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Moveable Feasts
Posted by Lori Ross - Viewed 70486 times

Article and photography by Lori Ross

Dining al fresco or “en plainer air” ("out in the fresh air,") is one the special benefits of cruising.  I cherish the joys of a dawn breakfast watching the sun rise and the birds dive or a lively picnic lunch on the hook in beautiful cove or an elegant dinner with old friends on the aft deck in the moonlight.  When the weather is right, it is sublime to enjoy a fine meal, wonderful company and a gentle breeze in the great outdoors. Imagine savoring your favorite dish, a glass of wine in hand, a platter of gourmet cheeses while sitting beneath the stars.  Wherever you are, you’re relaxed, happy and enjoying the finer things in life.  Al Fresco dining is celebration!

One of my fondest memories of a lovely al fresco dinner was joining friends, docked at our home, aboard their lovely 55’ boat for a beautiful sunset dinner.  As we walked down the stairs to the dock from our home, we glimpsed their dining table and chairs on an oriental rug on the aft deck.  Upon closer look, we saw the table draped with pink linens, white and gold china, gold rimmed crystal glasses and a centerpiece of fresh pink, yellow and purple flowers and peach shell-shaped votive lights.   The bright sunset sky echoed the table décor and we dined in the golden, pink glow.  Rose wine, cold fruit soup, composed vegetable salad, simple grilled salmon with roasted vegetables and an ice cream dessert with hot coffee made for a lovely meal along with the lively conversation and jazz piano music.  Our hosts were relaxed and unhurried and as the stars became visible, we lit the votive lamps and enjoyed the sounds of the night.  

Another wonderful al fresco dinner was a serendipitous rendezvous with sail and power cruising friends on our boat following a day volunteering as “spectator boat” for Annapolis Race Week sponsor, Mt. Gay Rum.  Mt. Gay Rum catered the event and left us, at the end of the day, with several bottles of rum and mixers and the leftovers of a catered feast.  We proceeded to meet our “rendezvous” friends a couple hours away and warned them not to cook and to get their appetites ready.  We tied up with the gang and had a moonlight picnic featuring cheese, fruit, antipasto, smoked salmon rolls, pasta and vegetable salad, miniature ham, tuna, turkey, tenderloin and shrimp sandwiches, brownies, cookies and chocolate dipped strawberries and delicious rum punch – none of which we had to prepare!  A little music from the 60’s and 70’s, some blankets and pillows spread on the deck and paper plates and plastic cups created a spirited al fresco evening under a full moon.  We snuggled under blankets and shawls and drinking hot coffee and tea as the September night cooled off and sang along with our favorite oldies, laughing and telling stories late in to the night.

While both al fresco meals were delightful, they were miles apart in preparation and style.  The similarity between the two meals is that we were doing something usual (eating dinner) in an unusual setting with good friends!  Experiencing the usual in an unusual setting creates a sense of joie de vivre and celebration! 

The key to a successful al fresco entertaining is creating an element of surprise – a fancy dinner on the aft deck of a boat or a moonlit foredeck picnic!  Make it a pleasurable experience for everyone (including the hosts) and craft a simple, easily moveable feast so host spend more time with guests.

Breakfast or brunch is one of the best times to dine outdoors. Most of the bugs are still asleep, the air is fresh and fragrant, and there’s lots of wildlife (human or animal) to observe whether on the hook or at the marina!  Traditional morning dishes such as pastries, breads, croissants and muffins with butter and jam; egg and cheese quiches, strata, frittatas; granola and other cereals or bagels, cream cheese and lox are ideals because they can be served at room temperature.  Use a carafe or thermos to keep coffee piping hot and slice up some fruit or serve juice or mimosas and breakfast (or brunch) is served!   Although I don’t have a dishwasher aboard, I like using real china for breakfast.  Coffee in real china cups or mugs tastes best and the real china plates keep foods warm or cool better than paper.  I like to use pretty paper napkins and set fresh fruit or flowers as a centerpiece.  A lacy pillow sham or a pretty quilt dropped over the serving table makes a lovely backdrop for a cozy breakfast.

