Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Memorial Day Food: Salads

I love pasta salads for potlucks, family gatherings or weekend meals. I also like making up a salad and keeping it in the refrigerator for lunches instead of sandwiches. I always look for recipes that I can change the ingredients in, depending on what the sales are that week. The salads below use bottled dressings, but if you have a homemade version that would work just as well.

Bacon Spinach Salad

6 cups fresh spinach leaves, rinsed and dried
2 cups large Caesar or Italian style croutons
2 cups sliced fresh mushrooms
1/2 red onion, sliced very thin
1 can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
6 slices bacon, cooked, drained and crumbled

Combine the ingredients, tossing gently just before serving. On the side, to drizzle over the salad serve a Blue Cheese dressing, and a Poppy Seed dressing. Allow people to add their own dressing.

Italian Pasta Salad

8 oz. (1/2 lb) rotini or other pasta, cooked
1 cup chopped green pepper
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup chopped red onion
1/4 cup Feta cheese
1 cup Italian dressing, any variety
Optional: Olives

Cook the pasta according to directions. Rinse with cold water, drain well and add to a large bowl. Add the vegetables, toss with the dressing and sprinkle the Feta cheese on top before serving.

Chicken Pasta Salad

8 ounces uncooked bow-tie pasta
2 cans (10 ounces) chunk breast of chicken, drained and flaked
2 cans (8 ounces) mandarin oranges, drained
1 cup sliced green onion, trim off both ends first
1 cup sliced celery
1 cup chopped green pepper
2 cups poppy seed dressing, any brand

Cook the pasta according to directions. Rinse under cold water, and drain well. Combine all the ingredients. Chill until ready to serve.

Note: Leftover chopped chicken breast is wonderful in this recipe. I also like using tuna instead of the chicken.

On OFL we have some great macaroni salads to try:


Sunday, May 22, 2011

It's Potluck Season: Dishes to Share

I always think of this month as the start of Potluck Season. First we have Memorial Day, then graduations, Fourth of July, family reunions and weddings, then lastly Labor Day. A person can never have too many potluck recipes. Today I was looking through a copy of the charity cookbook from the Ladies Auxiliary in Flint, Michigan. I've had this cookbook around 20 years or so. I've made small changes to the recipes to reflect my family's tastes.

Big Bean Pot

12 ounce package bacon
3 medium onions, diced or sliced very thinly
1 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/3 cup vinegar
1/4 cup ketchup
1 (15 ounce) can kidney or red beans, drained
1 (15 ounce) can butter beans, drained
2 (16 ounce) can maple baked beans

Heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Cook the bacon until crispy, drain on paper towel, and when cook enough, crumble. Drain most of the bacon grease out of the skillet and saute the onions until lightly browned. Add all of the other ingredients to a Dutch oven, roaster, or large casserole dish, and stir til combined. Bake, uncovered for 60-70 minutes or until hot and bubbly.

Hash Brown Casserole
(this is quite different from the one I usually make.)

2 cups shredded Cheddar or Colby cheese
1 (10 3/4 ounce) can condensed cream of chicken soup
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup finely diced onion
1/2 cup finely diced green and/or red pepper
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
1 32 ounce frozen, shredded hash browns, thawed partially
1 cup crushed corn flakes
1 tbsp. butter

Grease 9x13 baking dish. In large bowl combine cheese, soup, sour cream, onion, peppers, 1/4 cup butter, pepper and mix well. Fold in potatoes. Turn the mixture into the pan. Toss together the corn flakes and 1 tbsp. butter. Sprinkle over potato mixture. Bake in 350 degree F. oven for one hour or until the casserole is browned and the potatoes are tender. Serves 8-10

Sauerkraut Casserole

2 pound kielbasa links, cut into 1 inch sliced
1 large sweet onion, sliced very thinly
1 27 ounce can sauerkraut, undrained (or a bag)
1 cup water
1/2 c. packed brown sugar
2 tsp. caraway seed

In a skillet cook sausage and onion until sausage is lightly browned and onion is tender; drain off any grease. Stir in sauerkraut, water, brown sugar and caraway. Transfer to a casserole, cover and bake at 350 degrees F. for an hour. Makes 6-8 servings.

Rotini Pasta Salad

1 8 ounce bottle Italian dressing, any type
3/4 cup mayonnaise
1 tsp. Italian seasoning
2 cups rotini, cooked, drained and rinsed in cold water
1 cup broccoli flowerets
4 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese, or tiny cubes
1/2 cup chopped red pepper
1/2 sliced or shredded carrots
1/2 c. thinly sliced and halved red onion rings
Optional: 1/4 cup sliced olives

Mix dressings and seasonings in large bowl. Add the other ingredients and mix gently. Chill. Makes 12 servings.

Coconut Cake

1 package butter/yellow cake mix
1 1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 cups flaked coconut
8 ounce container whipped topping

Prepare the cake as directed in a 13 x 9 inch pan. Cool 15 minutes then poke holes in the cake with a fork. Meanwhile combine the milk, sugar and 1/2 cup of the coconut in a pan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 1 minute. Spoon this mixture over the warm cake. Cool. When cool fold 1/2 cup of the coconut into the whipped topping. Spread over the cake evenly. Sprinkle with the remaining coconut. Chill overnight or all day if made in the morning. Store any leftovers in the refrigerator.

Triple Treat Torte

2/3 cup chopped peanuts, dry roasted
1 cup flour
1 stick butter, cut in pieces
1/3 cup peanut butter
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 cup confectioners' sugar
1 cup frozen whipped topping
1 (4 1/2 ounces) instant vanilla pudding
1 (4 1/2 ounces) instant chocolate pudding
2 3/4 cup cold milk

Mix peanuts, flour and butter till it resembles crumbs. Press into a greased 9x13 inch pan and bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Cool. Blend peanuts, cream cheese, powdered sugar and whipped topping. Pour over cooled crust. Mix the puddings with the milk til smooth and spread over the peanut layer. Top the cake with more whipped topping and garnish with shaved chocolate.

On OFL we have a nice Memorial Day menu: