Ode To The Morning Glory

This summer I let a little swatch of lawn at the edge of the backyard get a bit out of control. Well, okay, way out of control. But now I am glad I did. The weeds offer a barrier, a sort of natural privacy fence. I’m a sort of lover of weeds, if you may. I love flowers that grow in the wild like Queen Anne’s lace and goldenrod.

So I was delighted when bunches of colorful ones sprang up on my neglected lawn. They were morning glories and I was amazed at the colors and variegations, so I took photos, wrote a bit of prose and did some research on the common morning glory.

Ode To The Morning Glory

I can always count on your pretty face to grace the day’s beginning.

Your soul unfurls wide open,

No secrets to hide,

To embrace each morning, no matter how misty.

As the sun climbs high you seem to disappear

All shriveled, faded and spent.

But you’re still there.

The cool darkness nourishes your soul with dew

You rest

And I see you again the next morning.

Facts About Morning Glories

  • Morning glories bloom in the early morning and then fade and curl up a few hours later.
  • Cultivars have been developed and seeds are available to grow them in gardens.
  • In the Australian bushland, morning glories grow dense with thick roots and are seriously invasive.
  • Some species of morning glories were used in ancient China for medicinal purposes.
  • Mesoamerican civilizations used one species of morning glory along with other plants to produce rubber.
  • Aztec priests used the morning glory’s hallucinogenic properties.
  • One species is used as a vegetable in culinary dishes in East and Southeast Asia.
  • The Japanese were the first to develop cultivars for morning glories.
  • One species known as moonflower blooms at dusk instead of the morning.

Pretty Pink with White Throat

 

White tinged with dark purple

White tinged with pale pink

Powder Blue

Bright Orange with Yellow Throat

Royal Purple with Dark Purple

Balsamic Ginger Chicken One-Pan Dinner With Roasted Veggies

One Pan Dinners

With school back in session, it’s time once again to look for ways to cut time in the kitchen and still come up with a healthy, tasty dinner.  Crock pot meals are great, of course, but the one-pan dinners baked in the oven are also great time savers.

I like them because the veggies retain a flavor and texture of their own.

The key to a tasty one-pan dinner is the  marinade. You can whip up the marinade the night before, easily, and marinate your meat in the fridge overnight. But even if you forget to do that, the meat will still be tasty if you marinate it for a half hour or so.

 

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Other veggies to consider: string beans, onions, yellow potatoes, eggplant, peppers.

Then all you have to do is chop up the veggies of your choice, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle on seasoning and roast them alongside your main dish.

I used asparagus spears, red potatoes, cherry tomatoes and mushrooms.

 

Balsamic Ginger Chicken 

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The ingredients in my ginger balsamic chicken recipe meld together in a delightful way. Balsamic vinegar, honey, Dijon mustard,  and ginger along with other spices meld together delightfully. This easy dinner can be ready in 45 minutes. 30 minutes to cook, and 10 minutes prep time.

Oh yeah, and the clean-up afterward is a snap.  Hence the name one pan dinner!

Ginger Balsamic Chicken Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 to 1 and 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 TBS honey
  • 1 TBS Dijon mustard
  • 1 TBS ginger
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • salt
  • pepper
  • dried parsley
  • olive oil
  • assorted chopped veggies

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Mix the first five ingredients in a large bowl. Add the chicken
  3. Marinate at least 30 minutes
  4. Spray a large baking sheet with cooking spray(I use the olive oil based one)
  5. Place the marinated chicken on one side and the veggies on the other
  6. Drizzle  veggies with olive oil and sprinkle with seasonings.
  7. Bake 30 minutes

What To Do With Tomatoes: Sliced Diced Stewed And Dried

 

What to do with all those tomatoes

Summer in the south just wouldn’t be the same without juicy, vine-ripened tomatoes. They are quite possibly the most versatile fruit from the garden. (Yes, they are a fruit, not a vegetable). Growing your own tomatoes is a great way to stretch your food budget both summer and winter. Enjoy them fresh all summer all the way until fall’s first frost.

Savor the flavor of a BLT sandwich made with fresh sliced tomatoes and a tall glass of sweet iced tea.

Dice them along with other veggies for a delightful garden salad,or cold pasta salad.

