As temperatures rise, so can the risk of illness from improperly stored or cooked foods. Let WVU Extension Service, the USDA and other government agencies guide you to a healthful and happy summer meal.

Summer Cooking Safety

With temperatures soaring and picnics occurring every weekend, the summer cooking season is in full swing. Unfortunately, the risk of becoming sick from eating these mouthwatering goodies also soars.

According to the USDA, foodborne illnesses in the U.S. double during the summer months. Included are some useful tips and helpful reminders to some of the most frequently asked questions about food safety.

What are some symptoms and risks of foodborne illnesses?

• Vomiting, diarrhea, and stomach cramps are first recognized symptoms of a foodborne illness. Those with weak immune systems, such as the elderly and young children, are especially vulnerable and can even succumb to death. However, some illnesses like botulism can affect anyone regardless of age or health.

• Botulism is especially dangerous and is developed from ill properly canned foods and can result in paralysis or even death.

How can people prevent these illnesses?

The most well known illness is food poisoning, which occurs when food or beverages contaminated with bacteria are consumed.  Preventing these illnesses can be easy by following some simple reminders.

• Washing hands frequently when handling foods

• Following food safety guidelines listed on the packages

• Do not cross-contaminate foods

• Preparing meals and storing leftovers in the appropriate temperatures can also keep illnesses away. Even some meals bought directly from the local grocery store can become unsafe if they are not kept at appropriate temperature levels for an extended period of time.

What foods are most likely to become unsafe to eat?

Home-prepared foods and foods that contain protein like chicken, ground beef, other meat and eggs are at most risk.

Watch for any food recalls. If you purchase any of these recalled foods, do not consume any contaminated foods and dispose of them carefully.

Are there any slogans or phrases that can remind people about food safety?

Some of the most popular slogans to remind people about food safety. They include:

• When in doubt, throw it out.

If you have any concerns over the safety of an item, dispose of it immediately and properly.

• Fight BAC reminds you to always “fight back” against bacteria when preparing snacks.

• The 2-hour rule that states foods that have been at room temperature for 2 hours or more should be discarded and not consumed.

Follow the USDA’s guidelines about food safety and don’t “spoil” your next party by serving undercooked or ill prepared food.

For more information about properly preparing and serving food, contact your local WVU Hampshire County Extension office.

Recipes from Vermont Extension Service

Red White and Blue Cheesecake Bars

  • 1 graham cracker crust (9-inch)
  • 3/4 cup 2% cottage cheese
  • 1 pkg. (8 oz.) reduced-fat cream cheese
  • 1 cup sugar*
  • 1 tsp. grated lemon peel
  • 2 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup reduced-sugar strawberry preserves
  • 1/2 cup fresh blueberries

Preheat oven to 375. Line an 8-inch square baking pan with foil, letting ends extend up sides; coat foil with cooking spray. Break pie crust into fine crumbs into prepared pan. Press crumbs onto bottom of pan.

Place cottage cheese in a small food processor; process until smooth. Transfer to a bowl. Add cream cheese, sugar blend, lemon peel, lemon juice and vanilla; beat until smooth.

In a small bowl, lightly beat egg whites and egg; add to the cottage cheese mixture. Beat on low speed just until blended. Pour over crust. Drop preserves by teaspoonsful over filling. Cut through with a knife to swirl. Sprinkle with blueberries.

Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until center of cheesecake is almost set. Cool for 1 hour on a wire rack. Refrigerate 2 hours or until cold. Lifting with foil, remove cheesecake from pan. Cut into bars.

*Note: Sugar substitute blend equaling to 1 cup sugar can be used.

Raspberry Rumble

  • 2 cups fresh raspberries
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 3/4 cup milk

Topping

  • 3 large egg whites
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/8 tsp. cream of tartar
  • 1/2 cup boiling water, optional
  • 1/4 tsp. almond extract
  • Sliced almonds

Preheat oven to 350. Place raspberries on a baking sheet and freeze until firm. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs.

In another bowl, whisk flour, baking powder and salt; add to the creamed mixture alternately with the milk, beating well after each addition. Fold in frozen raspberries. Spread into a greased 13-by-9 baking pan.

Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool completely in pan on a wire rack.

Let egg whites stand at room temperature 30 minutes. Combine whites, sugar and cream of tartar in the top of a double boiler or in a metal bowl over simmering water. Beat on low speed until a thermometer reads 160, about 5 minutes.

Beat on high until stiff glossy peaks form, about 5 minutes. Beat in boiling water, if desired, and almond extract until the mixture reaches a spreadable consistency. Spread over the cake; sprinkle with sliced almonds.

