Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Cooking With the Heat in Mind

I've been buried in fabric and outdoor cushions for the last few days and have gotten behind on everything.  But the 20 cushions I recovered for a friend's garden furniture are now a distant memory.  It shouldn't have been too tedious, but 10 of the pillows were tufted - 4 of them with covered buttons - and that took me just a little bit of time. It's taking my fingertips a while to recover as well.  We are negotiating whether or not we will do pictures or not, so maybe I can share those with you this weekend.  I must admit I'm a little jealous that they aren't mine!

As you might know, I have been co-hosting a linky party this month called Hot Fun In The Summertime!  In trying to determine what I consider "hot fun in the summertime", it has become abundantly clear that 3 things rank high on my summer fun list:  Estate sales/garage sales, decorating outdoor areas, and eating cooking.  I'm probably one of the few people who GAIN weight in the summer and lose weight in the winter.  I love summer food.  Cake, ice cream, barbeque, PESTO, salads, berries, ....Ummmm.  I'm loosing my words so I better stop thinking about food.

Today I have two recipes for you that are perfect for summer entertaining.  When I am having, or going to, a summer eating event, I like to bring things that are easy to transport and eat (especially for children).  It is also important that they can withstand variances in temperature - for safety.

Back in April  we were having some friends over for a make your own grilled cheese party- because April is Grilled Cheese Month - and I wanted something fun and simple for dessert.  I had these on my Pinterest board and thought they would be perfect for this casual dinner.  It is a Pampered Chef recipe and who doesn't love those? Did you know they have like 15 pages of recipes with cream cheese in them?  But I digress...

S'more Cups
7  whole graham crackers (1 cup finely crushed)
1/4 cup powdered sugar
6 tablespoons butter, melted
4 bars (1.55 oz each) milk chocolate candy
12 large marshmallows

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Place graham crackers into a large resealable plastic bag. Crush into fine crumbs.

Combine graham cracker crumbs, powdered sugar, and butter in a small bowl.

Place 1 tablespoon of crumb mixture in each cup of a mini muffin pan. For reference - this is a soup spoon - heaping.  Press crumbs to form shallow cups. 

Bake 4-5 minutes or until edges are bubbling. 

While crusts are baking, break 2 of the candy bars into their  marked rectangles.  Cut 12 marshmallows in half with scissors dipped in cold water.

Place one chocolate rectangle in each cup.  Cover with 1/2 marshmallow - cut side down.

Return to oven 1-2 minutes or until marshmallows are slightly softened. Remove pans from oven to cooling rack; cool 15 minutes. 

Carefully remove cups from pan. Cool completely.

Break up remaining candy bars into microwave safe bowl.  Microwave on high 1 to 1 1/2 minutes or until melted and smooth, stirring every 20 seconds. 

Dip the top of each marshmallow into melted chocolate.  Let stand 40 to 60 minutes or until set. 

Makes 24 cups.  I recommend using some type of lining over the serving tray.  The butter in the crust seeps ever so slightly and the cloth or napkin lining will keep your treats from having buttery bottoms.  Buttery bottoms are just rude!

Yummy!!!  These can be warmed in the microwave BUT GENTLY - like 10 seconds at 50% power.

Ok.  Now it is time for the appetizer - which comes with a mantra.....LOOKS GROSS, TASTES GREAT!  There have been times when I have had to strongly encourage people to try it.  I don't even really like any of the ingredients, except avocado, by themselves.  But together, they are heaven.  This is the kind of dip that people stand around at the end of the party and eat every last drop - saying things like "I can't believe how good this is!  OMG!  Can I have the recipe for this.  OH GOD this is soooooo good.......

Blackeye Pea Dip
(also known as Looks Weird But Please Try It I Know You'll Like It Dip)

2 cans Blackeye Peas (slightly drained)
2 avocados
1/2 cup sweet red onion chopped
1 1/2 cup chopped celery
5 oz Catalina dressing

Texture and size of ingredients are key to the taste of this dip so I'm going to give you a little additional info to encourage you...  It only takes about 15 minutes to make this dip, just stay calm and use your fabulous knife skills!
Drain peas.  I know you know how to drain I just wanted you to see what slightly drained means.  The pasty liquid will remain - the watery liquid will be gone.

