1000 x 90

Sherrie Norris Lovin’ Spoonful Cooking Column: Summertime in the Mountains Has Arrived!

By Sherrie Norris

We don’t need the calendar to remind us, but just in case you haven’t figured it out yet, summer has arrived in the mountains this week.

Not only are the roads crowding up with seasonal visitors coming to enjoy what we are blessed with year-round, but so are the local entertainment venues, hotels, restaurants, grocery store parking lots, pools, quaint downtown shopping attractions and more. And the thermometers are definitely reminding us that summer has arrived, unlike what we were experiencing just a few days earlier. 

So, what are we going to do about it? I say let’s make the best of it!

Let’s make memories with our own families, even if we can’t run away anytime soon to a different playground. Get that fire pit cleaned out and bring on the s’mores. Head to the Blue Ridge Parkway before the sun rises to witness the world come alive over our amazing terrain.

Hit the greenways early in the morning for a quiet, but vigorous walk to get the body and mind energized. Pack a simple picnic for the kids in the backyard or the park. Take in an afternoon matinee at the theatre to cool off or just go jump in the river — preferably on a canoe. The possibilities are endless! Just don’t let it pass without a few opportunities to reflect upon when the temps start falling once again. And, it won’t be that long.

Featured recipes this week include few “cool” ideas to help keep the awesome in your summer.

Fresh Tomato and Cucumber Salad  

½  cup extra virgin olive oil

2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar

2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar

½  tsp. sea salt

3-4 cloves garlic, minced

10 fresh basil leaves

5 fresh oregano leaves

3 small cucumbers 

2 large tomatoes

Mince or press garlic, omit any green sprouts. Let garlic stand in balsamic and wine vinegars for 10 minutes. Wash basil and oregano leaves; chop and add to olive oil while garlic marinates. Wash cucumbers and tomatoes. Peel and slice cucumbers into ¼- inch rounds.

Slice tomatoes carefully into wedges. Place tomatoes and cucumbers in bowl and sprinkle with salt.

Combine olive oil with vinegars, whisking together well. Drizzle over tomatoes and cucumbers; serve at room temperature.

Optional: Add 1 thinly sliced red onion, pitted black olives and fresh mozzarella.

Italian Sub Sandwich  

8 slices hard salami

4 slices bologna

4 slices ham 

1 small zucchini

½  cup Italian style dressing

 French bread or Italian bread loaf

¼ cup butter

¼  tsp. oregano

¼  tsp. basil


3 slices Mozzarella cheese cut in half diagonally

4 green pepper rings

4 sweet onion rings

4 tomato slices

4 stuffed olives, sliced

Cut zucchini squash in thin slices and marinate in Italian dressing while preparing sandwich. Slice loaf of bread in half lengthwise, separating top and bottom of loaf. Blend butter with oregano and basil and spread on cut surfaces of bread. Cover bottom half with lettuce. 

Arrange half slices of cheese and onion rings on lettuce. Alternate folded slices of meat on top, overlapping partially. Arrange green pepper rings and tomato slices over meat. Drain zucchini and overlap slices over tomatoes. Garnish with stuffed olives. Cover with buttered top of loaf. Slice and serve.

Note: Meats can be substituted and condiments of choice may be added, ie: mayo, mustard, etc, in addition to, or in place of the butter.

Easy Macaroni Salad  

¾ cup mayonnaise

2 Tbsp. vinegar

1 Tbsp. prepared mustard

1 tsp. sugar

1 tsp. salt

¼  tsp. pepper

8 oz. macaroni, cooked and drained

1 cup sliced celery

1 cup chopped green or red pepper

1/4 cup chopped onion

In large bowl, combine mayonnaise, vinegar, mustard, sugar, salt and pepper. Add macaroni, celery, green pepper and onion. Toss to coat well. Cover; chill. 

Summertime Fun Cookies

Use your favorite basic sugar cookie recipe or grab a packaged sugar cookie mix or even the “roll” from the cold section at the grocery store.

For decorations:

A can of white frosting

Blue food coloring

Choice of decorations: Bear-shaped crackers, fish-shaped graham crackers, Airheads candies, gummy sour rings, white sugar pearls and palm tree party picks

Prepare the cookies as directed in your recipe or on the package.

Drop dough by rounded tablespoonful about 3 inches apart onto parchment-lined baking sheets; flatten slightly with bottom of a glass dipped in sugar. Bake until edges begin to brown, 8-10 minutes. Remove from pan to cool completely.

Mix frosting and food coloring to a light blue consistency reminiscent of pool or ocean water; spread frosting over cookies. Decorate as desired to find “bears” swimming in the round gummy rings, or laying out on the candy “blankets,” “fish” floating in the water, etc.

Let the kids use their imagination.

Blueberry Muffins  

1 egg, slightly beaten

½  cup milk

¼  cup vegetable oil or melted butter

1 ½  cups flour

½  tsp. salt

¾  cup sugar

2 tsp. baking powder

¾  cup blueberries, rinsed, or fresh or frozen

Beat egg slightly; stir in milk and oil. Sift together flour, salt, sugar and baking powder. Combine both mixtures; stir in blueberries.

Fill muffin cups 2/3 full. Sprinkle tops with coarse granulated sugar, if desired. Bake at 400°F for 20 minutes or less.

Makes 12 standard size muffins.