While the recent bone chilling winds call for hot, steamy soups, a break from winter might just be the thing to cheer us up and give us hope that spring will, in fact, arrive in a few more weeks.
After all, the daylight hours have grown by more than an hour since the Winter Solstice, and on March 11, we’ll turn our clocks forward and gain another hour of daylight at the end of the day. My husband and I always pay close attention to the increasing number of minutes, then hours, of daylight as we watch the evening news.
More often than not, we say an enthusiastic, “yay!” But winter will be with us for longer than we’d care to think about. One
way to shake off the blues is to prepare a meal or two of foods we normally eat during the summer months. Such things as cold potato or pasta salads, grilled meats, and light, tasty cookies.
Maybe the charcoal grill can be found and fired up for cooking the meat, or if that’s not possible, just pretend as you grill atop your stove. Use the cheeriest colored dishes, tablecloths and napkins. It’s surprising how much color can improve spirits and boost the mood.
Here are a couple of my summer meal ideas.
This first recipe is one of our favorites for potluck summer cookouts.
Tomato and Pepperoni Salad (10, one-cup servings)
4 cups dry bow tie pasta
one-third cup olive or other vegetable oil
one-quarter cup red wine vinegar
1 .6 ounce package Italian salad dressing mix, or 2 teaspoons seasoned salt
1 cup chopped, fresh tomatoes
1 small zucchini, thinly sliced
3 ounces thinly sliced pepperoni
one-quarter cup Parmesan cheese
Cook pasta, drain, rinse with cold water. Set aside. In a large serving bowl, combine the oil, vinegar and salad dressing mix. Stir in the cooled pasta, tomatoes, zucchini, and pepperoni. Cover and refrigerate for an hour or so. When serving, stir, then sprinkle with Parmesan.
My mother often made this zesty marinated steak dish when the meat was on sale.
Marinated London Broil (servings depend on size of steak)
One-quarter cup vegetable oil
2 tablespoons wine or cider vinegar
1 and one-half teaspoons salt
one-quarter teaspoon bottled red pepper sauce
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 clove garlic, finely minced, or 1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 London broil or flank steak
Combine all marinade ingredients in a glass dish large enough to hold the steak. Marinate overnight or for at least 8 hours, turning meat once. Use a broiler or a hot grill to cook according to the amount of doneness wanted. When serving, slice thinly on an angle.
Although citrus fruits are available now year round, when I think of them, I think of sunny, warm weather. Capture some of that in these poppy seed/orange cookies.
Poppy Seed/Orange Cookies (about 2 dozen)
Two-thirds cup sugar
One-half cup butter or butter substitute, softened
2 tablespoons grated orange peel, or more if a stronger flavor is wanted
1 and one-quarter cups flour
one-half teaspoon baking soda
one-quarter teaspoon salt
1 heaping tablespoon poppy seeds
Beat butter and sugar until light. Add the egg and grated orange peel and beat well.
In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking soda and salt. Stir well. Spoon the flour mixture into the butter mixture, a little at a time, beating after each addition. Stir in poppy seeds. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.
Place heaping teaspoons of batter on each, allowing an inch or so space between cookies. Bake at 350 degrees for 11 or 12 minutes. Let sit on cookie sheets for a few minutes, then remove to wire racks to cool.
Serve with orange sherbet for a really summery end to the meal.
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