Summertime, and the Livin’ is Easy…

Well, okay–given the heatwave we are still in the midst of, it isn’t exactly easy or pleasant these days, but I do like that old tune.  Since early June, I’ve been longing for childhood summer days, (and envying those that still get them!)– three months off, playing outside nearly every day, riding our bikes to the pool, not caring how hot and humid it got, staying out late to catch lightning bugs in a jar.  Yeah, summer was way more fun as a kid.  Yeah, I said it.  Way more fun.  Needless to say, most of my time these days is spent indoors trying to “keep my cool”.

I’ve been doing some Summer cooking inside, making use of some of the new kitchen gadgets we received as wedding gifts.  I’ve made lemon zest before, but never with a real zester And my new Kitchenaid funnels?  Kept the lemon seeds out of my smoothie! 

Actually, this green goo is not a smoothie, it’s Avocado Ice Cream.  No ice cream maker needed–and it’s fabulous.  My sometimes picky sweetie even liked it.  It could be consumed as smoothies as it was pretty tasty even before being frozen.  

I made a rhubarb pizza one day, and because my sweetie won’t eat rhubarb, I consumed the entire thing myself over the course of a few days.  I did run the oven for that one, but not for a very long time.  Easy, quick and delish!

And I made my favorite summer entree, Strawberry Cucumber Quinoa Salad.  Yum.   If only I had the ambition to cook this way all the time, we’d be eating a lot healthier. 

RECIPES:

Mary Jane’s Avocado Ice Cream (From Mary Jane’s Farm Magazine)
Prep Time: 15 minutes / Makes 3 cups

1 large avocado, peeled and diced
1 C half-and-half
2/3 C powdered sugar
1/2 tsp lemon zest
1/3 C fresh lemon juice

1. Combine avocado, half-and-half, sugar, lemon zest, and lemon juice in a blender. Puree until completely smooth.
2. Poor mixture into a 2-quart dish.
3. Cover and freeze until firm, about 4 hours. (Can be kept in an air-tight container in freezer for up to one month.)
4. Before serving, let stand at room temperature for 15 minutes. (I recommend topping with fresh raspberries!)



Rhubarb Pizza

Pizza Crust:
1 C flour, fluff to aerate before measuring
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 Tbsp butter, cut into small cubes
1 egg whisked with 2 Tbsp Milk

Topping:
3 C rhubarb, chopped
3 oz. raspberry or strawberry flavored gelatin powder (I used Jello Sugar-Free)
1 C sugar
1/2 C flour, fluff to aerate before measuring
1/3 C melted butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Butter pizza pan.  In medium bowl, stir together flour, baking powder and salt.  Cut in butter until the dough becomes small crumbles and butter is well-distributed.  Stir in the egg/milk mixture to form a dough.  Press dough into pizza pan, using your hands, slowly working the dough to the edges of the pan (wet fingers as you go if the dough seems to sticky to spread).

For topping, top unbaked crust with rhubarb.  Sprinkle gelatin powder evenly over the rhubarb.  Mix the sugar, flour and butter, sprinkle over the top.

Bake 40 minutes until slightly brown on top, cool for at least one hour before serving.



Strawberry-Quinoa Salad
serves 4

1 C quinoa, rinsed
3 C strawberries, hulled & halved
1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced
1/2 C sesame-ginger dressing (I use a ready made vinaigrette)
1 (5 oz.) container of baby arugula salad blend

Cook quinoa according to package directions.  Transfer to a large bowl and let cool completely, about 20 minutes.  Stir in strawberries, cucumber and 1/4 C of the dressing.

In second bowl, combine the salad greens and the rest of the dressing; toss to coat.

Divide salad blend among four plates, top each with equal amounts of the quinoa fruit mixture. 

Because I am usually cooking for two, I onnly prepare enough of the salad greens for two servings, refridgerate the leftover quinoa fruit mixture for up to three days, and preapre greens later as needed.

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Just as the July heatwave was getting into full swing, I made and decorated yet another cake

This one to honor my sister and the little gal she is about to bring into the world.  The cake itself was cherry chip/white chocolate and that icing is pure, from-scratch, Doris-made, all calories included old-fashioned buttercream.  YUM.  My own design, trying to emulate the design of the paper products her mother-in-law chose for the party.