Slice green ones for a platter of fried green tomatoes, a southern delicacy that inspired a Hollywood hit movie.

Can stewed tomatoes in jars for delicious soups and sauces next winter.

Learn to make sun dried tomatoes that will add a gourmet touch to recipes.

Canned or frozen tomatoes can be used in many dishes all winter. An added bonus is the nutritional value in tomatoes. They are a truly nutritious food. Loaded with vitamin C, and the antioxidants lycopene and zeaxanthin, tomatoes help fight skin cancer and eye disease.

Growing tomatoes can be challenging at times, but fairly easy if you follow a few tricks and tips. Try using the tips on growing tomatoes at the end of this article for growing your next crop. Chances are, you too will be wondering what to do with all those tomatoes!

What to do with sliced tomatoes

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One of my favorite ways of using sliced tomatoes is making fried green tomatoes, a dish that has risen from country simplicity to gourmet goodness. Use tomatoes that are green in color upon ripeness, or true green, unripe ones. Slice them about a quarter of an inch thick. Spread the slices out on paper towels and salt them down with kosher salt. Let them sit for about half an hour. This helps remove the water from the tomato slices.

Meanwhile, beat a couple of eggs with a dollop of milk, in a bowl with a fork. Set up a breading station near the stove with a bowl of flour and cornmeal in separate bowls. Add some cayenne pepper to the cornmeal. Heat an eighth of an inch of oil with a pat of butter on medium heat. Right when the butter begins to sizzle, dip each tomato slice in flour first, then the egg mixture, and finally the cornmeal. Use a fork to do this. Fry the slices until golden brown, turning once. Serve these tangy tomato slices with a sauce made of mayonnaise, pickle relish, and hot sauce. This is a delicious appetizer!

What to do with diced tomatoes

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Create a classic tossed side salad for a main meal with diced tomatoes, lettuce, and other Summer garden veggies. Make a huge one when grilling out. It’s the only side dish you will need! Learn to grow a few varieties of lettuces, or pick heads of lettuce up cheaply at a produce stand.

Diced tomatoes can be used in cold pasta salads and quick, hot stir-fries. Toss tuna or chicken with pasta, diced tomatoes, squashes and cucumbers, peppers, and whatever other fresh goodies you might have with salad dressing, and make a unique pasta salad for dinner. A little olive oil, a saute pan or wok, chicken or beef strips, diced tomatoes and other Summer veggies is an inexpensive stir-fry for another night!

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Make bruschetta, another great appetizer or party food with finely diced tomatoes, garlic, onions and fresh chopped basil. I use Roma and Golden Boy tomatoes for greater color. If you have leftover hot dog or hamburger buns, use those to save money. Slice the buns at a slant for visual interest. Otherwise used sliced Italian bread. Top the slices with olive oil, Parmesan cheese, and a mixture of the tomatoes and herbs. I like sprinkling the tops with more Parmesan cheese and toasting in a low broiler for 15-20 minutes. This gives the ingredients a chance to weld together. Watch out that it doesn’t burn!. This is an easy and inexpensive appetizer.

Preserving tomatoes for winter cooking

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Tomatoes can be preserved for Wwnter cooking, saving dollars off of your grocery bill. There are methods for freezing, canning and drying tomatoes.

Freezing is the messiest, but fairly easy, and well worth being able to avoid paying high prices for less flavorful hothouse tomatoes all winter.  The freezing of tomatoes involves blanching them to easily remove the skins and cores. Tomatoes are dropped into hot, boiling water for just seconds. Take care not to begin a cooking process. That is the tricky part. The hot tomatoes are dropped immediately into cold water, causing the skins to split open for easy removal. The core is removed with a knife, and the tomato flesh is then vacuum sealed in Ziplock bags.

Unless you have a lot of freezer space, such as a stand-alone chest-type freezer, canning or drying tomatoes may be the best option.  See this article describing canning stewed tomatoes  How To Can Stewed Tomatoes-Recipe. Again, the tomatoes are blanched and the peeled, cored tomatoes are processed in jars sterilized in the dishwasher.

Tomatoes can be dried in the sun or in a food dehydrator. Sun dried tomatoes are popular in gourmet dishes. They can also be reconstituted for use in sauces by covering them with boiling water and letting them sit for 30 minutes. The water can also be used in the sauces.

