Social gathering produces recipe requests

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Recently we had a graduation party for our son Ross. Several people asked for recipes, and I can't remember exactly who wanted which recipes, so I am including those that I know for sure. It was such a great time having so many of the kids together and friends to celebrate the class of 2012 and their accomplishments. I hope you enjoy these recipes, and they find a place into your recipe files as some of your favorites, as they have mine.

Cold Green Bean and Asparagus Salad

I made this recipe several times, but I did cut back on the basil a bit.


1/2 pound green beans, trimmed of stems

3/4 pound regular or pencil asparagus, trimmed of rough ends, a small bundle

1/2 red onion, thinly sliced

1 cup flat-leaf parsley, a couple of handfuls

1 lemon, zested and juiced

1/2 cup basil, 12 leaves, a couple of handfuls

1 small clove garlic, cracked from skin

1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or Romano, a generous handful

1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil, eyeball it

Salt and pepper

2 plum tomatoes, seeded and thinly sliced lengthwise

Bring 1 inch of water to a boil, add salt and green beans, cover and cook 2 minutes, then add asparagus and cook 3 minutes more. If using pencil asparagus, blanch for 1 to 2 minutes. Drain well and cold shock vegetables in ice water to stop them cooking. Drain the vegetables on clean kitchen towels to dry completely. Thinly slice the green beans lengthwise on an angle; pile them together and run your knife through them cutting them into 2-inch pieces. Halve the asparagus lengthwise if thicker, leave in spindles if thin, then cut the spears into 2-inch pieces on an angle. Combine the beans, asparagus, 1/2 cup of parsley and onion in a shallow bowl.

Combine the lemon zest and juice, remaining 1/2 cup of parsley and herbs in a food processor with cheese. Turn processor on and stream in extra-virgin olive oil. Season the dressing with salt and pepper and pour over the salad. Season the sliced tomatoes with salt and garnish salad with them.

Spicy Cajun Crackers

We like these crackers as a snack, along side a hot bowl of chili, or with summer sausage or deer sausage. This recipe is easy yet tasty, and it can be halved by cutting all ingredients in half or even quartered for a small batch.

1 1/4 cups canola oil

1 package Hidden Valley Ranch salad dressing mix, dry

2 tablespoons crushed red pepper flakes

Pinch of cayenne pepper, or to taste

1 box saltine crackers, 4 sleeves

Mix first 5 ingredients together. Dump all of the crackers into a large bowl with a tightfitting lid. Pour mixture over crackers. Put lid on bowl. Turn, gently many times to coat crackers and then continue to turn bowl over and around every 10 or 15 minutes for a couple of hours. Store crackers tightly covered.

Crazy Cajun Upside-Down Pickles

This recipe is easily reduced to make 1/2 gallon or even a quart, but make plenty, as they will disappear quickly.

1 gallon jar sliced or spears dill pickles

2 ounces Franks Hot Sauce

10 cloves garlic, sliced or minced

4 cups sugar

Open jar of pickles, either hamburger slices or spears. Drain off all liquid from the jar. Spread pickles out on a jelly roll pan. If I am using spears, I usually cut each spear into thirds or fourths to make big chunks. Sprinkle sugar over all pickles. Into the empty jar, add the Franks Hot Sauce and the garlic. I usually slice the garlic into thin slices.

Then, add the pickles and sugar back into the jar, taking a rubber spatula and scraping all of the sugary goodness and juice back into the jar. Screw the lid on tight and start turning the jar over and over until well mixed. Every hour or so turn the jar over and continue this process for several hours, then can be done further apart. These can be served the same day, or even better the next day.

Surprise Filled Cupcakes

This recipe is so versatile you can use any flavor cake mix, but omit the mini chocolate chips if the flavor combination is not right with the chocolate chips. We like spice and orange cake mix with the chocolate chips, and lemon without the chocolate chips, but there is something really special about the chocolate cake with the chocolate chips. The recipe does not indicate any icing for them, and I usually don't except on special occasions, but even then, only sparingly.

1 box chocolate cake mix, or any other flavor preference

Ingredients to prepare the cake mix as directed on the box

8 ounces cream cheese

1/3 cup sugar

1 egg

6 ounces mini chocolate chips

Mix cake mix according to the package directions. In a separate small bowl, cream together the cream cheese and sugar; beat in the egg, then stir in the mini chocolate chips. Fill cupcake papers 2/3 full, being careful not to overfill. Drop a rounded teaspoonful of the cream cheese mixture on the top of the batter in the paper baking cups. Bake 350 degrees for about 18 minutes, or just until done. These may be served without the addition of an icing, and should be stored in the refrigerator.

M&M Fudge

For this occasion, I used only the orange and black M&M's and it made the candy festive for a Central High School graduation party. We cut it into small pieces and placed the pieces into bright-colored orange designed cupcake papers.

2 1/2 cups sugar

3/4 cup margarine

2/3 cup evaporated milk

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 cups creamy peanut butter

1 jar (7 ounces) marshmallow creme

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 1/2 cups plain M&M candies

Combine sugar, margarine, milk and salt in saucepan. Bring to rolling boil over high heat, stirring constantly. Continue boiling over medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Stir in peanut butter until melted. Stir in marshmallow creme and vanilla until well blended. Fold in candies and immediately spread in 13-by-9-inch pan. Cool at room temperature.

Orange Brownies

These are so refreshing and a little on the rich side, so I cut them small and placed the squares in different designed orange cupcake papers. They are so good you might want not be able to stop with just one small piece.

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

2 cups granulated sugar

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened

4 eggs

2 teaspoons pure orange extract

1 rounded teaspoon grated orange zest

1 recipe orange cream cheese frosting, recipe follows

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 13-by-9-by-2-inch pan. Stir together flour, granulated sugar and salt in a bowl. Add butter, eggs, orange extract and orange zest. Using a handheld electric mixer, beat until well blended. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 30 minutes, or until light golden brown and set. Remove from oven, allow to cool and pierce entire cake with a fork. Spread the orange cream cheese frosting over completely cooled brownies. Cut into squares.

Orange Cream Cheese Frosting

1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened

4 tablespoons softened butter

1 (1-pound) box confectioners' sugar

2 tablespoons orange zest

2 tablespoons fresh orange juice

In a large mixing bowl, whip the butter and cream cheese together with a hand-held electric mixer. Gradually beat in the confectioners' sugar until it is all combined and smooth. Beat in the orange zest and juice. Spread over cooled brownies.

Have a great week, and until next time, happy cooking.

Susan McClanahan is administrator at the Cape Girardeau Senior Center. Send recipes to her at or by mail at P.O. Box 699, Cape Girardeau, MO 63701. Recipes published have not been kitchen-tested by Southeast Missourian staff.

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