to be cloyingly sweet.  The fresh blueberries in this pie don’t get all mushy like baked ones do, and taste so much, well, fresher!BLueberry-Pie-ChaosServedDa

Once when the hubs and I were young and went on adventurous vacations (intentionally adventurous, not the kind of unplanned adventure you tend to have when traveling with the hooligans), we spent a couple of weeks blue-tarp camping in Maine. We cooked a few meals on the campfire, but mostly just enjoyed the local offerings. I particularly remember brown butter lobster pasta and blueberry pie.

I’ve never tried to duplicate the pasta, but this recipe comes very close to our memories of that fabulous pie.

Maine Blueberry Pie

  • 1- 9” pie shell, baked
  • 4 cups fresh blueberries
  • 1 – 1/3 cups cold water
  • 1 –1/3 cups sugar
  • 1/3 cup cornstarch
  • 2 Tbsp amaretto liquor
  • Whipped cream

1. In medium saucepan, mix sugar and cornstarch together, add the sugar. Squash about 1/2 cup of the blueberries and add.

2. Stirring frequently, bring to a boil. Stir constantly until thickened, about 1 minute. Add remaining blueberries and amaretto. Pour into the pie shell and chill at least 3 hours, until serving. Top each serving with a dollop of whipped cream.

Enjoy it!

 

Pi{e} Week Begins!

It’s almost my favorite day of the year…Pi{e} Day, March 14, 3.14…the day I revel in being a math geek AND pie lover!  In preparation for the big day, I made these cute plates and pie pan that I saw in a catalog at Christmas.  I think it was Uncommon Goods, but I’m not sure. Anyway, my knockoff version is a whole heck of a lot more affordable, and it took about 5 minutes to make (minus the drying and baking time, of course).

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All you’ll need is a ceramic pie pan (happily, I won this one at Bunko last month, and it’s perfect…red on the outside, white on the inside!) and as many small white dessert plates as you’d like.  These are from the dollar store. You’ll also need a Porcelaine paint pen from the ceramics section of the craft store. I happened to have a black one on hand, so used it.

With the Porcelaine pens, you just write whatever you’d like, and, if you make a mistake, you can remove it with rubbing alcohol. Not that I did that. Several times. You can also use a Sharpie, but I’m not sure how permanent that will be.  You let the Porcelaine dry for 24 hours, then bake it at 150 degrees for 30 minutes.  I’ve used it on several projects and it seems to be quite permanent.  I’ve not run the platters and such through the dishwasher, but have hand-washed them frequently.

But, if you don’t care about keeping this forever or don’t want to go to the craft store for a paint pen (because you know you’ll think of a bunch of other projects while you’re there and spend a small fortune. Wait…is that just me?), by all means use your favorite color Sharpie.

The hooligans and the hubs are entertained by these, and who knows…maybe they’re learning something and don’t even realize it! Or maybe they just like pie, too.

On the subject of pie, I’m going to be posting a pie recipe each day this week in anticipation of 3/14, so I hope you’ll stop back and check them out!

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TBT: Cherry Pies for George Washington’s Birthday

These little cherry pies are so delicious, and the kids love them (as if they normally don’t love anything sweet!).  They take a bit longer to make than one big pie, but they’re so much more fun, I think they’re worth it…and the crust is crunchy all the way around never soggy on the bottom. And who wants a soggy bottom? No one, that’s who.Anyway, here’s my post from last February with the yummy recipe for the filling added, since we no longer live within reach of Door County cherries.

Yes, I know the whole cherry tree story about George Washington is fiction…but I prefer to ignore that in order to justify making (and eating) cherry pies for his actual birthday, which is this Saturday, February 22.  I’m an ostrich when it serves my purpose.

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For those of you lucky enough to live somewhere with access to great premade cherry filling, use that, by all means! Pies-Jar

I’ve used the same recipe for cherry pie filling for as long as I can remember, from the Better Homes and Gardens cookbook (the one with the red and white checked cover).  I think I’m on my third copy of that cookbook, I’ve use it so long! Anyway, to make the cherry filling:

Ingredients

  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 cups fresh tart cherries, pitted, or 2 cans, drained
  • 1-1/2 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 6 drops red food coloring, optional

Directions

In a large saucepan, combine the sugar, cornstarch and salt. Add the cherries, water and lemon juice. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Remove from the heat; stir in food coloring if desired. Yield: 4 cups.

The only other ingredients are two pie crusts (I made my own, but store-bought is perfectly fine), a beaten egg, some powdered sugar, and a bit of sparkling sugar to sprinkle on top.

First, roll out the dough slightly thinner than a pie crust…you want it just thick enough that it doesn’t tear when you pick it up, but not so thick it’s doughy when baked. Use a bowl or other round object about 4” in diameter to cut out circles of dough. You can get about 12 circles from two pie crusts, rerolling your scraps.

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Spoon a scant two tablespoons of filling onto one half of each circle. Resist the temptation to overfill…they’ll leak for sure if you do, then you’ll get even less filling left in them! Dip your finger in a beaten egg and run it around the outside of the dough circle, to help it seal.

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Fold half of the dough over the filling and seal with a fork, being careful not to puncture the dough. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet (with a rim, just in case you have a leak!).

Pies-on-Pan

I also have a heart-shaped pie press that I ordered a few years ago from Martha Stewart. I use it to make a few of these, because the kids like the smaller, heart-shaped ones better. They’re kind of a pain, though, so go right ahead and only make round ones. Here’s how to make the heart-shaped ones:

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Place a tablespoon of filling on rolled dough, cut out one heart and put it over the filling, then press down with the pie press. I always have to reseal them with a fork, and they still tend to leak.

Bake the pies at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes, until barely golden. Remove from oven and let cool. Make a glaze of 1 cup powdered sugar and 1-2 tablespoons of milk. Dip the tops of the pie in the glaze and place back on the parchment to dry a bit. While glaze is still wet, sprinkle with sparkling sugar if you’d like.

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See… those hearts didn’t stay sealed. At least no filling leaked out to be wasted!

My grandma Dixie used to make fried apricot pies for holidays, which were delicious. My mom then inherited the making of the fried pies, and began baking them rather than frying. She uses store-bought rolled pie crusts, and she rolls them so thin she can make 16 out of two crusts. Someday I’ll be that good! Until then, I’ll just enjoy the crunchy crust and the ooey-gooey, oh-so-good filling. Hope you do, too!

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