At our house when it is your birthday you get to choose what kind of cake to have and what kind of dinner you want. My oldest usually chooses something shrimpy for dinner and cheesecake for dessert, my daughter is adventurous with the cake but not with the dinner, I always choose exactly the same birthday cake, my husband chooses tiramisu, son number two might choose cheesecake and steak, son number three might choose chocolate cake and pizza.
March marked the eleventh birthday of my youngest son, and he made his choices: Ice Cream Cake for dessert and Sausage and Apples for dinner. I consider sausage and apples a rather humble meal and was a little surprised at his choice, but.... at least neither was difficult to make.
The Ice Cream Cake is rather easy, the only ingredients are an Angel Food Cake Mix, some ice cream, and some whipped topping. I got this idea from a 2006 Southern Living cookbook. It's not exactly a recipe, more like a method. Basically, I add 1/4 c. cocoa powder to the cake mix, mix as directed on the box, spread the batter on two jelly roll pans lined with parchment paper, and bake at 325 degrees F for 15 to 20 min. Take the cakes out, cool for 10 min., then flip them onto aluminum foil which has been heavily sprinkled with powdered sugar, peel off the parchment paper, cover with a towel, and roll up from the long side. Seal the foil, stick in the freezer for 30 minutes. Remove from freezer, unroll and remove the towel, and spread (very softened) ice cream -- whatever flavor you choose -- across the cake, then reroll the cake, reseal the foil, and put it back in the freezer. Before serving, I get the cakes out (it makes two rolled cakes) and frost them with whipped cream. (I have also used regular cake frosting -- that's another area you can change up). One of these cakes had mint ice cream and one had chocolate/vanilla, so I used sprinkles to tell them apart.
A cross-sectional view after everyone was served:
There are endless variations you could make for this. And they can be made ahead. I once made six of these for a large party. I also like that it looks fancy but is very inexpensive.
The original recipe for sausage and apples was given to me by a lady at a church brunch from 20 years ago. I've adapted it a little over the years. I thought I'd show you how to make it.
First, get your sausage. I use turkey sausage, but any kind you like is find. For most families, one sausage is probably enough. I used three because I had at least ten people to feed that night. Put them in the pan (love my electric skillet for this) with a little water and simmer for ten minutes or so, turning them halfway. If your water gets too low, add some more -- you don't want your pan to run dry. Since I usually put the lid on, I have to peek every once in a while and check on the water.
While the sausages are cooking along, get your apples. Again, it's not that important what kind, but you need 6 to 9 apples. I would have liked to have more than six for this particular meal, but that's what I had, so that's what I used.
Wash them, quarter them, cut the core out, peel a strip off the back of the quarters, then slice them and put them in a bowl. (Some people may prefer them peeled all the way, some may want to leave the peels on -- I compromise and peel them a little bit :).
Then assemble your other ingredients: butter, brown sugar, blackstrap molasses, and cinnamon.
When the sausages are done, remove them from the pan --
and put the apples in. I just poured all my apples and orange juice in, but I got a little too much liquid, so maybe don't pour ALL the orange juice in. Then I add my other ingredients. I don't really measure, but roughly a tablespoon each of butter, brown sugar and molasses, and then a generous sprinkling of cinnamon. Cook the apples until they are nice and soft (maybe 10 minutes).
When the apples are done, throw the sausage back into the pan and warm everything up. In this particular batch, the ratio of sausage to apples is a little lopsided ;)
Here's a picture of the birthday boy -- love that smile!