Thursday, July 31

15 Outrageous Homemade Ice Cream Sandwiches

A homemade ice cream cookie sandwich is the perfect, well-portioned summer treat. Even though you might be tempted to eat them up right after assembly, they're well worth the overnight wait. There is something special that happens when an ice cream sandwich is stored in the freezer. As the cream soaks in, the texture of the cookie softens, while ice cream and cookie are bound together by the freezer's chilly blast. If you have a houseful of kids during the Summer, make them in batches throughout the season, wrapping each sandwich in waxed paper tied with twine like a tiny frozen present. 

Biting into a cold, chewy ice cream cookie will never get old, in part because the flavor combinations are virtually endless. If you don't feel like making ice cream, a pint of premium store-bought sandwiched between freshly-baked cookies is almost as good. Here are a few delicious combinations - ENJOY!

Chocolate Butterfinger Ice Cream Sandwiches

Fudge Chocolate Sprinkles Ice Cream Sandwiches

Chocolate Peanut Butter Ice Cream Sandwiches

Gingerbread and Pumpkin Ice cream Sandwiches

Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream Sandwiches

Blueberry Ice Cream Sandwiches

Peanut Butter and Jelly Ice Cream Sandwiches

Chewy-Gooey Chocolate Hazelnut Ice Cream Sandwiches

Strawberry Cheesecake Ice Cream Sandwiches

Grasshopper Ice Cream Sandwiches

Mounds Chocolate Coconut Ice Cream Sandwich

Strawberry Balsamic Ice Cream Sandwich

Root Beer Float Ice Cream Sandwich

Chocolate Malt Ice Cream Sandwich

Chocolate Stout Ice Cream Sandwich

How To Make Your Own Ice Cream Cookie Sandwiches:
1. Start by making a batch of your favorite ice cream - which can be done up to a week before you bake the cookies - or buy your favorite premium ice cream.
2. The day before you want to serve your sandwiches, bake a batch of cookies. It's best to choose a sturdier, chewier variety that won't break when spread with ice cream. Use a cookie scoop to drop the dough onto the baking sheet - this will ensure that your cookies will all be the same size.
3. Let the cookies cool completely and pull your ice cream out of the freezer to soften. Meanwhile, cut out enough waxed paper rectangles (at least double the size of your cookies) to wrap all your sandwiches, and cut enough lengths of kitchen string to wrap around each sandwich.
4. Spread a scoop of softened ice cream onto the back side of one cookie with a large spoon, then sandwich a second cookie on top. Scrape off any ice cream that oozes out the sides, then immediately wrap the sandwich in waxed paper like a present, and tie it with in a bow with a ready piece of twine. It's important to work fast here, since the ice cream will keep oozing until it's in the freezer. Repeat until there's no more cookies left, stashing each sandwich in the freezer as you go. Let freeze at least 6 hours before serving. The sandwiches will stay fresh in the freezer for up to 10 days.

Remember, flavor combinations for ice cream sandwiches are endless. Think of your favorite food, whether sweet or savory, candy or treats and how can you turn that into an innovative and creative ice cream sandwich. My child likes hers wrapped in Blue Raspberry Sour Straws. They are interesting for sure! Have fun making cold ice cream sandwiches with you kids on a hot Summer day! Sweet Memories!

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Wednesday, July 30

Tips for Cleaning A Dorm Room Before Move-In Day

This may look clean, but is it really Mom clean?

Mr.P and I have sent two children off to college. We made all of the financial preparations. Bought all of the college student essentials. Taught them how to do laundry and budget money. Hug, cried, prayed and poured love over them as we left them on their own. And if all that weren't enough, I always spend the better part of a day scrubbing down my college students dorm room before they move in.

Universities generally clean their dorm buildings over the summers, but not necessarily to the point where someone would want to settle right in and start living there. Before you or your student unpacks, you'll want to take advantage of having a completely barren living space to clean without anything getting in your way. Here are a few tips for getting that dorm room to a sparkly clean before your student unpacks.

Floors  There are corners that will be hard to get to later and, of course, large portions that will be covered by furniture, rugs, and other stuff, so clean the floor before they set their room up. Many dorm rooms have linoleum flooring, but some may have carpet laid down. In the case of linoleum, sweep thoroughly (those dust bunnies might be pretty large), and mop or scrub with some serious cleaner. Something with bleach would not be a bad idea. Get some spot carpet cleaner and a vacuum to take care of any carpeting.

