Happy July, friends!
Despite my love for snow, Christmas, and other trademark December happenings, July has always been my most favorite month for so many reasons.
July was and still is the only month guaranteed to be school-free. Though I haven't been in school for nearly 8 (!) years, I still think of July as part of summer vacation. So does Mr. Matt the teacher, who is home for most of the day and enjoying a well-deserved break from the classroom. The only real problem is that I really struggle to find the motivation to go to work, knowing he's home relaxing. Jealous much? Just a bit.
Work duties aside, July is also awesome because it's filled with all the fun things a kid/big kid could imagine: Pool time! Vacations! Picnics! Fireworks! River trips! And...
Birthdays! Two of my best friends growing up were July babies, so I looked forward to their parties every summer on July 11th and the 23rd. A few of my college friends have July birthdays, too, sandwiched around...
My birthday! It's no secret that I love my birthday to pieces. I plot my cake(s) for weeks. I plan my actual day out, hour by hour, so it's packed full of my favorite activities and people. As of now, the list of tentative plans includes running, kayaking, a trip to Sarris, and crab cakes. My birthday is on a Saturday this year, so I'm really looking forward to celebrating to the max! Oh, and I guess I should mention it's a milestone one -- cough30cough.
July is a pretty stellar month when you consider all of those things, right?
No? Not totally sold?
Well, yes, I'll agree with you that it's generally quite hot... and oppressively humid as of late. And I won't hold it against you if my birthday doesn't make you jump for joy quite like I do. (I do, however, hope you have that kind of enthusiasm for your own special day!)
It's National Ice Cream month, y'all!
Cakes, cookies, and pies are delicious, but ice cream is without a doubt my favorite kind of dessert. Winter or summer, rain or shine, I'm always in the mood for the sweet frozen treat.
I was so impressed with the two-ingredient ice cream I made last summer that I decided to give it another go and kick things up a few notches and create an outrageously decadent and over-the-top flavor: strawberry cheesecake ice cream!
It's loaded with all of the usual goodness you'd expect from its dessert ancestor: fresh strawberries and cream cheese, plus crushed graham crackers and butter reminiscent of classic cheesecake crusts. We loved the hint of salt that the "crust" brought to the chilled party.
I don't want to hype this too much (except I totally do) but Matt just may have said this is the best ice cream he's ever had. Just saying...
Add this no-fuss recipe to your summer party/after dinner menu and your guests will be on board the "July is the best month ever" train, too :)
Two years ago: Butterfinger caramel bars
Three years ago: Watermelon, arugula, goat cheese salad with balsamic drizzle
Four years ago: Pizzeria chicken packets
Strawberry Cheesecake Ice Cream
(adapted from this base recipe)
-makes 10-12 servings
14 oz sweetened condensed milk
8 oz cream cheese, room temperature
1/4 cup (4 Tablespoons) salted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups quartered hulled strawberries
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
8 sheets graham crackers, crushed
1 pint (2 cups) very cold heavy whipping cream
Place metal bowl of an electric mixer in freezer to chill for a few minutes.
Meanwhile, in another large bowl, mix cream cheese, strawberries, butter, and vanilla until combined. Increase mixer speed to medium and continue beating until strawberries have broken into smaller pieces than original quarters. (I like identifiable pieces in my ice cream, but if you prefer smaller bits, continue mixing/breaking up as desired.) Fold in graham cracker pieces and set aside.
Remove metal bowl from freezer and add heavy cream. Using mixer with whisk attachment, whip cream on high speed until stiff peaks form. Gently fold the whipped cream into the strawberry cream cheese mixture, until thoroughly combined. Transfer to an airtight container and store in the freezer for a minimum of 8 hours but preferably overnight. When fully chilled, allow to rest at room temperature for a few minutes to soften. Scoop and enjoy!