Chef Terri Rees shares picnic recipes

Chef Terri in eightWest studio

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich (WOOD) The Independence Day holiday weekend is a busy time, spent with family and friends. Chef Terri Rees shares some creative new recipes.

Pasta Salad à la Chef
Yield:  4 servings

  • 1 pound small pasta (elbows, farfalle, cavatappi or similar shapes)
    1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
    1 yellow onion, thinly sliced
    1/2 lemon, zested and juiced
    1/2 cup walnuts, toasted
    1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
    Salt and pepper to taste
    1 pint grape tomatoes
    1/2 medium red onion, diced
    1 cup frozen peas
    1 cup basil
    1 ounce shaved Parmesan cheese

Cook pasta according to package directions and cool.

Make pesto:
In a food processor, blend yellow onion, lemon juice, zest, walnuts, red pepper flakes and 1/4 to 1/2 cup of olive oil; process until smooth Add the Parmesan and Basil . Season with salt and pepper and set aside.

Assemble the salad:
Toss together tomatoes, red onion and peas. Add pesto (and olive oil left from making pesto, if desired).

Cucumber Agua Fresca    (Serves 8)

  • 4-1/2 cups seeded, coarsely chopped cucumbers (about 4 medium)
    4 cups cold water
    2 cups ice cubes
    1 cup sugar
    2/3 cup fresh lime juice
    2 generous pinches of salt
    Additional ice cubes

Garnish ideas:

Mint, diced cucumber, cherry tomatoes, lemon, parsley, celery sticks

In a blender, combine 2-1/4 cups chopped cucumbers, 2 cups water, 1 cup ice cubes, 1/2 cup sugar, 1/3 cup lime juice and 1 pinch of salt. Blend until sugar dissolves and mixture is smooth but slushy, about 2 minutes. Transfer mixture to a pitcher. Repeat with remaining cucumbers, water, ice cubes, sugar, lime juice and salt.

BBQ Chicken Sliders

Terri loves homemade biscuits!  She found this on Tasting Table and have been using it ever since!  Grating and freezing the butter – sounds like a ton of work – but it’s worth it!  For this recipe – I make homemade catsup for my homemade BBQ Sauce – and then she cheats a little!  She uses rotisserie chicken from my local supermarket!

Southern-Style Biscuits

Recipe from the Tasting Table Test Kitchen

Yield: 10 biscuits

  • 10 tablespoons unsalted butter, frozen
    2 cups all-purpose flour
    1 tablespoon baking powder
    1 teaspoon sugar
    ¼ teaspoon baking soda
    1 teaspoon kosher salt
    ¾ cup chilled buttermilk
    ¼ cup chilled heavy cream
    Flakey salt (such as Maldon), for sprinkling


  1. Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 450°.
  2. Grate the frozen butter using the large side of a box grater. Transfer the butter to a bowl and place in the freezer to chill.
  3. Sift the flour, baking powder, sugar and baking soda into a large bowl. Whisk in the salt.
  4. Using a fork, stir in the grated, chilled butter then make a well in the center. Add the buttermilk and cream, and stir until the dough begins to clump and become shaggy.
  5. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface. Working quickly, gently press and fold the dough 4 to 5 times (try not to knead or squeeze the dough), then form it into a rectangle. Pat the dough down to a uniform thickness of ¾ inch.
  6. Using a 2½-inch cutter, press straight down through the dough, without twisting. Gather and pat down scraps if needed. Place the biscuits on a parchment-lined baking sheet so that they are just touching and chill in the fridge for 20 minutes.
  7. Sprinkle each biscuit with flaky salt and bake until golden on top, 12 to 15 minutes. Let cool slightly before serving. Make ahead: Dough can be made ahead, cut into biscuits, frozen on a sheet try and transferred to a resealable plastic bag for up to a month.


  • 2T oil
    1 medium onion – chopped
    1 Garlic Clove chopped
    1 ½ cups Tomato Ketchup
    1/3 cub Worcestershire
    ½ cup honey
    ¼ cup Vinegar
    2 T Chili Powder
    2T Paprika
    ¼ tsp Cayenne
    ½ tsp Ground Cumin
    ½ tsp ground coriander

Heat the oil in a sauce pan over medium heat, add the onions and garlic and sauté until tender, and do not let the garlic burn!  Add the remaining ingredients and simmer over low heat, stirring occasionally.  Remove from heat and cool to room temperature.  This sauce should last refrigerated for 3 – 4 months.

Tomato catsup

  • (Makes about 2 cups)
    2 pounds ripe (5 – 6 medium) tomatoes, rinsed and diced
    2 large garlic cloves, smashed
    ½ small onion diced
    ¼ large red bell pepper, diced
    ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
    ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
    1 tablespoon salt
    2 teaspoons pickling spices
    ¼ cup tomato paste

In a medium stainless steel pan, over a low flame, cook the tomatoes and garlic until the sauce begins to bubble.  Add the onion, red pepper and cook for 2 minutes then add the corn syrup, vinegar, salt and pickling spices.  Simmer over a medium flame for about 1 ½ hours stirring occasionally.  The sauce will reduce by ½.  Cook over medium to low heat so the sauce will not scorch.

Strain through a food mill, or a sieve and stir in the tomato paste.  Add salt and pepper to taste, cool and refrigerate.  This will thicken a little bit in the refrigerator as it cools, but it will not look like store bought catsup!

Will keep for approximately 3 weeks

To Assemble Sliders

Pull cooled chicken – add a generous amount of BBQ sauce.

Split your biscuits in half and fill sandwiches.

Cherry Sugar Cookie Macaroons

 This is my sister’s 2013 finalist for the Pillsbury Bake Off!

  • 1 roll Pillsbury refrigerated sugar cookie dough
    ¾ cup chopped macadamia nuts
    ¾ cup coarsely chopped dried tart cherries
    1 bag (7oz) sweetened flaked coconut (about 2 ½ cups)
    1 cup Smucker’s Orchards’ Finest Michigan Red Tart Cherry Preserves

Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Line large cookie sheets with parchment paper.  Let cookie dough stand at room temperature for 10 minutes to soften.

In a medium bowl, break up cookie dough.  Add nuts, cherries, coconut and vanilla.  Mix with wooden spoon or knead with hands until well blended.  Shape rounded tablespoonful’s of dough into balls.  Place 2 inches apart on cookie sheets.

Bake 15 – 20 minutes or until edges are light golden brown.  Cool 3 minutes.  With back of teaspoon make indentation in center of each cookie.  Spoon 1 teaspoon preserves in each indentation.  Cool completely, about 20 minutes.  Store in covered Container.

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