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Blocking Out Part of the Weekend to Throw a Party
Summer weekends provide the perfect excuse to throw a block party. There's no need to plan ahead. Knock on your neighbors' doors, give them a call or send an email.
As for what kind of food to serve, get everybody involved and be creative. Stretch a tuna casserole or mac 'n' cheese by folding in some diced fresh or frozen veggies before cooking.
For an almost instant dessert to beat the summer heat, blend together yogurt, chopped fruit and fruit juice. Freeze in ice cube trays or in one shallow dish. Then scoop out and serve in paper cups.
This kind of impromptu get-together can be lots of fun for kids, adults, families and singles.
Serve with an assortment of corn chips, slices of unpeeled cucumber and apple wedges brushed with lemon or orange juice to keep from browning.
1 medium sweet onion, cut into chunks
2 medium tomatoes, quartered
1/4 cup cilantro leaves or parsley, loosely packed
3 large, ripe avocados, peeled and pitted
1 tsp. minced garlic
3 Tbsps. fresh lime juice
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Place the onion, tomatoes and cilantro or parsley in the food processor. Process to chop coarsely.
In a medium bowl, mash the avocados. Stir in the onion mixture. Add the garlic and lime juice. Mix well. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
If not using immediately, cover surface tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate.
Speedy Variation: Mash 3 large avocados. Stir in 1 tablespoon lime juice and about 1/2 cup medium hot or mild salsa or enough to make a dipping consistency. Transfer to a serving dish.
Makes about 31/2 cups.
Cheesy Deviled Eggs
Finely grated Cheddar or other hard cheese can be substituted for cottage cheese.
12 hard-cooked eggs, peeled and halved
5 Tbsps. mayonnaise
6 rounded Tbsps. cottage cheese, preferably small curd
1 Tbsp. pickle relish, drained
salt and pepper to taste
Cut eggs in half lengthwise. Slip out yolks into a small bowl and mash with a fork. Add the cottage cheese, mayonnaise, pickle relish and stir to mix. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Fill the whites with the mixture, heaping lightly.
Serve straight from the refrigerator. Do not leave out for more than 1 hour.
Makes 24 halves.
Tuna, Rice and Broccoli Casserole
The so easy, made-from- scratch sauce makes this a winner. You may want to double the recipe.
1/4 cup margarine
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 and 1/2 cups milk
1 cup vegetable broth
1 can (12.5 oz.) tuna, well drained
1 and 1/2 cups cooked rice
1 green onion, thinly sliced
2-3 cups fresh or frozen broccoli florets, cooked
1 firm tomato, diced
1 and 1/2 tsps. lemon pepper seasoning (or to taste) or salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
chopped parsley or paprika to garnish
Melt the margarine in a medium saucepan. Stir in the flour. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until bubbly, about 1 minute. Whisk in the milk and broth. Bring to a boil, continuing to whisk. Cook 1 to 2 minutes to thicken.
Stir in the tuna, rice, onion, broccoli, tomato and seasoning. Heat through. Spoon into a serving dish. Sprinkle with parsley or paprika before serving.
Serves 6 to 8.
Any assortment of fresh vegetables may be substituted. May be prepared ahead and grilled as needed.
1/3 cup olive oil
2 tsps. lemon pepper seasoning
1 and 1/2 tsps. powdered garlic
1 tsp. soy sauce
3 large bell peppers (red, green, yellow or mixed) seeded and cut in 11/2-inch chunks
3 medium zucchini, sliced 3/4-inch thick
6 plum tomatoes, halved from stem end
8 thick asparagus spears, cut in 11/2-inch lengths
olive oil cooking spray
In a large plastic bag, pour the olive oil, lemon pepper seasoning, powdered garlic and soy sauce. Add all the vegetables except the tomatoes. Shake to mix. Spray the tomatoes with cooking spray.
Arrange the vegetables and tomatoes in one layer in a grilling basket (you may have to do this in two batches). Place over hot coals and cook 5 to 10 minutes until nicely browned and still crisp.
Pasta Salad Nicoise
A quick and easy dish where only the pasta needs cooking. Substitute vegetables below with whatever fresh or frozen vegetables you have in the freezer or refrigerator.
2 ribs celery, thinly sliced
2 cups fresh or frozen sugar snap peas, cooked
4 radishes, thinly sliced
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved from stem end
1/4 cup small pitted black olives, drained and quartered
1 scallion, trimmed and thinly sliced
3-4 anchovies, snipped (optional)
2 cans (6.5 oz. each) chunk tuna or salmon, packed in water, drained and flaked
3/4 tsp. minced garlic
12 oz. pasta shells, cooked and drained
1/2 to 3/4 cup Italian salad dressing
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
In a large bowl, toss together the celery, peas, radishes, tomatoes, olives, scallions, anchovies (optional), tuna and garlic. Add the pasta and stir gently to mix.
Pour enough Italian dressing over to just moisten. Season generously with fresh ground pepper and salt to taste. Chill before serving.
6 cups seedless watermelon cubes
1/2 lime, unpeeled and cut in chunks
1/3 cup fresh mint leaves, packed and finely shredded
3-4 Tbsps. sugar or to taste
1 quart bottle lemon-lime soda
Place the watermelon and lime in a blender jar. Whirl to puree.
Pour into a very large pitcher. Using a wooden spoon, press down the mint leaves to release flavors. Stir into the watermelon puree. Add sugar to taste.
Just before serving, add the lemon-lime soda. Stir once or twice to mix. Pour over ice cubes and enjoy.
Serves 8 to 10.
Nutty Chocolate Syrup Cake
1/2 cup margarine, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 and 1/4 cups self-rising flour or 11/4 cups all-purpose flour and 2 tsps. baking powder
2 cups chocolate-flavored syrup
1 cup (1.5 oz.) pareve chocolate wafer bar, coarsely chopped
3/4 cup salted or unsalted sunflower kernels
confectioner's sugar to sprinkle
Preheat oven to 350°. Spray a 9x13-inch baking pan with non-stick cooking spray.
Cream together the margarine and sugar until pale and well combined. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, each with 1 tablespoon flour. Beat in the chocolate syrup. Stir in the wafer bar and sunflower kernels. Add the remaining flour. Mix well.
Transfer to the baking pan. Bake for 1 hour or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool. Sprinkle with confectioner's sugar before cutting into squares.