Fried Squash Blossoms

By Libbie Summers
Assisted by Candace Brower
Photo by Cedric Smith

This is my early summer popcorn. The perfect snack to feed a guilty pleasure. Sure you could get all fancy and stuff these with some cheesy mixture before dipping and frying them, but that takes the crunch away, but I love the crunch. Like Jr. High…I refuse to stuff. 
Tempura Fried Squash Blossoms
Tempura Fried Squash Blossoms
(classic tempura batter = crunchy flowers)
Serves 4

Ingredients:
1-1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon flake sea salt
1-1/2 cups cold plain seltzer
1 cup canola oil
12 squash blossoms, stamens removed and stems on

Directions:
1. Line a baking sheet with paper towels and set aside.
2. Make the Batter: In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour and the salt. Add the seltzer and stir. The mixture will be the consistency of a pancake batter.
3. Heat the Oil: In a large skillet (I use a 10-inch cast iron) over medium high heat, add the oil. When the oil starts to shimmer drop a little batter into the oil to see if it sizzles. If it does, you are good to go.
4. Fry the Blossoms: Hold each squash blossom by the stem and gently dip into the batter. Twirl to coat and then gently shake off any excess batter. Place the coated blossom in the hot oil and continue with more of them…enough to fill but not overcrowd the pan (this will take two rounds). Fry the blossoms until they are a golden brown on the bottom (about 2 minutes), then turn over and cook until golden brown on the other side (about 2 more minutes). Using a slotted spoon, remove to the prepared baking sheet and repeat with the remaining blossoms.

 

Squash Blossom Salad

By Libbie Summers
Photo by Cedric Smith

Tender greens, raw sweet corn, the sour of a few tomatoes and the woodsy squash blossom flavor make this salad deliciously beautiful. And, because the flavors are so big it only needs salt, pepper and a squeeze of lemon to dress it. Anything else would be a big mistake.
Beautiful Summer Salad Recipe from Libbie Summers
Squash Blossom Salad
(tender greens, tomatoes, corn, squash blossoms, lemon zing)
Serves 4-6

Ingredients:
4 squash blossoms, roughly chopped or not
3 cups loosely packed mixed baby greens
1/2 cup raw sweet corn kernels
1 cup halved heirloom cherry tomatoes
Flake sea salt
Coarsely ground black pepper
1 lemon, halved

Directions:
Add all ingredients to a salad bowl and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss to coat. Squeeze lemon juice over and serve immediately.

Skinnier Southern Summer Recipes

By Libbie Summers
Photography by Chia Chong

Yogurt could be our summer salvation for keeping my thighs and my grandmother’s thighs differentiable. I’ve taken a few classic Southern summer picnic dishes and exchanged yogurt for the likes of sour cream and mayonnaise and all kinds of things that make me feel like I need an alter call during Sunday invitational. Cream Cheese used to be the duct tape of food. After today…I’m pretty sure Jesus would agree it’s yogurt.

Libbie Subbed yogurt for cream cheese in this DELicious mac and cheese!
Hot Bacon Mac and Cheese
(Greek yogurt takes the place of cream cheese in the bacon filled cheesy mac)
serves 6

Ingredients:
7 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1⁄3 cup all-purpose flour
2  cups milk
1 1/2 cups shredded extra-sharp cheddar cheese
6 cups cooked elbow macaroni (about 3 cups uncooked)
1 cup plain Greek yogurt
1⁄4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon hot sauce
4 ounces bacon, cooked crisp and chopped
1⁄2 cup crushed butter crackers

Directions:
1. Preheat the oven to 375 ̊F. Grease a 3-quart casserole dish and set aside.

2. In a large saucepan over medium heat, melt 5 tablespoons of the butter. Whisk in the flour and cook, stirring, for 3 minutes, until the mixture is blended and the flour gives off a nutty scent. Gradually whisk in the milk and cook, whisking constantly, until the mixture thickens. Stir in the cheese and continue stirring until all the cheese has melted. Remove from the heat and stir in the macaroni, yogurt, salt, hot sauce and bacon. Spoon the mixture into the prepared casserole dish.

In a small bowl, stir together the crackers and the remaining 2 tablespoons butter. Sprinkle over the macaroni mixture and bake for 30 minutes, or until golden and bubbly. Remove from the oven and let cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Beets and Yogurt make these deviled eggs skinnier and prettier!

Pretty in Pink Deviled Eggs
(a riff on a recipe I did for Better Homes and Gardens…still shockingly pretty and delicious, yet a dress size smaller)
makes 24/Serves 8-12

Ingredients:
1 dozen large eggs
4 jarred whole pickled beets (about 3 ounces)
1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
Kosher or flake sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Celery leaves for garnish (optional)

Directions:
1. Cook Eggs: Place eggs in a single layer in a large saucepan. Add enough cold water to cover eggs by 1 inch. Bring to a rapid boil over high heat. Remove from heat; cover and let stand for 15 minutes. Drain. Run cold water over eggs or place them in ice water until cool enough to handle; drain.
2. Make Filling: Tap eggs on a flat surface to crack shell all over. Peel eggs and cut in half lengthwise. Place yolks in a food processor; set whites aside. Add beets, yogurt, and mustard to yolks. Cover and process with several on/off turns just until smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
3. Fill Eggs: Using a small spoon or piping bag, fill each egg white with beet mixture. Garnish with celery leaves (optional).

