Thursday, May 12, 2011

Cooking for a Cool Summer

Suddenly it's summer in Minnesota.

After months of winter, we've skipped spring. The thermometer has jumped to 90 degrees, finding many of us unprepared. Snow shovels still stand by the back door -- just in case. Spring clothes are still at the back of the closet. And the window air conditioners are still in the basement.

Appetites change with the season just as suddenly. It is time for lighter fare and for dishes that don't require a lot of cooking Back before we had air conditioning, I would take advantage of still cool mornings to make some dinner dishes. I'd do most of the day's cooking before nine. With the back door open to the sounds of the awakening birds I could bake and simmer while Mother Nature took care of keeping the kitchen cool. I also used to plan our meals around cold or room temperature dishes. I kind of miss those days.

These days I'm making those cold dishes even lighter by cutting back on the fat and adding more vegetables. These two recipes are delicious takes on summer classics Deviled Eggs and a Cream Cheese Dip that can also be used as a sandwich spread or the binder for Chicken Salad.

Light Deviled Eggs
Cook 4 eggs to hard boiled stage. Cool and peel
For 4 eggs ( 8 halves)
Cool, slice in half, and discard half the yolks.
Grate a carrot on the fine side of a box grater.
Press grated shredded carrot in a couple of layers of paper toweling to wring out excess carrot juices.
Mash remaining yolks with a fork.
Stir in 2 tablespoons non-fat mayonnaise
1 teaspoon mustard, any kind you prefer
1/8 teaspoon dill weed
And then the grated carrot.
Stuff this mixture into egg whites
Cover lightly and chill before serving.

Light Cream Cheese Dip
1 8-ounce container fat-free Philadelphia cream cheese
2 ounces dried cranberries
2 ounces chopped pecans
2 tablespoons minced green pepper
1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons cranberry sauce, jelly or whole berry

Combine all ingredients and store covered in the refrigerator. Use as a dip for apples or whole wheat flat breads. Use as a sandwich spread or mix a bit with equal parts cold chicken and pasta for a tasty salad