Tag Archives: cookies

Classic Toffee Oatmeal Cookies

It’s Fall and I’m back!  Without explaining my absence let’s just say this past year has been…hmmm…I’ll be positive about it and say it’s been a year of growth.  Fall on your knees and cry out kind of growth.  Ugh.  I despise the process  but I’m pretty sure it’s made me a much stronger and better person.  That said let’s get on with Fall!  The weather FINALLY turned last night and Fort Lauderdale woke up to a cool, crisp 57°.  Here in SoFlo that’s fireplace weather.  This sweet treat is just the ticket with a cup of hot coffee or tea or a cold glass of milk.  These cookies are ridiculously easy to make and will fly out of your house.  I’ve also baked them with coconut chips and raisins.  Yes, they can be made with chocolate chips and I suppose they’re good but I’m not a big fan of chocolate chips in my cookies.  Call me crazy, I don’t care.  These cookies, however, are chewy and rich…the buttery toffee bits complement the oatmeal perfectly.  The cookies travel well, whether in a lunch box or through the mail to your favorite college student.  I hope you enjoy them!

Classic Toffee Oatmeal Cookies

  • Servings: 40 cookies
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

  • 1/2 cup butter, room temperature
  • 1/3 cup shortening
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup toffee bits, found on the baking aisle of your grocery store
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups uncooked old fashioned oats
  1. Pre-heat oven to 350°.  Line your baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl cream together the butter, shortening and sugars.
  3. To the bowl add the eggs and vanilla extract and mix well until completely blended.
  4. In a medium size bowl add the  flour, toffee bits, cinnamon, baking soda and salt.  Mix well.
  5. To the flour mixture add the oats and mix until completely combined.
  6. Add the flour mixture to the butter-egg mixture and, by hand, mix well until all the oats are completely coated and all the ingredients are well combined.
  7. Using a 1 1/2 inch melon baller, scoop the cookie batter evenly onto the parchment paper lined baking sheets leaving 2 1/2″-3″ between cookies.
  8. Bake 8-10 minutes.  The cookies will still be undercooked in the middle.  They will firm up as they cool.
  9. Cool the baking sheets on racks.
  10. To store allow to cool completely then pack the cookies in an airtight container.



A Healthy Chocolate Chip Cookie

My father is 94 years old.  He lives at home, in the house I grew up in.  He takes no medications.  None.  His preventive regimen consists of vitamins, little or no red meat and more green, leafy vegetables than one can imagine.  And it’s all organic.  His Achilles heel is his sweet tooth.  He has commanded no more cakes or pies to be baked for him.  He has no self-discipline.  These cookies are different.  Not too sweet and pretty clean.  I believe he’ll embrace and enjoy the fruits of this recipe.  I’m almost certain I’ve developed a wheat allergy so I’ve been trying to figure out how to have the occasional treat without sneezing and coughing.  I’m done with red, watery, old-lady eyes and a constant, bothersome post nasal drip.


I fashioned these based on my breakfast cookie.  That said, these cookies rock.  Made with dark chocolate, they satisfy  sweet cravings at first bite.  Even Daddy loved them.  I replaced conventional white, bleached, wheat flour with almond and coconut flours.  In lieu of white sugar, (so bad for you!), I used coconut sugar.  The result is a thick, chewy, healthful cookie studded with gorgeous, dark chocolate chips all gooey and soft.  I don’t bake them often, they may contain good fats but they’re still fats, however, these make a wonderful occasional indulgence.  And my family loves them.  Hope ya’ll do, too!


A Healthy Chocolate Chip Cookie

  • Servings: 25 cookies
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup coconut flour
  • 3/4 cup coconut sugar
  • 2 cups almond flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 8 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips, I use dairy-free “Enjoy Life” brand available at grocery and health food stores
  • sea salt to taste
  1. Pre-heat oven to 350° and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.  Set aside.
  2. In a medium size bowl add coconut flour, coconut sugar, almond flour and baking soda.  Mix well so all ingredients are thoroughly combined and set bowl aside.
  3. In a large bowl combine eggs, coconut oil and vanilla and mix well.
  4. To the egg mixture add the flour mixture and the chocolate chips.  Mix well until all the chips are evenly distributed.
  5. Use a melon ball scooper to measure out 25 equal portions of dough.  My scooper is 1 1/2″ in diameter and holds 5 teaspoons.  I pack each scoop firmly.
  6. Place each ball of dough on the parchment paper lined baking sheet and gently flatten the top of each cookie with your hand.
  7. Bake for 17-20 minutes or until bottoms are golden in color.
  8. Remove from oven onto a cooling rack and immediately sprinkle with sea salt.
  9. Allow to cool completely before storing.


