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Healthy Mediterranean Cooking at Home

Category Archives: pineapple

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Easy Homemade Jam

This is a basic jam recipe and it works with any fruit (other than citrus). You can make jam with whatever fruit grows well where you live. In each season, use the best fruit you can find.

Work in small batches. Three pounds of fruit will yield close to 2 ½ pints of jam. If you want more jars, make two small batches rather than one double batch. The quality of the jam will be much better.

You don’t need to process the jars in a boiling water bath for this recipe. Just store the jam in the refrigerator, where it will last for weeks.

You can also store the jam in the freezer. The Ball Company now makes great containers to store the jam in for the freezer.

The unprocessed homemade jam will not make you ill, because most jams are made from high acid fruits which are not susceptible to botulism.

I made Blackberry Jam using this recipe. It is definitely worth making because the jam has such a fresh and distinct blackberry taste. Not at all like processed jam.

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For 2 1/2 pints

Ingredients

  • 3 pounds ripe fruit, such as strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, cherries, peaches, plums, etc.
  • 2 to 2 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 lemon

Directions

Clean and cut the fruit as you would for making a fruit salad or fruit pie. For example: remove the caps from strawberries and cut into quarters; or peel, pit and slice peaches into pieces; or trim rhubarb and chop it into chunks.

Using a potato masher, crush the fruit until soupy. Measure this puree and note the quantity. Put the puree in a wide, heavy-bottomed, non-reactive pot.

The puree should be no more than 1 inch deep in the bottom of the pot. I placed half of the blackberry puree in a strainer to remove the seeds before proceeding with the recipe.

For every two cups of fruit puree, add to the pot one scant cup of sugar and 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice.

Stir to combine and taste. Very tart fruit (such as sour cherries, some plums or blackberries) might need a little more sugar. Very sweet fruit (such as white peaches) might need a little more lemon juice. Adjust to taste.

Bring the fruit-sugar mixture to a boil over high heat, stirring frequently. After it boils, continue to cook over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, for 12 to 14 minutes, or until thickened.

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Check the consistency by turning off the heat and putting a spoonful of hot jam on a chilled saucer in the freezer for one minute.

When ready, the cold jam will form a light skin that wrinkles when you push your finger through it and it will cling to the saucer when you tilt the saucer upright.

If the cold jam is too runny, bring the pot back to a boil for another minute or two, stirring constantly, then check the set again.

When the jam is set, ladle it into clean half-pint jars or other air-tight containers. Allow to cool, then store in the refrigerator for up to a month.

Fresh Strawberry  Syrup

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Delicious over pancakes, cheesecake, ice cream or crepes.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1-pint strawberries, stems and leaves removed
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice

Directions

Place sugar and water in a small saucepan over high heat; stir, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until sugar is completely dissolved.

Remove the saucepan from the heat and allow the syrup to cool completely. Place half the berries in the jar of a blender; add the syrup. Puree until smooth and pass through a fine sieve or colander.

Chop remaining berries; stir into the strawberry puree. Store in an airtight container, refrigerated, for up to 3 days or freeze in small containers.

Blueberry Muffins

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Makes 12 – 15 muffins depending on the size of your muffin pan.

Ingredients

  • 2 1/4 cups (9 5/8 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup (2 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup (5 1/4 ounces) granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup (4 ounces) sour cream
  • 1 1/2 cups (7 1/2 ounces) fresh blueberries

Topping

  • 2/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons butter

Directions

Pre-heat the oven to 400°F and either lightly grease 12 -15 muffin cups or use paper liners and spray the insides of the papers.

In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar together with a hand-held or stand mixer, until light and fluffy and almost white in color.

Scrape down the bowl to make sure all the butter is incorporated, then add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the vanilla and sour cream and mix until incorporated.

Add the dry ingredients and mix on low-speed just until the batter is smooth. Fold in the berries by hand.

Scoop the batter into the prepared muffin cups, using 1/4-cup for each muffin.

To make the topping:

In a small bowl, mix together the brown sugar, flour, and cinnamon. Cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse cornmeal. Sprinkle topping over the muffins.

Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, until a cake tester inserted in the center, comes out clean. Remove them from the oven, cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then remove the muffins from the pan to finish cooling on a wire rack.

Summer Fruit Salad

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Use summer fruits that are in season. I used about 6 cups of cut fruit in this recipe.

Ingredients

Fruit, sliced or cut into cubes

  • Melon
  • Pineapple
  • Berries
  • Grapes
  • Cherries

Mint-Lime Simple Syrup

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup loosely packed fresh mint leaves
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice

Directions

For the syrup:

Stir together the sugar and mint and 1 cup water in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally, and boil 1 minute or until the sugar dissolves.

