Planning your menu for next family reunion

Family reunions are fun gatherings and usually consist of everyone attending bringing their favorite dish or casserole or whatever. It is exciting trying all the different foods and especially the desserts that people bring and there is always certain people that bring special dishes that you anticipate eating every reunion.

Reunions are not only the excitement of trying all the various foods that people bring, but also more important is seeing relatives and friends that you have not seen for a while and catching up with all the latest.

Everyone is different as to when and where they hold their reunions, some like a shelter at a local park while others at a restaurant or at a camp or even the beach. No matter where your reunion is held, the most important thing is spending time with each other, visiting and having a great time. A reunion brings together all the very special people in your family and the pot luck dinner just adds to the event.

Below are some special recipes that you may want to consider for your upcoming event.

Have a great reunion and enjoy!

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Barbecue Ranch Cornbread Salad

1 cup frozen lima beans, thawed

1 cup frozen corn, thawed

1 cup frozen black-eyed peas, thawed

1 cup chopped red bell pepper

1 cup chopped seedless cucumber

1/2 cup thinly sliced green onion

3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon white wine vinegar

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon ground black pepper

2 6-ounce packages cornbread mix

1/4 cup butter, melted

1 large head romaine lettuce, chopped

3 tomatoes, seeded and chopped

1 1/2 cups mayonnaise

1 cup vinegar-based barbecue sauce

1 1-ounce package ranch dressing mix

1 tablespoon Worchestershire sauce

1 16-ounce package bacon, cooked and crumbled

In a large bowl, stir together lima beans and next 11 ingredients. Cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days. Bake cornbread according to package directions for an 8-inch pan. Let cool completely. Preheat oven to 400. Cut cornbread into 3/4-inch cubes. Place on a large rimmed baking sheet and drizzle with melted butter, tossing to coat. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until golden brown and crisp. Let cool completely. In a large serving bowl, layer cornbread croutons, lettuce, tomatoes and lima bean mixture. In a small bowl, stir together mayonnaise and the next 3 ingredients. Spread over lima bean mixture and sprinkle with bacon. Cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days before serving.

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Pickled Vegetable Pasta Salad

Dressing:

1 1/2 cups distilled white vinegar

3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 cup chopped fresh tarragon

1/4 cup whole-grain mustard

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 tablespoons sugar

2 teaspoons kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

Salad:

2 red bell peppers, thinly sliced

2 yellow bell peppers, thinly sliced

1 pound fresh green beans, cut into 2-inch pieces

1 10-ounce bag matchstick carrots

1 6-ounce bag radishes, thinly sliced

1 cup thinly sliced shallots

2 jalapenos, thinly sliced

8 cups distilled white vinegar

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons kosher salt

3 tablespoons sugar

2 16-ounce boxes rotini, cooked

For dressing, in a medium bowl, whisk together all ingredients. Cover and refrigerate. For salad, in a large bowl, combine all bell peppers and next 5 ingredients. Place cauliflower in a medium bowl. In a large saucepan, bring vinegar, salt and sugar to a boil over high heat, stirring until salt and sugar dissolve. Pour two-thirds of vinegar mixture over bell pepper mixture and remaining vinegar mixture over cauliflower. Let vegetables stand for 15 minutes. Drain, discarding liquid. In a very large bowl, stir together all vegetables and dressing.

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Crunchy Summer Slaw

2/3 cup rice vinegar

1/2 cup canola oil

1/4 cup soy sauce

3 tablespoons honey

1 1/2 teaspoons garlic salt

1 teaspoon ground black pepper

2 packages ramen, no seasoning packets

1 cup sliced almonds

2 12-ounce packages broccoli slaw

2 10-ounce packages angel hair coleslaw

1 English cucumber, halved, seeded and thinly sliced

1 cup thinly sliced green onion

1 cup shredded carrot

1 cup matchstick radishes

1 cup fresh cilantro

In a small bowl, whisk together vinegar and next 5 ingredients. Cover and refrigerate for 3 days. Preheat oven to 400. Crumble ramen noodles onto a rimmed baking sheet; toss with almonds; and spread in a single layer. Bake for 10 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool completely. In a large bowl, toss together noodle mixture, broccoli slaw and all remaining ingredients. Whisk dressing well and add to slaw mixture, tossing to combine. Serve immediately.

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Creamy Loaded Potato Salad

2 tablespoons butter

2 sweet onions, thinly sliced

1 5-pound bag red potatoes, quartered

1 16-ounce package bacon, cooked and crumbled

1 8-ounce package shredded extra-sharp Cheddar cheese

1 cup sour cream

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

1/4 cup white wine vinegar

3 tablespoons chopped fresh dill

3 tablespoons whole-grain Dijon mustard

3 tablespoons sweet pickle relish

2 teaspoons kosher salt

1 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

In a large skillet, melt butter over medium heat. Add onions and cook, stirring frequently, for 15 minutes or until tender. Increase heat to medium-high and simmer for 10 minutes or until potatoes are tender; drain well. Let cool for 30 minutes. In a large bowl, stir together potatoes, bacon, cheese and caramelized onions. In a small bowl, whisk together sour cream and all remaining ingredients. Add to potato mixture, stirring gently to coat.

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Kiki Angelos is a food columnist for the Parkersburg News and Sentinel.

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