Recipe—Fresh Squeezed Lemonade

Over the weekend I went to my little sister’s house and found that she had the most beautiful citrus trees in her yard. You could just smell the refreshing scent of lemons from a distance. It brought back memories of drinking ice-cold glasses of lemonade with my grandpa as a child. During the summer when we would go for visits he would have a pitcher ready to go in the fridge. It was the most fabulous drink you could ever imagine. Nothing beats it on a hot summer day. Fresh squeezed lemonade truly is the perfect balance of sweet and tart. After lightening the load on my sister’s lemon tree I left with an overflowing bag of beautiful yellow fruit. The smell of citrus wafted through my car the entire drive home. I could not wait to make my son his first ever glass of real lemonade. It was better than I remembered. Over the Memorial Day weekend we went through two entire pitchers of pure deliciousness and almost every glass I had brought back those memories with my grandpa. My son and I loved it! We sat on the patio outside and sipped our lemonade in true summer fashion.

Note: I found that on average 10 lemons produce about 1 1/2 cups of lemon juice. If you’re not a fan of pulp, pour your fresh squeezed juice through a sheet of cheesecloth to filter some of it out. For an adult twist on the perfect summer beverage add a shot of your favorite vodka or Bacardi Limón. Delish!

INGREDIENTS
1 1/2 c fresh squeezed lemon juice
6 c cold water
1 c sugar
1 lemon sliced with seeds removed.

STEPS 

  • Combine lemon juice, water, and sugar.
  • Stir until sugar is dissolved.
  • Add sliced lemon.
  • Chill.
  • Serve over ice.
  • Relax and enjoy!
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Recipe—Banana Split Pie

This may be one of my best desserts yet! A banana split in the form of a pie. How can one go wrong?!? You can’t with this combination of ingredients. When I think of my childhood summers, banana splits come to mind. This dessert screams fun and it is an absolutely perfect dessert for all ages. It is cool, refreshing, and just looks beautiful!

This dessert is a no-bake pie so your kitchen won’t get hot when you are making it this summer. There are several steps which make it a little time consuming, but that is what is required to get all the scrumptious layers. Trust me though, it is really easy and comes together nicely. I wish I could have gotten a side photo of a slice so that you could see the layers. Next time. I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I do.

Note: I recommend using chocolate fudge for sundaes rather than chocolate syrup. Syrup is soupy and doesn’t give you the fudgy quality needed. Just my two cents.

INGREDIENTS
2 c crushed graham crackers
1/2 c butter
1 1/4 c sugar divided
8 oz cream cheese, softened
1 tsp vanilla
1 (8 oz) can crushed pineapple, undrained
3 bananas
1 (3.4 oz) package instant vanilla Jell-O pudding
1 c milk
1 pint heavy whipping cream
chocolate fudge sundae topping
1/2 c chopped pecans
small jar maraschino cherries

STEPS

  • In a bowl combine the graham cracker crumbs, butter, and a 1/2 cup of the sugar.
  • Press graham cracker mixture into bottom and up sides of a pie dish using the backside of a large spoon or rubber spatula.
  • Put in the freezer for a couple of minutes to set.
  • While your piecrust is setting beat together the cream cheese, vanilla, and a 1/2 cup of the sugar using an electric mixer until smooth.
  • Carefully spread the cream cheese mixture into the bottom of your piecrust.
  • Drain your pineapple juice into a bowl.
  • Put the drained pineapple in an even layer on top of the cream cheese mixture.
  • Slice your bananas into the bowl with the pineapple juice and gently toss. (The acid from the pineapple juice keeps your bananas from browning. This is a great trick for fruit salads too!)
  • Drain the remaining juice from the bananas and arrange the slices over the pineapple.
  • Place pie back in freezer.
  • In a large mixing bowl prepare your whip cream by mixing the whipping cream and remaining 1/4 cup of sugar using a hand mixer. Mix on high speed for 2–3 minutes or until nice and thick. Set aside.
  • In another bowl mix the dry Jell-O pudding and the milk using a wire whisk until smooth.
  • Add about half of your whip cream into the pudding mixture and stir.
  • Spread your pudding mixture over the banana layer.
  • Top your pie with the remaining whip cream.
  • Drizzle chocolate fudge over whip cream layer.
  • Top with chopped pecans and cherries.
  • Refrigerate for at least 5 hours or preferably overnight.