Dry tomatoes in the sun by covering with metal screens or cheese cloth. Bring them in at night, and with a few days in the sun, you can have real sun dried tomatoes. Store them for reconstitution or for use in recipes. A food dehydrator is a better way to go if you have one. It is less trouble and faster. Slice tomatoes about one-quarter inch thick. Sprinkle each layer for the food dehydrator with kosher salt. Leave the dehydrator plugged in for about 10 hours.

Recipes using sun dried tomatoes

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Add a gourmet touch to cooking with sun dried tomatoes or tomatoes dried in a food hydra-tor. Pricey at the supermarket, dried homegrown tomatoes can save money. Make a Greek pizza by topping pizza crust with tomato sauce, feta cheese, dried tomatoes and black olives. Or try the angel hair pasta with sun-dried tomatoes recipe.

 

Ingredients
  • 8 ounces dried tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 pound angel hair pasta, cooked
  • 1teaspoon garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon parsley, fresh (chopped) or dried
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3/4 cup parmesan cheese
Instructions
  1. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and set aside.
  2. Heat olive oil in a skillet. Add the chopped dried tomatoes, parsley and garlic. Saute quickly.
  3. Top hot pasta with the dried tomato, herb and olive oil mixture and sprinkle on Parmesan cheese generously.

Tips for growing tomatoes

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  • start seeds indoors for early tomatoes
  • plant seeds or seedlings after a frost-free date
  • get seedlings from a local nursery to get the best for your area
  • get varieties that mature at different times, early Summer to late Fall.
  • mulch and fertilize with 10-10-10 fertilizer after planting
  • use soil that has been “worked”
  • plant where the tomatoes can get at least 6 hours of sun
  • make sure the tomatoes stay watered
  • fertilizer every 3-4 weeks with household plant food
  • provide a stake or cage for support

 

Healthy Homemade Popsicles: Blueberry Banana Swirl Pops

 

There is no reason to give the kids Popsicles made of Kool-Aide or even sugary fruit juice. These blueberry-banana swirl pops are sweet and tasty without the sugar.

Blueberries and bananas, especially over-ripe bananas are naturally very sweet-tasting .Popsicles made with fruits like strawberries, raspberries and blackberries need sugar to sweeten them because of their tartness. But blueberries and bananas can be sweetened with honey, and no sugar at all needs to be added.

No sugar makes these pops good for diabetic and overweight kids. Adults too. Additionally, blueberries are packed with antioxidants that fight disease.

These blueberry-banana Popsicles are rich, creamy and really delicious. Try them! I show you how step-by-step in a photo tutorial. This recipe makes four full-size pops. Double the recipe for more!

Puree two very ripe bananas

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Add a six-ounce container of vanilla low-fat yogurt

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Add two tablespoons honey and one tablespoon fresh lemon juice

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Blend well

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Pour out half of the banana-yogurt mixture and set aside

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Add fresh blueberries and blend slightly

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Layer the two mixtures into Popsicle molds . Swirl with a Popsicle stick and then place the stick in the middle

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Place in the freezer for at least 8 hours. Place mold in warm water for a few seconds and release the Popsicles.

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Ingredients for Blueberry-Banana Swirl Pops

  • 2 small to medium bananas, very ripe
  • 1/1/2 cups blueberries, fresh
  • 1 6-ounce container vanilla yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice, fresh

Instructions

  1. Puree 2 ripe bananas
  2. Add yogurt, honey and lemon juice. Blend
  3. Set aside half of this mixture.
  4. Add blueberries in blender and blend slightly.
  5. Alternate layers of the two mixtures into Popsicle molds. Twirl with a Popsicle stick.
  6. Leave in the Popsicle sticks. Freeze for at least 8 hours.
  7. Dip mold into a bowl of very hot water for just a few seconds to release pops.

 

 

How To Use Seashells In Home Decor

Using Seashells in Home Decor

Are you looking for some new and different home decorating ideas? Try incorporating seashells into your decor. Seashells are natural sustainable decorating items and will add a nautical touch to your home. A trip to the beach is not necessary to get seashells. Order them online.

