Showing posts with label cucumbers. Show all posts
Showing posts with label cucumbers. Show all posts

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Easiest Summer Salad Ever and Results of Favorite Cookout Foods Poll from Cleo Coyle

Cleo Coyle has a partner in
crime-writing—her husband.
Learn about their books
by clicking here and here.

Have you ever wondered where the phrase "cool as a cucumber" came from? 

The inside of a cucumber is 20 degrees cooler than the outside. Too bad we can't claim the same advantage on these sweltering summer days! Marc and I do the next best thing, we eat them like crazy. 

Crunchy, cold cukes are supremely satisfying in summer. Their B vitamins make them a great pick-me-up food. They're also hydrating. And staying properly hydrated is a real health concern these days, not only in summer but year-round. 

Apparently, the Roman Emperor Tiberius insisted on cucumbers daily during summer and winter. The Romans used greenhouses to provide it for him every day of the yearBelow you'll find one of our favorite ways to put it on the table...

Cleo Coyle's
Cool as a Cucumber 
Summer Salad

If you like buttermilk Ranch dressing but never have buttermilk on hand and don't want to use bottled dressing, try this super-fast creamy, cool, and crunchy salad. It pairs beautifully with grilled meats and fish, making it a fantastic salad for summer cookouts. And speaking of cookouts, scroll down for the results of my Cookout Foods Poll that many of you took last week. May you eat with the joy of summer! 

~ Cleo

Yield: About 4 servings


2 medium to large chilled cucumbers
1 small red onion (or 1/2 a medium to large red onion)
3 (or so) tablespoons cold sour cream (*see my note)
Fresh dill 
Salt and pepper (to your taste)

* CLEO NOTE: You can substitute crema Mexicana or creme fraiche for this recipe, but do not use yogurt, which is too tangy. The sour cream provides a sweeter, creamier flavor that (combined with the dill) mimics a lovely buttermilk Ranch dressing, but without the fuss of lots of ingredients, including buying buttermilk, which some folks have told me they have trouble finding these days. I hope you enjoy it!

Directions: You can either peel the skin from the cucumbers or keep the skins on for extra fiber. (See a great use for cucumber skin in my tips below.) Cut the cucumbers into thin slices. Cut the red onion into thin slices. Toss both well with sour cream and the fresh dill. Salt and pepper to taste. White pepper (used sparingly) makes a pretty presentation. Garnish with a bit more fresh dill.



Use the skin of a cucumber to sooth your sunburn or skin irritations, the same way you would use aloe for sunburn. 

Cleo and her (home office) 
Cucumber Spa

* EASY, SOOTHING SPA TREATMENT - Place a slice over each eye. The cool feel of it is incredibly soothing, the scent is lovely, and the anti-inflammatory properties help reduce puffiness.

* HANGOVER CURE - Because cucumbers have B vitamins and electrolytes, they can restore the nutrients you need during sleep. So if you've had a few too many cocktails, eat cucumbers before going to bed. By morning, the intensity of any hangover headache will be reduced.

Mr. Fellows appreciates 
the Hangover Cure.

* HEALTH BENEFITS: The fiber in cucumbers helps us eliminate toxins from our bodies. They relieve bad breath, help fight some forms of cancer, promote joint health, and reduce cholesterol. The potassium and magnesium also help regulate blood pressure, and cucumber juice has been found to be beneficial for diabetic patients (it contains a hormone needed by cells of the pancreas for producing insulin). Read more here.

And now...


As our blog follower "Jen" put it in the comments last week, "Nothing beats summer BBQs!!!"  Many of you had the same happy reactions to my poll.

You can see the original blog post and poll by clicking here. Now here are the final results of your voting...

What 4 items are a MUST 
for your summer cookouts?

Out of over 500 votes cast, 
you chose the following Top 4 foods...

#1 Burgers (beef, lamb, turkey, or veggie)

#2 Sweet Corn on the Cob

#3 Potato Salad

#4 Watermelon

And here is how you ranked 
the other foods in the poll...

(#5) Hot Dogs  (#6) Steak  (#7) BBQ Baked Beans 

(#8) Chicken (#9) Ribs (#10) Beer 

and finally (#11) S'mores 

* * *

Your "other" suggestions
for cookout foods included...

BRATS - Anne Lovell, Elaine Klingbiel, Deborah, and B.E. Sanderson all mentioned bratwursts. 

