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.
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!
Simple Pasta Salad
- 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
- Cook pasta according to package directions.
- Toss pasta, cherry tomatoes, olives, red onion, feta cheese, and bell pepper with Italian dressing.
- Refrigerate for several hours before serving.
You may need to add a little more Italian dressing to salad just before serving.
Fruit Salad with Vinaigrette Dressing
- 4 cups fresh fruit
- 2 tbsp. white wine vinegar
- 1 tbsp. vegetable oil
- 1 tbsp. sugar
- ¼ tsp. poppy seeds
- 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.
- 12 oz. cream cheese, softened
- 1 cucumber, peeled & seeds removed
- 1 medium onion
- dash salt
- dash hot sauce
- mayonnaise on bread, if desired
- 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.
- Blend cream cheese with an electric mixer. Add remaining ingredients and stir to combine. Store in refrigerator for 24 hours.
- If using mayonnaise, spread on desired bread. Top with cucumber spread and another slice of bread.
Perfect Chicken Salad
- 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
- Mix shredded chicken, mayonnaise, celery, mustard, poppy seeds, and salt in a large bowl and refrigerate.
I have dabbled in family ancestry over the past few years but have never stuck with it long enough to get past a few generations. I have not found proof that I have Cajun ancestors, but I know they are there somewhere! Cajun cuisine is my absolute favorite food! I’ll pick it over a steak dinner any day!
I have not shared a Cajun recipe in a while, so it is long past due. This jambalaya recipe is super easy and comes together fast. I used a new spice blend from Legion of Spice called Bayou Blue. Legion of Spice is a new company offering wonderful rubs and spice blends. Their products contain no salt, no MSG, no fillers, it is Gluten free, all natural and made in the USA. If you live in the US, you can get your very own FREE sample packs by visiting their homepage, www.legionofspice.com and signing up for their monthly newsletter. While on their website use coupon code “LEGION” for 15% off because you will for sure want to pick up a jar of Bayou Black for this delicious jambalaya!
Hillshire Farms has a Cajun Style Andouille Smoked Sausage that tastes great and works well in this recipe. My family loves the shrimp, but you can substitute boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into 1-inch cubes if desired.
Shrimp and Andouille Sausage Jambalaya
- 2 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 lb. andouille sausage, cut into ½-inch rounds
- 1 lb. peeled and deveined medium shrimp
- 1 lg. yellow onion, diced
- 1 lg. green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
- 2 stalks celery, chopped
- 2 lg. fresh tomatoes, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tbsp. Cajun or Creole Seasoning
- 1 c. uncooked long grain rice
- 2 c. chicken broth
- 1 bunch green onions, green part only, chopped
- 1 bunch chopped fresh parsley leaves
- In a large Dutch oven, melt butter over medium-high heat. Add sausage and cook until lightly browned, about 7 to 10 minutes. Remove from pot and set aside.
- Add a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil if the pan needs it. Add the chopped onion, bell pepper, and celery to the Dutch oven and cook until softened, stirring occasionally, 7 to 10 minutes.
- Add shrimp and sausage, tomatoes, garlic, seasoning, rice, and chicken broth to the pan. Bring mixture to a boil, then reduce heat to medium and cover. Simmer until rice is cooked through, about 20 minutes.
- Stir in parsley and green onion just before serving.
To use chicken instead of shrimp: Add 1 lb. chicken that had been cut into 1-inch cubes, to the Dutch oven with the sausage. Cook until lightly browned. Chicken does not have to be cooked through, it will continue to cook in the last 20 minutes of cooking.
The summer of 2016 has been one of the hottest and dryest that I can recall. Our grass is brown, we have trees dying, and our yard already resembles autumn with the yellow and falling leaves. We, most likely, have several more weeks of hot weather, but I am over summer already!
Labor Day is going to be the unofficial end of summer for me, and I’m going to send it off with a bang! I will be with family this year cooking up all of our favorite summertime foods. Hamburgers and hot dogs, brown sugar baked beans, potato salad, homemade ice cream and my cousins fabulous Twisted Slaw!
My cousin, Regina, has a delicious slaw recipe. It is similar to the slaw I have made for years. However, the addition of bell pepper, chives, and green onions definitely takes her slaw over the top with the fresh flavor. It’s delicious alone or on top of a burger or hot dog!
If you are looking for a short-cut, use the pre-shredded cabbage. Regina says that she does this often when feeding her big family. Prepare several hours before serving and store in the refrigerator. Oh, and don’t forget to have a few extra copies of this recipe handy at the cookout because it’s sure to be a hit!