Sea shells are of course free from the beach and inexpensive elsewhere. I like to mix the common ones that I find at the beach with  more exotic ones sold in specialty shops. Hot glue guns and glue sticks work very well when “shelling” mirrors that you perhaps bought at a yard sale or thrift shop. Glass containers, fill-able glass lamps and baskets will help display shells.Below are some ideas to get you started on crafts with seashells. Incorporate nautical beachside creations into your home decor.

Please remember the less is best rule when applying any theme in decorating. Let your shell creations be a part of a nautical decor or simply have your shell decor blend into a bigger scheme of things.

Make a Shell Garden

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For a lovely shell garden simply choose a tall glass container and arrange shells. Start with smaller shells at the bottom and then alternate with small and larger shells. Play around with them until you achieve the look you like.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Make a Seashell Lamp

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Purchase a fill-able glass based lamp and follow the same procedure as with the shell garden.Then add the shade and Voila! You have a lovely nautical table lamp.

 

 

 

 

Seashell Mirrors

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Oval Shelled Mirror

 

This shelled mirror looks much harder to make than it actually is. Just be sure to plan it out before gluing the shells with the hot glue. Use smaller shells to fill in gaps around the bigger shells. Plan for a special grouping for the top and the bottom. Here a starfish is the “star” attraction.

Go here for step-by-step instructions on shelling a mirror.

You may wish to make a smaller one like the one below to gain some experience first in shelling a mirror. The rectangular mirror on the smaller one is 30 inches x 22 inches.

Rectangular Shelled Mirror

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Make your first shelled mirror project with a smaller mirror. Notice the grouping in the top middle (oysters shells) and the spiral shells in the corners.

The idea is to create a focal grouping on the top and bottom of the mirror and then follow a sort of pattern down the sides.

Other Seashell Decor Ideas

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Add a nautical look to a window sill or shelf with large scallop shells, starfish, and a sand dollar. Fish figurines complete the nautical look for this bathroom window.

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Make a garland of shells and starfish to string across a window. Use twine such as that used for wrapping packages. Most shells have a “natural hole” in them to help you with your stringing.Or if necessary use a Dremel tool for boring a small hole. From southernliving.com

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Anchor a pretty peachy pink candle in a glass container with lots of small and medium shells. Lots of cowry shells are included in this cluster. Use any small to medium shells for grouping. From Do It Yourself.com

 

Chilled Garden Veggie Soup

 

Cold Summer Soup

There are a few things we miss about winter when the weather is hotter than a firecracker on the Fourth of July. A crackling fire, a rare southern snowfall and a bowl of hot vegetable soup are at the top of this short list.

We can’t do anything about the snowfall. A crackling fire in the fireplace would be downright uncomfortable. No doubt, the neighbors would call the fire department, then the fire department would probably call a mental hospital. But we can do something about the hot veggie soup. We can turn it into a cold spicy garden veggie soup that the whole family will love.

Soups like vegetable, vegetable beef and chicken noodle are mainstays during the Winter for households with kids. They are inexpensive, healthy and comforting. Don’t let the hot weather come between the kids and soup this summer. Introduce them to cold summer soup.

Three Reasons for Cold Summer Soup

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There are three great reasons to make cold Summer vegetable soup. First of all, it is brimming with nutrients.

This cold soup will be chock full of lycopene, the antioxidant with red pigment that gives foods like tomatoes, watermelons and red peppers their bright color. Studies at Harvard Medical School among others indicate that a high intake of lycopene helps prevent skin damage from ultraviolet rays and skin cancer. That is important in the summer!

The second great reason for making cold Summer soup is to conserve energy. A summer supper of cold veggie soup and grilled cheese or deviled egg sandwiches will not require a lot of oven use. The kitchen will stay cooler. The cheese or eggs and a cold glass of milk will add protein for a healthy and tasty meal.

Lastly, this cold summer soup recipe calls for early summer veggies like yellow squash, tomatoes, and zucchini. Fresh veggies taste better and locally grown or in-season produce usually cost less. If you have a garden or access to one picking fresh produce off the vine is a wonderful experience for kids. Some churches, schools and other organizations let the kids grow “Kinder Gardens”. Or, take a trip to a local farmer’s market with the kids. Farmer’s markets are great places to purchase local veggies, jams, honey and other good stuff. Another idea is to look for “U-Pick” farms. That would be a great outing for the kids and you would get the produce at a discount.