Remove from the heat. Stir in the lime juice, and cool 30 minutes. Pour mixture through a fine wire-mesh strainer into an airtight container. Cover and chill syrup 4 hours.

For the salad:

Gently toss together the fruit in a large bowl. Add 1/2 cup Mint-Lime Simple Syrup, and gently stir to coat. Taste to see if the fruit needs more syrup.

Serve immediately, or cover and chill until serving time.

Peach Barbecue Sauce

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This recipe makes one of the best tasting BBQ sauces I have made. It is especially good for grilled chicken.

Yields 4 cups.

  • 2 cups peeled and chopped very ripe peaches, about 4 medium peaches
  • 1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoons onion salt
  • 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground mace
  • 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 cups tomato ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • ¼ cup honey
  • 2 tablespoons butter, cubed and well chilled

Directions

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Process peaches in a blender 1 minute or until smooth and pour into a medium saucepan. Add all the additional ingredients except the butter. Bring to a boil and reduce the heat to low.

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Simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until thick. With a whisk, blend in the butter cubes, a few cubes at a time, until incorporated. Refrigerate covered until needed.

Ball Canning Company Freezer Jars

Ball Canning Company Freezer Jars

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skewercover

Question of the day: Do we spell these skewers – kabobs or kebabs?

Answer: The USA uses kabob but the rest of the world uses kebab.

However, nothing says summer like grilling delicious kebabs. There’s no mistaking the aroma of fresh ingredients sizzling over a smoky grill. Best of all, whether you choose steak, chicken, pork, lamb or vegetables, kebabs are easy to prepare and cook.

The following tips for using skewers will help you with the kebab-making process.

  • Soak wooden skewers in water for 30 minutes before using them, so they won’t burn during cooking.
  • If you prefer metal skewers, which have a long life, use square or twisted types, which will hold the food better than round ones.
  • To keep food from slipping off during cooking and turning, use two parallel skewers rather than a single skewer.
  • If you’re using a wooden skewer, as you thread the food move the pieces close together, with no space showing. If the skewer is metal, you can leave small spaces between the pieces.
  • When using foods with different cooking times (such as shrimp and beef), don’t combine them on the same skewer. Instead, make skewers of just shrimp and just beef, start cooking the beef first and then the shrimp. Combine them on a serving platter.

Skewer recipes are also great for appetizers. You can cook an army’s worth of these space savers at once. Grill skewers over medium-high heat. The following appetizer recipes make four skewers each.

Artichoke + Crusty Bread: Skewer two 15-ounce cans artichoke hearts (drained and dried on paper towels) and 2 1/2 cups torn crusty bread. Generously drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill, turning, until lightly charred, 2 to 3 minutes.

Eggplant + Bell Pepper: Skewer 1 cubed eggplant and 1 cubed bell pepper. Generously drizzle with olive oil and season with salt. Grill, turning, until tender and lightly charred, 8 to 9 minutes. Sprinkle with red-chili flakes.

Potato + Celery + Onion: Skewer 8 ounces boiled and halved small potatoes, 2 stalks celery (peeled and cut into chunks) and 1 red onion (cut into wedges). Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt. Grill, turning, until tender and lightly charred, 7 to 8 minutes. Sprinkle with minced fresh chives.

Tomato + Bocconcini: Skewer 1 1/2 pounds cherry or grape tomatoes. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt. Grill, turning, until bursting and charred, 4 to 5 minutes. Add 1 to 2 bocconcini to the skewer ends and grill, 30 seconds more. Sprinkle with fresh oregano.

Scallion + Mushroom: Skewer 5 ounces trimmed mixed mushrooms and 4 scallions (cut into 3-inch pieces). Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill, turning, until tender and lightly charred, 3 to 4 minutes.

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Pesto Shrimp Kebabs

4 (serving size: 2 skewers)

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons basil pesto
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 32 large shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 16 (1-inch) squares red bell pepper
  • 16 (1-inch) squares yellow bell pepper
  • 8 (8-inch) skewers
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Olive oil cooking spray

Directions

Combine pesto, lemon juice and shrimp; toss. Let stand 5 minutes.

Thread shrimp and red and yellow bell peppers alternately onto skewers. Spray the skewer ingredients with olive oil cooking spray. Sprinkle evenly with salt. Place skewers on a grill rack coated with oil.

Grill 7 minutes, turning skewers occasionally for an even char.

Note: If using wooden skewers, soak them in water for 20 minutes before grilling.