Tip: If you have access to Ranch Style brand of beans - all their beans are excellent.  My favorites.  Like so favorite that when I visit Oklahoma, I go to the grocery store and by cases of black beans to bring home with me because we don't have them here (and beans cost a lot here).  

Tip: 1 1/2 cups of celery is usually 3 stalks.

Holding the thick end of the stalk, insert the tip of your knife about 2 inches up into the stalk.  Run the knife up the stalk to divide it in half.  Do the same to each half so you have 4 strips. 

Put the strips "back together" and chop - leave your knife in one place and push the celery towards the cutting edge.  Just rock the knife up and down chopping as you push the celery through.

Cut your onion.  

Tip: 1/2 cup of chopped onion is usually about 1/5 of a large red onion. (see knife placement)

Lay onion slice on cutting board an cut into thin strips.  As you did with the celery, place the knife tip ON THE BOARD and push the knife down through the onion as you hold it in place with your other hand.  Avoid putting the knife on TOP of the onion and pushing down.  That is dangerous.

Turn the cutting board 1/2 turn so that you can cut perpendicular to the cuts you just made.  Hold onion steady and chop as before - tip of knife on board, pushing onion toward the knife after each slice.  (sorry for the blur - it's hard to take your own knife shots - looks like Mr Quirky has shaky hands)

Check to make sure your size approximation was accurate.  I get nervous about raw onion, and don't want to have too much.

Now cut your avocado.  Make one continuous slice around avocado - starting and ending at the top.  Twist the halves and pull apart.  Hold the seed side in one hand and with your knife in the other hand make a whack at the seed - hard enough so the knife breaks into the seed.  When you twist the knife the seed will come out.

Cut lengthwise slices into the avocado - just dragging knife against the skin, not breaking it.  This is actually easier with a table knife - you don't need a sharp knife for this.  Turn avocado and make perpendicular slices.   Then you can either scoop out pieces by moving a spoon gently around the edges of the peel or you can push the avocado half "inside out" and scrape off the pieces that don't fall off. 

These pieces will be too big so cut them in half to be more uniform with the other ingredients.

Put all ingredients into a bowl, add the Catalina dressing and mix thoroughly.  Put in fridge for a few hours for flavors to mix well.

Serve with Fritos Scoops.  Only Fritos Scoops.  Actually I've never eaten it with anything but Fritos Scoops - but I do consider the corn chip to be an essential part of the flavor.  Plus this dip is pretty dense and requires a thick chip to maneuver it with.

Notice how the ingredients are fairly uniform in size?  This is KEY!   It is the combination here that makes it taste so good.  You want to taste everything together, not just get a hunk or raw onion or celery.  That would be a travesty!

Note: This makes enough dip to fill the bowl in the picture at least two times.  There are two small bags of Fritos in the picture.

Enjoy the party!

You may have figured out that this is actually fairly healthy!  If there is ever any left over we usually eat it the next day for lunch.

Don't forget Week 3 of Hot Fun In The Summertime! opens Thursday night @ 8 PM

Hope to see you then!
Week 2 features are over at Bella Nest today! Check to see if you were featured!

Make something wonderful today!


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plaits and paisley said...

You have been very busy. I am going to try the dip! x

Kirby Carespodi said...

That food looks fabulous! (You live where beans are expensive? that's insane!)

Patricia @ 9th and Denver said...

Those recipes...Mmmm...
I've got to try this.
The chocolate no doubt about it.
The bean dip...definitely!


Little Miss Maggie said...

My daughter tried your recipe for the smores. They were delicious!

Bliss said...

My thighs say dammm you.


Connie said...

Hello Karen, thank you for stopping by and I am honored to have you as a follower. I'm looking forward to becoming great blogging friends.

These recipes are dynamite! I'll be trying them at our next potluck.
I love your step-by-step photos. Connie :)

Connie said...

I'm afraid that I do not know how to do that, even exactly what you mean . . . you have to remember that I'm an old gal and this blogging networking is all new to me . . . I am learning as I go. Thank you for stopping by. I am getting your comments just fine and able to post comments on your blog. Connie :)

Linda @ it all started with paint said...


I, too, have a tough time in the summer with weight. I'm thinking it's the Margaritas!

Both recipes looks seriously delish!



Stan and Jody Gabara said...

Great recipes! Thanks for sharing.


Keeping It Cozy said...

Those s'more cups look delicious! I will have to try those soon.


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