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Creative ways to use fresh, summer ingredients

Summer’s flavors can be fleeting, so make culinary creations count by using the freshest ingredients in new ways.

Summer’s flavors can be fleeting, so make culinary creations count by using the freshest ingredients in new ways.

(StatePoint) In summer, the abundance of fresh ingredients can be overwhelming, especially if you stick to the same old recipes. Make more of the fresh produce available to you at the grocer, farmers market and even your own garden, by thinking creatively.

To help, the summer food experts at Betty Crocker are offering some great ideas for using fresh, seasonal produce.

1. Save the best berries for later.

Berry season is far too short. Make it last longer by freezing berries for the cooler months. Choose fruit at peak freshness, and then store it in high-quality freezer bags that seal tightly, removing as much excess air — fruit’s worst enemy — as possible before freezing. Label bags with the freeze date and remember: a full freezer is more efficient, so stock up!

2. Take advantage of fresh tomatoes.

If you have more fresh tomatoes than you know what to do with, consider these creative uses:

  • Caprese Salad. Layer sliced tomatoes, fresh mozzarella slices and basil. Drizzle with olive oil and a good balsamic vinegar. Sprinkle with salt and serve.
  • Bruschetta. Served on small slices of toasted bread, bruschetta is a perfect appetizer for any dinner party.
  • No-Cook Pasta Sauce. Marinara sauce can be too heavy for summer, but a raw sauce showcasing fresh tomatoes is perfect. Try Rigatoni and Tomatoes for a great introduction.

3. Add a touch of sweetness to zucchini.

Managing the bounty of garden-fresh zucchini is always a challenge, so think beyond the main course. You can make the most out of the humble summer squash with baked treats like pineapple zucchini bread, zucchini bars and chocolate zucchini snack cake.

4. Bake with fresh berries.

Baking with fresh berries is one of the highlights of summertime. Favorite desserts that call for freshly picked strawberries, raspberries and blueberries include classics like fresh strawberry pie, but also inventive creations like brownies and berries dessert pizza and blueberry cheesecake bars.

5. Make pickles easy.

Preserving the summer bounty of cucumbers doesn’t mean you need to spend days canning. For a tasty shortcut, layer cucumber slices, onions and carrots in a glass container. Mix with sugar, vinegar, salt and dill weed. Cover and refrigerate for at least 24 hours, but no longer than two weeks.

6. Make berries last with freezer jam.

Freezer jam is a smart way to hold on to summer’s fresh berries without the hassle of traditional jam. Try this recipe for Strawberry Freezer Jam:

Mash 4 cups strawberries, until slightly chunky, to make 2 cups. Mix with 4 cups sugar in large bowl. Let stand at room temperature 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Mix 3/4 cup water and one package powdered fruit pectin in 1-quart saucepan. Heat to boiling, stirring constantly. Boil and stir one minute. Pour hot pectin mixture over strawberry mixture; stir constantly three minutes. Immediately spoon mixture into freezer containers, leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Wipe rims of containers; seal. Let stand at room temperature about 24 hours or until set. Store in freezer up to six months. Thaw and stir before serving.

More seasonal recipes and summer cooking tips can be found at BettyCrocker.com/summerfoods.

Posted in Bloomin' Summer, Featured, RecipesComments Off on Creative ways to use fresh, summer ingredients

Fresh market


By Vicky Babcock

Got zucchini? Who doesn’t? This prolific and tasty summer fruit is a gardener’s friend—and their worst nightmare. First time growers will brag about their zucchini crop, only to find that they can’t even give it away! Zucchini—botanically the immature fruit of the zucchini flower—is best cooked fresh, retaining its peel. Because of its high water content, it does not lend itself well to freezing or canning—thus creating a problem for consumers with an overabundance of the crop. Indeed, popular folklore warns against leaving your car windows open during zucchini season, lest you come back to find it filled with the troublesome squash. It even has its own national holiday—August 8 is “sneak some zucchini onto your neighbor’s porch day”—an opportunity to share your largess with less fortunate individuals.

Frankly we think the green (and also yellow) squash has gotten a bad rap. We’d like to do what we can to sweeten its reputation. Zucchini is a great source of potassium, providing about 14 percent of your daily requirements in one medium fruit. Fresh fruits are an excellent source of vitamin C providing 58% RDA. Zucchini contains no fat or cholesterol, almost no sodium and one medium fruit contains about 33 calories. Sliced and eaten fresh, zucchini is a dieter’s dream! And the overabundance? Zucchini bread can be cooked and frozen for later use. Or try our recipe for zucchini relish, a flavorful alternative to traditional pickles. Bon appetite!

Zucchini relish

10 cups shredded unpeeled zucchini

3 cups chopped onion

5 tablespoons canning salt

2 red bell peppers, chopped

2 green bell peppers, chopped

3 cups white sugar

3 cups white vinegar

1 tablespoon cornstarch

1 teaspoon dry mustard

3/4 teaspoon ground turmeric

1 1/2 teaspoons celery seed

½ to1 teaspoon ground black pepper


Place the zucchini and onion in a large, plastic bowl, and sprinkle with canning salt. Mix. Cover, and refrigerate overnight.

Drain the zucchini, and rinse well with cool water. Squeeze out excess water. Place the red and green bell pepper, sugar, vinegar, and cornstarch into a large pot. Add the dry mustard, turmeric, celery seed and pepper. Stir to combine; add the drained zucchini. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, sterilize jars and lids. Pack hot relish into sterilized jars, making sure there are no air pockets. Fill jars to ¼ inch from the top. Screw on lids.

Cool. Check seal once cool. Refrigerate any unsealed cans and use within 3 to 6 weeks. Great with brats or hot dogs!

Brought to you by Solon Market located at 15185 Algoma Avenue.  For more information call 616-696-1718.  Like us on facebook for updates.


Posted in Bloomin' Summer, RecipesComments Off on Fresh market