The Desserts Of Summer Are Cool & Creamy

IN THE KITCHEN

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When cool and creamy meets tangy and fruity, what do you get? Sweet endings to a porch supper, a backyard barbecue or a meal under the stars.

Try a new twist on an old favorite -- Strawberries and Cream Shortcake. Or slurp a Fruit Smoothie, which you can make with bananas, strawberries, peaches or key lime. Combine pineapple, lime and coconut for a cool taste of the tropics in Piña Colada Cream Dessert. Or make up the Classic Banana Cream Pie to take on a weekend getaway.

After all, it's summertime. And the livin' -- and the eatin' -- should be refreshingly easy.

Strawberries and Cream Shortcake

Prep Time: 20 minutes.

Bake Time: according to package directions

Makes 8 to 10 servings

1 (18 1/4 or 18 1/2-ounce) package pound cake mix

1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk (not evaporated milk)

1/2 cup cold water

1 (4-serving size) package instant vanilla flavor pudding mix

1 (4-ounce) container frozen non-dairy whipped topping, thawed (1 3/4 cups)

1 quart fresh strawberries, cleaned, hulled and halved (about 1 1/2 pounds)

Prepare pound cake mix as package directs; pour into prepared 9-inch round pans. Bake according to package directions. Cool.

In large bowl, mix sweetened condensed milk and water; beat in pudding mix. Chill 5 minutes. Fold in whipped topping. Place 1 cake layer on serving plate. Top with half each of pudding mixture and strawberries. Repeat layers. Refrigerate leftovers.

Classic Banana Cream Pie

Prep Time: 15 minutes.

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Makes one 9-inch pie

3 tablespoons cornstarch

1 1/3 cups water

1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk (not evaporated milk)

3 egg yolks, beaten

2 tablespoons butter or margarine

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 medium bananas, sliced and dipped in lemon juice from concentrate and drained

1 (9-inch) baked pastry shell or 1 (9-inch) graham cracker crust

Whipping cream, whipped

In heavy saucepan, dissolve cornstarch in water; stir in sweetened condensed milk and egg yolks. Cook and stir until thickened and bubbly. Remove from heat; add margarine and vanilla. Cool slightly. Arrange two sliced bananas on bottom of prepared pastry shell. Pour filling over bananas; cover. Chill 4 hours or until set. Spread top with whipped cream; garnish with remaining banana slices. Refrigerate leftovers.

Fruit Smoothies

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Makes 5 servings

1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk (not evaporated milk), chilled

1 (8-ounce) carton plain yogurt

1 small banana, cut up

1 cup frozen or fresh whole strawberries

1 (8-ounce) can crushed pineapple packed with juice, chilled

2 tablespoons lemon juice from concentrate

1 cup ice cubes

Halved fresh strawberries, optional

In blender, combine sweetened condensed milk, yogurt, banana, whole strawberries, pineapple with its juice, and lemon juice; cover and blend until smooth. With blender running, gradually add ice cubes; blend until smooth. Garnish with halved strawberries if desired. Serve immediately.

Variations

Peach Smoothies: Omit strawberries and pineapple. Add 2 cups frozen or fresh sliced peaches. Proceed as above.

Key Lime Smoothies: Omit strawberries, pineapple and lemon juice. Add 1/3 cup key lime juice. Proceed as above. Tint with green food coloring if desired. Garnish with lime slices if desired.

Piña Colada Cream Dessert

Prep Time: 10 minutes.

Freezing Time: 2 hours + 6 hours

Makes 6 to 8 servings

1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk (not evaporated milk)

1 cup milk

1/2 cup frozen pineapple juice concentrate, thawed

2 tablespoons lime juice from concentrate

3/4 cup toasted flaked coconut

Combine sweetened condensed milk, milk, pineapple juice concentrate and lime juice concentrate. Transfer to 9x9-inch baking pan. Cover; freeze 2 hours or until almost firm.

Break frozen mixture into small chunks; transfer to chilled large bowl. With mixer, beat until smooth but not melted. Stir in coconut. Return to pan. Cover; freeze 6 hours or until firm. To serve, scoop into dessert dishes.

Recipes courtesy of Family Features Inc.

Make your own Sweetened Condensed Milk

1/2 cup cold water

1 1/3 dry milk powder

1/2 cup substitute sweetener (Splenda, Sugar Twin, Equal, etc.)

Place cold water in a 2-cup glass measuring cup, add dry milk powder and stir until mixture becomes a smooth paste. Cover and microwave on high for 45 to 60 seconds or until mixture is very hot, but not boiling.

Remove from microwave and add sweetener, stirring well to dissolve. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours before using.

This will keep for two weeks in the refrigerator and is equal to a 12 fluid ounce can of commercial sweetened condensed milk.

Recipe from "The Diabetics Healthy Exchanges Cookbook" by JoAnna M. Lund.

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