A Summer Harvest Tea Party

A Summer Harvest Tea Party
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Before the cool weather sets in, enjoy the bounty of your herb, flower and vegetable gardens by giving a Summer Harvest Tea Party. Plan your theme around the garden, invite friends and family. Don't make it a formal affair, but rather a way to celebrate everyone's gardens and share produce, flowers, seeds and advice.
Ask your guests to bring flowers from their garden that you can place in vases on the tables along with your own. Also ask that they bring any surplus produce they may have, and leftover seeds. Set up a table for the items they bring. Also ask that each guest bring their items in a wicker basket. This way at the end of the tea, everyone can exchange produce,herbs, flowers and seeds, taking them home in their own basket.

Lay a fresh flower and a herb sprig on each napkin. The settings need not be overly decorative because the beauty of the flowers and the garden will be enough. Nasturtiums make a beautiful garnish for the platters. The following recipes are suggestions for the menu.

Raspberry Cream Cheese Sandwiches

16 slices white bread
1 ½ cup fresh raspberries
1 8-ounce package of cream cheese, room temperature
3 tablespoons raspberry preserves
Fresh mint leaves

Remove crusts from bread and cut into desired shapes with a cookie cutter. In a small mixing bowl, combine cream cheese and raspberry preserves. Spread a thin layer of the mixture on each cutout. Garnish with fresh raspberries and mint. Makes 32 open-faced sandwiches.

Cucumber Pita Wedges

8 ounces lowfat or regular cream cheese, softened
2 tablespoons Italian salad dressing mix (packet)
4 pita bread rounds
2 medium cucumbers (peeled and thinly sliced)
lemon pepper seasoning (I like Mrs. Dash)
Nasturtium Blooms, picked as fresh as possible

In a mixing bowl, beat cream cheese and salad dressing mix until combined. Split pita breads in half and spread with the cream cheese mixture. Cut each circle into 6 wedges. Top with cucumbers. Sprinkle with lemon pepper and garnish with either a whole bloom or break them up and sprinkle on each one.

Cucumber Shrimp Tea Sandwiches

1/3 cup minced green onions
1/4 cup soft cream cheese, room temperature
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup plain low-fat yogurt
2 tsp. fresh minced dill
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. black pepper
6 thinly sliced slices of homestyle white bread
1 1/2 pounds medium shrimp, cooked and peeled
1 cup thinly sliced cucumber
1/2 cup thinly sliced radishes
6 lettuce leaves

Combine first 7 ingredients in a bowl. Cut rolls in half horizontally. Spread the cream cheese mixture on three slices of bread. On the other three slices add the shrimp, then arrange the cucumber and radishes evenly on top. Next add one lettuce leaf to each slice, then top with the slices that were covered with the cheese mixture. Press down lightly and cut into triangles with a serrated knife. If necessary you can place a decorative toothpick in each triangle. Notes: Use your favorite type of lettuce. You can also buy small salad shrimp and diced them up into the cheese mixture instead of using the bigger ones.

Festive Berry Scones

1 cup whole wheat flour
3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup egg substitute (or 4 egg whites)
2 cups buttermilk
2 pints frozen raspberries
1 pint frozen blueberries

Mix the dry ingredients. Add wet ingredients, not including frozen fruit. When everything is mixed well, gently fold in the fruit, which should still be frozen. Shape into round loaf on a baking sheet and cut into sections with a serrated knife. Bake at 350 for 35-40 minutes. Makes 8 servings

Lavender Tea Cake

1 cup granulated sugar
5 tablespoons butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg
1 large egg white
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup plain fat-free or lowfat yogurt
2 tablespoons finely minced fresh lavender leaves

1/3 cup sifted powdered sugar
1 teaspoon water
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Beat granulated sugar, butter, and vanilla at medium speed until well-blended. Add egg and egg white, one at a time, beat well after each addition. Sift flour and carefully measure.Combine the flour with the baking powder, baking soda, and salt, stir well. (I often sift again) Add flour the mixture to sugar mixture alternately with yogurt, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Stir in lavender. Pour the batter into an 8-inch loaf pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350 degrees for about 1 hour or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean. To prepare glaze, combine powdered sugar and remaining ingredients. Spread on the warm cake. Cool in pan 20 minutes on a wire rack before removing from the pan. To serve slice thinly and present on a pretty platter.

Cream Cheese Cookies

3 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter
1 cup all-purpose flour
raspberry or strawberry preserves

Combine the cream cheese, butter and flour and blend completely. Chill. Roll out the dough, half at a time, to about 1/4 inch thick. Cut into small rounds or other dainty shapes. Make a small depression in the center of each cookie and place 1/2 tsp. preserves. Bake on an ungreased cookie sheet at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes. Cool, and dust with confectioners' sugar if desired. Makes about 2 dozen. Note: I love using Knott's Berry Farm Raspberry preserves.

Almond Drops

1/4 cup almond paste
1/3 cup butter, melted and cooled
pinch of salt
5 egg whites
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup blanched, slivered almonds

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Grease and flour cookie sheets. Cream almond paste with melted butter. Beat egg whites with salt until they form soft peaks. Add sugar, a tablespoon at a time. Continue beating until peaks are very firm. Fold into the almond paste mixture, adding flour and almonds. Fit a pastry bag with a number seven tube. Drop small round of batter on cookie sheets, spacing one inch between. Bake 5-8 minutes until edges of cookies are golden brown. Makes about 30.

Strawberry Lavender Lemonade

2 1/2 cups water
1 1/2 cups sugar
6 large strawberries, washed and hulled
1/4 cup fresh lavender leaves, chopped
OR 1 tbsp. dried lavender flowers
2 1/2 cups water
2 1/4 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup sugar
Fresh lavender flowers (optional)

In a medium pan, combine 2 1/2 cups water, sugar and strawberries. Bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve sugar. Reduce heat. Simmer 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in lavender. Cover and let it set while cooling. When the liquid is cool strain it into a large pitcher-gently smashing the strawberries as you strain. Add the remaining 2 1/2 cups water and lemon juice. Stir well. Add 1/2 cup more sugar, if desired. Just before serving, add ice cubes. Pour into chilled glasses and garnish with lavender flowers.

Chamomile Herb Tea

2 tablespoons fresh chamomile flowers
2 cups boiling water
2 thin slices of apple
honey to taste

Rinse the flowers with cool water. Warm your tea pot with boiling water. Add the apple slices to the pot and mash them with a wooden spoon. Add the chamomile flowers and pour in boiling water (2 cups). Cover and steep for 3-5 minutes. Strain the tea into two cups (or one if it's just you!). Add honey to taste.


About The Author

Brenda Hyde is a freelance writer living on ten acres in rural Michigan with her husband and three kids. She is a mom, grandma, gardener, cook and writer. She blogs on all of these topics at Harvestmoongazette.blogspot.com.


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