Thursday, September 26, 2013

Chocolate Chip Cookies: A Tip

(And, and P.S., these are enormous. They were for Mark's birthday party and he didn't want him any tiny Mommy-style cookies.) 

I'd all but given up on chocolate chip cookies made from all butter. They just never turned out as well as their part-shortening brothers (which are, for the record, shockingly delicious). The problem with the all-butter cookies was their texture--the cookies came out sort of airy (for lack of a better word). They weren't as dense as the part-shortening counterparts. Also, the tended to come out a little flatter (by which I don't exactly mean flatter, but without the shape that dense cookies have--those folds of dough that just seem to sit there after the cookie has cooled), and they would dry out much more quickly (airy--like I said).  It didn't matter if the butter was cold or fully melted. It didn't matter if we beat the sugar in or mixed it by hand. Resting the dough helped, but not enough to make for a perfect, dense, chewy cookie. Nothing seemed to matter and I gave up. And then all the sudden, Kip's all-butter cookies just started to come out right. Every single time. The difference? He started rolling them into balls before baking (also, he got the butter super softened, but not melted--which I do think is helpful as well, though we've occasionally accidentally melted it and the cookies still come out okay if we roll them). I thought this was too easy to be an answer. But it's been several months now and every time we roll the cookie dough before baking, they come out RIGHT.

Hopefully my photography is good enough for you to see the difference between these cookies (you've got to look kind of close).

from un-rolled dough plops

from rolled dough balls

The one on the bottom was rolled; the one on the top was not. Both were from the same batch and baked at the same time. But you'll notice that they rolled one (bottom) has fewer airy-type holes. Also, the non-rolled one (top) almost seems to have its top layer sort of disconnected by air from the rest of the cookie. Also, the non-rolled one (top) is somewhat flatter.

I assume that the process of rolling the dough into balls simply compresses all that cookie goodness and sort of sticks the ingredients together better than they otherwise would have been. How's that for scientific talk?

So if chocolate chip bliss is alluding you, try rolling the dough before baking. You might be surprised.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Peanut Butter Pie

I should warn you: This is rich and creamy and awesome. It's like a cross between a cheesecake or a mousse--a no cook sort of cheesecakeAfter I made it the first time, I craved it for weeks. I should warn you also that it is one of those desserts about which some people might say, "Oh, it is just too rich." Yeah, yeah--go back to your asparagus sticks already (not that there's anything wrong with asparagus). But it is rich. My kids couldn't finish the tiny slices I gave them. So just be warned.

The good news (besides it being completely awesome) is that it is also really easy. Or maybe that's more bad news considering how many calories it has. At any rate, it's only going to cost you about 10-20 minutes of effort. For awesome. I think that's a pretty good deal.

The other good news is that it freezes really really well. So you can have a little sliver and then just freeze the rest in a controlled and disciplined fashion. The bad news is that it might taste even better frozen than it does refrigerated. It does not freeze into a hard rock of a thing. It freezes into a cold, firm, super creamy thing that is even more pure awesomeness and that doesn't need thawing and that therefore inspires lots and lots of impulse spoonfuls when you think no one is looking (the reason that the above picture is of the whole pie and not a lovely little slice is that I froze the slices and then managed to eat all the edges off of them--I have an edges problem--so they're little crustless, uneven pieces of pie now).

Peanut Butter Pie
adapted from Betcha Can't Eat Just One
Serves 12 smallish slices
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes (for crust)
Cool time: 4 hours
Cost: $4.70 (this is between $.50 and $.40/serving--not bad)
generic Oreos: 1.50, butter: .15, cream cheese: 1.00, peanut butter: .65, powdered sugar: .40, cream: 1.00

For Crust:

2 C Oreo crumbs (I used Great Value "Oreos" to good effect--this took just over a half package)
1/4 C melted butter

For Peanut Butter Mousse:

1 8-oz package cream cheese at room temperature (or slightly softened in the microwave)
2/3 C smooth peanut butter
2 C powdered sugar
1 Tbsp milk
1 tub Cool Whip (note: I don't like Cool Whip all that much, so I made real whipped cream--I used about 1 C cream and whipped it to stiff peaks)

For the Crust:

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Mix Oreo crumbs with melted butter. Press into pie pan. Note: I used a food processor to pulverize my crumbs. This worked out nicely because I could then later use the food processor to mix the first 4 ingredients of my peanut butter mousse part.

