Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Summer Fun

Tomorrow is the 4th of July, a sign that we are deep into summer. Since I became a mom, I have discovered that my summer job is to keep my kids busy with worthwhile things. Summers in the Sacramento area are too hot to force the kids out into the backyard indefinitely (a favorite trick of mine in the spring and fall), especially if your backyard resembles a dirt pit with weeds, so we end up spending mornings at the park and swimming lessons, taking a break mid-day for naps, and then spending the afternoons trying to keep cool at the pool or the library. In spite of the SPF 50 I slather on them religiously, my boys are all turning a lovely shade of brown--something I have never been in my life! They love swimming and so we spend a great deal of time bumming around other people's pools. Luckily Jared's parents live nearby and have a pool, but somedays we visit other Friends With Pools (aka F.W.P.s) This picture is at Mom and Dad's with our friends Natalie, Ethan, and Sidney.
I absolutely adore all the produce available in the summer, especially in this area, and I don't think that a meal goes by without a big bowl of fruit on the table. The strawberry stand near our house is irresistible to me if I have any cash when I drive by, and the Farmer's Market makes my mouth water. Here are a few recipes that I've tried lately that take advantage of the abundance. And after all, how could we enjoy any season without great food?
Over the weekend I wanted to make an icey treat but am trying to be a godd ess (darn the filter on this computer--it is requiring that I intentionally typo to get around it! If only I could remember the password to turn it off!) of weight loss, so I hunted down a couple of great sorbet recipes. You don't have to have an ice cream mixer for these, even though that's easier. You can just try the method where you put them in the freezer and stir occasionally, which is what we had to do when the ice cream maker shorted out!

Watermelon Sorbet
  • 1/4 c. water
  • 1/3 c. corn syrup
  • 1/3 c. sugar
  • 2 c. pureed watermelon pulp (use the blender)
  • 1 T. lemon juice
Stir the water, corn syrup, and sugar together in a saucepan over medium high heat until sugar dissolves and mixture comes to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer five minutes. Remove from heat and chill 30 minutes. Add syrup mixture to watermelon and lemon juice. Mix well and chill for two hours (the colder the mixture, the faster it will freeze). Freeze in an ice cream maker or put in a shallow pan in your freezer and stir it every half hour until it gets to the right consistency.

The next recipe is one that I morphed a little, mixing two recipes to achieve the end result. The original Cooking Light recipe called for (the alcohol keeps the sorbet from freezing too hard) but since we don't drink, I looked around for some other way to incorporate the strawberry/lime/orange flavors that I love.

Strawberry Margarita Sorbet
  • 2 c. water
  • 1 c. sugar
  • 4 c. pureed strawberries
  • 1/3 c. fresh orange juice
  • 1/2 c. fresh lime juice
  • 1 T. lemon juice
  • zest of one orange and one lime
Use the same technique as the recipe above, making the simple syrup first with the water and sugar. Add the remaining ingredients and chill until quite cold, at least 2 hours. Freeze in an ice cream freezer.

These recipes were a beautiful red color, tasted so yummy, and had much fewer calories than the homemade strawberry ice cream I was craving.

My father in law, Richard, loves lemon meringue pie. I have made a few for him in the past, but this year I was on the hunt for a better recipe that I would enjoy more (I love the lemon curd, but find meringue to be rather dull.) I found this recipe on epicurious.com and have now made it both for his birthday and again for Father's Day. It is by far the best lemon meringue I've ever had. The coconut sweetens the meringue so well. Be forewarned: if you cut this into 8 pieces, each piece has a Weight Watchers point value of 19. So you'd better scrimp on calories some other place this week if you're going to make this pie (if you want to be a real godd ess of weight loss, keep looking for another recipe!) Lemon and Toasted Coconut Meringue Pie.
If you have a garden, (or if you cheat like me and just shop at the Farmer's Market) you absolutely must try this Cooking Light Garden Minestro
ne that I discovered a couple of summers ago. Paired with a crusty artisan bread it really is a great way to end the day.
And if you're just in the mood for a good Chinese Chicken Salad without paying for it in a restaurant, try this recipe. It's especially great if you grilled chicken earlier in the week and did some extra teriyaki chicken with this meal in mind.

Chinese Chicken Salad
  • 1 head of lettuce (you pick the variety)
  • 2-3 cooked teriyaki chicken , cubed
  • 1/2 c. diced green onion
  • 1/2 c. toasted sliced almonds
  • 1/4 c. toasted sesame seeds
  • 1/2 package wonton skins
  • 1 can mandarin oranges
  • Dressing:
  • 2 T. sugar
  • 1/4 c. rice wine vinegar
  • 3 T. canola oil
  • 1 t. sesame oil
  • 1/2 t. pepper
  • 1 t. kosher salt
Use your kitchen shears to cut the wonton skins into strips (you can probably do several at a time). Spray them liberally with cooking spray and bake in 350 oven until brown (watch them, they do this quickly.) Put lettuce, green onion, almonds, oranges, and chicken in large salad bowl. Mix dressing ingredients. Just before serving, shake up or blend dressing one last time. Pour over salad and toss. Add wonton crispies and sesame seeds and toss again. Serve immediately.
And one last recipe to share; my friend Sandy has been sharing zucchini out of her garden, which I adore grilled with kosher salt and olive oil--but you can only eat that at so many meals before you are ready for something else. So I scoured my Cooking Light cookbooks for a zucchini bread recipe that wasn't more like eating cake. This one is delish--it's only good for you if you don't eat the entire loaf, so watch out!
Chocolate Chip Zucchini Bread
  • 3/4 c. sugar
  • 3 T. canola oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 c. unsweetened applesauce
  • 2 c. all-purpose flour
  • 2 T. unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/4 t. baking soda
  • 1 t. ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 t. salt
  • 1 1/2 c. shredded zucchini (get your kids to do this part)
  • 1/2 c. semi sweet chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350. Place first three ingredients in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at low speed until well blended. Stir in applesauce.
Combine flour and next four ingredients, stirring well with a whisk. Add flour mixture to sugar mixture, beating just until moist. Stir in zucchini and chocolate chips. Spoon batter into a loaf pan coated with cooking spray. Bake for 1 hour and apply the toothpick test-- it should be almost clean when inserted into the middle of the loaf. Cool completely. Enjoy!

Now go enjoy the day with your kids, whether you are cooking up some yummy foods, hanging out at the pool, or having a water balloon fight. Remember, "(wo)men are that they might have joy!" (2 Nephi 2:25)


Tyler said...

welcome to the club. love the pictures on your site. Kimbal's shirt reminds me of my favorite line from 30 Rock. "you're the one who told me to live every day like its Saturday, and every week like its shark week!"

bamason said...

You are an awesome mom. I see a book in the future. Thanks for the recipes. I just made potato salad which is a required activity for me on the 4th of July. Needs to be done while listening to patriotic music. Happy 4th!!!