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Recipe Contest Winners

Here are some of the best cookout recipes from the Mid-West and Mid-South from our previous newsletters. These recipes can be prepared quickly and easily enough to do "on vacation." Black Oak Resort guests share their favorite dishes with each other during our cookouts and pontoon parties, and we get the cream of the crop recipes. Have a "taste" of these Black Oak Resort Guest Recipe treats.

Betty is gathering together all the recipes from our guests over the years and compiling a Black Oak Resort Cookbook. Send us your favorite recipes, or even better, bring them down and prepare them for us to taste test! All of you whose recipes are selected for publication in the cookbook will receive a complimentary copy. We're planning to publish the cookbook in 2001!


1999 - Black Bean & Rice Soup

These days, no one has much time to cook, and it seems that the trend is to eat out more and more. We all have too little time, but we still need to eat our vegetables. One of the most versatile is the tomato, and it's also one of the most nutritious (Lycopene, baby)! This year we have two delicious recipes, both simple, and both using a prepared salsa as one of the main ingredients.

Our first recipe comes from one of our very favorite guests, Joanne Logan of Naperville, Illinois. She usually has us over for dinner whenever she stays with us. Joanne loves to try new recipes, and both Joanne and her husband Jerry are great cooks.

Joanne uses more (one cup each) of red bell pepper, onion and celery. I'd use olive oil instead of margarine. Of course, you could substitute red or pinto beans easily in this recipe. Also, to make it more nutritious, you might use brown rice, adding it before the beans and picante sauce to allow for the longer cooking time. (I can't seem to resist changing a recipe!) With bread and a salad, this makes a complete, healthy meal.

1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped celery
2 cloves chopped garlic
3 tbsp. margarine
1/2 tsp. oregano
1 bay leaf
2 (14-16 oz.) cans chicken broth
2 cans black beans, undrained
3/4 cup Pace Picante Sauce (mild or hot, to taste)
1 cup instant rice

Saute pepper, onion, celery and garlic in margarine until soft, about 15 minutes. Add chicken broth, oregano and bay leaf. Bring to boil; simmer 5-10 minutes. Add beans, picante sauce and rice. Simmer 5-10 minutes or until done. Remove bay leaf. Serves 4. Yum!


1999 - Salsa Chicken & Rice

Our second recipe is from Richard and Phyliss Scrima of Mt. Prospect, Illinois. Yes, that's Michael's brother -- a little nepotism here. It's one of the simplest recipes to make, and takes very little time to prepare. It uses the leanest meat and of course, salsa!

Nothing could be simpler, but this dish is so good! Richard uses a little more chicken, because it seems to shrink. Although I normally like spicy dishes, I found the hot salsa a little too hot for this recipe. Abandanza!

4 boneless chicken breast halves, cut into 1-1/2 inch chunks
1 medium to large jar salsa (mild to hot, depending on taste)
4 cups cooked rice

Brown chicken in non-stick skillet until no longer pink and lightly browned. Add salsa. Simmer 10 minutes, until bubbly and chicken is cooked through. Serve over hot rice. Serves 4.


1998 - Sweet-Sour Green Beans
I always have a hard time picking a recipe from all those I sample from our guests each year. This year is no exception, but I finally decided on this one from a long-time guest of ours, Lisa Bristow, who hails from Braidwood, Illinois. I also found out that green beans, which are the featured vegetable in this recipe, are very, very good for you. It seems they contain one of those non-vitamin substances (maybe an antioxidant?) that are so good for your health. So,  everyone eat your vegetables, and I know you'll enjoy this recipe.

8 slices bacon, diced
1/2 med. onion, chopped
1/3 c. vinegar
1 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cornstarch
2 1-lb. cans tiny whole green beans (You may also use fresh or frozen)
1/2 tsp. garlic (fresh or powder)

Fry bacon until crisp. Drain, reserving 1 tbsp. fat. Sauté onion in fat. Mix vinegar and cornstarch. Blend in sugar, salt, garlic. Add to onion. Stir 'til thickened.   Drain beans, add with bacon to onion mixture and heat.


1997 - Marlene Ryan's Lasagna
This year I'd like to feature a recipe from one of our old guests that no longer stays with us since they've moved here. Marlene Ryan is one of those versatile cooks that can do everything: cook, bake, barbecue -- you name it. It's always delicious. Marlene has served this dish at some of our resort get-togethers. It is always a huge success. Do not think traditional lasagna here -- this is an Americanized version, but one that I definitely prefer.

1 lb. ground beef
1 c. chopped onion
2 c. (1-lb. can) tomatoes, cut up
1 6-oz. can tomato paste
1/3 c. water
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. oregano
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/2 lb. lasagna noodles, cooked
2 6-oz. pkg. Kraft Natural Low-Moisture Part-skim Mozzarella Cheese
1/2 lb. Velveeta Pasteurized Cheese Spread, sliced
1/2 c. Kraft Grated Parmesan Cheese

Brown meat. Add onion. Cook until tender. Drain off excess fat. Stir in tomatoes, paste, water, garlic and seasonings. Cover. Simmer 30 minutes. In 12 x 8 inch baking dish, layer noodles, meat sauce and cheeses. Repeat layers. Bake, uncovered, at 350 for 30 minutes.

Serves 6 to 8. Serve with a salad and garlic bread (and maybe some wine). Enjoy!

