Thursday, September 2, 2010

Sweet Summer's Abundance

{Sweet Summer's Abundance}August 2010
Lisa N. & Becky

{The Invite}
The gals were given a bag full of fresh, sweet cherries! Delish!

{Summer Decor}

{The Place Settings}

{The Menu}

{Cucumber Punch}
by: Crystal B Recipes

Newcomers are always impressed when they discover we drink Cucumber Punch. "Cucumbers", they exclaim, as they scrunch up their nose!!!" They become dedicated fans too, once they've taken a sip.

1 small can limeade concentrate
1 liter 7-up, refrigerated
1 large cucumber
Maraschino cherries, cut in half
1 small bag of ice

The night before serving, make an ice ring using a jello mold. Cut the unpeeled cucumber in half and slice thin. ( Place the other half of the cucumber in the refrigerator until you are ready to serve the punch). If you've never made an ice ring, here's how:Place a layer of chopped ice in the mold and arrange the cherries and cucumbers on the ice. Add another layer of ice, then fill the mold with water. Freeze until ready to use.In a large punchbowl, make the limeade as directed on can. Add the 7 up and mix thoroughly. Just before serving, slice thin rounds of unpeeled cucumber into the punch, add the ice ring.
Note: You can make a sugar-free version of this by using “Crystal Light Limeade” and diet 7-up.

{Pea Pesto Crostini}
by: Giada De Laurentiis

1 (10-ounce) package frozen peas, defrosted
1 garlic clove
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus extra for seasoning
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus extra for seasoning
1/3 cup olive oil
8 (1/2-inch thick) slices whole-grain baguette or ciabatta bread, preferably day-old,
1/3 cup olive oil
8 cherry tomatoes, halved or 1 small tomato, diced

For the pea pesto: Pulse together the peas, garlic, Parmesan, 1 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper in a food processor. With the machine running, slowly add the olive oil until well combined, about 1 to 2 minutes. Season with additional salt and pepper, if needed. Transfer to a small bowl and set aside.
For the crostini: Preheat a stove top griddle or grill pan on medium-high heat. Brush both sides of the sliced bread with olive oil and grill until golden, about 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer the bread to a clean surface and spread 1 to 2 tablespoons of the prepared pesto on each slice.
Top with tomato halves and serve.
*Cook's note: If you don't have day-old bread on hand, you can dry out fresh bread by putting the slices in a preheated 300 degree F oven until slightly crisp, about 5 minutes.

{Avocado & Grapefruit Salad}
By: Ina Garten

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup good olive oil
4 ripe Haas avocados
2 large red grapefruits

Place the mustard, lemon juice, salt, and pepper in a small bowl. Slowly whisk in the olive oil until the vinaigrette is emulsified.
Before serving, cut the avocados in 1/2, remove the seeds, and carefully peel off the skin. Cut each half into 4 thick slices. Toss the avocado slices in the vinaigrette to prevent them from turning brown. Use a large, sharp knife to slice the peel off the grapefruits (be sure to remove all the white pith), then cut between the membranes to release the grapefruit segments.
Arrange the avocado slices around the edge of a large platter. Arrange the grapefruit segments in the center. Spoon the vinaigrette on top, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and serve.

{Summer Snack}
Use your favorite berries-strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, blueberries Chopped mint and a drizzle of honey.

{Asian Noodle Salad}
By: Pioneer Woman-Ree Drummond

1 package Linguine Noodles, Cooked, Rinsed, And Cooled
½ heads Sliced Napa Cabbage, Or More To Taste
½ heads Sliced Purple Cabbage, Or More To Taste
½ bags Baby Spinach, Or More To Taste
1 whole Red Bell Pepper, Sliced Thin
1 whole Yellow Bell Pepper, Sliced Thin
1 whole Orange Bell Pepper, Thinly Sliced
1 bag Bean Sprouts (also Called Mung Bean Sprouts)
Chopped Cilantro, Up To 1 Bunch, To Taste
3 whole Scallions, Sliced
3 whole Cucumbers Peeled And Sliced
1 can (about 10 Oz.) Whole Cashews, Lightly Toasted In Skillet
1 whole Lime, Juiced
8 Tablespoons Olive Oil
8 Tablespoons Soy Sauce
2 Tablespoons (up To 3 Tablespoons) Sesame Oil
⅓ cups Brown Sugar
3 Tablespoons Fresh Ginger Chopped
2 cloves Garlic Chopped
2 whole Hot Peppers Or Jalapenos, Chopped
Chopped Cilantro

Mix salad ingredients together. Whisk dressing ingredients together and pour over salad. Mix with tongs or hands and serve on a platter.
Note: dressing keeps for up to three days before serving, without cilantro.