Bake 10-15 minutes. Cool.

For the Peanut butter mousse:

Combine cream cheese and peanut butter. (I wiped out my food processor and used it to do this, but you can use a mixer as well.) Then add the powdered sugar and then the milk.

Whip cream if using.

Fold whipped cream (or Cool Whip) into peanut butter mixture. Keep folding. It takes several minutes to get it all folded together, but it's worth it. Note: To fold it in, plop in a little whipped cream and sort of turn the mixture over, stir and turn, stir and turn. Then add more cream and continue.  Note: Folding is a hassle. It takes much longer than just mixing with mixers, but you should still do it with this recipe. The first time I made it I got sick of folding and just used the beaters, but my pie (while still delicious) had a slightly bumpy, weird texture. If you fold and fold and fold some more, you will have a lovely creamy perfect texture and you will be happy.

Add this to the crust (It's going to be a lot.)

Chill for at least three hours. (Or freeze it--you won't regret it.)


Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Eating Cheap: A Note from the Middle (lowerish) Class

Let's talk money. No one ever does. But we should.

Kip and I are not poor. But we're not rich either. We make between 50K and 60K a year and have 4 children. There. I said it. We live in the Midwest where housing is cheaper, but food and utilities are fairly average, sometimes even on the high side. We do have an Aldi--bless it.

I find that there's not a whole lot written about the middle class and food. What I tend to notice is that the upper class (the Michael Pollens and NYTimesers of the world) tend to think and write about food a lot and that they tend to think and write about the poor and food and the problems the poor face with food. The interesting thing about this is that it creates a sort of great divide. These well-off folks are writing about a class of people they don't know very well (my mother would have called that gossip). The wealthy don't have food insecurity; they don't understand food insecurity; they may have never had or understood food insecurity in their whole lives. Yet they came up with the word 'food insecurity.' Sometimes they go all rogue and sort or pretend to be poor for a while so they can write about their experience with it (we see this in books like Nickel and Dimed, in those challenges to live on a food stamp budget, and even on this blog with the Cheap Eat Challenge--although in my defense, part of the reason for that was a need/desire to chop our food budget down because something in our budget had to give and there wasn't another area with any room to give).

The problem with the divide between the people who are writing/proposing solutions and the people who are actually struggling is that those well-off writers either spend their time writing about what they think will solve the (food) problems of the poor (i.e. We need to put more fresh foods into the food deserts of urban communities so the poor can make better food choices.). Or how the rich have no right to judge the poor because the rich can't possibly understand the plight of the poor, so we should just pity the poor and try to come up with some nice, easy solutions for those poor people who can clearly only handle nice, easy solutions (i.e. the poor don't have time to cook or the education to make good food choices, so we need to provide processed food options that are healthy and affordable). Both attitudes come off as more than a little condescending. Because there's just too big of a divide. The rich can't talk about the poor. Which is where that puzzlingly ignored middle class comes in. Some of us are close to being poor; or have recently risen above the poverty level; or spent our childhoods very poor; or have made significant sacrifices in order to step out of the class called "poor." In other words, we've worked the crappy jobs, know what a generic shoe looks like, and have probably devoted a portion of our lives to the consumption of ramen noodles (or, in my case, spaghetti with that cheap Hunts sauce--eaten cold at work thank you very much). Generally, the middle class can pinch a penny, though they might not have to pinch it quite so hard it yells. At least not anymore.

