Loaded Lemon-Blueberry Banana Bread

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“One berry, two berry, pick me a Blueberry !”
“Hatberry, Shoeberry in my Canoeberry;”
“Under the bridge and over the dam,”
“Looking for Berries – Berries for Jam !”

Bruce Degen

Are you like me and usually have some ripe bananas in the freezer?  Then you’re ready to whip together a summery version of a moist banana bread. With the addition of chia and flax seeds in the batter, it is a nutritious power house with a great crumb texture.  Not too sweet, the banana bread is studded with loads of blueberries and lemon zest giving it a summery twist. I wasn’t sure if mixing blueberries with the bananas would work but hey, I often throw both on my oatmeal and love them together for breakfast so why not? A totally delicious revelation. This is my new favorite banana bread and it comes together in just a few minutes.  Yum!

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BLT Stacked Salad with Avocado Mayo

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“A world without tomatoes is like a string quartet without violins.” Laurie Colwin

Are juicy garden tomatoes making their long anticipated appearance where you live?  Then happy days are here again!  This stacked BLT napoleon is a fun take on the beloved sandwich with the tomato taking the starring role.  Fancy enough for a dinner party appetizer or an everyday lunch, it has everything you love in a BLT, in a fun presentation.  Minus the bread, it is a low carb winner.  So good,  I promise you won’t miss the bread.

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Roasted Veggie Pasta Salad with Pistachio Pesto

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This pasta salad is a great dish to add to a summer buffet table for a party or a picnic.  Bursting with loads of roasted veggies, the pasta is tossed in pistachio pesto then topped with fresh basil, chives and parmesan.  The blistered cherry tomatoes explode with juicy sweetness.   The pesto can be made in advance which is really nice.   Short of time? You can totally use regular bottled pesto.  Change it up with your own favorite veggie mix. No matter what veggies you choose,  I would recommend keeping the cherry tomatoes in.  Without a drop of mayonnaise, this salad will hold up well.   So good you will hope there are leftovers to bring home! It can also totally be served as a main dish.  Enjoy!

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Creating Shade in Outdoor Spaces

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“Someone is sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree long ago.”

Warren Buffet

Some seek the sun. I prefer a respite from the sun, yet still spending a lot of time outdoors.   I took shade for granted until neighbors cut down mature trees between our yards and we lost the shade we had designed a patio around.  Overnight, we stopped using this patio which had been a favorite spot for reading and dining next to a peaceful water feature.   It made me sad to be unable to enjoy this beautiful space anymore.  We recently came up with a solution for this dilemma which gave me the idea to write about shade.  More on that later.

Offering shelter from the sun creates cooler, comfier spaces and enhances existing outdoor spaces for maximum enjoyment. It is possible to let the sun shine and enjoy being outdoors without soaking up the damaging UV rays.  Designing pockets of shade is just as important as the plantings in your garden.  Shade also reduces stress on plantings and decreases watering needs.  Here are some ideas to help you create nice shady spots, shielded from harsh rays and sizzling temperatures.

1) Garden Umbrellas

The easiest way to create shade is to add an umbrella over your outdoor table.  Obvious.  Near our dining table we had created an outdoor seating area to lounge and read.  The problem was it could not be enjoyed for 90 percent of the day because it was in full sun.  Enter the off-set, free standing umbrella. I fought my husband on this one.  I thought 2 umbrellas near each other would look tacky.  I thought it was gimmicky to get one of these giant umbrellas with adjustable positioning. Boy, was I wrong.  This seating area is now one of my favorite places to enjoy the garden and entertain. It gets used daily and is shady almost all day long.  To minimize competing umbrellas, we matched their colors.   Our umbrella, a special-order from Home Depot,  came equipped with a canopy-top solar battery that powers a series of mini lights that run along the umbrella’s ribs and cast lovely whimsical star-like lighting at night as an added bonus.

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7 Layer Cauliflower Salad

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With summer entertaining upon us, this is a great make-ahead salad that holds up well on the buffet table.  I first tasted it at a potluck where it was served to rave reviews and the recipe shared with me.  It has great texture, flavor and crunch. I mean, crisp bacon, cheese and cauliflower  all in one bowl.  What’s not to love?  I added cherry tomatoes and substituted blue cheese dressing for mayonnaise in my version and reduced the sugar in half.  Crowd pleaser in a bowl!

7 Layer Cauliflower Salad

  • 1 head of iceberg lettuce, torn into bite sized pieces
  • 1 head of cauliflower, cored, leaves removed, cut into bite-sized florets
  • 2 cups mayonnaise or blue cheese dressing
  • 4 cups of cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 1 pound of bacon, cooked crisp, crumbled
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup of sugar
  1. In a large bowl, layer the ingredients in the order listed, starting with the lettuce on the bottom. Cover and refrigerate for several hours or overnight.  Toss well before serving.

Bottom 2 layers: torn iceberg and cauliflower florets

Dressing and tomatoes added on top of the cauliflower.

Ready to chill.

Thank you Renate for this delicious recipe!

Lemony Rustic Summer Berry Galette

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“All in all, it was a never to be forgotten summer — one of those summers which come seldom into any life, but leave a rich heritage of beautiful memories in their going — one of those summers which, in a fortunate combination of delightful weather, delightful friends and delightful doing, come as near to perfection as anything can come in this world.”

—L.M. Montgomery, Anne’s House of Dreams

Galettes, also called crostatas, are simple free-form tarts. I love their rustic quality and how no 2 galettes are the same. They hold such artisanal appeal for me and offer a more relaxed approach to dessert.  This berry version gets a triple burst of lemony flavor from a fragrant lemon balm* studded crust and berries tossed in lemon zest and lemon juice.  Any lemon herb could be substituted for the lemon balm. Roll the crust of your choice out on parchment paper so it is easier to transfer it to a baking sheet holding onto the parchment paper edges. The galette will be baked on the same parchment paper.  For the best success, add the berry mixture once the crust has been transferred to a rimmed baking sheet.   Serve warm with vanilla ice cream for a lovely summer dessert.  One of my edges was not quite folded over enough and some of the fruit juices ran.  It was still delicious!  Bake up this simple tart and savor a slice of summer.

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Citrus-Ginger Barbecued Salmon

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This is the recipe to make even non-salmon lovers fall in love.  Salmon fillets are marinated in soy, citrus and ginger then grilled.  The marinade is brought to a boil to thicken and glaze the grilled fish.  Extra glaze can be served on the side.    Add some steamed rice, a vegetable and some sliced scallions and watch those non-salmon lovers gobble this dish right up.  For salmon lovers like myself, it’s just one more delicious way to enjoy a favorite fish.

A whole salmon fillet, grilled on a cedar plank, was glazed with the marinade. Delicious!

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