Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Sweet Cornbread

I must be a Northern girl at heart cause I love sweet cornbread. Southern versions do not taste good to me. I need my cornbread to be sweet. I also love a crispy bottom and sides and as such I will only cook my cornbread in my cast iron skillet. It's best to preheat the cast iron skillet to make a really crispy outer layer on the cornbread. This recipe is sweeter than my previous cornbread recipe. Give both a try and let me know if you prefer one over the other. I can not decide which one I like best.

Sweet Cornbread
adapted from Recipezaar

1 1/4 cups sugar
1/4 cup honey
2 eggs
1/2 cup butter (softened)
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup water
2 cups white cornmeal or yellow cornmeal
2 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt

Grease a 9x13 inch baking pan or a 12 inch cast iron skillet with shortening.
Preheat oven to 375°F.
Mix sugar, butter, eggs, buttermilk, honey and water together in a large bowl.
Mix dry ingredients together in a separate bowl: cornmeal, flour,baking powder, and salt.
While stirring, add dry ingredients to sugar, egg, and milk mixture and mix thoroughly.
Mixture will be slightly lumpy.
Pour into greased rectangular pan or cast iron skillet. If using the cast iron skillet preheat in oven for about 10 minutes.
Bake for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown on top.
Serve with butter.

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Monday, June 29, 2009

Peach Shortcakes

Overall this was a very simple recipe that turned out tasting great. My biscuits overcooked in the oven very quickly so be sure to watch them very closely. The peaches were nicely flavored without being overly sweet. I used fresh orange juice in place of the peach schnapps called for in the recipe. Honestly I could taste the orange juice but no one else could. I am guessing its because I knew there was orange juice in the dish. Next time I think I will go for the peach schnapps. You can bake the biscuits up to 24 hours in advance.

Foolproof Peach Shortcakes
from Cook's Illustrated July/August 2008 issue

2 pounds ripe but firm peaches (4 to 5 medium), peeled, pitted and cut into 1/4 inch thick wedges
6 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons orange juice

2 cups (10 ounces) unbleached all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 tablespoons sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup cold buttermilk
1 large egg
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly

Whipped Cream
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the Fruit:
Gently toss three quarters of peaches with 4 tablespoons sugar in large bowl. Let stand 30 minutes. Toss remaining peaches with remaining 2 tablespoons sugar and orange juice in medium microwave safe bowl. Microwave on high power until peaches are bubbling, about 1 to 1 1/2 minutes, stirring twice during cooking. Using potato masher, crush peaches into coarse pulp. Let stand 30 minutes.

For the Biscuits:
Adjust over rack to middle position and heat oven to 475 degrees. Whisk flour, baking powder, 1 tablespoon sugar, and salt in large bowl. Whisk together buttermilk and egg in medium bowl; add melted butter and stir until butter forms small clumps.
Add buttermilk mixture to dry ingredients and stir with wooden spoon until dough comes together and no dry flour remains. Continue stirring vigorously for 30 seconds. Using greased 1/3 cup dry measure, scoop up mound of dough and drop onto parchment lined rimmed baking sheet. Repeat with remaining dough, spacing biscuits about 1 1/2 inches apart, to create 6 biscuits. Sprinkle remaining sugar evenly over the top of biscuits. Bake until tops are golden brown and crisp, about 15 minutes. Transfer to wire rack and let cool at least 15 minutes before serving.

For the whipped cream:
Using mixer beat cream, sugar, and vanilla on low speed until bubbles form, about 30 seconds. Increase speed to medium; continue beating until beater leave trail, about 30 seconds longer. Increase speed to high; continue beating until nearly doubled in volume and whipped cream forms soft peaks, 30 to 45 seconds longer.

To assemble:
Split each biscuit in half and place bottom on individual serving plates. Spoon portion of crushed peach mixture over each bottom, followed by peach slices and any exuded juices. Top biscuits with 2 tablespoons of whipped cream, cap with biscuit top, and dollop each shortcake with some of the remaining whipped cream. Serve immediately.

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Sunday, June 28, 2009

June Crossroads Coop

$14 is what this cost me. It includes:
1 bunch of broccoli
8 oranges
2 lbs carrots
3 avocados
8 peaches
10 plums
3 bell peppers
1 head romaine lettuce
2 eggplant
Stone Ground's Artisan Wheat loaf
16oz red beans

To order.

