Make something special to go with yummy strawberries. Karen Schneider / For The Forecaster

It’s July and we must barbecue. It’s an American tradition. Let’s just not make it too difficult, OK?

Here are some nostalgic family recipes if you want to get your 1950s mojo going and feed the hungry hoards at the same time.

Sometimes I’m in the mood for a good kabob, and this flavorful recipe has just enough snap to make it interesting. Alongside, we can have this “new-to-me” layered salad. Both these dishes can be made ahead, and I have to say this salad has become my favorite go-to when I’m having summer company.

Once again, my sister Dee came through by sharing the recipe for this gem that feeds a crowd. As a matter of fact, the first time I tasted it, my thought was, “baby, where have you been all my life?” (Don’t turn up your nose at the thought of iceberg lettuce and cold peas covered in mayonnaise.) This works. It works very well.

For after, let’s have a lovely layer cake to go with fresh local strawberries. This recipe is really quite effortless and only looks fancy. Since we like a lot of frosting in this house, I make extra. After all, we have to devour a spoonful or two to charge up our energy before properly addressing frosting the cake.
I always do a “crumb coat” first by smoothing on a thin layer of frosting then wait about 30 minutes or so before I apply the final creamy, swirly layer.

And yes, there will be frosting left in the bottom of the bowl. What you do with it is totally up to you.

Beef Kabobs

3 lbs. top round or sirloin steak, cut into 2-inch cubes

1/4 cup orange juice

1/4 cup tomato juice

2 tbsps fresh lime or lemon juice

3 tbsps. olive oil

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 tsp. oregano

1 tsp. paprika

1 tsp. cumin

1 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes

3 onions, each cut into 8 wedges

Place beef cubes and onion wedges in a large food storage bag. Add all other ingredients. Shake gently to coat meat and onions with marinade. Refrigerate for a minimum of two hours and up to 48 hours.
When ready to cook, prepare the grill. Thread meat and onions onto 6-8 long metal skewers. Reserve marinade. Place kabobs on grill, turning and basting with marinade as they cook, until meat is browned and done to your preference; about 10-15 minutes in total for medium-rare. Yield: 6-8 servings

Layered Pea Salad

1 head lettuce, shredded

1/2 cup red onion, diced

1 cup celery, diced

12 ounces fresh peas or thawed frozen peas

1 cup mayonnaise

1 tbsp. sugar

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

1/2 lb. bacon, fried and crumbled

12 oz. cherry tomatoes, sliced length-wise

Spread the lettuce evenly in a large glass bowl. Top with red onion then celery then peas. Top with cheddar cheese and bacon. Stir the sugar into the mayonnaise and spread over the top. Decorate with tomato halves. Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours or overnight. Yield: 12 servings

Vanilla Layer Cake

2 1/2 cups flour

2 1/2 tsps. baking powder

1/2 tsp. salt

2/3 cup butter, softened

1 3/4 cups sugar

1 1/2 tsps. vanilla

2 eggs

1 1/4 cups milk

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Butter and lightly flour two 8 x 1-1/2-inch round cake pans.
Combine flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl and set aside. In another large mixing bowl, beat butter with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add sugar and vanilla; beat until well combined. Add eggs, one at a time, beating 1 minute after each. Add dry ingredients and milk alternately to beaten mixture, beating on low speed after each addition just until combined. Pour batter into the prepared pans.

Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until a wooden toothpick comes out clean. Cool layer cakes in pans on wire racks for 10 minutes. Remove cakes from pans then cool completely on racks before frosting. Yield: 12 servings.

Vanilla Buttercream

1 1/2 cups butter, softened

4-4 1/2 cups confectioners sugar, sifted

3 tbsps. vanilla

Pinch salt

3-4 tbsps. cream or milk

Place softened butter in the bowl of a stand mixer that has been fitted with the paddle attachment. On the medium setting, cream the butter until smooth and light in color, about 3 minutes.

Add confectioners sugar, 1/2 cup at a time. After each cup has been incorporated, turn the mixer onto the highest speed setting for about 10 seconds.

Add vanilla and salt. Combine until well incorporated. Add cream or milk and mix until the frosting is the preferred consistency. For a firmer frosting, add more confectioners sugar, a 1/4 cup at a time. For a softer frosting, add more liquid a tablespoon at a time.

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