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Dining In: Cool ideas for hot nights

recipes Here are some cool ideas for hot nights in the kitchen. Don't forget the frozen yogurt pie for a refreshing dessert.

Strawberry Soup in Melon Bowls
(from the American Institute for Cancer Research)
   2 pts. fresh strawberries, washed and hulled
   1 c. orange juice
   1/4 tsp. cinnamon
   2 Tbsp. + 2 tsp. sugar
   1 Tbsp. lemon juice
   2 cantaloupe melons
   1/2 tsp. cornstarch
   Dash of ground cloves
   1 c. skim milk
   Puree the strawberries with the orange juice in a blender or food processor and pour into a 4-quart saucepan. Remove a few spoonfuls of the puree to a small cup and stir in the cornstarch until well-blended. Return the mixture to the saucepan, and add the cinnamon and cloves.
   Stirring frequently, heat the puree over a medium heat until the mixture comes to a boil. Cook for one minute and remove from the heat, stirring in the lemon juice and sugar. When the mixture has cooled, pour the milk into a large bowl and gradually add the strawberry mixture to it, stirring constantly. The soup should be covered and chilled for 3 hours.
   Cut the cantaloupes into halves, scoop out the seeds and turn the halves upside down to drain. To serve, fill each melon half with chilled soup.

Ham Salad Pitas
   1 can (8-oz.) crushed pineapple, well drained
   1 can (4 1/2-oz.) deviled ham
   1/4 c. pecan pieces
   3 Tbsp. mayonnaise
   2 Tbsp. sliced green onions
   3 whole wheat pita bread pockets, cut in half
   Shredded lettuce
   In a small bowl, combine all ingredients except pita bread and lettuce. Refrigerate to chill. Fill pita pockets with ham salad and shredded lettuce. Makes 2 cups.

Spinach Salad
   3 c. fresh spinach
   1 large banana, peeled, sliced
   1/2 c. raspberries
   1/2 c. sliced radishes
   12 c. slivered carrots
   4 oz. barbecued or smoked deli chicken, sliced
   1 Tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese, optional
   Arrange spinach on two salad plates. Arrange bananas, raspberries, radishes, carrots, and chicken over spinach. Serve with sweet onion dressing (below). Sprinkle Parmesan cheese over each serving.

Sweet Onion Dressing
   1 clove garlic, pressed
   1/2 c. chopped sweet onion
   1/3 c. pine-orange-banana juice
   2 Tbsp. water
   1 Tbsp. rice vinegar
   2 tsp. Dijon mustard
   2 tsp. fresh (or 1 tsp. dried) tarragon
   Combine dressing ingredients in small microwave bowl. Microwave on high about 3 minutes or until onions are translucent. Cool. Will keep in refrigerator for two weeks.

Shrimp Rolls
   1 c. mayonnaise
   1/2 c. minced scallions
   2 Tbsp. lime juice
   2 bunches watercress
   8 sourdough rolls
   1 1/2 lb. cooked shrimp, shelled and deveined
   8 slices Cheddar cheese
   Tomato slices
   In a mixing bowl, combine the mayonnaise, scallions, and lime juice. Mix well and set aside. Wash the watercress and drain well.
   Slice the sourdough rolls. Spread 2 tablespoons mayonnaise mixture on each roll.
   Arrange the shrimp on each roll. Top with cheese slice. Place the roll under the broiler until cheese melts. Arrange tomato slices and watercress on each roll and serve.

Pineapple and Ham Salad
   1 can (20-oz.) pineapple chunks in juice
   1 can (11-oz.) mandarin orange segments, drained
   1 can (4-oz.) water chestnuts, drained, sliced
   2 c. ham strips
   1 large avocado, peeled, seeded, sliced
   1/2 large cucumber, peeled, thinly sliced
   Crisp salad greens
   1/2 c. sliced green onions
   1/3 c. mayonnaise (regular or reduced calorie)
   1 Tbsp. lemon juice
   1/2 tsp. marjoram, crumbled
   Drain pineapple well. Reserve 2 tablespoons juice. Arrange pineapple, oranges, water chestnuts, ham, avocado, and cucumber on six salad plates lined with salad greens. Sprinkle with green onion. Blend remaining ingredients with reserved pineapple juice. Serve as dressing with salad. Serves six.

Shrimp and Caesar Salad
   2 heads romaine, rinsed and dried thoroughly
   2 whole eggs or whites only, beaten
   1 c. extra virgin olive oil
   1 Tbsp. fresh minced garlic
   2 tsp. kosher salt
   1 tsp. coarse grind black pepper
   1 tsp. Dijon mustard
   1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
   Juice from 1/2 a lemon
   3/4 c. grated Parmesan cheese
   1/4 c. freshly shaved Parmesan cheese
   12 4-inch x 1-inch cuts of French or Italian bread, brushed with olive oil
   2 lbs. shrimp, cooked, shelled, and deveined
   Remove base of the romaine heads and discard. Separate leaves, rinse well, and pat dry. Discard larger leaves. Separate leaves into six portions and set aside.
   Prepare the dressing as you would any traditional Caesar dressing by beating the oil into the eggs with the other ingredients to form an emulsion. Blend in the grated Parmesan cheese and set aside.
   In a large bowl, toss a portion of the romaine leaves with about 1/4 cup dressing and artfully arrange on a serving platter, with leaves all going the same way. Place two pieces of French bread on grill for a minute to crisp and set alongside the salad leaves.
   Pile the cooked shrimp on top of the cut ends of the leaves or scatter across the top like breaded croutons in typical Caesar fashion. Serves 6-8.

Frozen Yogurt Pie
   1-1/2 c. finely crushed chocolate wafer cookies
   6 Tbsp. melted butter
   1/3 c. toasted shredded coconut
   2 pints raspberry frozen yogurt
   3 kiwifruit, peeled and sliced
   1/2 c. fresh raspberries
   Chocolate syrup, as desired
   Toasted coconut to garnish, as desired
   Mix together cookie crumbs, butter, and coconut until well-blended. Press evenly into bottom and sides of a 9-inch pie plate; freeze until firm. Use an ice cream scoop to fill pie shell with frozen yogurt, piling the scoops into a mound. Freeze until firm.
   Ten minutes before serving, remove pie from freezer. Garnish with kiwifruit and raspberries and drizzle with chocolate syrup. Sprinkle with toasted coconut, if desired. Makes 6-8 servings.