Summertime, and the livin’ is easy, as the song goes. From long, lazy days at the beach or pool, to relaxed backyard barbecues with family and friends, lighthearted living is the essence of summer.
Keep that summer spirit alive, from Memorial Day to Labor Day, with these ideas:
* Plan a weekday wind-down hour with family and friends. Meet in a local park and bring along a simple spread of fresh grapes from California, your favorite cheese and a loaf of good French bread — and don’t forget the wine. Grab a Frisbee to toss around or a kite to fly, and have a little pre-dinner summer fun.
* Head outside to enjoy your morning cup of coffee and breakfast before heading off to work. The perfect start to your summer day? Mix Greek yogurt together with fresh grapes and a sprinkle of granola.
* If your community offers outdoor summer concerts, pack up a picnic dinner and head on down. Grape Picnic Salad (recipe follows) is the perfect side dish — it’s quick and easy to make, travels well and you can toss it together the night before. Add a rotisserie chicken to accompany the salad and you’re set!
* After work, grab a book and head to the hammock or chaise in your yard, or a bench in the park, and relax for a bit. Enhance the experience by bringing a bowl of cooling grapes to nosh on while you “chill” out with that good book.
* Make summer-inspired meals at home instead of going out to eat, and enjoy a leisurely dinner on your patio where a table is always available. The recipe for Shrimp and Grape Quesadillas shown below takes just a few minutes to make, so you don’t have to spend all your time in the kitchen on a beautiful summer night. Add a bagged Southwestern Salad kit to round out the meal, and you’ve got a delicious Latin-inspired meal in minutes!
Shrimp and Grape Quesadillas
1 pound large cooked shrimp, shelled
1 tablespoon lime juice
1-2 tablespoons chopped Fresno chile pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 8-inch flour tortillas
1 1/2 cups grated reduced-fat Monterey Jack cheese
1 cup halved green or red California grapes
In a large bowl, combine the shrimp, lime juice, Fresno chile, cumin and salt and pepper. Lay the tortillas flat on a cutting board and cover half of each with the cheese, shrimp mixture and grapes. Fold the tortilla flap over and transfer two quesadillas to a large, preferably 12-inch heavy skillet. Cook over medium-high heat until tortilla bottom is toasted and browned, about 3-4 minutes. Flip and cook until the other side is toasted and the cheese is melted, another 3-4 minutes. Repeat with the remaining quesadillas, cut into wedges and serve.
Nutritional analysis per serving: Calories 379; Protein 30 g; Carbohydrate 35 g; Fat 12 g (29 percent calories from fat); Saturated Fat 7 g (17 percent calories from saturated fat); Cholesterol 165 mg; Sodium 1556 mg; Fiber 1.5 g.
Grape Picnic Salad
Makes 4 servings
1 cup California seedless grapes
1 can (15 oz.) small white beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup diced celery
1/4 cup minced green onions
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
4 lettuce leaves
Lemon Mustard Dressing
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon Dijon-style mustard
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
Combine grapes, beans, celery, onions and parsley in medium bowl. Whisk the dressing ingredients together in a small bowl; pour over salad and gently mix together. Serve on lettuce leaves.
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