What are the best frozen desserts for entertaining?

Just say the words “ice cream” and you can make people happy, so what better way to entertain company than to have a frozen dessert? Frozen desserts are great for entertaining because there is little to no work involved when it is time to serve. After all, you can make ice cream dishes weeks in advance, if you think they’re safe in your freezer.

Ice Cream Sundae Bar

I love getting company involved with food. After all, it’s fun and everyone gets to eat exactly what they like best. There are lots of great “build your own” recipes for dinner parties, and an ice cream sundae bar is a great way to end the night. Start with one great vanilla ice cream and one great chocolate, and then choose a range of fruits, nuts, candies, and sauces for people to decorate their sundae with.

One benefit is that you can put together many of the toppings in advance and keep them covered until it is time to serve. Then you just have to pull the ice cream out of the freezer and set out everything, and you are good to go. You can get as fancy as you want by adding items like brownies or cookies to go under the ice cream, or you can keep it simple with some berries and chocolate sauce.

Molded Frozen Desserts

Molded frozen desserts are desserts that are formed in a pan or bowl, and then sliced into servings. The most common molded frozen desserts are ice cream cakes, pies, and bombes. The best part is that these are all some of the easiest frozen desserts to put together. Molded desserts are a fun way to dress-up store bought ice cream and still have a dish that you can claim is homemade.

Take ice cream pie, for example. All you need to do is take a graham cracker crust and layer it with as many flavors of ice cream as you like. If you want to get fancy, you can add layers of fruits, nuts, or chocolate sauce into the pie, but it’s really just that simple.

The crunch of a graham cracker crust gives an extra layer of flavor and texture to the ice cream, and it looks impressive when you serve it.

Macerated Fruit And Ice Cream

A scoop of ice cream with fruit on top can be as simple or complicated as you want, depending on what you do with the fruit. Add something acidic and little sugar to the fruit first, let it sit for a while, and then you will be rewarded with a yummy fruit syrup. Macerated fruit can be as simple as adding a little lemon juice, or you can create upscale recipes that are perfect for adults.

For example, did you know that strawberries pair well with balsamic vinegar and basil? Choose a thick, aged balsamic vinegar and add a couple tablespoons to the strawberries. Add a pinch of sugar and a little minced basil and let the whole thing sit for at least an hour. Serve this over vanilla ice cream for a decidedly grown-up take on ice cream with strawberry sauce.

How to Make Ice Cream Pie

Ice cream pie is one of my favorite frozen desserts to make for guests because it is so easy to put together. You just need a few ingredients and a little bit of time and you can have a unique, homemade dessert in your freezer. The best part is that you can make this dessert weeks in advance if you really want to. After all, it will just be sitting in the freezer until company comes.

1. Start With A Crust.

A basic graham cracker crust is a great place to begin. You can also get more creative and add extra flavors. One of my favorite options is a gingersnap crust, because the spices of gingersnaps and graham crackers pair perfectly to make something that is spicy and unique without being too much

2. Add A Layer Of Ice Cream.

Soften your ice cream on the counter for 15 to 20 minutes before spreading it in the pie shell and it will be a much easier job. While you can use an offset spatula to spread the ice cream to the edge of the pie, any utensil will do. A knife does a perfectly good job at spreading filling.

3. Add Special Touches.

I like adding a layer of nuts, candy, or your favorite sauce in the middle of the pie. It gives a completely different texture and flavor, along with a little more fun. I like to stick the first layer into the freezer for 15 minutes before moving on to the next step. It will help the layers you have already done hold up so that the next layer of ice cream doesn’t move your filling too much.

4. Add More Ice Cream.

Another layer (or two) of ice cream gives you the chance to layer flavors. Pick two ice creams that have complimenting flavors and you will get beautiful layers when you cut into the pie. Start with the classics. Use layers of chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry to make a Neapolitan ice cream pie. Add a layer of vanilla on top of something more intense to give it balance.

5. Decorate The Top.

There are many ways to do this that are simple and beautiful. Sprinkle the top of the pie with toasted nuts or chopped candies. Drizzle it with melted chocolate. Wait until you are ready to serve and add some fresh whipped cream. The possibilities are endless.

If you are still looking for more information, check out my tips for making ice cream pies. There are lots of simple ways to update your pie recipes so that you can surprise your guests, without too much trouble. There are also many ice cream pie recipes to help you get started.

