Despite the unseasonably cold and wet weather we have endured of late, as well as two rounds of frozen tomatoes, summer is a short 3 weeks away.

Anyone who knows me has heard me bemoan the start of the hot weather. I love my fresh veggies from the garden and my lovely flowers, but if I had my druthers, fall and spring would be the primary seasons here in Salida with a little winter thrown in for good measure.

That said, backyard parties and outdoor gatherings are a summer pleasure I truly missed in 2020 and am looking forward to this year. I love impromptu gatherings and potlucks with friends, the last-minute dash to put something special together and the challenge of trying to use what is in the pantry without having to go to the store.

We often get asked to bring a dessert. Graham cracker crusts, instant pudding, whipped topping, nuts, powdered sugar and cream cheese are staples we keep on hand and can be used to whip up a speedy, light dessert perfect for a last-minute invite.

Peanut Butter

Silk Pie

Peanut Butter Silk Pie is a recipe I took from the most recent Taste of Home and cannot think of a way to improve. This pie preps in about 10 minutes and needs 2 hours to chill.

Ingredients:

¾ cup conventional creamy peanut butter

4 ounces cream cheese, softened

1 cup powdered sugar

1 8-ounce carton of Cool Whip, thawed

1 9-inch prepared graham cracker crust, homemade is fine too

Salted crushed peanuts and chocolate sauce for decoration, optional

Prep:

In a large bowl, beat the peanut butter, cream cheese and powdered sugar until smooth. Add the whipped topping, beating on low, until fully incorporated. Pour into the crust, cover and chill 2 hours. When ready to serve, drizzle chocolate sauce on the top and sprinkle the peanuts on top.

Lemonade Pie

My grandmother, Lesta Smith, gave me this recipe when I was still in high school and it remains one of my favorite hot summer day desserts. Lemonade Pie is cool, creamy and the sweet tart flavor cannot be beat. This recipe makes 2 pies.

Ingredients:

2 chocolate graham cracker crusts, this can also be made with crushed Oreos

1 16-ounce Cool Whip, thawed

½ can frozen lemonade or limeade, plus a bit extra if you like tart

1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk

Food coloring

Prep:

Mix the Cool Whip, condensed milk and lemonade in a bowl. You can add red or yellow food coloring for lemonade or green for limeade. Cover and chill at least 2 hours. This can also be made with a regular graham cracker crust, but the color of the pie really pops against the chocolate crust.

Kathy’s Strawberry Cream Pie

Kathy’s Strawberry Cream Pie does require 10 minutes of cooking time, but I am pretty sure you will never want a regular strawberry pie again.

Ingredients:

3 ounces cream cheese, softened

½ cup powdered sugar

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

½ teaspoon almond extract

1 cup heavy cream

1 9-inch frozen pie shell, baked, homemade is good too, just takes more time

1/3 cup sugar

2 tablespoons cornstarch

1/3 cup water

1/3 cup grenadine syrup

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

2 cups fresh strawberries, hulled

Prep:

In a medium bowl, mix together the cream cheese and powdered sugar until smooth and creamy. Stir in the vanilla and almond extracts. In a separate bowl, whip the cream until peaks form. Fold into the cream cheese mixture, taking care to not over mix. Spread into the bottom of the baked pie crust. Cover and chill.

In a medium saucepan, mix the sugar and cornstarch. Stir in water until smooth. Add the grenadine and lemon juice. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Cook 5 minutes, stirring constantly, until thickened. Allow to cool, then chill.

Just before serving, stir together the strawberries and cornstarch mixture until the berries are evenly coated. Spread over the cream cheese layer and serve cold.

Million Dollar Pie

Million Dollar Pie is a dessert I loved as a child that was served at Furr’s Cafeteria in Colorado Springs. This was the place our grandparents took us when we spent the summer with them.

So many food choices and there was always a guy in a tuxedo playing the piano. As a kid, I thought this was the end all be all of fine dining. No one makes this pie anymore, so this is my version, as best as I can remember.

Ingredients:

1 9-inch prepared graham cracker crust    

1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk

½ cup lemon juice

1 8-ounce can crushed pineapple, drained

½ cup chopped pecans, plus ¼ cup crushed pecans for decoration

1 16-ounce Cool Whip, thawed

Prep:

In a large bowl, whisk together the condensed milk and lemon juice. Stir in the pineapple and chopped pecans. Fold in the whipped topping. Pour into the crust, smoothing the top and sprinkle with the crushed pecans. Chill about 2 hours before serving.