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September 22, 2021

7/23/2021 11:20:00 AM
Some lighter fare for the hot temps

If the weather forecast holds up, the day this column comes out, we’re set to start six straight days of temperatures above 90 degrees.

I love grilling and smoking food but frankly, grilling out in 90-plus degree temperatures isn’t pleasant. At that point, I’m not even worried about the taste or doneness, I’m just trying to avoid letting a sweat drop get near the food I’m making.

So, with it looking like a scorcher, I decided to go with some light, cooler fare this week. Things that you can beat the heat with and things that won’t sit in your stomach and feel heavy and gross after eating. Essentially, we’re avoiding the meat sweats here and going with salads and cool desserts.

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1/2 c. Toasted walnuts or toasted pecans
3/4 c. Balsamic vinaigrette dressing
1 apple
1 ripe pear
3 c. baby spinach leaves
3 c. baby mixed greens

Core the apple and pear, cut them into thin slices.
Place the greens on serving plates and top with apples, pears, and toasted walnuts. Pour the dressing and serve.
This makes either four light salads or two hearty salads. There’s sweetness to this salad, and if you serve it immediately, it should have a nice, cooling texture, but a good crunch with the toasted nuts.

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2 large cucumbers
1 small yellow or white onion
2 tbsp. chopped fresh dill (optional)
1/2 c. white vinegar
1 to 2 tbsp. granulated sugar
1 tsp. kosher salt
Fresh ground pepper

Slice the cucumbers as thin as possible. Peel and thinly slice the onion into half moon shapes. Layer the cucumbers and onions in a large shallow bowl; add the dill (if using).

In a small bowl, mix the white vinegar, sugar, salt, and pepper. Pour the mixture over the cucumbers and onions, mixing everything together to ensure even coverage. Cover and refrigerate for at least one hour.

Stir again to evenly mix the dressing. Then serve with a slotted spoon. Store refrigerated for up to seven days.

For the dill, it will give another dimension to the flavor. A little bit of a herby taste, but it doesn’t overdo it either, and the salad is still wonderful without it, so I left it as optional.

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I had a chance to visit with Karl Oskar Days Grand Marshal Dave Waldoch earlier this week. He happened to come into the office just before I was writing this column and we got to talking about our gardens and what’s going well and what isn’t. He mentioned to me that his blueberries are looking fantastic, and that instantly brought this recipe to my mind. It’s no bake because who wants to use the over when it’s this hot, and it’s creamy and sweet.
Thanks for the idea Dave!
14 whole graham crackers
1 tbsp. light brown sugar
7 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted

3 c. blueberries, fresh or thawed frozen
2/3 c. granulated sugar
8 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
1 1/2 c. plain yogurt, divided
1/2 c. powdered sugar
1/2 c. heavy cream, chilled

3 c. blueberries (fresh or frozen), plus more for garnish
1 c. water
1/2 c. granulated sugar
2 tbsp. cornstarch, dissolved in 3 tbsp. water
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

Spray a 9-inch springform pan with nonstick cooking spray.

In the bowl of a food processor pulse the graham crackers and sugar until finely ground. Add the butter and pulse until moistened. Use the bottom of a measuring cup, glass, or ramekin to press the crust mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan. Place in the freezer.

In the bowl of a food processor, combine the blueberries, sugar, and one tablespoon of the yogurt pulsing until smooth.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese on high speed until light and creamy. Add the remaining yogurt and powdered sugar and beat until smooth. Add in the blueberry mixture, beating to combine.

In another bowl with an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the cream until stiff peaks form. Gently fold into the blueberry cream cheese mixture. Spoon into the prepared crust.

Freeze until solid, about four hours or up to one week covered with plastic wrap.

Make the topping:
Place the blueberries in a small saucepan. Cover with the water and stir in the sugar. Heat over medium-high heat until mixture comes to a low boil and the blueberries begin to burst.

Add the dissolved cornstarch to saucepan and bring mixture to a rolling boil. Turn heat down and simmer on low heat for 5 minutes, or until sauce thickens.

Remove from heat. Add  the vanilla. Allow the mixture to cool enough to pour into the bowl of a blender. Blend until the mixture is pureed. Push through a strainer to make sure it’s completely smooth. Refrigerate while the pie freezes.
To serve, let the pie sit at room temperature for 5 to 10 minutes to soften slightly. Use a large sharp knife to slice, rinsing the blade under hot water and wiping off between slices. Pour the blueberry sauce over each slice and garnish with a handful of fresh blueberries. Serve.

TFD: When the weather is hot, keep a cool head. When the weather is cold, keep a warm heart.

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