Lunch is usually easy and fun, often just in swimsuits or cover-ups in the shade of the flybridge or aft deck awning.  I opt for hot or cold soups and “do-it-yourself” platters so everyone can nibble, for example:  aioli platter, lettuce wraps, and bread and cold cut platters, salad platters (tuna, shrimp, chicken) with rolls, mezze or tapas.  On a cooler day, a pot of chili, a beef stew or seafood chowder with bread and baked fruit hits the spot!  Use a batik cloth or oversized linen towels for a tablecloth and place a couple pretty shells or a duck decoy or some driftwood as a centerpieces if you wish.  Alternatively, a nice soup tureen or an attractive platter for the “do-it-yourself” meal creates a natural focal point for the table.

Late afternoon cocktails or tea, at our cruising destination, is often taken on the flybridge where we watch the world from our boat.  If we have plans to explore the area before dinner, we often have a relaxing cup of tea or coffee with some sweets or tea sandwiches and make our plans. Al fresco tea is a special treat –a fragrant pot of tea in the long shadows of the day can rejuvenate or relax the crew before dinner! If we don’t have plans, we’ll have a cocktail with light snacks.  Tea brings to mind light and sweet foods such as open-faced tea sandwiches, sweet breads, cookies, fruit and cakes, while cocktails suggest little bowls of salted nuts and seeds, cheese, olives, pickled vegetables and bite-size appetizers and dips. I like pretty and colorful disposable napkins and plates for cocktails or tea but I insist on real china and crystal for drinks and tea.

Dinner on an open deck, under the stars, can be a casual or special event.  Your anchorage is the backdrop for a fun or romantic menu.  For a casual evening, especially when the weather is simply too sultry for cooking, serve a simple meal of salads or sandwiches, a good baguette, a ripe cheese and some fruit.   Or think about spreading your table with newspaper and grilling some shrimp, clams, oysters or simply “take out” some crabs, lobsters or ribs and get messy!  Paper napkins, and forks with paper plates are all you need.   Play some island music and serve a great beer and a special drink or two (e.g. rum punch, sangria or lemonade).  For a cool and casual night, serve a baked dish such as lasagna or paella or a quick stovetop dish such as Sloppy Joes, picadillo, or seafood mac and cheese with good bread and salad on a paper plates and plastic tablecloth (that’s easy to clean or toss) and have some hot cider laced with rum or brandy to keep everyone warm!

For a romantic dinner, what could be more delightful than relaxing under the stars, with someone you love, raising a glass of champagne in a toast?  Break out the china, crystal and silver (or porcelain, glass and stainless) and real table linens.  Place oil lamps, votives or battery-powered candles on your table or around your deck. And set the mood with some romantic tunes.  Whether you want to celebrate your love with a longtime partner or impress your date in a budding relationship, sharing an intimate meal on the deck of a boat enhances bonding and creates happy memories.  Nibble on elegant simple to serve (and easy to share) foods such as breads, cheeses, antipasto, fruit and nuts.

Similar to the romantic dinner for two, a sophisticated dinner party aboard deserves real china, crystal and silver.  Consider table linens, china and flowers in a single color family for a simple, uniform look or mix colors and patterns for more drama! On a warm night, start with a beautiful plate of hors d’oeuvres for each person, then a cold soup served in a wine glass, followed by a composed cold entrée salad and finish with individual desserts such as mini-cheesecakes, fruit parfaits or cannolis.  On a cool night, start with a hot soup, roasted or grilled entrée with a salsa or sauce, hot vegetable and warm cake or pie with coffee or tea. Play soft romantic, jazz or classical music. 

Whatever menu you choose, enjoy sharing these special moments with friends and loved ones!