Because of this I think the middle class has a lot to contribute as far as useful suggestions about how to eat pretty healthy and pretty cheap. But our voices are rarely heard. (Presumably because we're at home making a healthy, cheap dinner and not sitting at our oak desk writing about the plight of the poor.) Indeed it seems that the voices of the middle class are usually drowned out by the wealthier voices that are either telling the poor they should be making all organic lunches for their children that are shaped like owls. Or they are saying, "Boo hoo for the poor; it just must be so terrible to be you. All you can possibly afford is boxed mac and cheese and it's just making you so dumb and fat. Maybe it'd help if there were a healthy option on the McDonald's dollar menu?" I don't think either attitude is very helpful.

So today I'm going to go all crazy and political on you and offer several suggestions (sometimes attached to a little pet peeve of mine) about how we can eat a little cheaper, but still pretty well. They won't be all-organic or require a trip to Whole Foods. Of course they might not be dollar menu easy either, but I trust you're smart and motivated enough to put forth a little effort if you want to eat well yet inexpensively. And if you're not, there's probably some rich guy crying over his mocha latte for you right now, so don't worry--he's getting that healthy fast food organic thing all under control.

1. Make dinner. And probably lunch. You can have a pass for breakfast and eat cereal if you want (though oatmeal is way cheaper and, I think, tastier), but a Sausage McMuffin is going to need to be skipped. Well, most days.

2. Eat fruit and vegetables. But it's okay if you serve them over rice or pasta instead of quinoa or farro or beside a steak. (Note: I love quinoa and farro and they're super healthy. They're not even very expensive or difficult/time consuming to make. But if you're really pressed financially or just struggling to enjoy those weird, healthy options, have some pasta with a delicious tomato sauce. Heck, throw in some broccoli on the side if you want to go all crazy.)

3. You can buy produce that is not organic or local. I am not going to fight here about which is better or worse. All I am going to say is that fruit and vegetables are better than crackers and chips. And while they have much lower calorie counts and therefore always show up unfavorably in "studies" about food and the poor, they are just as filling as their junk counterparts. A banana is about the same price as 1/5 of a can of Pringles and it's better for you and more filling. Also, you usually stop after one banana, but you don't always stop after 1/5 can of Pringles. Maybe bananas aren't a "local food," but we're going to look past that for now. (p.s. Pringles aren't a local food either.)

4. You can use cream of whatever soup or canned sauce or store-bought dressing if you're pressed for time, but if you have extra time and can make them from scratch, it's a little cheaper and a little healthier. Nevertheless, a crock pot meal with veggies and meat and cream of whatever soup is cheaper and healthier than a fast food meal or freezer dinner. And, frankly, many crock pot meals take less time to throw together than a wait in the drive thru line.

5. Leftovers. Seriously, people. Maybe Michael Pollen wants us to eat foods our grandmothers recognized. I'd bet a million bucks they recognized leftovers. You can be all cute and pack them up for your (or your husband's) lunches the next day or make them into some fabulous leftover meal. Or you can just throw some Saran wrap over the serving dish and call it good. But eat them. Love them.

6. Take 10 minutes to sort of think about your meals for the week before you go shopping. Nothing has to be color coded. You don't have to plan every meal and every food. But have a sort of vague-ish idea of what you will be eating. I don't care what socio-economic class you belong to. I don't care if you live downtown with only an expensive corner store or if you live in the suburbs or if you live 1/2 mile from a good grocery store, this will be helpful to you when you shop.

7. If you don't have a vague-ish idea of what to eat this week, know what your basics are and buy them. Our list looks a little like this: Cereal, oatmeal, milk, eggs, pasta, sauce, bread, PB, jam, chicken, broccoli, whatever fruit is cheap, hamburger meat, rice, potatoes, and maybe some fish if I pass by and think about it. This isn't a perfect list; it could get boring if I never planned a meal, but when I find myself in the store with only a vague idea that the refrigerator is empty, I try to remember to buy the basics and then maybe a few things that seem interesting; and I trust that life will fall into place. It usually does.

So... what am I missing? Feel free to chime in middle class or lower class (or even upper class) cheapskates. What do you do that's not crazy to keep your food life tasty, but cheap? 

