Fourth of July weekend is here, which is truly my favorite holiday. It’s close to my birthday, there is a big hot dog eating contest which always gives me a good laugh, and it looks like the fireworks are back on in most places.

It’s darn hot in south Louisiana in July, but we like to be outside anyway. Ice cream — homemade if possible — is a must on our Independence Day menu.

My Vanilla Bean Ice Cream is my basic goes-with-everything recipe. This ice cream is especially creamy when made with cream from nearby dairies. You can enjoy it on its own or dress it up with this Blueberry Mint Compote. This sauce, made with local blueberries, is fresh and fruity.

Being outside on a summer night reminds me of s’mores. It is far too hot to light up the firepit, so I turned them into milkshakes, which provide that outdoor flavor while keeping things cool.

If you're of an age, you can make it a little boozy or omit the Kahlua for the little ones.

Have a safe and happy Fourth of July weekend.

Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

Makes about 1 quart ice cream. Recipe is by Teresa B. Day.

4 cups half-and-half

4 cups heavy whipping cream

1¾ cups granulated sugar

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon ground vanilla bean

1. In a large bowl, whisk together the half-and-half, whipping cream, sugar, vanilla extract and vanilla bean.

2. Pour mixture into an ice cream maker and freeze according to manufacturer's directions.

3. Chill the mixture for 2 to 3 hours after churning to aid in the freezing process.

4. Serve immediately or store in the freezer in an air-tight container for up to 3 months.

Blueberry Mint Compote

Makes 1½ cups sauce. Recipe is by Teresa B. Day.

2 cups fresh blueberries

½ cup granulated sugar

1 tablespoon fresh mint, minced

1. Combine ingredients in a small saucepan; bring to a boil over medium-high.

2. Boil, stirring often, until blueberries break down, about 8 to 10 minutes.

3. Allow to cool completely then serve over ice cream

Frozen S’more Shakes

Makes about 2 half-pint servings. Recipe is by Teresa B. Day.

4 sheets graham crackers, divided

2 tablespoons chocolate syrup

6 large marshmallows

¼ cup Kahlua liqueur (optional)

4 large scoops vanilla bean ice cream

1 packet of hot chocolate mix

6 mini marshmallows

1. In food processor, pulse graham crackers into fine crumbs. Put about 2 tablespoons of crumbs into a shallow bowl or saucer. 

2. Pour chocolate syrup into a saucer. Dip the rims of two drink glasses into syrup. Be sure to coat the rim well then dip in the graham cracker crumbs. Set glasses aside.

3. Preheat broiler, lay large marshmallows on small baking pan lined with parchment paper. Broil the marshmallows just until toasted; about 1 to 3 minutes. Set aside.

4. In a blender, combine the liqueur, ice cream, hot chocolate mix, the remaining graham cracker crumbs and the small marshmallows. Blend until smooth.

5. Pour milkshake into the two glasses, top with toasted marshmallows and drizzle with additional chocolate syrup, if desired. Serve immediately.

Teresa B. Day is a local food writer and author of the “I Eat BR” blog. Contact her at