Friday, July 1, 2011

Favorite summer treats

"Magnificent, absolutely delicious and yummy" are a few of the words Joseph used to describe his new favorite summer dessert treat. It's safe to say the allergen-free version of a Chipwich that I created for dessert tonight was a hit.

The new crunchy cookies by Enjoy Life Foods are delicious in their own right — my husband and 2-year-old daughter, Pamela, love the vanilla honey graham flavor, while Joseph and I vie for the chocolate chip cookies. But they also are the perfect size and texture to make cookie ice cream sandwiches. I put a scoop of my homemade dairy-free vanilla ice cream between two cookies, smoosh it, and then roll it in Enjoy Life Semi-sweet Chocolate Mini Chips.

I'm always happy to add an allergen-free version of a familiar treat from my childhood for my kids to enjoy. Joseph, who is allergic to peanuts, tree nuts, wheat, milk, egg and soy, is thrilled to enjoy treats that would be forbidden in their traditional form. It's no surprise that another big hit in our house is a blondie sundae. I substitute the flour, eggs and butter to make an allergen-free version of the Toll House Blonde Brownies my mom used to make, top with homemade dairy-free ice cream and drizzle melted Enjoy Life Semi-sweet Chocolate Mini Chips on top. Pamela even made up a song ("I love blondie sundaes") and dance for that dessert!

As I add another fun summer dessert to our table this season, I'm reminded of some of my favorite tools for summer treats. Our use of homemade ice cream by itself or in various desserts gives my Cuisinart Frozen Yogurt - Ice Cream and Sorbet Maker a workout. I love that I can mix up the ingredients and let them spin in the ice cream maker for 25 minutes for a creamy frozen treat. Thanks to my friend Kathy, we also are enjoying the cool frozen treats we make in the Zoku Quick Pop Maker. In minutes I can fill orders for a berry and lemonade pop; orange and apple pop; and chocolate pop with a layer of chocolate chips in the middle. My kids love being able to customize their frozen pop, and I love that I can make a quick, refreshing treat in the time it takes me to do the dishes.

Of course, summer produce is the quickest and easiest summer treat. I love watching Joseph and Pamela chatting over slices of watermelon with pink juice outlining their smiles and dripping everywhere. A juicy plum or a sweet peach hit the spot on hot summer days, and blueberries are wonderful to snack on. We also recently enjoyed a blueberry pie I made using 'Cause You're Special Homestyle Pie Crust Mix. I make a lot of fruit salad and for that I rely on another trusty summer tool, the Oxo Cherry Pitter. The pitter makes it so easy to pit fresh cherries for a salad, to use in cobbler or to serve in a bowl.

Tomorrow morning we will be scouting fresh peaches at the local farmer's market. I'm counting on finding enough of the tasty fruit to make a fresh summer pie and perhaps I'll use one of my favorite summer kitchen tools so I can serve it a la mode.

My ice cream recipe:
2 cups dairy-free milk (I use Vance's DariFree Non Dairy Milk Alternative)
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup Vance's DariFree milk powder
2 tsp vanilla

Mix the sugar and milk powder together, then blend in the milk and vanilla. Once blended, pour into an ice cream maker and let it mix for 20 to 30 minutes. Add any mix-ins, such as dairy-free chocolate chips, cut up cherries and allergen-free brownie chunks, during the last 5 minutes of mixing. Freeze for a few hours. (It can be eaten right away, but will be very soft.)