Summer calls for salsa, salad and sweets


July is a special time. From potlucks and Independence Day celebrations to juicy
peaches and ice cream treats, it’s the perfect month to celebrate summer.
So, grab your family, get outdoors, visit a farmers’ market and enjoy summer while you can.

Sweet peaches are key to this recipe.
If you don’t have fresh, you can use canned but drain them first. I took this to a party and people gobbled it up!

Quick Black Bean and Peach Salsa

Makes 6 servings.

1  cup very ripe fresh peaches, peeled and diced                 
1 15-ounce can seasoned black beans
1/2 cup chunky salsa (I use Pace)
1/3 cup cilantro, chopped
1 teaspoon cumin seed
2 teaspoons lime juice
1/3 cup red onion, minced
Salt and pepper to taste

Place peaches in a medium bowl. Drain black beans and add to peaches. Add all remaining ingredients. Stir until thoroughly combined. Refrigerate until time to serve.


German Chocolate Ice Cream Sandwiches

Makes 12-15.

For these German Chocolate Ice Cream Sandwiches, use a chocolate cake mix instead of German chocolate; the chocolate flavor will be more pronounced in a traditional mix. These will be a hit with the family. They’re delicious, fun and messy, so grab some wet wipes.

1 box chocolate cake mix                                                     
2 eggs
1/2 cup canola oil
1/3 cup shredded coconut, plus more for garnish
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips, plus more for garnish
1/2 cup pecans, chopped
Two pints ice cream (I used vanilla and chocolate)

Heat oven to 350.

In a large bowl, stir together cake mix, eggs, oil, 1/3 cup coconut and 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips until thoroughly combined. Form into 1-inch balls or larger, depending on how big you want the sandwiches. Place balls several inches apart on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. (These cookies will really spread out, so give them space.)

Bake 7-8 minutes. Cool completely before making sandwiches.

To assemble, place pecans, additional shredded coconut and additional mini chocolate chips on three separate small plates. Place a big scoop of ice cream on top of a cookie, top with a second cookie and roll in pecans, coconut and mini chocolate chips. Assemble remaining ice cream sandwiches. Serve immediately.

Shrimp and Mango Pasta Salad

Makes 6-8 servings.

So many pasta salads call for Italian or ranch dressing, but the unique flavors in Shrimp and Mango Pasta Salad will stand out at a potluck.

Note: Buy mangos several days in advance to ripen. If you cannot find fresh, grocery stores sell snack-size portions for children’s lunches near the canned fruit. You will need three plastic containers, and be sure to thoroughly drain. Refrigerated mango slices work well, too.

4 cups rotini pasta, uncooked                                                       
3 cups shredded coleslaw mix
1 pound shrimp, cooked and peeled with tails removed
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon canola oil
1/4 cup lime juice
2 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon cumin seed
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1 cup mango, diced
2 green onions, sliced
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1/3 cup cilantro, chopped

Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain cooked pasta and place in a large bowl. Immediately stir in the coleslaw mix and set aside.

Cut shrimp into thirds. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.

For the sauce, whisk together mayonnaise, canola oil, lime juice, sugar, cumin seed, ground cumin and pepper.

Stir the shrimp, mango and vegetables into the pasta; add the sauce, stirring thoroughly. Refrigerate at least 2 hours and toss before serving.

Flag Trifle

Makes 15 servings.

If you’re serving dessert outside, decorate this Flag Trifle with a flag pinwheel (available at discount/dollar stores). A spinning pinwheel adds to the presentation, and kiddos love it.

1 box white cake mix                                                                                                 
1/2 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon almond extract
3 eggs
1/2 cup canola oil
3/4 cup water
2 cups milk
1 3.4-ounce package white chocolate or cheesecake flavored instant pudding
1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
2 (8-ounce) tubs of whipped topping (you will not use it all)
4 cups sliced strawberries
1 1/3 cups strawberry preserves
1 pint fresh blueberries

Flag windmill (optional)

Heat oven to 350.

In a large bowl, beat together the cake mix, sour cream, almond extract, eggs, canola oil and water. Beat for 2 minutes, then pour into a heavily greased 13 x 9 inch pan. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until cake pulls away from the sides. Cool completely.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the milk, pudding, sweetened condensed milk and half a tub of whipped topping until combined. Cover and refrigerate.

To assemble trifle, cut cake into cubes and place half the cake in the bottom of a trifle dish. Top with half of the pudding mixture. Top with about 2 cups of strawberries. Then cover with the next layer of cake.

Place strawberry preserves in the microwave for 10 seconds to warm and then pour preserves over the cake. Top with most of the remaining strawberries. (Keep some back to decorate the top.) Spread on the rest of the pudding mixture. Then top with 1 full tub of whipped topping. Decorate the outside edge with blueberries. Add strawberries to the center. Refrigerate for 2 hours and insert pinwheel before serving.

Note: For quicker preparation, use a store-bought cake.