Friday, July 20, 2012

Chill Out with Easy Frozen Treats


One of the hottest summers on record? Personally, I blame the ever-controversial global warming.

While there may not be much we can do about the sizzling temps, we do have control over how we choose to cool off. Frozen treats can go a long way towards doing just that. 

Bathing suit getting a little tight? Go ahead and blame these decadent desserts:

Fruit Supreme

2 packages Nabisco Vanilla wafers
½ cup butter
1 ½ cup powdered sugar
2 eggs, separated
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 pint whipping cream
1 lb. fresh strawberries, blueberries or peaches (may substitute 2 ½ cups canned peaches, drained)

Cream butter.  Add sugar gradually. Beat well. Add beaten egg yolks. In a separate bowl, whip the egg whites and vanilla until stiff. Fold into the sugar and egg yolks. Beat until smooth.

Crush one package of vanilla wafers. Press crumbs to form a layer on the bottom of a 9”x13”glass baking dish. Next, spread the custard over the crumbs, then a layer of sliced fruit. Spread whipped cream over fruit. Roll other package of vanilla wafers into fine crumbs and sprinkle over whipped cream. Freeze overnight and let soften slightly before serving.

Fluffy Strawberry Torte

Crust:
1 cup flour
¼ cup brown sugar
½ cup chopped walnuts
½ cup butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix ingredients and spread 2/3 of mixture in bottom of 9” x 13” glass pan. Do NOT pat down firmly. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown, stirring occasionally with a fork. When done, set aside to cool while making filling.

Filling:

2 egg whites
1 cup sugar (or less, depending on taste)
2 cups thinly sliced washed and hulled strawberries
1 cup whipping cream
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Beat egg whites until stiff, adding sugar gradually. In a separate bowl, combine whipping cream and vanilla extract, then fold into egg mixture. Spread strawberries over crust. Spoon egg and cream mixture over the fruit. Top with remaining crust crumbs. Freeze overnight and let soften slightly before serving.

Peanut Butter Dessert (also known as “The Next Best Thing to Robert Redford”)

Crust:
1 stick butter, melted
12 ounces Oreo cookies, crushed

In a large bowl, combine the butter and Oreos. Press mixture into a 9” x 13”  pan.

Filling:
2/3 cup chunky peanut butter
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 cup milk
2 cups powdered sugar
16 oz. non-dairy whipped topping
1/3 cup chocolate syrup

In a large bowl, cream the peanut butter and cream cheese. Add the milk and powdered sugar. Mix. Fold in the non-dairy whipped topping. Pour the mixture over the crust. Drizzle chocolate syrup over the top. Freeze. Soften slightly before cutting into squares.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Our Last Trip to Disneyworld

I just got back from one of those vacations from which you need another vacation just to recover.

With my oldest in college and one more headed out the door this August, we decided to seize the opportunity for one last family vacation. Where to go? The vote was unanimous - Disneyworld.

Not having been for six years, my husband and I figured it was a last hurrah for our older boys and a re-do for our youngest who was only four the last time we visited "the happiest place on Earth".

As much as I would've preferred flying over cramming the seven of us into our aging SUV, the airfare would've busted our vacation budget, forcing us to sleep under the stars for the duration.

Driving the same SUV down to Orlando six years earlier was a breeze. We popped the cargo carrier on top, buckled the car seat in the back-back and off we went with room to spare in the backseat for a cooler and portable TV.

Not so this time around. With knees tucked under our chins, we ended up rotating seats with each fill-up. To make matters worse, with four licensed drivers, we decided to drive straight through in one shot.

We left at 5pm and arrived at 4pm the next day (time change and bathroom breaks included). After unfolding ourselves, we checked into our resort. Due to the size of my brood, we stayed at one of the Fort Wilderness cabins. Cozy, clean, rustic and comfy, it had a fully-equipped kitchen which required two trips to the grocery store during our one-week stay to keep stocked. And, I had to make my own coffee.

Pardon my whining, but my definition of "vacation" does not include food prep, although I did make an exception when it came to making s'mores at an outdoor viewing of "The Goofy Movie".

Perhaps now would be a good time to point out that there have been only two times in my married life when I have regretted not being blessed with daughters. Namely, when my boys made their First Communions and later when they went to Prom. Both times, I was gipped out of a major dress-shopping experience, but nothing prepare me for being at Disney, surrounded by mini princesses.

Everywhere I turned, I saw tulle, tiaras, wands and sparkly bodices. While donning my Minnie Mouse head band brought me some small measure of comfort, a hug from my girl Minnie just about did the trick.

What I wouldn't give for a dose of her never-ending cheer! Is it the polka dotted dress? The white gloves? Maybe the over-sized yellow patten-leather pumps?

I hope not because polka dots aren't a good look for me, I have never worn white gloves, and while I don't recall ever owning yellow patten-leather pumps, I do recall having a yellow patten-leather purse - when I was six. And don't even get me started on the apron.

Ducking into a nearby gift shop, my empathetic boys did their best to compensate. Speaking of goofy...

By the fourth day, we were ready to cool off. While momentarily disappointed to learn that our park-hopper passes didn't include trips to Typhoon Lagoon or Blizzard Beach, we decided to ditch Disney for a bit and head to one of Mother Nature's water parks - the Atlantic Ocean. Body surfing at a sparsely-populated Cocoa Beach turned out to be a far better alternative to elbowing our way through a crowded aquatic adventure.

After five days of late nights and early wake-ups to get our fill of roller coasters, water rides and icky swampy-tasting drinking water, it was time to pile back into our dear old SUV and head north. Tired, in desperate need of clean clothes and a good night's sleep, we were all ready to get back to our regularly-scheduled lives.

Pulling into our driveway, I suggested to my husband that we wait until the morning to alert our neighbors, who had kindly watched over our house while we were gone, of our return. But, there was no need. As soon as we opened our car doors, the clink of empty Snapple bottles alerted all within earshot that we were home. We didn't care. We were just grateful that the car held up, no one killed each other and a wonderful time was had by all.

Tempted as I am to get weepy at the thought of this being our last true family vacation, I know there'll be more. Maybe not to the same place and definitely not in the same vehicle. We just had too much fun to not do it again...and isn't that what family vacations are for?