Fifty – 50! – years ago today (and yes, the 14th fell on a Wednesday in 1963), Spicer and I were married. We got had our wedding mid-week because Spicer worked for a Beach Service in Cape May and it would have been unheard of for him to get off on a weekend. And so, we got married on a Wednesday night in Dover, and headed straight for Cape May so that Spicer could get back to work.
This year we'll be back in Cape May to celebrate our anniversary and to enjoy our annual family week together. The "two" from 1963 have now multiplied into a family group of 24 and we'll overflow a large, three-story Victorian home just up the street from the house that Spicer was born in.
Fortunately our Georgia branch of the family has been with us in Cambridge for most of the last week and I've had a great audience on which to try out some new recipes. I am blessed because this gang enjoys healthy eating and they actually get excited about fresh tomatoes, multi-colored bell peppers, peaches and blueberries.
I came across a rather unique sounding recipe for Cherry Tomato Salad at www.allrecipes.com. While I wasn't sure how many people would even try it, I decided that I couldn't pass up the opportunity to hear what people thought. What a successful recipe! When I heard "You are going to put this in the column, aren't you?" I knew that I had scored a winner. Even our son-in-law Mark and I, who are traditionally non-tomato eaters, had seconds on this.
Another popular recipe with our crowd was the one for 4-Bean Baked Beans (also found on allrecipes.com). Spicer and Jennifer shared the leftovers right from the refrigerator for lunch the next day … Spicer loves cold baked bean sandwiches.
I rarely make a special dessert when this crowd gathers because most evenings end around the fire pit where S'mores are the grand finale on long summer days. However, I had recently chanced upon a recipe for a peanut butter chocolate chip cake that would have been too much for just the two of us but was a perfect recipe for a crowd. This recipe comes from the website, www.bakeorbreak.com.
Happy anniversary, Spicer! How you've ever survived 50 years with me I'll never know but I will continue to thank you over and over and over for your patience and your love and for not ever once criticizing the many non-column worthy concoctions that I have put before you! I love you!
CHERRY TOMATO SALAD
Page 2 of 2 - 40 cherry tomatoes, halved (I used red and orange – about 2 pints)
1 cup pitted and sliced green olives
1 (6-ounce) can black olives, drained and sliced
2 green onions, minced
3-ounces pine nuts (I did NOT use these!) *
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 tsp. dried oregano
Combine cherry tomatoes, olives and onions in a medium-large bowl. In a small bowl, mix together olive oil, red wine vinegar, sugar and oregano. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Pour over salad and gently stir to coat. Cover and chill for at least 1 hour. *If you want to use pine nuts or slivered almonds, toast them in a dry skillet over medium heat until golden brown and stir into the salad.
4-BEAN BAKED BEANS
1 (16-ounce) can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 (15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 (16-ounce) can lima beans, rinsed and drained
1 (16- to 22-ounce) can pork and beans (I used Bush's Grillin Beans)
1/2 pound bacon, cut into small pieces
1 large onion, chopped
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup ketchup
1/2 cup white or cider vinegar
1/4 cup molasses
1 teaspoon dry mustard
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and lightly grease a large baking dish. Place all of the beans into the baking dish and stir gently to mix. Cook and stir bacon and onion in a small skillet over medium heat until bacon is browned – about 10 minutes. Drain off excess grease. Whisk brown sugar, ketchup, vinegar, molasses and mustard into bacon mixture. Simmer until cooked through, about 20 minutes. Pour sauce over beans in the baking dish. Bake uncovered in the preheated oven for about 1 hour or 1 hour and 15 minutes until bubbling. NOTE: the original recipe called for butter beans instead of the black beans but I happen to like black beans … the choice is yours!
PEANUT BUTTER CHOCOLATE CHIP CAKE
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups light brown sugar
1 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (I used a 12-ounce bag)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat a 9x13-inch baking pan with cooking spray and set aside. Using an electric mixer, combine flour, brown sugar, peanut butter and butter and mix to form crumb texture. Remove 1 cup of this and set it aside. Mix baking powder, baking soda, milk and vanilla in remaining dough and beat just until smooth. Beat in eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Pour batter into prepared pan. Sprinkle top of batter with the chocolate chips and evenly distribute the reserved crumb mixture over the top. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool before serving.