A few recipes to use the food picked up today.
Red Beans and Rice
Lemon Cream Pasta with Broccoli
Hawaiian Macaroni Salad
Corn, Avocado, Tomato Salad

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Saturday, June 27, 2009

6/27 Bountiful Baskets Coop

Not too shabby of a pick up but not nearly as impressive as two weeks ago. I also bought a 28 lb box of peaches. I paid $34 for everything with the main produce box being $16.50. To learn more click here.

7 apples
8 poluts
1 lb cherries
1 lb strawberries
2 zucchini
2 lbs green beans
4 lbs red grapes
6 bananas
7 tomatoes
romaine lettuce

Recipes using some of the above ingredients:
Zucchini Tuna Canoes
Zucchini Gratin
Chocolate covered strawberries
Icebox Strawberry Pie
Strawberry Cake
Green Beans
Hot German Green Bean Salad
Cauliflower Feta Pasta Bake
Banana Bars

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Chewy Caramel Popcorn

I love caramel popcorn. I don't like Cracker Jack or other caramel where it is a hard caramel. I just really like the ooey gooey chewy soft kind. This recipe was really chewy and soft until the next day. Even the next day it was not a hard caramel but just not as soft and chewy. This recipe is also very simple and has items most people have in stock in their home pantry. I don't use microwave popcorn but I'm sure you could use a batch of microwave if you did not want to pop your own popcorn.

Chewy Caramel Popcorn
From RecipeZaar

4 tablespoons butter
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup popcorn, unpopped

Pop your popcorn and place in a greased bowl.
Melt butter on medium heat in a medium size saucepan.
Turn heat down to low, and add brown sugar, stir until blended together well.
Making sure that the sugar does not burn turn the heat back up to medium, and add corn syrup. All the while stirring and making sure there is no sticking.
Add the salt and baking soda. This will make the sugar double in size be careful not to let it go over the sides of the pot.
Immediately pour onto popcorn.
Stir until the caramel has covered popcorn completely.
Transfer onto a cookie sheet with wax paper, and let cool.

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Thursday, June 25, 2009

Vegetable Pasta Salad

This was a great tasting salad. I served it as a main dish and it was a hit with everyone in the family. You want to be sure to make this salad the day before because it does taste better the next day, after the flavors blend. The nice thing about this recipe is its another one where you can use vegetables you have on hand or that are in season. I used cannelloni beans but I think it would have turned out much better with chickpeas. This recipe came from the cookbook Simply in Season which is a great source of recipes using fresh produce. The author breaks down each season and lists what is in season during those seasons. If you have a csa or just plan on shopping your local farmers market this would be a great resource.

Vegetable Pasta Salad
adapted from Simply in Season

1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon sugar (I added because the dressing was too tart for me and the kids)
In a small bowl whisk the above ingredients together.

1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup fresh basil cut in very thin strips
Whisk oil in the the dressing above. Stir in basil and set aside.

4 ounce uncooked whole wheat pasta such as rotini, bow ties, shells, or penne
Cook pasta. Drain and rinse with cold water. Place in large bowl and toss with 1/3 cup of the dressing.

2 cups fresh vegetables: I used summer squash, carrots, cucumbers, and red onion.
3 medium tomatoes, cut in thin wedges
1/2 cup ripe olives, I left mine whole but I used small if you use bigger you may want to slice them in half
1 can of chick peas
Layer ingredients on top of the pasta in the following order: vegetables, tomatoes, beans, and olives. Top with remaining dressing.

Cover and chill 4-24 hours.

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese or feta cheese crumbled
Sprinkle on top and toss lightly before serving.

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Monday, June 22, 2009

Simple Blackberry Sherbet

Oh goodness this was delicious. Simple and easy to make were only an added bonus. I did not make any adjustments on the actual ingredients but I think you could get away with a little less sugar. I think 1 1/2 cups of sugar may be the perfect combination but I'd definitely taste before freezing since some berries can be much sweeter than others . Also this recipe has you processing the sherbet in a food processor right before serving and I did not do that. I purchased the blackberries at Costco where they had a big box of them for $3.99.

