Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Birthday Dinner

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 you need to put something on the apple slices to keep them from turning brown.  I usually just pour orange juice on them.

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).
While the apples are cooking, slice your sausage up into bite sizes.  You can cut these up in regular slices, I have been making this since my kids were little and so have gotten into the habit of cutting the sausage up smaller.

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 ;)
I serve this with slices of cheddar cheese and warm dark bread (like pumpernickel) with butter and honey on it.  It reminds me of a peasant meal and is definitely in the category of comfort food.  Maybe that's why my son chose it.

Here's a picture of the birthday boy -- love that smile!


  1. What a cutie~ does he really fit into those shoes? They grow up way too fast. I have never heard of sausage and apples, but it sounds kind of good, and the ice cream cake.. well, sign me up for that! LOL :)

    1. Yes, those shoes fit him! It seems like their feet are always the first things to grow :)

  2. Happy Birthday to your son! What a wonderful birthday pic of him! I like his birthday cake choice - that ice cream cake looks fabulous. And it's always good to find things that look impressive but don't take all day in the kitchen or make a huge hole in one's bank balance! I am not a huge sausage fan but my own son would absolutely love the sausage and apples. He is in Germany at the moment but on his return I am going to make this for him. Thank you to you for the very clear recipe instructions and to your son for the suggestion. Great teamwork! E x

  3. Looks as if your son enjoyed his birthday.That looks like a wonderful and different meal. I am going to try it one day. Thank you for the recipes.

  4. We do the same thing for birthdays at our house. For nearly 40 years my husband has chosen lasagna and German chocolate cake, our oldest son (whose birthday is 2 weeks after his dad's) also chooses lasagna, but he likes carrot cake with cream cheese frosting, our second son likes Mexican food but the cake changes every year and our daughter, whose birthday is in December likes barbequed chicken and chocolate cupcakes. Me? I'm happy with anything I don't have to plan, prepare or clean up!


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