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Grilled Chicken Panzanella Kebabs

Serves 8

Ingredients

  • 4 tablespoons white-wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh thyme
  • 8 oz. boneless skinless chicken breast halves, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 24 pearl onions, peeled
  • 1 pound small zucchini, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch rounds
  • 2 orange or yellow bell peppers, seeded and cut into 1-inch squares
  • 24 cherry tomatoes
  • 10 ounces unsliced day-old hearty country bread, crusts removed, cut into 1-inch cubes

Directions

In a plastic container with a tight-fitting lid, combine the vinegar, oil, honey, 1/2 teaspoon salt, pepper and chopped herbs. Shake well to combine and set the marinade aside.

Heat a grill or grill pan over medium heat and oil the grates. Skewer the ingredients, pairing the chicken and onion together, the zucchini and pepper together and the tomatoes and bread together. Brush the kebabs with the reserved marinade.

Grill the chicken-and-onion skewers until the chicken is cooked through and onions are tender, turning often, about 10 minutes. Cook zucchini-and-pepper skewers until vegetables are tender, turning often, about 7 minutes. Cook tomato-and-bread skewers until bread is toasted and tomatoes soften, turning often, about 5 minutes.

Serve skewers at room temperature. Season with remaining salt.

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Pineapple Pork Kebabs

4 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil, plus more for the grill
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup pineapple juice
  • 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 1 pork tenderloin (1 pound), cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes
  • 2 medium red bell peppers, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1 lime, cut into wedges, for serving

Directions

Heat grill to medium; lightly oil the grates.

In a small bowl, whisk honey, ginger and pineapple juice together; season with salt and pepper.

Alternately thread pork and bell peppers onto skewers; season with salt and pepper.

Grill, brushing occasionally with the honey mixture, until pork is cooked through and the peppers begin to char, 10 to 15 minutes.

Serve the kebabs with the remaining honey mixture and lime wedges.

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Marinated Swordfish Kebabs

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • One pound 1-inch-thick swordfish steaks, rinsed and patted dry, cut into 24 cubes
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • One 8-ounce container plain nonfat Greek yogurt; 4 tablespoons reserved
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • 8 metal skewers
  • 8 red cherry tomatoes
  • 4 yellow cherry tomatoes
  • 4 scallions, halved, then sliced

Directions

Season the fish with salt and pepper.

Combine the yogurt and 1 tablespoon parsley in a shallow baking dish and add the fish, turning to coat. Marinate the fish for 15 minutes at room temperature or for 1 hour in the refrigerator.

Meanwhile, combine the reserved yogurt, ¼ teaspoon salt and the remaining parsley in a small bowl and mix well.

Thread the skewers, alternating the fish, tomatoes and scallions.

Prepare a stove-top griddle or outdoor grill and oil the grates. Grill the kebabs 3 to 4 minutes per side or until the fish is cooked. Serve with the yogurt sauce on the side.

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Grilled Fruit Kebabs with Chocolate Sauce

Ingredients

Fruit

  • Pineapple, cut into large cubes
  • Strawberries, hulled
  • Bananas, quartered

Sauce

  • 3/4 cup/180 mL semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 5-ounce can evaporated milk (2/3 cup/160 mL)
  • 2/3 cup/160 mL sugar
  • 1/4 cup/60 mL butter

Directions

Preheat a gas or charcoal grill to medium-high. Oil the grill grates.

To prepare the sauce: Melt chocolate chips and butter over low heat in a small saucepan. Add in the sugar and slowly whisk in the evaporated milk. Bring mixture to a boil, reduce heat and stir for 8 minutes. Remove and set aside.

Thread pieces of fruit onto skewers. Place on the grill and cook for 4 to 6 minutes, turning once halfway through cooking.

To serve: Push contents from skewers onto dessert plates and serve with warm chocolate sauce.


icecream

According to the International Dairy Foods Association, President Ronald Reagan designated July as National Ice Cream Month and the third Sunday of the month as National Ice Cream Day in 1984. “He recognized ice cream as a fun and nutritious food that is enjoyed by the nation’s population. In the proclamation, President Reagan called for all people of the United States to observe these events with ‘appropriate ceremonies and activities’.”

A 2012 survey revealed that vanilla is America’s most popular flavor, followed by chocolate and cookies ’n cream. In truth, though, ice cream flavors are virtually limitless. Specialty flavors can be found in supermarkets, as well as individual ice cream shops and many of them feature seasonal flavors. If you look hard enough, it’s even possible to find grown-up flavors like bourbon butter pecan, blue cheese pear and foie gras or sea urchin.

