Mediterranean Chicken Salad and other delicious make-ahead recipes were served at a fabulous P.E.O. (Philanthropic Educational Organization) luncheon I attended last Friday. I wanted to share them with you because I knew you would enjoy them as much as everyone there did. Our wonderful meal began with four types of luscious homemade bread, then a tasty Chilled Strawberry Soup, which was followed by the delicious Mediterranean Chicken Salad, a yummy Bean Salad, and colorful Fruit Shish Kabobs. Dessert was a difficult choice of not one, but seven different kinds of decadent homemade cakes. All of the recipes I’m sharing today, many of which have been handed down for generations, are perfect for luncheons, potlucks or picnics. They are portable and travel well, and are oh so easy to pack up for a day at the beach, or really anytime you are looking for satisfying dishes with lots of flavors to impress family or friends.
P.E.O. Chapter FP hosted this luncheon as a fundraiser to raise money for three of eight P.E.O. projects. P.E.O. Chapter FP is one of six local chapters in Tallahassee and there are about 240 P.E.O. members in those six chapters. These members work together to celebrate the advancement of women by assisting them in reaching their educational goals through grants, scholarships, and loans. P.E.O. is one of the pioneer societies for women, founded in 1869. According to P.E.O. Chapter FP President Kerri Benson Mohar, since the beginning, P.E.O. has awarded approximately $264 million dollars to nearly 100,000 women. This was the Second Annual P.E.O. Scholarship Luncheon in Tallahassee and was held at St. Paul’s United Methodist Church. I was invited to attend last year’s luncheon and really enjoyed it. This year it was every bit as delightful and I’m already looking forward to next year.
One of the nicest things which set this luncheon apart from most others is that the Sisters of Chapter FP prepared all of the food, including a fabulous selection of homemade bread and cakes. They also served the lunch to the 88 guests, including members from other chapters, who attended the event. Not only did the Chapter FP members prepare all the food and graciously serve it, but they also set each table with their best china and crystal, making for a very beautiful and festive setting.
In addition to the special table settings and scrumptious food, three Tallahassee area authors were featured. Each shared inspiring and interesting stories about how they became writers and discussed their latest books. The local authors who spoke were Julie Strauss Bettinger, Adrian Fogelin, and Donna Stanley Meridith.
Mediterranean Chicken Salad – Recipe provided by Shirley Hall –Serves 12
- 3 half chicken breasts, cooked and cubed
- 1 8oz. package of Fuseli pasta
- 2 6 oz. jars of marinated artichoke hearts, drained and coarsely chopped
- 1 4 oz. can of sliced ripe olives
- 1 cup frozen English peas, thawed
- 1 medium sweet red pepper, chopped
- 1 small zucchini, chopped
- 1/2 small purple onion, thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan Cheese
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise (recommend Hellman’s)
- 1/2 cup Italian dressing (recommend Kraft Zesty)
- 1 tsp dried parsley flakes
- 1/2 tsp dried dill weed
- 1/2 tsp coarsely ground black pepper
- Cook the Fuseli pasta according to package directions, drain. Rinse with cold water and drain again. Combine artichokes and next 6 ingredients in large bowl. Add pasta and chicken mix well.
- For the dressing, combine mayo and next 4 ingredients. Mix well. Pour over the pasta mixture and mix well. Cover and chill overnight.
Bean Salad – Recipe provided by Betty Lou Jonas – Serves 12
- 1 15 oz can cut green beans, drained
- 1 15 oz can niblet corn, drained
- 1 15 oz can red beans, drained
- 1 15 oz can black beans, drained
- 1 15 oz can pinto beans, drained
- 1 15 oz can white beans, drained
- 1 cup celery, sliced
- 1 cup onion, finely diced
- 1 cup green bell pepper, chopped
- 1 cup white vinegar
- 1 cup vegetable oil
- 3/4 cup sugar
- Add the green beans, corn, red, black, pinto and white beans to a large bowl.
- Mix the marinade ingredients in a small bowl.
- Pour the marinade over the vegetable mixture, cover tightly and refrigerate for 1-2 days.
- Before serving, add the celery, onion and bell pepper and mix well.
- Drain the salad and serve.
Chilled Strawberry Soup – Recipe provided by Eleanor Brandt – Serves 6
- 2 cups strawberries, sliced
- 1 cup half and half
- 1 cup sour cream
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 2 Tbsp brandy
- 1/2 tsp vanilla
- Purée all ingredients in a blender until smooth. Refrigerate and serve cold. Makes 3 1/2 cups.