Tropical Fruit Salad

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My sister was looking for a new fruit salad recipe for a wedding she needed to cook for. I told her about this recipe and thought I hadn’t made it in awhile. My husband loves fruit salad. It is similar to Frog’s Eye Fruit salad in that you add a very small round pasta called Acini de Pepe or the star shaped Stelline pasta. It gives the consistency of tapioca.

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Tropical Fruit Salad

Serves at least 10-15

Ingredients:

2 cans chunk pineapple

2 cans Mandarin oranges

4 containers of Del Monte Diced Mango–yields about 2 cups

1 pint whipping cream

1/2 block of Cream cheese, softened

1/2- 1 cup sugar, as per taste

1 cup uncooked pasta- Stelline or Acina de Pepe

1/2-1 cup sweetened shredded coconut

3 tbs chopped nuts- walnuts/macadamia, hazelnuts–whatever you like

Handful marshmallows

Method:

In boiling water cook and drain the pasta. Add the pasta to the reserved fruit juice and let sit in it for a few minutes until totally cool.

Take whipping cream and start whipping until it gets frothy. Add sugar gradually and then the very soft cream cheese. Whip until fluffy and thick. Combine all the drained canned fruits in a large bowl. Reserve some of the liquid.  Drain.

Combine the pasta to fruit and gently fold in the whipped cream to combine. Add coconut, nuts and marshmallows. Garnish with more nuts and refrigerate for an hour or 2 before serving.

Variations:

  • You can add mango pulp as you whip the  cream for added flavor.
  • May omit marshmallows if vegetarian.
  • Add fresh fruits if in season.
  • Delicious when topped on warm pound cake.
  • Layer with angel food cake for a light trifle.

Summer Spring Rolls

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My daughter has gone back to college (boo hoo! ) my son is with his friends at their lake houses ( wish I had more friends like that!) and my husband is away for a week at a conference.These rolls are a perfect meal for one that entails minimal cooking dish. These Vietnamese spring rolls are a family favorite and a make a nice party appetizer, especially in the summer. It is low fat but very filling. You can find the Vietnamese Spring Roll wrappers at any Asian grocery store. They are wafer thin, stiff round sheets that can be stored in your pantry for years. The wafers are softened by dipping them for a few seconds in hot water.

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Summer Spring Rolls
Ingredients:

6 Spring Roll wrappers

1 large handful of rice noodles

1 cup steamed shrimp, seasoned with salt and pepper

1 cup grated carrots

1/2 large seedless cucumber, julienned

4 green onions, julienned

a bunch of cilantro leaves, left whole

Sauce- 2–3 tablespoon peanut butter, 2 tsp Soy Sauce, chili paste to taste- microwave together for a minute or so

Method:

In a bowl, place noodles and cover with hot water. Cover and let it sit for 10 mts. It should be soft by then. Drain off water.

Set out all ingredients to start assembly of wraps.

In a flat plate add few tablespoons of hot water. Dip the wrappers in the plate and flip over until moist ( only a few seconds) and transfer to a flat surface. It will continue to soften as it sits.

Starting at one end of the wrapper, smear some of the sauce and then arrange 3-4 shrimp. Top with the approx. 1 tbs cooked rice noodles, then the grated carrot, cucumber and a piece or 2 of green onion and a few sprigs of cilantro. Before wrapping add a little more sauce on to one side of the wrapper and roll, tucking in the edges into a roll. It will stick to itself and stay sealed. Slice on the bias and serve with more sauce for dipping.

NOTE: You can make this vegetarian by adding any veggies that you like. For non veg- can add any meat you like.

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Rice papers to make spring rolls
Rice papers to make spring rolls (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Shrimp Kabobs with Masala Corn and Peas Orzo

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Since summer is here now and the temps are in the 80’s here is a perfect menu for the grill.

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Shrimp Kabobs
Ingredients
2 lbs shrimp, shelled and deveined
1 large red Onion
2 zucchini or squash
Cherry tomatoes, if you like them
Marinade:
2 tbs olive oil
1 tsp chili pdr
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 tsp black pepper
3 tbs lemon juice
Salt to taste
Mix all marinade ingredients and add to shrimp. Cut veggies into large chunks and add to shrimp. Refrigerate for a minimum of 15 mts.
Soak wooden skewers in water for 15 mts. Skewer shrimp and veggies.
Place on hot grill for 15 mts and turn until cooked.