 

 

Vegetables In Cold Summer Soup And Their Nutrients

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yellow and zucchini squash are packed with nutrients
  • yellow squash and zucchini both have some protein. contains vitamins C & A, antioxidants that fight free radicals
  • tomatoes have antioxidants that fight several cancers. more beneficial than apples food researchers say; lycopene protects skin from ultra violet rays; zeaxanthin benefits eye health
  • yellow squash also contains carotenoids, lutein, zeaxanthin to benefit eye health; also high in pectin, a specially structured polysaccharide. thought to protect against diabetes
  • cucumbers are surprisingly high in vitamin C and are a good source of potassium.

Ingredients For Cold Summer Veggie Soup

  • One 48 oz. can Spicy V8 Juice
  • 1and 1/2 pound Ripe tomatoes
  • 1 pound Yellow squash, sliced and diced:; unpeeled
  • 1 pound Zucchini, sliced and diced; unpeeled
  • 2 Cucumbers, peeled, sliced and diced
  • 1/4 cup Olive oil
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • Desired amount fresh parsley, chopped
  • Desired Amount fresh basil, chopped
  • 1 cup Water

Instructions

  1.  Wash and scrub the veggies and herbs. Place in a colander to drain
  2. Slice and Dice the squash, zucchini. Peel and dice the cucumbers. Dice the tomatoes
  3. Pour can of V8 juice into a large bowl
  1. KIDS: Add chopped veggies into the bowl
  2. KIDS: Pour 1/4 cup olive oil and 1/4 cup lemon juice in measuring cup. Stir in the chopped herbs.
  3. KIDS: Stir the olive oil lemon juice mixture into the bowl. Add a cup of water. Stir well
  4. ADULT: Cover the bowl and put it in the fridge to “cook” for at least 2 hours. The flavors will meld together.

How To Make Tortilla Pinwheels: Easy Summer Lunch

 

Easy to Make Tortilla Pinwheels

Tortilla pinwheels are fun to make and just as much fun to eat. The kids will love making tortilla pinwheels with you! Pair them with homemade potato salad for a great summer lunch outdoors by the pool or on the patio. Practical yet festive, tortilla pinwheels will impress any summer guest.

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The trick to tortilla pinwheels is all about creative ways to present food. Traditional cold cuts, lunch meats, cheeses, and greens, along with large-sized tortillas are used to make these tortilla pinwheels. Basically, they are just a different twist on a sandwich wrap. Kids can easily make these by themselves. But it’s a lot of fun to do them together! Think of different combinations for the cheeses and cold cuts. Be sure to use the thin sliced meats and cheeses for “easy rolling!” We made roast beef & cheddar, turkey breast & provolone, ham & Swiss. We used mixed greens with baby spinach.

Brush your preference of a mixture of either olive oil or melted butter sprinkled with your choice of fresh or dried herbs on the tortilla surface. We used dried parsley, basil and peppercorn flakes in olive oil. Olive oil is a healthy choice because it contains monounsaturated fatty acids that help lower total cholesterol and stabilize blood sugar. Butter is okay too, especially for the kids. Butter contains the Omega-6 fatty acids that make our blood a bit sticky so that it will clot. That’s sure to be important with all the summertime scrapes and cuts coming up this season.

 

Ingredients for Tortilla Pinwheels

  • 6-10 tortillas, extra large size
  • 1 cup salad greens, fresh mixed
  • 8-10 slices cold cut lunch meats, thin sliced
  • 8-10 slices cheeses, variety, thin sliced
  • 1/4 cup olive oil or melted butter
  • fresh or dried herbs

Instructions for Tortilla Pinwheels

  1. Brush the mixture of olive oil or melted butter and herbs over the surface of one side of the tortilla
  2. Slice the tortilla into strips about 3 inches wide. You should get 3 strips.
  3. Layer the mixed fresh greens on the tortilla.
  4. Add the cold cut lunch meat on top of the greens.
  5. Add the cheese slices on top of the lunch meat.
  6. Carefully roll up the strips.Secure with a toothpick.
  7. Leave as is or cut in half with a sharp knife to make them more like appetizers.
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Brush melted butter or olive oil and herbs over the surface of the tortilla
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Slice the extra large tortilla into 3 strips.
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Add the greens on top of the tortillas.