Perfect Picnic Chicken

  • 1-1/2 cups plain low-fat yogurt
  • 2 Tbsp. cider vinegar
  • 2 whole chickens (about 3-1/2 lbs. each)
  • cut into 10 pieces each
  • 1-1/2 cups flour
  • 2/3 cups cornmeal
  • 1 tsp. black pepper

In large bowl, mix together yogurt and vinegar, combine well. Add chicken, cover and refrigerate 1 hour or up to 4 hours. Preheat oven to 425. On plate or waxed paper combine flour, cornmeal and pepper. Dredge chicken in flour mixture, shaking off excess. Generously grease 2 cookie sheets or jelly roll pans. Place half of chicken on each pan. Bake for 20 minutes or until bottom crust is set. Turn pieces over and bake an additional 20 to 25 minutes or until cooked through. Cool to room temperature before wrapping or refrigerating. Serve warm or cold.

Pink Blueberry Lemonade

  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice
  • 1-1/4 cups fresh blueberries, divided
  • 4 cups water, divided

In a 1-quart glass measuring cup, combine sugar, 2 tablespoons of the blueberries and 1/2 cup water. Microwave on high until hot, about 1 minute. Stir until sugar dissolves. Add lemon juice and enough water to make 1 quart. Chill.

Fill tall glasses with ice cubes, add chilled blueberry mixture and remaining berries, dividing equally. Garnish with lemon slices if desired.

Cornbread Salad

  • 1 pan (9-inch) cornbread, crumbled
  • 1 can (15 oz.) pinto beans, drained
  • 1 can (15.5 oz.) black beans, drained
  • 3 tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 cup green onions, chopped
  • 2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
  • 10 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
  • 2 cans (11 oz.) whole kernel sweet corn, drained –or use fresh, local corn, cooked and cut from the ear
  • 2 cups romaine lettuce, chopped
  • 1 cup frozen peas, thawed
  • 24 oz. bottle light ranch dressing

Place half of the crumbled corn bread in the bottom of a large bowl (very large). Top with half the pinto beans, half the black beans and half of the remaining ingredients, ending with ranch dressing. Repeat layering again starting with cornbread and ending with dressing. Cover and chill 2 to 3 hours before serving.

Broccoli Cauliflower Salad

  • 2 cups cauliflower, cut in bite-sized pieces
  • 2 cups broccoli, cut in bite-sized pieces
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1-1/2 cups cooked, chopped bacon

Dressing

  • 2 cups mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tsp. vinegar
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion

In a large bowl toss the vegetables and bacon. In medium bowl combine the dressing ingredients. Mix well. Pour over salad and toss to mix well and serve.

Sweet Purple Slaw With Apples And Walnuts

Salad

  • 4 cups red cabbage, sliced 1/4-inch by 1-inch long
  • 1 Honeycrisp apple, chopped 1/4-inch, or 2 cups total
  • 1/2 small red onion (or 1/4 cup), chopped
  • 1 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries

Dressing

  • 1/8 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/8 cup maple syrup
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 1/8 tsp. fresh ground black pepper

In a large bowl mix together the cabbage, apple, onion, lemon juice, walnuts and cranberries. Prepare the dressing by whisking together the vinegar, olive oil, maple syrup, salt and pepper. Add the dressing to the cabbage mixture and mix well to coat. Refrigerate at least 2 hours before serving.

Old Fashioned Apple Pie

Filling

  • 6 to 8 large apples, peeled and sliced
  • l cup sugar
  • 2 tsp. flour
  • 1 Tbsp. tapioca
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 2 Tbsp. butter
  • Mix apples with other ingredients and put in pie crust.

Crust

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 egg white, slightly beaten for top

Combine all crust ingredients in bowl. Separate into 2 evenly sized balls. Place 1 ball onto a sheet of waxed paper. Top with another sheet of waxed paper. With a rolling pin, roll out dough to exceed size of pie plate. Remove top paper, invert dough carefully onto greased pie plate. Remove paper from dough and move dough into place in pie plate.

After filling is in place and topped with butter, add top dough to pie. Tuck in edges and flute. Beat egg white with fork, brush top with egg white. Bake at 350 for 1 hour.

Summer’s Bounty Soup

  • 4 medium tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 2 cups halved fresh green beans
  • 2 small zucchini, cubed
  • 1 medium yellow squash, cubed
  • 4 small carrots, thinly sliced
  • 2 celery ribs, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup fresh mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp. minced fresh parsley
  • 1 tsp. chopped garlic
  • 2 tsp. dried herbal seasonings*
  • 4 cups V8 juice

In a 5-quart slow cooker combine all ingredients. Cover and cook on low 7 to 8 hours until vegetables are tender. *Note: Basil, oregano or an Italian herb blend can be used.

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