Furniture and Appliances  Use some wood cleaner and a rag on any wooden furniture and carpet cleaner on any spots on the upholstery. If the beds come with plastic-covered mattresses, use some kind of disinfectant on them. If your accommodations include a refrigerator, clean it thoroughly and add a box of baking soda to absorb any odors. Be sure to dust any air conditioning and heating vents as well.

Bathrooms  This is probably going to be your most intense battleground. Bring plenty of bleach-based cleaners and disinfectant. Students will need to have these around during the school year anyway.
  • Mop and scrub the floor. I always did this on hands and knees — yes.
  • Spend plenty of time on the shower: college showers are notorious for spreading things like athlete's foot, mostly because they are used by so many different people and not cleaned often/thoroughly enough. After I clean, I attach an Automatic Scrubbing Bubbles Shower cleaner. My child is more likely to punch the button as they are leaving the shower rather than spend time scrubbing tiles later. 
  • Use polishing cleaner on the sink and any metal knobs or fixtures in the shower.
  • Spray any mirrors with glass cleaner and wipe them down.
  • Use a toilet brush and toilet bowl cleaner. Leave some sort of long-term toilet bowl disinfectant in the tank or bowl for your student. Odds are they will not clean as often as you'd like to think. 

Getting the cleaning finished before your student settles in will allow them to make this new space their own. Without the grime from previous residents hanging around, they will be able to make a fresh start in this new life away from home. Make sure to leave behind a basket of cleaning supplies. And DON"T forget the bug spray!

college, bound, students, clean, cleaning, products, supplies, move-in ready

Monday, July 28

How To Find The Best Italian Gelato

Gelato is one of the main things I long to indulge in when traveling in Italy. It's not hard to do, you can find a gelaterie on almost every corner, especially in the larger cities. Most visitors to Italy soon discovers a love for gelato as well. What is it about gelato that makes it so much better than any other ice cream? Just what is gelato? And how does it differ from our American ice cream? 

The main ingredient that differentiates ice cream and Italian gelato is milk. Ice cream is made with cream and has air whipped into it. Gelato is made of milk and has NO air added at all, which is why it is so dense. This is good news for anyone traveling to Italy. Gelato has less fat and calories than ice cream – so no need to feel guilty for indulging as you stroll the back streets of Rome, or get lost in Venice or hike the Cinque Terre! If you don’t have the time to find the absolute best local gelateria making homemade gelato, then GROM is a trustworthy brand that has shops all over the country. My two favorite places to indulge are Di San Crispino and Bar Giolitti.

If you're planning a trip to Italy, here are a few easy tips on how to find YOUR perfect gelato.
  • The Color Of The Pistachio – Be Aware! A great way to quickly check to see if a gelaterie is serving good quality gelato is to look at the color of the Pistachio flavor. If it’s neon green or very bright in color, it’s a sign that the ice cream is manufactured and not homemade. Filled with artificial coloring and flavoring. Good homemade Pistachio gelato should have an earthy green color – in general, good gelato of any flavor should have soft, muted colors.
  • Make Sure The Gelato Is Hidden! Although gelato looks so much better when it’s arranged in a big mound with fruity decorations, it’s not a good sign if you are seeking high quality. High quality gelaterias keep their gelato hidden away in covered metal canisters. They can preserve it better and keep the gelato at the ideal temperature, giving it that perfect creamy, dense consistency and vivid flavor.
  • Avoid Abundant Mounds of Gelato! The big piles of sculpted gelato that draw most tourists inside a gelaterie  have been infused with air. Although they are lovely to look at, remember, true Italian gelato contains no air. If you find mile-high containers of gelato, so much air has been injected into the product during production, that half of it by volume is composed of air. Causing the Gelato to be airy and less flavorful. 
  • Look for a Sign Stating 'Produzione Propria'. Try to find Gelaterias that make homemade Gelato (preferably in the back room of the shop) and advertise their gelato as ’produzione propria’. If the gelato is made in-house, it's unlikely to contain artificial flavorings, giving you a true flavor.

What you can learn from the photo below:
  • Look at that blue smurf-colored gelato, that’s a bad sign of artificial flavoring and coloring.
  • Fruity decorations look better than they taste.
  • Sculpted gelato is a sign of air infusion.
  • Avoid shops with bright neon signs outside, as often they’re a giveaway for poor quality – the best Gelaterias usually don’t use them.

I know it's pretty, but that plane ticket to Italy was too expensive to settle for this puffed up gelato!

No self respecting Italian would eat gelato on a cone..... but a 19 year old American girl will!

