Sunday, June 19, 2011

The Bliss of Summer Pops

Who doesn't like a frozen popsicle on a hot June day? 

Especially an easy-to-make, good-for-you, YUMMY homemade one?

You can use anything you have on hand...peanut butter, blueberries, peaches, etc. Just throw your ingredients into the blender, give it a spin, and pour your sweet goodness into one of those plastic pop-makers that you can freeze. Of course, you can always improvise with paper cups and straws. 

By the way, kids can't get enough of these.  You'll be the most popular person in the house.

Our "recipe" for today was:

strawberries, sliced
banana, sliced
1 small container yogurt (Greek-style is good for it's thickness and flavor, but any compatible fruit-flavored, plain, or vanilla yogurt you have in the fridge will do)
splash of vanilla extract
a few tablespoons of milk

You're basically making a smoothie and then freezing it.  EASY-PEASY.  Just experiment with amounts to give you that smoothie-like consistency.

Here we have some satisfied customers.  Never mind that one is eating Nutella on a banana.  Whoa, now - THAT would be really good in a frozen pop!

What ingredients would YOU use? 

Happy summer?

Friday, June 17, 2011

Caramel-Pecan-Coconut Cheesecake Bars

For. The. Sweet. Love.

Are you reading the title of this recipe?  Can you possibly add any other words to it to make it more alluring?

I suppose you could add "Jesus" and "diamonds." So these are "Caramel-Pecan-Coconut-Jesus-Diamonds Cheesecake Bars."

This is my halved recipe from the original, which I found in my trusty Southern Living Cookbook  (click for a link)  I have never, not once, made something from this cookbook that did NOT turn out delicious, by the way.  

These taste as good as they sound.  You could also make them into a traditional cheesecake, just assembling and baking in a 9" pie plate or springform pan.

I'd advise eating this after you've had a supper of, say, air - or after you've gone on a good, long walk.  The calories are hefty.  So enjoy several cute morsels, not a big, old, honkin' slab.   Or just go for it, really.

Caramel-Pecan-Coconut Cheesecake Bars
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup butter, melted
2 8-ounce packages cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1/8 cup all-purpose flour
2 large eggs
2  teaspoons vanilla extract
Quick Coconut-Pecan Frosting (recipe below)

Stir together graham cracker crumbs and butter.  I simply break up the graham crackers into large pieces in the bowl of a food processor, give it a whir, and then add the melted butter while it is on.  SOOO easy.  Press into bottom of a lightly-greased 9"x7" (or 8"x8") pan.  Bake at 350 degrees for 8 minutes.  Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack.

Beat cream cheese at medium speed with an electric mixer until smooth.  Combine sugar and flour; gradually add to cream cheese, beating until just blended.

Add eggs, one at a time, beating until blended after each one. Stir in vanilla extract. Pour mixture over prepared crust, spreading evenly to edges of the pan.

Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes or until set. Remove to a wire rack to cool.

Pour warm Quick Coconut-Pecan Frosting over cheesecake, spreading to edge of pan.  Cover and chill 8 hours.  Cut into bars. 

Quick Coconut-Pecan Frosting
14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup butter (1/2 a stick)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cups sweetened flaked coconut
3/4 cups chopped pecans, toasted

Place first 4 ingredients in a heavy 3-quart saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring over medium-low heat. Cook, stirring constantly, 3-5 minutes or until mixtures reaches pudding-like thickness. Remove from heat. Stir in coconut and pecans.


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