Simple Blackberry Sherbet
Taste of Home magazine June/July 2009 issue

4 cups fresh or frozen blackberries, thawed
2 cups sugar (I'd suggest 1 1/2 cups unless you want really sweet)
2 cups buttermilk

In a food processor, combine blackberries and sugar; cover and process until smooth. Strain and discard seeds and pulp. Stir in buttermilk. Transfer puree to a 13 inch by 9 inch dish. Freeze for one hour or until edges begin to firm. Stir and return to freezer. Freeze 2 hours longer or until firm.
Just before serving, transfer to a food processor; cover and process 2-3 minutes or until smooth. (I skipped this step.)

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Saturday, June 20, 2009

Banana Bars

These bars turned out to be very popular in our house. My kids preferred their bars without frosting so I left half frosting free. This is a great way to use up bananas without having to resort to banana bread or smoothies. I love sour cream in combination with bananas. My all time favorite banana bread calls for sour cream. My Sister's Kitchen used a whipped cream cheese frosting but I was out of whipping cream so I just used a simple cream cheese frosting.

Banana Bars
My Sister's Kitchen

1/2 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups white sugar
2 eggs
1 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup mashed ripe bananas
1 (16 ounce) container cream cheese frosting, or homemade cream cheese frosting or Whipped Cream Cheese frosting.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease a 10x15 inch jellyroll pan.
In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, then stir in the sour cream and vanilla. Combine the flour, baking soda and salt; stir into the batter. Finally, mix in the mashed banana. Spread evenly into the prepared pan.
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes in the preheated oven, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Allow bars to cool completely before frosting with the cream cheese frosting. Makes approx 35 bars.

Cream Cheese Frosting
1 stick butter, room temperature
8 oz cream cheese
2 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

With an electric mixer, mix the butter and cream cheese together, about 3 minutes on medium speed until very smooth. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl to ensure even mixing.
Add the vanilla extract and mix. Slowly add the powdered sugar. Keep adding until you get to desired sweetness.

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Friday, June 19, 2009

Reuben Sandwiches

I love Reuben sandwiches however I do not like rye bread. I know I am weird. However I've discovered you can have a great tasting Reuben without needing rye bread. I use sourdough submarine rolls but regular submarine rolls work well too. I cook the corn beef for my Reuben in the oven instead of the crock pot just because I prefer to cook meat in the oven rather than the crock pot. I also used a homemade thousand island dressing but you could use a bottled if you prefer not to make your own. I just find that homemade tastes so much better than the bottled stuff. This is a simple recipe although the cooking time on the corn beef does not make it a quick recipe.

4 lb corned beef, rinsed
Place the corned beef in a baking dish, sprinkle on the packet of seasonings that came with it or use your own combination of spices, add about 1/2 cup water to the dish, and cover the dish. Place the meat in the oven and set the temperature to 325. Cook for 3-4 hours, checking the water to be sure it does not run dry. Turn the temperature of the oven up to 350 and cook until fork tender, about 30-45 more minutes.
Remove meat from oven and let it rest about 10 minutes.
Turn your oven to broil. Cut the submarine rolls without cutting all the way through and place a slice of swiss cheese in the roll. In a small pot place the sauerkraut and heat. Place the rolls on a baking sheet and toast until the cheese is melted and the rolls is slightly toaster, about 2-3 minutes.
Shred the corned beef.
Now to assemble, which everyone has their own way but this is our preferred way:
Fill the roll with corned beef. Top with 1/4 cup sauerkraut and about 3 tablespoons thousand island dressing.

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Thursday, June 18, 2009

Thousand Island Dressing

This was my first attempt at homemade Thousand Island dressing and it was a success. There are so many recipes out there and most I did not have all of the ingredients on hand for so I ended up combining several recipes into one. My husband claims it tastes like the Thousand Island dressing he remembers from New York. This was quick and really easy to throw together. You could throw it together and serve right away but if you let it set for a few hours the flavors develop better. My usual warning about flavors start with small amounts and adjust to your taste. Listed below are the amounts of spices I started with but I did some adjusting to make it more to our liking which I do not remember what the final amounts were.

1/4 cup ketchup
1/2 mayonnaise
1/4 cup dill relish
2 tablespoons chili sauce
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
3/4 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
4-5 drops hot sauce
1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

Combine everything and mix until blended. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.

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Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Easy Blackberry Cobbler

I've been making this cobbler recipe for years now. It's simple, easy, and it works with almost any fruit. My all time favorite fruit to use is peaches but blackberries rank right up there with peaches. The recipe calls for ingredients that almost everyone has in their kitchen. The sweetness of the cobbler works well with the fruit although with some fruit I do toss the fruit with a little sugar. I like to serve it with homemade whipped cream but store bought works in a pinch. My husband loves it with vanilla ice cream.

