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Posts Tagged ‘summer fest’

Summer Soiree: 5 Booze-Free Picnic Sips

Summer is a good time to be thirsty. There are chilled glasses of iced tea and lemonade to be had — often flavored with in-season fruit — not to mention slushies, milkshakes and smoothies. Grab a pitcher and some ice (plus our recipes below) for these good-for-all-ages refreshers.

1. Muddled Lemonberryade (pictured above)
Borrow a trick from professional bartenders and muddle an array of berries and mint to get the most summer flavor in this bright, colorful sparkling lemonade. Once you’ve mastered the technique, try swapping in different berries and herbs like basil or lavender.

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Summer Soiree: 5 Sizzling Burgers

Backyard barbecues conjure plenty of cravings: lemonade, hot dogs, pasta salad, cold beer. But all are mere supporting cast members for the summer star, the burger. At the heart of nearly every barbecue is a grill full of sizzling patties. The all-American classic is a blank canvas for relishes, vegetables and other condiments. Once you’ve mastered Cooking Channel’s 6 tenets of burger deliciousness, try these new-style masterpieces.

1. The B-and-B “Bash Burger” (pictured above)
Take a page from three-time Burger Bash victor Josh Capon’s grilling playbook and spruce up your patties with onion-studded bacon jam and Sriracha-laced special sauce for a winner at your next summer party.

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Summer Fest: The 5 Best Picnic Sweets

You’ve lunched on sandwiches, nibbled on potato salad and slaws, then washed it all down with a refreshing iced tea. What’s next? Dessert, of course. But with the summer sun pounding up above, it’s best to avoid delicate layered cakes or quick-to-melt ice cream. Before you head out, fill up your baskets with these champion travelers and we guarantee dessert will be a grand finale.

1. S’mores Bars (pictured above)
Kelsey layers chocolate chips and marshmallow fluff between graham-flavored blondies to make bars that possess all the campfire flavor of s’mores, minus the gooey mess.

2. Apple and Blueberry Hand Pies
No need to fumble for forks and plates. These flaky, grab-and-go pies — stuffed with cinnamon-dusted apples and blueberries — are as easy to devour as they are to transport.

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Summer Fest: 5 Picnic Potluck Ideas

By the time summer rolls around, we’re usually ready to push our casserole pans and dutch ovens into the dusty back corners of our kitchen cabinets. Not so fast — by using fresh summer vegetables, seafood and even berries, you can make lighter one-dish wonders that will feed a crowd without sending them into a full-blown food coma.

1. Tomato Vegetable Casserole (pictured above)
Giada combines ripe tomatoes, zucchini and bell peppers with potatoes and yams to form a Parmesan-crusted casserole that boasts enough heft as a vegetarian main, but is still light enough for warm summer nights.

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Summer Fest: 5 Ways to Prepare Sweet Potatoes

Roasted Sweet Potatoes

The last official day of summer is September 21 and fall begins the next day. Sweet potatoes are available most of the year, but the fall season is truly when they shine as that is when the fresh crop comes in. Select potatoes as blemish-free as possible, and store them in a cool, dark place that’s a bit warmer than the refrigerator, where they can last a few months. The ideal temperature for storing sweet potatoes is in the 50s. They’re so versatile that they can be roasted, mashed, grilled, stuffed or fried and still taste amazing.

1. Roasted Sweet Potatoes (pictured above)

You need only five ingredients to get great flavor from this roasted sweet potato side dish. Toast the cumin and Sichuan peppercorns until fragrant, then then grind them. Sprinkle the spices and salt over sweet potatoes, drizzle with oil and toss to coat. Transfer to a baking sheet and roast until tender.

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Summer Fest: Grape-Filled Desserts

The most common grapes you’ll find at the market right now are Concord grapes, which are great for juice, jelly or jam. But grapes also come in a variety of types, including seedless grapes, table grapes and wine grapes. Choose clusters of brightly colored and plump grapes, and store them in the refrigerator for about a week. While they’re great on their own for dessert try featuring them in these more-elaborate sweet recipes.

1. Torta d’Uva: Grape Cake (pictured above)
David Rocco traveled to Chianti, one of Italy’s most famous wine regions, and visited Castello di Trebbio, where some of the best wine and olive oil in Tuscany is produced. His grape cake, inspired by the harvest, makes use of both bunch grapes and Grappa in a sweet dough.

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Summer Fest: 4 Beet Salad Best Bets

Red or gold, beets are rich in folates, potassium and vitamins niacin, pantothenic acid and pyridoxine. The red variety is higher in anthocyanins, which are believed to have strong antioxidant properties. Choose beets with tops attached and, if you’re cooking a bunch at one time, try to keep them similarly sized. They can be stored in plastic bags in the refrigerator for about two weeks but you’ll probably be tempted to eat them right away. Featuring them in hot or cold salads really lets their flavor shine.

1. Beet Salad with Crispy Goat Cheese (pictured above)
If you’ve got the time and can roast your own beets, cooking them for an hour or so at 400 degrees F while wrapped in foil with a drizzle of olive oil should do the trick. If you’re in a rush, the packs of already roasted and sealed baby beets are a huge time saver. Serve the lemon juice, honey, olive oil, tarragon and almond-topped beet salad with warm, crispy goat cheese rounds.

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Summer Fest: A Perfect Pairing of Figs and Pizza Dough

Figs are only in season for a few short weeks at the end of summer and the beginning of fall. They’re in a whole different flavor category than the dried figs you can find year-round. Slightly wrinkled or split figs that aren’t leaking juice are what to look for. Ripeness is indicated by a slightly sagging skin. Skip figs that look shrunken, are squishy or have begun to ooze. Their sweetness is great solo or in a dessert, but it is also amazing when paired with savory ingredients like pizza dough. Figs only keep for a day or two, so plan your menu for pizza or flatbread in advance.

1. Fig and Blue Cheese Flatbread (pictured above)
Use a favorite pizza dough recipe or store-bought dough for this sweet and salty flatbread that tops a baked pizza dough with caramelized onions, figs and blue cheese. Finish it in the oven with a drizzle of olive oil until crisp with a rich brown crust. Remove it from the oven, and tear prosciutto and oregano over the pizza.

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Summer Fest: Stuffed Peppers 5 Ways

Colorful and crispy, peppers of all colors stand up well when baked. Pick your favorite varieties at the market right now and stuff them full of everything from rice to cheese.

1. Risotto-Stuffed Peppers and Zucchini (pictured above)
Rachael’s risotto can be stuffed in either peppers or, so keep that in mind if one looks better than the other at the market. The zucchini can be mixed with small firm yellow squash rather than red peppers.

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Summer Fest: No-Cook Avocado, Shrimp and Mango Salad

I never seem to plan in advance when I’m shopping for ingredients, and this can be a real issue with avocados. They’re everywhere right now, but they’re not always ripe when you need them on demand. Per usual, I waited until the last minute again and was left with only rock-solid Hass avocados at the market. But next to the Hass variety were larger, lighter avocados from Florida that were just the ripeness I needed. They are a bit less creamy than a Hass avocado, but they taste just as delicious and have less fat. With two giant Florida avocados in hand, I decided to make a quick, no-cook dinner.

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