DC is hot in the summer. I know, this isn't breaking news. But sometimes, as the sweat runs down your spine and the humidity makes little dots of perspiration cloud your temples, you've just got to say it. DC is hot in the summer. To deal with this heat, my house goes through a lot of frozen treats. While I'm happy to buy them, a lot are easy to make from scratch, and turn out healthier and better tasting.

Below are some of my favorites homemade treats that help me keep my cool in the DC summer.

Sorbet

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I keep my ice cream maker in the freezer all summer purely so I'm ready to make sorbet at a moment's notice. When I come home from market with a basket full of bruised peaches or half-rotting half-perfect plums, it's time for sorbet.

I've made sorbet with peaches, blackberries, cantaloupe, and more. Here's how:

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  1. Rinse fruit and cut all the bad bits off; remove pits, and fruit in a pot over a medium heat.
  2. Cook fruit, stirring occasionally to avoid burning, until it has broken down (if it is firm and having trouble breaking down, try adding a bit of water)
  3. Add sugar and lemon juice to taste (this is usually a small squirt of lemon juice and more sure than I care to confess)
  4. Cook until sugar dissolves, then blend the entire mixture (I use an immersion blender. If you're using a stand-up blender or electric mixer, let it cool a bit first)
  5. Taste. I've found that some sweetness is lost in the freezing process, so I opt for overly-sweet in the cooked state
  6. Let mixture cool, at least to room temperature but ideally in the fridge
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  8. Put it in the ice cream maker and have some sorbet!

Popsicles

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Popsicles are newer to my summertime repertoire, but have been a great addition. I bought a popsicle mold and sticks online over the winter so I'd be ready.

Popsicle-making is similar to sorbet (above). In fact, steps 1 through 6 are the same. The only real difference is that, instead of running an ice cream maker, you pour the mixture into molds, place your sticks, and let it do it's thing in the freezer.

Other ideas and variations:

  • Reserve some of your fruit before cooking and include chunks of fresh fruit in the molds with your mixture
  • Add fresh herbs to the mix before blending
  • Make multi-layer popsicles by freezing molds half-full, then making a new fruit mixture to add and layer on top
  • Add coconut milk to make popsicles creamy
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"Nice" Cream

A month ago, the internet started telling me to make "nice" cream. It seemed to be everywhere. Friends started posting about it. The Food Network even made a cute video:[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XLAGZAE_ySE]

I gave in and made some and it was so worth it.

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For this project I used a food processor, thinking my immersion blender probably wasn't up to the challenge.

I blended chunks of frozen banana (I used two), and found the video exactly right: frozen bananas start crumbly, then gooey, then creamy.

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I skipped the vanilla, looking to embrace the banana flavor, and folded in mini chocolate chips at the end. The texture is similar to ice cream (though a bit stickier and more elastic). The taste is wonderful.A friend tells me she loads her "nice" cream with cocoa powder for a chocolatey treat, and I'll bet that's great, too.

Try it out and let me know in the comments what mix-ins you use!

Smoothies

Smoothies are a part of nearly every day of summer in my house. We drink them for breakfast, for afternoon snack, sometimes for a late dessert. (We apparently drink them so fast I haven't had a chance to snag a picture of them yet.)

Rather than a stand-up blender, we've started using my immersion blender to mix the ingredients in a big jar, which we can then use to drink it (you've got to love less dishes!).

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Smoothies are fun in the summer because there are so many good fruit options to choose from. It's a time to play with new fruit combinations. Summer is also a time to freeze summer fruit and preserve it for future smoothie making (more on this to come!).

Here's what we put in our smoothies:

  • Whatever seasonal fresh fruit we have around (peaches, plums, nectarines...) When I have a lot of fresh fruit, I freeze it in smoothie-ready chunks
  • Bananas
  • Frozen blueberries
  • A spoonful of coconut milk
  • Orange juice
  • A thin slice of fresh ginger
  • A couple kale leaves (stems removed)
  • A small handful of almonds