Food column Judi Leaming explores the wonderful recipes that come out of weekend picnics and afternoon get-togethers with friends and family.
Last week our Sunday School class from First Baptist Church in Dover came over to spend a very warm Saturday afternoon with us on the shores of the Choptank River. We provided the meat and beverage and our guests supplied everything else. What an easy way to entertain and to enjoy some new recipes. Trust me when I tell you that our plates were filled to overflowing with a wide variety of tasty treats, and I don’t think anyone went home hungry.
I discovered that most of our classmates are now cooking for just two and so they love the opportunity to try out new recipes — or to make something that they love but their spouse doesn’t.
In May, I featured the recipe Summer Pasta Salad that Dorothy Gampp had made for a church luncheon. This has been such a hit that I fully expected Dorothy to bring that to our picnic, but she was ready for a new adventure and so she made a very popular Roasted Sweet Potato Salad using a recipe that she discovered from the Hellmann’s mayonnaise company. This is a very colorful and eye-appealing salad that tastes even better than it looks so step outside the box and try this unusual combination of sweet potatoes, apples and cranberries. You won’t be sorry that you did.
Debbie Metzger confessed that her husband Mike doesn’t like her Black Bean Salsa because it has avocados in it and so she made it to bring when she knew there’d be a crowd and lots of other things for Mike to choose from. I on the other hand LOVED this and ate it as a salad rather than a salsa. I thought this was a perfect blend of flavors.
The third recipe is one that was shared two weekends ago with our Lazy Daze RV-ing group when we gathered way up on the shores of Lake Ontario, just north of Niagara Falls, for our spring rally. We are so very grateful that we’ve had the opportunity to enjoy meals, recipes and conversations with so many friends for this is how I am then able to collect all the wonderful recipes that I can then pass along to you.
Dottie Gampp’s Roasted Sweet Potato Salad
(Hellmann’s recipe adapted by Dorothy Gampp)
2 pounds sweet potatoes or yams, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
3/4 cup Hellmann’s mayonnaise (*)
1 medium Granny Smith apple, cored and cut into 1/4-inch cubes
1/2 cup dried cranberries
Generous shake of cinnamon-sugar (**)
(*) Original recipes called for using Hellmann’s Mayonnaise with Extra Virgin Olive Oil.
(**) Dorothy thought this needed a little more seasoning and so she added the cinnamon-sugar, which I thought provided a great flavor boost.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Toss potatoes with 2 tablespoons of the mayonnaise in a medium bowl. Arrange potatoes in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake, stirring once, for 30 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Cool completely. Combine potatoes, apples, cranberries and remaining mayonnaise in large bowl; toss to coat. Cover and chill. Just before serving, dust with cinnamon-sugar and stir this in to mix.
The original recipe suggests that for an extra special twist you can also add sweetened pecans, which can be prepared by cooking 1 cup chopped pecans with 6 tablespoons sugar, stirring constantly, in a 12-inch, non-stick skillet for 5 minutes or until sugar browns. Spread pecan mixture onto greased aluminum foil. Let cool. Break into bite-size pieces and add to salad just before serving.
Debbie Metzger’s Black Bean Salsa
1 fresh, ripe tomato, seeded and diced
1 ripe avocado, diced
1 can white shoe peg corn, drained
1 can black beans, rinsed and well drained
3 scallions, minced
3 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
Juice of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt, pepper and garlic powder to taste
Several hours before serving, stir together tomato, avocado, corn, black beans, scallions and cilantro. Squeeze lemon over all and stir gently to work in the lemon juice. Add olive oil and stir again. Stir in salt, pepper and garlic powder to your taste. Cover and chill in refrigerator two to four hours before serving. Serve with taco chips as an appetizer or in a bowl as a cold salad.
Ruth Quinn’s Vidalia Onion Pie
1 cup crushed Ritz crackers
1/4 cup melted butter
2 tablespoons butter
1 3/4 cups chopped Vidalia onions
3/4 cup milk
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
3 tablespoons Parmesan cheese
Dash of paprika
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix crumbs with 1/4 cup melted butter and press into the bottom of a 2-quart baking dish. Sauté onions in 2 tablespoons butter. Mix together eggs, milk, salt and pepper. Place onions over crumb crust and then gently pour milk mixture over onions. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and a dash of paprika. Bake in preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes until set. NOTE: Can add chopped left over ham, chicken, sausage. Serves 6.