We’re dreaming up cliches to write here about the “cloud’s silver lining” or the “light at the end of the tunnel,” because that’s what the upcoming Memorial Day holiday feels like. It’s as if the sun is finally shining through the darkness after a long, maudlin year. We can now safely hug our friends and family. What better way to celebrate this Memorial Day than with fabulous food?
We asked our Regions family to send some of their favorite recipes for the See the Good Summer Recipe Series, and we were delighted to see that submissions were designed with sharing in mind. We thought it only appropriate we kick off this celebration with Leahann Rodriguez’s Fiesta Dip. (Round out the Mexican theme with Diane Crecelius’ Taco Salad and Alexandra Melchor’s Buffalo Chicken Crispitos.)
Don’t know about you, but the blossoms on the azaleas, hydrangeas, and knock-out roses looked particularly brilliant this year. Must be Mother Nature’s apology. Or maybe it’s her promise that summer’s bounty will be just as amazing. Use those homegrown tomatoes, cucumbers, and basil to try out Lindsey O’Rourke’s Fresh Tomato Soup, Sheri Whitley’s Goodbye Winter, Hello Summer Salad, or Deb Schenk’s Pesto Pasta Salad.
Still hungry? You will love the variety and simplicity of our main-dish submissions—Jenny Fitzgerald’s Honey Lime Rosemary Chicken and Carol Bonham’s Spanish Pork Chops. It’s difficult to decide which dessert to try first, Bridget Brann’s seasonal Strawberry Cake or Carrie Wilbanks’ Chocolate Cobbler. On second thought, chocolate and strawberries go quite well together. How about we enjoy them both?
“This absolutely should be included since it is the easiest to make a most delicious dip. It’s also easy to double or triple depending on the size of the party.”
- 1 15-ounce can of whole kernel corn, drained
- 1 8-ounce block cream cheese, softened
- 1 10-ounce can Rotel tomatoes, drained
Put all ingredients in sauce pan over medium heat until cream cheese is fully melted and everything is combined. Best eaten with Fritos Scoops
Fresh Tomato Soup
“I have had tomato soup in restaurants before and have always enjoyed it. I used a base of most of the common recipes, but modified them to my own tastes. I always try to make healthy choices for meals, and always looking for ways to ‘sneak’ a few vegetables in my cooking. This soup is a great way to add healthy fresh vegetables—tomatoes, garlic, and sweet peppers—without having my children pick out the pieces of vegetables, since they are pureed and blended to a creamy delicious consistency.”
—Lindsey M. O’Rourke
- 10 to 14 Roma tomatoes
- 4 cloves of freshly peeled garlic
- 1 sliced/chopped sweet pepper, red, yellow, or orange
- 2 tablespoons basil pesto
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 16-ounce carton unsalted chicken broth
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Wash and cut the Roma tomatoes. Place in a glass or metal baking dish. Add olive oil, garlic, sweet pepper, pesto, and paprika to the baking dish. Roast in the oven for 20 minutes. Lightly toast the mixture under the broiler for 2 to 3 minutes at the end of the baking time. The broiler will bring out the sweetness of the tomatoes, garlic and peppers.
Take the dish out of the oven and let cool for several minutes (approximately 10 minutes). Add cooled contents of baking dish to a blender and blend on a medium setting. Add approximately half of the chicken broth to the blender to reduce the thickness of the mixture. You may need to blend the contents of the baking dish in two separate batches. When fully blended, and the base has a good consistency, add the blended mixture to a large pan on the stove top. Add the remaining chicken broth, add salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer the mixture for approximately 15 to 20 minutes.
Serve with a light sprinkle of dried sweet basil, paprika, or grated parmesan cheese, or maybe all three. Enjoy!
Goodbye Winter, Hello Summer Salad
“I came up with the recipe a few summers ago. My first try with cherry tomatoes and cucumbers. I’m not much of a gardener but like to use a couple of my large planters for vegetables in the summer. Those warm cherry tomatoes right off the vine are heavenly!”