Top 6 Ice Cream Pie Recipes : Feel Free to Experiment

Once you have made your homemade ice cream, you can just grab a spoon and dig in. But what if you want to do something a little more creative to serve your sweet treat? Why not make an ice cream pie to dress up your ice cream for company? Layering ice cream in a graham cracker or cookie pie crust with other yummy ingredients will give you a beautiful dessert in minutes. You can prepare it days in advance and store it in the freezer until needed.

These ice cream pie recipes will give you a good place to start, but feel free to experiment. Many of these recipes start with store-bought vanilla ice cream as a base, but you can always use your own simple vanilla ice cream. It is the perfect texture to spoon into a pie crust when it is fresh from the ice cream freezer, because it is soft and will spread perfectly.

Bananas Foster Ice Cream Pie

Bananas Foster Ice Cream Pie

This recipe is probably the most complicated of the bunch. It focuses on a homemade banana ice cream and the pies are put together in individual tart shells, so each one of your guests can have their very own miniature pie. It is topped with meringue that is browned. Although the recipe calls for it to be done in the oven, I prefer using a kitchen torch for frozen desserts, so the ice cream won’t melt. Plus, how often do you get to cook with a blow torch?

Chocolate Peanut Butter Ice Cream Pie

The combination of chocolate and peanut butter is classic (just ask candy companies) and perfect for a pie. The crust of this pie is made with chocolate cookie crumbs and finely chopped peanuts, which would be perfect in many different pie recipes. It uses a layer of chocolate ice cream and a layer of vanilla ice cream mixed with peanut butter for the filling

Lemonade Ice Cream Pie

This is one of the most unique ice cream pie recipes I’ve seen, and it makes a refreshing lemon pie that is perfect for summer barbeques. It is made with lemonade concentrate and vanilla ice cream. If you’re busy, feel free to use a pre-made graham cracker crust. There are many tasty ones available at your supermarket that will save you time.

Mississippi Mud Ice Cream Pie

Mississippi Mud Ice Cream Pie

Layers of coffee and vanilla ice cream and a homemade bourbon fudge sauce make this recipe something special. Mississippi mud pie is one of the most popular types of ice cream pie. Make sure to mound up the ice cream in the middle to get a nice, tall slice of pie.

Oreo Ice Cream Pie

Oreo cookies and ice cream naturally go together, but adding a chocolate cookie crust will up the ante. You can use store-bought cookies and cream ice cream or try a homemade recipe. Decorating the pie with Oreo cookies and chocolate fudge sauce will finish the deal and give you a beautiful pie

Oxo Good Grips Travel Mug Review: A Reasonably Priced Spillproof Beverage Container

As a tea addict, there’s not much I hate more than buying a Thermos or similar product only to find out that it is not as “spill-proof” as it claims. That’s why I was thrilled to find the OXO Good Grips LiquiSeal Thermal Beverage Container. For about 30 U.S. dollars, you get a container safely holds 24 ounces of liquid without risk of spillage, even if you turn it upside-down and shake it. Personally,

I’ve spent more cleaning or replacing clothing and purses that have been damaged by tea spills from “leak-proof” containers, so I feel that this is an extremely reasonable price for a long-term beverage container.

Check Oxo Good Grips Travel Mug on Amazon

Oxo Good Grips Travel Mug Review In Deepth

Ease Of Use

I recently took the OXO Good Grips LiquiSeal Thermal Beverage Container on a road trip. It was the easiest plus-size Thermos-style container I have used for travel. A few traits set it apart from others I have tried:

  • It really is spill-proof. Thanks to the use of three silicone seals in its construction, there’s no need to worry about leaks or even drips from this container.
  • A rubber grip makes it easy to pick up and handle with one hand.
  • The lid and the cup are easy to drink from. However, the click-to-open lid is a little counter-intuitive (push it down to unlock) and the cup can get warm to the touch if you’re drinking something extremely hot.

Heat Retention

Of the OXO beverage mugs and containers I’ve tested, this one had the best heat retention. It’s not as strong as

the Zojirushi vacuum bottles and mugs I’ve tested, but it’s still great for day trips or office use.

I tested it with boiling water. After eight hours, the water was still hot. After 12 hours it was still warm. After 24 hours, it was cold.

Overall Opinion

This Thermal Beverage Container is a fantastic option for anyone who needs a spill-proof container for keeping liquids hot over the course of the day. Its 24-ounce capacity makes it ideal for people who drink a lot of coffee or tea, or for families, couples or small groups who want to share a hot drink.