{Zucchini Soup}
3 cups (about 1 pound) sliced zucchini
1/2c. water
1 TBL. Fresh or instant minced onion
1 tsp. seasoned salt
½ 1/2 tsp parsley flakes (or TBL. Chopped fresh parsley
2 tsp chicken soup base or 2 bouillon cubes
2 tbl butter or margarine
2 tbl flour
1/8 tsp white pepper
1/8 tsp monosodium glutamate (MSG)
1 cup milk
1/2 cup light cream
Sour cream

Combine zucchini, water, onion, seasoned salt, parsley, and 1 tsp soup base. Cook until zucchini is tender and most of water has evaporated. Mash or puree and set aside. In saucepan melt butter; add flour and rest of soup base, pepper, and monosodium glutamate. Blend; add milk and cream and simmer until thickened. Stir in pureed vegetables; thin with milk, if desired. Garnish with paprika and sour cream. Taste to correct seasoning. Makes 4 to 6 servings.

{Grilled Mozzarella and Spinach BLTs}
Creamy mozzarella is a good foil for the salty, smoky bacon in this grilled version of a BLT. Before cooking, remove any tough stems from the spinach. Serves four.

12 slices thick-cut bacon
1 medium clove garlic, finely chopped
3 cups lightly packed baby spinach
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
8 slices country-style white bread
8 oz. fresh mozzarella, sliced
1 large tomato (about 8 oz.), cored and thinly sliced
1 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil

Working in batches, cook the bacon in a 12-inch skillet over medium heat until crisp, about 8 minutes per batch. Transfer to a paper-towel-lined plate and drain off all but 1 Tbs. of the fat. Return the pan to medium heat, add the garlic, and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in the spinach and cook until just wilted, about 30 seconds longer. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Heat a panini or sandwich press according to the manufacturer’s instructions. (Alternatively, heat a nonstick grill pan over medium-high heat.)
While the press is heating, arrange the spinach on 4 pieces of the bread. Top each with some bacon, mozzarella, and tomato, sprinkle lightly with salt, and complete each sandwich with a slice of the remaining bread. Brush both sides of the sandwiches with the oil.
Put the sandwiches on the press, pull the top down, and cook until browned and crisp and the cheese is melted, 3 to 6 minutes, depending on how hot your machine is. (If using a grill pan, put a heavy pan on top of the sandwiches and cook, turning the sandwiches over once.) Carefully remove from the press and serve.

{Carrots & Parsnips with Shallot & Herb Butter}
5 large carrots (about 1 lb.), peeled
4 large parsnips (about 1 lb.), peeled
3 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
1-1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
2 Tbs. minced shallot
2 Tbs. finely chopped fresh chives
1-1/2 tsp. finely chopped fresh rosemary
1-1/2 tsp. chopped fresh thyme1 clove garlic, minced

Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 450°F.
Cut the carrots and parsnips into 2 x1/4-inch matchsticks. Put them in a large bowl; toss with the oil. Sprinkle with the salt and pepper and toss again. Transfer the vegetables to a 10x15-inch Pyrex dish and roast, stirring every 15 min., until the vegetables are nicely browned, 40 to 45 min.
Meanwhile, combine the butter, shallot, chives, rosemary, thyme, and garlic in a small bowl and stir well. Add the butter to the roasted vegetables and toss to coat. Serve immediately.

{Grilled Corn-Lime & Feta}
8 ears corn, shucked
1 tablespoon olive oil
kosher salt
1/2 cup crumbled queso fresco (fresh Mexican cheese) or Feta
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 limes, cut into wedges

Heat grill to medium-high. Brush the corn with the oil and sprinkle with ½ teaspoon salt. Grill, turning often, until tender and charred, 5 to 7 minutes.
Sprinkle the corn with the cheese and cayenne. Serve with the lime wedges.

