Hope’s Pasta Salad

1 package of spiral pasta, cooked

1 cup broccoli florets

1 cup cherry tomatoes, cut in half

1 cup sliced ½ (one half) inch pieces of pepperoni

1 cup provolone cheese cut into small cubes

1 cup frozen peas, defrosted (Optional)

½ cup Vidalia onion, diced

½ cup black olives, cut in half (Optional)

1 cup pickled artichokes

1 bottle of Italian dressing

Prepare pasta according to package directions. Rinse off with cold water, drain and pour into a large bowl. Mix pasta with one cup salad dressing. In a large salad bowl toss together broccoli, peas, onions, pepperoni, provolone cheese, artichokes and tomatoes. Add olives and extra salad dressing as preferred. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours. Serves 6.


Mussels or Clams with Sweet Sausage and Onions

1 pound linguine

1 ½ pounds mussels, about 32 or more

2 tablespoons butter

6 cloves garlic, chopped

1 cup flavored breadcrumbs

3 tablespoons flat leaf parsley, finely chopped

2 tablespoons olive oil

¾ pound sweet Italian sausage links, sliced into ½-inch coins (freeze before slicing for 20 minutes)

2 medium sweet onions, finely chopped

½ cup dry vermouth

½ cup chicken broth

Scrub the mussels clean and remove the beards by pulling off with a dish towel.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, add pasta and cook according to package directions until al dente.

In a small skillet sauté 1- garlic clove with butter and cook for 2 minutes on medium. Add breadcrumbs and stir until a golden brown, about 5-6 minutes. Transfer to a plate and let cool. Add fresh parsley and stir.

In a large deep skillet with a lid, heat the olive oil over medium high heat and add the sausage pieces; cook stirring often until browned about 5-6 minutes. Add onion and remaining garlic. Cover and partially cook, stirring often for 5-6 minutes. Stir in vermouth, then add broth. Lower the heat to low and let simmer for about 4-5 minutes.

Add mussels to the sauce. Cover and raise heat to high and cook, shaking the pan often, until mussels are open, discard any that don’t open, about 3-4 minutes.

Drain the pasta and toss with the sauce. Serve in bowls and top with buttered breadcrumbs.


Baked Zucchini Fries

2 medium zucchini

2 beaten egg whites

½ cup flavored panko crumbs

½ cup flavored bread crumbs

Salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste

Cut zucchini into 2 x ½ -inch sticks. Dip into beaten egg whites then into a mixture of panko and flavored bread crumbs. Place on vegetable sprayed baking sheet.

Roast in a 450 degree oven for 25 to 30 minutes, turning once. Season with salt and pepper, if desired.


Shrimp Mac and Cheese

Serves 4.

1 tablespoon butter

2 tablespoons flavored breadcrumbs

1 clove garlic, minced then smashed

1 14-ounce package sharp white cheddar cheese

1 cup flash cooked shrimp, coarsely chopped

2 scallions thinly sliced

In a skillet heat butter on medium heat. Add 2-tablespoons bread crumbs; sauté for 3-4 minutes, add garlic and cook another one minute, stirring frequently. Remove from heat and set aside.

In a large saucepan prepare sharp white cheddar macaroni and cheese package according to package directions. Stir in shrimp and green onion; cook on low heat for 4-5 minutes or until heated through, stirring frequently. Sprinkle with reserved breadcrumbs.


Greek Tomato Salad with Feta Cheese

Serves 4. Adding the salt to the tomatoes before helps loosen the tomato juices and concentrates the tomato flavor.

2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved

salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste

½ English cucumber, coarsely chopped

½ red onion, thinly sliced

½ cup Kalamata olives, cut in half

2 tablespoons fresh chopped oregano leaves

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 ½ tablespoons red wine vinegar

2/3 cup feta cheese, coarsely crumbled

In a large serving bowl combine tomatoes and ¼ teaspoon salt. Let it stand for 5 minutes.

Add cucumber, red onion, Kalamata olives, oregano, olive oil, vinegar and pepper, to taste, toss. When ready to serve top with feta cheese.


Strawberry Pie


¾ cup all-purpose flour

½ cup quick-cooking oats

½ cup pecans, chopped

2 tablespoons granulated sugar

Pinch of salt

½ cup butter, melted


1 quart fresh whole strawberries, trimmed and hulled

¾ cup granulated sugar

2 tablespoons cornstarch

1 cup water

2 tablespoons light corn syrup

2 tablespoons strawberry gelatin

Whipped cream or topping, for garnish

In a bowl stir together flour, oats, pecans, sugar, and salt. Stir in butter until blended. Press onto bottom and up the sides of a 9-inch pie plate. Bake at 400 degrees for 12-15 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool on a wire rack.

In a saucepan stir together sugar and cornstarch. Gradually add water and corn syrup; bring to a boil over medium heat. Cook and stir for 2-minutes. Remove from heat; stir in gelatin until dissolved. Cool to room temperature, about 30-40 minutes.

Arrange the berries in the prepared crust. Carefully pour the gelatin mixture over strawberries.

Refrigerate for 3-4 hours or until set. Serve with whipped cream.


Grilled Chicken and Strawberries Salad

4 grilled chicken breasts, sliced into strips

8 cups mixed baby greens, rinsed and dried

2 cups fresh strawberries, sliced

¼ cup feta cheese, crumbled

4-6 tablespoons raspberry vinaigrette

In a large bowl combine lettuce greens, strawberries and feta cheese. Pour raspberry vinaigrette over mixture and gently toss. On 4 plates divide the salad and top with a sliced grilled chicken breast. Serves 4.


Cucumber Salad with Dill and Sour Cream

1 large English Cucumber halved lengthwise and thinly sliced crosswise

½ cup Vidalia onion, thinly sliced

¾ cup low-fat sour cream

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 teaspoon granulated sugar

1 tablespoon dried dill

Salt and Pepper to taste

In a medium size bowl combine sour cream, lemon juice, sugar and dill and thoroughly whisk together. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add sliced cucumbers and onions and toss to coat evenly. Serve immediately or refrigerate for up to 6-8 hours. Serves 4.

Note: Kirby cucumbers maybe substituted for the cucumbers. Use about 6 cucumbers.



Hope Cusick has won awards at the North Carolina Strawberry Festival in 2012; The North Carolina Blueberry Festival — winning first place for her Blueberry Cheese Danish Pastry in 2012; placing on her blueberry spinach salad and dressing and winning second place for her Sweet Blueberry Pepper Jelly in 2015; and winning first in 2016 for her spoon blueberry muffins with apricot sauce and second for her blueberry crisp squares — and has won various other contest awards — including three blue ribbons at the 2016 Cape Fear County Fair — for her blueberry cheesecake, muffins, breads, cookies, brownies and jams. She resides in Hampstead.