Tea Jars – How to Store Oolong, Puerh, Etc. in Jars

Although they are rare in the Western tea world, tea jars are common in Asia. Similar to tea caddies in certain respects, but more often than not made in a rounded, bulbous shape, tea jars are clay or porcelain vessels that are used to store teas, either for consumption on a regular basis or for aging. Tea jars are most often used for oolong teas, puerh teas and Japanese green teas, though they may also be used for other types of tea as well.

How Tea Jars Are Used To Store Teas

Generally, puerh teas are stored in more porous tea jars with a loose lid (such as a loose-fitting lid of the same material as the jar, a rough-hewn wooden lid or a cork lid) or a piece of cloth draped over the mouth of the jar.

This is true for sheng puerh and shou puerh, and for puerhs that are for drinking now or for aging, because (generally speaking) moisture in the air and seasonal changes in climates like those in Hong Kong, Taiwan and Malaysia are good for puerh storage.

Oolongs that are intended to be consumed soon are usually stored in a glazed or less porous jar with a tight-fitting lid. Oolongs that are being aged are usually stored in a non-porous jar with a lid that has been sealed with wax to keep moisture out. This is because moisture level changes and high moisture are not good for oolong tea storage.

In Japan and certain other areas, green teas are also stored in jars. For example, traditionally, matcha green tea was stored in a large jar that was sealed with an elaborate knot. Each year, the matcha was aged a bit, knot was untied on a special day in the autumn, and the start of matcha season began. Today, matcha is often stored in a small jar (a tight-lidded vessel usually made of glazed porcelain and known as a cha-iri) until just before a tea ceremony, when it is sifted and transferred to a natsume (which is a bit like a jar, but with a low-slung, looser lid).

Today, many other Japanese green teas are stored in vacuum-sealed bags or in airtight tea caddies. However, some still use traditional tea jars, which allow the tea to age differently.

Types Of Tea Jars

In Asia, there are many vintage and antique tea jars available. These often originated as water jars, alcohol jars or jars for pickled / fermented foods, such as kimchi or Japanese pickles. Some of them still have their original wooden lids, which have usually warped badly over time. These can be used on their own for storing puerh if they’re in good enough condition, or they can use used along with a piece of cloth.

There are also many modern tea jars available in Asia. They are usually made of glazed ceramic or porcelain material, and they typically have a foil-lined lid. The foil is pleated around a stopper-like portion of the lid, so it adjusts to the shape of the neck of the jar and fits very snugly.

There are also some very beautiful, handmade clay jars which are intended for puerh storage; these usually do not come with a lid or have a cork or cloth lid.

How to Brew Coffee While Camping

When you wake up earlier than Mother Nature herself, you may have difficulty facing your day without a hot cup of something. Tea and hot chocolate are fairly easy to manage when out in the wilderness, but coffee can be more of a challenge. Don’t let yourself be intimidated! There are several different on how to brew coffee while camping.

Traditional Campfire Coffee

There are numerous instructions and recipes for making coffee in a plain pot over a campfire. You may have to try a few varieties to see what suits you best.

1. Bring two quarts of water to a good, rolling boil. Take it from the fire and add 2 handfuls of ground coffee (fine grind). Since ‘handful’ is hardly a precise measurement, whoever makes the coffee will alter the results.

Steep for 4 minutes. Add a few tablespoons of cold water to settle the grounds and then serve.

2. Add 6 teaspoons of ground coffee into the pot, and pour 3 pints of cold water over the grounds. Put the pot on the fire and bring to a boil. Take it off the heat and let steep for 3 minutes. Again, add a bit of cold water to settle the grounds. This makes 6 mugs of coffee.

3. This is the ‘Canadian’ version. In this recipe, you are supposed to use coarse ground coffee rather than fine. Use as much water as you want coffee, and use 2 heaping tablespoons of coffee for each cup. Add an extra cup of water, and an extra couple spoons of coffee ‘for the pot’. (I’m not sure what that’s supposed to mean). Sit this pot on hot coals, not open flame. Bring it slowly to a boil. When it boils, remove from the heat and let steep for 5 minutes. Add cold water to settle the grounds and serve.

Using A Campfire Percolator

This is likely the most common method, even though it requires extra equipment. You’ll need coarsely ground coffee when using a percolator.