{Deep Fried Pickles}
Jennifer Clement, Maggie’s Pickle CafĂ©-Food Network

24 dill pickle spears, chilled
Egg wash, recipe follows
Breading, recipe follows
Canola oil, for frying

Using only very cold dill pickle spears, dip pickle into egg wash and then coat with breading. Repeat until no pickles remain, and arrange dipped pickles on a sheet pan lined with waxed paper. Chill for at least 30 minutes.
In a deep fryer, heat oil to 375 degrees F. Alternatively, heat oil in a large, heavy pot suitable for deep-frying. Carefully add chilled pickle spears, in batches, to the hot oil and fry for about 3 1/2 minutes or until golden. Remove to a paper towel-lined plate to drain. May be served with Ranch Dressing.
Egg Wash: 2 cups milk, 2 eggs, Pinch lemon pepper, Pinch dill weed, Pickle juice
Breading: 2 1/2 cups cornmeal, 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, 1/2 cup lemon pepper, 1/2 cup dill weed, 4 teaspoons paprika, 2 teaspoons garlic salt, Pinch cayenne pepper, or more to taste
For egg wash: In a baking dish, whisk all ingredients together, except pickle juice. Add pickle juice, to taste, and whisk to combine. For breading: Combine all ingredients in a baking dish.

{Curry-Yogurt Dipping Sauce}
By: Cook Think
Serves 6-12

This is a great dipping sauce for vegetables. Make up a big platter of artichokes, blanched green beans, red peppers and sliced carrots and enjoy the tang of the yogurt and subtly sweet spice of curry.

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon curry powder
1 cup plain yogurt
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
Add honey to sweeten to taste

Heat the vegetable oil in small skillet over medium-high heat. Add the curry powder and cook, stirring occasionally, for 2 minutes. Pour the oil and curry into a bowl to cool. When the oil has cooled, whisk in the yogurt and mayonnaise.

{Lemon Cake Pops}
1 (18.25 ounce) package Lemon Cake Mix
1 (16 ounce) container prepared Cream Cheese Frosting
1 pkg. Almond Bark

Prepare the cake mix according to package directions using any of the recommended pan sizes. When cake is done, crumble while warm into a large bowl, and stir in the ¼ to ½ can of frosting until well blended and sticking together. Roll immediately after you mix cake and frosting. Use a melon baller or small scoop to form balls of the cake mixture.
Dip the balls in chocolate using a toothpick or fork to hold them. Place on waxed paper to set. Let sit in refrigerator for at least 30 min or overnight. In the morning place pops in freezer for a few hours then dip. I like to keep mine in the refrigerator until ready to eat.
*Any Cake & Frosting will work.

{Mixed Berry White Chocolate Mousse}

1 (10 ounce) package frozen raspberries, thawed
3 tablespoons white sugar
2 tablespoons orange juice
1 3/4 cups heavy whipping cream
6 ounces white chocolate, chopped
1 drop red food coloring

Process berries in a blender or food processor until smooth. Strain mixture into a small bowl, and discard seeds. Add the sugar and liqueur, and stir until sugar dissolves. Makes 1 cup of sauce.
In a heavy saucepan on low heat, warm 1/4 cup of the cream and the white chocolate, stirring constantly until chocolate melts. Let mixture cool until it is lukewarm. Stir in 1 tablespoon of raspberry sauce, and the food coloring. Transfer to a large bowl.
In a medium bowl, whip remaining 1 1/2 cup cream to soft peaks. Fold into melted chocolate mixture, one-third at a time, until no streaks remain.
Layer into parfait dishes, and serve with the sauce. May also be used to fill or ice a cake.

{Rhubarb-Raspberry Galette}
For the filling:
1-1/2 lb. rhubarb
1 cup raspberries
3 Tbs. flour
1 to 1-1/4 cups sugar
Melted butter for brushing
Sugar for sprinkling

To make the dough
Mix Together 2 c. sifted flour & 1 tsp salt
Cut in 2/3c shortening
Sprinkle with 4 Tbsp water.

