Sweet and Savory Summer

Thinking inside the box is a great way to offer tasty treats for picnics, poolside or boating.

Once I became a mother, summer took on a different meaning. It was a carefree time when schedules didn’t matter and fun with my children and family was most important. And, after we put in our swimming pool, outings for groups small and large seemed to always take place at our home. 

Summer dishes can be soooo much fun! And, with our traditional red, white and blue celebrations on July 4th and Labor Day, it’s fun to theme the menu with the classics of summer—hot dogs and burgers on the grill, cold and juicy watermelon, clambakes at the lake or beach and, of course, baked beans and potato salad. 

For those who enjoy a day at the beach, lake or poolside, or boating on our wonderful lakes and rivers—or, like my crew, on the ocean—here are some easy and delicious make-and-take recipes: Craft Box Charcuterie, Florida Caviar and Summer Magic Cookie Bars.

Being an avid angler who spends summers on a boat, I wanted a fun and easy way to put a variety of foods in one container that could sit over ice in a cooler. The craft box, which I picked up at a retailer in town, has lots of compartments and the lid snaps down snuggly. You could also use a tackle box, which is cute and quirky. 

The possibilities are endless with a charcuterie board and you could also do a candy tray, assorted dips with veggies or a kid-themed box with mini PB&J sandwiches, mini egg salad sandwiches, sliced fruit and my children’s favorite—Goldfish crackers. As a bonus, by making a box like this you eliminate the need for plastic bags that could blow into the ocean or onto the beach.

I am a big fan of Everglades Seasoning, so that’s where my Florida Caviar came from. This tasty dish is also known as Texas Caviar or Southern Caviar. I make this dish all the time when we go out swordfishing, for when we sit and drift, waiting for a bite and sharing stories about our best catches. This goes great with Fritos Scoops, so you get the yummy juice, too.

Summer Magic Cookie Bars are so named because they do quite the disappearing act!

Literally, these will not last very long once they are served. They also have the magic of a salty bottom with the sweetness of chocolate chips and flaked coconut on top. They are almost a great take on an Almond Joy candy bar and you can put shaved almonds or pecans on top in place of walnuts. 

To round out the summer menu, spiked lemonade is always fun but nothing says summer more than a pina colada—even if it is a mocktail. 

When my kids were little, they felt special when I made them frozen virgin strawberry daiquiris, served in plastic margarita cups. 

I think the main thing is to start a tradition that will live on in your children’s memory and always reminds them of summer fun and good times together. OS


Florida Caviar

1 15-ounce can black beans rinsed and drained
1 15-ounce can black-eyed peas rinsed and drained
1 10-ounce can Rotel Tomatoes, Mexican Style 
1 ½ cups frozen sweet corn, thawed 
1 3-ounce can mild green chilies
2 ripe avocados, diced
⅓ cup red onion, diced
⅓ cup cilantro, finely chopped
Everglades Seasoning, to taste

⅓ cup olive oil
2 tablespoons lime juice, fresh preferred
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
¼ teaspoon garlic powder

Combine tomatoes, avocado, onion, black beans, black eyed peas, corn, chilies and cilantro in a large bowl. > Stir so all of the ingredients are very well mixed. > In a separate bowl, whisk together olive oil, lime juice, red wine vinegar, sugar, salt, pepper and garlic powder. Pour the dressing over the other ingredients and stir well. > Add Everglades Seasoning to taste, refrigerate and stir well again before serving. > Serve with Fritos Scoops, tortilla chips or crackers. 

Craft Box Charcuterie

Choose your favorites, which might include:
Cantaloupe chunks
Mixed nuts
Pumpkin seeds mixed with raisins
Olives, such as green, black or kalamata
Cheese, a couple of varieties, cubed
Cherry tomatoes
Cucumber, cut into rounds
Broccoli florets
Salami, such as Genoa or Cotto, sliced into rounds
Crackers, a couple of varieties

Summer Magic Cookie Bars

1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk 
2 cups semisweet chocolate morsels 
1 ½ cups graham cracker crumbs
1 ⅓ cups flaked coconut 
1 cup nuts (chopped walnuts or pecans, or sliced almonds)
½ cup butter, melted in dish

Heat oven to 350 degrees (325 for a glass dish). > Coat a 13×9-inch baking pan with nonstick cooking spray. > Put the butter in the baking dish and melt it in the oven. > Remove the dish and put the graham cracker crumbs on the bottom and press them down flat. > Pour the sweetened condensed milk evenly over the crumb layer. > Place the chocolate morsels, coconut and nuts evenly across the top. > Use a fork and press them down firmly. > Bake 25 minutes or until lightly browned. > Cool. > Cut into bars or diamonds. > Store covered at room temperature or put in a cooler if you are outside in the hot sun.

Posted in Living, Table

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