Summertime Outdoor Brunch
Décor:  White Lace Tablecloth or Embroidered Pillow case and Linen Napkins, White China, Vase of Sunflowers
Prosecco Mimosas with orange or mango juice
Croissants with jam and butter
Scrambled eggs with goat cheese and chives
Fresh Berries with Yogurt
Coffee and tea
Romantic Italian Al Fresco Lunch
Décor: Turquoise Batik Tablecloth, White Napkins, Centerpiece of shells or coral
Chianti or Pinot Grigio
Antipasto platter with marinated olives, roasted peppers, gardiniera, proscuitto, salami, provolone, fresh mozzarella, cherry tomatoes and lupini beans
Italian Bread and bread sticks
Assorted Grapes
Store bought Tiramisu or Italian cookies

Lazy Afternoon Tea
Décor: Embroidered Tablecloth and Napkins, Bowl of Cherries as centerpiece

Assorted open-faced sandwiches on party rye and pumpernickel: Smoked Salmon and horseradish; Cucumber and cream cheese; Sliced Tomato, fresh mozzarella and basil
Assorted Berries over Sliced Pound Cake with Heavy Cream
Iced Tea with Grenadine 
Hot Jasmine Tea

Asian Summer Tea House Dinner
Décor – Blue placemats and white napkins, Blue and white china, Chinese lantern or Vase of White Crysanthemums as centerpiece

Sake Martini (replace 2/3 of vodka with sake and garnish with cucumber slices)
Thai Beef, Lamb or Duck Salad
Chili noodles
Sliced peaches, plums and nectarines
Hot or Iced Green Tea with Ginger

All recipes serve 4

2 cups peach nectar (or 2 fresh peaches, peeled and pureed in blender)
2 Tbsps lemon juice
3 Tbsps orange juice
1 bottle pink champagne
Blend juices and pour over ice.  When ready to serve, pour ½ glass juice into ½ glass chilled champagne.  Serve in tall crystal flutes.

Iced Tea with Grenadine
4 cups of iced tea
¼ cup lemon juice
¼ cup grenadine. 
In a pitcher mix together tea with lemon and grenadine.  Pour over ice and serve.
Thai Beef, Lamb or Duck Salad
1 ½ lb sirloin or tenderloin steak, lamb chop or duck breast
4 Tbsps hoisin sauce
1 cup each of mint, basil and cilantro leaves
1 cucumber, seeded and thinly sliced
1 cup snow peas or sugar snap peas, sliced in half crosswise
1 cup carrots sliced into thin rounds
2 long red chilies, de-seeded and thinly sliced
For the dressing
1 ½ tsps sugar
½ cup vinegar
3 tbsps fish sauce
1 stick of lemon grass, white part, finely sliced (or 1 tbsp lemon peel)

Marinate the meat in hoisin for 2 hours. Combine the herbs, cucumber, peas, carrots, chilies and.  Grill the meat to medium rare and allow to rest for 5 minutes. Slice thinly and add to salad.  . Combine the dressing ingredients, plus any juices from grilled meat and adjust to taste. It should taste sweet, salty and tangy.  Toss salad and serve on 4 plates with additional sprigs of mint and cilantro.

Chili Noodles
8 oz dried rice noodles soaked or cooked until tender and drained
4 tbsps peanut oil
3 chopped small red chilies
2 tbsps grated ginger
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
2 tbsps each of chopped basil leaves and scallions
Sauté chilies, ginger and garlic in peanut oil for 3 minutes.  Add sauce to noodles and toss gently.  Top with chopped basil leaves and scallions and serve.

Today’s power cruisers allow us to cruise and dine al fresco from early Spring to late Fall in many parts of the country.  So here are some menu ideas to consider for your al fresco adventures!

Printemps Brunch Aboard
Pitcher of Bloody Marys
Sliced Pineapple with mint
Egg Salad with tarragon and spring onions
Sliced assorted hams
Thin-sliced rye and pumpernickel breads
Mustard and pickles
Pound cake with strawberry jam
Coffee and tea

Tuscan Picnic Lunch

Chianti and Orvieto wines
Grilled or Sautéed sausages, onions and peppers
Italian Bread or rolls
Green Salad with oil and vinegar
Biscotti and Coffee

French Bistro Cocktails
Champagne Cocktail
French baguette and butter
Country Pate with pickles, onions and mustard
Brie and Bleu cheeses
Radishes, celery and olives with salt and pepper
Grapes, pears and nuts