Easy Blackberry Cobbler
Don't know where I found the recipe as I've been making it for years.

1/2 cup butter
1 cup flour
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup milk
2 cups fruit

Melt butter in baking dish, a casserole dish works well. Mix flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add milk and stir until combined. Pour the batter on top of the melted butter but do not stir. Drop the fruit on top of the batter. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes and check. It may take up to one hour to cook the cobbler depending on the size of cooking dish you use.

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Monday, June 15, 2009

Zucchini Tuna Canoes

As a family we've been working on the book 30 days to a Healthier Family. Its full of great ideas both food wise and exercise wise. Last week's new food, which really is not new to our family, was zucchini. This was mildly successful with my boys. They, like mom, really do not like tuna but I was able to get them to try some. My husband, on the other hand, loved them. He thought it was a clever way to eat tuna and would love to have it again. I made mine with chicken since I do not like tuna. The original recipe calls for 3 tablespoons of mayo but after 2 tablespoons I thought it had plenty.

Zucchini-Tuna Canoes
adapted from 30 Days to a Healthier Family

2 small zucchini (each about 6 inches long)
6.5 ounce can tuna (or chicken), drained, flaked
2 tablespoons salad dressing
1/2 teaspoon dill weed
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
16 (1 inch) carrot sticks

Cut zucchini in half lengthwise. Cut a thin slice from the bottom of each half so they sit upright. Scoop out the center of each half, leaving about 1/4 inch shell; set aside. Combine tuna, salad dressing, dill weed, and onion powder. Spoon tuna mixture into zucchini halves. Cover; refrigerate and serve. Cut each "canoe" in half; insert carrot stick on each side of the tuna mixture to form paddles, and serve. Makes 8 servings.

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Sunday, June 14, 2009

Cucumber, Tomato, and Mozzarella Salad

This turned out to be a nice twist on a salad that I've been making for years. The fresh mozzarella added a something different to the dish. I found the little mozzarella balls at Costco. They are called mozzarella pearls. The cucumbers I used are also from Costco and are mini-cucumbers. I also seeded the tomatoes so the salad was not so juicy. The dressing should be adjusted to your tastes as I like mine with a bit of tang from the vinegar. When I make the dressing for others I add a little more water and sugar.

6 mini cucumbers sliced (or 2 regular sized cucumbers)
3 tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1/2 red onion, sliced thinly and then cut in half
1 cup mozzarella pearls (or cube fresh mozzarella)
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
3 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons sugar
garlic salt to taste
pepper to taste
1 teaspoon dried basil, or chopped some fresh basil to your preference
1 teaspoon dried oregano

Mix all the veggies together. Make the dressing, be sure to taste and adjust seasoning to your preferences, then toss the veggies with the dressing. This salad tastes best when cold but also is good at room temperature.

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Saturday, June 13, 2009

Bountiful Baskets Coop June 13th pickup

$16.50 was the cost for all of this and here was what we received:
2 heads romaine lettuce
17 small bananas
7 oranges
7 red plums
7 apricots
8 apples
2 pounds carrots
2 yellow squash
7 cucumbers
one head of broccoli
one bunch of celery
2 Tuscan cantalopes

Click here for ordering info and such.

A few recipes using the above ingredients:
Holiday Lettuce Salad
Salad Verte with Vinaigrette
Orange Chicken
Pasta Primavera Salad

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Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Lima Bean Soup

This was something I threw together to use up some leftovers in the fridge. I think I did a pretty good job of making a very tasty soup out of those leftovers. I was worried that we would not like it but in the end there were no leftovers. I am hoping for some more leftover lima beans so we can make this soup again. It was quick and easy to make as from start to finish I'd say it took me about 30 minutes.

Please remember I am trying to do this off the top of my head. You may want to adjust for your personal preferences.

Heat about one tablespoon olive oil in a dutch oven. Once the oil is heated add
1 medium onion, minced
Cook until onion is tender but not browning and add
1 cup ham cut into bite size pieces
Cook until the ham starts to smell fragrant and then add
3 garlic cloves, minced
after 30 seconds add
4 cups water
1 teaspoon chicken bouillon
1 teaspoon beef bouillon
5 shakes of hot sauce
1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 cups cooked lima beans
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
Bring to a boil and then simmer 15-20 minutes.

