Summer Treats

Summer is upon us! It is a time for picnics, barbeques, sports games, patio lounging and pot lucks. It is easy to fall back on premade supermarket meals when you are bringing a dish to a friend’s pool party, but it is even easier and more affordable to whip something up in your own kitchen. Here are some helpful, fun ideas for you to share with friends and family.

Pickled Cucumber Salad
(Approximately 4 servings)
2 large cucumbers, peeled, cut in half lengthwise then thinly sliced widthwise
1/2 medium red onion, thinly sliced
1 Teaspoon sugar
1/4 Cup rice vinegar
Coarse ground salt
Ground pepper
Combine cucumbers, red onion, sugar, and rice vinegar in a bowl. Season with the salt and pepper.

Potato Salad
(Approximately 10 to 12 servings)
4 pounds russet potatoes (approximately 8 potatoes)
1 Tablespoon + 2 Teaspoons salt
3 Tablespoons cider vinegar
3 large eggs
1/2 Cup + 2 Tablespoons Homemade Mayonnaise (or prepared)
1/2 Teaspoon celery seed
1 Teaspoon dry mustard
1/2 Teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 stalks of celery, cut into 1/4″ dice (approximately 3/4 Cup)
1 red bell pepper, cut into 1/4″ dice (approximately 1/2 Cup)
1 medium red onion, finely diced (approximately 1/2 Cup)
10 sweet pickles, cut into 1/4″ dice (approximately 1/4 Cup)
3 green onions, thinly sliced (approximately 1/2 Cup)
2 Tablespoons freshly chopped parsley
1 Teaspoon paprika
Submerge potatoes in water in a large pot and boil with 1 tablespoon of salt. Cook until potatoes are tender (about 25 minutes). Drain. While wearing gloves or using paper towels, peel the potatoes and cut into 1″ dice while still hot. Drizzle with vinegar and set aside.
Place eggs in a small pan with enough water to cover them by 1″ and place over medium-high heat. When water boils, turn off heat, cover and let stand for 13 minutes. Drain and submerge in a bowl with cold water. When cold, peel and chop two into 1/4″ dice. Slice the third egg into 1/4″ thick rounds.
Combine diced eggs with mayonnaise, celery seed, mustard, 2 Teaspoons of salt, and black pepper in a large bowl. Whisk to thoroughly incorporate. Add reserved potatoes to egg mixture. Add celery, red pepper, red onion, pickles, scallions and chopped parsley. Stir to combine and chill for 30 minutes before serving. Garnish with paprika and egg rounds.

Homemade Mayonnaise
(Approximately 1 Cup)
1 large egg, room temperature
1/4 Cup canola oil
1/2 Cup extra-virgin olive oil
Juice from 1/2 lemon
Set a bowl on a damp towel to hold in place. Combine egg and salt and whisk until foamy and pale. Whisking constantly, add oil in steady slow stream allowing the mixture to emulsify. Add lemon juice to taste. Store in the refrigerator for up to 7 days. Can also be made in a food processor.

Double Tomato Bruschetta
(Approximately 12 servings)
6 roma tomatoes, chopped
1/2 Cup sun-dried tomatoes, packed in oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 Cup olive oil
2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/4 Cup fresh basil, stems removed
1/4 Teaspoon salt
1/4 Teaspoon ground black pepper
1 French baguette
2 Cups shredded mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to broiler setting. Combine roma tomatoes, sun-dried tomatoes, garlic, olive oil, vinegar, basil, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Allow the mixture to sit for 10 minutes. Cut the baguette into 3/4″ slices. On a baking sheet, arrange the baguette slices in a single layer. Broil for 1-2 minutes, until slightly brown. Divide the tomato mixture evenly over the slices of baguette. Top with cheese. Broil for 5 minutes, or until cheese is melted.

California Grilled Chicken Sandwich
2 chicken breasts, sliced horizontally
1/4 Cup mayonnaise
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
1/8 Cup olive oil
1 Cup sliced red bell pepper
1 small zucchini, sliced
1 red onion, sliced
1 small yellow squash, sliced
2 (4X6″) focaccia bread pieces, split horizontally
1/2 Cup crumbled feta (or goat) cheese
1 avocado, sliced

Mix mayonnaise, minced garlic, and lemon juice in small bowl. Preheat grill. Brush vegetables with olive oil on each side. Brush grate with oil. On one side of grill, place chicken. Turn after 3-4 minutes allowing both sides to cook evenly. Cut into 1/2″ slices. Set aside. Place bell peppers and zucchini closes to the middle of the grill and place the onion and squash pieces around them. Cook for 3 minutes, turn and cook for additional 3 minutes. The peppers may take a bit longer. Remove from grill. Spread the mayonnaise mixture on the cut sides of the bread and sprinkle with feta (or goat) cheese. Place on the grill cheese side up and cover with a lid for 2-3 minutes. This will warm the bread and melt the cheese slightly. Watch carefully to avoid burning the bread. Remove from grill and layer with vegetables, chicken, and top with avocado. Enjoy open faced or closed.

Strawberry and Feta Dessert Salad
1 Cup slivered almonds
1/4 Cup mint, minced
1 Teaspoon honey
1 Teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/4 Cup raspberry vinegar
2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 Tablespoons brown sugar
1 Cup olive oil
1 pint fresh strawberries, sliced
1 Cup crumbled feta cheese

Over medium-high heat, cook almonds, stirring frequently, until lightly toasted. Remove from heat. In a bowl, prepare the dressing by whisking together the garlic, honey, Dijon mustard, raspberry vinegar, balsamic vinegar, brown sugar, and olive oil. In a large bowl, toss the toasted almonds, mint, strawberries and feta cheese. Cover with dressing mixture and toss to serve.

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