Monday, August 21, 2017

Cucumber Melon Agua Fresca


Agua fresca is served at food stands throughout Mexico and is the perfect foil to spicy dishes. It's also one of the most refreshing drinks and excellent for cooling off on a hot summer day.

Cucumber Melon Agua Fresca
Hands-On Time: 10 minutes
Ready In: 10 minutes
Serves: Makes about 8 cups

Ingredients:

4 pounds of watermelon
1 large cucumber
2 Tablespoons lime juice
2 cups water
Sweetener as needed (sugar, Stevia, etc.)

Directions:

1. Remove rind and seeds from watermelon. Cut into cubes.
2. Peel cucumber and cut into chunks.
3. Puree fruit in a a blender until smooth - this can be done in batches if necessary.
4. Add water to fruit and stir well. Strain through a fine mesh sieve.
5. Add lime juice to taste. Many times the fruit is sweet enough that very
little sugar is needed, use as you desire.
6. Serve over ice.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Blueberry Bruschetta


While bruschetta is most often served as a savory preparation, it also makes a lovely and lighter dessert. The smooth cream cheese is a perfect contrast to the sweet-tart berries. Grilling is fairly quick and can be done on a traditional grill or in a grill pan on the stove top.

Blueberry Bruschetta
Hands-On Time: 15 minutes
Ready In: 15 minutes
Serves: 24

Ingredients:

1 French baguette (about 18 inches in length)
1/4 cup butter - melted
8 ounces low fat cream cheese (Neufchatel)
3 cups fresh blueberries, washed
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Directions:

1. Combine blueberries, sugar and cinnamon in a bowl and toss well to coat. Set aside in
the refrigerator until ready to use.
2. Slice baguette into 24 slices, about 1/2 inch thick. Slicing on the diagonal provides
more surface area.
3. Brush each slice with butter and grill until lightly toasted on both sides.
4. Spread cream cheese on each bread slice and top with a spoonful of blueberries.
Garnish with mint if desired and serve.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Veggie Wednesday: Summer Veggie Melt and Tribute

Summer Veggie Melt

This is both a tribute and an homage to the now-closed Moravian Book Shop Cafe. I was recently in Downtown Bethlehem after not having been for several years and was surprised at the new shops, the old ones that were still there, and the ones I loved that are now gone.

My oldest daughter and I went into the Book Shop fully expecting to have coffee in the back at the Cook Shop, but found ourselves instead at the Colony Meadery. As intrigued as I was, (and still am, and plan to purchase several types of mead there in the near future) I had a moment. It's like that moment when you realize your prized stuffed animal that you've had since you were a wee child has gone missing. I didn't cry, though I truly felt as though I might. I adored that place so much.

Not only did I spend many hours there with my mother when I was a child, all of my children have had lunch there with me at one time or another. In fact, this was where I took each of my girls for "just us" lunch dates where they had my undivided attention. This is also where I sat with Kathy Lauer-Williams of the Morning Call for my interview that led to a half-page article about my time blogging with Disney.

I could write on and on about this, but I won't. I will share with you my recipe for the melt I had there each and every time I visited.

Summer vegetables are something we look forward to each year and this melt is full of garden-fresh goodness. Topped with cheese and only lightly cooked, the vegetables retain their crispness and the herbed mayo adds a layer of flavor underneath. They may look very 'handy' but a knife and fork is in order for eating them.


Summer Veggie Melt

Hands-On Time: 10 minutes
Ready In: 12 minutes
Serves: 4

Ingredients:

4 whole wheat pitas - uncut and unsplit
4 Tablespoons light mayonnaise
1 Tablespoon freshly snipped herbs such as dill, basil, oregano or thyme
1 medium zucchini - thinly sliced
1 medium summer squash - thinly sliced
1 medium green bell pepper - thinly sliced
1 large tomato - thinly sliced
1 small red onion - thinly sliced
1 large carrot, peeled and shredded, about 1 cup
1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese


Directions:

1. Combine mayo and herbs and stir until well blended. Spread 1 Tablespoon on top of each
pita.
2. Layer each pita with squashes, pepper, tomato and onion. Top with a 1/4 cup of
shredded carrots and 1/4 cup shredded cheese.
3. Microwave on 50% power for approximately 2 minutes, or until cheese is just melted.

Alternately, you can place the pitas under a broiler for several minutes or in a 350F
degree  oven until cheese is melted.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Lemon Dill Shrimp Soup


I don't usually serve warm soups in the summer, but once in a while a day will present itself cooler than usual and then I feel comfortable serving this one. The bright flavors of dill and lemon complement the shrimp well. This can be served as a first course or as part of a light lunch.