Grilled Masala Sweet Corn
Husked corn- marinate with olive oil, salt, chili pdr,
Grill for 10 mts, turning frequently

Peas Orzo
Ingredients:
2 cups dry orzo pasta
4 tbs butter
1 tbs olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp red chili flakes
1 cup frozen peas
Salt to taste
Method:
Boil 8 cups water in large pot. Add some salt and add Orzo. Cook for 5-8 mts and drain when cooked.
Set aside.
Heat oil and butter in a sauce pan. Add garlic, red chili flakes, peas and salt. Add cooked orzo and toss.

Serve kabobs on a bed of orzo.

Guest Post–Want Some More S’more Bars?

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Today is a guest post from none other than my daughter who is home for the summer from college. Enjoy!

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Hi everyone! For the past four months I haven’t been able to re-create any of my mom’s freshly baked desserts, due to the lack of kitchen appliances in my dorm. Upon arriving home, I was craving something sweet so I decided to make a  S’more bar complete with a graham cracker crust, warm melted chocolate and toasted fluffy marshmallows…YUM. S’mores are something that automatically takes me back to childhood summers so I couldn’t think of a better dessert to eat my first day of summer vacation.  I found a recipe online which seemed easy enough to try for my mid-afternoon dessert craving, however, I added chopped walnuts for a little added texture  and white chocolate chips in addition to the milk chocolate.  Enjoy!

Ingredients:

1 pouch (1 lb 1.5 oz) Betty Crocker® sugar cookie mix

1 cup graham cracker crumbs

1 cup butter or margarine, melted

2 cups milk chocolate chips

1 cup white chocolate chips

1 bag of big marshmallows

1. Heat oven to 375°F. In large bowl, stir together cookie mix and crumbs. Stir in melted butter until soft dough forms. Press into ungreased 13×9-inch pan.

2. Bake 18 to 20 minutes or until set. Immediately sprinkle chocolate chips over crust. Let stand 3 to 5 minutes or until chocolate begins to melt. Spread chocolate evenly over crust.

3. Set oven control to broil. Sprinkle marshmallows over melted chocolate. Broil with top 4 to 5 inches from heat 20 to 30 seconds or until marshmallows are toasted. (Watch closely; marshmallows will brown quickly.) Cool 10 minutes. Serve warm. Store any remaining bars tightly covered.

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These bars were super easy, and equally sweet. The graham cracker crust was chewy, and contrasted well with the smooth chocolate and warm marshmallows. Perfect for a quick midafternoon pick-me-up 🙂

Chicken Kabobs , Tzatziki and Cilantro Tabbouleh

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Mediterranean and Middle Eastern food are always on the list for the most healthy of diets. The addition of olive oil and garlic, lemon juice are some key components. Tabbouleh is a light lemony side salad dish made with cracked wheat (bulghur) and lots of parsley. I don’t like parsley much so added more cilantro instead. Even though it is at freezing here today, this light, refreshing meal will remind me of summer. Enjoy!

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Cilantro Tabbouleh

Ingredients:

2 cups Cilantro, chopped finely

1 cup Parsley, chopped finely

1 cup each of chopped tomatoes and cucumber

2-3 cloves garlic minced

3 green onions, chopped finely

1/2 cup Cracked wheat or Bulghur wheat

1 cup hot water

Dressing:

Juice of half a lemon

2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

salt and black pepper to taste.

Method:

Boil the water and pour over the cracked wheat and let stand, covered for 30 mts. Now prepare all the ingredients for the salad and toss together. Check the cracked wheat. The water should have absorbed, but if there is any remaining, just drain. Add to salad. Mix dressing ingredients and toss together. Serve chilled as an accompaniment.

Chicken Kabobs

Ingredients:

6 chicken thighs, skinned and cubed into boneless kabob pieces

Marinade:

1 cup chopped cilantro

1 cup chopped mint

2 stalks green onion

6-7 cloves garlic

4 green chilies

1 tbsp. yogurt

Juice of half a lemon,

1 tsp Lemon zest

1/2 a tomato

2 tsp Cumin pdr

1 tsp coriander pdr

1/2 tsp turmeric

1/2 tsp red chili flakes

2 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive oil
Wood or metal skewers

Method:

Clean and prep chicken thigh meat. Set aside. Puree all the ingredients of the marinade in a blender. Should still be able to see specks of the cilantro and mint leaves. Pour over chicken. Let marinate covered in fridge for minimum 1 hour. (Overnight is even better)

Soak wooden skewers in water for 15 mts. Discard leftover marinade. Skewer meat onto them and broil or grill for 25-30 mts until cooked. Should have some brown spots on the meat. Serve immediately.