For my Summer Quilt, see my last post.

And for all the other Summer Quilt Show and Recipes go here.

Mona’s Scones

The recipe, for all who asked…

Courtesy of Mrs. Mona Glue, Gilling West, North Yorkshire:

1 1/2 C self-rising flour
6 Tbsp softened margarine (I use unsalted butter)
1/4 C sugar
pinch salt
1/2 C milk (I use skim, because that’s what we buy!)
egg to glaze (before baking)

Cut in flour, margarine, sugar and salt until mixture resembles bread crumbs.  Add milk and knead lightly and quickly.  Cut into rounds (or hearts!) 3/4″ thick.  Glaze with beaten egg.  Bake at 440 degrees F, for 10-12 minutes, on a lightly greased baking tray. 

***tip from Mona’s mum: after baking, wrap in a clean cloth to let cool–this keeps them nice and soft!  (It does work!)

Thanks for all the well wishes, I am on the mend, pushing the flu out the back door and looking at better days ahead! 

Parisville and a favorite tool

I made a block for Michelle last night, for the One Block Over Bee.  I used one of my favorite notions/tools, and I don’t believe I’ve ever raved about them here before… so here you go!

I call them fork pins, but I think the commercial name for them is U-pins.  I bought mine from aquilt store, but they are also used in jewelry display, so can be purchased through a jewelry making supplier as well.  They come in this little blue box, and are used to pin seams, to keep your seam lines or points lined up as you sew your seam.  You can safely sew over them, because they are even finer than glass head straight pins.  
You place the pin through the seam allowances on both ides of your seam….

Sew your seam without removing the pin (you can remove it just before you sew over that area, if you really can’t make yourself sew over a pin), and voila!  Perfectly matched seams:

Michelle’s block is made from Tula Pink’s Parisville line, gorgeous colors and prints (even though the center medallion fabric kind of freaks me out)….

Here is the completed block:

On a totally separate note, I’ve been enjoying scones I made this weekend, from a 1996 recipe I dug out for a friend that asked if I still had it. 

We studied together in Yorkshire, England, for four weeks in 1996, and a lovely local woman shopped and cooked for us.  She brought us fresh scones every. single. day, and quite often a made-from-scratch chocolate cake.  Thank goodness for all the hiking and walking we did daily, or I would have came home ten pounds heavier!   I had completely forgotten about these recipes until Vicki asked me for them.  Next weekend, chocolate layer cake!

July Almond Berry Cake (with recipe!)

Is your birthday in July?  Mine is, and so are three out of the seven other gals in my Quilt group.  My little brother has a July birthday, too, and my cousin Kay is just five days older than me, my boss just three days, I know at least six more friends and relatives with birthdays this month… 

Last night I made a cake for our Quilt group party tonight, utilizing July’s abundance of fresh berries. The card is a 5″ x 7″ index card with stitched fabric letters, “happy” and “birthday” written in red and blue Sharpie, and four candles holding it in place, one for each of us with a July birthday.

Want the recipe?  Here you go…

July Almond Berry Cake

Cake:  
1 (18.25 oz) White cake mix
1 tsp Almond extract

Topping:
1 small box Cook-to-Serve Vanilla Pudding mix
1 tsp Almond extract
1.5 C Whipped Topping (I used Cool Whip)
1 C strawberries
1 C blueberries
1) Prepare cake according to directions on box, adding Almond extract while mixing.  Bake according to directions on box.  Cool completely before adding topping.
2) Prepare pudding according to package directions, adding only 1.75 cups of milk.  Add Almond extract after removing from stove, stirring in well.  Cool pudding to room temperature, then Chill for 30 minutes.
3) Fold whipped topping into chilled pudding.  Spread over cake.  Top with berries and serve.

This can be made as a layer cake, spreading pudding topping and berries between each layer.  I have to travel with it this evening, so I used a 9″ x 13″ pan with a cover instead.

Stay tuned, next week you might just get lucky with a birthday giveaway!