Enjoy!

Recipe—Crock-Pot Pale Ale BBQ Chicken Sandos

It can be hard finding recipes for the crock-pot that are appealing during the warm summer months. Most of my crock-pot recipes are really rich comfort foods that I think of more as cool weather food. Well here is a perfect recipe to try out this summer. Not only will your house stay cooler not having the oven on, but it also allows you to enjoy more time to play outside since dinner will be a breeze! While these were great as they were, I think next time I might melt some cheddar cheese over the top just to finish them off. Yummmm! Be sure to have lots of napkins on hand because these saucy sandos are sure to get messy.

INGREDIENTS
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
salt and pepper
2 c of your favorite bbq sauce
8 oz of Sierra Nevada Pale Ale
sandwich rolls (I used small ones to make sliders)

STEPS

  • Season the chicken breast with salt and pepper.
  • Mix the bbq sauce and beer in the crock-pot.
  • Add in the chicken.
  • Cook on high heat for 3–4 hours or on low heat for 7–8.
  • Remove the chicken from crock-pot and place on cutting board.
  • Using a fork, shred the chicken and toss back into the crock-pot.
  • Allow chicken to sit in sauce for an additional 20–30 minutes to soak up some extra flavor.
  • Place the saucy meat on a roll and enjoy!

Recipe—Strawberry Pie

It’s strawberry season in California! It’s the time of year when you can find those big delicious bright red berries everywhere you look. At your grocery store, the farmer’s market, and sometimes even on your drive on backcountry roads. I grew up eating strawberries by the basketful. No seriously. Ask my mom. We used to have to get two baskets at the store just so one of them would make it home. I remember sitting in the front seat of the car on our drive home from the store and emptying one of those little green baskets. I would be covered in sticky sweet red berry juice.  Ahhhh… sweet memories. Speaking of, what ever happened to those green baskets? They were the best for crafts! Sorry, I’m getting off track. I love strawberries! That’s my point here.

This strawberry pie recipe is so perfect for the summer. I believe this pie coined the term, “easy as pie,” because anyone can make it, and in minutes at that. It is so refreshing and light and perfect for your next summer gathering. Heck, it’s perfect for any day of the week! You won’t need a special occasion for this refreshing and oh so delicious pie.

INGREDIENTS
1 sheet of refrigerated piecrust at room temperature
1 1/2 pints ripe strawberries
1 (3 oz) package strawberry Jell-O
2 tbsp cornstarch
2 c water
1/2 c sugar
1 pint heavy whipping cream
4 tbsp powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla

STEPS

  • Preheat oven to 450º.
  • Unroll your piecrust and line a pie dish with a single sheet.
  • Pierce the bottom of your piecrust with a fork several times.
  • Bake at 450º for 9–11 minutes or until golden brown.
  • Remove from oven and allow to cool.
  • While piecrust is cooling thinly slice your berries.
  • In a medium saucepan mix the package of Jell-O with the cornstarch.
  • Add the water and sugar to pan.
  • Cook over medium heat while stirring occasionally until boiling.
  • Add the sliced berries to your piecrust making sure that they are evenly distributed.
  • Pour the Jell-O mixture over the strawberries.
  • Place the pie in the refrigerator and allow to chill for 4–5 hours or until it sets.
  • Before serving the pie, prepare your whip cream by mixing the cream, powdered sugar, and vanilla using a hand mixer. Mix on high speed for 2–3 minutes or until desired thickness.
  • Top pie with your homemade whip cream.
  • Slice, serve, and enjoy!

