Swimming Food

baked ham sandwich

We are summer swim team people. Mr. Star Wars moved up an age group this year, and his practice time is now an hour later than Miss Priss’. That means we spend every evening at the pool from 5:30 until about 7:45. Prime dinner hour. I was bringing snacks with us to practice and then we would eat really late dinner– like a bowl of cereal– when we got home but that was a disaster. I have started just bringing meals to the pool. My goal for pool meals is food that does not require utensils or dishes.

Yesterday, I brought a pan of those baked ham sandwiches that people serve at tailgates or football parties. The classic recipe with the Hawaiian rolls is really greasy and has too much butter for me (I can’t believe I am saying that), so I combined a few different recipes to reduce the butter amount– a little.

Mini Baked Ham Sandwiches

Ingredients

  • 1/4 c. butter, softened
  • 2 T. horseradish mustard
  • 2 T. finely chopped yellow onion
  • 1 1/2 t. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 lb. deli ham, very thinly sliced– almost shaved (I like maple glazed)
  • 1 lb. baby Swiss cheese, thinly sliced
  • 1 pkg dinner rolls (you will use 9 rolls)
  • 9×9 inch metal baking pan (disposable aluminum pans work well)

Directions

  • Mix the softened butter, horseradish mustard, chopped onion, and Worcestershire sauce in a small bowl. Combine well.

ham sandwiches spread

  • Cut the rolls in half horizontally. Keep the top and bottom halves separate.

ham sandwiches rolls

  • Spread a layer of butter mixture on the bottom half of each roll and place in a 9×9 pan.
  • Cut the Swiss cheese slices into quarters. Place one piece of cheese on the buttered bottom half of each dinner roll.
  • Top the cheese slice with ham.
  • Add another quarter slice of cheese.
  • Spread the remaining butter mixture on the top half of each roll and place one on each cheese/ham stack.

ham sandwiches assembly

  • Cover the pan of sandwiches with tin foil and bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes.

ham sandwiches baked

  • Serve warm or at room temperature.

ham sandwiches in pan

What kinds of snacks do you bring to eat at the pool? It is amazing how hungry swimmers get!

Blue Cheese Dip

columbine dip chips

I got a text earlier this week from my neighbor, Miss Jackie, suggesting we order pizza and have snacks Saturday night in the front yard while the kids rode bikes, played Ghosts in the Graveyard, and ran around. Easy enough– we love casual summer get togethers. Who knew there would be a pop-up thunderstorm at 5:00? The whole group ended up in my kitchen and playroom, and I drank margaritas. I made a blue cheese Columbine dip that works really well as a topping for hamburgers too, so we cancelled the pizza idea and grilled burgers.

The original recipe comes from one of my favorite cookbooks, Colorado Collage. Sewing Sister thinks we should add crumbled bacon to the top to make it even more delicious.

 Ingredients

  • 1/2 lb. crumbled blue cheese
  • 1/3 c. chopped red onion
  • 1/3 c. olive oil
  • 1 T. fresh lemon juice
  • 1 T. red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 t. crushed garlic
  • 1 t. dry mustard
  • 1/4 t. ground black pepper
  • 1/3 c. chopped fresh parsley

Directions

  • Pour crumbled blue cheese in a 9-inch pie pan or similar sized dish (I used a quiche dish).

columbine dip blue cheese

  • In a food processor, combine onion, olive oil, lemon juice, vinegar, garlic, mustard, and pepper. Pulse to blend.

columbine dip dressing

  • Pour the dressing evenly over the blue cheese.

columbine dip pouring dressing

  • Sprinkle with parsley.

columbine dip finished

  • Let stand 2+ hours at room temperature.
  • Serve with blue corn tortilla chips, pita chips, or little toasted bread triangles.

Notes

  • Add a scoop to the top of a freshly grilled hamburger to make a blue cheese burger.

columbine dip close

The Chocolate Brownie Trifle

chocolate trifle finished

A friend once told me that all good southern desserts should have a crushed up candy bar added to them. Check and check. I brought this “Chocolate Bomb” (TheRoomDad’s official name for the dessert) with Heath bar sprinkles to the Memorial Day picnic we attended yesterday. I actually have a hard time eating very much of this brownie trifle because it is sooo chocolate-y, but no one else seemed to have a problem with it.

Trifles are a layered dessert with some type of cake pieces, pudding/cream filling, and another item like fruit (or candy) pieces in a footed glass dish. They are easy to assemble and must be made ahead of time, so the flavors and ingredients will meld. I think they make a great recipe choice for large groups.

chocolate trifle ingredients

Ingredients

  • 2 boxes brownie mix (I use Betty Crocker fudge brownie mix)
  • 16 oz. Cool Whip, thawed
  • 3 (3.9 oz) instant chocolate pudding mixes
  • 4 c. milk
  • 6 (1.4 oz.) Heath candy bars, frozen
  • trifle dish (or other glass serving dish with tall sides)

Directions

  • Bake brownies according to the directions on the box for a double recipe. The Betty Crocker double batch bakes in a 15″ x 10″ pan. After the brownies cool completely, cut or break apart into large pieces. You will crumble the large pieces into bite size pieces as you layer into the trifle dish.

