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July is hot and sticky and the perfect time for picnics and patriotism!

Pretzel Sparklers, Banana Split Squares, Flag Cake, Chicken-Pasta-Feta Cheese Salad, Sweet and Zesty Wings, Ham Salad Biscuits, Scalloped Tomatoes, Blueberry Muffins, Mandarin Orange Salad, and Jackpot Casserole, and Disa's Strawberry Stuff.

Pretzel Sparklers

Long rod pretzels
White chocolate, melted
Sprinkles (red, white and blue) or star cake decorations

Melt the white chocolate. Dip the pretzel rod halfway into the melted chocolate then sprinkle the sprinkles over the wet chocolate. Lay on waxed paper or place in a cup to dry.

Banana Split Squares

1 large package (21.5 or 23.7 ounces) fudge brownie mix
2 bananas, thinly sliced, dipped in lemon juice and drained
1/2 cup crushed nuts
2-3 flavors of your favorite ice cream
Chocolate topping, whipped cream, extra nuts, cherries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare brownie mix according to package directions using a 9x13 pan. Bake 20-25 minutes; cool. On brownie, layer bananas, nuts and four cups one flavor ice cream, then 2 cups another flavor and 4 cups another. Cover and freeze for 6 hours or until firm. Remove from freezer 10 minutes before serving. Cut into squares; offer additional toppings.

Flag Cake
1 package (2-layer size) white cake mix (plus ingredients to make cake-listed on box)
1 package (4-serving size) JELL-O brand gelatin, any red flavor
1 cup boiling water
1/2 cup cold water
3 1/2 cups (8-ounce container) Cool Whip topping, thawed
1 pint strawberries, washed and sliced
1 cup blueberries, washed
1 cup Kraft miniature marshmallows

Grease 13 x 9 pan with margarine and dust lightly with flour. Prepare, mix and bake cake mix according to package directions. Cool cake for 15 minutes. With large fork, make holes in cake about every 1/2 inch. Pour gelatin into mixing bowl. Add cup of boiling water and use scraper to mix thoroughly until gelatin is completely dissolved. Use measuring cup to pour gelatin over cake. (It will run down into holes, making sliced cake have red stripes.) Chill cake in refrigerator 3 to 4 hours.

Cover tray with aluminum foil. Put about one inch of warm water in kitchen sink. Take pan out of refrigerator and dip bottom (don't let water come up over sides) into water for about 10 seconds. Put large tray on top of cake, and invert. Frost sides and top with whipped topping. Arrange strawberries and marshmallows in alternating rows for stripes, leaving upper left for field of blueberries. Chill again until time to serve.

Chicken and Pasta Salad w/Feta Cheese

1/2 pound Penne pasta
1/4 cup Olive oil
2 Tablespoons White wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon Garlic minced
2 Tablespoons Basil, chopped
2 medium Tomatoes, diced
1/2 cup Feta cheese, crumbled
1/2 cup Black olives, pitted
8 cups Spinach, rinsed and stemmed
1 1/2 pounds Chicken (boneless) breast, grilled and diced

Cook and drain the pasta, Set aside. Whisk together the oil, vinegar, garlic and basil. Toss with the pasta. Add the tomatoes, feta and olives. Chill for 1 hour. Arrange the spinach on 4 plates. Top with the pasta salad. Add the chicken. Garnish with more feta and sliced red onions (optional).

Sweet and Zesty Party Wings

1 bag chicken wings
1/2 cup honey
2 Teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/4 Cup of Tabasco sauce

Preheat oven to 350. Place wings, single layer, on a cookie sheet. Bake for 30 minutes until juices run clear. Mix remaining ingredients in bowl. Toss chicken in sauce to coat well. Serve with Ranch dressing.

Ham Salad Biscuits

Perfect for a party food; makes about two dozen.

1 can Biscuits (or use homemade!)
2 cups Ham, diced
1/4 cup Mayonnaise
1 1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon Celery, minced
1 teaspoon Onion, minced

Reform the dough into 24 small biscuits. Bake as directed. Place the ham in a food processor. Pulse until well chopped. Add the mayonnaise and mustard. Pulse until blended. Fold in the celery and onion. Spread on the split biscuits. Serve immediately.

