Casual dining fare goes well with summer company

I always enjoy my visits with friends and family. Many live far away, but when we congregate on the beach or on the deck it seems that no time has passed and we fall back into days of laughter, reminiscing and getting to know each other again.

Part of the fun is preparing food that can be easily served over a denim blanket at the beach or on the patio table. The goal is easy casual eating with little fuss, and maybe the only utensil used is a napkin. These are my picks, enjoy.

Bread Maker Cinnamon Buns

I love to pair this sweet with hot coffee or fresh fruit that is readily available over the summer. I dug out my bread machine earlier this year and tried these tasty buns. I love that the machine prepares the dough for you.

Dough:

  • 1 c. milk 250 mL
  • 1 large egg 1
  • 1/4 c. butter 60 mL
  • 3 1/3 c. bread flour 790 mL
  • 3 tbsp. sugar 45 mL
  • 1/2 tsp. salt 2 mL
  • 2 tsp. active dry yeast (or 1 1/2 teaspoons bread machine/rapid rise yeast) 10 mL

Filling:

  • 1/4 c. butter (melted) 60 mL
  • 1/4 c. sugar 60 mL
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon 10 mL
  • 1/2 tsp. nutmeg 2 mL
  • 1/4 c. chopped walnuts or pecans 60 mL

Icing:

  • 1 c. icing sugar 250 mL
  • 1-2 tbsp. milk 15-30 mL
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla 2 mL

Add the dough ingredients to the bread machine as recommended by the manufacturer. Select the dough cycle and start.

When the cycle is done, place the dough onto a floured surface. Knead for about a minute, then let it rest for another 15 minutes.

Roll the dough out into a rectangle about 15 by 10 inches.

Brush the melted butter over the dough to within one inch of the edges.

In a small bowl, mix the sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and chopped nuts then sprinkle the mixture over the dough.

Starting on the long side, roll the dough up tightly. Press the edges to seal and form into a 12-inch long, evenly shaped roll.

With a knife, cut the entire roll into one-inch pieces.

Place the rolls cut-side down in a greased 9 X13 inch (22 X33 cm) baking pan. Cover and let rise in a warm, draft-free place until they double in size. This will take about 30 to 45 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 375 F (190 C). Bake the rolls for about 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown.

While the buns are baking you can prepare the icing.

In a mixing bowl, combine the icing sugar, milk, and vanilla until smooth. Blend the mixture until it is smooth. Add more icing sugar in small amounts if the icing is too thin, until the right consistency is achieved.

Cool the rolls in the pan for 10 to 15 minutes, then drizzle them with the powdered sugar icing. Makes 12 buns. Source: www.thespruceeats.com

If you do not have a bread machine or want to learn the traditional way of making these sweet treats, try this alternative recipe.

Vanilla Cinnamon Buns

  • 2 tsp. or one package (1/4 ounce) active dry yeast 10 mL
  • 1 tbsp. sugar 15 mL
  • 1/4 c. warm water (110-115 F) 60 mL
  • 1 c. milk 250 mL
  • 1/3 c. instant vanilla pudding mix (half of a 3.4-ounce package) 80 mL
  • 1 large egg, room temperature 1
  • 1/4 c. butter, melted 60 mL
  • 1 tsp. salt 5 mL
  • 3 – 3-1/2 c. all-purpose flour 750 to 875 mL

Filling:

  • 3/4 c. sugar 175 mL
  • 1 tbsp. cinnamon 15 mL
  • 1/4 c. butter, melted 60 mL

Icing:

  • 1/2 c. butter, softened 125 mL
  • 2 tsp. vanilla 10 mL
  • 1 tsp. water 5 mL
  • 11/2 c. confectioners’ sugar 375 mL

In a small bowl, dissolve yeast and one tablespoon sugar in warm water. In a large bowl, beat milk and pudding mix on low speed one minute. Let stand one minute or until slightly set. Add the egg, melted butter, salt, yeast mixture and two cups flour, beat on medium until smooth. Stir in enough remaining flour to form a soft dough (dough will be sticky).

Turn dough onto a floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, six to eight minutes. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease the top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about one hour.

For filling, in a small bowl mix sugar and cinnamon. Punch down dough; divide in half. Turn one portion of dough onto a lightly floured surface; roll into an 18×10 inch rectangle. Brush with half of the melted butter to within one-quarter inch of edges; sprinkle with half of the sugar mixture. Roll up jelly-roll style, starting with a long side; pinch seam to seal. Cut into 12 slices.

Repeat with remaining dough and filling ingredients.

Place all slices in a greased 9X13 inch (22 x 33 cm) baking pan, cut side down. Cover with a towel; let rise in a warm place until almost doubled, about 45 minutes. Preheat oven to 350 F (180 C).