Brown Butter Pecan Shortbread Cookies with a Bourbon and Brown Butter Glaze…whew!


Early to bed, early to rise.  I am an early riser.  Often I awaken in darkness and have some version of the following conversation with myself.  “If I get up now I can pull some butter and cream cheese out of the refrigerator to soften on the counter while I have my coffee.  Am I going to even use the butter and cream cheese?  And I can look through some cookbooks for inspiration.  Do I have any eggs?  What was it I ran out of and was supposed to get at the store?  Did I remember to get it?”  Wide awake I grab the clock to learn it’s 4:17 in the morning.  Ugh.  I lie in bed as long as I can and then that’s it.  I have to get up…have to.  It’s still too early to wake the household with my banging about, but I WILL quietly pad to the kitchen, prepare the morning coffee and mull over what it is I want to cook or bake.  The morning is deliciously dark, the kitchen hushed and still.  It is an exquisite peace, well worth leaving 1200 thread count sheets.  No phones ringing, no dog barking, too early for music, my thoughts silently bounce around my noggin with the speed of a crazy ball.  This morning I focused on pecans.  And butter.  Brown butter.  And cookies.  With a glaze.  More brown butter.  Rum?  Uh-uh…too harsh.  Bourbon, yeah, bourbon.  A bourbon and brown butter glaze.  Bingo.  I know what I want to do with the morning.  Pecans mean autumn to me as does brown butter.  I pull out books, pens, recipes and notebooks.  My coffee sits on the window sill of the kitchen as I settle into the window box to sip and see what I can come up with.  I know everyone’s excited about pumpkin right now but I just can’t.  I’m sorry.  I’m already over and done with all the pumpkin.  Pumpkin lattes, coffee cake, Rice Krispy treats, cinnamon rolls and snickerdoodles.  Maybe sometime I’ll bake off some pumpkin bread but that’s it for pumpkin.  Maybe some soup, too.  However, pecans?  Georgia pecans?  Oh, hell yes.  Pecans say college ball, the occasional lit fireplace, short days and cool nights.  Pecans say gumbo parties, your favorite boots, cashmere, apples and no bad hair days.  The result of all this is a cookie that will blow your cozy, autumnal socks off.  The glaze is not at all boozy but a warm, soft blanket of icing with the deep, smooth flavor of butter hinting towards bourbon .  The cookie is ever so slightly crisp at the edge becoming chewy, salty and buttery with the joyous meeting of sweet pecan to tastebud.  Good Lord, but they were good!  I say were because I had to get them out of the house.  Too much temptation for this girl.

I was a fool for these cookies. Something about that sweet, salty combination.
I was a fool for these cookies. Something about that sweet, salty combination.

It’s an easy cookie but because the butter is melted when browned, the dough is best chilled overnight.  I put together my dough in the afternoon and bake the cookies off the following morning up to a day later.  I bake them for exactly 12 minutes because I have a “hot” oven.  I need to buy a new oven thermometer and calibrate it but until that happens I’ll just keep a watchful eye on what’s baking.  Also, with holiday baking right around the corner, I strongly urge you to pick up a pack of parchment paper.  I find the packs at food warehouses and Michael’s craft store also sells it.  The packs are by far easier to use rather than the parchment paper rolls sold in boxes.  The edges of the boxed paper curl uncontrollably back to their boxed form.  Plus I believe the packages are infinitely cheaper.  To form the cookies I used a medium cookie scoop which holds 1 1/2 tablespoons.  I packed the dough in generously with a bit extra spilling out.