You may add more or less of the cheese, according to your taste. Marlene doubles this recipe and freezes one pan. Take out of freezer and heat at 350 for 45 to 60 minutes, covered. Also may be reheated in microwave.


1996 - Marge's Rice
In 1996 a great recipe that we all loved was from Marge Martinez of Wheeling, IL. It's a Spanish rice with the addition of pork and lots of spiciness. You will enjoy it as much as we all did.

2 c. rice
1/2 lb. boneless pork cut in small pieces
1/2 tsp. cumin
1/2 onion, chopped
1/2 tsp. creole seasoning
1/4 tsp. seasoned salt
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1 8-oz. can tomato sauce

Brown rice in oil. Transfer to casserole. Brown meat. Season meat with cumin, creole seasoning, seasoned salt, salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Simmer meat with 1 cup water to tenderize (approximately 20 minutes). Add meat and juices and onion to rice. Add tomato sauce and approximately 4 cups of water. Bring to boil and simmer until rice is cooked (approximately 20 minutes).


1995 - Chocolate Eclair Dessert
Our cookouts give us a chance to try out everybody's star recipes. 1995 again produced lots of winners. The one that we had the most requests for was from a Texan, Gloria Sears. It's an easy dessert with the authentic taste of chocolate eclairs. Don't let the ingredients fool you. It tastes exactly like the real thing. A real winner!

Graham crackers
2 3-oz. pkgs. vanilla pudding (Gloria uses French Vanilla)
8 oz. Cool-Whip
1 can milk chocolate frosting

Layer bottom of 13" x 9" pan with graham crackers. Mix pudding according to directions on package; stir in Cool-Whip with the pudding. Pour over graham crackers. Frost enough graham crackers to cover the pudding mixture. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours. (Better if left overnight.)


1994 - "Best" Biscuits & Gravy
From 1994, I'd like to pass on what it took me all these years in Arkansas to learn how to make -- that great southern specialty, biscuits and gravy. The funny thing about it is: Guess who showed me how? Renee Poynter of Palos Hills, Illinois.  But her husband, Rodney, has southern roots (Kentucky).

1 pkg. Giant Pillsbury Southern Style Biscuits, prepared to pkg. directions
1/2 pkg. (1 lb. size) mild or hot (to taste) bulk pork sausage
2 1/2 cups milk
8 tbsp. flour
Salt, pepper to taste

Brown sausage in skillet, breaking into small pieces as it cooks. Add flour to milk. Blend well with wire whisk. Add salt and pepper. Add seasoned milk/flour mixture to skillet. Cook over medium-high  heat until thickened and bubbly. Boil for 1 minute. Should be thick. If too thick, thin with a little milk.

Note: Drain sausage if too much grease. This will depend on the sausage used. You want a little grease left in pan. Best made in large Teflon skillet.


1993 - Pasta Salad
Sisters Teresa Jesenovec and Peg Householder of Waukegan, Illinois, both get credit for this absolutely wonderful pasta salad recipe. I normally pass on pasta salad because it always has a sour taste. This one is not like that at all, and because the broccoli is stir fried instead of raw or boiled, it has an altogether totally different taste. A guaranteed winner, I promise!.

6 strips bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 lb. pasta
1/2 lb. broccoli florets, chopped
2 tbsp. chopped onion
Parmesan (to taste)

Cook bacon until crisp. Remove. To drippings, add broccoli and onion. Stir fry until slightly cooked. Meanwhile, cook pasta, drain. Mix pasta with broccoli and onion and drippings. Add bacon. Sprinkle with parmesan. Blend.


1992 - Mexican Lasagna
John and Connie North of Park Ridge, Illinois, served this great Mexican casserole at one of our gatherings in 1992.

1 1/2 lbs ground beef (approx.)
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 green pepper, finely chopped (optional)
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 can enchilada sauce (mild or spicy)
1 small can green chili peppers
1 pkg. large flour tortillas
1 16-oz. pkg. grated cheddar cheese

Brown beef; drain. Add onion, green pepper, chili peppers, soups and sauce. Simmer 30 minutes. In 13x9 baking pan, layer tortillas and ground beef mixture, starting with tortillas and ending with beef mixture (approx. 3 layers). Bake 45 minutes uncovered at 325 degrees. Sprinkle with cheddar cheese, return to oven and bake until cheese is melted and bubbly. Remove from oven. Let stand 15 minutes before serving (otherwise it will be sloppy). Serve with sour cream on the side. Connie recommends using spicy enchilada sauce!


1991 - Salsa
From John and Deb Rossman of Hanover Park, Illinois.

2 28-oz. cans Dei-Fratelli seasoned diced tomatoes (homestyle)
1 12-oz. can Italian seasoned tomato sauce
1 green pepper, chopped fine
1 medium onion, chopped fine
3 jalapeno peppers, chopped fine (including seeds).
You can also use the ones from a jar.

Combine ingredients in a bowl, then sprinkle with cumin to cover the top. Mix. Serve with corn tortilla chips. Note: This recipe is hot and spicy and will get hotter and spicier the longer it sits. You can eat it right away, no need to wait. Another suggestion is to mix all the ingredients up to the jalapeno, then halve the recipe and add more jalapeno to one half, making it spicier than the other, so the children (and wimpy adults) can enjoy a milder version.


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