Ten years ago, our family moved to Billings, Montana. We knew it wouldn't be for a lengthy stay, however, we wanted to make the most of our experience. We were fortunate to have neighbors and a church congregation who welcomed us. With our new friendships came dinners, barbecues, cozy winter parties and holiday gatherings. It wasn't long before culinary tips and recipes were exchanged.
I happily wrote down a recipe from a friend that I simply called "Montana Dessert." Over the years, I've renamed it "Raspberry Creme Cups," which gives you a better idea of its taste. If you have young children who like to assist in the kitchen, this simple dessert will keep their hands busy while creating a cool, tasty treat.
Most kitchens stock these three basic ingredients in the summer — vanilla ice cream, lemonade and graham crackers. Get creative with your own favorite toppings: granola, crushed chocolate cookies, wafers, chopped candy bars or fresh berries. Many varieties of lemonade are available, too. Experiment to find your taste preference.
Raspberry season has begun, according to local Cooperative Extension Offices of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. While it varies from state to state and elevation, take advantage of the peak in your region. A second crop can be seen in late August and early fall, which allows us to extend that taste of summer we can't get enough of.
Serving sizes are approximate as you prepare this in a 9-by-13-inch pan, various cup sizes or parfait glasses. This recipe makes 10 servings in 9-ounce cups.
Whipping up this refreshing dessert takes me back to Montana days and our Billings friends. "Sweet" memories, indeed.
Raspberry Creme Cups
1.5 quarts (or 6 cups) vanilla ice cream, softened to room temperature
1 12-ounce can raspberry lemonade concentrate, thawed (do not add water)
12 whole graham crackers for 10 serving cups, or 24 graham crackers for a 9-by-13 pan, crushed
In a large mixing bowl blend well thawed/softened ice cream and lemonade concentrate. In a sealable plastic bag, finely crush the graham crackers.
For 9-by-13 pan: Line with parchment or wax paper, leaving 1 inch to extend beyond pan sides. Pour ice cream and lemonade mixture onto paper, spreading evenly. Top with crushed graham cracker crumbs, also spreading evenly.
For 9-ounce individual cups: Pour carefully into each glass, about 2/3 full. Top evenly with graham cracker crumbs. Do not fill to the brim.
Freeze 90 minutes to 2 hours. Enjoy within 72 hours for best results.
Shannon M. Smurthwaite is a California native. She is the author of "Mormon Mama Italian Cookbook" and is a freelance writer. Her food blog is at www.myitalianmama.com, email firstname.lastname@example.org. She and her husband, Donald, reside in Idaho.