Mike and I took a break for a couple of days to visit some of our grandkids. It was a fun time to go to baseball games, and cook with the kids!
We got to watch 8-year-old grandson Tucker play Little League one night and 12-year-old Parker play the next. After each game, we went to a Minor League Baseball game. It was a lot of baseball, but quite fun!
By day, we cooked. The kids love baking days with Grandma, and so do I. Tucker had quite a list of things he wanted to make. First on his list was Chocolate Teddy Bears. The recipe is perfect for an 8-year-old, because after you make and chill the dough, you form a lot of balls — a 1 1/4 inch ball for the body, a 1 inch ball for the head, smaller balls for the ears, and arms and legs, and of course a tiny ball for the nose. We used a toothpick to make the eyes and smile. The bears are so cute when they puff up. We had so much fun that we figured out how to make other animals, too. Tucker made a turtle and I made a rabbit.
Tucker wasn’t finished there. He wanted to make Cinnamon Rolls because he loves to watch the dough rise. He measured all the ingredients for my basic yeast roll recipe, and mixed it up. I like to explain to him about the yeast, how it eats the honey or sugar in the dough and then burps up the gas bubbles that make the little air holes in the dough. He perfectly rolled out the dough with the rolling pin, spread it with soft butter and sprinkled on the cinnamon-sugar, then rolled it up jelly-roll style and sliced it. He watched the rolls rise on the cookie sheet until it was time to bake them. Tucker then helped me make some of my Buckeye Brownies from dough I brought from home. We had to finish up by making some Anna Banana Bread from the four ripe bananas on the counter. It was quite a cooking spree, but everyone was very happy when they got home to the treats we made. We shared them with friends and neighbors.
That afternoon we stopped by a farmers’ market and found some beautiful red strawberries, so we bought lots to take home. We thought of all the great things that we could make with them. Addi, who is 10, wanted to bake, too, so we decided to make Aunt Mickey’s Strawberry Pretzel Dessert. Mike’s Aunt Mickey made this for all our holiday parties and the kids love it. Following is the recipe we used, but we made a couple of changes that you possibly might want to as well. We used gluten-free pretzels, and a little less butter than it calls for. (We used 6 tablespoons butter.) Instead of the Cool Whip we used whipping cream. To do this we whipped 1/2 pint of whipping cream with 1/4 cup sugar. We set this aside and then we whipped the cream cheese with the other 1/4 cup sugar. Then we whipped them both together. It worked very well with a little less sugar and additives.
The Strawberry Pretzel Dessert passed everyone’s taste test. For Memorial Day we plan to make it again. We’ll add a layer of whipped cream or Cool Whip to the top, and then decorate it to look like a flag, with sliced strawberries for the stripes and blueberries for the stars.
Aunt Mickey’s Strawberry Pretzel Dessert
2 cups crushed pretzels
3 tablespoons sugar
1 stick melted butter
Mix and spread in 9-inch by 13-inch pan. Bake for 6 minutes at 400 degrees. Cool.
8 ounces cream cheese
1/2 cup sugar
9 ounces Cool Whip
Mix, spread on cooled crust.
1 6-ounce package strawberry jello
2 cups boiling water
2 packages frozen strawberries or 4 to 6 cups fresh strawberries
Chill until partially set. Pour over second layer. Chill.
Ohio First Lady Fran DeWine is a Cedarville resident, Yellow Springs native and guest columnist.