Category Archives: Summer

Oven-Roasted Summer Squash

P1050922The next few posts, I want to share my favorite ways to enjoy summer squash. (whether that be yellow or zucchini!)

I always look forward to that first wonderful taste of freshly picked summer squash each summer, because I do love this vegetable! It’s so versatile and there are many ways to enjoy eating it. You probably already assume that since it is a vegetable, that it is good for you. And this is true! But, do you know HOW good for you summer squash really is? According to whfoods.org, Summer Squash is high in copper, manganese, vitamin C, magnesium, fiber, phosphorus, potassium, folate, Vitamin B6, Vitamin K just to name a few!

So, what are some of my favorite ways to prepare and eat this great veggie? Comin’ right up!

Today’s version is roasted in the oven. It really could not be any simpler than this. When you bake the squash, the flavors become more concentrated and I feel like the taste is a little more bold.

You only need about 5 minutes to put this together, and only about 20 minutes to let it bake. I love to serve squash with steak, chicken, or burgers!

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Fresh Summer Chicken Salad

P1050885Last night I made chicken for dinner and since my Tim was out of town, we had more left over than usual.  So, when I began the search through the refrigerator today wondering what to whip up for lunch, Chicken Salad just sounded really good. I hadn’t had any in a long time!

Now, I know people are picky about their chicken salad. It seems like there is the camp that likes all the mix-ins- like grapes and celery, and nuts. And then there is the camp that adamantly hates that and likes it more plain. Well- I am one of those in the mix-ins camp. But, sadly I didn’t have any of that good stuff on hand to mix in!

So, I created this chicken salad with a fresh summer-flavored twist, using ingredients you are likely to have in your vegetable or herb garden this time of year, or that are in season for you to buy- and yum, yum, yum! I will make this again!

Instead of the traditional grapes, I used strawberries. Instead of celery, I’ve used cucumbers, plus fresh summer herbs and avocado. Perhaps the combination sounds a little weird to you, but it really hit the spot, and it was a great way to use up leftover chicken. It gave me a non-boring lunch for a change, too!

I ate mine right out of the bowl, but it would also taste great served over lettuce or on some good homemade bread! Give it a try!

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Strawberry Shortcakes (from scratch – without a packaged mix)

P1050852Sunshine, Summer, Simplicity, Strawberries, and Shortcakes. They just all go together too well to not make this dessert at least once this summer!

Strawberry Shortcakes make such a pretty little dessert to the eye and a yummy dessert to the taste!

There are many different styles of this classic berry treat. Some people use pound cake or a plain yellow cake, and some people prefer angel food cakes to absorb those yummy strawberries!

My personal favorite version is with the slightly sweet individual biscuit-like shortcakes. The most well-known way to make these are with a pre-packaged biscuit mix, like Bisquick.

But, you can make them quick as a wink on your own with ingredients you probably already have in your pantry. This will be cheaper, as well as better for you than a packaged and preserved mix.

These shortcakes are buttery, slightly sweet, with a fluffy inside and a little crunch on the outside from the sprinkled sugar!

Here’s how to make them!

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Homemade Strawberry Ice Cream (no eggs)

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There’s nothing like the taste of homemade ice cream. Yum!  Whether it’s served at the church ice cream social or as the finishing touch to your backyard family cookout, homemade ice cream is always pleasing and the perfect simple dessert.

Well, this strawberry ice cream is no exception. It is absolutely delicious- fresh strawberry taste, cold and creamy, sweet and tart- it’s the perfect welcome to summer!

My family gave it rave reviews, and most everyone went back for (at least) seconds.

And what a great way to use those strawberries you worked so hard to freeze and save after berry picking!

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Fresh Peach Cobbler

P1040897Fresh Peaches from the orchard have to be one of my favorite parts of summer. And though I really love a red ripe strawberry, a sweet and juicy cantaloupe, or a crunchy crispy apple, I think a perfectly ripe peach that just drips with its sweet juice when I slice it, just might win as my very favorite fruit. I love to eat tpeaches over vanilla ice cream, topping my cereal, in a pie, or my favorite- peach cobbler!

I’m a big cobbler lover anyway. I was just telling my hubby how cobblers remind me of after-church potlucks that we used to have when I was a little girl in the small fellowship hall of our church. It was always filled with many people, loud from laughter and talking, and the tables were brimming with all sorts of wonderful things to eat. Of course the dessert table was my favorite- and I could always find many delicious cobblers to choose from among the goodies. Sweet memories.

This peach cobbler is purely peaches. What I mean is, peaches are the main flavor. I don’t add extra spices or flavorings to compete with the fruit. It just doesn’t need it! Keep it simple.

The topping is exactly how I like my cobbler topping to turn out. It’s kinda crispy on top, but soft underneath- almost biscuit-like in texture, but not as dry.