If you still end up with grounds in your coffee, you should get a regular coffee filter, poke a hole in it and put it in the perk basket. Use 1 or 1½ tablespoons of coffee for each 6 oz of water. How long to perk depends on how strong you like your coffee.

Using A French Press:

The French Press, (or plunger pot) is a quick method for brewing small amounts of coffee. When using one, you’ll also need to pack a pot to boil the water in. Your coffee should be medium ground, and you’ll need 2 tbsp for every 6 ounces of water. Put the coffee in the pitcher and set aside. Boil your water and remove from the fire. Pour the water into the French Press. Put the plunger at the top but do not depress yet. Wait for one minute, and then remove the top to stir the grounds a bit. Wait for another 1 or 2 minutes. Slowly depress the plunger to the bottom of the pot. Serve.

Campfire Espresso!

These days of necessary luxuries, you can even buy espresso makers for the campfire. You should follow the directions that come with your particular model of pot. This is a great idea for those die-hard espresso drinkers who can’t stand to be without their coffee. It won’t be as strong as a commercially made cup, but still stronger than conventional coffee.

Other Tips

  • Good water. It’s hard enough to make good coffee while in the great outdoors without having to deal with unpleasant lake, well or tap water. Bring some with you.
  • Keep it fresh. If you are going to be away from civilization for awhile, ground coffee won’t last. So pack whole beans and bring a grinder. You can get small portable grinders that are light and easy to carry.

To appease the camping tea-drinkers, I’m going to mention one traditional campfire tea technique, Billy Tea. For authentic billy tea, you shouldn’t use a pot, but a tin can. Boil water in the can over your open fire and toss in your tea (loose). Then swing the can around at arm’s length in circles about 5 times. This will settle the tea leaves to the bottom.

Dry Processing Coffee: Cleaning, Sorting & Drying

Dry processing is a method of preparing coffee fruits (also known as coffee cherries) for hulling. During dry processing, the entire coffee cherry is cleaned and then dried. This method of processing is differentiated from wet processing, which uses water and either fermentation or mechanical methods to remove the fruit from the interior coffee “bean” prior to drying and hulling.

Dry processing is the oldest method of coffee processing. Coffee made with the dry process is also known as unwashed coffee (because it is different from washed coffee) or natural coffee (because its process is more natural than washed coffee’s).

The dry method is used for almost all Robusta coffee, most of the coffee produced in Ethiopia, Haiti and Paraguay, about 90 percent of the Arabica coffee from in Brazil, and for some Arabica coffees produced in India and Ecuador.

It is very popular in part because it requires far less water than wet processing. However, it is not used in very humid or rainy coffee producing regions, as the beans cannot dry properly due to humidity and rain there.

Dry Process Coffee Cleaning & Sorting

After harvest, dry processing begins with cleaning and sorting. This is usually done by hand winnowing, using a large sieve. Unripe, overripe and damages coffee cherries are removed, as are leaves, twigs, soil and other debris. What remains on top of the sieve is that is kept. Alternately, ripe cherries can be separated out from other materials with the floatation method used in wet processing.

Dry Process Coffee Drying

After cleaning and sorting, the core task of dry processing begins. This is the task of drying the beans, and it is the most important part of dry processing in terms of the impact on quality. Eleven percent moisture is usually ideal. Coffee that is not dried enough is susceptible to mold and fungus, while coffee that is dried too much will be brittle and is likely to break during hulling (and, usually, be discarded as a result).

During drying, coffee cherries are spread out in the sun, either on large patios or on tables. As the cherries dry, they are frequently raked or turned by hand, and they are covered or moved indoors during the night and during rains. This extra care promotes even drying and prevents mildew. While wet processing is a relatively quick process, dry processing may require up to 4 weeks before the cherries are dried enough. On larger plantations, machine-drying may be used to speed up the process after the coffee has been dried in the sun for a few days.

Dry Process Coffee Storage

After drying, the coffee beans are stored in large quantities in warehouses or special silos until they are ready to be sent to a mill for the next steps of processing (which are milling, polishing, cleaning and sorting, and grading). The fruit of the coffee cherry is not removed until the milling stage (also known as hulling). Unlike the multi-step process for removing the coffee fruit from the bean that is used in wet processing, removing the fruit from dry processed coffee only takes one step.