Brown Butter Pecan Shortbread Cookies with Brown Butter Bourbon Icing


  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 cup toasted pecans (400° for 7 minutes), roughly chopped
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder

Bourbon Brown Butter Glaze:

  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup bourbon
  • 1 cup confectioner’s sugar
  • Extra pecan halves for decoration, optional
  1. In a large, heavy bottomed pot brown the butter over medium heat.  Stir continuously and briskly to ensure even browning.  It will foam up and begin to brown from the center of the pot.  Continue stirring until the butter turns a dark brown.  Allow to cool 10-15 minutes off the heat.
  2. Pour browned butter into a large bowl and add both brown sugars. Mix to combine then add eggs and vanilla.  Mix well.
  3. In a separate bowl combine flour, salt and baking powder.  Stir to combine.
  4. Add toasted, chopped pecans to brown butter/sugar mixture and stir well.
  5. Add flour mixture to the wet pecan mixture and beat until all ingredients are well incorporated.
  6. Transfer dough to plastic wrap, shape into a ball, wrap well and chill the dough in the refrigerator until hard and set.  I find overnight is best.
  7. When dough has chilled sufficiently pre-heat oven to 350° and line your baking sheets with parchment paper.
  8. Using a medium cookie scoop, cut out dough and place on parchment lined baking sheets.  12 mounds per sheet works best.
  9.  Cover the bottom of a smooth meat pounder, salad plate or small flat-bottomed bowl with plastic wrap and press down on each ball of dough so that it measures about 2 1/2″ in diameter.
  10. Bake for 12 minutes.  Check the bottom of a cookie for browning and if further baking is needed return to oven checking every 2 minutes.  These cookies firm up on top once out of the oven so take care not to over bake.
  11. Cool on baking sheet for 3-4 minutes then transfer to cooling rack until completely cool.

Bourbon Brown Butter Glaze

  1. Place glazing butter in a small heavy bottomed pot and melt over medium heat.
  2. Remove from heat when the butter is dark brown.
  3. Carefully, because it will pop and splatter, pour in bourbon and stir vigorously.  The alcohol will burn off but you’ll still be left with that caramel like bourbon flavor.
  4. Stir in confectioner’s sugar and continue stirring until the glaze is smooth and there are no lumps of sugar.
  5. If the glaze is too thick add milk, water or bourbon one teaspoonful at a time taking care not to make it too runny as you’ll spread the glaze with the back of a spoon.
  6. Spread one teaspoonful of glaze over each cookie using the back of the spoon to swirl it around and cover the top of the cookie.
  7. Finish each cookie with one perfect pecan halve pressed into glaze.



Key Lime Shortbread Cookies with Key Lime Glaze…it’s Daddy’s 93rd!


If it’s October then it’s time to celebrate my father’s birthday…his 93rd birthday this year!  This past year has been kind of hard on him; Mom died last November and Dad has slowed down considerably.  Well, for him anyway.  We still go to our chosen outdoor organic market one town over every Saturday morning.  I treasure those mornings.  Each trip, even during the week to the grocery store, I learn something about him.  From the mundane minutiae to the spectacular.  And laugh?  Oh, do we laugh!  Here’s an inside fact about Dad that even some of his closest friends didn’t know.  And I don’t have to be concerned that Daddy might find out; he’s internet savvy but has no interest at all in reading my blog.  His feeling is “Once you’ve seen one church or museum, you’ve seen them all.”  Whaaaat?  I tell him, “Dad!  It’s a cooking blog.” And he always responds, “No, I’m not interested!”.  Although Dad is a thin as a rail and a vegetarian, his resolve and self-discipline is weak as a baby when it comes to sweets.  There…it’s out.  Bake him a pie, some cookies or some sort of crisp or crumble and he will protest vehemently because he knows what’s coming.  The following day, after taking possession of the unwelcome sweet he’ll call and in a defeated tone, and it’s always the same, he’ll say, “Vishinsky, you’re not going to believe this.  I had my dinner and thought I’d have a slice of that pie you dropped off.  I really liked it so I thought I’d have another piece…not a big one just a little piece.  So I did.  Then I thought, “Well, I can have another taste.  And you know what happened, Vishinsky?”.  And that’s my cue to answer,  “Oh no, Dad.  What happened?”.  He always answers the same way, “You know what happened.  You KNOW what happened!  I ate the whole thing.  I felt sick, SICK, afterwards.  Sick.  I’m never eating pie again.  Ever!  So don’t make me any.  Don’t make me anything.  I’ve sworn off all sugar.  Really.  I mean it.”  But he doesn’t.  I’ll go back with a blueberry cobbler or peach tart and his eyes will light up.  “Just leave it on the counter.  I’ll have some after lunch.  Thanks, Vishinsky, that’s great!”  And since he never reads my blog, I’ll tell y’all something else.  Sometimes I lie to him and tell him there’s no sugar in the, say cobbler, nope, no sugar at all.  “Just a little honey, Dad.  Greek Thyme honey, Dad, from the mountains of Greece.  You’ll like it!”  I feel he could use a bit of weight. Sweet Jesus, he only weighs about 120 pounds and that’s way too thin.  So what’s a little sugar and butter?