So have you found the perfect gelateria? What's your favorite flavor? Mine is definitely lemon made with Sorrento Lemons! Ahhh Italy!

gelato, gelaterie, Italy, the best, perfect, beware, picking, choosing, 

Saturday, July 26

Weekly Reflections — July 26, 2014

Did you have an exciting week in your home? 
Ours was busy, yet extremely low-key, which I love. Here's a short review:

1. Me plus my atrocious computer skills spelled disaster this week. Somehow I deleted ALL of the photos from the last couple of weeks of blog posts. I freaked out. Then massive stress set in as Mr.P tried to help me figure out what in the world I had done. Long story short, it had to do with Google+. It was a stupid mistake. I dealt with the stress. Replaced my photos. And the lesson I learned was priceless! Looking forward to the days ahead where I know better!

2. I went to the dermatologist this past Tuesday. Thank goodness for my high pain tolerance. He burned off 26 seborrheic keratoses spots, which are hereditary — thanks Mother. And one basal cell carcinoma. I have a follow-up visit but in the meantime, I look lovely.

3. Here's my favorite video from this past week. It reminds me so much of my grandfather, JD Hudson. Like the gentleman in the video, he is also 95, a WWII veteran — he served in the South Pacific, and can still wear his uniform. This dear veteran is cheering on these marathon runners as they pass his home. Soon the marathon runners stop to thank him for his service to our country. It's so sweet — enjoy.

4. It was HAPPY COUSINS DAY this last week. Did you miss it? Here are two of my sweet cousins, Amy and Abby. These lovely women are remarkable people  they must get it from their mother, she's pretty wonderful! Life is sweeter when you really love your family. I am blessed!

5. On Wednesday, Mr.P and I had a 'strong' discussion over CNN vs. FOX news. We both have firm convictions, and voice them probably more often than we should. We talk about everything from politics to toilet paper — which sometimes are one in the same! I didn't think Mr.P was being objective enough on a certain issue, he disagreed. This is what we do. It's certainly not boring in our household. Not to worry, we do agree on the most important of issues!

6. I found a new recipe that I am completely and utterly in love with: Blueberry, Brie and Lemon Curd Grilled Cheese Sandwiches from Two Peas & Their Pod. The name and picture says it all. Check it out for yourself!

7. I did a bit of 'thrifting' this week. One of my favorite pastimes. I am on the hunt for a dining room table, chairs and maybe a china hutch. I am looking forward to E heading back to university in a few weeks, at which time I plan to overhaul my dining room. Mr.P is not particularly looking forward to painting, but it will be great! If you're looking for something new — to you — as well, here's a short list of my favorite furniture consignment shops in DFW

8. I finally received an e-mail from Hobby Lobby on Thursday, informing me that the Red, White and Blue Flag Hearts I had on back order had come in! YEAH! The Christmas tree in our guestroom is decorated in a patriotic theme. The glass flag hearts will make a great addition. This week at Hobby Lobby, all glass items are half-price; costing me only $2.99 a piece for these ornaments. I'm thrilled! If you're interested, you can find them here.

9. My big-hearted parents came to town on Friday and we met up for dinner. Since I looked like I have leprosy, after my dermatology appointment earlier in the week, we decided to eat downtown. Surely we won't run in to anyone we know. Yeah, well that never works for me. As luck would have it, we were sitting close to the door as four friends walked in! But you know, good friends don't care. We had a nice visit, a wonderful meal and much laughter. Mr.P and I ended our evening at the Half-Price 'flagship' Bookstore on Northwest Highway and Central. A little coffee. A little reading. A little shopping. I love this book store. I passed a display of Christmas cards — yes — and I've been humming Christmas tunes ever since!

10. During my free time this week I have been trying to finish going through last years vacation photos. I don't know if I'm that far behind or if it's that I travel with a man who can take 7,000 photos in 3 short weeks. Here is one of my favorites. E caught Mr.P and I strolling down the Champs Élysées, perfection!

week-in-review, reflections, musings, fun, life, update, weekly, happenings, family,

Friday, July 25

Furniture Buy Consignment In DFW

I love a good deal. The more I save, the better I feel. My friend Jamie is the same way. Whenever we see each other, we do a price check on the outfits we are wearing. Once I was sporting an outfit that cost under $15.00 - head to toe. And that included accessories! It's amiable and keeps us sharp for the next steal deal. Not only do I like saving money on clothing, but items for our home. Right now I'm on the hunt for a dining room table that is 96 inches long. When I purchase one you can be certain it will be gently used. You may turn your nose up at the thought of buying used furniture, but that's okay. I embrace my cheapness. I also know something many of you may have overlooked....... expensive antiques are used as well! My favorite used furniture store in Texas is StillGoode Consignment in Spring, Texas. If you live in the Houston area you should definitely stop in for a look see. However, I live in Dallas - below you will find a few of my best-loved secondhand furniture stores in the DFW area. Happy Hunting!!