Lemon Yogurt Crispy Baked Chicken
(lemon yogurt gives the zing, panko adds the crunch, no oil makes it less sinful)
Serves 4

Ingredients:
12 chicken tenders
1 cup lemon flavored yogurt
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
2 cups Panko
1/2 cup shredded parmesan
Kosher or flake sea salt
Coarsley ground black pepper

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 375ºF. Line a baking sheet with foil and spray with a non-stick baking spray.
2. Make Yogurt Mixture: In a medium bowl, stir together the yogurt, thyme, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.
3. Make Panko Mixture: In a medium bowl, stir together the panko and parmesan.
4. Coat Chicken: Season chicken with salt and pepper. Working one piece at a time, coat chicken in yogurt mixture (wiping away any excess) then coat in panko mixture. Place on prepared baking sheet.
5. Bake Chicken: Bake chicken until golden brown and cooked through (about 12-15 minutes). Serve with a fresh green salad.

These are just a few ideas for down-sizing your summer picnic menu. The possibilities for substituting a twangy yogurt for any of its more fattening cousins is endless.

Toasted and a GIVEAWAY

By Libbie Summers
Photography by Cedric Smith and Libbie Summers

I swear I invented chocolate covered bacon. The story involves my pre prepubescent self, a strip of crisp greasy bacon and half a bar of the cheapest chocolate. It also involves the pocket of my favorite polka dot shorts and a very hot Missouri summer.

The revelation at 10 years old when I reached in that polka pocket and pulled out the best afternoon snack ever…bacon goes with everything.

Likewise, the revelation from reading Kristan Raines new book, On Toast…everything goes on toast.

Kristan threw out a challenge to me, “make a toast recipe that involves one of your favorite things”. I was thinking of spreading a rich ganache over the perfectly toasted bread, topping it with the crispiest bacon and calling checkmate but I was in a full savory post pubescent mood. So Kristan, this one’s for you and for everyone who loves toast. Congratulations on your new book and thanks for inspiring me to get toasted more often.

My Savannah Toast from Libbie Summers (photo by Cedric Smith)

My Savannah Toast
(toasted whole grain bread, garlic pimento cheese, crispy prosciutto, Savannah Bee honey)
Serves 8

Ingredients:
14 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, grated using the large grate side of a box grater
4 garlic cloves, minced
Dash of Worcestershire sauce
Dash of hot sauce
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 (4 ounce) jar of pimentos, drained (juice reserved) and chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
9 ounces sliced prosciutto
16 (1/2-inch) slices whole grain bread, toasted
3 tablespoons Savannah Bee Honey, or any local honey

Directions:
Bake Prosciutto: Preheat oven to 375º F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Divide prosciutto between baking sheets, laying them flat. Bake until fat turns golden and meat is darker (about 15 minutes, rotating sheets from top to bottom of oven halfway through). Transfer prosciutto to paper towels to drain and set aside.

Make Garlic Pimento Cheese: In the bowl of a food processor, add the cheese, garlic, Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, and mayo. Pulse until just combined (mixture will still be a bit dry and crumbly) Transfer to a bowl and stir in the drained pimentos. If the mixture is still too stiff, add a little pimento juice to make it creamy. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

To Serve: Spread Garlic Pimento Cheese on warm toast. Top with a piece of crispy prosciutto and drizzle with honey.
Sweet and Vicious and On Toast, book giveaway

Thanksgiving Leftover Recipe Remix: Turkey and Cranberry Hand Pies

By Libbie Summers
Assisted by Candace Brower

You know when your making a pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving and you ALWAYS make dough for a double crust pie…then you have that extra disc of dough perfection left over. THIS is what you do with it! Turkey, cranberry sauce and a little cheese makes the perfect afternoon or game day snack!

Turkey and Cranberry Hand Pies
makes 6

Ingredients:
1 prepared pie dough for a single crust pie
All-purpose flour for surface
1 cup leftover turkey pieces, divided
6 heaping teaspoons cranberry sauce, divided
6 teaspoons shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water for an egg wash.

Directions:
•Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
•On a lightly floured surface, roll dough out to a thin round (1/8-inch thickness). Use a large round cutter (6-inch) to cut out 6 rounds (I used a plastic to go container). You’ll need to re-roll the dough as needed until all the rounds are cut out.
•Working with one round at a time, place one piece of turkey in the middle of the dough but a little more to one side of center. Top with 1 teaspoon of cranberry sauce and 1 teaspoon of cheese.
•Use your finger to wet the outside edge of the dough with some of the egg wash or water.
•Fold the dough over and press the sides together. At this point, I like to do a decorative crimp, but you can also use the tines of a fork to seal the dough. Set on the prepared baking sheet and brush the top with egg wash. Continue with the remaining rounds of dough.
•Bake until golden brown. About 12-15 minutes.
Great served hot or room temperature!
Thanksgiving Leftover Remix_Turkey Hand Pies from Libbie Summers

MORE FUN THANKSGIVING LEFTOVER RECIPE REMIX VIDEOS!
Green Bean Soup:

Sweet Potato Brulee:

Stuffing Nest Baked Eggs and Gravy