Happy Birthday, Dad! Look! You have all your precious children around you!!
Happy Birthday, Dad! Look! You have all your precious children around you!!

So for this birthday he received a homemade sweet potato bread, a blueberry cobbler, four dark chocolate bars from Whole Foods and the following Key Lime Shortbread cookies with Key Lime Glaze.  He loved them all and hasn’t gotten sick yet.  Happy Birthday, Jungle Jack!



Key Lime Shortbread Cookies with Key Lime Glaze

  • Servings: approximately 35 cookies
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

  • 3/4 pounds butter, (3 sticks), room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons Key Lime zest
  • 1 cup confectioner’s sugar
  • 1/4 cup Key Lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour

Key Lime Glaze

  • 3/4 cup confectioner’s sugar
  • 2 tablespoons Key Lime juice
  • pinch of salt
  1. Pre-heat oven to 325°.
  2. In a food processor pulse granulated sugar and Key Lime zest until the pieces of zest are small, about the size of a grain of short grain rice.  This can also be done by hand on a cutting board mincing the zest with the sugar.  Set aside.
  3. Using a large bowl and hand mixer beat butter until light and fluffy.
  4. Add granulated sugar/key lime mixture to the butter and mix well.
  5. Add the confectioner’s sugar, Key Lime juice, vanilla and salt and mix well.
  6. By hand gently fold in flour and incorporate just until the flour is mixed in.
  7. Transfer dough to plastic wrap and shape into a log roughly 18″ long.  Wrap well and chill in the refrigerator for at least one hour or until firm.
  8. Slice into rounds 1/4″-1/2″ thick and place on parchment lined baking sheet 1″ apart.
  9. Bake 22-25 minutes or until barely golden on the edges.
  10. Cool 10 minutes on baking sheet then transfer cookies to cooling rack.
  11. While cookies are cooling place all ingredients for the glaze in a small bowl and mix until the sugar and salt have completely dissolved.
  12. Put about 1 teaspoon of glaze in the middle of the cooled cookies and, using the back of a spoon, swirl the glaze covering the top of the cookie.  Place on cooling racks set over baking sheets and let glaze set and harden to touch.



Lemon Lavender Biscotti dipped in White Chocolate


How many times is a kindness extended to you and a grateful “thank you!” just isn’t quite enough?  I don’t know about you but it happens to me quite often.  From your manicurist who graciously fits you in for that emergency mani when she clearly doesn’t have the time to the seamstress at your dry cleaner who will have your LBD back to you altered and pressed in time for the funeral your weight gain didn’t take into consideration.  These acts of generosity are evident time and again in my day-to-day life and in the lives of my loved ones.  My 93-year-old father has a whole support group who work at Publix and make the quality of his life much better from engaging him in conversation to helping him choose the most nutritious almond milk.  Kesha and David can’t replace my mother but their attentions make him feel valued and respected.  I can certainly tip the skycap who didn’t charge me when my suitcase was four pounds over last week but I don’t have the money to do that for someone I deal with on a weekly basis.  That’s when I put together a pretty bag of goodies.  Here in Boston a certain dental office bent over backwards to take care of us during a little “cosmetic” emergency.  I wanted to say thank you not only to the dentist who saved the day but also to his staff who got us in ASAP and treated us with the utmost warmth and concern.  I thought most definitely wine for the kind doctor and how about a sweet treat for the wonderful ladies at the front desk?  Our apartment is fabulous but I am really limited as to cooking and baking tools.  I brought my knives and sharpener from home and picked up a few essentials on Newbury Street…bowls, spatulas etc.  I always set aside an empty wine bottle in the kitchen in the event I need a rolling-pin.  But I don’t have a food processor or hand mixer.  I decided on biscotti since I don’t need any special equipment, they’re easy to prepare and travel well.  Dunk them in coffee or vin santo.  Grab one for breakfast or a snack on the fly.  This recipe produces a firm biscotti but not one that will break a tooth.  They seem a bit soft when taken out of the oven for the final cooling but will harden sufficiently by the time they’re completely cool.  Enjoy them and thank you!



