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Dilly Cucumber Bites

You know those times when you make a grand entrance at a holiday party with the nagging thought skittering around the back of your mind “I cannot eat more junk. If I consume one more chocolate treat I’m going to explode.”? Nah. Me neither. However, I understand these kinds of people exist. For all your veggie loving friends, I give you these delightfully fresh and light Dilly Cucumber Bites. Sliced cucumbers get a dollup of creamy topping tinged with fresh dill, garnished with tomato. Festive, simple and perfect for parties! Make a couple batches! As the not-so-bad-for-you option on the buffet, they disappear like lightning!

Dilly Cucumber Bites

Print Recipe for Dilly Cucumber Bites

Dilly Cucumber Bites
from JessFuel

4 large English cucumbers
1 pint grape tomatoes, halved (or quartered…depending on size)
1 (8 oz) block cream cheese, at room temperature
1 small (5.3 oz) container plain Greek yogurt
3 tbsp fresh dill, minced
1 tbsp powdered Ranch dressing mix (such as Hidden Valley)

Directions

  1. Slice cucumbers into rounds, about ½-inch thick. You can leave the skin on, peel them, or partially peel them for a striped look. Slice grape tomatoes in half (or quarters, if large) and set aside.
  2. In a bowl, combine cream cheese, Greek yogurt, dill and Ranch dressing powder. Mix thoroughly. You can use an electric mixer, but you can also do this by hand.
  3. Transfer the cheese mixture to a piping bag (if you don’t have one, you can use a large Ziplock bag with a corner snipped off).
  4. Pipe the cheese mixture onto the cucumber rounds, then top with a tomato half!
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Fire and Ice Watermelon Salsa

Watermelon = summer. It’s just a fact of life. There’s nothing better on a sweltering July afternoon than devouring a giant slice of juicy delicious watermelon. Getting all that sticky sweetness running down your chin. Even better when the watermelon is the size of your head. Preferably while walking Main Street in Disneyland, listening to the old timey piano and enjoy the smell of churros.  My sisters are in The Happiest Place on Earth right now. Without me. I’m having serious withdrawls.

Fire and Ice Watermelon Salsa - Bakerlady

This salsa combines the icy chill of watermelon with the spicy zing of jalapeno in the absolute perfect summer dip for your chips. My grandmother gave me this bowl. It is perfection.

Fire and Ice Watermelon Salsa - Bakerlady

Just chop up some watermelon, add some peppers, onions, cilantro and a hit of lime and you have a delightfully cool salsa.

Fire and Ice Watermelon Salsa - Bakerlady

It’s so light, you may find yourself eating the entire bowl as you lounge around in the sunshine.

Fire and Ice Watermelon Salsa - Bakerlady

If you are wondering how to easily chop up a watermelon into all those tiny pieces, simply cut the ends off the watermelon, then slice off the rind all around until it looks like this. Excuse the poor quality photo — what a difference a cell phone makes.

Quick and Easy Way to Chop Up a Watermelon - Bakerlady

Then cut into slices (they look like giant tomato slices). These are thicker because I was chunking this watermelon. Just make thinner slices for the salsa. Then cut across horizontally and vertically like you are making a tiny squared checker board. Boom. Done.

Quick and Easy Way to Chop Up a Watermelon - Bakerlady

Enjoy!

Fire and Ice Watermelon Salsa - Bakerlady

Print Recipe for Fire and Ice Watermelon Salsa

Fire and Ice Watermelon Salsa

3 cups chopped watermelon

1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper

2 tablespoons lime juice

2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

1 tablespoon chopped green onions

1 tablespoon chopped jalapeno pepper

1/2 teaspoon garlic salt

In a large bowl, combine the watermelon, green bell pepper, lime juice, cilantro, green onions, jalapeno and garlic salt. Mix well and serve.

Amazing Cherry Pit Removal

Summer will never be the same. Cherry pit removal with a straw. Easy peasy.
Take a straw. I used a hard plastic one from a reusable hot/cold coffee cup. Place it at the base of your cherry. Mmmmm. Succulent Rainier cherries.

Amazing Cherry Pit Removal - Bakerlady

Then push thru the top. Boom. Done. Mind blown.
Devour. Repeat. Or, do a bunch a time so you can shovel handfuls of delicious cherries into your mouth while laughing like a maniac. Not that I did that.

Amazing Cherry Pit Removal - Bakerlady

 

Easy Strawberry Pie

I am a strawberry pie novice. I’m not blessed with the nostalgia of eating it as a child. I have no memory of gobbling down a gorgeous slice on a sticky summer evening. I envy those of you who regularly enjoyed traditional strawberry pie from your favorite little diner. On the corner. With kids playing stickball in the street. And a waitress named Flo sporting bright pink lipstick and mostly purple hair. I hear strawberry pie is a pretty big deal in Pittsburgh, and since I have a new friend who hails from there, I thought I’d give it a whirl. This needs to be a “thing” on the West Coast. Like yesterday.

