Cook Up Some Summer Fun
For many of us, our summer plans look a lot different this year than last.
But some of the best summer memories are the simplest, and don’t involve any travel or crowds.
My family’s favorite summertime memories include picking blackberries, making a homemade slip and slide in the backyard and eating ice cream sundaes for dinner. Each of these memories is simple and inexpensive, and can be done in times of peace or pandemic.
One fun way to make memories with your kids is to be creative in the kitchen. Making homemade lemonade is a lot of fun, and kids will appreciate it even more after squeezing all those lemons. Homemade ice cream is another fun treat to make as a family.
As some families continue to shelter in place – or at least carefully choose their outings – summer fun right in our own backyards (and kitchens) is more appealing than ever.
Here are some fun ways to cook up some fun with your kids this summer.
Kids love these brownie ice cream sandwiches!
Easy Brownie Ice Cream Sandwiches
- 1 (16-ounce) box brownie mix
- 1 pint vanilla ice cream, slightly softened
- Mini chocolate chips or sprinkles
- Line a 9-inch square pan with foil, then spray with nonstick cooking spray. Make brownies according to package directions. Pour mixture into pan, and bake as directed. Cool completely on cooling rack, about 1 ½ hours.
- Place pan in freezer for 30 minutes. Use foil to lift brownies from pan, and peel foil from brownies. Cut into 4 rows by 4 rows.
- For each sandwich, spoon 2 tablespoons of ice cream on bottom of 1 brownie square. Top with second brownie square, gently pressing together. Roll sides in chocolate chips or sprinkles. Freeze 1 to 2 hours or until ice cream is firm. Wrap each in plastic wrap, then store in freezer until ready to eat.
Grilled fruit might be new to your kids. They will likely love it, especially over vanilla ice cream.
Grilled Fruit with Maple Glaze
- 3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 6 apricots peaches or plums, halved lengthwise and pitted
- Vanilla ice cream
- Heat an outdoor grill for medium heat.
- While grill is warming, cook maple syrup, butter, vanilla and salt in a small saucepan over low heat, stirring until butter is melted.
- Grill peaches, apricot or plums cut-side down, brushing with syrup mixture as they cook, until lightly charred and tender, 8–10 minutes. Transfer to a plate, and brush with additional syrup. Let fruit cool slightly, then serve with ice cream.
Try this bread on a family campout or in your own backyard with an outdoor fire pit.
Cinnamon Swirl Campfire Bread
- 3 tablespoons ground cinnamon
- 2/3 cup sugar
- 1/3 cup butter, melted
- 1 (around 16-ounce) can refrigerated biscuit dough
- Combine cinnamon and sugar together and place on a platter or large plate.
- Melt butter and place on a platter or large plate.
- Separate biscuits. Form each piece of biscuit dough into a rope 4 to 5 inches long, making sure not to stretch them out too long.
- Wrap the dough pieces around campfire sticks. (If using wooden sticks, soak them in water for 30 minutes before using). Pat the dough around the end of the stick to keep it in place so it won’t fall off.
- Hold over campfire, with an adult’s help, and slowly turn the biscuit dough until it is lightly browned and firm, which takes about 8 to 10 minutes.
- Dip bread into melted butter and then in cinnamon sugar.
The recipe title is a bit of a wink to kids. Calling them sandwiches is more fun than “pound cake with fruit.” Use any of your favorite fruit!
Summer Fruit Sandwiches
- 8 ounces strawberry cream cheese, softened
- 10 slices pound cake
- Fresh sliced strawberries
- Sliced bananas
- Seedless grapes, sliced in half
- Spread cream cheese on pound cake slices. Layer fruit on top, gently pressing into cream cheese mixture. Serve open-faced.
Most kids like this corn that’s rolled in sour cream and cheese. If your kids can’t stand mayo or sour cream, just skip it. Instead, you can roll in butter, then continue with the lime juice, cilantro and cheese. This version comes from the Simply Recipes food blog.
Mexican Street Corn
- 6 to 8 medium ears corn, husks removed
- 1/2 cup Mexican crema or sour cream
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 1/2 cup minced cilantro
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1/4 teaspoon ground chipotle pepper, to taste
- 2 teaspoons lime zest (1 lime)
- 2 tablespoon lime juice (typically 1 lime)
- 1/2 cup cotija cheese, crumbled
- Lime wedges, to serve
- Heat a gas or charcoal grill to 400 degrees.
- Whisk together the sauce: In a bowl, whisk together the crema, mayonnaise, cilantro, garlic, chipotle pepper, lime zest and lime juice. Taste and season the mixture with salt if needed. (Crema has a little salt already.) Set aside.
- Grill the corn: Place the husked corn directly onto grill grates. Grill the corn for about 3 minutes, undisturbed, or until kernels begin to turn golden brown and look charred. Turn over and repeat. When all sides are browned, remove from the grill onto a plate.
- Top the corn with sauce and cheese: Using a brush or a spoon, coat each ear of corn with the crema mixture. Sprinkle with crumbled cotija cheese. Sprinkle with additional chipotle pepper, if desired. Serve immediately with extra lime wedges.