Lemon Lavender Biscotti dipped in White Chocolate

  • Servings: approximately 20
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

  • 2 lemons, zest both and juice
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 2 teaspoons lemon extract
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon dried EDIBLE lavender flowers, rough chop optional
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 8 ounces white chocolate
  1. In a large bowl combine lemon zest and juice, sugar, butter, lemon and vanilla extracts and eggs.  Mix until all ingredients are well combined.
  2. In a separate bowl mix flour, lavender, baking powder and salt.
  3. Add flour mixture to lemon-egg mixture and mix until all ingredients are combined.
  4. Cover with plastic wrap and chill in refrigerator for 30 minutes.
  5. Preheat oven to 350° and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  6. Cut dough into equal halves and spray a little non-stick pan spray on hands to keep dough from sticking.
  7. Form dough into rectangular logs measuring roughly 11 X 4 X 1.  Smooth tops and sides.
  8. Bake 25 minutes and cool on racks for 10-15 minutes.
  9. With a bread knife or serrated knife cut logs on the diagonal about 1 1/2″ thick.
  10. Reduce heat to 325°, place cookies cut side up back on parchment lined baking sheets and bake 5 minutes.
  11. Turn over cookies baking the other cut side 5 more minutes.
  12. Cool on wire racks.  Cookies will seem soft when just out of oven but will firm up as they cool.
  13. Melt white chocolate over double boiler.  When chocolate has almost but not quite melted completely drizzle over cookies or dip in one end of each cookie.  Or dip one cut side.  Place on parchment paper to set.  If white chocolate cools and thickens while working with it place back in double boiler and stir until warm and easy to work with.

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Koulouria – Greek Butter Cookies


Today is the day James leaves for Boston.  It’s gray and rainy.  I feel sad and anxious.  I’d like to send the city of Boston a quick message and let it know it had better be good to my boy because it does not want Mama bear to have to come out of her cave.  Not that Mama bear can do anything anymore.  It’s all up to him.  But this is what we do.  We parents work tirelessly during our children’s early and teen years to push and inspire them be the very best they can be, to set high, high goals AND achieve them.  And then they do and we feel like, “Well, wait a minute.  I know you have to leave to do great things but does it really have to be NOW?”  I guess it does.  So, to keep myself busy before he leaves for the airport, I’ve decided to bake my favorite comfort cookie.  Koulourakia.  These are the cookies that say “I love you more than life itself” but discreetly.  Vanilla, butter and brandy make the world a better place and will make you and your family happier people.  James will be staying with his cousin, Elizabeth, in Cambridge for the first couple of weeks until he can move into his apartment.  I’ll mail them up in a pretty Tory Burch box as a li’l care package.  Elizabeth is also knee-deep in exams so I imagine they’ll be welcome.  Koulourakia are the perfect cookie to dunk into tea or coffee.  They’re the ideal cookie to grab on the way out the door when you didn’t have time for breakfast or lunch is still an hour away and you need something to tide you over.  Not too sweet, they glorify a smear of peanut butter or Nutella.  These twisted bits of buttery dough keep well and travel well.  It’s the champion of cookies!




