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Monday, June 23, 2014

What's Cookin' in the Country?

Last week in our Apples of Gold class I shared a meatless menu.  The benefit of a menu without meat is, of course, that it's so cost effective.  It also suits those guests that might be vegetarian.  I am a meat lover, but I really enjoy this menu.  It's filling and you really don't know you're missing anything!

I've shared the Black Bean Cakes here before.  Have you tried them?  I was surprised how really good they are.  They're packed with ingredients that give it great flavor.  If you haven't tried them yet, you need to get this on your menu!  I added a couple new salads that were a great accompaniment and then we ended the meal with a Southern Living cake - Strawberry lemonade.  Wow!  Is that a keeper!

Our lesson was about Loving Our Children, so I wanted to decorate the tables in a way that would be appropriate for entertaining children.  I set out board games for part of the centerpiece, then added flowers that coordinated with the games.  If you're having game night at your house, why not use the game to set the stage for the meal?









Greek Ravioli Salad
Cucumber Salad with Dill
Strawberry Lemonade Cake

Cucumber Salad with Dill
Ingredients
1 large cucumber
1 tsp coarse sea salt
1 Tbsp light sour cream
1 tsp finely chopped onion
1 tsp fresh dill, chopped
1 tsp vinegar
1 tsp sugar

Directions

Peel your cucumber - or you can leave the peel on if you want - slice cucumber into fairly thin slices. Place into a colander and sprinkle with coarse sea salt. Set on something to catch the water that drains off, and set aside.
Mix together sour cream, onion, dill, vinegar, and sugar. Cover and place in fridge.
Let cucumbers drain and dressing chill for at least an hour, up to 2 hours.
Before serving, rinse cucumbers under running water briefly. Pat dry with paper towel.

Toss dressing with cucumbers and serve.

Greek Pasta Salad
2 9oz pkgs cheese ravioli, cooked and drained
2 bunches asparagus, cooked and cut into 1" pieces
1 cup green onion, chopped
1 yellow squash, finely chopped
1 zucchini, chopped
4 oz. Feta Cheese
4 oz. semi-hard cheese (such as Gruyere), grated
1 small can sliced black olives
6 diced tomatoes
Lemon Dressing

Cook ravioli and drain.  Mix all ingredients together, season with salt and pepper ot taste.  Chill.  Serves 8-10 (or more!)

Lemon Dressing
1/2 cup salad oil
1/4 lemon juice
3 Tbl tarragon vinegar
2 Tbl sugar
2 Tbl minced green onion
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp dry mustard
dash pepper
Combine ll ingredients in a  jar with tight-fitting lid.  shake well and let stand until ingredients are well blended.  Refrigerate.


This cake is a little involved, but is so easy if you spread the prep out over several days.  To make it, I would recommend baking the cake layers a week before you need them and putting them in the freezer.  Then make the jam a few days before, too.  The day before you need the cake, ice it and put it in the fridge so it can set up.  It will be perfect for cutting the next day!




Strawberry Lemonade Cake
Ingredients
1 cup butter, softened 
2 cups granulated sugar
4 large eggs, separated 
3 cups cake flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon table salt
1 cup milk 
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Shortening

Preparation

1. Preheat oven to 350°. Beat butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy; gradually add sugar, beating until light and fluffy. Add egg yolks, 1 at a time, beating until blended after each addition.
2. Stir together flour and next 2 ingredients; add to butter mixture alternately with milk, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Beat at low speed just until blended. Stir in zest and juice.
3. Beat egg whites in a large bowl at high speed until stiff peaks form. Gently stir one-third of egg whites into batter; fold in remaining egg whites. Spoon batter into 4 greased (with shortening) and floured 9-inch round cake pans.
4. Bake at 350° for 16 to 20 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans on wire racks 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks, and cool completely.
5. Place 1 cake layer on a serving platter, and spread with about 1/2 cup Strawberry-Lemonade Jam, leaving a 1/2-inch border around edges. Spoon 1 cup Strawberry Frosting into a zip-top plastic freezer bag. Snip 1 corner of bag to make a small hole. Pipe a ring of frosting around cake layer just inside the top edge. Top with second and third cake layers, repeating procedure with filling and frosting between each layer. Top with last cake layer, and spread remaining Strawberry Frosting on top and sides of cake.

Strawberry Lemonade Jam
Ingredients

2 1/2 cups coarsely chopped fresh strawberries
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
3 tablespoons cornstarch
Preparation

1. Process strawberries in a blender until smooth; press through a wire-mesh strainer into a 3-qt. saucepan, using back of a spoon to squeeze out juice; discard pulp. Stir in sugar.

2. Whisk together lemon juice and cornstarch; gradually whisk into strawberry mixture. Bring mixture to a boil over medium heat, and cook, whisking constantly, 1 minute. Remove from heat. Place plastic wrap directly on warm jam; chill 2 hours or until cold. Refrigerate in an airtight container up to 1 week.
Ingredients


Strawberry Icing
1 (8-oz.) package cream cheese, softened
2/3 cup sugar, divided
2/3 cup chopped fresh strawberries
1 drop pink food coloring gel (optional)
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Preparation

1. Beat cream cheese and 1/3 cup sugar with an electric mixer until smooth; add strawberries and food coloring (if desired); beat until blended.
2. Beat cream and juice at medium speed until foamy; increase speed to medium-high, and slowly add remaining 1/3 cup sugar, beating until stiff peaks form. Fold half of cream mixture into cheese mixture; fold in remaining cream mixture. Use immediately.

I hope you'll incorporate one or more of these recipes into your menu this week.  Stop back and tell me how you like them!  I believe all the apples members enjoyed this meal.  It's perfect for entertaining and the great thing is that so much can be done the day before.  You'll look like a perfect hostess all calm and collected!  

Thanks for stopping by my country kitchen,


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