No one knows who invented ice cream, although Alexander the Great reportedly enjoyed a refreshing snack of snow and ice flavored with honey and nectar. More than a millennium later, Marco Polo brought back from his travels a recipe for a frozen treat similar to modern sherbet. Historians believe that recipe eventually evolved into ice cream during the 16th century. “Cream ice” was served to European royalty, although it wasn’t until much later, when insulated ice houses were invented, that ice cream became widely available to the general public.

Types of Frozen Treats

  • Frozen yogurt is yogurt that is frozen using a technique similar to soft serve. While lower in calories and fat than ice cream, not all frozen yogurt is made with live and active cultures the way that standard yogurt is. To make sure that a frozen yogurt contains “yogurt” and a significant amount of live and active cultures, look for the National Yogurt Association (NYA) Live & Active Cultures seal. Without that seal, frozen yogurt does not contain any probiotics.
  • Gelato. Italian ice cream that doesn’t have as much air as traditional ice cream, so it has a much denser texture.
  • Ice cream. This frozen treat is made from milk or cream, sugar and flavorings. The FDA requires that ice creams with solid additions (nuts, chocolate, fruit, etc.) contain at least 8 percent milk fat, while plain ice creams are required to have at least 10 percent milk fat. “French” ice cream is usually made with a cooked egg custard base.
  • Ice milk is made with lower-fat milk, making it less creamy. However, it does contain fewer calories than ice cream.
  • Italian ice (also called Granita) is a mix of juice (or other liquid like coffee), water and sugar, usually in a 4:1 ratio of liquid to sugar. The ices are stirred frequently during freezing to give it a flaky texture. These are almost always fat-free, contain minimal additives and are the lowest in calories of all frozen desserts.
  • Sherbet has a fruit juice base but often contains some milk, egg whites or gelatin to thicken and enrich it. It’s a creamy version of sorbet (see below).
  • Slow-churned (double churned) ice cream is made through low-temperature extrusion, to make light ice cream taste richer, creamier and more like the full-fat variety. Extrusion distributes the milk fat evenly throughout the product for added richness and texture without adding extra calories. By law, “light” ice cream must contain at least 50% less fat or 33% fewer calories than regular full-fat varieties.
  • Soft-serve is a soft “ice cream” that contains double the amount of air as standard ice cream, which stretches the ingredients and creates a lighter texture. It’s lower in fat and calories, but it often contains fillers and additives.
  • Sorbet, softer in consistency than a sherbet, is usually fruit and sugar that has been frozen. Its texture more “solid” and less flaky than Italian ice.

How healthy are these treats?

While ice cream does contain bone-building calcium, you’re better off getting calcium from other food sources, since ice cream contains about half the calcium as an equal serving of milk, which is lower in fat and calories. Don’t fool yourself into thinking that you’re eating healthy by getting calcium from Haagen-Dazs or Ben and Jerry’s—both of which can pack more fat per serving than a fast food hamburger!

Some ice creams, especially “light” varieties are sweetened with artificial sweeteners instead of sugar. Using an artificial sweetener in place of some or all of the traditional sugar can reduce calories, but these sweeteners aren’t for everyone and may cause stomach upset when eaten in high quantities.

In general, regular (full-fat) ice cream contains about 140 calories and 6 grams of fat per 1/2 cup serving. Besides the fat content, premium brands pack more ice cream into each serving because they contain less air—they are denser and harder to scoop than regular brands—meaning more calories, fat and sugar per serving. Low fat or “light” ice creams weigh in at about half the fat of premium brands but they still contain their fair share of calories, thanks to the extra sugar added to make them more palatable.

Toppings such as chocolate chips, candies and sprinkles send the calorie count even higher and don’t offer any nutritional benefits. Choose vitamin-packed fruit purée (not fruit “syrup”), fresh fruit or nuts, which contain healthy fat, protein and fiber. While chocolate does have some health benefits, most choices like chips and syrup are usually full of fillers with very little actual chocolate. If you want extra chocolate, use a vegetable peeler to shave dark chocolate over the top of your serving.

If animal-based products aren’t part of your diet or you can’t eat dairy, you can choose from a wide variety of non-dairy frozen desserts such as soy, coconut or rice “cream.” These desserts cut the saturated fat because they don’t contain milk or cream, but can derive around 50% of their calories from fat (usually by adding oil to the product for smoothness or “mouth feel”).

So what should you look for when you want to indulge in a creamy dessert but not go overboard? Check the nutrition label and choose a frozen dessert that meets these guidelines per 1/2 cup serving.