Koulourakia, Greek Butter Cookies

  • Servings: approximately 80 cookies
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

  • 4 sticks butter, room temperature
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 6 eggs
  • 2-3 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup Metaxa or brandy. Freshly squeezed orange juice may be substituted for the brandy.
  • 9 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons baking powder
  • 1 egg with one tablespoon of water, well beaten
  1. Preheat oven to 375°.
  2. In a large bowl cream butter until light and fluffy.
  3. Add sugar and beat well.
  4. Add vanilla extract and mix in.
  5. In a separate bowl mix together flour and baking powder.
  6. Gently blend flour with the butter and egg mixture until a soft dough forms.
  7. Chill in refrigerator for 30-45 minutes.
  8. When well chilled, and with floured hands, shape into braid, circle or figure 8.  I use a medium-sized melon-baller to maintain the same amount of dough in each cookie.
  9. Place on parchment lined or non-greased cookie sheet and the tops of each cookie with beaten egg mixture.
  10. Bake for 20 minutes or until pale gold on top.  My oven bakes them in 22 minutes so keep your eyes on them since each oven is different.
  11. Cool on racks.
  12. I think they’re much better the next day.  But hot out of the oven ain’t bad either.


Liquid Liberty and Dessert

With the Fourth of July right around the corner I enjoy letting my mind wander to Fourths of the past.  Children crying because they’re scared of sparklers or the noise of fireworks.  Or the sound those same children make when they hurl themselves into the pool screaming, “canonbaaaaaal!!!”  The Fourth of July is a fabulous excuse for drinking waaay too much especially with our heat here in South Florida.  Grilled corn on the cob with butter and cayenne pepper, low and slow smoked ribs with a fiery dipping sauce, an ice-cold watermelon with the neck of a bottle of superior vodka thrust into it slowly being soaked up to make a grown up indulgence, cool but spicy Mississippi Caviar redolent with chopped pickled jalapenos and Vidalia onions, creamy, smooth baked Cheese Grits that makes the perfect bite when it runs into the Mississippi Caviar juices.  I could just go on and on. (Clearly, Alicia!)  We say to ourselves,  “It’s once a year!  A treat!  I never do this!”, and about two or three weeks later we’re all doing it again!!  Hell, it’s summertime!!  It’s what we do.  Many years ago, when Jimmy and I were dating, we had a most superb Fourth.  Jimmy had an apartment on Hendricks Isle.  99 Hendricks Isle.  Dad was thrilled when he found out. “Heeey, Jim!! Yeah!!  You know whose number’s 99, don’t you?  Yeah! Wayne Gretsky!’  From then on we referred to Jimmy’s apartment as “the Wayne Gretsky apartment”.  “Where ya goin’?”  “The Wayne Gretsky apartment.”  “Okay.  Don’t be late.”  I don’t remember the year but we were dating so it had to be at least 24 or 25 years ago.  Jimmy’s apartment was old Florida fabulous.  Just about all his friends he had met on Hendricks.  They all lived on boats, had that “devil-may-care” outlook and seemed terribly exotic to a serious Bostonian.  They didn’t wear shoes.  His neighbors were past quirky.  They were completely harmless but outlandish and unbelievably odd.  One neighbor worked as a short-order cook at a historic Las Olas greasy-spoon by day and played drag queen by night. Still wearing bits of makeup from the night before, this particular neighbor sold very small amounts of a certain “herb”, hand wrote the sale up on a receipt book and finished by ringing the sale up on an old-fashioned cash register.  While blasting “Don’t Cry For Me Argentina” on his RECORD PLAYER.  Anyway, that particular Fourth of July Jimmy had invited my family over to his apartment for a cookout and some Liquid Liberty.  We made pitchers and pitchers of Long Island Iced Tea and put them on to chill.  His apartment was on the water, a canal and his back patio was nothing less than wonderful.  The patio was terrazzo and featured a Pawley’s Island hammock hung right in the path of the salt breezes.  What made me fall in love with that man, or ONE of the reasons, was the most magnificent, sprawling mango trees you have ever laid your eyes on.  It was always heavy with fruit, giving off that sweet, decadent perfume bordering on wicked and wrong.  It was probably a mango that Eve bit into in the Garden of Eden.  Not some room temperature, mealy, Red Delicious sorry-excuse-for-an-apple.  No.  It had to be a beautiful silken, sensuous mango.  That’s not why I married him but I DID love that tree.  We made some hors d’oeuvre, I remember he flambeed some Kaseri cheese which we served with warm pita.  But, primarily, we all got tanked.  Remember, Long Island Iced Tea was flowing.  There was plenty of laughter and teasing, we had the television on with Arthur Fiedler conducting the Boston Pops.  The more Jimmy drank the more sentimental he became.  And he missed Boston.  A great deal.  Yankees have feelings, too.  So, like any homesick boy, he called home.  By then my parents had made their goodbyes, Mama probably singing “Yellowbird”, the song she always sang when she got a little tipsy.  Tommy, Pamela and I were having a grand time marching around the apartment, drinks in hand, WHISTLING to Stars and Stripes Forever.  Jimmy called his sister’s house, the nucleus of the family, and reached his mother.  Many were the stories he had told me of his mother’s sacrifices and hardships after his father had died.  A widow who spoke no English and raised four children.  All four completed their undergraduate work.  All four got their master’s.  And one his PhD.  Bravo, Yiayia!  She answered the phone, her tiny voice matching her tiny body.  With the 1812 Overture rising in the background Jimmy asked his mother of her journey to America, was it terribly hard?  How could you leave your family to go so far, far away?  How was it that you made it unscathed?  I stopped marching and whistling when I heard the emotion in his voice and saw his eyes filling with tears. With his voice cracking, I heard him ask, “Ma!  How did you feel when you finally made it in to New York Harbor and saw the Statue of Liberty?  What was it like to see that symbol, that symbol of liberty after the long, hard crossing?”  “O gios mou”, “my son”, she said, “I never saw the statue.  We were below at the Captain’s champagne reception!!”  Hahaaa!!  The whistling and marching started up again with Stars and Stripes cranked!!  I guess Yiayia had her taste of Liquid Liberty, too!!  So, as always, I’ll be thinking of all those special, courageous people who left their motherland behind to forge a new place for their soon-to-be sons and daughters.  We thank you.  And may we light you a sparkler and raise you a glass??