Lemon Dill Shrimp Soup
Hands-On Time: 10 minutes
Ready In: 20 Minutes
Serves: 4

Ingredients:

6 cups chicken stock
1 cup uncooked farfalline (little bow ties)
1 medium lemon
2 Tablespoons freshly chopped dill
1 Tablespoon freshly chopped flat leaf parsley
12 medium shrimp - shelled and deveined
salt, pepper and seafood seasoning to taste

Directions:

1. Heat stock to boiling in a medium stock pot.
2. Cut lemon into slices and add to stock with pasta. Cook until pasta is tender - about
7 minutes.
3. Add herbs and shrimp and turn heat to low. Cook for 3 to 5 minutes until shrimp is
done.
4. Remove lemon slices and add salt, pepper and seafood seasoning to taste. Serve with 3
shrimp atop each bowl of soup.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Fruit and Grain Bars

Fruit and Grain Bars

My kids love fruit and grain bars for after school snacks, but they can be quite pricey. This homemade version is a substantial savings over the store-bought kind, and because they're made at home, I'm more aware of exactly what's going into them. Try an organic cake mix and organic fruit spread. Don't be tempted to add more fruit spread, the amount called for is just right and too much will make the bars difficult to cut.


Fruit and Grain Bars

Hands-On Time: 5 minutes
Ready In: 35 minutes
Serves: Makes 20 bars

Ingredients:

1 box yellow cake mix (oz.)
2 cups oats - quick-cooking
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup melted butter
1 large egg
1 cup jelly, jam, preserves or fruit spread

Directions:

1. Mix together cake mix, oats, cinnamon and brown sugar
2. Add egg and melted butter and stir with a wooden spoon until combined.
3. Divide batter in half and spread half into bottom of a greased 9x13 inch baking pan.
4. Spread fruit spread on top of crust to the edges.
5. Crumble the remaining cake mixture over the jelly and press lightly into jelly with
hands.
6. Bake at 350 degrees F for 30 minutes or until top is golden.
7. Cool well and cut into 20 bars.

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

Veggie Wednesday: Artichoke Bruschetta Topping

Artichoke Bruschetta Topping

I love bruschetta in just about any form and topped with artichoke is one of my very favorite. One made with pantry ingredients is even better. This one goes together easily with ShopRite Imported Artichoke Hearts, ShopRite Diced Tomatoes and a few other pantry ingredients to make one fabulous topping. Eat as-is with crusty bread or add to grilled chicken, fish or pork. Any way you serve it, it's sure to be a delicious addition to your pantry staples recipe repertoire!


Artichoke Bruschetta Topping
Makes about 3 cups

Ingredients:

1 can (14.5 ounces) ShopRite Imported Artichoke Hearts - whole
1 can (14.5 ounces) ShopRite Diced Tomatoes with Oregano and Basil
1 clove garlic - minced
1 green onion - sliced, green and white parts
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon dried basil
3 Tablespoons ShopRite Imported Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 teaspoon white vinegar
pinch of sugar
pinch of Kosher salt

Directions:

1. Drain artichoke hearts and tomatoes. Chop artichoke hearts well.
2. Combine remaining ingredients, tasting for seasoning - only add sugar if necessary.
3. Refrigerate for at least one hour to let the flavors develop before serving.

Monday, August 07, 2017

Shrimp Rolls

Shrimp Rolls

There's nothing quite like a fresh lobster roll on the shores of Maine, but when you can't get there and you can't afford lobster to make them at home, shrimp makes a delicious second-best. Bright lemon zest and parsley combined with creamy mayo and spicy Old Bay are a most delectable way to serve up these shrimp rolls for a light lunch.

The mayo in mine is decidedly heavier-handed, but that's only because I have a few mayo addicts who wouldn't eat them any other way. Add mayo a tablespoon at a time until you find the consistency that you like.

Shrimp Rolls
Hands-On Time: 10 minutes
Ready In: 15 minutes
Serves: 6

Ingredients:

1 pound shrimp in-shell
1/4 cup celery diced small
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 Tablespoons sour cream
1 teaspoon Old Bay or other seafood seasoning
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
1 Tablespoon fresh flat-leaf parsley - chopped
1 teaspoon salt
6 small potato rolls (hot dog size works best)

Directions:

1. Cook shrimp in-shell in boiling salted water until pink - about 3-4 minutes. Drain and
rinse in cold water.
2. Remove shells from shrimp and cut meat into chunks.
3. Combine mayonnaise, sour cream, seafood seasoning, lemon zest, parsley and salt and
stir well. Add celery and shrimp and toss to coat. Refrigerate up to 24 hours or serve
immediately.
4. Spoon into rolls and serve.