  • 120 calories or less
  • 4 g of total fat or less
  • 3 g of saturated fat or less (sorbet, sherbet and low-fat ice cream usually fit the bill)
  • 10 mg of cholesterol or less
  • 15 g of sugar or less (this is equal to about 3 teaspoons of actual table sugar)

Remember to keep portions small. A pint of ice cream is not a single serving; it’s FOUR servings. If you eat an entire pint, you have to multiply the number of calories, fat grams, etc. listed on the label by four. Stick to portion sizes and always scoop your ice cream into a small bowl, instead of eating it directly from the container to prevent overeating. And use a teaspoon rather than a tablespoon to take smaller bites.

If you want total control over what goes into your ice cream, consider buying your own ice cream maker. Experiment with the recipes that come with the machine, adding your own fresh fruit to create a treat that tastes good and is good for you at the same time.

Ice cream is by no means a health food or a vital component of a healthy diet. But it is a simple pleasure in life most people wouldn’t want to give up. Here are a few frozen dessert recipes to indulge in without blowing up your diet.

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Chocolate Banana Frozen Yogurt

Makes 1 quart

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 large ripe bananas, cut into 1-inch rounds
  • 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon dark rum
  • 1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons 2 percent milk
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups nonfat Greek yogurt
  • 1 ounce bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped

Directions

In a nonstick skillet, melt the butter. Add the bananas in a single layer and sprinkle with the brown sugar. Cook over moderate heat, turning once, until caramelized, about 8 minutes. Off the heat, add the rum and swirl the pan to dissolve the sugar.

Place three-quarters of the bananas into a food processor and add 3 tablespoons of the milk. Puree until smooth. Transfer the puree to a small bowl and freeze until chilled, 15 minutes. Chop the remaining bananas and freeze until chilled. Chill the remaining milk and yogurt.

In another bowl, whisk the cocoa with the granulated sugar, salt, vanilla and the remaining 1/2 cup of milk. Whisk in the yogurt until smooth, then the banana puree.

Transfer the mixture to an ice cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturer’s instructions until nearly frozen. Mix in the chopped bananas and chocolate. Place the frozen yogurt into an airtight container, cover and freeze until firm, at least 2 hours.

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Watermelon Granita with Cardamom Syrup

6 servings

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 3 pounds seedless watermelon, rind removed, flesh cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces (6 cups)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cardamom seeds

Directions

In a saucepan, combine 1/2 cup of the water with 3/4 cup of the sugar and stir over moderate heat until dissolved, 2 minutes.

In a blender, working in batches, puree the watermelon with the sugar syrup and lemon juice until smooth. Pour the mixture into a 9-by-13-inch baking pan and freeze for 30 minutes. Using a fork, stir the granita; continue stirring every 30 minutes, until frozen and fluffy, about 3 hours.

Meanwhile, in a saucepan, combine the remaining 1/4 cup of water and 1/2 cup of sugar with the cardamom seeds and bring to a boil. Simmer over moderate heat until the sugar is dissolved, 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and let stand for 5 minutes. Strain the syrup and refrigerate.

Fluff the granita with a fork. Scoop into bowls, drizzle with the cardamom syrup and serve immediately.

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Caramelized Pineapple Sundaes with Coconut

10 servings

Ingredients

  • One pineapple—peeled, cored and sliced into 1/2-inch-thick rings
  • 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup sweetened wide shredded coconut strips or regular cut
  • 2 1/2 pints fat-free vanilla frozen yogurt
  • Mint sprigs, for garnish

Directions
Light a grill. Brush the pineapple rings with the vegetable oil. Grill over moderately high heat, turning occasionally, until the pineapple is lightly charred and softened, about 8 minutes. Transfer the rings to a work surface and cut into bite-size pieces.

In a medium skillet, toast the coconut over moderate heat until golden, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a plate to cool.
Scoop the yogurt into sundae glasses or bowls. Top with the grilled pineapple, sprinkle with the coconut, garnish with the mint sprigs and serve right away.

icecream4

Easy Soft-Serve Ice Cream

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 pounds frozen strawberries, mangoes or blueberries
  • 3/4 cup sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Kosher salt

Directions
In a food processor, pulse the fruit with the sweetened condensed milk, vanilla and a generous pinch of salt until the fruit is finely chopped.

Puree until smooth, 2 to 3 minutes; scrape down the side of the bowl as needed. Serve soft or transfer to a metal baking pan, cover and freeze until just firm.

MAKE AHEAD: The soft-serve can be frozen for up to 3 days. Let stand at room temperature for 10 minutes before serving.

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Sherbet Fruit Pops

Ingredients

  • 10 5-ounce paper cups
  • 3 peeled and chopped kiwi fruit
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 quart raspberry or tangerine sherbet
  • 2 tablespoons orange juice
  • 10 flat wooden craft sticks

Directions

Arrange cups on a baking pan.

