Longer days, warmer weather mean light and delicious entrees
Longer days and warmer weather inspire light and tasty meals that can be enjoyed outdoors in the backyard or patio.
Delicious make-ahead entrees are just right for leisurely weekend dining and a satisfying addition to a brunch or buffet gathering with family and friends.
Along with a main dish and tasty sides, fruit is a must on any menu.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends three to five servings of fruit daily and, thanks to the wonders of modern canning, a variety of delicious fruit is available any time of year, including succulent Pacific Northwest canned pears.
Pears come halved or sliced and make a flavorful, low-calorie addition to a variety of recipes.
For an elegant outdoor brunch, consider Pear Cherry Crepes. This dish is designed to impress but it's not difficult to prepare.
One tip is to prepare the crepes ahead of time and freeze them. Defrost for about an hour before assembling, then add the filling and compote, heat and eat. This is a perfect recipe for busy cooks on the go.
Pear Cherry Crepes
11/3 cups skim milk
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 egg whites
2 Tbsp. sugar
½ tsp. vanilla extract
non-stick spray coating
1 carton (15 ounces) skim milk ricotta cheese
3 Tbsp. powdered sugar
1 tsp. freshly grated lemon peel
1 can (16 ounces) pear halves or slices,
packed in juice
1½ cups frozen dark sweet cherries, thawed
1½ tsp. freshly grated lemon peel
To make crepes: In small bowl, combine the milk, flour, egg whites, vanilla and granulated sugar.
Beat with rotary beater until well mixed. Spray a 6-inch skillet with non-stick coating and heat over medium heat. Remove pan from heat and spoon 2 tablespoons of batter into hot skillet. Lift and tilt skillet to spread batter.
Return to heat, browning crepe on one side only. Invert onto paper towels. Repeat with remaining batter to make 16 crepes.
To make filling: In small bowl, combine filling ingredients; mix well.
To make compote: Drain pears; reserve juice in small saucepan. Bring juice to a boil; cook until reduced by half, about 8 to 10 minutes.
Slice pears into ¼ inch slices. Drain thawed cherries; discard juice. In medium bowl, combine hot juice, pears, cherries and lemon peel.
To assemble crepes: Spoon 3 tablespoons of ricotta filling across center of crepe and fold sides over filling.
Place crepes seam side down on baking sheet. Bake at 350°F until warm and lightly browned, about 5 to 8 minutes. To serve, place two crepes on each plate. Top with warm compote.
Makes 8 servings.
Follow these simple steps to help take the hassle out of mealtime:
• Keep your kitchen stocked with spices and condiments. Adding a quick dash of flavor can turn a bland dish into an appetizing meal in seconds.
• Plan your menu ahead of time and make sure you have all the ingredients and "hardware" (pots, pans, etc.) before you start cooking.
• Choose easy-to-make recipes and family favorites that also can be tomorrow's lunch. Many sauces and salads taste even better the second day.