Friday, August 04, 2017

Lunchbox Apple Pies

Lunchbox Apple Pies

It's closing in on school time and thoughts of packing lunches are upon us yet again. Before you purchase store bought hand pies for your child's lunch, give these a try. Not only can you choose what type of apples you really like and how much cinnamon you prefer, you totally are in control of the sugar content. Every mom likes that!

Lunchbox Apple Pies

Hands-On Time: 30 minutes
Ready In: 45 minutes
Serves: Makes 12 pies

Ingredients:

1/2 cup butter - softened
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup ice water
2 Tablespoons butter
2 cups peeled, cored and diced apples - about 2 medium
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 large egg
1 Tablespoon water
1 teaspoon granulated sugar


Directions:

1. Combine flour, salt and butter and mix together until crumbly. Add water and stir
until doiugh forms. Flatten into a disc and wrap in plastic. Set aside in the refrigerator.
2. Melt 2 Tablespoons butter in a small pan over medium-low heat. Add apples and cook
until apples soften, about 5 minutes.
3. Add brown sugar to apples and cook and stir until sugar is dissolved and any juices
from the apples begin to thicken, about 5 more minutes.
4. Remove apples from heat and stir in cinnamon.
5. Let dough stand at room temperature for 10 minutes. Roll dough to 1/8-inch thickness and cut into 12 rounds with a 4-inch biscuit cutter.
6. Place dough rounds onto greased baking sheets. Top half of each round with a
tablespoon of apple mixture. Fold opposite end of dough over apples and seal with hands
or a fork.
7. Cut a small slit in the top of each pie to vent steam.
8. Combine egg, 1 tablespoon water and granulated sugar until well blended and sugar is
dissolved.
Brush on tops of each pie.
9. Bake pies in a 375 degree F oven for 15 minutes or until golden brown and bubbly. Cool
completely before storing in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

Wednesday, August 02, 2017

Red, White, and Blue Recipes

Labor Day in the United States marks the last of the "Red, White, and Blue" summer holidays, and these recipes are perfect when entertaining even the most patriotic of people.


Red, White, and Blueberry Lemonade

Sweet blueberries and tart lemonade meet to make a very refreshing summer drink with patriotic garnish perfect for summertime Red, White, and Blue holidays.


Red, White, and Blueberry Lemonade

Hands-On Time: 10 minutes
Ready In: 1 hour and 10 minutes
Serves: 6-8

Ingredients:

1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup water
1/2 cup to 1 cup lemon juice (depending on tastes)
2 cups fresh blueberries
1 cup starfruit slices (about 2 starfruit)
1 cup fresh sliced strawberries (about 6 large strawberries)
water

Directions:

1. Combine 1 cup water, sugar and 1 cup blueberries in a small saucepan.
2. Simmer over low heat, stirring often, until sugar is dissolved and blueberries start
to soften and leach their color.
3. Strain blueberries and cool the sugar water mixture.
4. Combine lemon juice with sugar water and add enough water to make 2 quarts of
lemonade.
5. Serve with the extra cup of blueberries, the starfruit, and strawberries for garnish. You can freeze blueberries as well to help keep drinks cool.





Cheese crackers never looked so good. White cheddar cheese flavors these easy
crackers. A simple paprika oil provides color, and served with the right dip, these are
just the right touch for any Red, White, and Blue party.



Cheddar Stars
Hands-On Time: 15 minutes
Ready In: 25 minutes
Serves: 6-8 (2 dozen crackers)

Ingredients:

1 stick butter - softened
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups shredded white cheddar cheese
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
1 Tablespoon paprika

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
2. Cream together butter and salt.
Add shredded cheese and blend well.
3. Stir in flour with a wooden spoon or hands until a stiff and smooth dough forms.
4. Roll dough to 1/4 inch thickness and cut with a 2-inch star-shaped cookie cutter,
re-rolling dough as needed.
5. Mix together oil and paprika.
6. Set crackers on an ungreased baking sheet and brush half of the crackers with the oil.
Bake for 8-10 minutes being careful not to overbrown.
7. Cool completely and store in an airtight container. Eat within 1 week.

Red ripe tomatoes, creamy white cottage cheese and tangy bleu cheese crumbles
blended with bacon and horseradish make this one delicious dip. Serve with Cheddar Stars.


