Sunday, April 14, 2013

Our Little Buckaroo - Part II

11:26 AM 1 Comments
After returning from our cowboy adventure on the beautiful River to River Trail of Southern Illinois, it was time to buckle down and get ready for a "Wild, Wild West" birthday party. Highlights included hot dogs cooked over the fire pit, a half dozen neighborhood kids in cowboy hats running around, plenty of bluegrass music, and Emmett's constant state of cowboy joy. A few decorations, a few ideas pulled off the Internet, and voila! it was a party indeed:

Cowboy clothing for visiting buckaroos

"Happy Trails Mix" for the goodie bags

A last minute pennant made with horseshoe ribbon, cardstock, and a free Western font

Lemon cream cheese cupcakes in a cast iron skillet

Make a wish!

Okay, let's be honest. The real highlight was the cake, a ridiculously delicious and sinfully sweet s'mores ice cream cake that I am certain cowboys ate ALL THE TIME. And if they didn't, they should have.

In the spirit of full disclosure, I made the cake in a 9x13 pan for the birthday and, a few days later, made it again as a pie. I liked the pie version quite a bit better, so that is the recipe I will share with you today. It takes some time to assemble, but most of the time is hands-off, so just be certain to plan ahead.

I froze the last few slices of pie and just rediscovered them in the freezer last night. Sean and I were both amazed that it froze so well - we thought the marshmallows would turn hard as a rock, but they didn't...which, when you think about it, is kind of odd, but let's try not to think about it.


S'mores Ice Cream Pie
Serves 8 (or 4 really hungry cowboys)


1 3/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
6 tbsp. melted butter
1 12.8 oz jar Hershey's hot fudge topping
Vanilla ice cream
1/2 of a 10 oz. bag mini marshmallows
1/4 cup chocolate chips (optional)

In a large bowl, combine melted butter and 1 1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs. Mix until moist. Press into an 8 or 9 inch pie pan, evening the crust out with the back of a spoon. Place in the freezer to set for about fifteen minutes.

Once set, remove crust from freezer. Pour most of the contents of the jar of hot fudge sauce into the pie crust. Put back into the freezer and freeze for 2 hours.

About 15 minutes before the crust is ready, take the ice cream out of the freezer to allow it to soften. Once soft, press and spread the ice cream on top of the fudge sauce. Use a wet metal spoon to smooth the ice cream. The amount of ice cream you need will depend on the size of your pie pan - fill it up! Put the whole thing back in the freezer and allow to set for at least 2 hours, or even overnight.

Before serving, dump half the bag of marshmallows onto a rimmed cookie sheet. Place under the broiler for 1-2 minutes until toasty brown - watch closely! Remove pie from freezer and sprinkle with 1/4 cup graham cracker crumbs. Carefully transfer the toasted marshmallows to the top of the pie with a wide spatula. Sprinkle with remaining graham cracker crumbs and chocolate chips. Serve!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Our Little Buckaroo - Part I

12:30 PM 2 Comments
Emmett is in the midst of one of those wonderful toddler phases wherein he doesn't just like cowboys...he sincerely thinks he is a cowboy. He spends his evenings trotting around the house on a stick horse and if he doesn't wear his cowboy boots to preschool, he most certainly puts them on upon his return.

It was therefore not at all difficult to decide on a theme for his third birthday.

Emmett's birthday happened to fall over spring break. Since we were planning on taking a little family getaway anyhow, Sean and I decided to pull all the stops and plan a cowboy overnight. So we headed to southern Illinois to stay in a cabin that we had rented many times many years ago (check it out!) and found an outfitter who was willing to take a just-three and a five-year-old along on a trail ride. That's right, my friends, horseback riding.

I let Emmett pick the dinner for his birthday night and, because I am a firm believer in showing up to rental houses with a meal ready to go, I was quite pleased with his selection. It was a three-year-old feast, ooey gooey super delicious baked macaroni and cheese (which I admit to finding by Googling "best macaroni and cheese ever") and a gigantic bowl of berries. I popped the mac and cheese in the oven while we opened presents, and it was warm and toasty by dinner time.

We met up with our guide the following morning and set out on a two and a half hour horseback riding adventure. This was no pony ride at the carnival - the trails were steep and slippery and there were more than a few slightly terrifying moments. Our guide knew it, and Sean and I knew it, but the birthday boy didn't have a clue; he rode in front of either Sean or me, hooping and hollering and calling out "yee-haws" the whole time. 

Cowboyed up

Big boot, little boot

The birthday cowboy and his mama

This is the stuff of parenting dreams and, I'd like to think, three-year-old dreams, too. It was perfect.

Upon our return home, we had a cowboy-themed birthday party for friends and neighbors. I'll be back with the details of that, including an off-the-charts recipe for s'mores pie. Waa-hoo!