In the good ol’ summertime, it’s hard to beat fresh fruit as a cool treat.

Eaten plain, your favorite variety of available fresh fruit is a delicious choice. Take that fruit and enhance it a bit with other ingredients or add a dip to put it over the top.

My all-time favorite fruit dip was introduced to us by Christen Stark when she brought it to a shower at my house. Stir together cream of coconut and thawed whipped topping.

It’s so simple and it is perfect with any fruit you choose to dip. I like to eat it with large pieces of fruit that accommodate large amounts of dip. You will want to eat it with a big spoon.

Fruit dips can start with whipped topping, cream cheese, yogurt or marshmallow cream or a mixture of these. An easy two-ingredient dip calls for 8 ounces of room temperature cream cheese and a 7-ounce jar of marshmallow cream.

Serve as is or add a flavoring of you choice. Maybe some orange juice concentrate or zest. This will keep in your fridge for up to a week. Soften your cream cheese at the last minute by sitting it in a bowl of hot tap water for 10 minutes. Be sure it’s wrapped tightly in its unopened foil wrapper.

Properly storing your fruit will assure it’s at its best for serving.

Learning which fruits ripen outside the fridge and which ones should be refrigerated help with this. Bananas, cantaloupe, honeydew melons, peaches, pears and pineapples can be kept separately on the counter top while apples, grapes, blueberries, strawberries, watermelon, oranges, raspberries and blackberries won’t ripen any more after picked and can be refrigerated after purchasing.

Today’s recipes are from Taste of Home. Find some pretty strawberries for a pretty presentation of bite-size treats.

It’s like the dip has already been put in the fruit for you.

Remember to always wash strawberries before cutting them so they don’t absorb the water. Three dozen may not be enough.

That little blueberry crunch in the blueberry dip will bring a smile to you face with each bite. It’s especially good with apple slices or graham crackers. Kids will love this. And talk about refreshing.

You will want to fill you tortilla scoop full of the peach salsa.

Have a wonderful week, and happy eating.

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Heavenly filled strawberries

1 pound fresh strawberries, stemmed

11 ounces cream cheese, softened

1/2 cup powdered sugar

1/4 teaspoon almond extract

Grated chocolate

Cut a deep X in the tip of each berry; gently spread berries open. In small bowl, beat cream cheese, confectioners’ sugar and extract until light and fluffy. Spoon or pipe about 2 teaspoons of filling into each berry; sprinkle with chocolate. Chill until serving. Yields about 3 dozen.

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Blueberry fruit dip

4 ounces cream cheese, softened

1/2 cup powdered sugar

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon lemon juice

1/2 cup fresh blueberries

Fresh fruit, graham crackers and/or cookies

Beat cream cheese, confectioners’ sugar, cinnamon and lemon juice until smooth. Fold in berries. Serve with fruit, crackers and/or cookies. Yields 1 cup.

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Fresh peach salsa

4 medium peaches, peeled and pitted

2 large tomatoes, cut into wedges and seeded

1/2 sweet onion, cut into wedges

1/2 cup cilantro

2 garlic gloves, peeled and crushed

2 (4-ounce) cans chopped green chilies

4 teaspoons cider vinegar

1 teaspoon lime juice

1/4 teaspoon pepper

Tortilla scoops

Combine fist five ingredients in food processor; cover and pulse until coarsely chopped. Add chilies, vinegar, lime juice and pepper; cover and pulse until blended. Chill until serving with tortilla scoops. Yields 4 cups.

Address correspondence to Cheryle Finley, c/o The Joplin Globe, P.O. Box 7, Joplin, MO 64802.

Cheryle Finley is a food columnist for The Joplin Globe. Address correspondence to Cheryle Finley, c/o The Joplin Globe, P.O. Box 7, Joplin, MO 64802.