Summer recipes that are sure to be a big hit

Sunday, May 27, 2012

The start of summer is about upon us and with that comes cool salads, beverages and maybe a special dessert. Today I have just that for you, a nice assortment of recipes suitable for warmer temperatures and the embrace of summer.

Red Velvet Cheesecake Cookies

Our college intern at the senior center, Samantha McGill is finished now, but we could not part company without exchanging a few more recipes. This recipe was the last one she gave me, and it is a keeper, because it is so good and because it is a special memory of her.

For the cookies:

1 box red velvet cake mix (Duncan Hines)

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

2 large eggs

1/2 cup canola oil

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the cheesecake filling:

4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature

2 cups powdered sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the white chocolate drizzle:

1 1/2 cups white chocolate chips, melted

To make cookies, in a large bowl combine cake mix and flour. Whisk until clumps disappear. In the bowl of a stand mixer, mix together cake mix, flour, eggs, oil and vanilla extract. Mix until smooth. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap. The dough will be oily. Refrigerate for at least two hours.

To make the cheesecake filling, using a mixer, combine cream cheese, powdered sugar, and vanilla extract. Mix until smooth. Using a teaspoon, scoop out cheesecake filling and place on a plate. Continue scooping out cheesecake filling into teaspoon balls until you have 10. Place plate in the freezer and freeze for at least two hours.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. To assemble the cookies, take about 1/4 cup of red velvet cookie dough and flatten in your hands. Place a teaspoon of cheesecake filling in the center and wrap the cookie dough around the filling. Gently roll into a ball and place on prepared baking sheet. Scoop onto lightly greased or parchment lined baking sheets. Only bake 3 cookies at a time. The cookies are large and will spread. Bake for 11 to 13 minutes or until the cookies begin to crackle. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes. Remove from baking sheet to a wire cooling rack and cool completely. Melt the white chocolate chips in a microwave safe bowl or over a double-boiler. Drizzle the white chocolate over the cooled cookies. Let the cookies set until the chocolate hardens. Serve and enjoy. If you are going to store the cookies for more than a day, you may want to keep them in the refrigerator. You can make the cookies smaller. Just use less dough and filling. You want to make sure you completely wrap the cookie dough around the filling before baking, so it doesn't leak.

Spaghetti Pasta Salad

My friends Jack and Janet Herron from the Senior Center shared this recipe with me as it is one Jack's favorite salad recipes. He said it makes a large batch, so plan accordingly.

1 (16-ounce) package thin spaghetti

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 (10-ounce) jar pitted green olives, drained and chopped

4 to 6 green onions, top and bottoms, chopped

1/3 cup white vinegar

1/2 teaspoon flavor enhancer, such as Accent

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/3 cup granulated sugar

1 teaspoon garlic powder

Cook spaghetti according to package directions. Drain, rinse and drain well again. Transfer to a bowl; toss with oil to coat. Add olives. If serving that day, add green onions. Mix well. In a bowl, combine vinegar, flavor enhancer, black pepper, sugar and garlic powder. Pour over pasta and mix well. Cover and refrigerate up to 8 hours or overnight. Serve chilled or at room temperature. If making the salad the night before, add green onions shortly before serving so they stay crisp. Yields about 8 servings.

Strawberry Limeade

I love cold refreshing beverages and usually have sort of strange juice concoction in our refrigerator at all times. This is really great and is especially good with crushed ice, or stop by Sonic and buy a bag.

1 1/2 cups quartered fresh strawberries

1 cup fresh lime juice

5 cups cold water

3/4 to 1 cup granulated sugar (depending on how sweet the strawberries are)

Ice cubes

Lime slices-for serving, if desired

Blend strawberries and lime juice in blender or food processor until smooth. Pour strawberry and lime mixture into a large pitcher. Add cold water and sugar. Stir until sugar dissolves. Add in ice cubes and pour into individual glasses. Garnish with lime, if desired. Pour over ice cubes in tall glasses; garnish each with strawberry or lime wedge, if desired.

Spinach and Raspberry Salad

Fresh spinach or spring mix

Raspberries

Nectarines, sliced

Dressing Recipe:

1 nectarine, chopped, pit and skin removed

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon honey

Salt and pepper to taste

For the dressing:

In a blender add all of the ingredients. Blend until smooth. Taste to adjust seasonings if necessary. Add more salt and pepper if necessary. Serve over salad greens, nectarines, and raspberries. The dressing will keep in the refrigerator for a couple of weeks.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

Recently the congregation of Fellowship Baptist Church brought an enormous basket filled with cookies and mini cupcakes to the Senior Center to share with the volunteers and staff at the Center. We were having a pretty rough morning when these two delightful and joy filled church volunteers stepped into the office with this heavenly basket of goodness. All of a sudden our morning did not seem so bad. One of the cookies was a chocolate chip bar. This may not be her exact recipe, but it sure hit the spot on that particular morning.

2 1/8 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

12 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled to room temperature

1 cup light brown sugar

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 large egg

1 large egg yolk

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 cups chocolate chips

Sea salt, for sprinkling over bars-optional

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Spray a 9-by-13-inch baking pan with nonstick cooking spray and set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, salt and baking soda. Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, mix the melted butter and sugars together until combined. Add the egg, egg yolk and vanilla extract and mix until smooth. Slowly add the dry ingredients and mix on low, just until combined. Stir in the chocolate chips. Pour cookie dough into the prepared pan, smoothing the top with the spatula. Sprinkle cookie bars very lightly with sea salt, if desired. Bake cookie bars for 25 to 30 minutes or until the top of the bars are light golden brown and the edges start to pull away from the pan. Cool bars on a wire rack to room temperature. Cut bars into squares and serve.

Have a great week, and until next time, happy cooking.

Susan McClanahan is administrator at the Cape Girardeau Senior Center. Send recipes to her at news@semissourian.com or by mail at P.O. Box 699, Cape Girardeau, MO 63701. Recipes published have not been kitchen-tested by Southeast Missourian staff.

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