And Deborah added:  “…here in Ohio, we are big on grilling bratwurst. Hey, at least I didn't go with goetta - no one outside this area even knows what that is. :)”

TURKEY BRISKET IN THE SMOKER - Stephanie Jones said: “I like turkey or brisket in the smoker for the day, and those amazing aromas that trigger hunger. Also, a fruit skewer of whatever is in season…”

BRISKET AND PORK LOINS - Kitty said: "We love to put them on the back of the pit and let them smoke.”

Donna E had a great suggestion: “…one of our favorite grilled meals at home is chicken marinated in Italian dressing & then grilled.”

Grandma Cootie has a favorite, too: “…can't leave out my son's wonderful special baked potatoes. Slices and seasons them, cooks up a little crisp bacon to add while serving - yum. Everything is better on the grill.”

Helena Georgette likes to cook more than one meal on her grill. “My Santa Maria Tri Tip & Santa Maria Beans are very good for summer grilling.”

Joyce Tremel said: “…If I'd have had a fifth choice it might have been ham barbecues with Isaly's Chipped Ham.”

Cynthia E. Blain – “…we do love lobster steamed in a pot ON the grill along with plenty of steamer clams from Maine or Cape Cod and many times we do a Clam Boil with the potatoes, onions, Portuguese sausage or Kielbasa, along with the clams. Nothing like a real New England Clam Boil. We also make homemade clam chowder and clam fritters to go along with almost every cookout/BBQ….” (Wow! Count me in, Cynthia! - Cleo)


* * * 

And many of you 

shared lovely memories...

Dotty Kelley – “When I was a kid we used to summer on Cape Cod. There was a great farm stand on the way that sold the sweetest sweet corn ever. We always stopped there and bought dozens of ears for our first cookout. Great memories of family fun and summer grilling.”

PlumGaga – “…I'm a corn snob, so in an ideal world, the water would be put on to boil before the corn was picked from the garden. These days I reluctantly settle for the freshest from the farm stand.”

Ronna Lord - “…the potato salad is a definite must. It's my mom's recipe from years ago and everyone loves it and the memory of mom/Grammy/great Grammy!”

AnnMarie Green – “4th of July was like a big family reunion when I was growing up. It was the best picnic ever…and for dessert a cup of coffee with a plate full of cakes and cookies!”

Debra Carmichael – “We love grilling out…My husband is retired Army and even stationed in Alaska we cooked out in the winter.”

Carol Summers-Kolber – 

“My favorite cookout was the summer before my husband passed away. All the family was there and some of my adult kid's in-laws too. We cracked open a bottle of wine that my granddaughter had corked in her summer apprenticeship to a vineyard and toasted each other. My son-in-law did the grilling and we all contributed the side dishes. We ate outside under the huge maple tree in the backyard while various family pets chased each other and the younger kids around the yard. We all knew my husband did not have much time left because of his illness and it remains one of the best days of summer past.”

Thank you, Carol, and all of you for
sharing such beautiful memories!

XOXO  ~ Cleo

* * * 

Finally, the most 
important ingredient of all...

ANN*H – “The only thing I would add to this list is family and fun : )”

Connie Stein – “plus…swimming pool and family and friends…”

Diane Snow – “The most important ingredient is ‘Family and Friends’ (including the 4 leg variety)!”

Eat with joy!

~ Cleo Coyle

New York Times bestselling author of
The Coffeehouse Mysteries

Yes, this is me, Cleo (aka Alice). 
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Read (and eat) with joy!


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Friday, November 26, 2010

Cucumber Sandwiches: My Go-To

Thanksgiving leftovers -- heck, leftovers from any holiday -- are wonderful. I look forward to leftovers almost more than I do the actual meal. Weird? I bet I'm not alone.

Because you and I are sitting back enjoying our leftovers today, I'm not going to post a multi-step, intricate recipe. I'm taking it easy. Post-Thanksgiving is meant to be savored, don't you think? The day after Thanksgiving is so great. Still lots of family time, but a whole lot less cooking. Rather than scurry out and shop, we prefer to open our boxes of holiday decor and pick out our tree.

To celebrate today being a laid-back day, then, I'm sharing one of my top Go-To recipes. Over the years, we discovered that one of our favorite holiday leftovers is actually an appetizer. We all like it so much, we stopped serving it only on holidays and at parties, and now we make it at the drop of a hat. Here's the excuse we used this time: Our three daughters are home this week!