Wednesday, July 23


When life gives you lemons — or sweet, juicy berries — make a pie. In my kitchen, I’ve baked enough pies to have strong opinions about which gadgets are the best tools for any home baker. Here are some of my favorites.

OXO Steel Pie Server
This OXO pie server is my favorite. I like its comfortable handle and offset, double-edged serrated blade, which slices cleanly and lifts intact slices easily, no matter the filling or crust. Its broad blade securely supports slices in transit. And the price is right! Amazon, $9.99

OXO Food Scale
Exceptional. The super-clear display offers an optional backlight, four easy-to-read buttons, and, unique to OXO, can be pulled out from the large, removable platform when weighing bulky items. Amazon, $49.99

OXO Good Grips Silicone Pastry Brush
This light, maneuverable brush features perforated flaps in the bristles that hold liquid like a bubble wand. It easily traps an egg wash, yet delicate enough to brush pie pastry without damage. Its handle is comfortable and secure; the angled head helped reach tight spots and prevents drips on the counter when you set it down. Amazon, $6.99

Rubbermaid Professional 13 1/2 High-Heat Scraper
This practical, no-nonsense spatula is aces! With a great balance of flexibility and firmness for both the head and the handle. A terrific choice for nearly any job in the kitchen. These are the only spatulas I buy.  Amazon, $18.99

Pyrex 9" Pie Plate
Good crisping and browning, a see-through bottom to monitor the bottom crust, a half-inch rim, angled sides, and a low price makes this pie plate my number one choice again and again. Amazon, $8.99

Rose's Perfect Pie Plate by Rose Levy Beranbaum
Rose Levy Beranbaum, author of The Pie and Pastry Bible, designed this scalloped-edge ceramic plate to help create attractive pies. It made perfect filling and browned edges. Amazon, $19.99

Chicago Metallic No-Drip Pie Shield
The silicone center ring on this oval pan keeps the pie plate anchored in place, allowing easy transfer of the ring and pie plate into and out of the oven without fear of the pie sliding off. The wide rim makes it a breeze to grasp through oven mitts and its nonstick surface cleans up easily. Amazon, $14.95

Ventilated Pie Weight by Chicago Metallic
Much easier to use than traditional pie weights, this model drops into the center of the pie shell and comes out just as effortlessly. The nonstick-coated, perforated metal disk and silicone outer ring are oven safe up to 450 degrees and top-rack dishwasher-safe for easy cleaning.  Amazon, $12.95

J.K. Adams Plain Maple Rolling Dowel
This pin handles dough for pies, cookies, pizza, and yeasted rolls beautifully. It's lightweight and has a slightly textured surface that holds a dusting of flour for less sticking. Its long, straight shape makes achieving even dough thickness and rolling out larger disks easy. Amazon, $13.95

Dexter-Russell 6" Dough Cutter/Scraper—Sani-Safe Series
The deeply beveled edge of this scraper can cut through pizza, cookie, pie and bread dough quickly and scraps the work surface effectively. The textured polypropylene handle is easy to hold on to, even with greasy or floury hands, and is thinner than other scrapers’ handles, helping you to hold it flat to the work surface for easier, more effective scooping and scraping. Amazon, $6.99

Wear-Ever Half Size Heavy Duty Sheet Pan
The search is over. This sheet pan produces perfect cookies, oven fries, and jellyroll cakes brown and release easily. It can't be twisted and will not warp. I always put a pan on the bottom rack of my oven when baking fruit pies, keeping any excess juices from dripping and burning. Amazon, $14.99

CIA Bakeware 12" x 17 Cooling Rack
Fitting perfectly inside a standard 18- by 13-inch rimmed baking sheet, this cooling rack offers extra support with a central brace and six feet rather than four. It will not warp in oven or dishwasher. Amazon, $15.95

Cuisipro Stainless Steel Measuring Spoons Set
Comfortable and accurate with long handles, this set nests nicely. The rim of each spoon is flush with the handle so it is easy to sweep accurately.  Amazon, $11.95

Pyrex 2-Cup Measuring Cup
The unbeatable traditional version of the Pyrex Liquid Measuring Cup is the best for liquid measurements. Amazon, $5.99

Amco Houseworks Professional Performance 4-Piece Measuring Cup Set
This stainless steel set measures with perfect accuracy and offers moderate weight, great balance, and long, level, clearly marked handles. Amazon, $14.95

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