Updated sides and a banner dessert-give new flair to summer fare


I love summer classics like chicken salad, coleslaw, pasta salad and banana pudding. I wanted to add a modern twist to those dishes. I made a Hawaiian Chicken Salad with pineapple and macadamia nuts. I created a delicious Curry Coleslaw, which pairs well with pork, chicken, sausage or fish. My Southwest spin on pasta salad includes cilantro, corn, black beans, bell peppers and a salsa-ranch dressing. And I combined my love of coconut cream pie and banana pudding into a flag dessert for July 4. I hope you enjoy these recipes and have a wonderful month!

Hawaiian Chicken Salad

Hawaiian Chicken Salad

3 1/2 cups cooked chicken, chopped
4 green onions, sliced
1 cup celery, chopped
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
1 (8-ounce) can pineapple tidbits, drained
1 cup macadamia nuts (can substitute pecans or cashews)
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup sweetened shredded coconut
1 1/3 cups mayonnaise
3 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
Salt and pepper

In a large bowl, toss chicken with green onions, celery, cilantro, pineapple, macadamia nuts, dried cranberries and coconut, and set aside.

In another bowl, whisk together mayonnaise and apple cider vinegar. Add a little salt and pepper. Stir mayonnaise mixture into chicken mixture until thoroughly combined. Adjust salt and pepper to taste. Refrigerate at least 2 hours before serving.

Note: I found macadamia nuts were less expensive in the grocery store baking section than the nut section. These are pricey nuts, so substitute cashews or pecans if you prefer.

Curry Coleslaw

Curry Coleslaw

1 (16-ounce) bag tri-color coleslaw mix
4 green onions, sliced
1/3 cup cilantro, chopped
1/2 cup dried cranberries


2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 heaping teaspoon curry powder
Salt and pepper to taste

Empty slaw mix into a large bowl and toss with green onions, cilantro and dried cranberries.

In another bowl, add apple cider vinegar, and stir in sugar and brown sugar until dissolved. Stir in mayonnaise, canola oil and curry powder. Add salt and pepper to taste; adjust curry if needed. Stir dressing into slaw mixture. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving.

Note: This keeps for several days and is even better the second day.

Southwest Pasta Salad

Southwest Pasta Salad

1 (12-ounce) box of bow tie pasta
1 red or yellow bell pepper, chopped
4 green onions, sliced
1/3 cup cilantro, chopped
1 1/2 cups tomatoes, chopped
1 (15.5-ounce) can corn, drained
1 (15-ounce) can of black beans, drained and rinsed
2 cups ranch dressing
1 1/2 cups salsa
1 teaspoon taco seasoning
2 ripe avocados, diced

Cook pasta according to package directions; rinse with cold water to cool. Stir together cooled pasta, bell pepper, green onions, cilantro, tomatoes, corn and black beans in a large lidded bowl.

In another bowl, whisk together ranch dressing, salsa and taco seasoning. Add only half the dressing mixture to pasta, tossing until thoroughly coated. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

Before serving, pour remaining dressing over pasta and toss. (This prevents it from drying out.) Add diced avocado and serve immediately.

Note: If you expect leftovers, serve avocado on the side, as the avocado will turn black and unappealing later.

Banana Coconut Cream Pudding

Banana Coconut Cream Pudding

1(11-ounce) box vanilla wafer
3-4 ripe bananas, sliced
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup powdered sugar
2 cups milk
1 (3.4-ounce) package instant coconut pudding
1 cup shredded sweetened coconut
1 (8-ounce) container of whipped topping, divided use

Fresh strawberries and blueberries for decorating

Line a 2-quart dish with vanilla wafers. Top cookies with bananas and set aside.

In a large bowl, beat cream cheese until smooth. Add vanilla extract and powdered sugar; beat until smooth. Add milk and pudding mix; beat again. Stir in coconut and 1 cup of whipped topping. Spread over banana mixture. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Gently spread more whipped topping over top. Use strawberries and blueberries to create an American flag design.