Bake 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. Cool in pan on a wire rack.

While cooling, make the icing by placing the butter in a small mixing bowl and beat until smooth. Then add vanilla, water and enough confectioners’ sugar to reach desired consistency. Spread over the buns. Serve warm. Makes two dozen buns.

Berry Cream Muffins

Using fresh seasonal berries makes these muffins a seasonal hit.

  • 1/3 c. butter, softened 80 mL
  • 3/4 c. sugar 175 mL
  • 2 large eggs 2
  • 1/3 c. milk 80 mL
  • 11/2 c. flour 375 mL
  • 11/2 tsp. baking powder 7 mL
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon 5 mL

Filling:

  • 3/4 c. cream cheese, softened (6 ounces)175 mL
  • 1/3 c. sugar 80 mL
  • 1 large egg 1
  • 1 1/2 c. fresh berries (any kind) 375 mL

Topping:

  • 1/4 c. flour 60 mL
  • 2 tbsp. brown sugar 30 mL
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon 2 mL
  • 1 tbsp. cold butter 15 mL

Preheat oven to 375 F (190 C).

In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar. Then add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in milk.

In another bowl, combine flour, baking powder and cinnamon; add to creamed mixture just until moistened. Fill greased or paper-lined muffin cups one-fourth full.

For filling, in a mixing bowl, beat cream cheese, sugar and egg until smooth. Fold in berries. Drop a rounded tablespoonful into the centre of each muffin.

For topping, in a small bowl, mix flour, brown sugar and cinnamon; cut in butter until crumbly. Sprinkle over batter.

Bake for about 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean. Cool and serve warm. Refrigerate leftovers.

Makes 1 1/2 dozen muffins. Source: www.allrecipes.com

Teriyaki Shish Kabobs

This is such an easy way to enjoy steak with veggies and fruit. The grilled pineapple is a game changer.

  • 1 c. sugar 250 mL
  • 1 c. soy sauce 250 mL
  • 1 c. ketchup 250 mL
  • 2 tsp. garlic powder 10 mL
  • 2 tsp. ground ginger 10 mL
  • 2 pounds beef top sirloin steak, cut into 1-1/2-inch cubes1 kg
  • 2-3 small zucchini, cut into 1-inch slices 2-3
  • 2 c. medium fresh mushrooms 500 mL
  • 1 large bell pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces 1
  • 1 small onion, cut into 1-inch pieces 1
  • 2 c. cubed fresh pineapple 500 mL

For marinade, mix first five ingredients. Place beef and half of the marinade in a large resealable plastic bag; seal bag and turn to coat. Cover and reserve remaining marinade. Refrigerate beef and marinade overnight.

On metal or soaked wooden skewers, thread vegetables and, on separate skewers, thread beef with pineapple. Discard remaining marinade in bag. Grill, covered, over medium heat until vegetables are tender and beef reaches desired doneness, 12-15 minutes, turning occasionally.

In a small saucepan, bring reserved marinade to a boil, stirring occasionally; cook one minute.

Remove vegetables, pineapple and beef from skewers before serving. Serve with sauce.

Makes eight servings. Source: www.tasteofhome.com

Potato Pizza

Such an interesting way to serve up vegetables.

  • 12 regular strips bacon strips, chopped 12
  • 1 large onion, chopped 1
  • 1/2 c. chopped bell pepper 125 mL
  • 3 large peeled potatoes cut into 1-inch cubes 3
  • 1 tube (13.8 ounces) refrigerated pizza crust
  • 1/4 c. milk 60 mL
  • 1/4 tsp. salt 1 mL
  • 1/4 tsp. paprika 1 mL
  • 11/2 c. shredded cheddar cheese 375 mL
  • 11/2 c. shredded mozzarella cheese 375 mL

Toppings and dips could include finely chopped fresh chives, green onions, parsley, with dips being sour cream or ranch dressing.

Preheat the oven to 350 F (180 C). In a large skillet, cook bacon over medium heat until partially cooked but not crisp, then add the onion and pepper and sauté until the bacon is crisp. Drain off the liquid and fat.

Place potatoes and water to cover in a large saucepan; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cook, uncovered, until tender, 10-15 minutes.

Meanwhile, unroll and press pizza crust onto an ungreased 14 inch pizza pan; prick several times with a fork. Bake until lightly browned, about 15 minutes. Increase oven setting to 375 F (190 C).

Drain potatoes; return to pan. Mash potatoes, gradually adding milk, salt and paprika. Spread over crust. Top with bacon mixture and cheeses.

Bake until cheese is melted, 15-20 minutes.

If desired, sprinkle with chives and serve with sour cream.

Makes eight servings. Source: www.tasteofhome.com

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

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