 

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Top the greens with your favorite cold cuts.

 

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Top the cold cuts with your favorite cheeses

 

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Roll the strips up and slice in half

Sand Cups: Beach Or Pool Party Treat

sand cups

 

Summer Birthday Parties for Kids

Lucky is the kid with a summer birthday!  I was born on a dreary January day. When I was growing up,  I longed for a summer birthday. Even December is a better birthday month than January. At least Christmas food and decoration themes can be used to spice up a December birthday party.

Why are Summer birthday parties best?

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They can be held outdoors, and any kid (and parent) likes that best. A shady lawn, cool park, pool and beach side are great places for birthday parties. So lucky the adults who have a kid with a summer birthday!

Sand cups will be a big hit at a pool or beach birthday party or any Summer party. Are you having a Fourth of July party for families? Sand cups will be the perfect dessert for the kids.

Kids will enjoy helping to make sand cups. My version of sand cups uses Berry Blue Jello and gummy fish, gummy sharks or other gummy ocean animals. Keep your eyes open for the gummy sea animals. The bears and worms tend to out-number the gummy ocean animals. But they can be found! This year we actually found gummy octopuses sold at a gas station!

Berry Blue Jello is the ocean, cool whip is the sea foam and a mixture of vanilla pudding, a little cool whip, and finely crushed vanilla wafers crumbs form the beach and sand. Top the beach off with a Fruit Stripe gum beach towel, a cocktail umbrella, a round, peppermint “beach ball” and a Golden Teddy Grahams teddy bear with a tan!

This is a low-cook (vanilla pudding and Jell-o) no-knife no-knife recipe and safe for kids to assist with.

Ingredients for Sand Cups

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  • 3 packages Jell-O brand gelatin, Berry Blue, large 6 oz. size
  • 1 package Jell-o brand instant pudding, French vanilla
  • 1 cup milk, for pudding
  • 1 box Vanilla Wafers, finely crushed
  • gummy sea animals, fish, sharks, etc.
  • peppermint candies, round
  • 1 container Cool Whip

Instructions For Sand Cups

  1. Prepare three packages of Berry Blue Jell-O according to directions.
  2. Pour plastic dessert cups 2/3 full and refrigerate to set.
  3. Half-way until set insert the gummy sea animals into the Jell-o.
  4. Prepare the instant pudding with the milk according to directions on package.
  5. Place 3/4 box vanilla wafers in a large Zip-lock bag and finely crush with a rolling pin.
  6. Mix 3/4 box of crumbs into the pudding along with half of the container of Cool Whip.
  7. When the Jell-o has firmly set (about 4 hours) remove from the fridge.
  8. Spread a thin layer of Cool Whip on the “ocean” to be the sea foam
  9. Carefully spread the pudding and wafer crumb mixture on top using a rubber spatula.
  10. Finely crush the remaining 1/4 box of vanilla wafers and sprinkle on top. Then add a stick of Fruit Stripe gum for a “beach towel”, round peppermint for a “beach ball”, a few Teddy Grahams on top and a “beach umbrella.
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Fill clear plastic cups 2/3 full with Berry Blue Jello

 

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Before Jell-O sets, add gummy fish, sharks or ocean animals.

 

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A layer of Cool Whip is the ocean foam

 

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Crush vanilla wafers in a large Zip-lock bag with a rolling pin.

 

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Make vanilla pudding according to package directions

 

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Stir in Vanilla Wafer crumbs

Peach & Blueberry Pavlova: Light Summer Dessert

 

My peach-blueberry pavlova recipe was inspired by some surprising statistics I read recently. First of all, blueberries have surpassed the juicy Georgia peach as the state’s number one cash crop for fruit.

 

Shall we call Georgia the Blue Berry State now? The Peach State's highest cash fruit crop is now blue berries rather than peaches.

Not really all that surprising, given the recent surge in the blueberry’s popularity. Food research has proven the power-fullness of the little antioxidant-loaded berries, and the stores all take advantage of the demand for them by raising prices.

