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    Entries in summer (9)

    Friday
    Aug122011

    Ice Tea Granita - Summer on a Spoon

    To me, nothing says summer like ice tea.  When I was little, Mom always had a big glass jug of it in the fridge, or out brewing in the sun.  Most people probably have childhood memories of drinking Kool-Aid or even lemonade, but not me.  Ice tea was always my favorite.  Sometimes Mom would make it with lemon, sometimes with mint and lime.  However she made it, I loved it, and still do.  So when I thought of making granita, it was only natural to use ice tea.  When I told Hubby about my idea, he pretty much thought it was lame and wouldn’t look good for my post.  Well, that only made me want to do it even more, of course. 

     

     

    Here’s what you’ll need:

    6 cups water
    ¾ cups sugar
    10 teabags
    1 lemon
    1 lime

     

     

     

     

    Bring the water to a boil and turn off the heat.  Remove it from the hot burner and add the teabags. 

    To make them easy to pull out, just drape the tags over the edges of the pan, just make sure they’re not touching any hot burners. 

    So, let’s talk tea.  As you can see, I used Lipton.  If you can find Newman’s Own, it is, in my book, the best there is for ice tea.  Unfortunately, I couldn’t find any at my local grocery store, and didn’t have time to order some. 

    That being said, Lipton will do.  I’ve found most fancy teas don’t make the best ice tea, but I’d stay away from generic brands, as well. 

    So, back to our tea.  It needs to steep for 5 minutes.  Set a timer, because if it steeps too long, it will become bitter.  During those 5 minutes, you should be able to juice your lemon and lime.

    I just have to rave about my juicer once more.  The first time I used it, I wasn’t sold, but I have really grown to love this thing. 

    I was able to get ½ cup of juice out of 1 lemon and 1 lime.  If your limes are small, you may need to use 2. 

    Back to our tea again.  After 5 minutes, remove the teabags.  It should be nice and dark.  We need strong flavors that will hold up during the freezing process. 

    Pour in your sugar and stir, stir, stir, until it is completely dissolved. 

    Now pour in the juice. 

    Stir once more and go relax for awhile.  It needs some time to cool down.  When it gets to the point that it no longer steams when you stir it, go ahead and pour it into a glass dish. 

    Don’t use a square pan, it’s not big enough.  Go with a 9x13.  Yes, I know I poured it into a square pan, but shortly after that, I realized it would have been much smarter to use a bigger pan because it would freeze faster and more evenly, and would also leave more room for what's to come.  Into the freezer it goes.  It’ll need several hours to freeze.  I actually left mine overnight. 

    When it’s completely solid, remove it from the freezer and begin scraping the surface with a fork. 

    Keep scraping until you have a nice pile of tea snow.

    Spoon it into a dish, and serve immediately.  You can leave it in the freezer in its solid form for a few days, but wait to scrape it until right before eating it. 

    So, what did Hubby say when he tried a bite of it this morning?  “That’s really good!”  Not sure which one I savor more… the ice tea granita, or the satisfaction of, once again, being smarter than Hubby thinks I am.  

     

    Friday
    Jul292011

    Pasta: Salad the Sequel

    Yeah, I know, I made a salad last week.  But really, watermelon salad and pasta salad can hardly be considered part of the same category.  Besides, during these hot summer months, what sounds better than some kind of cool salad?  They’re simple, refreshing, and delicious. 

    There are a million and one ways to make a pasta salad.  Here’s what you’ll need for the one I threw together today:

    1 pound pasta (uncooked)
    ¼ pound cheese
    1 bell pepper
    1 cup grape tomatoes
    ¾ - 1 pound bacon (uncooked)
    ¾ cups mayo
    ¼ cup mustard
    3 Tablespoons vinegar
    ½ teaspoon salt
    ½ teaspoon pepper
    1 Tablespoon sugar
    ¼ cup chives

    Oops.  Somehow I forgot to include bacon in my picture.

    In spite of my repeated trips to Home Goods, Target, and Kohl’s, and my many deliveries from Amazon, I still haven’t managed to procure a sheet pan.  Yes, I really did get rid of everything when I moved.  So although the real thing is a gazillion times better, if you happen to be in a predicament like me, or it’s just too hot to turn on the oven (I refuse to go back to cooking bacon on the stove) go ahead and use the precooked stuff.  Just make sure to crisp it up in the microwave first. 

    The first thing we need to do is get the dressing made and out of the way.  In a small bowl combine the mayo, mustard, vinegar, salt, pepper, and sugar. 

    Chop your chives.

    Then throw them into the bowl, whisk everything together and pop it into the fridge. 

    Cook your pasta according to the package directions, then drain it and rinse with cold water. 

    While the pasta is cooking, feel free to work on your chopping.  Just don’t forget to stir from time to time.

    Any color bell pepper will be fine.  I chose green because they looked the best.  Dice it up into fairly small pieces.  If you cut strips and line them up, it makes the process quick and easy. 

    Halve your tomatoes, or quarter them if they’re really big.  If you can get your hands on a variety of different colors of the little guys, they’re fun and fabulous in something like this.  (Whoa!  That was a little too Rachael Ray like for my comfort.)

    I used an extra sharp cheddar.  I love the texture of cheddar, and the tang of one that’s been really aged… Yum! 

    Dice it up, followed by the bacon and throw them all in a bowl with your (now cold) pasta. 

    Pour on your dressing and stir gently until everything is evenly distributed and coated. 

    I like to just load up a bowl and eat it as a meal, but it’s also a fabulous side to whatever you’re grilling this weekend. 

    Do you have a favorite pasta salad?