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Diving into Summer

School is  ending and we all know that means… SUMMER! Whether you’re packing up and heading home, or staying in school for summer classes, summer is a time of relaxation and fun in the sun. Summer can be really hot and grueling, but is also beautiful and inspiring. Personally, I view the season as one of food inspiration. I know that I will be breaking out my bikini so I need to have the body to match. Although spring break wasn’t that long ago, we may have already forgotten how to eat healthy. Summer isn’t the time for any worries and that’s why these foods are just plain old summer fun. These are great for your cookouts and backyard barbeques.
Smoky Barbeque Burgers

4 slices bacon
½ small onion, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 lbs. ground chuck
2 tbsp. smoked paprika
3 tbsp. hickory-smoked barbecue sauce
salt and pepper
3 oz. smoked Cheddar, grated
8 hamburger buns
1.      In a skillet, cook bacon over medium heat until crispy. Drain on paper towels.
2.      When cool enough to handle, crumble bacon. Drain all but 1 Tbsp. fat from skillet and sauté onion until tender, about 3 minutes.
3.      Add garlic and sauté 1 minute longer. Transfer to a plate and let cool completely.
4.      In a large bowl, combine ground chuck, paprika, barbecue sauce and reserved bacon and onion. Season liberally with salt and pepper. Gently but thoroughly mix with fingers.
5.      Divide into 16 pieces. Form each piece into a 3-inch patty. Sprinkle cheese over 8 patties, cover each with one of remaining patties and press to seal.
6.  Preheat gas grill to medium (or light a charcoal fire and let burn to a gray ash). Brush grill with oil. Grill hamburgers until desired doneness, 4 to 6 minutes per side for medium-rare.
7.  Remove patties and let stand for 2 to 3 minutes before serving on buns.
Crunchy Cole Slaw

                            2/3 cup olive oil
                            1/3 cup red wine vinegar
                            1 tablespoon honey
                            1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
                            1 medium shallot, finely chopped (about 2 Tbsp.)
                            1 clove garlic, minced
                            Salt and pepper
                            3/4 head green cabbage, shredded (about 5 cups)
                            1 large carrot, shredded (about 1 1/2 cups)
                            1 bulb fennel, finely shredded (about 1 cup)
                            1/2 jicama, cut into thin strips (about 1 cup)
                            1 cup snow peas, thinly sliced lengthwise
1 medium Granny Smith apple, cored and cut into thin strips (about 1 cup)
1.     Make dressing: Whisk together oil, vinegar, honey, mustard, shallot and garlic. Season with salt and pepper.
2.      Make slaw: In a large bowl, toss together cabbage, carrot, fennel, jicama, snow peas and apple. Pour dressing over and mix well. Cover and chill for at least 3 hours before serving.
Mixed Berry Pretzel Tart

                            2 cups crushed pretzels
                            3 tablespoons sugar
                            12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
                            8 ounces cream cheese
                            3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
                            7 ounces plain Greek yogurt (not fat-free)
                            2 teaspoons vanilla extract
                            2 3-oz. packages strawberry gelatin
                            1 16-oz. package frozen unsweetened sliced strawberries
                            1 16-oz. package frozen unsweetened blueberries
3/4 cup heavy cream
1.Make crust: Preheat oven to 400ºF; mist a 9-by-13-inch baking pan with cooking spray. Place crushed pretzels in bowl of a food processor. Add sugar and melted butter and pulse to combine.
2.Press pretzel mixture into baking dish and bake for 8 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and allow to cool completely, about 20 minutes.
3.Make filling: Using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat cream cheese with 3/4 cup sugar until well blended, about 2 minutes. Fold in yogurt and vanilla. Spread over cooled pretzel crust, cover with plastic wrap and chill for at least 2 hours.
4.In a large bowl, dissolve both packages of gelatin in 2 cups boiling water. Let cool until mixture begins to get syrupy, about 15 minutes. Stir in strawberries and blueberries and pour over cream cheese layer. Chill until firm, 2 to 3 hours.
5.     Whip cream until soft peaks form. Add remaining 1 Tbsp. sugar and continue whipping until stiff peaks form. Cut tart into squares and serve with whipped cream.

Another fun easy side is strawberries. To spice them up a little bit, dip them in white chocolate and blue sugar for a red, white, and blue treat! Serve with pink lemonade in a fun pitcher with some sliced lemons floating on top for a nice touch. Have fun and enjoy summer!

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