Freshly picked finger foods help add to the beach fun

Summer is about escaping from our regular schedules.

We all need to get away from the daily grind to renew and refresh. Some people enjoy a stay-cation, relaxing in their own surroundings, others choose short trips to explore their community or province, and still others prefer to pack up the family and go farther away to a vacation spot.

The one constant thing is that our food choices change. Summer makes way for great seasonal foods that can be picked and enjoyed immediately.

The taste cannot be replicated any other time of the year. There is nothing like fresh berries, a crisp vegetable and finger food while enjoying your summer activities. I have put together a collection of my family favourites that can be served at a picnic, at a potluck or at the beach.

Summer fruit tart

We love eating fresh fruit. But when something special is required, this vibrant dessert that uses seasonal fruit is our go-to. Great for Canada Day celebrations, highlighted with bright red fruit choices.

Crust:

  • 1/2 c. butter, softened 125 mL
  • 1/4 c. icing sugar 60 mL
  • 1 c. flour 250 mL

Filling:

  • 8 oz softened
  • cream cheese 250 g
  • 1/4 c. white sugar 60 mL
  • 1 tsp. vanilla 5 mL

Topping:

  • 4 c. fruit 1 L

I like sliced strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, saskatoon berries and cherries but use whatever you like.

Glaze:

  • 2 tbsp. cornstarch 30 mL
  • 1 c. orange juice 250 mL
  • 1/2 c. sugar 125 mL
  • 1 tsp. lemon juice 5 mL

Crust:
Mix the butter, icing sugar and flour together and press onto an ungreased pizza pan. Bake at 350 F (180 C) for eight to 10 min. Let cool.

Filling:

Mix together the cream cheese, sugar and vanilla and spread onto the cooled crust. Spread the prepared sliced fruit on the filling.

Glaze:
In small sauce pan, combine the cornstarch, juices, and sugar, heat on medium until thick and pour over fruit. Chill.

Garden vegetable pizza

  • 2 cans of refrigerated Pillsbury crescent rolls 2
  • 8 oz cream cheese, softened 250 g
  • 4 tbsp. ranch dressing 60 mL
  • 1/2 c. miracle whip, mayonnaise or sour cream, your choice 125 mL
  • 1 tsp. fresh chopped dill greens (optional but delicious if available) 15 mL
  • About 4 c. of prepared vegetables to top the crust and filling 1L

For vegetables, I prefer cauliflower, broccoli, green onion, celery, peppers, carrots (finely chopped or grated), and cucumbers, but experiment and use vegetables of your choice. Fresh shelled peas and radishes have also appeared on this pizza.

Roll out crescent roll dough (leave whole) on a 15 x 10 inch baking or cookie sheet, prick with a fork. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes at 325 F (160 C). Cool. Mix together the cream cheese, dressing and Miracle Whip and dill (if desired), and spread gently over the dough. Place vegetables on the cream cheese mixture; push down gently so everything stays in place.
Chill. Cut into pieces and serve. Source: adapted from www.pillsbury.com

Grape and chicken salad wraps

Kids and adults alike love these refreshing little bites.

  • 2 c. chopped cooked chicken or canned chicken (drained) 500 mL
  • 1/4 c. finely sliced celery 60 mL
  • 1 c. halved or quartered red grapes depending on size 250 mL
  • 3 tbsp. chopped green onions 45 mL
  • 1/4 c. mayonnaise 60 mL
  • dash of salt, pepper and seasoning salt to taste
  • 4 large tortillas 4
  • fresh lettuce

In a mixing bowl combine the chicken, celery, grapes onions, mayonnaise and spices until well combined. Place a lettuce leaf on the top of each tortilla. Spoon about one cup (250 mL) of the chicken mixture in each tortilla. Flatten and roll up the tortilla and slice into several pieces to serve. The pieces will look like pinwheels. Chill until serving.

Variation: Add a dash of Chinese Five Spice to enhance the flavour, if desired.