Scalloped Tomatoes

This is perfect for those fresh-picked tomatoes!
1 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 Tbsp. butter
8 medium tomatoes (about 2-1/2 lb.), coarsely chopped
2 Tbsp. snipped fresh cilantro (or 1 teaspoon dried)
2 Tbsp. snipped fresh basil (or 1 teaspoon dried)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. snipped fresh oregano (or 1/2 teaspoon dried)
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
4 slices whole wheat bread
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 Tbsp. butter, melted

In a large saucepan, cook celery and onion in 2 tablespoons hot butter over medium heat about 5 minutes or until tender. Remove from heat. Stir in the tomatoes, cilantro, basil, garlic, oregano, salt, and pepper. Spoon mixture into a 2-quart rectangular baking dish. Bake, uncovered, in a 350 degree F oven for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a blender container or food processor bowl, cover and blend or process bread, 1 to 2 slices at a time, until coarse crumbs remain. Transfer to a medium bowl. Add Parmesan cheese and melted butter; toss to combine. Sprinkle crumb mixture evenly over the partially baked tomato mixture. Bake about 20 minutes more or until topping is golden brown and tomato mixture is heated through. Serve with a slotted spoon.

Blueberry Muffins

1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries, rinsed well
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon lemon zest (grated lemon rind, for y'all rednecks)

Combine and set aside.
1 3/4 cups plain, all-purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt

Combine in a large bowl.

1 egg, beaten
1/3 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup milk

Mix together.

Preheat oven to 400°. Add milk mixture to flour mixture, stir until mixed, (do not over mix--hey, have you heard this somewhere before?). Fold in blueberry mixture. Fill muffin cups 3/4 full, bake 25 minutes or until done. Duh.

Mandarin Orange Salad

This is a good cool congealed salad to have with supper. My sister Sherri doesn't like the consistency of cottage cheese, so she puts the cottage cheese in a blender when she makes this.

3-ounce (4-serving size) orange Gelatin
1 (8-ounce) carton Non-dairy whipped topping, thawed
12 ounce container cottage cheese
1 can Mandarin oranges, reserving liquid

Mix liquid from Mandarin oranges plus water to make one cup liquid and Gelatin in a small saucepan. On low heart, stir constantly until Gelatin is dissolved, then remove from heat. Cool pan in sink of ice water. Mix together remaining ingredients. Chill.

Jackpot Casserole

I got this recipe from my mother-in-law. It sounds gross but really tastes great and is perfect for pot-luck.

1 pound hamburger meat
1/4 cup chopped onion (optional)
1 can niblet corn
1 cup grated Processed cheese (I use Velveeta™ brand)
1 can tomato soup
1 (5-ounce) package thin noodles

Preheat oven to 350º. Brown meat, then add onion (if desired) and sauté until onion becomes translucent. In a separate pot, cook noodles following the package instructions.

Drain excess grease from meat and mix with tomato soup, noodles, corn, and half of the grated cheese in a casserole dish. Sprinkle rest of grated cheese over the top of the mixture. Bake casserole for 45 minutes.

Disa's Strawberry Pretzel Salad

2 1/2 cups crushed pretzels (Rold Gold is best!!)
3/4 c margarine, softened
1 c brown sugar
1 6 oz package strawberry gelatin
2 c boiling water
1 10 pkg frozen strawberries
1 small can crushed pineapple, drained (great w/ or w/out these!)
1 c granulated sugar
1 80 pkg cream cheese, softened
1 8 oz pkg cool whip, thawed

Combine pretzels, margarine, and brown sugar. Mix well and pat into a buttered 9X 13 baking dish. Now, you can bake it for a crispier crust or just leave like this for a softer crust. If baking, bake for 10 minutes (no longer or it gets hard) at 350 degrees, set aside to cool completely (very important!).

Dissolve gelatin in water. While still warm, add the frozen strawberries, stirring to break up berries. Drain and stir in the pineapple. Cool in fridge until mixture begins to set.

Cream the granulated sugar and cream cheese. Fold in the cool whip. Spread this mixture over the cooled pretzel crust, making sure the crust is sealed well w/ the mixture. When gelatin mixture begins to set, carefully pour over the cheese mixture. Chill until firm.

Stay tuned for more SouthernAngel's steaming hot recipes!

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Revised - 07/01/02 - 10/14/06
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