The Best Christmas Ice Cream Recipes: Five Fun Flavors for Your Holiday Season

Ice cream may not be the first thing you think of when you think of Christmas desserts, but all the best holiday flavors have been turned into ice cream flavors. Whether you live in a warm climate or just want to crank up the heater, give one of these fun recipes a try this Christmas. These are five of the best Christmas ice cream recipes, including two ice cream pies that would make fun desserts to serve to a crowd.

Chocolate Peppermint Ice Cream

Peppermint ice cream is one of my favorite desserts for the Christmas season. I’m often disappointed that they don’t sell it year round. This chocolate peppermint version is a great combination of two decadent flavors. Buy an extra box of candy canes when they are on sale after Christmas and save them for when you get a peppermint craving.

Peppermint Ice Cream Pie

What do you get when you combine two pints of peppermint ice cream with a chocolate cookie crust? Peppermint ice cream pie is a fantastic holiday dessert for kids of all ages. The chocolate sauce is a great addition to make it a fun treat. Ice cream pie is one of the easiest frozen desserts to put together. You can make your own peppermint ice cream or just buy your favorite store-bought variety.

Pumpkin Pie Ice Cream

While pumpkin is more closely associated with Halloween and Thanksgiving, a pumpkin pie is a great treat for Christmas too. I often have leftover pumpkin puree after Thanksgiving baking, so I package it in Ziploc bags in the freezer. Then it is ready to go for another treat, like pumpkin pie ice cream. Use all the great flavors of a pie to get a fun treat. Try adding crushed graham crackers as a mix-in, to simulate the texture of a pie crust.

Eggnog Ice Cream

Nothing says Christmas like a big glass of eggnog. This recipe uses skim milk and light eggnog to lighten up the recipe a little bit. With the addition of eggs and brandy, the ice cream gets an authentic flavor. Because of the way the eggs are cooked prior to freezing this ice cream recipe, it could more accurately be called a frozen custard.Either way, it is delicious and rich.

Cranberry Gingersnap Ice Cream Pie

Cranberries are a big part of the holiday season and ginger cookies also seem to feel like Christmas. Gingersnaps and gingerbread may not be exactly the same, but they have such a similar flavor that you still bring in the feelings of the holidays. It’s a good way to use up leftover cranberry sauce, which is another ingredient that freezes well if you have extra. Or, you can pick up an extra can when it goes on sale after Thanksgiving!

Tips for Making Ice Cream Pie

Ice cream pies are one of the easiest frozen desserts. Take a pie crust and fill it with your favorite flavor of ice cream, and you have a pie. However, once you’ve put together a basic ice cream pie, there are countless ways that you can change it to make your dessert something special. Check out these tips to personalize your pie.

Start With The Crust

The two most common crusts for ice cream pie are graham cracker and chocolate cookie crumb crusts. However, you can use nearly any type of hard cookie to make a great crust. Skip the store-bought crust and use vanilla wafers, gingersnaps, or any other flavor that you love. Just pair the cookie flavor to the ice cream you are using.

Tip: Whenever I use vanilla wafers for crumbs, I find that the cheapest store brand tends to work the best.

Who knew?

Think About Texture

Different textures and flavors make for an interesting dessert. You already have the contrast between the ice cream and the crunchy crust, but why not think about adding another interesting texture? Two of the easiest ways to do this are to add nuts or chocolate chips to your ice cream pie. As an added bonus, sprinkling toasted nuts on top is a simple way to decorate your pie. It’s easy and delicious.

Choose Multiple Flavors

Sure, you could fill your pie crust with a single flavor of ice cream, but where’s the fun in that? Use two or more flavors to create layers in your ice cream pie. On top of giving you two or three great flavors, it will also make the pie beautiful to cut into. To get clean layers, spread the first layer of softened ice cream into the pie crust and then freeze it for at least 30 minutes. Then spread another layer of softened ice cream on top of it.

Add The Sauce Inside

While you can drizzle fudge sauce over the top of your pie, you can also put it right inside. Spread a layer of fudge in between two flavors of ice cream or on the bottom of the pie. Just freeze the layer before spreading another layer on top, so it has some time to set up. Caramel and fudge are two great choices, because of the way they thicken when cold. Fruit sauces are another great choice, although it might be harder to get clean layers with a strawberry sauce.

Top It All Off

Sometimes, it is the finishing touches that make a dessert special. One of the simplest ways to finish off an ice cream pie is to add a layer of fresh whipped cream. You could also step it up a notch with a pile of fresh meringue. Use a kitchen torch to brown the outside of the meringue and you have your own homemade baked Alaska pie.