Tuesday, June 1, 2010

My Favorite Summer Time Treats!

For me, Memorial Day kicks off one of my favorite seasons-summertime!
I always get nostalgic this time of year, when I think about my
childhood and what summertime meant.  Of course, it meant
lazy summer days, and going to the pool with my family and
hanging out there all day, and waiting for the ice cream man
to come to our neighborhood and frantically grabbing change
from my mom to buy my favorite treat.  It also meant staying
 up past my bedtime to catch fireflies in Mason jars.  Summertime
is filled with so many memories for each of us.  Take time to
slow down, reminisce about your childhood and re-create
 those moments!

Lemonade Stands
If you're too old to have a lemonade stand of your own, make sure
 to stop by and buy some lemonade from neighborhood kids!
(Don't forget to tip well---a $5 bill to a kid will put a smile on his or her face!)

If you love good old-fashioned s'mores, you don't have to wait for a
campfire (although they are a million times better if you do).  You can
microwave your marshmallows, you can use a kitchen blowtorch
or you can put them under the broiler to toast them up.
Here are some fun ways to make the s'more a little more grown up:

  • Use Nutella to spread on the graham cracker 
  • Use a good quality dark chocolate instead of the traditional Hershey's bar
  • Send your guests home with make your own s'mores!

  • Make your own marshmallows..I promise once you do, it's hard to go 
back to store bought ones.  
Here's the recipe I use from Alton Brown, the Food Network


    Homemade Marshmallows

    Recipe courtesy Alton Brown, 2007
    Prep Time:
    35 min
    Inactive Prep Time:
    4 hr 0 min
    Cook Time:
    10 min
    approximately 9 dozen marshmallows or 1 1/2 pounds miniature


    • 3 packages unflavored gelatin
    • 1 cup ice cold water, divided
    • 12 ounces granulated sugar, approximately 1 1/2 cups
    • 1 cup light corn syrup
    • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • 1/4 cup confectioners' sugar
    • 1/4 cup cornstarch
    • Nonstick spray


    Place the gelatin into the bowl of a stand mixer along with 1/2 cup of the water. Have the whisk attachment standing by.
    In a small saucepan combine the remaining 1/2 cup water, granulated sugar, corn syrup and salt. Place over medium high heat, cover and allow to cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Uncover, clip a candy thermometer onto the side of the pan and continue to cook until the mixture reaches 240 degrees F, approximately 7 to 8 minutes. Once the mixture reaches this temperature, immediately remove from the heat.
    Turn the mixer on low speed and, while running, slowly pour the sugar syrup down the side of the bowl into the gelatin mixture. Once you have added all of the syrup, increase the speed to high. Continue to whip until the mixture becomes very thick and is lukewarm, approximately 12 to 15 minutes. Add the vanilla during the last minute of whipping. While the mixture is whipping prepare the pans as follows.

    For regular marshmallows:

    Combine the confectioners' sugar and cornstarch in a small bowl. Lightly spray a 13 by 9-inch metal baking pan with nonstick cooking spray. Add the sugar and cornstarch mixture and move around to completely coat the bottom and sides of the pan. Return the remaining mixture to the bowl for later use.
    When ready, pour the mixture into the prepared pan, using a lightly oiled spatula for spreading evenly into the pan. Dust the top with enough of the remaining sugar and cornstarch mixture to lightly cover. Reserve the rest for later. Allow the marshmallows to sit uncovered for at least 4 hours and up to overnight.
    Turn the marshmallows out onto a cutting board and cut into 1-inch squares using a pizza wheel dusted with the confectioners' sugar mixture. Once cut, lightly dust all sides of each marshmallow with the remaining mixture, using additional if necessary. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks.

    For miniature marshmallows:

    Combine the confectioners' sugar and cornstarch in a small bowl. Line 4 half sheet pans with parchment paper, spray the paper with nonstick cooking spray and dust with the confectioners' sugar mixture.
    Scoop the mixture into a piping bag fitted with a 1/2-inch round piping tip. Pipe the mixture onto the prepared sheet pans lengthwise, leaving about 1-inch between each strip. Sprinkle the tops with enough of the remaining cornstarch and sugar mixture to lightly cover. Let the strips set for 4 hours or up to overnight.
    Cut into 1/2 inch pieces using a pizza wheel or scissors dusted with the confectioners' sugar mixture. Once cut, lightly dust all sides of each marshmallow with the remaining sugar mixture and store in an airtight container for up to a week.
    Summer Time Ice Cream Treats

    If the ice cream man doesn't stop by your house these days, stock your freezer full of delicious treats.  Whether you have children of your own or you're just a big kid yourself, it's always fun to have multiple options on a hot summer day.

    Or even better than buying one from the store is making your own summertime treat.  Here are some ideas to get you started:

    Ingredients-2 cookies per sandwich
    (I either make my own or purchase refrigerated cookie dough and bake them at home)
    Gallon of Ice Cream, assorted flavors
    Topping to roll the cookies in, examples are: chopped pecans, colored sprinkles, chocolate sprinkles, coconut

    Here are some of my favorite combinations:
    Chocolate Cookie with Strawberry Ice Cream
    Chocolate Chocolate Cookie with Butter Pecan Ice Cream rolled in chopped pecans
    Sugar Cookie with Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Ice Cream
    Peanut Butter Cookie with Chocolate Ice Cream rolled in crushed Reese's cups

    Make sure to allow your cookies to cool and fill with several scoops of softened ice cream.  Immediately roll in your favorite topping and put back in the freezer to allow to harden.  

    I also like to put mine in glassine bags with individual labels I've printed.  It makes such a great presentation, and each guest will know what flavor combinations you have.

    Enjoy the start to your summer!

    Faux Fireflies Jar

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