- 2 heads cabbage, chopped
- 1 lg. carrot, chopped
- ¼ c. chopped chives
- 3 green onions, chopped
- ½ c. chopped bell pepper
- ⅛ c. sugar
- 1 tbsp. freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tbsp. garlic powder
- 1 tbsp. seasoning salt
- 1 tbsp. white vinegar
- 1½ c. mayonnaise
- Mix the mayonnaise, vinegar, seasoning salt, garlic powder, black pepper, and sugar together in a large bowl. Add the bell pepper, green onions, chives, carrot, and cabbage and toss to coat the vegetables.
- Chill at least one hour before serving. Several hours makes it even better.
After mixing the slaw taste for sugar. It the slaw has a bitter taste add a bit more sugar.
It has been years since I have been in a restaurant that serves a salad plate. I can remember when they were on the menu of many southern restaurants, and they were a lunch item favorite of mine. Most salad plates included a scoop of either tuna or chicken salad, a scoop of cottage cheese, with fresh fruit all served on a lovely lettuce-lined plate. Always served with crackers and occasionally served with a zucchini or bran muffin too.
I received several vintage cookbooks as gifts after my recent surgery. I spent hours looking through them and have a long list of recipes that I can’t wait to try. I found this one in an old North Carolina cookbook given to me by my friend Loretta and her daughter Katy.
This yummy Garden Fresh Cottage Cheese Salad would be perfect served on the old Southern salad plate. It makes a perfect summertime lunch but would also be delicious served as a side dish. This recipe is very versatile; you can add most any vegetable that you like, or omit some of the vegetables listed if you prefer. You can add a splash of Worchestershire sauce or tabasco sauce, sprinkle in some dry Ranch dressing mix or dry Italian dressing mix if desired.
With the fresh vegetables, this salad is only good for about 24 hours. At that point, it starts to get a little too watery.
Garden Fresh Cottage Cheese Salad
- 1 pint low fat cottage cheese
- ½ chopped bell pepper
- ½ to 1 bunch chopped green onions
- 1 cucumber peeled,seeded, and chopped
- 2 radishes, chopped
- 1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- In a medium bowl combine cottage cheese, bell pepper, green onions, cucumber, and tomatoes. Stir to combine and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Refrigerate at least a hour before serving. Serve with crackers.
Dry Ranch dressing mix, dry Italian dressing mix, splash of Worcestershire sauce, tabasco sauce, or try different vegetables.
While writing this article, I decided to do a little research about Memorial Day. Honestly, I am not sure I’ve ever understood the difference in Memorial Day and Veteran’s Day until now. Memorial Day is among our oldest holidays, originally conceived in the aftermath of the Civil War. It is a time to remember and honor those who have fallen in service to our country. As it turns out there is quite a bit of controversy about Memorial Day. More than I care to get into but much can be found on the internet, if you are interested. If I could make two suggestions, the first would be to read this article by a former Navy pilot http://observer.com/2015/05/its-perfectly-ok-to-say-happy-memorial-day/ and watch this video on the lone Marine https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qTPmcp-ZGWQ.
With Memorial Day just around the corner, many will be gathering with friends and family. Anything that can be cooked on a grill will most likely be prepared that day. Many ribs, hamburgers, and hot dogs will be cooked. Potato salad and homemade ice cream will be in abundance!
Greg is typically in charge of the grilling on big cookout days at the Melton house while I am in charge of all other food, including appetizers, sides, and desserts. Doesn’t seem quite fair does it? It’s a good thing I enjoy being in the kitchen!
I am always looking for a new dish or two to throw into the mix. This year I plan to serve this delicious Vera Stewart recipe for Confetti Pasta Salad. Made with fresh spinach and dill, grape tomatoes, and lemon juice the flavor is light and will pair great with the other dishes you will serve this Memorial Day. Considering that many dishes will have to be prepared, the ease of this recipe is also quite appealing.
Confetti Pasta Salad
- For the Salad:
- 8-oz. uncooked small to medium shell pasta
- 2 c. coarsely chopped fresh spinach
- ¼ c. finely chopped onions
- 1 (4-oz.) pkg. crumbled feta cheese
- 1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
- 1 yellow bell pepper, chopped
- 3 tbsp. chopped fresh dill
- For the Vinaigrette:
- ¼ c. fresh lemon juice
- 1 lg. garlic clove, pressed
- ¼ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
- ¼ tsp. salt
- ½ c. vegetable oil
- Cook pasta according to package directions; drain.
- For the vinaigrette, combine lemon juice, mustard, garlic, salt, and black pepper. Slowly whisk in oil until combined.
- Toss pasta with tomatoes and remaining ingredients, including vinaigrette. Serve immediately, or cover and chill up to 8 hours.