Red, White and Bleu Cheese Dip
Hands-On Time: 5 minutes
Ready In: 5 minutes
Serves: 6-8

Ingredients:

2 cups small curd cottage cheese
1 cup bleu cheese crumbles
2 Tablespoons prepared horseradish sauce
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 pound pork or turkey bacon - fried crisp and crumbled
1 large tomato - seeded and diced fine

Directions:

1. Combine all ingredients and chill until serving time.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Antipasto Pasta Salad

Antipasto Pasta Salad

My family just loves pasta salad, especially in the summer. This one is excellent for potluck picnics or dinner at home. This has all the best elements of a great antipasto plate tossed together in a delicious salad. Take out the meat for a veggie friendly version, and make sure you dress it within an hour of consuming or the pasta will soak up all the liquid and you'll be left with a dry salad.

Antipasto Pasta Salad

Hands-On Time: 10 minutes
Ready In: 20 minutes
Yield: 6-8 servings

Ingredients:

1 pound rotini pasta cooked according to package directions until al dente and cooled
8 ounces fresh mozzarella cut into 1/2-inch cubes or 8 ounces baby bocconcini
8 ounces hard salami cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 cup grape tomatoes cut into quarters
1/2 cup jarred roasted red peppers diced
1 (6 ounce) jar marinated artichoke heart quarters - diced and marinade reserved
1 cup black olives, halved
2 Tablespoons each fresh basil and Italian flat leaf parsley, chopped
1/2 cup sliced pepperoncini - optional (not shown in photo)

Directions:

1. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and toss well to combine.
2. Refrigerate for up to one hour after dressing has been added.
*NOTE- If taking to a picnic etc. take the dressing along with you and add just before serving, but not more than one hour prior.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Strawberries & Cream Icebox Cake

Strawberries & Cream Icebox Cake

Just four ingredients make this cake a real treat, in more ways than one. Fresh strawberries combine with rich sweetened condensed milk and cake for a delicious dessert. The necessary make-ahead prep makes it perfect to take along for picnics and summer parties.

Strawberries & Cream Icebox Cake

Hands-On Time: 15 minutes
Ready In: 9 Hours
Serves: 12

Ingredients:

1 boxed white cake mix
12 ounces fresh strawberries
1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
1 tub (16 ounces) frozen whipped topping - thawed


Directions:

1. Bake cake in a 9x13 pan according to directions. Cool.
2. Poke holes in cake with a wooden spoon handle or clean chopstick.
3. Pour contents of condensed milk can over cake.
4. Wash strawberries and hull. Slice over top of cake.
5. Cover cake and refrigerate for 8 hours or overnight.
6. Remove cake from refrigerator and top with whipped topping.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Veggie Wednesday: Grilled Corn with Garlic and Chive Butter

Grilled Corn with Garlic and Chive Butter


The farmers' market is my favorite place to be in the summer - stalls are full to bursting with ripe and delicious vegetables at their peak flavor. We are in the throes of fresh corn season and corn on the cob signals summer like no other vegetable. Grilled over a fire and topped with a flavored butter, it's pure summer perfection and one of our family favorites!

Grilled Corn with Garlic and Chive Butter

Grilled Corn with Garlic and Chive Butter

Hands-On Time: 20 minutes
Ready In: 40 minutes
Serves: 6

Ingredients:

6 ears of corn with husks and small length of stalk intact
1/2 pound (2 sticks) butter - at room temperature
2 Tablespoons snipped fresh chives
2 cloves garlic - minced
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt

Directions:

1. In a small bowl combine butter, chives, garlic and salt and mash until completely
blended.
2. Lay out a sheet of parchment paper and spoon butter into the center to form a log
approximately 1-inch in diameter.
3. Roll parchment paper around the butter making sure the log is uniformly shaped. Pinch
ends tight and set in the refrigerator to firm up until ready to serve.
4. Pull husks down from the corn, leaving intact, and remove corn silk and any debris
that may remain. Pull husks back up over the corn to cover completely. Soak corn in cold
water for 5 minutes. Remove and drain well.
5. Heat grill over high heat. Cook corn directly on grill for 15 to 20 minutes, turning
every 5 minutes to keep from burning Keep grill covered between turning. Peel back husks
periodically to check the corn. Kernels that are still milky looking are not done. Pierce
a kernel or two to check for doneness.
6. Remove corn from grill, strip husks away and snap off stalk. Cut butter into even
slices and serve a slice with each corn cob.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Cheesy Chicken and Tomato Bruschetta Turnovers

Cheesy Chicken and Tomato Bruschetta Turnovers

I can't begin to tell you how GOOD these things are. When I first developed them for Disney, we had them devoured in no time. I made them over and over again after that as well. Store-bought ingredients make this extra flavorful turnover a snap to make. Six  ingredient easy, it's ready in just over half an hour and special enough to serve to company. Instructions for appetizer-sized turnovers are included.

