Cupcakes and vodka

Birthday sunflowers

Setting the scene with happy sunflowers

And tri tip, and saffron-infused rice, and cheesy bread, and Louisiana hot links, and grilled zucchini, and taquitos, and fresh watermelon, and… You get the picture. It was a night of overindulgence. I hear that’s allowed for your birthday. However, my birthday is on the 22nd, and we celebrated early due to Jan’s work schedule. Now, I’ve got a week of using the birthday excuse and I hope I make it!

In addition to the treats I listed before, Kristi made Santa Maria beans and may be persuaded to share the recipe on her blog or as a guest contributor. I made the Czech potato salad using Jan’s recipe, which I will be posting in the near future, along with the recipe for the warm spinach artichoke dip we also enjoyed.

Birthday barbeque plate

Attempting to make room on the plate

Since Jan and I collaborated on the coleslaw, we called it Swedish-Czech coleslaw, but I realize that’s probably a lot more confusing of a name than it needs to be and we’ll have to work on coming up with a new one. We made it for the first time using the food processor, which worked well for the carrots, but I think it cut the cabbage into too small pieces. We combined green cabbage, carrots, and a fuji apple, then mixed with mayo, milk, white vinegar, sugar, salt, and pepper.

We also had ooey, goey, warm out-of-the-oven brownies made by Amy. I was impressed with Ken’s homemade German chocolate cupcakes, and his firefighting-in-the-backwoods-while-eating-gourmet-Spam recipes were intriguing (another guest contributor perhaps?) I was very happy to hang out on the patio with family and friends, listening to my own CD of happy music (thank you Jessica!) with so many thoughtful wishes from everyone. I felt very happy indeed.

Rocky road ice cream pie

The rocky road ice cream pie got a little messy

I made ice cream pies for dessert, and was a little embarrassed to reveal the recipe, as it was incredibly simple. It should be made ahead of time because there are few steps that involve allowing time for things to set in the freezer.

Rocky Road Ice Cream Pie

Chocolate graham crackers

½ stick butter, melted

Ice cream (you will use about ½ of a 1.5 quart container for one pie)

Whipping cream

Directions

The crust is made from chocolate graham crackers. Other cookies work well too, and I’m currently developing new crust/ice cream combinations using 1.) Animal crackers and 2.) Ginger snaps as the cookie crust base.

Crush cookies by hand or in a food processor. This time I used a food processor to grind the cookies for the first time, but I felt like I was missing out on half the fun. My usual technique is putting the cookies in a bag and beating with a meat grinder. I guess you could choose your method depending on whether you’re in a hurry or you need to let out some steam! Combine with melted butter until the mixture can be pressed into the bottom of a cake pan. I used about ½ stick of butter to one package of the chocolate grahams (about 13 whole crackers, or 26 squares.)

Adding whipped cream

Adding whipped cream

 Bake for 10 minutes in a 350 degree oven and let cool completely. Set out your ice cream on the countertop to soften, about 30 minutes. Fill crust with the ice cream. I made one pie with rocky road and the other with strawberry, but you could use your favorite flavor of ice cream, or get creative and mix things in with chocolate or vanilla. I mixed vanilla with strawberry once, which was tasty, but the strawberries stayed more frozen than everything else, prompting my friend Chanel to call the creation “popsicle pie,” which could be considered a good or a bad thing, depending on how you feel about popsicles.

Cover the ice cream with plastic wrap and freeze for at least 2 hours. Add a little bit of powdered sugar to whipping cream to taste, whip the cream, then remove plastic wrap and top the cake. Cover again and freeze for at least 2 hours.

When you’re about ready to enjoy, remove from the freezer and set out on the counter for about 20 minutes or so before serving.

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