The next surprising fact, to me anyway, is that canned peaches are higher in vitamin C, folic acid and antioxidants than fresh ones. This is according to a new study in the Journal of Science and Food and Agriculture. Apparently, the intense heat used in the canning process opens the peach’s tough cell walls, freeing up more nutrients for the body to easily absorb.

Peach & Blueberry Pavlova Parfait

A Pavlova parfait is light, airy and fruity. It is inspired by Pavlova, a meringue-based dessert. Cream cheese and fat-free yogurt are whipped together with a little sugar added. Crushed meringue cookies are sprinkled in between the layers of fruit and the yogurt cream cheese mixture. Top the dessert with a meringue cookie or two. Yummy!

This delicious dessert is low fat, low sugar and packed with healthy antioxidants.

What is Pavlova

Pavlova is a dessert that was created to honor the Russian ballet dancer Anna Pavlova. The meringue-based dessert is light and airy inside and has a crisp crust on the outside.

It is believed that the dessert was created either during or just after Miss Pavlova’s Australian and New Zealand tours in the 1920s.

Over the years, the dessert grew in popularity. The two countries argue over where the dessert actually was created. Formal research has indicated New Zealand to be the source, but it is an important part of each country’s cuisine.

Starting with yogurt-cream cheese mixture, layer yogurt, fruit and cookie crumbs.

How to Make Peach & Blueberry Pavlova Parfaits

  • 2 Cup Vanilla yogurt, Fat-free
  • 3/4 Cup Cream cheese, Low fat
  • 2 Cups Canned peaches, In light syrup, drained
  • 1 Cup Blueberries, Fresh
  • 3 TSPS Cup Sugar, Divided
  1. Combine drained peaches with blueberries. Set aside. Meanwhile, chill the parfait glasses in the freezer
  2. Crush one dozen meringue cookies into crumbs.
  3. Soften cream cheese at room temperature
  4. Beat in softened cream cheese in medium bowl with the sugar on high speed for 2 minutes
  5. Fold in the yogurt. Blend well.
  6. Spoon 2 TBSP of the cheese-yogurt mixture into each of 6 chilled parfait glasses.
  7. Top with about 1/4 cup fruit mixture. Add 2 TBSP of crushed meringue cookies.
  8. Repeat layers once and top with one or two whole cookies. Cover with plastic wrap. Chill until ready to serve.

 

Starting with yogurt-cream cheese mixture, layer yogurt, fruit and cookie crumbs.

Making the Meringue Cookie

I tried to find them at the bakery, but there was none. So I made my own. They’re easy to make. Just beat two egg whites at room temp until frothy. Add 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar and beat until fluffy. Add 2/3 cup superfine sugar a little at a time and beat. It is ready when no sugar grains can be felt between your fingers. Bake at 200 degrees for about 1 and1/2 hours. Cool for several hours in a warm oven. 

 


Stuffed Cucumbers: Cream Cheese and Fresh Herbs

 

What to do with all those Cucumbers

When I was growing up we had a vegetable garden every year and some of the things we grew just produced like crazy as long as it didn’t come a long dry spell.

Cucumbers were one vegetable that we always had plenty of. We had too many to give away, and I can remember hauling off wheel barrels full of them to the field.

Now I’ve learned there are some fun foods to make with cucumbers. Like these cream cheese and herb stuffed cucumbers.

Health Benefits of Cucumbers and Herbs

Cucumbers seem like they are almost made entirely of water, and they are, almost as much as watermelon, making snacking on them a good way to stay hydrated on a hot day. Put they also pack in some very essential nutrients that you just can’t get in a lot of typical American meals. Cucumbers have vitamins K & B, copper, manganese, and flavonols that support brain health and reduce the risk of getting cancer.

Cucumbers, along with the great health benefits of fresh herbs, make these stuffed cucumbers a healthy summer snack.

Peel and slice cucumbers into chunks. Hollow out the cucumbers with the small end of a melon baller. 

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Finely chop fresh herbs and shallots. 

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Mix chopped herbs and shallots with cream cheese spread,(not cream cheese). Use the melon baller to refill the hollowed out cucumbers.

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Easy! Good and nutritious.