chocolate trifle brownie pieces

  • Pour the dry pudding mixes in a large bowl and add 4 c. milk (this is less milk than what the recipe on the box will indicate). Using a whisk, mix the pudding until smooth.
  • While the Heath bars are still in their wrapper, hit them on the counter to break apart. If they are frozen, they break apart more easily. After the candy bars are crumbled, open the wrapper.
  • In the trifle dish, create a bottom layer of bite sized brownie pieces. You can break the brownie into small pieces using your hands or cut into little pieces with a knife.

chocolate trifle layer 1

  • Spread a layer of chocolate pudding on the brownie pieces.

chocolate trifle layer 2

  • Spread a layer of Cool Whip on the pudding layer.

chocolate trifle layer 3

  • Sprinkle Heath bar pieces on the Cool Whip.

chocolate trifle layer 4

  • Repeat the layers ending with Heath bar sprinkles.
  • Cover and refrigerate for 2+ hours before serving.

chocolate trifle bite

Notes

  • One box of brownie mix is not quite enough, but you will have extra brownie pieces using a double batch. I usually have a little leftover pudding and Cool Whip too.

This recipe is not exactly swimsuit friendly, but I couldn’t resist. Do you eat delicious party food to kick off the summer, or do you lean towards “healthier” options?

chocolate trifle bite

Easter Brunch

hashbrown casserole cooked

Aunt B will be visiting with her two boys for Easter. I have my parents in town too. That means I need to prepare food for a group, which is actually something I like to do. I am not sure why cooking for a large group is so much more appealing to me than the daily cooking for my own small(er) family, but it is (see previous post). One idea I have for Easter brunch is Hash Brown Casserole. It is easy to assemble ahead, and it includes melted cheese, which automatically gives the recipe bonus points.

There are many variations of this casserole available, but I am sharing the recipe I use. I like to serve this casserole with ham or scrambled eggs. I also think it works well with steak or hamburgers later in the day.

Ingredients

  • 1 2-lb package frozen, diced hash brown potatoes– thawed (the cubes)
  • 1/2 c. melted butter
  • 1 10-oz. can Campbell’s cream of celery soup (could replace with cream of chicken)
  • 8-oz. sour cream
  • 1/2 c. chopped green onions
  • 2 c. shredded cheddar cheese (+ a little extra to sprinkle on the top before baking)
  • 1 t. salt (or to taste)
  • 1/4 t. pepper (or to taste)

hashbrown casserole ingredients

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Put all of the ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Stir until combined.

hashbrown casserole ingredients mixed

  • Spread in a 9×11 casserole dish.

hashbrown casserole

  • Sprinkle extra shredded cheddar cheese on top.
  • Cover in foil and bake for ~35 minutes. Remove foil and bake an additional 5 minutes or so until the top is slightly golden and edges are bubbly.

hashbrown casserole closeWill you be serving anything special for Easter?

The Big Sandwich

big sandwich plate

TheRoomMomMom used to make something called The Posh Nosh Sandwich; I always referred to it as The Big Sandwich. My mom would serve it when we had friends over to swim, and everyone was starving. My mom would make it for a tailgate event and warm bricks in the oven and wrap the sandwich in foil with the warmed bricks underneath until it was time to serve. Any time people needed hearty party food, The Big Sandwich was there.

I have made The Big Sandwich when we are with friends sharing a house for the weekend and needed “man food” for the group. Last night, I made The Big Sandwich for an adult backyard birthday party. It serves a crowd, covers the melted cheese criteria for yummy party food, and is easy to assemble. It can be messy to eat, so serve with lots of napkins.

big sandwich ingredients

Ingredients

  • 1/4 to 1/2 lb. thinly sliced turkey
  • 1/4 to 1/2 lb. thinly sliced ham
  • 1/4 to 1/2 lb. thinly sliced roast beef
  • 1/4 lb. thinly sliced Genoa salami (can use hard salami)
  • thinly sliced Swiss cheese (8-10 slices)
  • thinly sliced red onion rings
  • Marie’s Thousand Island dressing
  • 1 loaf of Italian bread, unsliced

Directions

  • Cut the loaf of Italian bread in half horizontally, so the bread is divided into a top and bottom. Scoop some of the squishy bread center out from both sides, so you have a little extra space for sandwich fillings inside the bread.

big sandwich bread

  • Put a layer of Swiss cheese in the top and bottom pieces of the bread. I use ~4 slices on each side.
  • Spread a layer of Thousand Island dressing on the cheese slices on both sides.

big sandwich dressing

  • On the bottom piece of bread, layer each type of meat. I like about 4 slices of each kind of meat, but you can use more or less depending on your taste.

big sandwich meat

  • After the last meat slices are added, sprinkle a layer of red onion on the bread “lid”.

big sandwich onions

  • Place the bread “lid” on the top of the sandwich to close and wrap completely in foil.

big sandwich foil

  • Bake at 350 degrees for ~45 minutes until melty and toasty.
  • Remove from the oven, unwrap from the foil, and slice with a serrated knife into 2-inch wide wedges immediately. The meat has a tendency to slip off the bread when the cheese is really melty, so you have to cut carefully.
  • Serve hot.

big sandwich sliced

Notes

  • I get the meat sliced fresh at my grocery store deli. I ask for “very thinly sliced” and like it to be just a little thicker than shaved.
  • You can spread the Thousand Island dressing on the top and bottom pieces of bread before adding the cheese slices. I like to put the cheese slices down first if I am assembling several hours before baking, so there is a protective layer between the bread and the dressing to keep the dressing from soaking into the bread too much.

big sandwich slice sample