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Parmesan Corn

This month for Secret Recipe Club I had Jane's Adventures in Dinner. The blog is just beautiful and I pinned abut 700 (give or take a little) recipes from her site. But after a trip to Bud's Farm Market where we came home with a bunch of corn, I just had to go for this Parmesan Corn. And I'm so glad I did. Because it is DELICIOUS. The flavor combos were just perfect, although if you're averse to mayo (I know some people are--you crazy people, you), I think that this herb/flavor combination would be amazing mixed in with butter too.

Our corn itself was pretty perfect, but I think this would be an excellent way to redeem corn that was a little on the chewy or blah side (surely I'm not the only person who comes home sometimes with sub-par corn on the cob). Also, I think that even if you didn't have corn on the cob (hello coming winter season), this would be excellent mixed with any cooked corn (canned or frozen), and served as a side dish. It wouldn't match fresh corn on the cob, but I still think it would kick butt.

Parmesan Corn
adapted from Jane's Adventures in Dinner
Serves 4 (um, I think--a little trouble remembering here)
Prep and cook time: 10-15 minutes
Cost: $2.20
cheese: .50, lime: .35, cilantro: .10, mayo: .25, corn: 1.00

4 cobs corn, cooked
1/2 C shredded Parmesan
juice of a lime (about 1 Tbsp); you can add zest too if zest is your thing
1 Tbsp fresh chopped cilantro
1/2 C mayonnaise

Mix this all together. Then roll your corn in it.


Thursday, September 12, 2013

Thoughts on Cheap Eating

Two years ago, we finished the first part of our Cheap Eat Challenge--the challenge in which we tried to spend less than $6/day on food for our family of 6. We never quite made it. Our best month we finished up with an average of $6.87. Which I thought was still pretty good. Since then I've loosened up on the food reigns considerably (maybe sometimes too much). But there are a few things from that time that we still do. And a few more that I think I will start to do again.

What We've Held onto from the Cheap Eat Challenge

1. Leftover Night. Sometimes I can make something fresh and cool from our leftovers. Sometimes we just eat them as they are. Sometimes we have really weird odds and ends and it's not quite enough to feed everybody. On those days, I pull out the bread and PB and we eat leftovers plus sandwiches. Maybe it sounds lame to you, but it's really kind of a nice, stress free dinner.

2. I take free food when it's offered to me. A friend brings over raspberries. Someone has a basket of zucchini from their garden. There are three bagels left over from your work meeting and your boss is going to toss them if nobody takes them home (I, being me, am always surprised that everyone doesn't fight over who gets to take home the leftover meeting foods, but I noticed--even in grad school--that usually no one wants to take those foods; or at least nobody speaks up). Take the bagels for Pete's sake. And then use them. It's fun.

3. I make dinner. It's not always easy, but it's definitely not as hard as our modern world would have you believe. I'm not even that great at planning our meals. Granted, I don't make gourmet meals every night. My kids' lunches never ever look like this. But they don't look like this either. Sometimes for dinner, we just eat eggs, toast, and a fruit. But you'd be surprised how good eggs, toast, and a fruit taste when you all sit down and eat a warm meal together. We still eat out occasionally, but I try to avoid the "Oh, I'm tired, so let's go out" syndrome--The good (sort of bad) thing about having 4 youngish children is that going out really isn't that easy anyway, so it's considerably less tempting. If I'm going to wind up tired and grumpy anyway, we can just stay home and fish something out of the back of the fridge.

If we ate out (even dollar menu fast food) twice a week for lunch or dinner, we would spend about double what we spend--let's say $13 instead of $7. By not doing this we save about $50/month. It's not big money, but I think Benjamin Franklin would approve of all those saved/earned pennies.

Where I Feel I Should Re-Tighten the Cheapskate Reigns

1. Meal Planning. Seriously, I just need to do a better job of planning meals and shopping lists. I don't even hate it; I kind of like it; I just don't always get around to it.

2. Shopping. During the Cheap Eat Challenge, I DID NOT DEVIATE from my list. I didn't buy anything extra. We didn't do impulse things. Now I do. And it's kind of nice to do; I even think it's okay for an item; maybe two. But it can get out of hand really really quickly.

