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Posts Tagged ‘summer’

Happy First Day of Summer!

Here’s to:

Popsicles – the kind with two sticks, preferably in rootbeer or banana flavor

Sunshine  – bright, robust and beautiful

Blue Skies – so vibrantly blue you can’t help but smile to look up into the azure depths

Roses – because their fragrant scents were made to fill the air of a summer night

Sprinklers – that are meant to be run through as much as water lawns

Sparklers – because no matter how old you are, you should play with them at least once a summer

Ice Cream – because it’s ice cream and one of the wonderful confections ever created

Dreams – that seem more alive and vivid during the summer

Picnics – whether it is a full-fledged affair or a thrown together basket of bread and cheese, sit on the grass, lounge beneath a tree, absorb the essence of summer

Fresh Air – filled with the sweet taste of summer and meant to be inhaled deeply, slowly, intently

County Fairs – for the calorie-laden food we all look forward to tasting once a year, the greeting of old friends, the silly rides, the obnoxious smells, the complete summer-ness of it all

Backyard barbecues – because that which is cooked on a grill outside during the summer tastes better than anything else you can think of at that moment

Porch swings – patios, hammocks and any other outdoor furniture that allow you to slow down, sit back and soak in summer

Summer gatherings with friends – because they are informal and fun. Here’s a download of party ideas.

If you have ideas to add to the list, please post in the comments section!

She Who LOVES Summer!

 

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freeimages.co.uk food imagesWhen the garden is filled with luscious, ripe red tomatoes and oodles of crunchy cucumbers, I love to pick a few of each and put them together in a refreshing summer salad.

I made this salad for guests recently and it was received enthusiastically. Then when a friend invited us for lunch a few days ago, she made the salad for us. I’m sure it tasted even better when someone else made it!

There is nothing quite like a vine-ripened tomato that has soaked up the best of summer’s rays, drank in the morning dew and the rain from scattered showers, and sits waiting at the peak of perfection to be enjoyed and savored.

You can make this salad for one or for a group, just the proportions the same.

Fresh Summer Salad

3 cups  cucumber, peeled and sliced

3 cups tomato, cut into bite-sized pieces

1cup crumbled feta cheese

1/2 cup Italian salad dressing

Mix together and serve immediately.

What is your favorite fruit or vegetable to enjoy from the garden? Please share your response here.

If you would like to receive more easy recipes, sign up for my newsletter!

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So what are the odds that the night before you have company coming for dinner that both the oven and the barbecue would go out of commission?

I had just taken a cake out of the oven when the stove started beeping annoyingly and the broiler went on and wouldn’t turn off. Hubby finally got it to be quiet and stop broiling. Evidently the temp sensor went haywire and of course they have to be ordered and no one in the area keeps them in stock.

Knowing I had seven hungry people I would need to feed the next evening and no oven, I started pulling out ideas for meals that could be grilled on the barbecue.  It was then that Hubby chimed in that the barbecue was not an option.

Pacing the floor the morning of our impending disaster, er dinner, I finally remembered I own a crockpot. Taking it out of the box and removing the packing materials, I quickly got it ready to roll. The result of our make-do dinner was spectacularly tasty.  Here is the recipe!

Barbecue Pork

3-5 pounds of pork tenderloin

2 cans of chicken broth

1 cup barbecue sauce

Dash of Salt and Pepper

Put all ingredients in crock pot and cook on low for eight hours. You can then shred the meat and serve on rolls or slice it. We sliced it and served with a side of additional barbecue sauce for those who like things a little spicier.

Since I’m new to crock-pot cooking, if you have any great recipes you’d like to share, I’d love for you to post them here or send them on!

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summerWhen you are entertaining families and youngsters will be included in the guest list, think about preparing some activities for them in advance. That way, when they arrive, there are  fun things to do to keep them occupied and entertained.

The activities do not need to involve a lot of time and expense. If there will be older children attending, make sure to get them involved as well. Involve your own children in the prep work. They can roll silverware in napkins, create place cards, decorate a welcome sign, put flowers into bowls or vases and serve as the welcome committee.

Here are a few ideas of things to keep kids entertained outside when the weather is nice:

• Place a big blanket out in the yard and put out a selection of toys. The littler ones especially enjoy it.

• Break the kids up into groups and send them on scavenger hunts. This can be done indoors or out. Create a specific list for each group with six to 10 items on each list. You could include things like a blue shoe, a spoon, a book, a flower blossom, etc. This works especially well with children of mixed ages.

• Turn them loose on the sidewalk with a bucket of sidewalk chalk and let them each create a masterpiece.

