Avocados!

July 31 is National Avocado Day so I thought I would share some general avocado tips to help everyone maximize their enjoyment of this wonderful fruit (yes, it is a fruit!). Tip #1: Ripening avocados For me, finding a perfectly ripe avocado is almost impossible. It happens about one trip in 20 to the grocery store, and then it’s usually when I don’t want an avocado that particular day! Instead, my approach is to buy unripe avocados, preferably not super green but at least starting to ripen. Then, at home, I place these in a brown paper bag, which I

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Strawberry Shortcake Roll

Today’s recipe delivers all the wonderful flavors of strawberry shortcake: fresh strawberries, whipped cream and shortcake, in one package. I found this recipe on crazyforcrust.com and to my great distress the cake looked like a complete failure at one point. In the end, I snatched victory from the (hungry) jaws of defeat. Normally I wouldn’t post a recipe before getting it right all the way through, but people from the neighborhood Bridge Club are clamoring (“Clamor! Clamor! Clamor!”) for the recipe, and I am here to deliver! The aforementioned Bridge Club, is not named for a card game, but it

Bird Suet

This recipe is for the birds!! I like to feed backyard birds and because I live in a wooded area I see many different types of feathered friends. Their beauty can be astonishing and the songbirds sing so wonderfully. For years, I was of the mind that birdfeeders were only truly necessary in winter when natural food sources become scarce. But I have come to realize that keeping feeders stocked year-round is helpful to shrinking bird populations and provides a year round opportunity to view a wider variety of species, as some only visit during migratory times of the year.

Grilled Margarita Shrimp

July 24 is National Tequila Day. I’m sure everyone is looking for creative ways to celebrate. A margarita is an obvious choice, especially delicious in slushee form on a hot summer day. But don’t stop there! Since you already have tequila on hand, make some margarita shrimp. Yes, there is such a thing and it’s delish! Also very simple. I originally found this recipe on Allrecipes.com. To start, marinate the shrimp in a mix of tequila and lime juice (sounds like a margarita to me!) as well as some Mexican-y spices. This step needs at least 30 minutes but can

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New Backyard Visitor

My neighbor used to have a pile of wood stacked on the edge of his lot. It was occupied by a big old woodchuck who would periodically come out just to torment my dogs. I was so happy when the woodpile disappeared, because then so did the woodchuck. Until now. After all these years, I have daily sightings of a woodchuck. He looks much too comfortable in my backyard! I’m starting to think I need to get a dog again!

Lime Shrimp and Avocado Salad

Sometimes the mood for shrimp hits, but not the mood for making it. This recipe from skinnytaste.com satisfies both those needs by using pre-cooked shrimp to throw together a wonderful and healthy salad. The tastes of this salad remind me of ceviche, which is essentially raw fish cured in citrus juices. Ceviche is delicious, but sometimes the mental image of raw fish might spoil it for some. In this salad, the shrimp is already cooked, which makes it a perfect compromise. It takes very little time to assemble, and in the case of a rare leftover portion it is still

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Frozen Tropical Lime Pie

I wanted to bring to your attention an important holiday coming up. I’m hoping it’s marked on everyone’s calendar. Every year on the third Sunday in July our nation should set aside time to observe National Ice Cream Day. This year it’s July 21st. Should be a national holiday, right? Clearly, an ice cream pie is in order. This recipe is adapted from Pillsbury.com and features both lime sherbet and vanilla ice cream. The crust was the greatest challenge for me as I couldn’t figure out what kind of cookie Pillsbury asked for with the description “crisp coconut cookie.” So

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Lemonade Pie

Is there anything more refreshing on a hot summer day than lemonade? It’s tart, sweet, thirst-quenching (and I swear it cools body temperature) all at once. I love it! That made this recipe an easy choice: a no-bake pie with the flavors of lemonade. This is another super-easy pie that requires very few ingredients, and the result looks like you labored from dusk til dawn. Note: While this is not a labor-intensive recipe, planning ahead is essential since preparation for this cool confection includes four hours of defrost time for the Cool Whip (I ALWAYS forget this step) and four

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Creamsicle Pie

It’s mid-July, which means summer is definitely in full swing and we need some cool and refreshing desserts. But let’s not bake unless we have to; there are plenty of no-bake options to choose from. Everyone remembers Creamsicles, right? Or is it Dreamsicles? One site I found stated that one (Dreamsicle) is made with Ice milk and the other (Creamsicle) with ice cream, another said the word ”Dreamsicle” was created to emulate but not infringe upon the copyright of the Creamsicle. But basically Creamsicle is the brand name used by the makers of Popsicles (and I consider that a VERY

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Caprese Pasta Salad

I love the fresh flavors of a Caprese salad: mozzarella, basil, and tomatoes, drizzled with balsamic. So “old country.” A pasta salad version couldn’t go wrong. I adapted this recipe from one on Delish.com. Their version would feed a small crowd, but I was feeding two so I scaled it back, making most ingredients half of what was called for, with one exception: cheese. I used the same amount of cheese for half the salad. Why? Because (repeat after me) “There is no such thing as too much cheese!”   Looks right to me! In my opinion, what takes this

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Sweet and Sour Pork Kabobs

(Also known as “Kebabs”) The first formal cooking class I took (aside from Junior High Home Economics) was for Chinese cooking. It was the 1980’s and I worked at a hospital that offered sports leagues and enrichment classes to employees. What fun! My co-workers and I, all lovers of Chinese take-out, signed up to learn how to make it ourselves, and we had a blast. But the real winners were the guys playing basketball in the same building. They worked in various departments of the hospital, and felt comfortable showing up at the door the minute they smelled us cooking.

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Grilled Beets

With summer in full swing, a lot of cooking happens on the grill. But that doesn’t mean just meat. Many vegetables are both easy and delicious when grilled. One such is the beet. For many people, beets seem to fall into either the “love” or “hate” category. For me, I SUPER love (new category) beets (but not pickled, because I just don’t think you should do that to a perfectly good vegetable). You’ve heard of sugar beets, right? They’re called that for a reason: Beets are naturally sweet, due to their high sugar content. But here’s the magic: sugar +

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Chickpea, Carrot and Arugula Salad

Time for a great summer salad that provides plenty of protein and needs no cooking. Even better, it requires only 6 ingredients, plus spices. As a vegetarian main or a side dish, this salad delivers your veggies in a delicious package! This is another recipe from one of my favorites: The Complete Mediterranean Cookbook. It features chickpeas, arugula and carrots, plus Kalamata olives and a lemony dressing. Since this salad uses arugula, let’s detour a minute to my backyard. This year I decided to grow a few greens in some leftover empty pots. I filled each pot with soil and

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Red, White and Blue Potato Salad

For the Fourth of July, you need potato salad.  Since you’re probably going to make some anyway, why not make it to celebrate the holiday? This post is simply a different twist on my Classic Potato salad. To make it fun for the Fourth, I use red, white and blue POTATOES! Have you seen these? They are typically sold as a “medley” of very small potatoes – usually about an inch in size. The advantage to this is that they are all about the same size, and there is no need to cut any before cooking – bonus! The small

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Red White and Blue Vodka Slush

This recipe is just pure fun. I wanted something relatively simple, but entertaining for the holiday, something that stands out, like – what else for July Fourth? – red, white and blue Vodka Slushies! I first thought of using three different beverages but quickly realized that the logistics were terrible: Make big pitchers and store them in the fridge? Who has that kind of room? I mean, we need some food at this gathering too, right? So, I decided to use a Vodka-Lemonade slush recipe found on Foodie Misadventures. Making these red, white or blue works like this: Red: fill