3. Cooking breakfast. I don't even like cereal. But my kids do. And it sure is easy. When we did the Cheap Eat Challenge, I made breakfast probably 4 or 5 days out of the week. It was harder, but not that bad. I don't necessarily want to go back to that many times (because we have to catch the bus at 7:30 people, and my kids are not early risers), but I want to do homemade breakfast a little more. Besides a nice nutritious breakfast that's cheap, we usually have leftover muffins/breakfast cookies/whatevers for healthy snacks/lunches later in the week.

4. Big cooking mornings. During the Cheap Eat Challenge I would take a couple mornings a week and cook stuff (like a sauce from garden tomatoes, or muffins to put in the freezer or 12 kinds of chocolate chip cookies so I could find the best one). My kids would play. It was pleasant and homey. Lately I've been a little busy for that. But I kind of miss it--the hominess and the stocked food.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

How to Make Really Quick Winter Squash

So maybe I did just write about ice cream cake. But it's getting to be that time of year when you can write about ice cream cake AND winter squash. If you were really cool, you'd probably write about winter squash ice cream cake, but I haven't quite reached that level of awesomeness yet. So I'm just going to tell you how to prepare winter squash really really fast. Why? Because you can. And because I continue to believe that one of the reasons people don't cook cheap, good, healthy food is because they believe it takes too long. It doesn't have to. 

Yes, you can roast squash. It's delicious. But it takes 30-60 minutes. And you can steam or saute it. That's delicious too. And the cooking time is faster (though still a good 20 minutes), but you have to chop the derned thing up, which is not fast. So what do you do? You microwave it.

1. Cut the squash in half. 
2.Take out the seeds. 
3. Put a little water on a plate.
4. Put the squash--flesh side down--on the plate. 

5. Cook it in the microwave for 8-15 minutes. (This little winter squash took 10.) The water on the plate will steam it and the squash itself will keep that steam in. (Note: Be careful when you flip it over because it is very hot and steam may rush out. Don't burn yourself.)

6. Scoop it out and serve it up. 

My two favorite ways to serve squash cooked like this:
1. Butter and brown sugar, baby.
2. Butter and salt and pepper.

Easy. Delicious. Healthy. Quick. 

P.S. The type of squash I used was called Ambercup and it is AMAZING. It is new to me and the best type of winter squash I have ever tasted. It is sweet with a perfect texture (not too watery; not too grainy). I am considering making a pie with it. If you're local I bought it at Bud's Farm Market on the very southern end of Weinbach. This is what it looks like not cut up and microwaved.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Butter Chicken

Let me tell you a funny thing about my husband. He doesn't like Indian food or Chinese food. Okay, that's not the funny thing. What's funny is that what he really doesn't like is food that is called Indian food or Chinese food. So if I say, "Hey I'm making this Indian dish tonight" I get that look--maybe you know the one--that look that says, "Really, woman, cause I don't remember that as part of our wedding vows." However, if I flop open a bag of chicken and add some tomato sauce, spices, a little cream, and serve it on rice, well then we're cool. "What's this," he might ask. And I say (trying to avoid eye contact), "Oh, it's just this little dish called, um, tomato-y chicken creamy stuff." And then he's like, "Okay." And then sometimes he's like, "It's a little spicy." But he just keeps eating. This is my life people. Lucky for me, butter chicken is actually called "butter chicken" (at least on all the Indian menus I've seen). I mean, how inocuous is that.

Him: "Whacha making?" 
Me: (able to maintain eye contact) "Oh, just some butter chicken." (innocent batting of the eyelashes)
Him: "Sounds good." 

Yeah. Because it is. Dang good. It's not too hard either. 

