Ice cream and homemade frozen treats

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It's time to cool off from the inside out. And what better way to shake the heat than with homemade, retro, frugal frozen treats?

Ice cream & frozen treats

Ice cream and homemade frozen treats - It's time to cool off from the inside out. And what better way to shake the heat than with homemade, retro, frugal frozen treats?

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I can still remember that cold, sticky feeling of a Popsicle melting down my hand as I feverishly tried to eat it before it was too late. Or my mom's homemade Kool-Aid Popsicles. When the temp hits more than 100, my mind automatically goes to the freezer. But, the store-bought goodies can be pretty pricey these days and can wreck havoc on your food budget. Why not go old school and make your own?

Here are some of the favorites and what I found are some of the best ways to make them on your own for pennies on the dollar.

Ice Cream in a Bag

Ice cream ingredients: 1 Tbsp. sugar 1/2 cup whole milk or Half & Half (I preferred the taste of half and half) 1/4 tsp. vanilla 6 to 8 Tbsp. rock salt (look for it in the spice aisle) 1 pint-size plastic food storage bag (e.g., Ziploc) 1 gallon-size plastic food storage bag Ice cubes

How to make the ice cream:

Fill a gallon-size bag half full of ice cubes. Add in 6 to 8 tablespoons of rock salt.

In the pint-size bag toss in the milk or Half & Half, sugar and vanilla. Seal it tightly. Put the small bag of ingredients into the gallon bag filled with ice and salt and seal it tightly. Now all you have to do is shake it or turn it or toss it around for 5 minutes. Keep it moving. If it gets too cold, wrap it in a towel to protect your hands.

After 5 minutes, open the big bag, wipe off the top of the small bag (to remove any salt residue) and open it. Inside you'll find crumbly looking ice cream that is ready to be spooned out into a bowl and devoured. It's creamy and tasty and the kids made it themselves. Fun!

PS: You can double this recipe, but don't go beyond that for best results.

Granita or Homemade Slushes This is an Italian tradition often made with espresso coffee. It can be made with any juice you like and even jazzed up with a little splash or cognac or rum if you'd like to make a grown-up drink.

What you'll need:

2 1/2 cups of juice (I used fresh orange juice and a touch of lemon) Sugar to taste - depending on how sweet the juice is, or how sweet you want your ice treat. Anywhere from a tablespoon to a cup works. Add it to your taste. Let the sugar sit in the liquid for about 10 minutes to dissolve.

How to make Granita or Homemade Slushes: Pour the mixture into a metal pan -- a 9x13 works great. You don't want it to be more than 1 inch thick. Place it in the freezer. After about 30 to 45 minutes, take it out and using a fork, start scraping the frozen edges toward the center beginning to make the slush. Put it back in the freezer and then about every half hour to an hour take it out and scrape the frozen part toward the center. This keeps it from freezing into a solid mass that can't be slushed up easily. Keep doing this until it is all frozen, but nice and icy. Then serve it up in dishes for a fresh, icy treat.

Frozen Chocolate-Covered Bananas What you'll need:

Firm, fresh bananas Chocolate chips (I used semi-sweet mini chips but any will work) Popsicle sticks (get a bunch at any craft store and keep on hand) Toppings if you desire, I used mini chocolate chips and crushed peanuts! Yum!

How to make the frozen chocolate-covered bananas: First, cut your bananas in half for the perfect size treat. Stick a Popsicle stick into the cut end. Then, VERY IMPORTANT, freeze the uncoated bananas for about an hour. This step will make the process a breeze as it firms up the bananas just enough to work with.

Now, place your chocolate chips into a microwave safe bowl and microwave for 30 seconds, stir, microwave for 30 seconds, stir, and repeat until melted. Do not overheat. It took mine only about three cycles.

Work on wax paper for easy clean up and get any toppings ready. Take out your frozen bananas and simply spoon on the chocolate to cover the banana. Immediately roll it in any topping and put it on the wax paper to start to firm up. When they are all done, put them in the freezer again on a tray or plate to continue freezing. After about an hour, you'll notice that they're ready to eat or to wrap in plastic wrap individually to keep for about a week in the freezer. These are easy as can be to make and delicious!

Popsicle Treats I just had to test out homemade popsicles in the little paper cups like my mom used to make us. You can use juice, drink mix, soda, whatever liquid you like. Keep in mind though that freezing will dilute the flavor a little bit so if you start out stronger it'll taste a little better frozen. Simply pour it into the paper cup and stick it in the freezer until it starts getting firm. Then put a popsicle stick into the center when it's firm enough to support it upright and continue freezing. I also tried instant pudding and vanilla yogurt mixed with squished fresh fruit.

The secret to all of these was to give it enough time to thoroughly freeze. I found it took overnight at least. About 4 hours in with the pudding, I didn't think it was going to work, but this morning, lo and behold, I had myself a tasty pudding pop.

All these treats were a snap to make and can really save you a bunch of money. Plus, get the kids to help and they'll enjoy them even more. Not to mention the lack of preservatives in our homemade versions. It's about as close we'll come these days to hearing that ice cream truck music coming around the corner.

Live and Learn.

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