Memorial Day is the traditional kickoff of summer. This sampling of picnic recipes from allrecipes.com will bring a taste of summer to the picnic or dinner table. The lemonade, pasta salad, baked beans and brownies can be made ahead of time, so whoever is cooking can enjoy the holiday too.



Strawberry Lemonade

8 large strawberries, halved

2 tablespoons white sugar

7 cups water, divided

1 cup white sugar

2 cups freshly squeezed lemon juice

Place strawberries in a blender and top with 2 tablespoons sugar. Pour 1 cup water over sugared strawberries. Blend until strawberry chunks transform into juice.

Combine strawberry juice, 6 cups water, 1 cup sugar and lemon juice in a large pitcher and stir until blended. Chill before serving.



Awesome Pasta Salad

16-oz. package spiral pasta

3 cups cherry tomatoes, halved

1/2 lb. provolone cheese, cubed

1/2 lb. salami, cubed

1/4 lb. sliced pepperoni, cut in half

1 large pepper cut into 1 inch pieces

10-oz. can black olives, drained

4-oz. jar pimentos, drained

8-oz. bottle Italian salad dressing

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente. Drain and rinse with cold water.

In a large bowl, combine pasta with tomatoes, cheese, salami, pepperoni, pepper, olives, and pimentos. Pour in salad dressing and toss to coat.



Homemade Baked Beans

1/2 lb. bacon

2 (14.5-oz.) cans great northern beans, rinsed and drained

1 cup water

3/4 cup packed brown sugar

2 small onions, chopped

3 Tbsp. ketchup

3 Tbsp. molasses

1 Tbsp. vinegar

1 Tbsp. mustard

1 tsp. salt

1 tsp. garlic powder

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 2-1/2-quart baking dish.

Place bacon in a large skillet and cook over medium-high heat until crisp, about 10 minutes. Drain and cool on paper towels. Crumble bacon once cooled.

Mix bacon, beans, water, brown sugar, onions, ketchup, molasses, vinegar, mustard, salt and garlic powder together in the prepared baking dish. Cover dish with aluminum foil.

Bake in preheated oven until bubbling, about 45 minutes.



Oven-Baked Chicken

1 cup sour cream

2 Tbsp. Dijon mustard

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 tsp. black pepper

4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves

1 cup crushed cornflakes cereal

1-oz. package dry onion soup mix

3 tablespoons butter, melted

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Butter a baking dish. Whisk sour cream, mustard, garlic and pepper together in a large bowl. Add chicken and turn to assure the chicken breasts are well coated. Refrigerate 20 to 30 minutes.

Combine cornflakes and onion soup mix in a bowl. Gently press the chicken breasts into the cornflakes mixture to coat and shake off any excess. Lay the coated breasts in the buttered baking dish. Drizzle melted butter over the chicken.

Bake in preheated oven until the chicken is golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes. An instant-read thermometer inserted into the center should read at least 165 degrees.



Mini Corn Dog Bites

16-oz. package hot dogs

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup yellow corn meal

1/2 cup white sugar

2 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. salt

1 cup milk

1 egg

1/4 cup vegetable oil

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Spray two 24-cup mini muffin pans with cooking spray.

Cut hot dogs into 4 pieces crosswise and cut each piece lengthwise to make 8 pieces per hot dog.

Whisk flour, corn meal, sugar, baking powder and salt in a bowl. Stir in milk, egg, and vegetable oil to make a smooth batter.

Stir chopped hot dogs into batter and spoon the mixture into prepared mini muffin cups. Bake in preheated oven until the corn muffins are lightly browned and set in the center, about 8 minutes.



Best Brownies

1/2 cup butter

1 cup white sugar

2 eggs

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. baking powder

Frosting:

3 Tbsp. butter, softened

3 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder

1 Tbsp. honey

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1 cup confectioners' sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour an 8-inch square pan.

In a large saucepan, melt 1/2 cup butter. Remove from heat, and stir in sugar, eggs and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Beat in 1/3 cup cocoa, 1/2 cup flour, salt, and baking powder. Spread batter into prepared pan.

Bake in preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes. Do not overcook.

To make frosting, combine softened butter, cocoa, honey, vanilla extract and confectioners' sugar. Stir until smooth. Frost brownies while they are still warm.

Readers are invited to submit four to five of their favorite recipes to enjoy, along with a note about what makes them special. Send recipes to lskarpness@parkrapidsenterprise.com and they may appear in a future issue.