Green Grape & Blueberry Party Hors d’oeuvres

Filed under: Maine Warmers Recipes — Tags: , , — mainewarmers @ 4:48 pm


Green grapes and blueberries on toothpicks arranged  around a plate with yogurt dip in the center

Grape & blueberries with vanilla Greek yogurt

These colorful fruits on toothpicks make a lovely addition to a party. Because they are attractive and easy to eat they disappear like hot cakes. Adults love them as well as kids. It can be fun to have an extra plate of them prepared and stashed away for when they have disappeared.

Kids also love to make these, and I find putting the grapes and blueberries onto the toothpicks can become an event where I spend quality time with my grandchildren. Telling stories or having time to sit a talk with children is a wonderful thing for all.


Put green seedless grapes (although red ones would be fine as well) and fresh blueberries alternately on toothpicks. If the grapes or blueberries are small you may have to double up on some. Otherwise, start with a blueberry, then a grape, and then another blueberry. Arrange around a plate, leaving room for a small dish of yogurt or sour cream dip.


Use vanilla Greek yogurt


Mix 2 tablespoons of light brown sugar with ¾ cup sour cream.

Place the grapes and blueberries around a plate and a small container of dip in the middle.



Harvest Stir-fry with Chicken (Gluten-free)

Filed under: Maine Warmers Recipes — Tags: , — mainewarmers @ 9:04 am

I think of this recipe in the spring and fall – the transition months. In the spring I have been souped and stewed out; by September I have had it with summer salads but still want to enjoy the beautiful array of veggies found among the weeds in my garden or more often at the local Farmers’ Market. This recipe offers both fresh colorful veggies with limited cooking time. Most of the prep includes chopping. All of the ingredients can be chopped ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator until cooking time. Or just cook the chicken and use one of those frozen bags of pre-chopped, stir-fry veggies found in the grocery store. If anybody asks, don’t tell.

2 – 3 tablespoons olive oil

veggie and chicken stirfry

3 – 4 pieces of skinless, boneless chicken breasts (1 ½ – 2 full chicken breasts), cut into bite sized pieces

1 cup hearty chicken broth (low salt) – more or less according to how thick you want the liquid (A bouillon cube in some boiling water will do, although it may be very high in sodium, and you should check to make sure it does not contain gluten).

2 tablespoons cornstarch

Pinch of salt

Pepper to taste

1 -2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 small tender summer squash, sliced thin

1 small tender zucchini, sliced thin

1 sweet red pepper, chopped

Sauté the summer squash, zucchini, and red pepper. Continue sautéing for 1 – 2 minutes so the veggies are still a bit crisp. Pour into heat resistant bowl, cover with foil, and set aside.

Wipe out the fry pan. Add 2 – 3 tablespoons of olive oil and heat on high until hot, then add the chicken and cook stirring until browned. You may have to sauté the chicken in a couple of batches. Sometimes I don’t have the patience or time to do this so the chicken does not brown, but it cooks and still tastes fine. Cook, stirring for about 3 – 4 minutes until the chicken is no longer pink on the outside. Add the scallions, celery, mushrooms and carrots, stirring and cooking a few more minutes until scallions are limp.

Add the broth, cornstarch, salt, and pepper. Lower the heat to medium low and stir constantly until the liquid has thickened to the consistency of thick soup. Add more broth if necessary to achieve the desired thickness.

Simmer on low heat for about 10 minutes or just until the chicken has cooked thoroughly, then add the veggies, stir, and heat just until hot. Serve hot in bowls or over rice.


Fresh & Colorful Green Bean Salad

Filed under: Maine Warmers Recipes — mainewarmers @ 7:27 am

Green beans are sweet and crisp, fresh from the garden this time of year. Steamed, raw, or partially cooked and added to a salad, as in this recipe, they are delightful and abundant at farmers’ markets as well. Purple cabbage, feta cheese, and walnuts add color, texture, and contrast, making the taste and presentation of this dish interesting and unique.

My mother told me that if you massage cabbage with your hands just until it begins to wilt it will taste much better. I am often tempted to skip that step of preparing fresh cabbage because it’s a bit messy and takes extra time. But I am more satisfied with the taste when I do.  Kale is a member of the cabbage family and tastes much better as well when massaged.

This is one of my favorite recipes – even in winter when fresh green beans are available. It was inspired by one I found in the book in RAISING THE SALAD BAR, by Catherine Walthers (Lake Isle Press, NY, 2007).


1 lb fresh green beans

Green Bean Salad with purple cabbage, feta cheese, and walnuts

Fresh & Colorful Green Bean Salad

1 cup shredded or chopped purple cabbage

½ cup toasted walnuts

1/3 cup of crumbled Feta cheese (Blue cheese works well with this recipe too)


Steam the green beans about 5 minutes until tender but still crisp. Drain and run under cold water. Pat them dry – I pour them onto a clean terry dish towel to dry, thus saving half a roll of paper towels – and put them in a medium sized mixing bowl.