In a small bowl combine kiwi fruit and sugar. Divide chopped kiwi fruit among the paper cups.

In a large bowl using an electric mixer on low-speed beat together sherbet and orange juice until combined. Spoon sherbet mixture over kiwi fruit filling cups.

Cover each cup with a square of foil. Use table knife to make small hole in center of each foil square. Slide wooden craft stick through each hole and into fruit mixture in the bottom of the cup.

Freeze at least 6 hours or overnight. To serve remove foil; carefully tear away cups. Serve immediately. Makes 10 pops

 

Note to my readers: I added a print friendly icon to the end of the share button row on the right. It follows the email icon but before the More box. When you click on the print friendly icon, a new window will open and you should be able to print the new page. Some of my readers said they had difficulty printing from my website with the regular print button on the left, so this is another option.


My Beach – Johnson Beach in Gulf Shores National Seashore 

Choose a scenic spot for for your picnic excursion. Nearby parks, rooftops, beaches, zoos or farms, etc. are ideal choices. For me, it is the beach. One of my favorite things about living on the Gulf Coast is its proximity to the beach. There is nothing better than watching the waves, digging your toes into warm sand and spending the day with friends. I often pack a lunch to enjoy with my friends at the beach and I prefer to bring foods that don’t require much on-beach assembly, have a minimum of packaging or wrapping and don’t create a mess.

Classic picnic foods are, but not limited to: sandwiches, fruits, salads, chips, cookies, hot dogs, pies, vegetables, fruit punch, lemonade, soft drinks and bottled water. Finger foods are the most comfortable to eat and serve. Remember you can be creative and make your picnic memorable by opting for some nontraditional fare. Try tapas foods or breadsticks/veggies and dips or olives, salami cubes and cheese.

Cut up some fresh veggies and fruit for everyone to snack on instead of chips and candy. Watermelon slices are thirst quenching and cool, while baby carrots offer a welcome crunch. Just pack them in plastic sandwich bags in the cooler with ice and they’ll be as crisp at the beach as when you packed them.

This is a great time to try something new and refreshing on the kids– like cool, crisp sugar snap peas with hummus dip. When they’re hungry, kids are more willing to try something they otherwise might turn up their nose at.

Some beaches (like mine) and parks have covered picnic areas.

Ice chests are very handy for storing food. Tote your drinks in a cooler.Take along bottles of partially frozen water. Your water will stay cool even after sitting in the sun.

Remember to pack a picnic blanket, paper or plastic cups and plates, forks, knives and spoons, trash bags and anything else you will need. Paper napkins and towels are a must. Some people even have portable folding picnic chairs and tables. Spread your picnic on a tablecloth on the sand. It’s lighter than a blanket and much easier to wash.

Bring Your Own Shade. Use a shade umbrella or tent. Enjoy your picnic foods minus the glare. Canopies are popular in my area.

Beach Canopy

Some General Tips:

  • Be careful – that sun is very hot. Be sure to bring plenty of long sleeved cover ups.
  • Food covers may come in handy to keep bugs and pests off .
  • Make sure you are allowed to picnic in the area you have chosen. If you are able to reserve that area, it’d be a good idea to do so.
  • Don’t forget a bottle opener.
  • Don’t forget your camera!
  • Make sure to bring sunscreen and sunglasses.
  • You can’t have too many hand wipes (baby wipes work too!) to help with cleanup. Rinsing hands in saltwater just leaves them sticky.
  • Don’t forget to take some games to play after the food is eaten! Beach balls, Frisbees, playing cards and Twister are good standbys.

Watch out for this big fellow. He likes your food also.

Take as much finger food as possible. Good picnic foods include:

  • Grapes, apples, berries and cubed watermelon.
  • Baby carrots and other raw veggies with hummus or eggplant dip.
  • Cheese and crackers.
  • A selection of sandwiches or wraps, cut in halves or quarters. Avoid sandwiches with mayonnaise which can go bad in the heat.
  • Hard-boiled eggs.
  • Keep the kids happy with beach-themed foods like goldfish crackers.
  • Brownies and cookies are good portable desserts. Avoid anything with frosting which will melt in the heat.

At your next beach picnic, pack a meal that will be just as much fun as the beach adventure itself. Below are some of my favorite picnic foods:

Baked Coconut Shrimp

Serve with pineapple cubes at the beach instead of a dipping sauce. Place servings of shrimp and pineapple in large paper drinking cups for easy eating.

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 pounds Shrimp, shelled, deveined and patted dry
  • 1/3 cup cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
  • Salt – dash
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 1/3 cup egg whites
  • 3/4 cup coconut

Directions:

Preheat oven to 425° F.

Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a small bowl combine cornstarch, pepper and salt.

In a small microwave safe dish heat honey for 30 seconds

Add the lime juice to the honey and stir. Slowly add in egg whites and continue to stir.

Place coconut in a thin layer on a pie plate or flat dish.

Take each shrimp and first dip into cornstarch mixture, then in egg white mixture and finally roll in the coconut.

Place on the prepared baking sheet and lightly spray with cooking spray.

Bake 10-15 minutes or until shrimp are pink and the coconut is lightly toasted.

Savory Focaccia Sandwiches

Ingredients:

Sun-Dried Tomato Spread

  • 8 sun-dried tomatoes (not oil-packed)
  • 1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
  • 2 tablespoons sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh or 2 teaspoons dried basil leaves
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped, or 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

Sandwich

  • 1 round focaccia bread (12 inches in diameter)
  • 30 thin slices cooked roast beef or turkey (20 ounces)
  • 6 slices (1 1/2 ounces each) mozzarella cheese
  • 12 slices tomato
  • Red onion rings, if desired
  • Fresh basil leaves, if desired

Directions:

In small bowl, cover tomatoes with boiling water. Let stand 30 minutes; drain. Chop tomatoes. In a small bowl, mix all remaining spread ingredients; stir in tomatoes. Cover and refrigerate 1 hour.

Cut focaccia horizontally in half. Spread tomato spread over cut sides of focaccia. Layer roast beef or turkey, cheese and tomato slices on bottom half; top with onion rings and basil. Add top half of focaccia. Cut into 6 wedges.

Eggplant Parmesan Sandwiches

For the Grown Ups

For the Children

When I bring these sandwiches to a picnic, they are always a big hit – even for meat eaters.

You will need a dish of prepared Eggplant Parmesan, either homemade or store bought. If you would like to make a healthy version, see my post: https://jovinacooksitalian.com/2012/04/27/eggplant-glorious-eggplant/

Slice the prepared eggplant thinly and arrange the slices over sandwich bread of your choice. We particularly like to use oatmeal bread for this sandwich. Italian or whole wheat bread or rolls also work, however, for the beach you will want a sandwich that is easy to eat without a lot of ingredients falling out of it. I usally cut the sandwiches into quarters for ease of eating. Good additions are lettuce or basil leaves.

Tomato, Cucumber and Onion Salad

My friend, Nancy, brought this refreshing salad to our last beach outing. Here is a similar version. Again, I would serve this salad in large paper drinking cups.

Serves: 6

Ingredients:

  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1/2  teaspoon salt
  • 1/2  teaspoon freshly ground pepper, or more to taste
  • 2 medium cucumbers
  • 4 medium tomatoes, cut into 1/2-inch wedges
  • 1  Vidalia or other sweet onion, halved and very thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh herbs, such as flat-leaf parsley, chives, and/or tarragon

Directions:

Whisk vinegar, oil, honey, salt and pepper in a large shallow bowl.

Remove alternating stripes of peel from the cucumbers. Slice the cucumbers into thin rounds. Add the cucumber slices, tomatoes and onion to the dressing; gently toss to combine.

Let stand at room temperature for at least 30 minutes and up to 1 hour.

Just before serving, add herbs and toss again.

Chocolate Crinkles

Who could resist a little chocolate at the end of the meal.

Makes 36 cookies

Ingredients ;

  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (preferably Dutch process)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar

Directions:

Heat oven to 350° F. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt.

With an electric mixer, beat the butter and brown sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Beat in the eggs. Reduce speed to low and gradually add the flour mixture, mixing until just incorporated.

Form the dough into balls (each equal to 1 level tablespoon). Roll the balls in the confectioners’ sugar and place on parchment-lined baking sheets, spacing them 2 inches apart.

Bake until the cookies are firm and the tops crack, 13 to 15 minutes.

 Cool slightly on the baking sheets, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely

Lemonade Sweet Tea

Round out the menu with this refreshing drink.

Makes about 8 cups

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups water
  • 6 tea bags, whatever flavor you like.
  • 1 cup loosely packed fresh mint leaves
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup honey
  • 4 cups cold water
  • 1/2 (12-oz.) can frozen lemonade concentrate, thawed
  • Garnishes: halved orange slices,

Directions:

Bring 3 cups water to a boil in a 2-qt. saucepan. Remove from heat, add tea bags and stir in fresh mint. Cover and steep 10 minutes.

Discard tea bags and mint. Stir in honey until dissolved. Pour tea into a 3-qt. container and stir in 4 cups cold water and lemonade concentrate. Mix well.