- 1 container cherry tomatoes sliced in half
- ½ red onion, chopped
- 1 large English cucumber (unpeeled) cut long ways in half and then cut each half in half long ways; then slice each quarter to make small chunks (If using regular cucumbers, peel and deseed first.)
- ½ cup feta cheese
- ½ cup black olives cut in half, optional
- ¼ cup FRESH mint leaves chopped
- ¼ cup fresh basil leaves chopped
In a large bowl combine all ingredients.
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 lemon cut in half and hand juiced
In a separate bowl or container with a lid, mix olive oil and lemon juice. Either whisk very well or shake in a container with a lid. Do not pour over salad until ready to serve.
Just before serving pour dressing over entire salad and gently stir to combine; being mindful not to “mush up” the feta.
Pesto Pasta Salad
“I came up with this recipe when I was invited to a cook out at the last minute and had to use items that were already in my pantry. It was such a success that my friends always request that I bring this to picnics, potlucks and cook outs. It’s a great summer recipe and I always make sure that I have the ingredients on hand!”
- 1 16-ounce box of rotini pasta
- 1 6.5-ounce jar of basil pesto
- ½ cup mayonnaise
- Juice of one lemon
- 10-ounce container grape tomatoes, halved
- 8 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, diced
- 3 celery ribs, diced
- 6 scallions, green parts only, diced
- Salt and pepper to taste
Cook pasta to al dente, according to package directions. Drain and allow to cool completely.
In a large bowl, combine pasta with pesto, mayonnaise, and lemon juice. Mix until completely blended. Gently stir in tomatoes, cheese, celery, and scallions so as not to crush vegetables. Add salt and pepper according to personal taste.
Serves 12-15. Great for potluck picnics!
“This is a favorite with all of our family get-togethers. They even request it for Thanksgiving and Christmas. This is a great salad for the summer but is good anytime of the year.”
- 1 pound hamburger
- 1 bag of Nacho Cheese Doritos
- 8-ounce package of shredded Colby or cheddar cheese (if you like you can use taco flavored shredded cheese)
- 8-ounce bottle of 1000 island dressing
- Taco Seasoning Mix
- Shredded lettuce (1 head of lettuce or a bag of shredded lettuce)
- Hot Sauce
Brown hamburger, pour off grease. Add all but 1 tablespoon of taco seasoning mix. Let cool completely, I refrigerate mine overnight. Combine shredded lettuce, broken Doritos, shredded cheese, cooled hamburger and mix well. Combine 1000 island dressing, 2 ½ teaspoons of hot sauce, and the tablespoon of reserved taco seasoning mix. Mix well and pour over the salad and mix well. Eat and enjoy!
Buffalo Chicken Crispitos
“This is one of my favorite go-to recipes for weeknights because the whole family loves it. It’s quick, and only takes a few ingredients to make!”
- 1-pound boneless, skinless chicken breast
- 1 bottle of Red Hots Buffalo Sauce
- 1 package of flour tortillas
- 1 cup of shredded cheddar cheese
Cook the chicken breast in the crockpot on low for 6-8 hours. Shred cooked chicken with a fork.
Preheat the oven to 375. Pour the Red Hots Buffalo Sauce over chicken and mix together. Line each tortilla with the chicken mixture and sprinkle with cheddar cheese. Roll each tortilla up and place on a baking sheet.
In a microwave, melt 1 stick of butter. Brush the butter on each rolled tortilla. Bake for 20 minutes, flip over, brush with more butter, bake additional 10 minutes. ENJOY!!!!
Honey Lime Rosemary Chicken
“It’s a recipe that my really good friend, Brenda Toledano, shared with me. She is a fabulous cook thanks to being Puerto Rican and having an Italian mother-in-law. She also taught me how to make wonderful pasta sauces and a delicious homemade pesto.
“I ‘simplified’ Brenda’s recipe a bit. My friend uses a few more spices in her recipe, that includes a rub for the chicken. I just use a bit of salt and pepper to season the chicken and then add the lime juice, honey and rosemary. The honey and lime are a very simple and tasty combo with the rosemary. I also don’t actually measure my ingredients, but provided what would be the right measure for the amount of meat. (I eyeball and am sometimes a little generous with some ingredients.)