Slice and shred or chop enough red cabbage to make about a cup. Place in a bowl and massage with your hands for a about a minute until the cabbage just begins to look a bit wilted as this helps to take away any bitterness and improves the taste. Add to the green beans and mix.

Roast walnuts (whole or chopped) in the oven at 300° F for about 10 minutes or until slightly   browned or stir constantly for a few minutes in a dry fry pan over medium high heat.


1 tablespoon of lemon juice

1/8 cup of olive oil

Garlic powder to taste

Salt & pepper


Mix the lemon juice, olive oil, and garlic powder, add to the green bean mixture, and stir. Chill for an hour or until ready to serve. It can be refrigerated overnight. Add Walnuts and cheese and transfer into a serving bowl.


Sweet Lavender Iced-tea with Lemon

Filed under: Maine Warmers Recipes — Tags: — mainewarmers @ 8:27 am

Photo of a glass of iced tea next to a planter with floweres and Lavender and mint in a small vase

On a garden tour last month, I enjoyed the unique and mild flavor of Lavender in a glass of sweet iced-tea with lemon. It tasted so good that the next day I bought a Lavender plant and experimented with making my own.

Lavender is an herb used as flavoring and as a medicine for anxiety and for a variety of ills. It is used in aroma therapy as well. According to the National Institutes of Health there is “insufficient evidence to rate its effectiveness” for a variety of conditions, but there is some concern about using it while pregnant, nursing, or taking sedatives.  In small quantities, as in this iced-tea, it should be harmless, but if you are on medications, pregnant, or nursing it is wise to check with your physician before drinking tea with Lavender.

3 Lavender flowers, washed  or 1 – 2 Tablespoons of Lavender flower buds, dried or fresh

IMPORTANT use a Lavender plant not treated with any pesticides

Pull the flowers from the woody stalk and place them in a tea ball and then put the ball in a tea pot or heat resistant tea pitcher.

Pour eight cups of boiling water over 6-8 decaf tea bags (or any tea you like) in the same pot, and let steep for ten minutes.  I chose plain decaf because I thought that caffeine might counteract the calming effect of the Lavender. Remove the tea bags and tea ball.

Add 4 tablespoons of Agave syrup (more or less to your taste). Agave syrup is a natural sweetener that dissolves much better in iced tea than sugar.

Let cool and pour over ice. Add Lemon slices. Enjoy!

This recipe is gluten-free.


Lobster Rolls (Gluten-Free)

If you want a special treat with little prep time try serving lobster rolls. You can substitute crabmeat, shrimp, tuna fish or cooked chicken for those lobster roll platewho don’t like lobster. In most recipes substitution is the name of the game for me, and if I don’t say anything then nobody knows, although I would not substitute chicken for lobster and try to call it a lobster roll.

If you don’t have fresh lobster in your area I suggest ordering fresh lobster meat and have it delivered to your door. If you order live lobsters to cook, they could end up at your doorstep about midnight and then you might feel obligated to cook them right away taking the easiness out of this recipe. Also, a pound or two of fresh lobster meat is less expensive to ship.


1 pound fresh lobster meat into small bite sized pieces (or frozen if fresh is not an option)

1 stalk celery, chopped very fine – optional

If you chop the celery very fine the result is extra flavor and a delicate texture. A sharp knife is critical to cutting celery that fine.

 2 tablespoons mayonnaise (Hellman’s Real mayo is gluten-free) adjust amount to your liking

or melt ¼ cup butter in a saucepan, add the lobster and heat but be careful not to cook the lobster.

 The delicate flavor of the lobster can easily be hidden by the addition of strong spices or fresh herbs, so if you decide to add some other        ingredients try a minimal amount.

6 – 8 Gluten-free hot dog rolls, spread with a little butter on each side and brown in a fry pan or in the broiler.

Fill the rolls with the lobster mixture and serve with an easy side salad of mixed greens and fresh blueberries, raspberries, or strawberries, with a simple olive oil and white balsamic vinegar dressing. Add a few sticks of fresh carrots, a few chips, and iced-tea with lemon. It’s pretty and festive.

Tip:  Have a few hot dogs handy in case someone doesn’t like lobster and enjoy the extra lobster yourself.


This recipe was published in the Maine Warmers’ e-Newsletter, June 2013, which may be viewed on our Web site. To take advantage of the sale items and to be included in the monthly drawings for a free Comforting Creature, you must subscribe to our e-Newsletter. We do not share your information and you may unsubscribe at any time.  You may read more information about what is included in the e-Newsletters also on the Maine Warmers’ Web site.