Peach cobbler is truly one of those simple joys of summer. Why not surprise your family and make one to enjoy after dinner one night. Go sit on the porch and enjoy the summer warmth while you soak in the sweetness of a few quiet moments with the ones you love and a delicious fresh peach cobbler!

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How to Preserve Tomatoes (quick freezer method)

P1040821The end of July is creeping up, and with it has come a bountiful harvest of tomatoes- the jewel of the garden. I planted several varieties this year, but especially a lot of Roma tomatoes- since they are so good for sauces.

So now is the time to begin to preserve those tomatoes.

Let me say, I do like canning things. I am one of those who thinks a counter-top of freshly canned fruits or veggies is absolutely beautiful and so rewarding. Yes, I do love the sound of the “pop” when a jar has sealed!

P1040813However, I have been doing more freezing of my tomatoes in recent years. Mostly because I don’t have a lot of spare time these days. I’m busy keeping up with my 4 young kids, keeping the house, running errands, etc. etc. You know how it is- you’re probably in the same boat as me.

This freezing method takes very little prep, does not heat my kitchen up like canning does, and I can freeze a batch in smaller amounts, as the tomatoes come in, instead of needing a large amount of tomatoes to even make the canning worthwhile.

Of course, as with anything, there are pros and cons. You do need to have freezer space available. And there is always the possibility that you could have a storm and lose power for several days, and if you don’t have a generator, you could lose all your effort and harvest. So, weigh these factors, and decide which method is best for you.

If you were to search “how to freeze tomatoes” online, I’m sure you would find many methods- and probably from people who know a lot more about it than me.  But, this is simply how I do it, and we love to enjoy the resulting yummy sauces in the fall and winter!

PRINTABLE INSTRUCTIONS

There are 5 basic steps.

  1. Prep
  2. Rinse
  3. Boil
  4. Peel
  5. Pack bags or containers
  6. Freeze

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Buttery Yellow Squash and Mushrooms

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This buttery dish of veggies is delicious served alone, or as a topping for baked potato, or served over pasta! Yum!

We eat a lot of squash in the summer! And, if this popular plant is a part of your garden, I bet your family eats a lot of it, too! Squash plants are notorious for giving you a bountiful harvest- often faster than you can eat it. But I do love this veggie, and am always craving it by the time summer rolls around!

So, if you’re wondering what to do with all the yellow squash that you keep gathering from the garden, I can tell you this is a delicious solution.

Squash, mushrooms, and onion are simply sauteed in butter, which becomes like a ‘sauce’ for the veggies. So good! Add to that- it’s also very quick, easy!

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Blueberry Parfaits with Homemade Vanilla Pudding

P1040404Sunday afternoon is family time with my side of the family. Ever since I can remember, my family has always held to the tradition of a big Sunday Dinner (lunch) as a family. I’m so thankful my mom continues to put the time into these big meals. I know they are a lot of work! My ‘part’ in the Sunday meal each week is dessert. So, this past Sunday, I wanted to do something with blueberries we picked last week.

I chose these blueberry parfaits. Such a simple dessert as far as the concept goes- just layers of vanilla pudding, blueberries, and whipped cream. Oh, but it was just what I was looking for- Light, comforting, simple, fresh and eye-catching, too! The blueberries bring the perfect burst along with the creaminess from the pudding and cream.

The homemade vanilla pudding is what makes the dessert extra special. (Packaged instant -puddings are one of the products I no longer buy- I’d rather not serve the chemicals and preservatives with my pudding, if you don’t mind! See the ingredient list here) Homemade pudding is not hard to make. It just takes a little extra time and effort at the stove-top. But you will be pleasantly surprised at the light, yet rich flavor of real pudding.

Finish the parfaits by layering the pudding, blueberries and fresh whipped cream.

Delicious!

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Corn, Peppers, and Onions

P1040156Nothing complicated or complex here. Just a simple and tasty side dish!

Colorful and savory, it’s  one of my favorite ways to prepare corn to go along with dinner.

It takes just a few minutes and uses whole ingredients. (perhaps you have some of these growing in your garden this  year!)

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Cool Lemon Sheet Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

P1040154Lemon flavor always reminds me of spring and summer. It’s cool and refreshing, yellow and sunny, cheerful and light. This cake is all those things, and delicious, too!

The original recipe for this sheet cake used a boxed cake mix and canned lemon pie filling. So, I knew I needed to find a way to get the same result without the pre-packaged ingredients.  My little Sis is home from college for the summer, and this is one of her favorites, so this weekend I recreated it- and let me tell you, nothing was lost from ditching the pre-packaged mixes- except maybe a little extra time and a load of preservatives and other unwanted ‘ingredients’!

Now, WARNING! This cake uses a lot of ingredients, it does require a few extra steps, and it is not going to make you skinny! However– it’s fresh and delicious, slightly dense, moist, cool, and lemony, and topped with a great cream cheese frosting. In other words- it’s worth it!

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