Recipe—Chinese Chicken Meatballs with a Sesame Garlic Hoisin Sauce

I saw a recipe for Asian meatballs made with pork and beef the other day and I thought that a great way to cut some of the calories would be to make something similar but with ground chicken. Two of my son’s favorite meals are chicken teriyaki and spaghetti with meatballs. You should have seen the size of his eyes when I told him we were having Chinese chicken meatballs. His eyes got really big and his mouth dropped open. I think he was excited for the marriage of two of his fave dishes. He really liked the sauce and gobbled dinner up. I served these over rice with steamed veggies but they would also make an excellent appetizer. I must admit the sauce really makes this recipe. It has so many different flavors in it. It really gets your taste buds going. This recipe is fairly quick and very easy. With the number of meatballs it makes it ended up being enough for two dinners so I have some in the freezer ready for a quick and easy dinner in a few weeks.

Note: Toss the cooked meatballs in a crock-pot and double up the sauce, heat on low and you have an awesome and healthy appetizer that will stay warm for hours.

MEATBALL INGREDIENTS
2 lbs ground chicken
2 tsp sesame oil
2 c panko breadcrumbs
1/2 tsp ground ginger
2 eggs
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 c green onions, thinly sliced
salt
sesame seeds and sliced green onions for garnish

SAUCE INGREDIENTS
2/3 c hoisin sauce
1/4 c rice vinegar
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp ground ginger

STEPS

  • Preheat oven to 400º.
  • In a large bowl, mix together all meatball ingredients until well combined.
  • Using an oversized spoon scoop about a ¼ cup worth of the meat mixture and shape into round meatballs. (Mine end up being about 1 1/4″ in diameter. This will yield about 28–32 meatballs.)
  • Place the formed meatballs in a large lightly greased baking dish.
  • Bake for 20–25 minutes or until balls are lightly browned on the outside and no longer pink on the inside.
  • While your meatballs are baking put all your sauce ingredients in a small bowl and whisk together until well blended.
  • Pour the sauce over the hot meatballs and garnish with additional sliced green onions and sesame seeds if desired.

Recipe—BBQ Bacon Wrapped Pork Chop with Grilled Onions

So the other day I realized that I had yet to post any grilling recipes. What have I been thinking!?! A good amount of the protein prepared in our household is done on our grill thanks to my hubby. Well to make up for a lack of bbq recipes I will give you one of my favorites. These pork chops wrapped in bacon are sure to get your taste buds going and are relatively easy to prepare. The two pork elements truly complement one another both flavor wise and visually. That delicious salty pig topped with the grilled onions saturated in bbq sauce, oohhhhh it is just so good! The bacon really helps to trap in all the juices so you end up with a moist and tender pork chop. Just be sure not to overcook them as pork chops can dry out quickly. This truly is a great grilling recipe to kick start the summer. Enjoy!

INGREDIENTS
8 strips thick sliced bacon
4 boneless pork loin chops, at least 1” thick
2 tsp McCormick Grill Mates bbq seasoning
1 c of your favorite bbq sauce  (I love Tony Roma’s Original with this recipe)
1 yellow onion
olive oil
salt and pepper

STEPS

  • Wrap one edge of the pork chop with a strip of bacon and then wrap the other edge with a second piece so that the ends overlap.
  • Using a toothpick, secure the bacon where it overlaps by stabbing the toothpick through the bacon and into the chop.
  • Season both sides of the pork chop with bbq seasoning and then drizzle with half of the bbq sauce.
  • Preheat grill to 400º while meat marinades.
  • Cut your onion into 1/4” thick slices.
  • Using toothpicks spear each onion slice going through the layers. This will help keep the onion from falling apart on the grill.
  • Drizzle onion slices with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
  • Grill pork chops and onions over direct heat for 10 minutes turning once.
  • Transfer the grilled onions to a large sheet of heavy foil and remove the toothpicks.
  • Top onions with remaining bbq sauce and fold the foil like an envelope leaving some air inside.
  • Place foil envelope on the grill and continue to cook it and the pork for an additional 10 minutes turning once more. Pork should be cooked to an internal temperature of 145º and onions should be nice and tender.
  • Remove toothpicks from pork chops and top with the grilled onions.

Pinterest Contest—Two Days Left!

If you have a Pinterest account and you like pinning delicious food be sure to enter my contest. I’m giving away two sets of fabulous reusable mesh produce bags just for pinning recipes! It really is that easy. You can see details of the contest here:

https://divadicucina.wordpress.com/2012/04/25/pinterest-contest/