Monday, October 24, 2011

Lemon Cooler

This frozen treat is delicious and simple-- something I remember having a bunch as a kid. There was one summer when I remember my sister making this like once a week! We start with a basic graham cracker crust. See the end for the full recipe.For the crust you'll need:

Not all graham cracker crusts call for cinnamon but I happen to love it. If you have your own favorite graham cracker recipe you can skip this little tutorial to the end (the crust is actually more 'complicated' than the filling itself). For the filling you'll need:

Half a gallon of vanilla ice cream and frozen lemonade. Pretty simple!

 Start off by bringing your ice cream out of the freezer and putting it in a bowl so it can soften since you'll have to mix it with something later. I would give it an hour to an hour and a half. On to the crust!

Pull your graham crackers out of their sleeve and put them in a large bag. Break them up a bit.

You want the crumbs to be fine. I use a rolling pin to finish off the process.

Mix together the graham cracker crumbs, sugar and cinnamon. Make sure they come together well and then add your melted butter. I used 4 Tbsp. butter even though many recipes call for 6 Tbsp because it comes out too 'wet' when I used the larger amount.

See how that is nice and sandy looking? You don't want it to be too wet or it won't turn out right. Pack the crust down with a spoon or clean fingers, if you will. You want it to come up the sides and be firmly packed. Cook at 375 degrees for about 7 minutes (you don't want to overcook the crust, you just want to keep it from crumbling later on).

While that is cooking you can start on your filling.

Pour the ice cream into the bowl it was sitting in and then pour the lemonade over top.

Mix it together until it is smooth. I usually use a wooden spoon. I have never tried beaters but it could work-- that's your prerogative.

Now that the crust is done it should look something like this. I would let it cool for a bit before putting the filling in (you're going to be putting it in the freezer again and you don't want the hot pie plate to morph the plastic bottom in your freezer. This has actually happened to me... I know, I know. We all do dumb things sometimes!). Once it has cooled, pour in the filling. You can sprinkle graham cracker on the top if you like.

Here it is before going into the freezer. I let mine sit in there for a day but it could take less time. Just keep an eye on it. It will probably need at least three or four hours.

Ta da! Here is our finished, frozen Lemon Cooler pie. It is great for summer (or any time, really!). I made the mistake of trying to travel with it for an hour and a half and then refreeze it but, even after a couple of hours, it wasn't completely done. We ate it as a melty mess but it still tasted great.


1 1/2 C. graham cracker crumbs (about 1 sleeve, or 9-10 crackers)
1/3 C. sugar
4-6 Tbsp butter, melted(*see note above about butter usage)
1/3 tsp. cinnamon

1/2 gallon vanilla ice cream
1 can frozen lemonade

1. Let the ice cream sit out in a bowl for 1-1.5 hours while it softens.
2. Crush graham crackers so they are powdery.
3. Combine them with sugar and cinnamon. Mix well.
4. Stir in butter with a fork until it is sandy, but not too wet.
5. Pack graham cracker mixture down into a pie plate and on the sides.
6. Cook in pre-heated oven at 375 for 7 minutes.
7. Mix softened ice cream together with lemonade until smooth.
8. Pour mixture into the cooled graham cracker crust. Sprinkle with graham cracker crumbs if desired.
9. Refreeze until set, at least 3-4 hours but overnight is best.
10. Enjoy!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Black Beans & Rice

Growing up, I don't remember just one of my parents cooking. For the most part, Mom made meals during the week and Dad would often cook on weekends. My dad loves to cook-- perhaps this is where I gained this particular hobby. One thing he would make often was Black Beans & Rice, an idea I believe he got from serving a mission in Brazil as a young man. We loved it-- it is so simple and delicious. It seems like I make it at least every few weeks now because it is relatively inexpensive and Bryan seems to love it too!

See the full recipe at the bottom of the page. Here is what you'll need:

*I usually buy Polska Kielbasa but the smoked sausage was less expensive this time and didn't make a dramatic difference in the taste.
Drain one can of beans and then mash them. I used a fork for this-- you can probably use a potato masher as well. Just get them nice a mashed, it gives it a more pleasant texture to eat. Drain most of the liquid from the second can and then mix it in with the mashed beans. Place in a medium saucepan over Med-Low heat on a back burner.
A clove of garlic is optional, depending on how much you like garlic or if you have it on hand. You'll need to mince it-- I happen to have a handy dandy garlic press. It is not as easy to clean as a knife, though.
Finely chop the onion-- you might want to invest in some onion chopper goggles. They are a life saver for me every time! I also just cut the onion into big chunks and then use my chopper because it is much easier.
Cut your kielbasa lengthwise and then into about 1/2 inch pieces. Coat your skillet with cooking spray and put the kielbasa, onion and garlic in and cook over Med-Hi heat. You don't need to brown the kielbasa-- it just needs to sweat a little. The onion should cook down some as well. I unfortunately forgot to take a picture for this. It should be on for about 5-10 minutes-- just don't let that kielbasa burn.
Now you're going to want to add those beans that have been simmering on the back burner. After this, add your creole seasoning. Honestly, I just gave a guess on how much should be put in as I usually eyeball it. Don't be shy with it, though, or you won't really taste it. It make it somewhat hot (spicy) but so delicious.

Rice... most people know how to make that, right? They print it on the bag, after all. I don't follow the bag ever, generally. If you need a little help, I'll share my method. First of all, the general rule with rice is two parts water, one part dry rice. So if you're cooking one cup of rice, you need two cups of water. Simple, right? So: 1. Bring the water to a boil, 2. Pour in a little olive oil or butter, 3. Stir in the rice, 4. Salt the rice/water, 5. Bring it back to a boil, 6. Set the burner to Low and cover, 7. Cook for 17 minutes, 8. Turn off burner and let stand, covered for 10ish minutes.

VoilĂ ! This can feed 4-5 people. Our finished product:

Full Recipe

rice (3-3.5 C. dry for 4-5 people)
1 lg. polska kielbasa
2 cans black beans
1 white onion
2 Tbsp. creole seasoning
1 clove garlic (optional)


Rice - See above for outlined steps.

1. Drain one can of black beans and mash. Drain most liquid from second can and mix un-mashed beans with mashed. Place on Med-Low heat in a saucepan.
2. Mince garlic and chop onion. Cut kielbasa lengthwise and then into 1/2" pieces. Put all of the above into a skillet and cook over Med-High heat for about 5-10 minutes. (Closer to 5-- don't burn the kielbasa, just let it sweat).
3. Add the beans that have been simmering while you mince, cut, chop and cook!
4. Add creole seasoning-- don't by shy. If you think it needs more, add more!
5. Serve over rice.