• Make a big batch of bubbles and let them blow until the air is filled with bubbles. Guaranteed to delight both young and old alike. (Mix 1 part Dawn regular dish soap, 10 parts water, and 1/4 part white Karo Syrup. )

• Give each child a sheet of plain white paper, have plenty of crayons or markers available and then let them each choose a slip of paper on which has been written an animal body part. Each child will then draw their body part – but of their favorite animal. When they are all done, have them try to assemble all the pictures into one animal. They might have something like a hippo-cat-phant-rocerus.

• Create a backyard obstacle course using stepping stones, a low bench, hoops, boxes and string.

Whatever you decide to do when entertaining youngsters, keep it fun and simple. Even some of the “big” kids will want to get involved!

If you have kid-friendly entertaining ideas to share, please post them here.

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mousse-cupsWith the temps high, patience short and everyone in the lazy mode of summer, keep your entertaining efforts simple.

Think about hosting a BAD (Beverages, Appetizers and Desserts) party. This type of party is easy on the host, very casual in atmosphere and is a fun way to get everyone together, especially when no one is into eating heavy food.

Follow these few pointers and you will once again be the host with the most!

  • Make it very clear in your invitation that you are serving only beverages, appetizers and desserts.  If your guests come expecting a full sit down meal, they may be disappointed.
  • Choose items that are easy to eat when seated casually or standing. Something that requires a steak knife or additional bowls will not be appreciated. Think about finger foods or bite-sized pieces that are super easy to eat while moving about.
  • Stick to a casual buffet when you are setting out the food.
  • BAD parties work well with both small and large numbers attending. It works particularly well with an open house format.
  • You can also set up stations for the buffet in different areas. One station might hold the beverages, one might have the appetizers, one could have cheese, crackers, dips, veggies, fruit and another area may be the dessert station.

Remember to have fun with it, keep it casual and focus on your guests.

If you would like more tips for party theme ideas, please leave a post here or send me a message!

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Since July is National Ice Cream Month and today is the last day of the month, it seemed appropriate to share an ice cream recipe today.

My Aunt Karen makes the best chocolate ice cream. At a recent family reunion, there were several of us cousins (the known chocoholics) who would have willingly passed up the meal to have a bowl of her ice cream first. Unfortunately, there were too many little ones watching for us to abandon all reason and dive directly into the ice cream. You know, setting a good example, and all that.

So with limited restraint, we anxiously awaited the appropriate time to forsake our hamburgers and get in line for a bowl of this smooth, creamy confection. It isn’t too sweet or too rich. It is frozen perfection with a light chocolate flavor. She has graciously shared her recipe with me, so here it is:

Aunt Karen’s Chocolate Ice Cream

3 cups sugar
Rounded 1/2 cup measure of cocoa powder
3 eggs, beaten
2 cups half-and-half
2 tablespoons vanilla
1 quart heavy whipping cream
Approximately 2 quarts of whole milk

Blend sugar and cocoa powder together then add 1 quart of milk in large kettle (saucepan). Bring to a simmer, add a small amount of the hot mixture to the eggs to temper. Beat well and add back to the kettle.  Bring this to a boil and then remove from heat. After it cools a few minutes add vanilla, half-and-half and the heavy cream.  Refrigerate until cold, stir occasionally.  Overnight is good. Add cold mixture to your ice cream freezer can and fill up to the one gallon mark with whole milk. Freeze as your ice cream freezer directs. Makes one gallon.

If you have a great ice cream recipe you’d like to share or want info on a great ice cream scoop, leave a post here.

Enjoy!

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Although most of us don’t think about it, entertaining at home can really be broken down into three main areas: inspiration, preparation, and presentation. Although very different, each category has equal importance in your entertaining success.
Today we’ll focus on inspiration. It boils down to “what’s for dinner?” What are you going to serve the people you are entertaining?
The type of event or celebration will help narrow your selections. Choosing a theme also narrows the field and helps create some guidelines. Themes are a fantastic way to entertain, but we’ll talk more about those another day.
Inspiration can come from many different areas. Maybe you have been to a party and saw or tasted something there you want to try. Maybe you are under the gun to host a family event – like a family reunion. If you like food magazines or collect cookbooks, you’ll find a lot of ideas and inspiration there. The Food Network and websites such as allrecipes.com can also provide some great inspiration.
Take a look around you. What is fresh and in season? Let it inspire you! This time of year it is so fun to entertain with all the fresh goodness that abounds from gardens.
Inspiration doesn’t have to be difficult. Have fun with it and see how much your guests enjoy the fruits of your labors!
What is your favorite way to find inspiration in the kitchen? Please feel free to share your ideas!

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