This year, Jake knew exactly what he wanted for his birthday.
It was s’moresy. It had ice cream. It was a layer cake.
I had never made an ice cream cake before, but it turns out that it isn’t hard! Also, it turns out that Jake is once again a dessert genius, because this birthday cake was phenomenal!
My crazy little man is 4 years old!
Jake definitely gave me a run for my money this year. He is rambunctious and giddy and willful and very invested in understanding every single thing.
This year we celebrated Jake’s birthday in the most fitting way I could imagine: with a mountain of candy and a giant board game. Jake’s sweet tooth rivals mine, and he has spent the last year in a quest to become a board game geek like his daddy. (It should be noted here that his favorite game is called Just Desserts, which is a game where you feed pretend customers all their favorite sugary treats, and that when we play Candyland, he cherishes the pink dessert cards so much that I have a hard time convincing him to keep them in the stack.)
Happy fourth birthday, Jake! I can’t believe how big you are, and I can’t wait to see how you grow over the next year!
Two weeks ago, we went camping as a family for the first time ever.
After I got over the trauma of packing (you guys: packing everything you could possibly need for your shelter and all your activities outside and food cooked over a camp stove, which you also have to bring along…why did I want to do this, again?), plus my fear of the bear wandering around the state park we camped in, I really had a magnificent time!
We went with my best friend and her family, who are expert campers. They did not even mock me as my tiny percolator boiled over repeatedly, or when I admitted I had left some of the ingredients for our joint dinner on my counter at home. They laughed at me when I whined about how the shower only spouted water for 8 seconds at a time (literally). They waited patiently for Jake as he slowly hiked up his first mountain, and they raced around the campsite with my kids, who were loving all the time outside!
The best part of this whole adventure, obviously, was making s’mores.
How do you like your s’mores? Do you like to toast your marshmallow nice and slow or are you a down-and-dirty, set-it-on-fire type? Either way, you should really consider ditching the campfire (I’m thinking of you: it’s too hot outside for fire!) and making these fancy pants s’mores with toasted marshmallow ice cream instead.
I know…it’s a little crazy to be making ice cream in December. But someone once told me that ice cream is even better in cold weather, because it doesn’t melt while you are trying to savor it slowly!
Just get on board, okay? Because this ice cream is so delicious, and the festive wintery flavor combination will make your taste buds swoon.
A few months before Caitlin was born, Dave and I spent a weekend in Staunton, VA. We arrived on a cold Friday night and when we woke up on Saturday morning, it was a wintery wonderland. By noon, there was over a foot of fresh snow on the ground, and the temperature was about 9°Fahrenheit.
And there we were, staying in a B&B (which meant there was no food after 10am), me in my third trimester…and I had forgotten to bring boots with me. After a very ridiculous attempt to drive to the main drag of Historic Staunton (a drive which, thankfully, did not end with us trapped in a snowbank), we concluded that we would have to hoof it and hope that some brave souls had opened their restaurants despite the treacherous weather.
Lo and behold! We found a gelato shop, The Split Banana. Who eats ice cream when it’s so cold and icy and windy that their eyelashes are practically stuck together? Us. That’s who.
It was during this frozen weekend that I discovered the best ice cream ever: it was unbelievably creamy, and smooth, and bittersweet, and chocolatey, and vegan, and perfect. According to the poor guy working the counter scooping ice cream, their chocolate sorbet was made entirely from unsweetened chocolate and sugar! I can do that!
Although it was kind of silly to be eating ice cream when we had practically turned into ice-pops ourselves, it was so worth every delicious spoonful. (Plus, I’m pretty sure we shivered off the calories.)
Over the last month or so, Jake has developed quite an obsession with the book Should I Share My Ice Cream? by Mo Willems. He carries it around the house with him. We read it at least once a day and up to four or five times in a row, if we have the patience. Jake likes to sit down to read the book aloud (quite accurately, I might add) to his baby sister, and he has on many occasions just recited various sections to himself when the book isn’t on hand.
Get your cold ice cream for a hot day!
I have to admit that I love this book, and not just because I am amused that all Jake’s favorite books are somehow about dessert. The crisis Gerald goes through, trying to decide whether he can bear to share his very favorite thing, the greedy rationalizations partnered with loyalty and affection for his best friend—they ring so true!
But it has always puzzled me that Gerald’s ice cream is green. I mean…green. (Maybe because real elephants are herbivores?) Nothing against mint or pistachio or matcha ice cream, particularly…I am just surprised to see such a grown-up color in a children’s book.
But maybe this is a good thing: expanding my kid’s horizons in the name of ice cream and reading!
I told Jake we would make Gerald’s ice cream…and then we set out to combine two classic green flavors, with tremendously delicious results!
As you may know, it’s National Ice Cream Month. A month I intend to celebrate enthusiastically! (Okay…I may have jumped the gun a little and started celebrating early. And I will probably still be celebrating in August.)
Initially I really struggled to figure out what ice cream recipes to share with you this month. What could be better than Nutella ice cream or cookies and cream ice cream or cake batter ice cream? I am quite predictable in my ice cream selections…and I just didn’t see how I could come up with something new to try when I had already turned all my favorite things into ice cream!
But then it hit me: brownie cheesecake. Awesome!
Over Memorial Day weekend, we took our first family adventure since Caitlin was born: strawberry picking at Wegmeyer Farms!
It was a perfect sunny morning, and the strawberry fields were absolutely full of huge, ripe red strawberries just begging to be eaten. (No, not by me…I still don’t like strawberries.) This was by far the best strawberry picking experience we have ever had. In almost no time at all, we had gathered 5 lbs. of gorgeous strawberries and we were on our merry way back home!
Jake spent the rest of the morning alternately stealing strawberries from the bucket and pretending his little Lego men were taking trips to the farm to pick red Lego strawberries of their own. I spent the rest of the morning preparing this frozen yogurt!
(That’s basically what happened to me the first time I stumbled across this recipe.)
It’s the end of National Ice Cream Month, and I am still on a homemade-ice-cream-for-all kick. No ice cream machine? No problem!
This ice cream really did require a lot of patience, though. First I had to make dulce de leche. Then I had to make a fudge sauce. THEN I had to make a fluffy ice cream batter and let it freeze for 6 hours before dishing it up!
But…any ice cream that fuses salted caramel, fudge, and chocolate chips is going to be totally worth it.
If you’ve been hanging around here for a while, you might know that my mom has a lot of food intolerances. We don’t get to share as many meals as I would like now that we live in different cities, but I am always looking for recipes and treats to share with her!
Ice cream has been kind of a doozy. When I was in high school, my mom and I used to have “Girls Weekend” regularly—basically two days packed full of shopping, Taco Bell (don’t judge me), chick flicks, and enormous amounts of ice cream. We still talk about doing that, but there are so many roadblocks! I have a toddler; she can’t eat ice cream. The capstone of the whole weekend, staying up late and eating ice cream until we make ourselves sick, has taken on a whole new meaning for her.
I know there are tons of vegan (and therefore dairy-free) ice cream recipes in the world, but since I hate bananas (and all fruits), I have mentally rejected about two-thirds of them out of the gate.
Then, a few months ago, I made a coconut cream pie. And I was struck by the similarities between the coconut custard and the custards that I’ve turned into ice cream in the past: about 3 cups of fatty cream, sugar, egg yolks over heat…
I resolved to turn the custard into ice cream right away. Yum!
(P.S., this is decidedly not vegan, but if you or someone you love is lactose intolerant, then this is the ice cream for you!)