Note: this chicken mix is also delicious in a fresh croissant.

Always ready burgers

These saucy burgers are a staple in our recipe collection. When I asked my children what is their favourite summer meal, it will always be these burgers. The best part is that no utensils are needed.

  • 1 c. ketchup 250 mL
  • 1 c. barbecue sauce 250 mL
  • 1 c. water 250 mL
  • 2 tbsp. white vinegar 30 mL
  • 3 c. chopped celery 750 mL
  • 1 c. chopped onion 250 mL
  • 2 tbsp. brown sugar 30 mL
  • 2 tbsp. dry mustard 30 mL
  • 1 tsp. chili powder 5 mL
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 18 hamburger patties, cooked or grilled 18
  • 18 hamburger buns 18

Mix the ingredients together in a large casserole dish or slow cooker. Heat and add cooked burgers to the sauce. Serve warm with fresh hamburger buns, and whatever additions you prefer.

Some love a slice of tomato, some raw onions or sliced pickles and cheese. Very convenient as this dish keeps nicely on the warm setting of your slow cooker.

Variation: If you do not want to cook hamburger patties, change the meat to a roast that transforms the recipe into a shredded beef sandwich. The sauce stays the same but the method is as follows:

Place a four pound (1.8 kilogram) roast of beef, thawed and cut in half in a large roaster. Combine all remaining ingredients in a large sauce pan and simmer for about 20 minutes.

Pour over roast, cover and bake for four or five hours at 350 F (180 C), turning beef occasionally. When finished, shred the meat with a fork and serve with fresh buns.

I often use the slow cooker, so the meat is tender and not overcooked. For this method of roasting, add all of the ingredients to the slow cooker and cook on high for one hour, then reduce the setting to low and cook for another six hours or until the meat shows cooked on a meat thermometer. When the beef roast is done, cool, then shred the meat and return to the sauce. Enjoy in fresh buns.

Monster cookie bars

As a kid, I remember eating monster cookies on the beach. With the oats and peanut butter, these treats were so filling and I think the neighbourhood kids and I thought they were a great meal replacement. Apparently, the adults in charge did not agree. Anything to stay out on the beach longer. This recipe is a simplified version of making the actual cookies, while keeping the satisfying taste.

  • 1/2 c. butter 125 mL
  • 1 c. white sugar 250 mL
  • 1 c. brown sugar 250 mL
  • 3 eggs 3
  • 1 1/2 c. peanut butter 375 mL
  • 1 tsp. vanilla 5 mL
  • 2 tsp. baking soda 10 mL
  • 4 1/2 c. oatmeal 1.125 L
  • 1 c. chocolate chips 250 mL
  • 1 c. M&Ms 250 mL

Preheat the oven to 350 F (180 C). Cream the butter and sugars together. Add eggs and peanut butter and mix. Stir in vanilla, baking soda and oatmeal. Stir in chocolate chips and M&Ms. Spread it in a lightly greased 10 x 15 inch (25 x 38 cm) pan bake for 25 minutes. Don’t over bake.

Puffed wheat cake

This is such a traditional no-bake hit. Summer is not complete without some gooey puffed wheat cake with lots of cocoa.

  • 1 c. brown sugar 250 mL
  • 1/2 c. corn syrup 125 mL
  • 1/2 c. butter or margarine 125 mL
  • 5 tbsp. cocoa 75 mL
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp. vanilla 5 mL
  • 8 c. puffed wheat 2 L

Combine the sugar, syrup, butter, cocoa and salt in a saucepan. Combine well and cook over medium heat until bubbling. Let bubble for about three minutes and remove from heat, add vanilla and stir. Pour over puffed wheat and mix. Press into a 9 X 13 inch pan (22 X 33 cm). Cool and enjoy.
Source: Prairie Pooches & Friends Cookbook www.prairiepoochesrescue.com)

Jodie Mirosovsky is a home economist from Rosetown, Sask., and a member of Team Resources. Contact: team@producer.com.

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