Tzatziki
Ingredients:
1 cup yogurt
5 cloves garlic
1/2c chopped cilantro
1 cup diced cucumber
2 tsp lemon juice
Salt to taste

Method:
Combine all ingredients in a blender and purée for a few seconds. Chill.

Top a Pita bread with chicken kabobs and Tzatziki sauce, accompany with Tabbouleh salad.

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Grape Salad

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I had bought some green grapes that were more sour than sweet so decided to make a salad out of it. I have seen a similar salad at my friends house adding pomegranate seeds. It is very light and a perfect side item anytime.

Grape Salad:

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Ingredients:
A bunch of grapes, halved
1/2 seedless cucumber, peeled and diced
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 onion, diced
2 green chilies, minced
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Salt and pepper to taste
Chopped cilantro

Method:
Toss a ingredients together and chill. Serve as side salad. Feeds 5-6.

Mushroom Peanut Couscous

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We went to Costco last weekend and I bought a 5 lb bag of Israeli couscous.Now I have to figure out what to make with it. We will be eating this for awhile. Since we are veg for lent thought about using the mushrooms I had. Adding crushed peanuts adds some protein.

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Mushroom Peanut Couscous

Ingredients:
1 cup Israeli couscous
2 cups water ( or any stock)
1/2 onion diced
1 container sliced mushrooms
1 tbs olive oil
1/2 tsp red chilli flakes
1/4 tsp turmeric
1 tbs chopped cilantro or parsley
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tbs chopped roasted unsalted peanuts

Method:
In a sauce pan heat up oil, add onions and mushrooms. Saute unto soft, then add, salt, pepper, turmeric, chili flakes. Mix in couscous to combine. Add water and cover. Simmer for 8-10 mts until water is evaporated. Top with 2 tbs chopped peanuts and parsley or cilantro. Serve warm or cold.

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I’m having this for lunch with some diced cucumber topped with feta cheese.

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Meyer Lemon Blondie

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I had some leftover Meyer lemons and was trying to figure out what to do with them hence this recipe….I didn’t want a heavy cake and thought why not a blondie. I forgot to add some baking powder/soda and was scared that it would be dense but it came out simply beautiful. Looked more like a lemon tart .This would be great with a cup of coffee, maybe accompanied with fresh raspberries, mint and some light whipped cream. I only had mint on hand but love the simplicity it adds. This is a keeper.

Meyer Lemon Blondie

Ingredients:

3/4 cup all purpose flour

3/4 cup sugar

1/4 tsp salt

1 stick butter, softened

2 large eggs

2 large lemons—for zest and juice

For glaze:

1 cup confectioners sugar

2 tsp lemon zest

4 tsp lemon juice

Garnish- fresh raspberries, mint leaves-optional

Method:

Preheat oven to 350
Combine sugar, butter, salt. Add the zest of one lemon and the juice of one lemon. Add eggs and combine. Add flour and fold til well incorporated.Put into round or square 8×8 greased baking dish and bake for 20-25 mts. Make sure it does not get too brown and just set.

Allow to cool. Make glaze…combine all ingredients for glaze and when blondie is totally cool, spread glaze and let harden. Garnish as desired.

Pearls of Couscous

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This a great summertime salad made from pearl couscous. It can be prepared in 10 minutes and can be a great side instead of rice. I usually make this as a side when we grill outdoors during the summertime. It is light, healthy and flavorful.

Pearl Couscous Salad

Ingredients:

1 cup Pearl Couscous (available in white and whole wheat varieties)

 1  1/4 cup water

1 tablespoon butter

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 a seedless cucumber, diced

1/2 a large red onion, diced

2 green chilies, chopped

handful of chopped cilantro

juice from half of a lemon

1 tsp lemon zest

salt and pepper to taste

Method:

In a sauce pan bring water, salt and butter to a boil. Add couscous and cover. Let cook for 8-10 minutes. In the meantime, combine, salt, pepper, lemon juice, zest, red onions, cucumber, green chillies and cilantro leaves in a serving bowl. When the couscous is ready, fluff and then add to vegetable mixture. Serve at room temperature or chilled.

Alt: Can add chopped tomatoes, chopped zucchini, green onions, black olives as well.