Mango Salsa Salad Dressing

Filed under: Maine Warmers Recipes — mainewarmers @ 8:45 pm
This recipe comes from Jennifer and is wonderful for dressing up a simple salad of a few ingredients. She used spinach, avocado, and cantaloupe for this salad, and the tangy flavors of the dressing give it a unique and interesting flavor. Plus the colors jazz it up and give it visual appeal — an important aspect of any salsa salad dressing
1 mango, peeled and chopped
1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and chopped finely
3 plum tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1/2 sweet orange pepper, seeded and chopped
4 tbsp Chives, chopped finely
Juice and zest of one lime
2 tbsp. grape seed oil
1/2 tsp kosher salt
Mix above ingredients in a bowl. Leave for 30 minutes at room temperature to allow flavors to blend. Serve with tortilla chips or spoon over a bed of spinach and add sliced avocado.


Apple & Pumpkin Vinaigrette

It’s a good time of year to focus on things that are green – like salads. I read recently that most prepared salad dressings that we buy in the store have Pumpkinseed Vinegarretteingredients that are not good for us. What next?!!

Pumpkin and apples seem to complement each other, so when I found Pumpkin Seed Oil (from the Styrian area of Austria) in my search for alternatives to prepared, bottled salad dressings, I thought this might make a nice combo. I was so pleasantly surprised with the taste that I was able to overlook the cost of the oil, $14.99 for 8.5 oz. The ease of preparation also added great value.

I combined the ingredients in a small cream pitcher. Though cruets look lovely they are so hard to clean — even in the dishwasher. This vinaigrette can easily be stirred, not shaken, and spooned over the salad to one’s liking. Bottled salad dressings seem to flow out so fast.

Spicy salad dressings mask the delicate flavors of veggies, where this one enhances them.


Pour 3 Tablespoons of apple cider vinegar into a small pitcher or cruet and add ½ Cup Pumpkin Seed Oil. Spoon lightly over a mixed green salad. Enjoy!


Avocado Salad

Filed under: Maine Warmers Recipes — mainewarmers @ 5:26 pm

This is a great salad to take on a kayak trip. You’ll want to rinse off your hands when you are finished enjoying this wonderful lunch.

Avocado Salad

Avocado Salad

On our way to the Everglades National Park, we stopped at Robert’s Fruit Stand near Homestead, FL, and picked up this avocado salad and fresh mango to make a nutritious meal. With a little trail mix we had plenty to sustain us through an active day.

Avocado Salad

Halve and pit an avocado. Then without breaking through the tough outer skin, cut through the soft green meat of the avocado in about ½” to ¾” parallel lines. Then cut lines in the other direction, 90 degrees to the first ones. This will allow you to easily scoop out the avocado when it comes time to eat it.

Sprinkle with lime juice (Key Lime juice is great if you have it).

Chop a ripe tomato into bite sized pieces and place in the center of the avocado where the pit had been.

Optional:  Top with a little chopped Cilantro and green onion.

Drizzle with a bit of your favorite salad dressing. We used Caesar salad dressing.

Pack in a liquid tight container with a spoon if you are traveling and keep cool. Enjoy!


Avocados are high in fiber, Vitamin B, and fat (unsaturated).

Nutritional Information about avocados from the Tropical Fruit Growers of Southern Florida




Hearty Sausage Soup

sausage soup

A good soup stock makes this comforting dish with few ingredients taste great. It’s made with mashed potatoes, kale, sausage and stock. If you like thick soups then cut back on the broth. It’s healthy and hearty, and hits the spot on a cold winter night.

To make this gluten-free, check the label on the package of sausage and broth.

8 oz. to 1 lb. sweet Italian Turkey Sausage removed from casings and browned in a few tablespoons of olive oil. You may choose to use another type of sausage other than turkey.

4 – 6 medium red skin potatoes, peeled, cut, boiled, drained, and mashed (I add the water that I cook the potatoes in to the broth, making more liquid and not as thick).

1 to 2 cups of kale, washed and finely chopped in a food processor (substitute spinach or other favorite greens)

4 – 6 cups of soup stock or broth depending upon how thick or thin you like your soup (Turkey broth is great and blends well with the turkey sausage).

Salt & pepper to taste (Some sausage and soup stock can be loaded with salt negating the need to add it).

Combine all ingredients in a medium sized pot and bring to a boil. Add a few mushrooms, thinly sliced carrots, or some leftover veggies to your liking. Simmer for ten minutes until kale and other vegetables have cooked and serve.


Orange and Date Dessert (Gluten-free)

This combination makes a sweet and light dessert, perfect for a winter dinner or as a side dish. Serve it as a salad with lunch or brunch. If you don’torange and date salad have dates you may substitute with other dried fruit.

 Serves 8

6 large navel oranges, skinned and cut into bite sized pieces

8 large dried dates – pitted and sliced

½ cup almonds (substitute walnuts, pecans, Macadamia nuts, or hazelnuts)

6 fresh mint leaves cut into slivers

½ cup dried cranberries

Layer and arrange cut oranges, dates, almonds, cranberries, and mint onto a platter or shallow bowl.


The original recipe came from THE ESSENTIAL MEDITERRANEAN COOKBOOK (Murdoch Books, Sydney, Australia) 2001

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