Blueberry Mojito Popsicles

Photo of Blueberry Mojito Popsicles against a dark backgroundCocktail On A Stick
I am not a big popsicle fan. I mean, I like them. I will eat them. But, I won’t seek them out the way the rest of my family does. However, there are some days in the summer when a popsicle hits just right. And, sometimes those popsicles are more than what they seem.

I like my drinks cold—arctic cold. Water, coffee, sodas, no matter what it is, if I am drinking it, there is a lot of ice. So, it makes sense that when I came across the cocktail popsicle, it was love at first sight.

The downside is that they don’t pack the same punch as a regular cocktail—mainly because you have to dial the booze back a bit to get them to freeze. Bonus, you can enjoy more than one without getting too sloppy!

There are a number of good possibilities out there. I like this recipe for Blueberry Mojito Popsicles ‘cause it’s pretty. But, an easy vodka lemonade is always a good idea. Play around with it a bit. A good rule of thumb is a 1:5 ratio of alcohol to juice, puree, or whatever mixture you’re using. Read more…

Amy’s Lemon Icebox Cake

Image of a slice of Amy’s Lemon Ice Box Cake with grated lemon zest and chopped pistashiosWhat’s in the (Ice) Box?
If you are looking for an easy Summer dessert that requires no heat and very little effort, look no further that the icebox cake. Its name may bring to mind Leave it To Beaver-type visions of the 1950s. But, in fact, its origins are even older than that. Icebox cakes are the original no-bake dessert!

When refrigeration arrived in the home during the 1920s, ice box cakes became very popular. Usually, they were made by layering cookies or graham crackers between layers of cream and fruit. Then they were then left to set in the ice box until ready to serve. Companies like Nabisco “conveniently” helped the rise in popularity by printing icebox cake recipes on the boxes of their Famous Chocolate Wafers and Nilla Wafers.

One of the best things about icebox cakes is that they are infinitely customizable (as long as you have cookies of some sort and cream). What you add to that is completely up to you. The most popular versions tend to go with chocolatey combinations like Oreo cookies and cream. Graham crackers can be used to make a s’mores version. And the banana cream version with Nilla Wafers is soooo good.

Personally, I am a fan of Amy’s Lemon Icebox Cake. And, for that, I go with Nilla Wafers, although you could also use shortbread cookies to class it up a bit…whatever floats your boat.

On a hot day, the fresh taste of lemon can be just the thing to satisfy your sweet tooth without being too sweet. Just remember to plan for the time it takes to set. I like to use mascarpone because it’s lighter than a traditional cream cheese but you could use either.

Amy’s Lemon Icebox Cake
Yields 10 servings Read more…

Strawberry Ice Cream

Image of a bowl of Strawberry Ice Cream against a blue backgroundStrawberries and Cream
I had an ice cream a-ha moment this past weekend. Here’s how it happened. On Saturday I went with some of my family to Brentwood to see if there were any blackberries available to pick. I was in the mood to make some jam. Alas, there were no berries to be found so we settled for picking some lovely nectarines and headed home. I made some awesome scones for breakfast the next morning.

Since I wasn’t able to get the berries for jam from the source, I ended up going to the farmers market and buying a flat each of blackberries and strawberries. After using what I needed for the jam, I found myself with some wicked-good strawberries left over. I didn’t want them to go to waste. Sure, we could have just eaten them but where is the fun in that?

I thought of making a strawberry tart—but that didn’t excite me. I really wanted to make something that would work well with the 4th of July BBQ dinner I had planned and figured what could be more BBQ-friendly than ice cream? So I set out to make some fresh strawberry ice cream.

The a-ha moment happened when I decided to not use a custard base for the ice cream. I have lived most of my life under the assumption that a custard ice cream base produces a better and creamier ice cream. And, it does. But, I have struggled when using it with fresh fruit. The fruit flavor tends to get lost in the richness of the custard. Because I was feeling lazy and tired after jamming, I didn’t want to have to fire the stove again, so I found this recipe for strawberry ice cream that was just milk, cream, and strawberries.

The results were out of this world. Now it is possible that the strawberries are the reason because ingredients matter but I think it had more to do with the fact that the eggs weren’t there to dull the strawberry flavor. And thanks to the heavy cream and whole milk, the creamy mouth feel that I thought would be missing wasn’t. My mind is blown. From now on, if I make ice cream with fresh fruit, I’m doing it this way!

I know not everybody has an ice cream maker in their pantry. You could take a chance and throw this in the freezer without churning and see what happens. Chances are it will taste pretty good.

Strawberry Ice Cream
Adapted from Like Mother Like Daughter
Yields 12 servings

Please note the timing of the ice cream. You will need to freeze the bowl of your ice cream maker overnight, and then re-freeze the ice cream for at least 6 hours if you want firmer ice cream. For soft-serve, you can dish it out right after it comes out of the machine. Read more…

Red Velvet Cupcakes

Photo of three Red Velvet Cupcakes with sprinklesGrand Old Flag
I think it’s fair to say that most people will be celebrating the Fourth of July next Monday. How they are celebrating is a totally different question. Some will have backyard BBQs with family and friends. Some will watch parades and wait for the fireworks in the evening. Others will look forward to some downtime in the pool and a day of doing nothing. If they happen to catch a few fireworks in the sky, so much the better.

Not sure which camp I fall into. All of them sound good. But, I can’t deny the appeal of the latter. The last couple of weeks have been a bit crazy. As of this moment, there are no set-in-stone plans. We may go to our local parade if only to absorb a little small town Americana. Or not. There might be a BBQ with friends. There may also just be my husband and me sharing a rack of ribs al fresco. What I do know for certain is that there will be a flag cake. It might be small. It might be big. But, there will be a flag cake.

In my family, it’s not Fourth of July without a flag cake. The type of cake varies from year-to-year. But, the frosting on the top is always cream cheese. And, there are always berries—raspberries and/or blueberries.

Because plans are sort of up in the air this year, I might go with red velvet cupcakes instead of a sheet cake and arrange them to look like a flag. The recipe is the same, but the cooking time changes a bit. This way if it just ends up being the two of us, I can make a smaller batch and finish them with a couple of blueberries on top so the red, white, and blue is covered.

Red Velvet Cupcakes Recipe
Adapted from The Pioneer Woman
Yields about 24 cupcakes Read more…