Teresa Hatchell 2005

Okay, so we have had some rainy days lately. Though today's youngsters get into science and understand God's plan for providing for the needs of plants, animals and people, it is still difficult for them to be trapped indoors.

For instance, more than one hundred and fifty children involved in Vacation Bible Schools in two of our Upper Dorchester County churches were supposed to play various games outside during the week.

The children's spirits were a bit dampened by the fact that the weather kept them from running to and fro and having fun with their friends. It reminds me of the children on Cat In The Hat … stuck inside wishing for some play-outside-time. I know what you are thinking: With all of the handheld games, DVDs and online music and games, children nowadays are probably just as happy to be out of the heat as to be doing something or creating something exciting.

Having raised three sons and having spent a great amount of quality time with my granddaughter, I strongly feel that people of all ages have an innate need to have at least a certain amount of fun ... whether indoor or outdoors. And, I was a blessed person whose mother and grandmother were always stirring up activities for our family on stay-inside days, I can tell you that there is nothing that can brighten a gloomy day for children more than creating self-expressive crafts, playing lively board games or cooking up something yummy for everyone. This week, my children-friendly ideas are delicious desserts made with very basic ingredients.

Fun-to-make banana pudding

2 (4 ounce size) packages of instant vanilla or banana cream pudding and pie filling

3 cups milk

1 Box of vanilla wafers

6 ripe bananas, peeled, sliced

2 cups prepared whipped topping

Save a few banana slices and vanilla wafers for garnish

In a large bowl, prepare the pudding according to package directions, using three cups of milk. Spoon 1/2 cup of the pudding into the bottom of a 1-1/2 quart serving bowl. Top this with 8 vanilla wafers, an even layer of banana slices and 2/3 cup pudding. Stand vanilla wafers (it takes about 10) around the outside edge of the bowl. Continue layering vanilla wafers, sliced bananas and 2/3 cup of pudding. Then, make another layer of wafers, then a layer of sliced bananas and top this with the remaining pudding.

Cover the bowl tightly and chill the dessert for three hours or overnight to soften the cookies. To serve the dessert, spread the whipped topping over the pudding if desired and garnish it with a few vanilla wafers and additional banana slices that have been dipped in lemon juice (to prevent browning). This recipe makes approximately eight servings.

Lovely-to-serve Tiramisu parfaits

32 vanilla wafers

2 (8-ounce) packages whipped cream cheese

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3 tablespoons powdered sugar

3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 cups Extra Rich 'N Creamy Cool Whip

1/3 cup coffee

Small chocolate chips and cocoa powder for garnish

Reserve four wafers to use as a garnish by putting one at the top of each parfait glass. Coarsely break the remaining wafers. Set these coarse pieces aside. In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese, sugar and vanilla with an electric mixer at medium speed until the ingredients are well combined and creamy. Stir in two cups of whipped topping.

In a small bowl, drizzle the coffee over the wafer pieces. Spoon two tablespoons of the cream cheese mixture into each of 4 (12-ounce) parfait glasses. Top each with 2 tablespoons soaked wafer pieces. Repeat this process, creating even layers in all four glasses. The top layer should be the cream cheese mixture. Refrigerate these parfaits for at least an hour. Top each of them with a swirly dollop of the whipped topping. Stick one vanilla wafer, positioned at the edge of the glass, a little less than half way into the topping. Sprinkle a very light amount of cocoa over the dollop of whipped topping and sprinkle small chocolate chips over toward the vanilla wafer side.

Contact writer at tgmhatchell@yahoo.com.

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