Here are a few of my special summer recipes that I enjoy making for guests or a special family meal.

Here are a few of my special summer recipes that I enjoy making for guests or a special family meal.



Lemon Pancakes with Ricotta and Blueberries

Should there be any pancakes leftover, just freeze and pop in the toaster when ready to eat them.

2/3 cup Bisquick

¼ cup milk, more if needed

5 eggs, separated

1 tablespoon lemon zest

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, divided

3 cups ricotta cheese

½ cup granulated sugar, divided

4 tablespoons butter

1 ½ cups fresh blueberries, reserve half cup for garnish

In a bowl macerate ½ cup berries with 1-tablespoon lemon juice and 2- tablespoons sugar, stir and set aside.

In a large bowl stir together egg yolks, milk, Bisquick, lemon zest, lemon juice, 2-cups ricotta cheese, and 3 tablespoons sugar.

In another bowl beat egg whites until stiff; fold this mixture into batter mixture. Gently fold in 1-cup dry fresh blueberries.

On a griddle cook pancakes in butter over medium heat until golden brown, about 3 minutes per side.

In a bowl whisk together remaining 1-cup ricotta cheese and 2-tablespoons sugar. Top pancakes with ricotta mixture then top with macerated blueberries.


Summer Rolls with Shrimp

Makes 12 rolls.

1 pound medium shrimp, shelled and flash cooked

1 cup English cucumber, diced, about half a cucumber

2 carrots, shredded

2 tablespoons lime juice

1 teaspoon fresh ginger, minced (Optional)

1 cup finely shredded green cabbage

4 scallions, finely chopped, light green parts only

2 teaspoons sesame seed oil (Optional)

¼ cup fresh flat parsley, chopped

12 large rice paper wrappers

In a large bowl toss together shrimp, cucumber, carrots, lime juice, ginger, cabbage, scallions, parsley, and sesame seed oil.

Soften one wrapper with some water; arrange filling in center. Fold in one long side. Fold in short sides; roll up. Repeat.


Cucumber-Watermelon Salad

Serves 6

I like to chill the watermelon and cucumber before making the salad. This may be served in an emptied half shell of watermelon.

6 cups seedless watermelon, cubed

1 English cucumber halved lengthwise and sliced

½ small red onion, chopped

¼ cup balsamic vinegar

¼ cup EVOO, olive oil

Salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste

Fresh cilantro, chopped (Optional)

Feta cheese, crumbled (Optional)

In a large bowl, toss together cucumbers, watermelon, and red onion.

In a small bowl whisk together vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper. Use enough dressing to coat salad lightly, toss gently. Refrigerate any leftover dressing. Sprinkle with fresh chopped cilantro, if desired (Optional). Sprinkle with crumbled feta cheese just before serving, if desired. Serve immediately or refrigerate, covered, up to 2-3 hours.


Crustless Onion and Mushroom Quiche

I use 4-ounces Pepper Jack cheese in this recipe also for a little more zip, along with 4-ounces of another cheese.

4 tablespoons butter, divided

2 large sweet onions

8 ounces sliced white button mushrooms

Salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste

4 large eggs, room temperature

4 ounces feta cheese

1 cup heavy cream

½ cup milk

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

8 ounces mozzarella, white cheddar, or Swiss cheese, shredded

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a skillet melt butter over medium heat. Stir in onions and cook until tender but not soft, about 4-5 minutes Spread on a baking sheet and refrigerate.

Sauté mushrooms in 2-tablespoons butter, until golden brown. Set aside to cool.

In a bowl whisk together eggs. Crumble in feta cheese and whisk until mixture looks fairly smooth, season with salt and pepper, to taste. Whisk in cream, milk and 1-teaspoon Worcestershire sauce, more to taste, if desired. Fold in cheese to mix evenly.

Butter an 8-inch square baking dish. Fill it evenly with chilled, onion, then sautéed mushrooms, top with egg mixture. Place baking dish on a baking sheet. Bake in 400 degree oven for 40-50 minutes until slightly brown and set in the center. Let it sit for about 15 minutes. Slice into 8 even squares.


Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms

Serves 6.

6 large Portobello mushrooms

¾ cup ricotta cheese

1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

½ cup shredded mozzarella cheese, shredded

1 large egg, room temperature, beaten

2 tablespoons fresh parsley, minced

½ teaspoon garlic powder

6 ½-inch slices, about 2-large firm red tomatoes

Pesto sauce (see recipe below)

6 hamburger buns

In a bowl stir together ricotta cheese, ¼ cup Parmesan cheese, egg, mozzarella cheese, garlic powder, and parsley.

Remove and discard stems from mushrooms; with a spoon scrape and remove gills. Brush portobello mushrooms with a drop or two of olive oil, place on a broiler pan, and broil in the oven for about 3 minutes, turn and broil other side for 2 minutes; remove from oven.

Spoon ricotta mixture into mushroom cups, cover with foil and bake in a 400 oven for 6-10 minutes or until mushrooms are tender. Remove from oven, top with tomato slice and some pesto sauce. Serve as is or place on a bun.

Pesto Sauce, or use a prepared pesto sauce:

¾ cup fresh basil or parsley leaves

3 tablespoons slivered almonds or pine nuts, toasted

½ cup Parmesan cheese, grated

1 small garlic clove

2 tablespoons olive oil

2-3 teaspoons water

Toast nuts in a baking pan in a single layer. Bake at 350 degrees for 5-8 minutes or until lightly browned, stirring occasionally.

In a blender add basil, toasted nuts, and garlic, pulse until chopped. Add Parmesan cheese and pulse until blended. While blending gradually add olive oil and enough water to reach a desired consistency. Spoon over stuffed mushrooms, before serving.


Lemon-Lime Bars

This recipe may be made the day before and refrigerated.


1 1/3 cups graham cracker crumbs, divided, reserve 1-tablespoon

¼ cup butter, melted


¾ cup boiling water

1 3-ounce package lime flavor gelatin

1 cup ice cubes

3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened

1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk

1/4 cup lime juice

2 cups whipped topping, thawed, divided

In a bowl mix together graham cracker crumbs, except for reserved 1-tablespoon graham cracker crumbs, with butter. Press into the bottom of a plastic wrap-lined 9-inch square pan. Make sure plastic wrap goes over edges of pan to use as handles later. Refrigerate until ready to use.

In a bowl stir together gelatin mix and boiling water; stir for about 2-minutes, until completely dissolved. Add ice and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Remove any unmelted ice.

In a bowl with an electric mixer beat cream cheese until creamy. Gradually beat in milk, and then lemon and lime juice. Add chilled gelatin; mix well. Whisk in 1-cup whipped topping. Pour mixture over crust.

Refrigerate for at least 6-8 hours or overnight or until firm. Cover with remaining whipped topping just before serving, and sprinkle with reserved 1-tablespoon graham cracker crumbs. Use plastic wrap handles to remove dessert from pan before cutting into squares.


Hope Cusick has won awards at the North Carolina Strawberry Festival in 2012; The North Carolina Blueberry Festival, winning first place for her Blueberry Cheese Danish Pastry in 2012, and placing on her blueberry spinach salad and dressing; and has won various other contest awards for her blueberry cheesecake, breads, cookies, brownies and jams. She resides in Hampstead.