If you have the time, you already know these will be even better with your own roasted chicken and homemade bruschetta.

Cheesy Chicken and Tomato Bruschetta Turnovers

Hands-On Time: 10 minutes
Ready In: 35 minutes
Serves: 8

Ingredients:

1 package (2 sheets) puff pastry - thawed
1 small (2 pounds) rotisserie chicken
1/2 cup store-bought tomato bruschetta (I adore Wegman's fresh bruschetta)
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1 egg
1 Tablespoon water

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
2. Remove meat from chicken and chop - you need 2 cups. Save leftover chicken and carcass for other recipes.
3. Unfold puff pastry and cut each sheet into 4 even squares.
4. Beat egg and water until frothy and brush the outer edge of each square with mixture.
5. Mound in the center of each pastry square: 1/4 cup chicken, 1 Tablespoon each -
bruschetta, Parmesan and mozzarella.
6. Fold over diagonally, making a triangle, and press the edges well to seal. Brush the
top of each pastry with egg wash and bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown and
bubbling at the edges.

For appetizer-sized turnovers:

Cut each pastry sheet into 8 squares and top each with a tablespoon of chicken and a
teaspoon each of bruschetta, Parmesan and mozzarella. Brush with egg wash and bake for 15
minutes or until golden brown and bubbling at the edges. Makes 16 appetizers.


8  plum tomatoes, chopped
1/4 cup finely diced onion
3/4 cup Basil
1 clove Garlic, finely minced
2 Tbsp  Olive Oil

Friday, July 21, 2017

Chocolate Ice Cream and Nut Pie

Chocolate Ice Cream and Nut Pie
Chocolate Ice Cream and Nut Pie
Have I mentioned it's hot around here lately? Well, it is. This is another warm-weather recipe to help you cool off. Chocolate and peanuts and pie ... what's not to love? This requires tempering eggs, so it's not the easiest recipe, but it sure is delicious when it's all done!

Chocolate Ice Cream and Nut Pie

Hands-On Time: 15 minutes
Ready In: 5 hours and 15 minutes
Serves: 8

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups finely chopped peanuts - divided
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
1/3 cup melted butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 large eggs
2 cups heavy cream - whipped


Directions:

1. Combine 1/2 cup chopped peanuts, graham cracker crumbs and melted butter together.
Blend well and press evenly into a 9 inch pie plate. Set aside.
2. In a heavy saucepan combine water and sugar. Heat to boiling, stirring until sugar
melts. Boil for 3 minutes. Remove from heat.
3. Add chocolate chips to sugar water and stir until chips are melted and mixture is
smooth.
4. Beat eggs together and add 1/4 cup of hot chocolate mixture to eggs. Stir quickly so
eggs do not cook and add back to original chocolate mixture. Blend well.
5. Fold whipped cream into chocolate and spoon half into the prepared pie shell. Top with
1/2 cup chopped peanuts.
6. Add remaining chocolate mixture to top of pie. Garnish with remaining peanuts.
7. Chill for 5 hours or until fully set before cutting.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Veggie Wednesday: Maque Choux


Maque Choux

This traditional Native American dish is very popular in Cajun country (and pronounced 'mock SHOE'). It's so simple that it's easy enough for every day meals. Fresh corn is the usual for the 'milk' leached from the kernels, but frozen will do in a pinch. The colors are beautiful and the sweetness of the corn plays very well with the flavors of the peppers and onions. This is a great side for summertime meals.


Maque Choux 

Hands-On Time: 10 minutes
Ready In: 25 minutes
Serves: 4

Ingredients:

4 Tablespoons unsalted butter
3 ears fresh corn
1/4 cup diced celery
1/2 cup diced onion
1/2 cup diced peppers - red, yellow and green
3 cloves garlic - minced
1 cup seeded and diced tomato
2 Tablespoons light cream
1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
1 teaspoon Kosher salt

Directions:

1. Remove corn from cobs and set aside
2. Heat butter in a medium skillet. Add onion, peppers, corn and celery. Cook for 10
minutes, or until onions and celery begin to soften.
3. Add tomatoes, thyme, cream and salt. Stir and cook for 5 minutes longer. Serve hot.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Bacon and Egg Stuffed Tomatoes

Bacon and Egg Stuffed Tomatoes
Bacon and Egg Stuffed Tomatoes

Everyone who really knows me knows tomatoes are my absolute favorite food. I mean, when I'm asked the deserted island question about which foods I would want forever if I were stranded, it's tomatoes hands-down.

