Cook Like a Rockstar!

I must confess, certain dishes bring to mind wonderful memories.  Doesn’t that happen to you, too, especially when smelling the aroma of sauce cooking, cookies baking, or grilling in the ‘hood (I’m always hoping that amazing smell is coming from my home).  Aren’t you instantly transported back to a time or place when you smelled that delicious aroma once before?  As mentioned before, food is my love language and in today’s confession I wanted to share with you a meal plan in which each recipe brings to mind a treasured memory.  From appetizer to dessert, here are some rockin’ recipes you are gonna want to whip up for your next gathering and create some memories of your own.

I came across this appetizer not too long ago, but (hand to heaven) each and every time I’ve made it and brought it to a gathering, I get two reactions.  Reaction #1)  “I need this recipe now!” and Reaction #2) “You have GOT to make this again for our next party.”

 

My sixteen year old nephew said for his next birthday he wants this as his gift – a huge pan of Jalepeño Popper Dip found at the Taste of Home website. I love remembering his comment as I prepare it once more – it always puts a smile on my face.  Sometimes I use mild peppers and other times I ramp it up with hot jalepeños.  Serve this dish with multigrain tortilla chips, wheat crackers, or vegetables.  You will be a rock star after your guests eat one taste.

For a main course I suggest a casserole recipe.  You might be thinking, “Ugh, a casserole?!”  But this recipe has withstood the test of time, having come across it about 20 years ago. Swiss Chicken Casserole (this one from Allrecipes.com) is total comfort food and it doubles as an easy dish to bring to a sick loved one or a new mom who needs a hearty meal.

I brought it to both my daughter and daughter-in-law after the grand babies were born, and wished I had this meal brought to me after the birth of my two children.  It is often requested by the adult kids still to this day.  The link to this recipe says to bake for 50 minutes, but that’s only if your chicken breasts are on the thicker side.  I tend to butterfly cut mine and cook for less time.  Maybe not the most heart healthy recipe, but a crowd pleaser nonetheless.  Add a side salad as the perfect pairing.

When I was young, my mother’s Polish side of the family would often gather for Sunday meals, and I can honestly say I did not enjoy many traditional Polish dishes, and instead I gravitated more towards my father’s Sicilian tastes.  My mother’s sister, Aunt Sophie, would frequently make jello with whipped cream to cater to us little kids, but the adults would just ‘oooh’ and ‘aaaah’ about her Polish cheesecake.

IMG_0779I recently saw this very type of cheesecake being sold at a market/bakery near my home, and instantly I was transported back to my aunt’s kitchen as she cut and served it.  Tastes mature over time and I have grown to love this dessert.  Not having her original recipe and after much searching, I came across this recipe for Polish Cheese Cake Squares from cozycountryliving.com and it’s a winner!  Time consuming, but worth the effort.  I like to serve this with fresh strawberries.  #beyonddelicious  #goodbyejello

Lastly, this recipe for a macaroni salad is not exactly part of today’s menu, but worth mentioning because of the funny memory that comes to mind. At a graduation party not too long ago, one of the teens sampled it and came back to the table I was sitting at (not knowing I was the one who brought this dish) with half a plate of my Tuna Macaroni Salad spilling over the sides and on the other half was a sandwich with the same tuna salad as its filling stuffed to overflowing!  I was so flattered – talk about an over the top complement.  It’s just a basic macaroni salad that makes a tasty side dish.   IMG_0684All you do is prepare 1 lb. of elbow macaroni and allow it to cool.  Then add canned tuna (drained and flaked with a fork), chopped celery, chopped onion, chopped green pepper, salt/pepper, and mix in as much Miracle Whip until it’s no longer dry.  A dusting of paprika over the top adds a nice touch.  Refrigerate before serving.  With regard to the chopped veggies – I use an equal amount of all three, usually about a cup of each because I like crunchies in my macaroni salad.  Adjust to your taste.  Questions? Ask me in the comment section.

Disclaimer: In a previous post I mentioned my change in diet, and also discussed allowing for those times I will once in a while deviate from my plan and these recipes would definitely be a deviation ; )

Do you have a favorite recipe that brings back a memory?

 

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