Butter Chicken
Serves 4
Prep time: 15-20 minutes
Cook time: 30-40 minutes
Cost: $4.70 (served with simple white rice and peas, this meal comes up to about $1.50-1.70/person, although portions are not teenager sized and prices are based off of Aldi.)
chicken: 3.00, butter: .30, onion: .15, tomato sauce: .75, yogurt: .20, all those crazy spices: .30

Note on marinade: I'm not a big marinator (not a word, I know). I usually just make the marinade right before and let it sit while I get the rice going. This might be even better if you marinate, but I never think about it far enough ahead. 

Note on sauce: You can use tomato sauce or tomato puree. If you use sauce, be sure to use less salt at first and then taste it and add more at the end if necessary. 

For the Marinade:

1/2 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 tsp ginger powder
4 cloves minced garlic
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp lemon juice
3-4 medium chicken breasts, diced

For the Sauce:

5 Tbsp butter
1 medium onion, diced (or finely finely grated if you've got onion-haters among you)
15 oz tomato sauce
1/4 C plain yogurt
1 Tbsp garam masala
1 tsp salt
dash cayenne

Combine marinade ingredients and pour over diced chicken. Marinate if you actually thought about this more than two hours before dinner (and give yourself a pat on the back while you're at it). 

When you're ready to make this, heat a large skillet and dump the chicken and marinade into the pan. Cook chicken until browned, then remove it from the pan and set aside. 

Add butter to that same pan. Melt it and add onions. Cook until they're getting soft (five minutes). Add chicken, any accumulated juices, and the remaining ingredients (tomato sauce, yogurt, garam masala, salt, and cayenne). Simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. It should thicken somewhat. If it doesn't, increase the heat at the end and let it boil for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently so it doesn't burn on the bottom of the pan. [Quick tip: If you're rushed for time, turn up the heat at the beginning to boiling, but stir it very frequently. You're dinner will be done in 10-15 minutes instead of 30, BUT you will have to give it your full attention instead of just letting it sit and simmer.]

Serve over rice. You can add cilantro to the top, which is really yummy. You can also add some peas at the end of cooking. This is very yummy too. 

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Ice Cream Cake

We had this for my nephew's birthday in July. Then Savannah wanted it for her birthday in August. It's not too late people. It's still plenty hot. Make this. Love this. Just don't eat too big a piece or you'll make yourself sick. Which brings me to the other sort of nice thing about ice cream cake. It can last a long time. Because it's frozen, you see. It won't get stale after 3 days or 5 days or ever. See, it's, like, diet friendly right. I mean, this cake is all about portion control, right. (Note: Wrong, people, wrong. This cake is not about portion control; you will see. Yes, you will see.)

Below I offer two options for this cake. One is the normal cake which involves ingredients like Hershey's syrup and Cool Whip. This version is still pretty darn yummy. However, I wanted to try it with homemade chocolate syrup and homemade whipped cream and that was pretty amazing. (Note: Portion control. No really, you'll thank me. Well, maybe.)

You'll find the homemade to be a bit cheaper and only about 7 minutes more labor intensive (yes, 7 minutes). However, you'll note that neither of these is particularly cheap. So now I will attempt to justify this sin.
Justification #1. It is very rich. You can eat/serve smaller pieces and get quite full and it doesn't spoil so you can keep it for longer.
Justification #2. You don't have to buy ice cream to serve with your cake. So really you should knock $3.50 off of the price of this, right.
Justification #3 (my old standby). It's still cheaper than buying a crap cake from the Walmart "bakery." Amen and amen.

One final note about this cake. It's easy to make, but don't try to slap it together in 30 minutes because each part needs to be put on and then frozen and the chocolate sauce will need a good 12-24 hours to cool. I recommend making it the day before (remember it's not going to go stale on you). Don't worry, making it a day ahead actually makes for its own kind of birthday bliss because there's no cake to worry about on the big day.

