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Cyndee’s Cooking Corner

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This is going to be the Best Summer Ever! I love living in Okoboji with all the amazing things to see and do. The weather is balmy and sunny and to be honest, I feel like a teenager again. Exciting!

One thing I love is a house full of people and this summer does not disappoint. Friends of old and friends of new will be visiting. Family from all around-like my Lincoln little ones who will be spending time here and as always, my Spencer tots will be hanging out with me. Ba Ba’s house will be full!

I am looking forward to pool time, and boating, and I am taking sailing lessons for the first time. With all of these adventures, there leaves very little time for cooking.

Like many of you, I have been working on my weight and doing rather well at it. I still have a few pounds to go to reach my target so the recipes I created are both tasty and nutritious. They are simple, using fresh ingredients and easily made ahead of time so you do not miss out any of the fun. But I warn you—the cookies are NOT a weight loss friend but they ARE decadent! We all need a tasty treat in life.

I want you all to enjoy every day of this summer! It is going to be the Best Summer Ever!

Watermelon Fries 

1 Seedless Watermelon

2 T Tajin Seasoning (Found in produce section at Hy-vee)

Coconut Lime Dip

1 Coconut Vanilla Greek Yogurt

2 Limes (For Zesting and Juice)

Watermelon Fries will be the star of your next gathering! Between the fun appearance and zesty taste, these will be a hit. The Coconut Lime Dip adds a crisp and tropical twist, offering a great paring for the spicy watermelon. The best part-IT IS EASY! This can be made a day ahead of time which leaves more pool and boating time for me!

Best Pulled Pork

Serves: 8 - two sandwiches each

5lbs. Skinless, Boneless Pork Butt

4 t Sea Salt

1 T Oregano or Mexican Oregano

1 T Cumin, Powdered

1 T Sweet Paprika

1 T Hy-Vee Steak & Burger Seasoning, Grinder Style

2 T Dark Brown Sugar

1 White Onion, Large

8 Garlic Cloves

1 C Orange Juice

2 Limes, Juiced

3 Bay Leaves

  1. Trim any excess fat off the pork. Rinse with water and dry off with a paper towel.
  2. Place pork in a 6qt slow cooker. Pour orange juice, lime juice and coke over pork.
  3. Combine all the seasonings and rub into pork.
  4. Cut onion into eight pieces. Take outer shell of garlic off.  Sprinkle onion, garlic and bay leaves over pork.
  5. Cook on low for 10 hours.  Take out onions, garlic and bay leaves.

This is best on large buns with a serving of coleslaw on top of the meat. It is a great summer treat! And all of you Iowa folks love a good pulled pork sandwich.

S'more Chip Cookies

Serves: 10-12 Giant Cookies         Prep Time: 10 minutes

1 1/2 C Butter, Room Temperature

1 C White Sugar

1 1/2 C Dark Brown Sugar

2 Eggs

4 C Flour

1 t Baking Soda

1 t Salt

3 T Corn Starch

1/2 C Mini-Chocolate Chips

1 C Milk Chocolate Chips

1 C Dark Chocolate Morsels

12 Cinnamon Graham Crackers, Whole

6 Hersey Candy Bar, Whole

1 Dozen Large Marshmallows

  1. In a mixer combine butter, sugars, and eggs and until just combined. Do not over mix!
  2. Slowly add flour, baking soda, salt and corn starch to butter mixture until incorporated. Do not over mix!
  3. Add the chocolate to the dough mixture until just combined. Do not over mix!
  4. Using an ice cream scoop, section out a portion of cookie dough, flatten ball of dough into 2 flat discs. Place one disc of dough on parchment lined cookie sheet. (Parchment is necessary for this cookie!) Place ½ of a graham cracker on top of dough, place ½ of candy bar on top of graham cracker, place marshmallow on top of candy bar, place another ½ of graham cracker on top of the marshmallow, then top that with other disc of cookie dough. Press down slightly. Repeat this till all dough is gone.
  5. Bake cookies at 375 degrees for approximately 12-15 minutes. Remove from oven and cool on baking sheet till completely cool. This is very important as the cookie will fall apart if you remove from the pan and it's still warm.

These are HUGE and AMAZING! You get the best of both worlds — a tasty cookie and a s’more without needing a camp fire!

Corn Off the Cob Salad

Serves: 4

1 Large Ear of Corn

1 C Cherry Tomatoes

1 1/2 Cucumber

2 T Red Onion

2 T Fresh Lemon Juice

1 t Black Pepper

1 t Kosher Salt

2 t Extra Virgin Olive Oil

  1. Wet a paper towel and squeeze out excess water. Wrap that towel around shucked ear of corn. Cook in microwave on high for 5 minutes. Let cool for at least 15 minutes. Using a sharp knife, slice large sections of corn from the cob.
  2. Cut cherry tomatoes in half. Slice cucumbers in half length-wise, then length-wise again. Cut onto ½” pieces. Finely dice red onions. You could add variations to this salad, such as avocado, mozzarella or feta cheese, peppers, etc. But I like to keep it simple. This salad reminds me of growing up on the family farm in Central Iowa. Many a meal in the summer consisted only of things that we raised, such as potatoes, corn, tomatoes, green beans, pork, beef, strawberries, onions, sweet corn.

These days, I don’t even pretend to be a gardener. Plants! You have to remember to water them. I am an eager beaver in the beginning of planting season but soon the excitement fades away and then everything is all crumpled and brown. This summer, I am excited for the Farmer’s Market in front of the newly constructed Roof Garden in Arnolds Park. I don’t have to fight the traffic since I only live a few blocks away. I can tell you — the live music, food, flowers, vendors with fruits and vegetables, and the arts and crafts are all top notch. Make sure you put it on your “must do” list this summer. P.S. Don’t forget to make this salad!