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Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Sweet and Sour Meatballs

These were so good the kids asked for these for almost a week after I made them. There was no fighting with them to eat this dish. I love the fact you don't use frozen meatballs, but you could if you wanted to save time, and the fact it was easy to make. No fancy ingredients that you have to go to the store for.

Sweet and Sour Meatballs
from The World Wide Ward Cookbook
2lb ground beef
1 cup rolled oats
2 eggs, slightly beaten
2/3 cup onion, finely chopped
1 1/4 teaspoon salt
few grains of pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
2/3 cup milk
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup vinegar
2 teaspoon prepared mustard
1/2 cup barbecue sauce
2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

Combine ground beef, oats, eggs, onion, salt, pepper, 1 1/2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce, and milk. Form into balls about 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Place in casserole dish in a single layer (a 9X13 dish will hold 54 meatballs). In a bowl, combine brown sugar, vinegar, mustard, barbecue sauce, and 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce; pour over meatballs. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Serve over rice.

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Sunday, June 7, 2009

Grilled Chicken Sandwich

Another quick and very easy meal for when days are crazy and busy. So many different ways you could make this your own recipe. This is a favorite of every one in the house. I used a homemade fry sauce for the dressing but you could use mayo and/or mustard or anything else you like.

hamburger buns
thin cut boneless/skinless chicken breasts
veggies of your choice, we like spinach, tomato, pickles, and onions
condiment, your choice
McCormick s roast garlic and onion seasoning

Grill the chicken breast until done. Assemble the bun with your desired toppings and serve. We prefer to toast the bun but that would be totally your choice.

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Thursday, June 4, 2009

French Toast

I'm sure your wondering why I would post a recipe for something as simple as French toast, well its because I can not stand the taste of French toast. It always tastes "eggy" to me and having to look at the pieces of egg that cooked on the bread is not the least bit appealing to me. I found this recipe in a magazine and it promised no "eggy" taste to the French toast. I was skeptical as how can French toast not be "egg." I will admit that this recipe left no "eggy' taste or pieces of egg on my French toast. As an added bonus it wasn't a really soggy bread either. This does take a few extra minutes compared to a regular French toast but I'll take the extra time for something that actually tastes good to me.

French Toast
Cook's Illustrated Jan/Feb 2009

8 large slices of hearty white sandwich bread or good-quality challah
1 1/2 cups whole milk, warmed
3 large egg yolks
3 tablespoons light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus 2 tablespoons for cooking
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon vanilla

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 300 degrees. Place bread on wire rack set in rimmed baking sheet. Bake bread until almost dry throughout (center should remain slightly moist), about 16 minutes, flipping slices halfway through cooking. Remove bread from rack and let cool 5 minutes. Return baking sheet with wire rack and reduce temperature to 200 degrees.

Whisk milk, yolks, sugar, cinnamon, 2 tablespoons melted butter, salt, and vanilla in large bowl until well blended. Transfer mixture to 13 by 9 inch baking pan.

Soak bread in milk mixture until saturated but not falling apart, 20 seconds per side. Using firm slotted spatula, pick up bread slice and allow excess milk mixture to drip off; repeat with remaining slices. Place soaked bread on another baking sheet or platter.

Heat 1/2 teaspoon butter in 12 inch skillet over medium-low heat. When foaming subsides, use slotted spatula to transfer 2 slices soaked bread to skillet and cook until golden brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Flip and continue to cook until second side is golden brown, 3 to 4 minutes longer. If toast is cooking too quickly, reduce heat slightly. Transfer to baking sheet in oven. Repeat cooking with remaining bread, 2 pieces at a time, adding 1/2 teaspoon of butter for each batch.

Serve warm.

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Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Ice Cream Sandwiches

This was a fun and simple dessert. The best part is you could make everything yourself, if you so desire. Hint to my family, my birthday is coming in a few short days and an ice cream maker would make a wonderful gift! Anyway we had a cookie dough package that someone gave us for Christmas and for some reason I had not donated to the food bank so we made cookies. But I was not in the mood for just cookies that day so I decided we'd make ice cream sandwiches. The boys thought it was the "bestest" idea ever and really liked their ice cream sandwiches. The recipe is simple.

ice cream

Allow the ice cream to thaw a little then place a scoop between two cookies. Wrap and place in freezer until hardened. Remove about 3 minutes before serving to thaw just a tad.

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