While long, lazy summer days are what childhood dreams are made of, the memories that stand out from my childhood are those of special occasions, marked with family time, celebration and sweet treats. On one of the hottest dog days of summer, my grandfather would pull out the ice cream churn, fill it with fresh milk and cream, and crank for what felt like hours before we got to taste the delicious reward for our patience.
Just like my grandfather, Hudsonville Ice Cream uses the freshest ingredients from a dairy farm just up the road from the company’s headquarters in Holland, Michigan. Every bite reveals the care and attention paid to create their craveable flavors with the best ingredients.
This summer, I am excited to share the same sweet anticipation I experienced years ago with my own children. To ensure we make memories all summer long, we set aside one night a week for family time, including a theme, fun, and treats. Here’s a look at how we’re planning to honor National Ice Cream Month in July with the perfect Hudsonville flavor to match each of our themes and spend special time together.
Week 1: Backyard Camping with s’more-inspired ice cream sandwiches.
We have loved camping together since our children were small. However, when getting away isn’t possible, we enjoy camping right in the backyard. Pitch a tent, light a fire, and whip up some super simple ice cream sandwiches inspired by everyone’s favorite campfire treat. All you need are graham crackers, hot fudge or chocolate bars, and your favorite Hudsonville flavor. This is a great way to make at-home time even sweeter since it would be tricky to make ice cream treats at a campground! My flavor suggestions: Seaside Caramel or Mackinac Island Fudge.
Week 2: Family Game Night with dipped cones.
Turn friendly competition into an event by serving cones dipped and decorated just like you get at the carnival. For the easiest creating, I use candy melts from the craft store. Pick two or three festive colors—your kids’ school colors or maybe a local team’s jersey. Pour the disks into separate microwave safe bowls, add 1-2 teaspoons of shortening, and heat for 30 second intervals in the microwave, stirring between each. When the candy coating is melted and smooth, dip the open ends of sugar cones into one or more colors of coating. Swirl with toothpicks, sprinkle toppings like jimmies, nuts, or coconut, and place on parchment paper to harden. When dry, scoop in your favorite Hudsonville Ice Cream. We used Strawberry Cheesecake to match our red and blue cones, but you can use any flavor that tickles your tongue – like Traverse City Cherry Fudge!
Week 3: Sundae Social with choose-your-own toppings.
Even when it’s not National Ice Cream Month, make any ol’ Sunday afternoon a celebration with DIY ice cream sundaes. Gather all the toppings you can find—we love caramel, hot fudge, sprinkles, mini chocolate chips, nuts, bananas and cherries. Scoop ice cream into bowls, and let everyone create their own masterpiece. We think Butter Pecan makes an excellent sunny, Sunday flavor, but you can’t go wrong with a classic – Creamery Blend Vanilla.
Week 4: Movie night with milkshakes.
Fun-filled summer days sometimes mean you need a slow, quiet evening, which is the perfect time for a movie night. Whether you’re watching at the drive-in or in your family room, milkshakes are easy to make and the perfect pair to a bucket of popcorn.
To make a shake, combine ice cream with milk in a blender and blend until creamy smooth. For tasty milkshake treats that are just a little bit different from the standard, we loved Brownie Batter Cookie Dough and Mint Chocolate Chip. If you’re looking for a thick, spoon-able shake, use one cup of ice cream to ½ cup of milk. To mix a shake you can sip through a straw, increase milk by ¼ cup until you reach the desired consistency. If you’re headed out to the drive-in, use canning jars to make transporting easy. Prepare milkshakes early in the day. When filling jars, leave an inch at the top to allow for expansion, close tightly with lids, and allow to firm up in your freezer. When you’re ready to leave, pack milkshakes in a cooler with plenty of ice, and they will be ready to enjoy when you get there. Don’t forget the straws!
Don’t let the long, lazy days of summer slip by without making precious memories with your kids. Whether they are big or small, a call of “who wants ice cream?” won’t be ignored. This National Ice Cream Month, put your own twist on these themed family nights to make the most of moments together, enjoying the sweetness of family fun and Hudsonville Ice Cream.