CASA GRANDE

The official start of summer was Friday and the hot temperatures are upon us.

While May and early June were relatively cool, area residents can expect a gradual heating up of temperatures this week with highs expected to reach 109 by the end of the week.

As temperatures heat up, cool refreshing treats and beverages come out.

To celebrate the official start of summer, some members of the Casa Grande Foodies Facebook page — a page created by food fans for food fans — shared some of their favorite recipes for staying cool during the warm summer months.

Foodie Trini McAnulty said her favorite summertime treat is “good ol’ sun tea.”

“One gallon pickle jar with a cinnamon stick and four bags of tea, fill with fresh filtered water (allow to sit in the sun) and voila — a few hours later it’s sun tea,” she wrote on the Casa Grande Foodies site.

Amy Hallberg likes to make gazpacho, a veggie-rich, Spanish-inspired tomato soup that’s served chilled. Maggie Hubert likes to blend together fruit and coconut milk, which she freezes into popsicles.

“Today I took a fresh pineapple and original coconut milk, blended together and put into the popsicle molds for the kids,” she said. “It’s delicious and of course I’ll be adding Malibu to mine.”

Below are a few stay-cool recipes for summer, including a recipe submitted by Sandra Worthen for a no-bake Ritz cracker dessert that she described as “so yummy.”

Ritz cracker ice cream dessert

Submitted by Sandra Worthen

60 Ritz crackers (about 60)

1 stick plus two tablespoons melted butter or oleo

1 quart butter pecan ice cream

2 small packages of coconut instant pudding

1½ cups milk

Topping

Whipped cream plus the crumbs of about eight crackers

Crush crackers and add melted butter. Layer in bottom of a 9-by-13-inch pan and press down, reserving some for topping. The crust can be baked at 350 degrees for about six minutes, then cooled.

In a mixing bowl, combine ice cream, pudding and milk. Mix on high for about two minutes. Pour over cracker crust. Spread whipped cream on top and sprinkle with crackers. Freeze for about two hours before serving.

Gazpacho

1 unpeeled cucumber, cut lengthwise with seeds removed, then chopped

2 red bell peppers, cored and seeded

4 Roma or hothouse tomatoes, chopped

½ small Vidalia onion, diced

4 cloves garlic, minced

3 cups tomato juice

¼ cup balsamic vinegar

¼ cup good olive oil

½ teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

a pinch of oregano or Italian seasoning

Juice of 1 lime

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and mix well. For a smoother consistency, blend ingredients in a blender for a few minutes. For a chunkier consistency, leave unblended. Chill for a few hours to allow flavors to develop before serving.

Serve topped with croutons or diced veggies.

Watermelon sorbet

This is my go-to recipe for a hot summer day. It has only four ingredients and is easy to make either with or without an ice cream maker.

1 cup sugar

½ cup water

Juice of 1 lime

4 cups watermelon (about 1 and a half of the small personal-sized watermelons)

Make a simple syrup by combining sugar and water in a small pan and heating until sugar is melted. Place chopped watermelon pieces in a blender and add sugar-syrup and lime juice. Blend until smooth.

If using an ice cream maker, follow the manufacturer’s directions for finishing. If not using an ice cream maker, place mixture in a zipper-style freezer bag. Place in freezer. Every hour, remove bag from freezer and shake. As mixture starts to freeze, break up frozen pieces and shake bag until desired frozen consistency is achieved.

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