Friday, July 23, 2010

Summer Garden Recipes!

I love having a garden and my little piece of dirt is starting to produce some wonderful flavors! While I am still waiting for those luscious tomatoes to turn their brilliant shade of red, I have been delighted with the farmer's market 's crop of romaine lettuce and summer squash. I am in love with my latest salad creation! It isn't some culinary discovery, but it is easy and very tasty!

Summer Salad

Romaine lettuce ripped into pieces, tossed with Light Italian dressing, topped with dried cranberries and pecan pieces.

I prepared this salad for some mommy friends who recently had babies and got rave reviews back. Along with it, I prepared this yummy pasta dish that is meant to be a freezer dish--but works well as a meal meant to feed more than one family.

Ham and Cheese Penne

2 boxes of penne noodles

1 cup butter or margarine

4 cloves of minced garlic

2 tsp salt

8 cups milk (I use skim)

2 tsp Dijon mustard

8 cups of shredded Colby cheese (I buy it in a block, then shred it myself to save money)

16 oz of deli ham, cut into thin strips

*This makes (2) 13 X 9 casseroles

In a really large pot, cook the pasta according to the box directions and drain it. Clean the pot so that you can use it again. In a large skillet, melt the butter and roast the garlic. Add the flour and salt, whisking continuously. Place the mixture back into the large pot. This is easier than trying to find a skillet deep enough to hold the milk.

Cook over medium heat until all the lumps are gone. Once the mixture begins to bubble, slowly add the milk--again, constantly whisking. Once it begins to boil, allow it boil for about a minute before adding the mustard and cheese.

Continue to stir until the cheese is melted. Add the ham. Then the pasta. Pour the pasta mixture into the casserole dishes. Either freeze or bake uncovered for 30-45 minutes at 350.

If freezing, allow the dish to thaw overnight in the refrigerator before baking.

I have one more recipe to share...

Baked Summer Squash

While in past years I have fried the heck out of my summer squash, this year I was looking for a healthier way to get that crisp flavor. I simply sliced the squash into circles with a medium thickness, sprinkled them with seasoned salt, and bake them at 350 for about 10 minutes. I made this while family was visiting and all the children gobbled it up!

That's what I call summer lovin!