Serve over ice and garnish with orange slices.

 

Another view of Johnson Beach


Author – Graycie Harmon

What Does Mother’s Day Mean To You?

I recently read an article in Forbes Magazine about how commercial Mother’s Day has become and how the inventor of the holiday, Anna Jarvis, became disillusioned by how this special day evolved. Miss Jarvis’ image of Mother’s Day was very specific. It was to be a singular Mother’s Day — not a general Mothers’ Day. She didn’t see it as a holiday. She saw it as an intimate day between children and their mothers. Miss Jarvis wanted a national observance day, writing leaders in every state and around the world. Her persistence paid off. In 1914, President Wilson, her longtime friend, signed a proclamation stating, “The American mother is the greatest source of our country’s strength and inspiration.”

However, her triumph was short-lived, as Miss Jarvis watched the florist, card and candy industries cash in on Mother’s Day. In her mind, they were twisting heartfelt sentiment into crass commercialism. In the early 1920’s, florists began heavily marketing carnations and greeting card companies began to sell Mother’s Day cards. Jarvis hated this, as her intention was for children to write hand-written, personal notes. Though she had spent almost a decade trying to establish the holiday, she eventually turned against its commercialization and was arrested for protesting at a Mother’s Day carnation sale. Jarvis spent the rest of her life trying to end Mother’s Day.

Well, Mother’s Day or any day of the year is the perfect day to say thank you to your mother for unselfishly giving of her life and love to make you the best man or woman you could be. Better than the greeting cards, of which there are 107 publishing establishments, nationwide; or better than the jewelry, of which there are approximately 27,000 jewelry companies in the U.S; or better than the wired flowers or the purchased gifts; or better than e-mails or text messages; sharing your time with your mother is ultimately the greatest gift you could give her. My mother and I do not live near each other, so get togethers involve traveling long distances. However, she is delighted with a weekly telephone call, where we catch up on all that has happened during the week. She also loves to share her thoughts about current events and discuss politics. I realize this is important to her and I am happy to have these conversations with her. So I would suggest, that the best Mother’s Day gift you could give your mother, would be that you find “the thing” that makes your time with your mother special. 

Have Breakfast With Your Mom On Mother’s Day

Or Any Day Of The Year

 

Espresso Smoothie

2 Servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup cold fat-free milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups ice cubes
  • 1 medium banana, cut up
  • 2 teaspoons instant espresso powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons baking cocoa

Directions:

In a blender, combine all the ingredients; cover and process for 1-2 minutes or until blended. Pour into 2 chilled glasses; serve immediately. 

Grilled Pineapple

4 Servings

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 fresh pineapple
  • 2 tablespoons chopped macadamia nuts or hazelnuts, toasted

Directions:

Combine syrup and butter; set aside. Quarter the pineapple lengthwise, leaving top attached.

Heat an outdoor grill or stove top grill pan. Using long-handled tongs, moisten a paper towel with cooking oil and lightly coat the grill rack.

Grill the pineapple quarters, uncovered, over medium heat for 5 minutes. Turn; brush with maple butter. Grill 5-7 minutes longer or until heated through; brush with maple butter and sprinkle with nuts.

Serve with remaining maple butter.

 

Turkey Breakfast Sausage Patties

8 Servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound lean ground turkey
  • 1 teaspoon rubbed sage
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon fennel seed
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • Dash each white pepper, cayenne pepper, ground allspice, ground cloves and ground nutmeg

Directions:

In a large bowl, combine all ingredients. Shape into eight 2-1/2-in. patties. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

In a large skillet coated with cooking spray, cook patties over medium heat for 4-6 minutes on each side or until no longer pink.

Extras freeze well. 

 

 

Raspberry-Cinnamon French Toast

This moist French toast bake can be assembled the night before and baked in the morning.

6-8 Serving

Ingredients:

  • 12 slices cinnamon bread, such as Pepperidge Farm’s whole wheat cinnamon swirl bread , cubed
  • 5 eggs, beaten or the equivalent egg substitute
  • 1-1/2 cups milk
  • 3/4 cups packed brown sugar, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup slivered almonds
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 2 cups fresh raspberries

Directions:

Place bread cubes in a greased 13-in. x 9-in. baking dish. In a bowl, combine the eggs, milk, 1/2 cup brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg; pour over bread.

Cover and refrigerate for 8 hours or overnight.

Remove from the refrigerator 30 minutes before baking. Sprinkle almonds over egg mixture. Combine butter and remaining brown sugar; drizzle over the top.

Bake, uncovered, at 400° F. for 25 minutes. Sprinkle with raspberries. Bake 10 minutes longer or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean.



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