Ice Cream Cake with Homemade Fudge Sauce and Whipped Cream
makes one 9x13 inch pan
Prep time: 30 minutes, but you're going to have to have (sometimes long) breaks between layers.
Cost: $9.40
cookies: 1.50, butter: .50, 1.90, cream: 2.00, ice cream 3.50 (Walmart Breyer's price)

30 Oreos (or decent generic substitute--we used generic Walmart cookies to good effect and it wasn't even a full package)
1 stick butter
1 recipe of Kip's fudge sauce
16 oz. cream. whipped with 4-8 Tbsp sugar and a few drops vanilla (see here for a how to)
1/2 gallon vanilla ice cream (we used Breyer's, which was a little shy of 1/2 gallon--arg--but worked)
toppings like nuts, sprinkles, etc (optional

1. Make Kip's fudge sauce. You must do this 12-24 hours beforehand or your sauce will be warmish and melt your ice cream. The sauce must be COLD.

Note: If you're reading this 1 hour before the birthday of your precious and feeling about to cry, then do this. Make the sauce, then put it in a small bowl, then put the bowl of sauce in a bigger bowl that is filled with ice (no ice will go in your sauce--it's just surrounding the bowl that contains your sauce). Put this in the freezer and stir the sauce every 10 minutes or so.

2. Crush Oreos. I did this in a food processor, but a blender would work, as would a good old fashioned Ziploc bag and rolling pin. Add 1 stick butter to the crumbs, mix, and press into the bottom of a 9x13 inch pan.

Let this cool in the freezer for 20 minutes

3. While the crust is freezing, get your ice cream out, so it can soften. When the crust is ready, spread the ice cream onto it into an even layer. Then put this back in the freezer for an hour or until it's quite firm.

4. When it's firm, add the (cooled) chocolate sauce and spread it on. In my humble opinion, this is too much chocolate sauce and I would have used less. However, let it be noted that I was the ONLY one in our family who would have used less. Everyone else loved it how it was. Put this in the freezer for 15-20 minutes.

5. While it's freezing, whip (and sweeten) your cream. You can find directions here. Layer this onto your cake. Freeze for 10-15 minutes.

6. Add toppings if you wish and serve.


Ice Cream Cake
cost: $10.50
cookies: 1.50, butter .50, Hershey's syrup: 2.00, sweetened condensed milk: 1.00, butter: .50, cool whip: 1.00 (guessing here--haven't bought this in years), ice cream: 3.50

30 Oreo cookies (we used generic Walmart cookies to good effect and it wasn't even a full package)
1 stick butter

1 can Hershey's syrup--16 oz. (the kind you find in a can with a yellow lid like this)
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 stick butter (yes, another one)

1 8-oz tub Cool Whip

1/2 gallon vanilla ice cream
toppings like sprinkles, nuts, cherries, whatever (optional)

1. Make your chocolate sauce. You must do this 12-24 hours beforehand or your sauce will be warmish and melt your ice cream. The sauce must be COLD.

Make the sauce by combining the Hershey's syrup, sweetened condensed milk, and 1 stick butter. Cook, stirring frequently (if not quite constantly) until boiling. Boil, stirring constantly, for one minute. LET THIS COOL COMPLETELY. It'll take the good part of a day. Note: If you're reading this 1 hour before the birthday of your precious and feeling about to cry, then do this. Make the sauce, then put it in a small bowl, then put the bowl of sauce in a bigger bowl that is filled with ice (no ice will go in your sauce--it's just surrounding the bowl that contains your sauce). Put this in the freezer and stir the sauce every 10 minutes or so.

2. Crush Oreos. I did this in a food processor, but a blender would work, as would a good old fashioned Ziploc bag and rolling pin. Add 1 stick butter to the crumbs, mix, and press into the bottom of a 9x13 inch pan.

Let this cool in the freezer for 20 minutes

3. While the crust is freezing, get your ice cream out, so it can soften. When the crust is ready, spread the ice cream onto it into an even layer. Then put this back in the freezer for an hour or until it's quite firm.

4. When it's firm, add the (cooled) chocolate sauce and spread it on. In my humble opinion, this is too much chocolate sauce and I would have used less. However, let it be noted that I was the ONLY one in our family who would have used less. Everyone else loved it how it was. Put this in the freezer for 15-20 minutes.

5. When it's done, spread the cool whip and freeze that.

6. Add any toppings you want and serve.



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