Mediterranean Café Dinner
Steamed Whole Artichokes with warm butter/sea salt dip
Roasted or Grilled Chicken with lemon
Warm pasta salad with pesto and peas
Sautéed wild mushrooms and spring onions
Strawberries and cream
Coffee and Limoncello

Chile Breakfast or Brunch

Coffee laced with Tia Maria or Mexican Hot Chocolate
Refried Beans
Fruit Salad tossed with a little Tequila and Margarita mix

Harvest Lunch
Hot Apple Cider with Rum
Sloppy Joes on Kaiser rolls
Corn on the cob with butter
Sliced Apples, Pears and Cheese

Comforting Fall Dinner
Pumpkin Soup
Spinach Salad with Warm Mushroom Bacon Dressing
Grilled Pork Tenderloin marinated in Molasses and Rum
Fruit, nuts and chocolate
Coffee with Amaretto

Champagne Cocktail (serves 4 drinks)
4 sugar cube
12 dashes Angostura bitters
1 bottle Champagne or Cava or Prosecco
4 oz brandy
4 orange slices for garnish
4 maraschino cherry for garnish
Place the sugar cube in the bottom of each champagne flute. Sprinkle 2-3 dashes of Angostura bitters on each sugar cube. Pour Champagne into the flute. Add 1 oz. brandy to each glass. Garnish with the orange slice and cherry.

Country Pate
Making this pate is a lot like making a meat loaf wrapped in bacon, except you have to cook the ground meat in advance.  It is delicious and freezes beautifully. Serves 40-50 as an hors d’oeuvre.
2 tbsps oil
1 large onion chopped
3 cloves of garlic minced
1 tbsps fennel seeds
1.5 lbs sweet Italian sausage meat (casings removed)
1 cup beer
½ lb ground veal
1/2 lb sliced bacon
4 oz. herb-season crumb stuffing (e.g. Pepperidge Farm) or Italian breadcrumbs
2-3 eggs
Salt and pepper
3 whole bay leaves

Melt butter in skillet and cook onions and, garlic until soft. Transfer onion mixture to very large mixing bowl, stir in fennel seeds. Brown sausage and veal in skillet over medium high heat and crumble into small pieces as you cook it.  Once browned, add 1 cup of beer and cook until it is no longer pink.  Add to mixing bowl with onion mixture.  In same skillet, cook 6 slices of bacon (diced) until fat is rendered and add crumb stuffing and add to meat mixture. Add eggs and mix into meat mixture to make a moist but not wet mixture. Season with lots of pepper and salt.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Using ungreased 9x3 loaf pan, place 3 bay leaves (upside down) in a row down center of pan (to decorate top of pate).   Next, line each pan with remaining uncooked bacon by arranging each strip side by side crosswise in the pan (this lines the sides and bottom of loaf pan).  Let the ends of the slices hang over the edges of the pan. Pack pate mixture very tightly into the pans, pressing down firmly to get rid of all air pockets. Fold the overhanging bacon over the top of each pate.  Completely wrap pan containing pate tightly with aluminum foil, sealing up on top and ends. Place the pan in a larger roasting pan filled half-way to the top with hot water.  Put in oven and bake for 90 minutes. Remove pate from oven (still wrapped in aluminum foil) and place a 5 lb weight on pate (e.g., brick, large can of tomatoes) and refrigerate for several hours.  The weight compresses the meat and makes it a dense pate (it is the difference between pate and meat loaf).  To unmold pate, run a knife around the sides of each pan and invert the pate onto a clean surface. The pate will keep up to 2 weeks, tightly wrapped in saran then aluminum foil or it can be frozen for 6 months or more.  When you defrost, make sure you do it in refrigerator, very slowly over a couple days.  Serve with cornichon pickles, chopped onion and mustard on sliced baguette. 

Pasta salad with pesto and peas
1 lb pasta (fusilli or bow ties or orchiette is nice)
¼ cup olive oil
½ cup store bought pesto sauce
1 ½ tbsp lemon juice
¾ cup mayonnaise (light mayo is terrific with this)
¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
¾ cup fresh or frozen peas, defrosted
Salt and pepper
Cook pasta for 10-12 minutes until al dente.  Drain and toss with oil and cool to room temperature.  Mix pesto with lemon juice and mayonnaise.  Add pesto mix to cooled pasta, and then add parmesan, peas and salt and pepper.  Mix well, taste and adjust seasoning.  Serve at room temperature.