This is an excellent recipe for those hot and humid no-cook days. No cook? What about the eggs and bacon? Well, if you find yourself making deviled eggs for a picnic or other summertime gathering, set aside a few for other recipes, like this one. Or, with the wonder of modern groceries, you can simply purchase eggs already hard-boiled and be done with it. To that end, you can also buy bacon that is already fried - you just need a few seconds in the microwave to crisp it up and you're ready to go. See how simple that is?

Add other herbs like dill, if you like, and you can play with this in so many ways! There are several different types and flavors of mayo out there these days, and you can add other chopped veggies, as well.

Bacon and Egg Stuffed Tomatoes
Makes 6 tomatoes

Ingredients:

6 medium tomatoes
salt and pepper

Filling:

6 hard boiled eggs-chopped
3/4 c finely diced celery
1/3 c mayonnaise (reduced or fat free is fine)
6 slices turkey bacon (or regular bacon)-cooked and crumbled
2 T chopped fresh parsley
1/2 t Kosher salt
1/4 t large grind pepper
paprika for tops (smoked paprika adds a lovely dimension!)

Directions:

1. Wash tomatoes thoroughly and dry well.
2. Cut tops from tomatoes; scoop out pulp and seeds, leaving shells intact. Chop tomato pulp only, discarding seeds.
3. Drain tomato shells, and sprinkle inside with salt and pepper.
4. Combine tomato pulp, eggs, celery, mayonnaise, bacon, parsley, 1/4 t salt, and 1/4 t pepper; stir well.
5. Fill tomato shells with bacon and egg mixture. Sprinkle with paprika.


Friday, July 14, 2017

Strawberry Milkshake Popsicles

Strawberry Milkshake Popsicles
Strawberry Milkshake Popsicles

As of the last few weeks it has become glaringly apparent that it's summer. The kids are showing it, too. The higher the mercury goes, the more often they ask for cool or frozen treats. Popsicles are the perfect answer to their pleas, but store-bought varieties can be full of sugar, artificial colors and flat-out expensive sometimes.

The solution to that problem is to create your own. Homemade Popsicles are one of the easiest things to make. If you have your own Popsicle molds it's even easier, and if not, all you need are paper cups, Popsicle sticks and plastic wrap. Any liquid that freezes well is fair game. You can test your ideas by filling a section or two of an ice cube tray and freezing until firm.

We've used everything and had lots of fun experimenting. We've had popsicles from fruit juice, pudding, flavored gelatin, pureed fruit, and yogurt. These Popsicles were made to taste like one of our very favorite summertime treats - strawberry milkshakes.

Strawberry Milkshake Popsicles

Hands-On Time: 5 minutes
Ready In: 6 hours
Servings: 6-8 Popsicle

Ingredients:

16 ounces (2 cups) vanilla or strawberry flavored yogurt (blended type, any fat percentage works well)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla (leave out if you are using vanilla yogurt)
5-6 large strawberries - hulled and cut in half

Directions:

1. Puree all ingredients together for 30 - 34 seconds in a blender.
2. Strain well to remove seeds. You can leave out this step, but the seeds will settle at the bottom of the mold and will be visible at the top of the Popsicle when un-molded.
3. Pour into Popsicle molds and attach lids with sticks or, if you are using cups cover each cup with plastic wrap and insert the stick through the plastic. Don't let the stick touch the bottom of the cup. Settle sticks evenly in the center of each mold before freezing.
4. Freeze for 6 hours or overnight before un-molding. Check after half an hour and re-settle Popsicle sticks if necessary.
5. Run the underside of the molds under warm water momentarily before un-molding.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Veggie Wednesday: Un-stuffed Vegetarian Peppers

Unstuffed Vegetarian Peppers
Un-stuffed Vegetarian Peppers

In this house we all love stuffed peppers, but sometimes I need a quicker and healthier alternative and this casserole fits the bill. This is full of colorful peppers, tomato and your choice of brown or white rice. Top with cheese and all you need is a salad to complete this veggie friendly menu.

Un-Stuffed Vegetarian Peppers

Serves: 4-6
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes

Ingredients:

3 cups diced peppers, red, yellow and green - 1 cup each
1/2 cup diced onion
2 Tablespoons olilve oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon salt
15 ounces tomato sauce
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
2 cups cooked rice, brown or white

Yields 4-6 servings

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add peppers and onions and cook until veggies start to soften, 5 minutes or so.
3. Add garlic and stir well.
4. Add rice, tomato sauce and salt and stir to combine. Remove from heat.
5. Pour rice into a greased casserole dish, about 10 x 6 in size and top with cheese.
6. Bake fore 15 minutes or until cheese is melted.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Lime Angel Food Cake with Raspberry Sauce

Lime Angel Food Cake with Raspberry Sauce

Fluffy Angel Food Cake takes on a new twist with the addition of lime juice and zest. Paired with a simple raspberry sauce, this cake is at once delicate and decadent and altogether perfect for a lighter summertime dessert. The calorie count makes this even more desirable with most slices (one twelfth of a cake) coming it at around 170 calories.