This is such a terrific summer dessert! It’s great to serve at your own house or take to a party.  It can be assembled days in advance and kept in frozen limbo until you need it.  The ice cream flavors are completely up to you as well as any cookie crumbles you wish to use.  If you like nuts, use them.  If not, lose them!  Also, the whipped topping can be left as is or the flavor of your choice may be folded in.  The only strict rule is that it does need to set up in the freezer overnight.  Four hours just doesn’t cut it, as is evidenced by the Key Lime I put together.  But that’s the only direction which should be observed.  I don’t really have a name for this.  I guess we could call it “Frozen Stuff” although Pamela would call it “Frozen S**t”.  She’s bad that way.  This dessert can be assembled in a 9X13 dish, a loaf pan, or any bowl that has a shape you like.  If you do choose a loaf pan or bowl, line it loosely with plastic wrap to make it easier to pop out.  This recipe calls for a 9X13 dish so if you’re using a smaller dish, eyeball your amounts and cut back accordingly.

Frozen Stuff

yield: 12 to 15 servings

  • 1 (1/2) gallon ice cream
  • 1 (8 oz.) container frozen whipped topping, thawed
  • 3 cups cookie crumbs, about 30 sandwich cookies
  • 1/4 cup melted butter
  • 1/2 cup toasted nuts, if using
  1. Combine cookie crumbs and butter.  Mix well then cover the bottom of 9X13 pan evenly with them.
  2. Cut ice cream into slices 1/2″ thick and completely cover cookie crumbs.
  3. Spread whipped topping over ice cream and finish with nuts scattered all over the top.
  4. Cover with plastic wrap and chill over night in freezer.

Here are two of my favorite combinations.

  • chocolate cream filled sandwich cookies
  • coffee ice cream
  • 1 small can Dulce de Leche folded into whipped topping
  • 1/2 cup sliced, toasted almonds
  • white chocolate macadamia nut cookies
  • Key Lime ice cream
  • guava sauce folded into whipped topping