Chilaquiles with sour cream
12 oz. corn tortilla chips
24 oz canned tomato puree, drained
2 yellow onions chopped
1 ½ tbsps oil

¾ cup diced fresh or pickled jalapeno peppers (or more if you like it hot)
2 Tbsps cilantro chopped
½ tsp. sugar
1 lb grated cheese
½ cup milk
½ cup sour cream

Sauté onions in oil until golden.  Add tomatoes, chilies, salt, cilantro and sugar.  Simmer for 10 minutes.  In a large casserole dish (I use 8x8 glass dish), layer 1/3 tomato sauce, then 1/3 of tortilla chips over sauce, then 1/3 of cheese over chips and then make two more layers ending with cheese.  Mix milk and sour cream and pour over top of casserole.  Cover casserole and bake at 375 for 20 minutes, then remove lid and bake uncovered for 10 minutes more.  Serve like a lasagne.  I’ve made this at home and reheated it on the boat in the microwave…yummy!

Sloppy Joes (serves 4)
1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/4 pounds ground beef
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tbsp pepper
1 medium onion, chopped
1 small bell pepper, chopped
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
2 cups tomato sauce
2 tbsps tomato paste
4 crusty rolls, split, toasted, and lightly buttered

Heat oil and add meat to the pan breaking it up as it cooks.  Add brown sugar and pepper to the skillet and combine. When the meat has browned, add onion and red peppers to the skillet. Reduce heat to medium and cook onions, peppers, red wine vinegar and Worcestershire sauce with meat for 5 minutes. Add tomato sauce and paste to pan. Stir to combine. Reduce heat to simmer and cook Sloppy Joe mixture 5 minutes longer.  Serve on crusty rolls with lots of napkins.

Pumpkin Soup

4 cup pumpkin or winter squash that has been cooked until soft (or canned pumpkin puree)
2 tbsp Butter
2 tbsp brown sugar
4 cup chicken or beef stock
¾ tsp fresh grated ginger or ¼ t. dry ginger
½ sp. each of white pepper and salt
¼ cup rum
1/2 tsp turmeric (to make more golden)
1/4 cup cream (optional)

Mix squash with all ingredients except cream.  Simmer for 30 minutes.  If you wish, you may put mixture through food processor or blender until very smooth.  If it is too thick, thin with water or cream.  Serve with a dollop of crème fraiche, sour cream or chopped chives.  Serve hot or chilled.



1 lb ground beef, turkey or chicken
8 oz. cream cheese
2 cups canned Rotel tomatoes( with chilis)
1 cup diced green chiles
2 pkgs shredded Mexican cheese
Tortilla Chips for dipping
Cook ground meat for 10-12 minutes and if needed, drain fat.  Mix cream cheese, tomatoes, chiles and cheese in a microwave oven and warm until cheeses are melted.  Blend and add meat to the mixture and serve with tortilla chips – we like the “Hint of Lime” Tostitos best.
Vegetarian: Make the Queso meatless by eliminating the ground meat.
Spicy: Add 1 tsp each of chili powder and cumin plus one or two chopped jalapenos or a Tbsp of hot sauce to spice it up!


This is basically a potato salad with creamy Caesar salad dressing.  Don’t use bottled dressing, it is worth making your own for this salad!

Serves 4-6

1 ½ lbs new potatoes, skin on, cubed and steamed until just tender
4 scallions sliced
1 cup sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained and chopped
1 cup parsley, minced
1 cup grated parmesan cheese

½ cup mayonnaise
2 tbsps anchovy paste or chopped anchovies or 2 tsps Worcestershire sauce
2 cloves garlic minced
3 Tbsps red wine vinegar
2 tbsps lemon juice
1 tbsp strong mustard
½ cup olive oil
½ tsp dried thyme(optional)
pinch of black pepper
Combine the salad ingredients. Blend dressing ingredients well and toss with salad ingredients until potatoes are evenly coated with dressing

Serves 10-12
1 tbsp olive oil
6 bell peppers, seeded and quartered lengthwise
3 tbsps balsamic vinegar
1 tsp sugar
Mix vinegar with sugar in a small bowl until sugar dissolves.  Heat olive oil in skillet and add bell peppers. Cook for 5-8 minutes on medium high until peppers are soft but not browned or wilted or put peppers on grill for several minutes on each side to soften.  Place cooked peppers in salad bowl or shallow platter and toss with vinegar and sugar dressing.  Serve warm or room temperature.