Lime Angel Food Cake with Raspberry Sauce

Hands-On Time: 15 minutes
Ready In: 60 minutes (including cooling time)
Serves: 12

Ingredients:

10 -12 large egg whites (about 1 1/2 cups)
2 teaspoons lime juice
1 cup granulated sugar
1 Tablespoon lime zest
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar


Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Sift together flour and powdered sugar. Set aside.
3. Combine egg whites and lime juice in a large bowl. Beat until soft peaks form.
4. Stir together granulated sugar and lime zest. Add by the tablespoon to egg whites and
continue to beat, adding until all sugar is gone, until stiff peaks form.
5. Fold flour and powdered sugar into stiff-beaten egg whites in four small additions.
6. Turn out into an ungreased 10-inch tube pan.
7. Bake for 40 - 45 minutes or until top springs back when touched lightly.
8. Turn pan over and cool with cake still inside pan. Cool completely.
9. Remove from pan gently and serve with Raspberry Sauce.





Raspberry Sauce

Hands-On Time: 1 minute
Ready In: 1 minute
Serves: Makes 1 1/2 cups

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups seedless red raspberry preserves
2 Tablespoons lime juice

Directions:

1. Microwave preserves for 30 seconds until warm. This may take more or less time
depending on your
microwave.
2. Stir well until smooth.
3. Add lime juice and stir until well combined.



Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Veggie Wednesday - Grilled Fruit Kabobs

Grilled Fruit Kabobs with Honey Lime Yogurt Dip

I'm seriously overdue for a Veggie Wednesday post! This time, though, it's all fruit. Check out this link for more Veggie Wednesday posts! Oh, and take a look at my very first Veggie Wednesday post while you're at it.

Grilling fruit brings out the natural juices and caramelizes them ever so slightly. The best fruits are ones with firm flesh such as stone fruits or pineapple. Stay away from melons as they tend to soften too much. Served with a cool dip, it's a great ending for a summer meal.

Grilled Fruit Kabobs with Honey Lime Yogurt Dip
Hands-On Time: 20 minutes
Ready In: 30 minutes
Serves: 4

Ingredients:

2 pounds assorted fruit - strawberries, pineapple, mango and kiwi in photo
8 metal or bamboo skewers
1 cup plain yogurt
2 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon grated lime zest

Directions:

1. Heat grill to medium-high and make sure grate is clean.
2. Thread chunks of washed, peeled or seeded fruit onto skewers. If using bamboo skewers,
soak in water for 10 minutes to minimize chances of burning.
3. Grill for 3 to 4 minutes per side, turning carefully so fruit does not fall off of
skewers.
4. Remove from heat and serve with dip.
5. For dip, combine yogurt, honey and lime zest and stir until well blended. Keep chilled
until serving time.

Monday, June 19, 2017

French Potato Salad



It's stupid hot lately. Not by the numbers, really - high 80s, low 90s is hot, but not stupid hot. It's the humidity. With readings like 83% at times, it makes going outside a scary proposition. It also makes wanting to eat nearly impossible. That's why I love this recipe so much.

This type of weather is the perfect time for this delicate salad. Unlike its American counterpart, which is generally smothered in mayonnaise, this potato salad, made with new potatoes, spring onions and an oil and vinegar dressing, is lighter and bright in flavor.

French Potato Salad

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes

Ingredients:

1 1/2 pounds new potatoes (small red-skinned potatoes)
1 Tbs shallots - minced
1/4 cup spring (or green) onion - sliced thickly
1 clove garlic - minced
1 Tablespoon fresh tarragon - finely chopped
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons Kosher salt - divided
1/2 teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground

Directions:


  1. Pour 2 quarts cold water into a medium saucepan. Add 1 teaspoon salt and set aside.
  2. Wash potatoes well and slice thickly -- about 1/4-inch per slice.
  3. Add sliced potatoes to water and heat to a simmer. Simmer until potatoes are tender but not mushy -- 4 to 5 minutes. Check doneness with a fork.
  4. While potatoes are cooking, combine remaining ingredients in a large bowl and whisk until well blended.
  5. Drain potatoes and rinse briefly in cold water until no longer steaming hot. Add to dressing and toss gently but thoroughly. Refrigerate if desired or serve at room temperature.


Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Chicken Lettuce Wraps and Sesame Slaw

Chicken Lettuce Wraps and Sesame Slaw
Chicken Lettuce Wraps and Sesame Slaw

Here's another great way to use one of those rotisserie chickens sold at the deli in your favorite grocery. I love lettuce wraps - they're like egg rolls without all the extra fat and calories. I'm lucky enough to have kids that will eat lettuce, among lots of other veggies, so these are great for us. I like using the rotisserie chicken since it's already cooked and more tender than other pre-cooked chicken products. It's also pretty straight-forward without extra preservatives and junk added. The sesame slaw is fast and full of flavor and pairs perfectly with the lettuce wraps. Having similar ingredients in both recipes speeds prep-time, as well.


Chicken Lettuce Wraps

Hands-On Time: 15 minutes
Ready In: 20 minutes
Yield: 4 -6 servings

Ingredients:

     1 Teriyaki flavored rotisserie chicken
     1/4 cup red pepper - diced small
     1/4 cup water chestnuts - diced small
     1/4 cup bamboo shoots - diced small
     2 tablespoons thinly sliced green onion
     2 tablespoons soy sauce
     1 tablespoon sesame oil
     1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
     2 cloves garlic - minced
     8 - 12 lettuce leaves, depending on size

Directions:

1. Remove meat only from rotisserie chicken and dice small. This should give you about 2 cups of diced chicken.
2. Toss chicken with remaining ingredients.
3. Cook until heated through - about 5 minutes.
4. Serve with lettuce leaves for wrapping.

Notes: A plain rotisserie chicken works fine for this.
We used Boston lettuce for our wraps, although any lettuce will do. I also like the crunch of romaine lettuce. Smaller lettuce leaves yield more wraps.


Sesame Slaw

Hands-On Time: 15 minutes
Ready In: 45 minutes
Yield: 8 servings

Ingredients:

     4 cups shredded Napa cabbage
     1 cup shredded carrot
     1 cup snow peas - blanched and sliced thinly, lengthwise
     1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro

Dressing:

     2 tablespoons sesame oil
     2 tablespoons rice vinegar
     1/4 cup soy sauce
     1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
     2 tablespoons thinly sliced green onion

Directions:

1. Toss together cabbage, carrot, snow peas and cilantro.
2. Mix dressing ingredients well and pour over cabbage.
3. Toss well to coat.
4. Refrigerate for at least half an hour before serving.


Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Amish Community Cookbook


Here in the Lehigh Valley, we don't live too far from Amish communities. It's no surprise, then, that I have several Amish cookbooks. Most are the same - recipes written with no fluff or extras, and no photographs. Amish food isn't exceptionally pretty, but the flavor more than makes up for it.

This cookbook, Amish Community Cookbook (Fox Chapel Publishing, 2017), authored by Carole Roth Giagnocavo and the Mennonite Central Committee, with photos from bloggers Joel Kratzer and Kaleb Wyse, fills in the photography gap in a beautiful way.

Most of the recipes are familiar to me, as they would be in Amish cooking, but the photos and anecdotes are what help propel this book above and beyond the rest. Oh, I still love my other cookbooks, but in my house there is always room for more - especially of the Amish variety.

The book begins with a brief introduction and history of Amish and Mennonites and goes on to offer little details about Amish cooking that are essential to know - things like using potato water and what "salad dressing" refers to throughout the book. While I fully enjoyed the anecdotes about Amish and Mennonite life, the thing I missed the most were descriptions of different recipes and how they had come to be. Mostly these are things I already know, but the average home cook may not.

The recipes are divine, and that's really the point, In fact, I've made Zucchini Casserole 3 times in the past two weeks! That stuff is just perfect and even my pickiest kids love it. Every recipe is comfort food at its finest - the kind that sustains a farmer for hours on end and nourishes the body and the soul.


Zucchini Casserole
Zucchini Casserole


This is light and fluffy and SO delicious! It's the perfect complement to any meat dish and my vegetarian daughter loves this as-is!

Zucchini Casserole


3 cups grated zucchini
1/2 cup onion
1 cup all-purpose baking mix
4 eggs, slightly beaten
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
1 cup grated Swiss Cheese
1 tablespoon dried parsley
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup oil

Mix all ingredients together and put in 7x12 inch baking pan. Bake at 350 F for 30-35 minutes or until a knife comes out clean when inserted in the center.

My notes: The onion is chopped finely, the Parmesan is grated, and I have used different cheeses in place of the Swiss with no ill effects.

If you adore Amish and Mennonite food like we do, pick up a copy of this book and you won't be disappointed!