Mother’s Day Luncheon

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The older I get, the more that I realize that all of those times that Mama said: “don’t spend your money on me,” she meant it. She wanted then what she still wants, time spent together. Time is something we can never get back, and the older my mama gets, time becomes more precious to me.

In comparison to many families today, my mother’s family was a big one. She had six brothers and sisters.  Today, my mother and her sister are the only siblings that remain. I decided that my mama would like nothing better than a little family time for Mother’s Day. So on a recent visit, I invited my aunt and a couple of cousins to a luncheon at mama’s house.  I kept the menu simple with homemade chicken salad, pasta salad made with fresh vegetables and purchased Italian dressing, cucumber sandwiches, purchased cheese straws, and I bought a fruit tray, cut up and ready to eat and made a poppy seed vinaigrette dressing.  The table was elegantly set with mama’s best china and crystal and the memories we made are priceless.

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As you struggle to come up with a gift for mom this Sunday, keep in mind that time spent with you is something she will always treasure!

5.0 from 2 reviews
Simple Pasta Salad
 
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Ingredients
  • 1 lb. pasta
  • 2 c. cherry tomatoes, cut in half
  • ¾ c. sliced black olives
  • sliced red onion
  • crumbled feta cheese
  • chopped bell pepper
  • 1 to 1½ c. Italian dressing
Instructions
  1. Cook pasta according to package directions.
  2. Toss pasta, cherry tomatoes, olives, red onion, feta cheese, and bell pepper with Italian dressing.
  3. Refrigerate for several hours before serving.
Notes
You may need to add a little more Italian dressing to salad just before serving.

 
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Fruit Salad with Vinaigrette Dressing
 
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Ingredients
  • 4 cups fresh fruit
  • 2 tbsp. white wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 1 tbsp. sugar
  • ¼ tsp. poppy seeds
Instructions
  1. Wash and cut up fruit, set aside. In a small bowl whisk vinegar, oil, sugar and poppy seeds. Pour over fruit an gently toss. Serve immediately.

5.0 from 2 reviews
Cucumber Sandwiches
 
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Ingredients
  • 12 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cucumber, peeled & seeds removed
  • 1 medium onion
  • dash salt
  • dash hot sauce
  • mayonnaise on bread, if desired
Instructions
  1. Grate cucumber and onion and squeeze dry. (I do this using a clean dish towel. Put in the center of a towel then roll towel and twist.) Set aside.
  2. Blend cream cheese with an electric mixer. Add remaining ingredients and stir to combine. Store in refrigerator for 24 hours.
  3. If using mayonnaise, spread on desired bread. Top with cucumber spread and another slice of bread.

5.0 from 2 reviews
Perfect Chicken Salad
 
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Ingredients
  • 4 lg. chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
  • 1 to 2 c. mayonnaise, depending on how you like it
  • ½ to ¾ c. chopped celery
  • 1 tbsp. yellow mustard
  • ¼ tsp. poppy seeds
  • ½ tsp. salt
Instructions
  1. Mix shredded chicken, mayonnaise, celery, mustard, poppy seeds, and salt in a large bowl and refrigerate.

 

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Grilled Pork Chops with Blueberry Basil Salsa

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As far back as I can remember I was a daddy’s girl.  There are home movies of my dad hitting golf balls in the front yard; I was tagging along with him with my little club, at about one-year-old.  I hate it for my mother, but if there was ever a side to pick I was always on daddy’s side.  Not long after he retired, I quit my job to stay at home with Wes.  Wes and I, and then Savannah after she was born, spent many days with daddy, we were pals to the end.

Cancer was the cause of my dad’s death, but he had suffered from Alzheimer’s for years.  I suppose it was a blessing that daddy, or we, his family, never had to face the final stages of Alzheimer’s disease.  They are both terrible diseases, and I hate them!

On a VERY personal note… I now live in fear of developing Alzheimer’s disease.  Not a day goes by that it does not enter my mind at some point.  If I misplace my keys or sunglasses Alzheimer’s is the first thing that comes to mind.  If I forget to do something I secretly freak out a little bit.  I am constantly reading articles about foods you should eat or vitamins you should take to prevent it.  I can’t make it through The Notebook without crying hysterically.  I avoided seeing the recent movie, Still Alice.

Because of this I try to incorporate blueberries into my diet daily.  They rank the highest of any fruit for antioxidants.  Studies show that they improve memory and provide protection against Alzheimer’s, and they are delicious!

From scientificamerican.com: Emerging research suggests that compounds in blueberries known as flavonoids may improve memory, learning and general cognitive function, including reasoning skills, decision making, verbal comprehension and numerical ability. In addition, studies comparing dietary habits with cognitive function in adults hint that consuming flavonoids may help slow the decline in mental facility that is often seen with aging and might even provide protection against disorders such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

Here is a great way to serve up fresh blueberries.  This blueberry-basil salsa is amazing, especially served with grilled pork, chicken or fish.  If you do not care for basil or cilantro feel free to adjust to your taste.  It will still be delicious!

