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Sherrie Norris Lovin’ Spoonful Cooking Column: Keeping it Simple, Whatever the Weather

It’s a strange weather pattern we’re experiencing here in the High Country, with recent temperatures cooler than normal and resulting in a slow start to gardening. Apparently, heavy rains have set in for the week and the idea of turning on a little heat to knock off the chill isn’t such a bad idea for many of us.

Weather in these mountains has not always been this unpredictable.  I recall the four seasons being more “reliable” in years past than what we have currently been experiencing. But, the older I get, the more changes I encounter all the way around, so as my husband says, ‘Let’s just take each day as it comes and make the best of it.’ And my dear mother always reminded me that, (despite the opinion of some), we can’t do anything about the weather, so accept it and quit complaining.  

In the sun or in the rain, we’ve still got to eat, so hopefully a few recipes  we have to share this week will give you something to do in the kitchen when you can’t be outside.

Refreshing Quinoa Salad

1 ½ cups quinoa, rinsed and well drained

3 cups water

¼  cup plus 2 Tbsp. olive oil

1 Tbsp. grated lemon zest

¼ cup lemon juice

4 garlic cloves, minced

6 Tbsp. minced fresh parsley

6 Tbsp. minced fresh mint

1 tsp. salt

1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved

2 mini-cucumbers, sliced

1 medium sweet red pepper, chopped

½ cup chopped red onion

 In a large saucepan, cook and stir quinoa over medium-high heat 3-5 minutes or until toasted. Add water; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer covered, until liquid is absorbed, 12-15 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl. Cool slightly.

 In a small bowl, whisk oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, garlic, parsley, mint and salt. Add vegetables to quinoa; drizzle with dressing and toss to combine. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Low-Carb Reuben Snack Rolls

½ lb. sliced (not too thin) corned beef

Slices of Swiss cheese

Small container of sauerkraut, drained

Warm 2 or 3 slices of corned beef at a time in medium-heat skillet; top lightly with sauerkraut and cheese. Heat through, then roll and secure with toothpick. Serve with Thousand Island salad dressing, or a home-made mixture of mayonnaise, sugar-free ketchup and chopped dill pickles.

Summer Strawberry Salad

 Large container of baby spinach

1 lb. strawberries, halved or sliced

2 oranges, peeled and sliced, or medium can mandarin oranges, drained

1 ½ cups pecans or walnuts, toasted and chopped

4 oz. goat cheese, crumbled


1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

¼  cup fresh lemon juice

3 Tbsp. honey

1 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar

1 Tbsp. poppy seeds

2 tsp. Dijon mustard

½  tsp. salt

¼ tsp. ground black pepper

Arrange spinach to a large bowl or platter. Top with half the strawberries and half the orange slices. 

Combine olive oil, lemon juice, honey, apple cider vinegar,  poppy seeds,  Dijon mustard, salt and pepper in a small jar. With lid on tight, shake to combine the dressing. Drizzle half the dressing onto salad and toss gently to coat. Add remaining strawberries, oranges, pecans and goat cheese. Drizzle remaining dressing on top as desired.

Black Forest Dump Cake

2 (21-ounce) cans cherry pie filling

1/4 cup water

1 (18.4-ounce) package brownie mix

3/4 cup salted butter, frozen

Vanilla ice cream or whipped topping

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Lightly coat 9×13-inch baking pan with cooking spray.

Pour cherry filling into prepared pan; cover with the water.

Sprinkle brownie mix evenly over the water. Do not stir.

Grate frozen butter over the brownie mix. Bake until bubbly, about 35 minutes. Let cake stand for about 10 minutes.

Slice and serve with ice cream or whipped topping.

Creamy Fruit Bowl

2 cups sour cream, regular or lite

3 Tbsp. brown sugar

¾ cup fresh orange juice

2 Tbsp. grated orange rind

2 Tbsp. chopped fresh mint (plus extra mint for garnish)

2 cups berries (raspberries, blackberries or chopped strawberries)

2 cup chopped nectarines or peaches

1 cup cubed cantaloupe or honeydew melon

In large bowl, whisk together sour cream and brown sugar. Slowly stir in orange juice until smooth. Stir in remaining ingredients. Refrigerate. Serve with mint sprig garnish, if desired.