If your summer goes anything like mine, the first month after school lets out is jam-packed with activities. Swimming, playdates, road trips, museums, picnics in the park — every day brings a new family field trip.
Then comes July. My “Summer Bucket List” is checked off, and I’m out of ideas. Soon my three kids will start exhibiting symptoms of the dreaded summer doldrums: aimless pacing, zombie stares, bickering and my personal favorite, “Mom, I’m bored!”
In an attempt to cure this cabin fever once and for all, I set up stations in our Phoenix backyard for making homemade ice cream, snow cones, popsicles and fruit sorbet. From my pantry and freezer, I grab fruit, ice, cream, salt and other supplies I keep on-hand for just this type of last-minute occasion.
My strategy is to keep everything fresh and from-scratch, with super-simple methods that even the kids can follow. Finally, I sound the call, both to my own littles and their neighborhood friends: Don your bathing suits, kids; we’re throwing a spontaneous backyard ice cream party! (Who’s the cool mom now?)
At what has now become an official Alfonso summer pastime, each kid positions themselves at their treat-making machine of choice. My boys Mikel, 11, and Mikah, 10, are my go-to snow cone partners. They pour ice into the snow cone machine while I arrange the flavorings.
Eight-year-old Alivya, meanwhile, lines up frozen fruit for our frozen dessert maker, while her friend Evelyn volunteers for crank-operator.
My husband Reggie calls dibs on smoothie pops; he’s been itching to try out our new dino-pop molds.
To treat myself, I haul out our trusty waffle cone maker for sweet, fresh, crispy cones, which I make even sweeter by dipping in melted chocolate (the secret is all in the double-dip).
The gang gets one rotation around to each “maker,” customizing their toppings and holding a nail-biter taste-test contest along the way.
A few more tips and tricks from this “cool” mom:
Pumped about snow cones? Be sure to have backup ice on hand — it goes fast!
For extra yummy ice cream in warp-speed time, freeze your ice cream maker‘s interior canister at least 24 hours ahead.
Trade in sugary fruit-juice popsicles for a healthier smoothie-pop. Pour the smoothie into fun molded trays — we used dinosaur molds from Zoku — and the kids won’t even know they are eating healthy.
- 1 cups coconut milk
- 1 small banana
- 2 kiwis, peeled
- 1 cups fresh baby spinach
- .5 cups frozen pineapple chunks
- Into a blender add ingredients. Process until well combined.
- Into dinosaur popsicle molds pour smoothie.
- Freeze for 3-4 hours. If you freeze overnight, run molds under lukewarm water before popping out.
Dairy allergies? The Yonanas Frozen Dessert Maker will be your best friend. Toss in your favorite frozen fruits for a quick and easy sorbet.
- 2 frozen overripe bananas
- 1 cups frozen pineapple chunks
- Thaw frozen fruit slightly prior to inserting into puree machine.
- Into machine add 1 frozen banana and ½ cup frozen pineapple chunks.
- Repeat with remaining ingredients.
Get a jump on waffle cones by making them the day before. Double-dip the cones’ open ends in melted chocolate. Add sprinkles for extra love.
- .67 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- .5 tsp kosher salt
- .25 tsp ground cinnamon
- 5 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
- 3 tbsp milk
- .5 tsp pure vanilla extract
- .75 cups granulated sugar + 1 Tbsp
- 3 large egg white
- Vegetable-oil cooking spray
- 1 bag melting chocolate (we use Wilton’s)
- Chocolate for dipping
- Preheat waffle cone maker on medium.
- Whisk together flour, salt and cinnamon until thoroughly combined.
- Add in butter, milk, vanilla and ¾ cup sugar, whisking thoroughly.
- With an electric mixer on high speed, beat egg whites until foamy.
- Add remaining 1 tablespoon sugar and beat until well mixed.
- Gently stir in egg whites to flour mixture.
- Coat waffle maker with cooking spray.
- Spoon ¼ cup batter onto the waffle maker. Using a small spatula, spread batter slightly.
- Close lid and cook 1 ½ minutes or until desired color is reached.
- Remove waffle from maker, place onto a clean cloth.
- Lift and roll the waffle around the cone form. Gently hold for 5 seconds to set.
- Place cones on a wire rack or in a cone holder to cool.
- For the Chocolate Double-Dip:
- Place chocolate in a microwaveable bowl wide enough to fit the cones’ widest end. Microwave on high for 30 seconds.
- Stir, and repeat microwaving until chocolate is thoroughly melted.
- Dip the wide end of each cone into chocolate, set aside.
- PRO TIP: For extra fun, dip chocolate-covered cones into a bowl of candy sprinkles.
Remember the bathing suits? Those come in handy for a quick pool rinse-off when the kids find they are sugared head to toe. No pool? A good old-fashioned yard sprinkler will do just as well.
Keep the spontaneous backyard ice cream party in your back pocket for the next time your kids’ “I’m bored’s” are driving you mad!