August 23, 2010

with friends like these

Preparing for the photography workshops I hosted this summer was a big job. A job that I could not have done on my own. Not only did my family pitch in and work harder than ever both before and during the workshops, I also had a group of friends that pitched in to help make the job much easier and fun.

Friends that found me oodles of models, friends whose children were the models and friends who spruced up my garden prettier than it's ever been or ever will be again.

I wanted to thank them in some special way for all the help they gave, and last week we were able to get together for a little thank you lunch by the pond. It was a beautiful, warm day and we ate and visited and ate some more. A perfect day in my book.

It's always such a let down when a party is over and I wasn't quite ready to put everything away, so I raided my kitchen of linens and place settings and played with my food for a while after everyone left. That explains to the party guests why some of the above pictures really don't look anything like the lunch they attended!

We had a trio of chick-food salads, summer pie, fresh blueberries and chocolate mousse for dessert.

So, to follow the old is short, give the dessert recipe first.

This is my sister's recipe and it's relatively easy and ridiculously delicious.

Chocolate Mousse

4 oz. milk chocolate
4 oz. semi-sweet chocolate (chocolate chips)
1/4 cup strong coffee
3/4 stick butter
3 eggs, separated
1/4 cup sugar
1 cup whipping cream, whipped

Melt chocolates with coffee in the microwave. Stir till smooth and then stir in butter and egg yolks. Cool slightly.
Beat egg whites, and when soft peaks form, sprinkle sugar and continue to beat until stiff peaks form. Fold into chocolate mixture. Fold in whipped cream and spoon into individual dishes. Chill several hours.

Even though I know the entire world has this broccoli salad recipe, I will share it anyway. It's one of my very favorites ever.

Broccoli Salad

Five cups broccoli, cut into small pieces - I probably used six cups
1 cup raisins or dried cranberries
2/3 cup diced sweet white or red onion
10 strips of crumbled bacon
1 cup sunflower seeds - I use dry roasted
3 tablespoons sugar
2/3 cup mayonnaise
1 1/2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

It's a keeper.

Next up, Pea Salad. I don't usually see this one on the circuit, so maybe it will be new to some of you.

Pea Salad

1 32 oz. pkg frozen petite peas, thawed
1 cup diced celery
1/2 cup diced onion
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
Crumbled bacon - I don't have an amount listed, but seriously, could you have too much bacon?
Shredded cheddar cheese - see bacon above
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup sour cream

Yes, bacon and mayo played a prominent role in this luncheon.

And last but not least, Rice Artichoke Salad.

I found it impossible to snap an appetizing photo of this salad, so don't let the picture scare you away. It's very different and another of my favorites.

Rice Artichoke Salad

1 package chicken Rice-a-Roni, prepared and cooled. I use a tiny bit less water than called for on the box.
1 jar marinated artichoke hearts, drained and chopped, with liquid reserved
1/2 cup diced green pepper
2 green onions, sliced
The following have no amounts....sorry. I just add whatever looks good!
sliced green olives
toasted slivered almonds - a must in my book
1 cup mayonnaise
1/4 teaspoon curry powder
artichoke liquid
I feel this is too much dressing, so add it slowly to your taste.

I love the background flavor of curry, the bite of the green olives and the crunch of the almonds.

Good stuff, my friends, good stuff.

So, there you have it - all the makings for a summer lunch. Just add a group of your best girls, and you're good to go.

And, if you have a favorite lady lunch food of your own, I'd love to hear about it.


  1. TB - We anxiously await the arrival of our personal chef in a few weeks. I hope you weren't thinking this was going to be some sort of a...vacation.

  2. As always, a terrific post with lovely photos! Thanks for sharing your tried & true recipes and for all the inspiration!

  3. Yes, I'll say your brocolli salad is a keeper. Looks devine, as does all these dishes.

  4. Thanks for sharing. Looks like a great time was had by all.

  5. Great salads, each and every one of them. I'm a pea salad girl as well as a broccoli salad girl. Can't get enough of either. Thanks for sharing today!


  6. Your photos take me into dreamy La~La Land. The rice artichoke salad looks fantastic! Thanks for this new recipe. I'll have to give it a try. What is the cute drink? It looks like it goes perfectly with the meal.

  7. Summer there anything better for chicks to eat? Everything looks BEAUTIFUL!!!!

  8. Loving your bakelite silverware. All the better to eat some chocolate mousse with. (seems my grammar is not cooperating this morning)

  9. I'm not kidding you when I tell you that my stomach is growling at top volume right now. Why do I suddenly feel all of this pressure to serve you beautiful food with perfectly set tables when you come? I'm gonna be honest, with a large portion of my things in storage, it might not be as pretty, but I promise it will be tasty!

  10. Everything is so beautiful. I have eaten broccoli salad but didn't have the recipe so thanks! Recently I made chinese slaw (you know the one with ramen noodles) and a macaroni salad with sweet pickles when a couple of friends visited.

  11. Well now. These are lovely. When I make these recipes I wonder if mine will taste as good as yours look!?!?

  12. It all looks so delicious! Especially today when we are on our second straight day of rain and the temp. is only 58 degrees. I thought that I was ready for Fall... maybe not. ;)

  13. Ok - I am going to have to pull The Squirrel to a campground instead of staying at the hotel with ya'll - we are going to need a full kitchen. Please get Jen on that right away. OR just make all this stuff and fly it East.

  14. Your photos are lovely. We also make the broccoli and pea salad, but I need to try the rice salad.

    I also make the asian coleslaw (the one with ramen noodles) and a seven layer salad (lettuce, cheese, bacon, peas, onions, etc topped with a yummy mayo dressing).

  15. Of course your pictures are great!! Thank you for sharing the recipes for the salads. I always need a new one...YUM,

  16. Gosh I'm loving
    all of those photos!
    And, it's tricky
    to make food look
    yummy sometimes, and
    you certainly have!
    I'll look forward
    to trying the ones
    I don't have....
    One of my favorites
    to serve the ladies
    is my heirloom grain
    salad....delicious : )
    Enjoy these last lovely
    days of summer!
    xx Suzanne

  17. I can never seem to make food pictures look so deliciously pretty! You've mastered it! Beautiful photos, and wonderful sounding recipes. I printed off the Rice Artichoke salad.. that one is tailor made for me :) Thanks! -Tammy

  18. Such yummy-looking foods! Thanks for the recipes!

  19. Thanks for sharing these salad recipes! They all look delicious!!

  20. Yum! and so pretty! I love this post!