Perfect Weather To Enjoy Morning And Evening Meals Al Fresco

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The days are absolutely beautiful. Mornings are perfect for breakfast outside with serenades by the birds and a quiet time to be grateful for God's green earth.

At night, a meal al fresco (outdoors) sets the mood for a peaceful evening and conversation and a healthy mind.

For a healthy body, once in awhile try a meatless dinner. A few suggestions: Cheese and Rice Casserole, Spinach-Cheese Pie, Avocado and Pineapple Salad, Tomato and Avocado Salad.

Avocado and Pineapple Salad

Sweet and Sour Onion Dressing (recipe below)

3 avocados

1 pineapple, cut into wedge-shaped pieces, about 2-1/2-by-1-inches in size

Sweet and Sour Onion Dressing

1/4 cup vegetable oil

2 tablespoons lime juice

2 tablespoons white wine vinegar

1 tablespoon water

2 teaspoons sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup finely chopped onion

Shake all dressing ingredients in tightly covered container. Refrigerate at least one hour, but no longer than 48 hours.

After preparing dressing, cut avocados into 1/4-inch slices ( to prevent discoloration, sprinkle with lemon juice or fruit protector). Arrange avocado and pineapple on lettuce leaves if desired and drizzle with dressing.

Makes 12 servings.

Tomato and Avocado Salad

6 slices bacon

3 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 tablespoon vinegar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon pepper

3 drops red pepper sauce

2 medium avocados, cubed

2 medium tomatoes, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

1 small onion, chopped

salad greens

Fry bacon until crisp, drain and crumble, set aside. Mix oil, vinegar, salt, pepper and pepper sauce, then pour over avocados and toss. Stir in bacon, tomatoes and onion. Cover and refrigerate about two hours. Using a slotted spoon, place avocado-tomato mixture on salad greens and serve.

Makes four to six servings.

Cheese and Rice Casserole

2 cups water

1 cup uncooked regular rice

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon dry mustard

1/2 teaspoon red pepper sauce

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1 medium onion, chopped

1 medium green pepper, chopped

2 cups shredded mozzarella or cheddar cheese (8 ounces)

4 eggs, slightly beaten

2-1/2 cups milk

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Heat water, rice, salt, mustard, pepper sauce and pepper to boiling, stirring once or twice. Reduce heat, cover and simmer 14 minutes (do not lift cover or stir).

Remove from heat, fluff rice with fork; cover and let steam (off heat) for five to 10 minutes.

Layer half the rice, onion, green pepper and shredded cheese in greased 11-by-7-by-1-1/2-inch baking dish, repeating with second half in same order.

Combine eggs and milk and pour over rice and vegetables, sprinkle with Parmesan and bake uncovered at 325 degrees for 45 to 50 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Makes eight servings.

Casserole can be prepared for baking up to 24 hours in advance if covered and refrigerated.

Spinach and Cheese Pie

10 ounces spinach (about 6 cups)

6 ounces feta cheese, crumbled (about 1 cup)

1 cup small curd, creamed cottage cheese

1 small onion, chopped

2 tablespoons snipped parsley

2 teaspoons dried dill weed

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 eggs, beaten

1 tablespoon margarine or butter, softened

1/2 cup margarine or butter, melted

1/2, 16-ounce package frozen phyllo leaves, thawed

Wash spinach, drain and chop. Cover and cook with just the water that clings to the leaves until tender, about three minutes. Drain. Mix spinach, feta cheese, cottage cheese, onion, parsley, dill weed and salt. Stir into beaten eggs.

Using softened margarine brush bottom and sides of a 12-by-7-1/2-by-2-inch baking dish.

Unfold phyllo leaves, remove 10 and cut crosswise in half.

Cover completely with damp towel to prevent drying. Wrap and refreeze remaining phyllo.

Gently separate one leaf; place in baking dish, folding edges as needed to fit; brush with melted margarine; repeat nine times.

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Spread spinach and egg mix over phyllo leaves. On top of mixture, layer remaining phyllo as before: leaf by leaf, with melted margarine spread between.

Using a sharp knife, cut pastry into six squares. Bake uncovered about 35 minutes or until golden.

Let stand 10 minutes then recut to serve.

Makes six

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