Easy Strawberry Pie - Bakerlady

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Top 10 Drinks for Summer

It’s the last day of school in my area. Time for relaxing by the pool during the day, languid summer evenings, beach parties, bar-b-ques and camping trips. It occurred to me the other day that while I’ve shared many of my favorite drink recipes in the past few years, it might be nice to compile them all in one post. So here it is, just in time for summer frolicking. My great big Top 10 Drinks for Summer list!

Top 10 Drinks for Summer! - Bakerlady

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Perfectly Juicy Hamburgers

This post is going to upset some people. People like Ron Swanson, who think that a burger should be made of meat…and nothing else. On this one point (and pretty much nothing else…I love you RON!) I disagree. I think that burgers should taste amazing, and be incredibly juicy without serving them mooing on the inside. If it is sacrilegious to mix non-meat items into a burger, I apologize…sort of. I don’t tread lightly on tradition when the result is better tasting food. And these burgers taste ridiculously good. Far surpassing any other I’ve ever had. Ever.

Perfectly Juicy Hamburgers - Bakerlady

We start with nice fatty ground beef. 20% fat. Keep your lean meat far away from these. If you want a lean burger, make it out of rice and veggies. We add bread crumbs, seasonings (garlic, onion, chili powder), some Worcestershire, salt n’ pepper, milk and an egg yolk. Just the yolk. The white is basically water. We don’t need no stinkin’ water in our burger.

Perfectly Juicy Hamburgers - Bakerlady

Mix it all up with your hands, form it into a lump and make like it’s a big old meat pizza. Sliced meat. That could be a thing. Right?

Perfectly Juicy Hamburgers - Bakerlady

Take each portion and make burger softballs. Check for uniform size. There’s a joke here somewhere about team sports…but I’m striking out trying to come up with it. (insert eye roll here)

Perfectly Juicy Hamburgers - Bakerlady

Then we’re going to use a little secret. A mold. You can use a big peanut butter jar lid, or anything that’s a decent size and reasonably round/flat. I use an empty painter’s tape container. Set some plastic wrap down inside (for easy release) and plop one of your softballs in.

Perfectly Juicy Hamburgers - Bakerlady

More plastic on top, then use your favorite rounded measuring cup to smoosh the meat into a flat shape all around the edges.

Perfectly Juicy Hamburgers - Bakerlady

Burger ball becomes burger patty. Awesome.

Perfectly Juicy Hamburgers - Bakerlady

Repeat with remaining balls of meat. I make more than I need, then freeze the rest so I can have delicious homemade patties just as fast as someone else can make a pre-made, store-bought, frozen meat puck. See? Nice and flat and even. This way, when they plump as they cook, they don’t end up rolling off your bun.

Perfectly Juicy Hamburgers - Bakerlady

Hand off the perfectly formed patties to your favorite grill master. Mine goes by the name of Zack. He makes meat look pretty.

Perfectly Juicy Hamburgers - Bakerlady

Top it with your favorite accoutrements.

Perfectly Juicy Hamburgers - Bakerlady

Consume with breathless anticipation of the juicy, gorgeous deliciousness. No mooing. Still incredibly tender and full of flavor. I really did intend to take a picture before I’d wolfed down a giant bite. Really I did. But the meat heaven was calling me. I had to answer.

Perfectly Juicy Hamburgers - Bakerlady

Print Recipe for Perfectly Juicy Hamburgers

Perfectly Juicy Hamburgers
a Bakerlady original

Ingredients
2 pounds ground beef (20% fat…yes, this matters)
1 egg yolk, beaten
3/4 cup dry bread crumbs
3 tablespoons milk
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 pinches of fresh cracked pepper

Directions:
1. Preheat grill for high heat.
2. In a large bowl, mix the ground beef, egg yolk, bread crumbs, milk, Worcestershire sauce, chili powder, onion powder, pepper, salt and garlic using your hands. Form the mixture into 8 hamburger patties by pressing into a mold.
3. Lightly oil the grill grate. Grill patties 5 minutes per side, or until well done.

Summer Slaw

In the summer, there are lots of opportunities to bring salads and slaws to BBQs. I recently brought a sweet & sour apple slaw (light & delicious) and of course there’s always my standby Chinese chicken salad (perfection!) if I’m not sure what to bring. Last weekend I wanted to make something close to a traditional cole slaw, but with a little twist. I dunno why, it has been forever since I had just a cole slaw. I needed that kind of dressing. This is what I came up with. Crunchy apples with moist tender chicken and a killer slaw sauce with a kick from lemon juice and cider vinegar.

