Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Spring Lunch Menu

Saturday's lunch featured many of my springtime favorites, and all the recipes have special significance to me for Mother's Day.

Pineapple-Almond Cheese Spread

My best friend, Vonda, served this at my baby shower when I was expecting Carson.

1 can (8 ounces) crushed pineapple in juice
1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
3 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup sliced almonds, toasted
1/4 cup green onion, chopped

Drain pineapple. In large bowl, beat cream cheese until smooth; beat in cheddar cheese and mayonnaise until smooth. Stir in pineapple, almonds and green onions. Refrigerate, covered. Use to stuff celery stalks or as dip with assorted breads. Serve at room temperature.

Frozen Strawberry Salad

After Carson was born, a friend from church brought us a meal that included this refreshing salad. This is a great make-ahead recipe with ample portions, so you can plan to use it for several occasions.

8 ounces cream cheese
1 cup sugar
8 ounces frozen whipped topping, thawed
10-12 ounces frozen strawberries, partially thawed
2-3 sliced bananas
1 cup miniature marshmallows
1 20 ounce can crushed pineapple, drained

Soften cream cheese. Beat with sugar until smooth. Stir in whipped topping and other ingredients. Use some but not all of the juice from the frozen strawberries. (This will add flavor and give the salad a pretty pink color.) Mix well and freeze.

Summer Turkey Salad

I discovered this recipe in a grocery store checkout line cookbook, Salads for Dinner, when Carson was a baby. This delicious salad takes me back to the summer days of his infancy.

3 medium fresh peaches or nectarines (Substitute canned mandarin oranges if these are not available)
6 cups torn mixed salad greens
2 cups cubed smoked or cooked turkey (10-12 ounces)

1/4 cup oil
1/4 cup peach jam or preserves
2 tablespoons vinegar

1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cups pecans

Peel peaches, if desired. Cut into thin slices; cut slices crosswise. In large bowl, combine peaches, salad greens, turkey and strawberries; mix well. In a small bowl, combine all dressing ingredients; blend well. Pour dressing over salad; toss to coat. Top with pecan halves. To caramelize pecans, in heavy saucepan over medium-high heat, cook 1/4 cup sugar for about 5 to 7 minutes or until sugar melts, stirring constantly. Add 1/2 pecan halves; stir until pecans are coated with caramelized sugar. Remove saucepan from heat; immediately pour pecans onto a sheet of aluminum foil, scattering pecans with a fork in a single layer. Cool 10 minutes; break pecans apart. Yield: 6 (1 2/3 cup) servings

Zucchini Bread

My first taste of this sweet bread was in college, when my roommate's mother included fresh-baked zucchini bread in care packages.

2 cups sugar
1 cup cooking oil
3 eggs
2 cups grated, raw zucchini (about 2 large)
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons cinnamon
3 teaspoons vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix together sugar, cooking oil, eggs and zucchini in a large bowl. Add flour and remaining ingredients, and stir. Grease 2 loaf pans, and fill with batter. Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until a toothpick inserted into the bread comes out clean.

Strawberry cake with buttercream icing added a sweet finish to our spring lunch. For this feminine design, I frosted the cake with pink icing. Cornelli lace piped onto the top and sides of the cake added a delicate touch, and ruffle and shell borders framed the cake. Fresh flowers added the final touch.

Salad photo by Bob Prichard
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