Our week of fun and relaxation has come to an end, leaving great memories, some post-vacation blues and a couple of unwanted pounds in its wake. We enjoyed a lot of time on the rivers and lakes of southwest Virginia, which allowed us to pack in a great deal of activity without a lot of driving.
We also packed a lot of food into our gullets, but it wouldn’t be vacation if we didn’t, would it? Pizza, steak, ribs, kabobs, fresh salads, grilled asparagus, banana pudding and lots of other treats made up our vacation menu. We even bought a box of Krispy Kreme donuts, which is about as sinful as it gets for me. Howard made his vacation staple, “cheesy chicken and mushrooms,” a copy of a dish that used to be on Shaker’s menu when he worked there years ago. I discovered a brand new recipe and found an old one I used to love but hadn’t had in about 15 years.
I’d like to share these recipes for corn salad with jalapeno-lime dressing, cheesy chicken and mushrooms, and cherries in the snow with you, kind readers, in the hopes that you will enjoy them as much as we did. They are not all healthy. No harping, please. I have my gym bag packed in the car right now.
Corn Salad with Jalapeno-Lime Dressing
This is a wonderful way to enjoy fresh summer corn. It can be prepared as directed or, if you prefer, you can grill the vegetables and then chop them up (We’d run out of gas in the grill the night I made this). If you are making this ahead of time, wait until just before you serve it to add the avocados so they don’t get nasty.
4 ears corn, steamed and kernels cut off the cob
1/2 large red or orange bell pepper, diced
1 cup chopped tomatoes (or cherry or grape tomatoes, halved)
Thinly sliced onion to taste (I used about 1/4 cup sweet onion)
1 large zucchini, diced and blanched (or microwaved with a little water for 1 minute)
2 avocados, pitted, peeled and cut in chunks
Juice of 2 limes
1 large clove garlic, minced
1/2 to 1 jalapeno, minced
1 1/2 Tbsp. olive or vegetable oil
1 Tbsp. sugar or honey
2 Tbsp. pineapple juice
Salt and pepper to taste
1. Whisk together all of the dressing ingredients.
2. Place all vegetables in a bowl. Pour dressing over and gently stir together. Let marinate for about 30 minutes in the refrigerator before serving.
Cheesy Chicken and Mushrooms
My husband worked at Shaker’s in Roanoke for 5 years while he was putting himself through school. This was one of his favorite dishes on the menu so he likes to recreate it occasionally, especially when we are on vacation with his best friend, Mike. But it’s really easy enough to make on a random week night.
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 jar good quality Alfredo sauce (or about 3 cups homemade Alfredo)
1 jar canned mushrooms or 1 cup sauteed fresh mushrooms
4 slices Provolone, mozzarella or muenster cheese
Salt and pepper
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Season chicken breasts with a little salt and pepper and grill them until JUST before they are finished in the middle. Transfer to a 13 x 9-inch baking dish. Arrange mushrooms on each chicken piece and pour sauce over all. Place in the oven for about 20 minutes, or until sauce is bubbly.
3. Place a slice of cheese over each chicken breast, switch oven to broil and broil until cheese has melted and is lightly brown and bubbly. Serve with rice.
Cherries in the Snow
In high school, I dated a guy whose aunt made this fabulous dessert. I have thought about it from time to time since then but never was motivated enough to look up the recipe. Well, it’s all over the place. I’m sure several of you have heard of cherries in the snow before. Perhaps you even make it. The recipes vary slightly. The aunt’s recipe called for Dream Whip, a powdered whipped topping mix. But the recipe I found and tried just called for a container of whipped cream. This dessert also always calls for canned cherry pie filling. If the processed ingredients offend you, you could whip your own cream and use fresh or home-canned cherries, but they need to be juicy. You can also make this like a punch bowl cake, by layering the cake, cream cheese mixture and cherries a couple of times in a clear bowl.
1 angel food cake
1 (8 oz.) package cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 container whipped cream
1 (20 oz.) can cherry pie filling
1. Tear angel food cake into chunks and put them in the bottom of a deep casserole dish.
2. Using a hand mixer, combine cream cheese and sugar and mix until very soft and creamy. Gently fold in the whipped cream until it is all combined.
3. Spread cream cheese mixture over cake.
4. Pour cherry pie filling all over the top of the cream cheese mixture. Keep refrigerated.