Memorial Day marks the beginning of cook out season in these parts. The following recipes will be a hit at any summer cook out you attend, I promise! This year, we packed the family into our car and travelled to our home state of Indiana for the long weekend. Our agenda was packed with 2 family cookouts, a small baby shower brunch, the disassembly and transport of a large wooden playset, and some quality time boating and chilling on the beach. Needless to say my pictures are minimal. I kept getting distracted and I forgot to snap the steps and unfortunately even the finished product.
Indianapolis on race weekend is alive with 500 excitement. You'll find race parties on every block. Every year my husband's brother and his wife host a big race party. Our family, friends from college, and their neighborhood buddies gather for food and fun and pick their favorites for the race. This year the guest list topped out around 60 people. I emailed my sister-in-law a few days before the party in inquire what she'd like me to bring. She loves my Cheddar Beef Pull Apart Bread. She also voted for my famous Rotini Salad and my 7 Layer Dip. Excellent choices, Stacey! I ended up bringing a big batch of my Monster Cookies, the 7 Layer Dip, the rotini salad (recipe below) and a Jimmy Carter Cake(also shown below). When I emailed what I was bringing she replied back,"That's too much!" Considering that all of the guests were bringing a side dish, she was probably right. I tend to over-do it. I reasoned that whatever didn't get eaten at the cookout, we'd take back to my mother-in-law and father-in-law's home and eat it for the rest of the weekend. As it turns out, a few hours into the event, the Monster Cookies were gone, the 7 layer dip...gone, there were only a couple spoonfulls of the Rotini Salad remaining, and there were two tiny pieces of Jimmy Carter cake looking lonely in the big empty cake pan. It's always such a compliment to haul away your empty dishes from a pitch-in, don'tcha think?
Now let me show you how to make my all-time favorite pasta salad! If the setting for these pictures looks different to you, it is. I'm cooking in my mother-in-law's kitchen. Bless her heart! While we were trekking across the state to her house, she ran out and grabbed up all of the ingredients I'd need for the next two recipes. I don't know anyone who has tried this pasta salad and not liked it. If there's an ingredient you don't like, just leave it out OR throw it in for the sake of your guests and then push it aside when you're eating(that's what I do with the green peppers...one bite of a green pepper and I taste it all day. Eww.) My family has been making this perfect addition to any summer cookout for years. I'm not really sure who it came from, but I'm glad we found it!
For the dressing you need oil(plain old vegetable oil works best), vinegar, sugar, garlic salt, onion salt, basil, Accent, and black pepper. Combine them in a small sauce pan and bring to a boil. Then remove from heat to cool a little.
You also need 1 large onion, 2 carrots, 2 peppers (I use a green and a yellow), 2 tomatoes, and a handfull of pepperoni.
Chop em' all up and toss into a large bowl. This is my favorite bowl for this salad. It's a big, plastic, purple bowl. Nothing special, but it fits the salad perfectly and best of all it's got a nice, tight fitting lid that makes it great for transporting the salad to the cookout location.
Cook a package of rotini pasta according to package directions, then drain and rinse with cold water before you add it to the bowl and toss with the other ingredients.
Pour the dressing over the top and stir it up. I like to make mine the night before so the flavors have a chance to blend. Unfortunately, I didn't get a shot of the finished product. It's delicious and colorful. You'll make it again and again.
1 package rotini pasta, cooked according to package directions. Drain and rinse with cold water.
2/3 cup sugar
2/3 cup oil
2/3 cup vinegar
1 t. garlic salt
1 t. onion salt
1 t. basil
1 t. Accent
1 t. black pepper
Combine the ingredients. Bring to a boil. Cool while you chop the following ingredients:
1 large onion, diced
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
1 red or yellow pepper, chopped
2 tomatoes, chopped
Combine the pasta, veggies, and pepperoni. Pour the dressing over the top and toss to combine. Cover and refrigerate until serving.
Now for dessert! I've been eyeing the Jimmy Carter Cake that Mary at My New 30 has pictured in the sidebar of her blog. I was excited for an excuse to try out this decadent looking recipe. So worth the wait! YUM! Unfortunately, Blogger was acting all crazy and I couldn't access her blog when it came time to print the recipe. Luckily, I googled Jimmy Carter Cake and came up with a number of results, all of them pretty similar.
I started out by chopping 2/3 cup of dry roasted peanuts.
Then I combined a stick of butter, some flour, and the peanuts and cut them all together. I know that's part of a mixer in the bowl. I looked high and low for my MIL's pastry cutter with no luck. I started out using the mixer attachment and resorted to using a fork in the end. Once the ingredients are combined, press them into the bottom of a buttered baking dish and bake for 15 minutes. Remove and cool.
While the crust baked, I combined powdered sugar, peanut butter, cream cheese, and Cool Whip for the first layer.
Spread it on the cooled crust.
Now mix two packages of instant pudding with milk. I ended up using two packages of chocolate, one chocolate fudge. Depending on the recipe, some prefer one vanilla and one chocolate. Beat the milk into the pudding until thick. It took me about 5 minutes. Spread the pudding layer over the peanut butter layer.
Finally, top it with Cool Whip and shave a chocolate bar over the top. I loved Mary's idea of topping the cake with cherries. It just makes it that much more cheery and irresistible with those pretty bright maraschino cherries carefully placed on top. Kind of like a peanut butter fudge sundae.
I really wish that I'd gotten a good picture of one perfectly sliced piece of this mouth-watering creation. But I forgot. Instead I snapped a picture of the leftovers the next morning. These two measly pieces were all that were left from the cookout. They were gone by noon the next day. I'm not saying who ate them : )
Jimmy Carter Cake
2/3 c. crushed peanuts
1 c. flour
1 stick of butter
Combine and press down in 9 x 13 inch pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes.
1 c. peanut butter
8 oz. cream cheese
1 c. powdered sugar
8 oz. Cool Whip
Blend first 3 ingredients until smooth, then fold in Cool Whip.
1 sm. pkg. instant chocolate pudding
1 sm. pkg. instant chocolate fudge pudding
2 3/4 c. milk
Beat at high speed about 5 minutes until thick.
More Cool Whip to cover
Shaved chocolate. I used a bar of Hershey's Special Dark