“Hope you try it. It’s very yummy (and easy), plus, I like getting outdoors and using the grill in the summer – plus, less cleanup in the kitchen.”
- 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (or 8 boneless/skinless chicken thighs)
- 1-2 small limes, fresh-squeezed to make ½ cup juice
- ½ cup honey (we use clover honey)
- 4-6 sprigs fresh rosemary (or 1 teaspoon dried rosemary if you don’t have fresh)
- Salt and pepper to taste
Salt and pepper chicken and set aside. Mix lime juice, honey and rosemary in a small bowl and pour into a gallon size Ziploc bag. Add the chicken and coat well with the marinade. Refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight. May also freeze the chicken in the marinade for later. If you freeze, be sure to wrap chicken in plastic wrap and then seal in Ziploc bag, removing any excess air from bag to prevent freezer burn.
Cook chicken on a preheated grill, coated with cooking spray to prevent sticking. Cook until done. You can also bake in the oven at 375 degrees for 30 mins. Place chicken in an oven safe shallow baking and cover with foil for first 20 minutes, then remove foil and bake for 10-15 minutes longer.
This grilled chicken recipe is really easy and very tasty. It’s a big hit with our family in the summer. Serve with grilled buttery cilantro corn on the cobb, a large tossed salad and garlic bread. For dessert, try some grilled peaches, sliced in half and pits removed, and topped with a sprinkle of ground cinnamon and vanilla ice cream. Enjoy!
Spanish Pork Chops
“If you want a quick and easy fall-off-the-bone delicious pork chop, try these! As a child this recipe was a family favorite and we never had to be told to finish our dinner. Now that my siblings and I are grown, we have continued to make this recipe a staple when plating up mouth-watering pork chops. They never fail to please the palate. You can serve with a variety of veggies. Our favorite is English peas and mashed potatoes.”
—Carol L. Bonham
- 2 to 4 bone-in pork chops
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- Salt & pepper
- ½ cup of water
- ¼ cup of vinegar
- 2 tablespoons of sugar
- ¼ cup of ketchup
- 1 tablespoon of mustard
In skillet, heat 2 teaspoons of olive oil on medium-heat. Brown pork chops. Salt & pepper.
In a measuring cup with spout – mix together the water, vinegar, sugar and pour around the pork chops. Mix together the ketchup and mustard and top each of the pork chops. Continue to cook on stovetop on medium-to-low heat for 20-25 minutes to an internal temperature of 135 F degrees.
- 2 tubs angel food cake
- 16 ounces cool whip
- 12 ounces cream cheese
- 1 container strawberry glaze
- 4 tablespoons confectioner sugar
In a large bowl mix cool whip cream cheese and confectioners’ sugar.
Tear angel food cake into bite-size pieces. Slowly add to bowl with cool whip cream cheese and confections sugar and mix until fully mixed together to consistency desired. Pour into 9×13 pan spread out evenly. Cut strawberries up into chunks add glaze and mix well. Pour over cake
Refrigerate for 2 hours. Serve.
“I came up with this recipe with my great grandmother when I was young. We were just messing around in the kitchen baking and it came out amazing and I have been making it ever since. It’s very special to me because it was one of the last things I got to bake with her, but it will be a memory I will cherish forever.”
- 2 sticks of butter
- 1 ¼ cup sugar
- 1 ½ cup self-rising flour
- 1 tsp vanilla
- ¾ cup milk
- 1 cup sugar
- 6 tbsp cocoa
- 2 cups boiling water
Preheat oven to 350. In a 9×13 baking pan melt 2 sticks of butter in the oven. Meanwhile, in a bowl, mix together the 1¼ c sugar, flour, vanilla and milk. Once the butter is melted, pour the batter over the butter but DO NOT STIR! Meanwhile, in a separate bowl, mix the cocoa and 1 cup sugar together and sprinkle on top of the butter and batter and DO NOT STIR! Pour the 2 cups of boiling water on top (not all in one place, but back and forth over the batter.) DO NOT STIR! Bake for 30-45 minutes until top is golden brown.