Super, super easy, this one comes from Pampered Chef. We changed it ever so slightly, but I gotta give them credit. They've really mastered making yummy food fast. I might have mentioned that I used to be a Pampered Chef lady (you know, the one who comes to your house and shows you all the great gadgets?), so I have a houseful of fun toys to play with.

This is *not* a Pampered Chef commercial -- just a little back story. It's been years since I've even been to a party. But I still love this recipe!

Cucumber Sandwiches

1 cucumber
1 8-oz cream cheese
1 cup mayo
1 envelope dry Italian dressing mix (like Good Seasons. I use the store house brand and I buy them in 4 packs -- less expensive when you make it as often as we do!)

I like to soften my cream cheese a little before mixing. I put it in a glass bowl and pop it into the microwave for about 10 - 15 seconds, or maybe even a little more.

Add dry Italian dressing mix. Add mayo. Use hand mixer until smooth.

Put this in the fridge. I always find the taste improves after I've given the mix time to set and allow the flavors to combine.

In the meantime, slice cucumber into very thin slices. I have a mandolin-thing from Pampered Chef. Can't remember what they call it, but it has different slicing/shredding blades that pop in and out. Perfect for slicing cucumbers ultra thin.

Bread: The original recipe encouraged us to bake our own bread in bread tubes. I did that for a while but it got very old very fast. Plus the breads were relatively small and these little sandwiches would disappear quicker than I could keep up. I would make four loaves and it still wouldn't be enough.

What I do now is go to my local supermarket (Jewel), find the twin French loaves, and ask the friendly ladies behind the counter to slice them for me. Voila. Perfect! And plenty. I still wind up buying four (two 2-packs) at a time, but they're much bigger than the ones I made myself.

Spread mix on bread slice, top with cucumber. Repeat, repeat, repeat....
(I like to cut the cuke slice about halfway up, then twist before placing atop the bread. Pretty!)


Just an easy and very, very delicious appetizer that everyone seems to love. I can't believe how often I get compliments on these. Or how much my kids still love them. It's been over 10 years and they haven't gotten tired of them yet!

This is one of my favorite Go-To recipes.
What's one of yours?

Hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Let's get pickled!

My mother always used to make bread
butter pickles with the cucumbers
our garden when I was a kid.
To this day, the
taste of bread and
butter pickles is the taste of

Needless to say, I was pickled...I
tickled when my friend Lynn
over a jar from a batch she
had made from
cucumbers she'd bought
at our local farmer's market. They were delicious and she happily shared her recipe, which I checked against an old recipe card of my grandmother's (who taught my mom) and they are the same.

And so I share them with you! I am hoping to
hit the farmer's market next week and if the cucumbers are still in, I think I'll do some pickling myself!

Bread and
Butter Pickles
6 qts, sliced cucumbers
1 qt sliced
4 large sweet peppers, diced

1 cup pickling salt poured over mixture

(you can also use Kosher salt)
1 - 2 inches of ice on top of vegetables,
for 4 hours

In a large pot, mix together

6 cups white vinegar

6 cups sugar

1 tspn mustard seed

1 tspn celery seed
1 tbspn tumeric seed

Bring just to a boil.

Thoroughly rinse cucumbers, onions and peppers from ice and salt and add to the mixture on the stove, bring just to a boil again.

In another pot, boil 8 large canning jars and their lids to sterilize. Keep the jars hot while canning, take them out of the water only when ready to add pickle mixture. Once the sugar vinegar solution has come to a boil, use a slotted spoon to fill the hot jars with the cucumbers.

Pack the jars to an inch
from the rim with the
vegetables. Then pour the hot pickling syrup
to a half inch from the rim. Wipe the rim clean.
Place a sterilized lid on
the jar. Secure with a
metal screw band.

If you are planning to store pickles outside of the refrigerator, they will need a hot water bath for 10 minutes. Return filled jars to the same canning pot with its already hot water. Water level should be one inch above the top of the cans. Bring to a boil and let boil hard for 15 minutes. Remove jars from pot. Let cool down to room temperature. Jars should make a popping sound as their lids seal. If a lid doesn't seal properly, it must be stored in the refrigerator



Quite a pickle, isn't it?
Okay, I'll stop now...;-)