To make the filling
Trim the ends of the rhubarb and, if the stalks are more than 1 inch thick, cut them in half lengthwise. Cut the stalks into 1-inch-long pieces. In a large bowl, gently toss the rhubarb and raspberries with the flour and sugar. Let stand until moist, 5 to 10 minutes.
Heat the oven to 400°F. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and let sit at room temperature until it's just pliable, about 5 to 10 minutes. Gently spread the fruit in the center of the dough, leaving a 2-inch margin around the edge. Carefully fold the edge of the dough over the fruit, pleating it as you go. Brush the edge of the dough with melted butter and sprinkle with sugar.
Bake until the pastry is golden brown and the fruit is soft and bubbling, 45 to 55 min. Set on a rack to cool slightly.
Yields one 12-inch tart (or four 6-inch tartlets)

{Orange Creamsicle Cake}
By: Woman's Day Staff

1 store-bought 8-in. angel food cake (I made a box cake)
2 cups orange sherbet
2 cups frozen whipped topping, thawed, or fresh whipped cream
Garnish: Candied Orange Peel (recipe below), optional

Invert cake onto serving plate. Fill center hole with sherbet, packing in. Cover with plastic wrap and freeze at least 4 hours or overnight. (Once the cake is frozen, it can be wrapped and stored in freezer up to 2 weeks.) To serve: Unwrap; transfer frozen cake to a serving plate. Frost sides and top with thawed whipped topping or whipped cream. Sprinkle candied orange peel on top, if using. Candied Orange Peel: Using a citrus zester, remove the peel from 1 orange in strips. Or use a vegetable peeler to remove the peel from the orange in vertical strips, avoiding as much of the white pith as possible; cut into smaller strips. Bring 2 cups cold water and the peel to a boil in a 2-qt saucepan ; drain. In the same saucepan, whisk 1 cup water with 2 cups sugar until sugar dissolves. Add the peel and bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat; simmer the peel 10 to 15 minutes until tender and translucent. Drain; let cool. Toss the peel in 1/2 cup sugar. Using a fork or your fingers, remove peels, gently shaking off excess sugar. Store in an airtight container for 1 week.

{Frozen Watermelon Pops}
1 watermelon
Craft sticks(or popsicle sticks)
Cookie Sheet

Cut you watermelon in half. Reserve one side for the "pop holder"
Cut thick ring slices (about 1/2 inch thick) of watermelon
Use your cookie cutter and cut out your shape
Insert your craft stick into your watermelon shape, taking care not to poke it through.
Place on you foil lined cookie sheet and freeze for a few hours.

{The Gifts}
The gals were given delicious homemade smoothie fruit roll-ups! Also, a homemade kitchen hand scrub adorned with an authentic 'Gourmet Gals" label! Brand new recipe binders all tucked in darling summer totes completed the gifts! So summery and beautifully wrapped!

{Smoothie Roll-Ups}
by Veggie Wedgie

400gr strawberries
2 bananas
1 tsp vanilla extract
1tbsp agave syrup or other sweetener

In a blender, add all ingredients and blend until smooth, taking care to crush the strawberry seeds. if your blender is not powerful enough to do that you will need to strain this. Spread the mixture on the dehydrator sheets and dehydrate on 41C for 6-8 hours, flipping once, until its completely dry. Roll up in baking paper and cut to serving sized pieces.
*You can totally make this in an oven as well, on the lowest temperature until the pulp is completely dry. They just won’t be completely raw and it’s more of hassle, but it is definitely doable.

{All-Natural Moisturizing Kitchen Hand Scrub}
1 1/2c sugar
1/3c Kosher Salt
Zest of One Large Lemon
1c. Olive Oil
A few drops of yellow food coloring
Scented Lemon Fragrance-(found in the soap making area)

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix well. If you would like a slightly stronger fragrance, add the extract. Spoon into a pretty jar, tighten the lid. Wipe any spills or drips from the outside of the jar. Alternatively, you can use orange or lime zest for a different fresh citrus smell. For an extra touch, tie a pretty bow around the jar if you plan to gift this scrub. This makes enough for a 1 pint canning jar

{The Help}
Thanks to the sweet helpers that made our night so relaxing and enjoyable!
{The Hostesses}
Thanks to Lisa and Becky for such a wonderful summer abundance! It was truly a beautiful and tranquil evening. The food was spectacular and refreshing!
We learned so many wonderful ways to prepare our summer favorites.
The ambiance was perfect! Everything was so bright, cheery, and comfy!
Way to start the new GG year!
{The Gals}