Fire up the grill! My most popular casual summer meal means burgers will be sizzling and served with side dishes that provide a combination of great flavors.
Our family and friends, young and old alike, anticipate my meal of Provolone Burgers, Greek Macaroni Salad, Fried Dill Pickle Coins and Lemonade Icebox Pie.
Whether they're prepared on the patio, at a picnic, at the lake or at the campground, Provolone Burgers get an overwhelming thumbs-up from everyone who tastes them. Neither my son, Ricky, nor his dad, Rick, ever tires of these burgers.
Garlic, onion, basil and oregano give a savory spark to the beef patties. A slice of provolone cheese makes the perfect topping for these well-seasoned burgers…and it's a nice change from the usual cheddar or American. Of course, you can substitute whatever cheese you like best.
When my daughter Heather comes over for this meal, she usually goes back for seconds of Greek Macaroni Salad. I've had many compliments on the combination of ingredients and the salad's pleasant oil-and-lemon dressing.
It's a great dish to take to potluck events, like the luncheons we often plan at my office. I have worked in the business services office at West Virginia University for 25 years.
Our staff looks for any excuse for a party. One of us will bring in a covered dish or slow-cooked main dish, and the rest will sign up to contribute other foods and beverages for the meal.
We always kick off the college football season with a "gold and blue" luncheon the Friday before WVU's first game. Holidays and birthdays provide even more opportunities for planning a potluck.
On any given day, someone in the department may bring in something new that they've cooked or baked for the rest of us to sample. These goodies are always devoured, and we are constantly exchanging good recipes.
Trying new dishes and fixing foods that are a little different keep cooking interesting.
That's why I hope you'll try Fried Dill Pickle Coins. New to many folks, fried pickles are featured at several restaurants in our county. They're fun and make a nice accompaniment to a burger or sandwich. So I tried making them at home and have found they're quite easy.
I tell doubters not to turn up their noses until they taste this unusual recipe. Usually one puffy golden fried pickle slice leads to another!
To top off a meal on a warm day, Lemonade Icebox Pie looks and tastes refreshing. It's hard for anyone to turn down a slice of this high, fluffy, creamy dessert.
I love lemon. So when I'm perusing the many cookbooks in my big collection, recipes with lemon as a main ingredient always catch my eye. Homemade lemonade has long been a treat for me on a hot day, and this pie has a lemonade personality.
Moms Were Mentors
I've been interested in cooking since I was in junior high. Helping my mother make and decorate molasses cookies at Christmastime was something I particularly enjoyed.
My mother-in-law, Jennie M., has also influenced my cooking in so many delicious ways. She has given me great cooking pointers and has taught me how to prepare many of her Polish specialties. We've shared lots of recipes over the years.
Besides my full-time job, I'm a part-time student in a regent's program of general studies at the university. Plus, I try to keep up with Ricky's busy school schedule and other activities.
Keeping my growing son filled up is always a challenge. With our busy schedule, I need quick-to-fix meals and recipes that can be made ahead. Thats why this favorite summer meal suits us so well.
Next time you're up for grilling, I hope you'll give my menu a try. If your gang is like mine, they'll be asking for a repeat performance soon.
Cheryl's Helpful Hints
- For a simple side dish to go with meat, stuff a whole onion with one clove of garlic and bake until tender. Serve with sour cream and chopped chives.
- Deep-fry curly parsley sprigs for a few seconds to make a deliciously different garnish.
- For crunchy coleslaw, cut a cabbage in half and soak in salted water for 1 hour. Drain and proceed with the recipe.
- To test the freshness of dried herbs, rub them between your hands. If there is no aroma, they have lost their potency.
- Add a tablespoon of butter to an inexpensive cake mix for a richer flavor.
- Soups and stews too salty? Add a raw potato to absorb the salt.