Grilled Pork Chops with Blueberry Basil Salsa
 
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Ingredients
  • 3 c. fresh blueberries
  • 2 jalapeno peppers, seeded
  • ½ scallions, chopped
  • ½ small red onion, finely chopped
  • 3½ tbsp. freshly squeezed lime juice
  • ½ tsp. kosher salt
  • ½ c. basil, loosely packed and very thinly sliced
  • ½ c. cilantro, loosely packed and roughly chopped
  • pinch of sugar or drizzle of honey, if desired
  • 2 lb. boneless pork chops
  • Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1½ quarts water
  • ½ tbsp. kosher salt
  • ½ tbsp. granulated sugar
  • cayenne pepper
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Instructions
  1. Combine 1½ quarts water, ½ tbsp. salt and ½ tbsp. sugar. Whisk until salt and sugar have dissolved and add pork chops. Cover and refrigerate for about 8 hours.
  2. For salsa: Place 2 cups blueberries in a food processor; pulse until coarsely chopped, about five times. Transfer to a medium bowl, add chopped jalapeño, scallions, red onion, lime juice, salt, basil, cilantro, and remaining blueberries. Stir to combine and taste. If desired add a pinch or two of sugar or a drizzle of honey. Stir and taste again. Cover and chill a few hours before serving.
  3. Heat grill to medium-high.
  4. Remove pork chops from brine and pat dry. Drizzle both sides with olive oil and sprinkle with cayenne pepper, salt and pepper. Grill until cooked through.
  5. Serve immediately topped with a generous spoonful of blueberry salsa.

 

 

 

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A FEW of my FAVORITE Summer Recipes!

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I have mentioned many times in the past that I have seasonal recipes.  I love chicken and dumplings, apple pie, and soup, but I usually prepare those dishes in the fall and winter.  Salads are a favorite of mine, along with lemonade and ice cream.  Those dishes are generally reserved for the summertime.  I thought I would share some of my favorite recipes, already on NJSD, that I prepare throughout the summer months.  To see the recipes, click on the recipe names below.  Enjoy!

 

Strawberry & Blueberry Salad with Almonds

On of my all-time favorites, this salad is amazing!

 

Snapper Hemingway

If you are a fish lover you must try this dish!

 

Mango Salsa

This salsa compliments just about any grilled poultry, meat, or fish wonderfully!

 

Apricot-Balsamic Glazed Chicken

Delicious every time!

 

Strawberry Lemonade

A refreshing treat for hot summer days!

 

Smoky Gouda Grits and Shimp

My new favorite summer dish!

 

Fruit with Wine and Mint

Customize this with fruit of your choice!

 

Garlic Grilled Tomatoes

I pick up Roma tomatoes every time I’m in the store, during the summer, to be prepared to make these!

 

Chili Rubbed Pork Tenderloin with Apricot Ginger Glaze

FAB-U-LOUS!!

 

Peach Ice Cream

Summer would not be complete without homemade ice cream!

 

 

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Pear and Blue Cheese Salad

Pear, Blue Cheese, and Walnut Salad

 

As much as I enjoy cooking, there are some days that I would order pizza if they delivered to my house.  I have so many chores during the summer that heating up the kitchen is the last thing I want to do.  We grill often but honestly, I think I use that as an excuse to have Greg cook.  Salads are a quick and easy, and I can make most salads without going near the stove.  It also helps that we love them.  This pear salad is fast and easy and goes perfectly with any grilled entree.

Pear and Blue Cheese Salad
 
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Ingredients
  • 1 red pear, cored and thinly sliced
  • 1 yellow pear, cored and thinly sliced
  • ¼ c. crumbled blue cheese
  • ¼ c. walnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped
  • ¼ c. grape seed oil
  • 2 tbsp. pear nectar
  • 3 tbsp. Champagne wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp. sugar or stevia
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
Instructions
  1. Arrange pear slices on four salad plates.
  2. Sprinkle with cheese and walnuts.
  3. For dressing whisk together oil, nectar, vinegar, and sugar. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Drizzle 2 tbsp. dressing on each salad.
  5. Cover and store remaining dressing up to 3 days.

 

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Balsamic Strawberries

Balsamic Strawberries

 

It’s that wonderful time of year again.  Local strawberries are in season.  While making a mad dash to the store earlier this week, I passed by the strawberries on my way to the back of the store.  That sweet smell hit me as I was walking pass.  That smell that you only get this time of year, when you find locally grown strawberries at the market.  I stopped in my tracks, noticed the strawberries were grown in South Carolina…that’s local enough..and picked up 2 quarts!

They are so heavenly!  Even as a child I loved strawberry season.  Pa, my grandfather, always had them in his garden.  I can see it, as plain as if it were yesterday.  His garden was behind the house.  He would pick me a handful of strawberries and I would be standing on the edge of the garden (probably because he didn’t want me stepping on the plants), eating them as fast as he could pick them.   Simple memories that just happened, no play dates and no planning.  Sometimes we forget, as parents, that things don’t have to be elaborate to make childhood special for our kids.

We have snacked on almost a whole quart plain.  I dressed up the other quart with a little sugar and balsamic vinegar. It may sound strange, but it’s really quite tasty!  We topped vanilla ice cream with this wonderful mixture and then I had leftover balsamic strawberries on yogurt with a little granola the next morning.  Mmm…so good!  I think I’ll be making another “mad dash” to the store for more strawberries soon!

Balsamic Strawberries
 
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Ingredients
  • 1 (16-oz.) container fresh strawberries, quartered
  • ¼ c. sugar
  • 4 tsp. balsamic vinegar
  • Vanilla ice cream
Instructions
  1. Combine the strawberries, sugar, and balsamic vinegar in a medium bowl. Let stand for 1 to 2 hours at room temperature, stirring occasionally.
  2. To serve, spoon strawberry mixture over vanilla ice cream. Serve immediately.

 

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