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Cook's Exchange: Strawberry Icebox Cake is simple, no bake

By Andrea Yeager

When a recipe ingredient is omitted, readers call or email me, which I appreciate -- even more so after my semi-disaster with a quick dessert.

I wanted a light, fruity dessert for a church lunch. A new recipe had just dropped in my inbox that fit the bill. It was a strawberry, graham cracker, whipped topping and chocolate dessert. No baking required.

The recipe called for a box of graham crackers, two tubs of whipped topping, two boxes of fresh strawberries and semisweet chocolate chips. The directions were unclear. The recipe started with a 9-by-13-inch pan in which you put down 1 (8-ounce) tub of whipped topping, then a layer of graham crackers, the a layer of strawberries drizzled with the melted chocolate, cover and put in the refrigerator.

What it didn't say was how many graham crackers to put in the graham cracker layer. I placed one layer of graham crackers on top of the whipped topping. I thought that looked a little thin but didn't snap to the fact that the whole box of graham crackers should be used in the graham cracker layer.

My dessert didn't have the thick layer of crust from the graham crackers, but folks didn't seem to mind. There were no leftovers. The messy perfectionist in me was so embarrassed; I knew the dessert wasn't right but didn't have time to do another one and let it sit in the refrigerator overnight. I felt so dumb. I can make difficult recipes turn out perfectly, but a no-bake icebox cake, I failed miserably.

Now, I would make this dessert again, but this time with the entire box of graham crackers.

Here's the recipe; just don't make my mistake.

NO-BAKE STRAWBERRY ICEBOX CAKE

2 pounds of fresh strawberries, sliced

2 (8-ounce) tubs whipped topping

1 (14.4-ounce) box of graham crackers, leave whole

1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips

In a 9-by-13-inch dish, spread 1 tub of whipped topping in the bottom. Top with several layers of graham crackers until the whole box is used. Place 1 pound of sliced strawberries on top of graham cracker layers, then top with the second tub of whipped topping. End with another pound of sliced strawberries.

Melt chocolate chips in a double-boiler or in the microwave. Be careful if using the microwave, and check about every 10 seconds to see if chips are melted. The chips can burn or turn brittle in the microwave if cooked too long.

Drizzle melted chocolate over the strawberries. Chill in refrigerator for at least 4-6 hours or overnight.

Another sweet potato pie

Patricia Ely of Vancleave shares her sweet potato pie recipe that she says is very easy and very good.

"I use apple pie spice instead of allspice," she said. "If you don't have apple pie spice, use the allspice."

SWEET POTATO PIE

3-4 sweet potatoes, boiled and mashed

1 cup sugar, add a little more if you want it sweeter

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon apple pie spice or allspice

2 tablespoons butter

Boil and peel potatoes, then mash. Put in large bowl. Mix in the sugar, then the eggs and vanilla extract and the spices. Add butter. Beat real good. Pour into an unbaked deep-dish pie crust. Bake at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes or until done.

-- Submitted by Patricia Ely

Sausage minus guilt

A Bradenton, Fla., reader shares two sausage recipes that are done on a countertop grill. The first recipe is made with ground turkey breast, and the second is spicy and made with lean ground beef. Both recipes are taken from "The Healthy Gourmet" by Cherie Calbom.

THE CHAMP'S SAUSAGE WITHOUT GUILT

1 slightly beaten egg white

1/3 cup finely chopped onion

1/4 cup finely snipped dried apples or 1/2 cup finely chopped fresh red Delicious apple

1/4 cup seasoned bread crumbs

2 tablespoons snipped fresh parsley

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 teaspoon ground safe

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/2 pound lean ground turkey breast

Place drip tray in front of countertop grill to catch drippings from cooking process. In medium size mixing bowl, combine the egg white, onion, dried or fresh apples, bread crumbs, parsley, salt, sage, nutmeg, black pepper and cayenne pepper. Add the ground turkey and mix well.

Shape the mixture into eight or nine 2-inch wide patties. Preheat the countertop grill and place the patties on the grill 2 at a time. Close the lid. Cook for 5 minutes or until the meat is no longer pink and the juices run clear, turning once or twice. Yield: 8-9 patties.

-- Submitted by a Bradenton, Fla., reader from "The Healthy Gourmet"

GEORGE'S SAUSAGE TEXAS STYLE

1 slightly beaten egg white

1/3 cup finely chopped onion

1/4 cup seasoned bread crumbs

1/4 cup diced green chili peppers

1 large clove garlic, finely minced

2 tablespoons snipped fresh cilantro

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

1- 1/2 teaspoons chili powder

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/2 pound lean ground beef

Remember to place the drip tray in front of the countertop grill to catch the drippings from the cooking process.

In a medium-size mixing bowl, combine the egg white, onion, bread crumbs, green chili peppers, garlic, cilantro, vinegar, chili powder, salt and cayenne pepper. Add the ground beef and mix well.

Shape the mixture into eight 3-inch wide patties.

Preheat the countertop grill for 5 minutes and place the patties on the grill 2 at a time. Close the lid.

Cook for 5 minutes or until the meat is no longer pink and the juices run clear, turning once or twice. Yield: 8 patties.

-- Submitted by a Bradenton, Fla., reader from "The Healthy Gourmet"

Want grilling recipes

A Biloxi reader just bought a new grill and wants some easy, tasty ideas to try on the grill. Please share the best grilling ideas, whether they be meats, vegetables, fruits or even desserts.

Mom's Day on the way

Readers, what do you prepare for Mother's Day? Does Mom get breakfast in bed, a Sunday brunch or maybe a backyard barbecue?

Please share your Mother's Day menu and recipes with fellow readers.

Also if you have a favorite recipe of Mom's, Grandmother's or even Great-grandmother's, please send it to me.

We have several weeks, but the special day will be here before we know it. Get the recipes in quickly.

Andrea Yeager can be reached at ayeager51@cableone.net or Cook's Exchange, P.O. Box 4567, Biloxi MS 39535-4567.

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