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Grilled Portobello Mushrooms

You could eat an old shoe with this marinade and it would be delicious. Which is perfect, since that’s how some people think of mushrooms anyway. In my quest to have a meatless meal once a week, I stumbled upon these meaty mushrooms. They would be an awesome substitution for your burger, or sliced up on a salad. I just had them aside some fresh green beans and roasted potatoes. Absolutely delicious.

Obviously mine got a little too much love from the grill. My poor hubby is so used to steaks that the Portobello were a new kind of animal for him.  Hee-hee, a new kind of animal. The insides were still gorgeous and full of flavor though so no complains from me. All those onions and garlic just melt into the mushrooms as the grill. Yum, yum!

Grilled Portobello Mushrooms
from Allrecipes.com

  • 3 portobello mushrooms
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons chopped onion
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

Directions

  1. Clean mushrooms and remove stems, reserve for other use. Place caps on a plate with the gills up.
  2. In a small bowl, combine the oil, onion, garlic and vinegar. Pour mixture evenly over the mushroom caps and let stand for 1 hour.
  3. Grill over hot grill for 10 minutes. Serve immediately.

Granny Smith Apple Salsa

This is not your granny’s salsa. I know it isn’t because it came from my friend Theresa. And she’s nobody’s granny. Actually, her sister’s husband made it so I guess it’s his salsa. Even better. I know for a FACT that HE isn’t your granny. I had it at a bridal shower over the weekend and pretty much flipped out over how delicious it is. Seriously. I think I may be forever branded as “that crazy girl at Jessica’s bridal shower who wouldn’t stop talking about the salsa”. I was a little embarrassing.

I just couldn’t help myself. I’ve never had a more delicious chip dip. And I love dipping chips. I also like teaching them the rhumba. It’s the dance of love you know. If I’m going to love them, they might as well learn to love me back. My cowboy caviar and my sister’s cowboy salsa formally held a tie for my favorite things to shovel into my mouth on crunchy chips. Now, this tart salsa is the frontrunner. It’s full of crisp apples, just the right heat from a jalapeño, a little sweet onion and fresh tomatoes. Perfection for summer. It’s incredibly refreshing and unlike any other salsa I’ve tried.

Since I polished off the entire bowl at the shower, I asked for the recipe, went home and promptly made a batch for myself. I couldn’t stop gushing about it to my husband and knew he wouldn’t understand until he tried it. I should have thought that thru better. I should have told him it was terrible and a “diet” food. That he’d hate it. Epic fail on my part. Now I have to figure out how to nicely forbid him from eating all my salsa.

Make some. Then disappear with the bowl, a lawn chair & a bag of chips. Unless you are a super generous person who doesn’t mind others stealing all your deliciousness. In that case, feel free to have the bowl out somewhere. But believe me once you have some, you won’t want to share.

Granny Smith Apple Salsa
from the Costco Connection Cookbook 2008

1 large tomato, cored and finely chopped
3/4 cup finely chopped sweet onion
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
1 large jalapeño chile, cored, seeded and finely chopped
2 Granny Smith apples
2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon honey
Salt and freshly ground
black pepper
Corn chips

Stir together tomato, onion, lime juice and jalapeño in a medium bowl.
Quarter and core apples and cut into fine dice. Stir apples into the tomato mixture with cilantro, honey, and salt and pepper to taste.
Refrigerate for up to 6 hours before serving.
To serve, spoon the salsa into a serving bowl and place a bowl of corn chips alongside.
Makes 6-8 servings.

The Perfect Mai Tai

I went thru a lot of product testing to come up with this recipe. For hours I slaved, tasting batch after batch to ensure a perfect drink experience. The things I go thru for you. Really. I wanted something island-y that would harken me back to days spent curling my toes in warm soft sandy beaches.  I fell in love with Mai Tais at the same time I discovered fish tacos. Ahhhh, Maui – heaven. Mai Tais on the island are full of fruity deliciousness. However, I didn’t want it to be so fru-fru that you’d need to drink an entire pitcher to have a buzz. These are grand. Sure to provide a truly tropical feeling right in your own backyard. Try them. You’ll see. They are perfection.

The Perfect Mai Tai
makes 1 gallon

2 cups light rum
2 cup dark rum
1 cup Triple Sec
1 cup Amaretto
1 cup simple syrup
10 limes, juiced
4 cups orange juice
4 cups pineapple juice

Directions

In a large jar or drink cooler, combine the light rum, Triple Sec, Amaretto, simple syrup, lime juice, orange juice and pineapple juice. Do not use grenadine if you want the true Mai Tai! Serve in 8 to 12 ounce glasses with ice. Top each glass with a floater of dark rum for a pretty presentation, or add the dark rum and combine for use as a punch.

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