Serves 12
This salad is a cruising classic that our friends Ann and Ron Peterson used to make for the crew.  It looks good, tastes great and uses all the leftovers from your vegetable drawer (or if you want, just buy already cut up dipping vegetables at the grocery store) in an unbelievably easy salad.

9 cups of mixed raw vegetables cut into bite sized pieces (broccoli, cauliflower, mushrooms, zucchini, summer squash, cucumber, cherry tomatoes, bell pepper, carrots, celery, radishes)
3 cups pitted olives (canned ripe olives, pitted calamata olives, green olives)
2 pkg. Good Season Italian Dressing  (1 package dry and the second package prepared as a dressing with oil and vinegar)

Combine all vegetables in bowl.  Sprinkle 1 package Good Seasons Italian Dressing mix and then prepare 1 package according to package directions (or use a 16 oz bottle of prepared Good seasons dressing).  Mix well and marinate for 2-3 hours before serving.

Marinated antipasto salad: Replace three cups of raw vegetables with 1 cup cubed mozzarella or provolone cheese and 1 cup cubed salami and 1 cup canned pepperocini peppers halved.
Three bean salad: Replace raw vegetables with 3 cups of canned chickpeas or cannellini beans plus 3 cups red kidney beans plus 3 cups of blanched green or wax beans cut into bite sized pieces and continue with recipe.

Serves 8-12
1 cup wild rice (or spelt, wheat berries, brown rice, rye berries), rinsed
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsps butter or oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup onion, chopped
1 cup green or red bell pepper
2 cup frozen peas or corn 
Salt and pepper to taste
Rinse grain in cold water, then place in covered pan. Stir in ½ tsp salt. Bring to a boil, uncovered. Reduce heat to medium, cover and simmer 45 to 60 minutes or until grain is tender. Drain if necessary and put aside in salad bowl. In the same pan, heat to medium high and add butter. Sauté garlic, onion, celery and mushrooms until sof Add grain, peas or corn and pepper to the grain mixture and combine. Season with salt and pepper.  Serve warm or at room temperature. 

•    Replace peas or corn with chopped zucchini or summer squash and sauté with onions and peppers
•    Replace peas or corn with cherry tomatoes,  halved.
•    For a sweeter grain dish, add 1 cup raisins or apricots to vegetable mixture


Serves 8-10
This is a unique and filling way to make great use of leftover sausages after a cook ouT.
4 lbs. mixed cooked sausages (Italian Mild, Italian hot, chorizo, kielbasa, bratwurt or knackwurst)
3 tbsp olive oil
6 cloves garlic chopped
2 tsps ground cumin
1 ½ teapoons dried oregano
3 cups diced canned tomatoes, undrained
1 cup red wine
1 cup roasted red peppers, chopped
1 cup Spanish olives (pitted)
In a large soup or stockpot, heat olive oil and add onions, cooking about 15 minutes on medium until softened.  Add garlic, cumin, oregano and cook for 1-2 minutes more then add tomatoes, wine, peppers and olives.  Simmer 10-15 minutes.  Slice sausages into rounds and return to poT.  Simmer uncovered another 15 minutes.  Serve as is over mash potatoes, rice, polenta or with a rustic bread,  or, if you wish, make the delicious crumb topping  below.  

Crumb topping:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place stew in a large casserole dish.  Mix a topping of ½ cup each crumbled feta or other blue cheese, chopped parsley and 2 cups breadcrumbs.  Sprinkle mixture on top of stew.  Bake until casserole is bubbling and crumbs topping is  crusty and light brown, about 25-30 minutes.

