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Celebrate Summer With Ice Cream

Independence Day activities will be in full swing this weekend with picnics, family get-togethers and lots of good food.

High on the list of Fourth of July favorites is ice cream. Today's ice cream dessert recipes are easy to make and will end your holiday festivities with a real bang.

The recipes are Lemon Meringue Ice Cream Pie, Mile-High Mississippi Mud Ice Cream Pie, Banana Split Ice Cream Cake.

For lower fat ice cream pies or cake try these tips:

* use reduced-fat cookies or crackers for the crust;

* substitute fat-free or reduced fat ice cream;

* use fat free or reduced fat ice cream toppings;

* substitute thawed Cool Whip for whipped cream.

Tips for making easy ice cream piecrusts: spray a 9-inch pie plate with cooking spray; process cookies (and nuts if called for) in food processor until reduced to fine crumbs. Add melted butter and process until crumbs are moistened; press mixture over bottom and up sides of pie plate; freeze 30 minutes until firm.

LEMON MERINGUE ICE CREAM PIE

crust: 26 ginger snaps, 1/3 c. margarine

pie: 2 pt. lemon sorbet, 1 pt. vanilla ice cream

topping: 2 T. powdered egg whites, 6 T. warm water, 1/2 c. sugar

Make crust (see instructions above). Soften 1 pint sorbet. Spread softened sorbet in crust; freeze about 1/2 hour until firm. Soften ice cream. Spread evenly on sorbet. Freeze 1/2 hour until set. Meanwhile soften remaining sorbet. Spread on ice cream, mounding it slightly in center. Freeze 6 hours or until solid. Place oven rack in center of oven. Heat to 450 degrees. Beat powdered egg whites and water in large bowl with mixer on low speed until powder dissolves completely, about 3 minutes. Increase speed to high and beat until soft peaks form when beaters are lifted. Gradually add sugar, beating until soft shiny peaks form. Quickly spoon onto pie, covering sorbet layer completely and spreading to touch crust around entire edge, swirling meringue in decorative peaks. Bake 5 minutes until peaks are golden. Freeze until firm, at least 4 hours. Remove from freezer 15 minutes before serving. Serves ten.

MILE-HIGH MISSISSIPPI MUD ICE CREAM PIE

crust: 16 Oreos, 3 T. margarine, melted

pie: 2 pt. vanilla ice cream, 2 pt. coffee ice cream, 2/3 c. chocolate fudge, 1/2 c. toasted pecans, ice cream topping

Make crust. Soften 1 pint of each ice cream. Spoon tablespoonfuls of softened ice cream into crust, alternating flavors, packing them down as you go. Drizzle with half the topping and nuts. Freeze 3 hours until firm. Soften remaining ice cream; scoop onto pie and sprinkle with remaining topping and nuts. Freeze 3 hours. Remove from freezer 15 minutes before serving. Serve with Bourbon Cream. Serves 10

Bourbon Cream: shortly before serving, beat 1 cup heavy cream with 1/4 c. confectioners' sugar and 2 tsp. bourbon until softly whipped. Serve with pie.

BANANA SPLIT ICE CREAM CAKE

crust: 12 ice cream sugar cones, 1/4 c. walnuts

crushed, 6 T. butter, melted

cake:

1-1/2 pt. frozen yogurt or 1/2 gallon ice cream, 2 ripe bananas, mashed, 1 tsp. banana extract, 16 oz. jar hot fudge sauce, 1 c. walnuts, chopped, 15-oz. strawberry ice cream, 8 oz. frozen whipped topping

Crust: in a medium bowl mix together crushed cones, walnuts and butter until combined. Press into the bottom of a 9-in. springform pan. Freeze for 10 minutes. Cake: soften half of the frozen yogurt. Stir in mashed bananas and banana extract. Spread over crust; freeze for 30 minutes. Spread warmed fudge sauce on top. Sprinkle walnuts over fudge sauce. Freeze 30 minutes. Soften remaining frozen yogurt. Swirl in 1 cup of the strawberry sauce. Spread on top. Cover; freeze overnight. Remove from the freezer 10 minutes before serving. Remove the side of the pan and peel off waxed paper. Slice into 16 servings. Serve with remaining strawberry sauce and whipped topping.