This is a light but flavorful main course salad
Serves 8-10
4 cups shredded or chopped cooked chicken, sliced beef or pork, or medium cooked shrimp
2 cup sliced water chestnuts, drained or chopped celery, sugar snap peas or a mixture of all three 8 cups mixed shredded red or white cabbage and carrots (or cole slaw mixes from grocery store)
1 cup chow mein noodles
½ cup cashews or peanuts
1 cup chopped cilantro, mint or basil or a mixture of all three (optional)

1/2 cup seasoned rice vinegar or lime juice
4 tbsps soy sauce or fish sauce
2 tbsps sesame oil
2 tbsp sugar
2 tsps hot sauce or chopped hot chile pepper (or to taste)
Mix dressing ingredients.  Place salad ingredients in bowl and toss with dressing.

Feel free to replace ingredients with things you have on hand.  You are aiming for a crunchy texture in this salad, so use crunchy raw vegetables (carrots, celery, scallions, radishes, cabbage) and roasted nuts or fried Asian noodles (like chow mein or other Chinese noodles).


Lemon Rice Pudding

3/4 cup rice, jasmine or Basmati
3 pints half and half
4 1/2 tbsps sugar
3 tbsp rum (optional)

Preheat the oven to 250F. Peel the lemon with a vegetable peeler and cut the peel into fine strips. Mix the peel, rice, sugar, half and half and rum, if you want it, in a small ovenproof dish. Put in the oven and cook uncovered for about 2 1/2 hours, stirring every 45 minutes or so.

Follow directions but cook on simmer on top of stove for about 2 hours, stirring every half hour.  Pudding should be just barely simmering.
Lemon pudding:  Add zest of 3 lemons to rice mixture at beginning of cooking (keep lemon juice for another use)

Nutmeg and Cinnamon pudding: add ¼ tsp each of cinnamon and nutmeg to pudding at end of cooking.

Microwave Fudge
I found this recipe in my boat's microwave instructions. It's delicious, a rich chocolate flavor, and very easy!

3 cups semisweet or milk chocolate chips;
14 oz. (1 can) sweetened condensed milk;
¼ cup butter.

Place the above ingredients in a large microwave-safe bowl. Microwave at MEDIUM (50%) for 3-5 minutes until chocolate chips melt, stirring every two minutes during the cooking. Pour melted mixture into an 8-inch square baking dish (I use disposable aluminum pans) that's well greased or lined with nonstick paper. Refrigerate for 1 hour or until completely set. Makes 2 dozen pieces, and freezes beautifully!  (If you wish, add 1 cup chopped nuts or 1 cup miniature marshmallows and mix into fudge before pouring batter into baking dish or substitute 1½ cups peanut butter or white chocolate chips for half the chocolate chips )

CHERRIES IN THE SNOW (or easy no-bake cheesecake)

1-1/2 cups graham-cracker crumbs
1/3 cup butter melted (3/4 stick)

1/2 tsp grated lemon rind and ½ tsp lemon extract
1/2 cups confectioner's sugar
8 oz. cream cheese
1 tbsp milk
1-1/2 tsp. vanilla or almond extract
1 bottle Redi-whip or other whipped cream

1 can cherry pie filling, refrigerated (or other pie filling). Alternatively, for a less sweet dessert use sliced fresh fruit, grated lemon, lime or orange peel

Mix graham cracker crumbs with melted butter and pat in bottom of an 8-inch square pan, or a round pie pan, or spring-form pan, to make crust. (Variations: Add crushed walnuts to the graham crumbs. Or use crumbled ginger snaps, lemon cookies, or chocolate cookies as alternatives to graham-cracker crumbs.)

Mix sugar, milk and cream cheese until smooth and spread this mixture over graham crust. (Variation: Sprinkle with ½ cup walnuts or almonds or coconut.)

Cover cream cheese mixture with whipped cream.

Mix cherry-pie filling with ½ tsp of vanilla or almond extract and pour evenly over whipped cream.

Refrigerate for 3-4 hours minimum before serving.

Variation: Consider topping the "snow" with fresh berries or marinated fresh fruit, or another favorite pie filling instead of the cherries



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