EF Treasures Cookbook: Our Family Recipe Series

Everlasting Footprint Family Treasures Cookbook Recipes

As we approach the holiday season, we’re running a delicious new series that focuses on each special family recipe that has been handed down through the generations.

“Cooking is an act of love, and a special family recipe connects us to our history. Every family has secret recipes, and every family’s gifted cooks carry them in their hearts. The recipes that are passed down to the next generation are a kind of keepsake and memento – as solid as anything else.”
Our Delicious Heritage, Cindy Readnower

For the first secret family recipe in our Everlasting Footprint Family Treasures Cookbook, Cindy Readnower shares a family delicacy.


Treasured Family Recipe: Midwestern Seven Layer Salad

Certain foods seem to be more traditional in different geographies. Growing up in the Midwest, a farm belt, meant that for me, produce was available in various seasons, and my family had developed ways to use the abundance of vegetables and fruits as they were harvested. Family members may have had a whole bushel of one vegetable, and they didn’t want to eat it the same way repeatedly.

Summer zucchini was integrated into breads and cakes, and tomatoes were sliced, canned for future use, made into salsa, or even breaded and fried when green. Many people had summer gardens that grew lettuce, radishes, cucumbers, green beans, and beets, and those with a green thumb also grew broccoli, squash, and cauliflower. The availability of farm-fresh produce inspired many recipes.

One of the dishes that I have continually served on special occasions is a Midwestern Seven Layer Salad. Since it feeds a large group, takes some time to prepare, and is best prepared the night before, it is usually reserved for special events and holidays. You can take some shortcuts with the traditional family recipe, but the best way is to prepare everything the day before you serve it, and to always cook the bacon yourself, instead of using store-bought “bacon bits.”  Chopping your own fresh lettuce and spinning it dry also adds to the flavor of the salad.

This is one dish that is good the next day, after the dinner, and the tradition is to eat it by itself for lunch. It has a unique flavor, and most people won’t be able to figure out why, although nothing is really unusual. Approaching the holidays, my kids always ask for this salad.

Midwestern Seven Layer Salad

Ingredients and Instructions:

In a very large bowl layer the following in order, spreading all ingredients to cover the layer below:

  • 1 head iceberg lettuce, chopped, or several heads chopped romaine
  • 1 or 2 packages frozen peas (thawed or frozen)
  • 1/2 cup chopped green pepper
  • 1 cup sliced celery
  • 1 red onion, thinly shaved or sliced
  • 1 can water chestnuts, drained and sliced

Then, with a spatula, thinly spread 1 cup Mayonnaise over entire salad (It may be tempting to use more, but try not to)

Sprinkle evenly with 2 teaspoons sugar over entire surface

Layer on at least 1 and 1/2 cups of Romano cheese

Refrigerate up to 24 hours. Before serving, garnish with:

  • Sliced radishes
  • Sliced hard-boiled eggs (approximately 8)
  • Crumbled cooked bacon (8 slices or more)
  • 2 chopped tomatoes

Serve the final product of this treasured family recipe by scooping through all layers and making sure each serving contains a helping of each ingredient.

The Everlasting Footprint Storybook is the perfect place to share, collect, and collaborate on family recipes. Create a Footprint for a loved cook in your family, and begin to celebrate your family’s heritage together. 

About Cindy Readnower

Cindy Readnower, MBA, specializes in sales, marketing, and entrepreneurship. An award-winning certified Life Coach, business consultant, and publisher at Skinny Leopard Media, she helps writers produce and promote their books. She is a newspaper columnist, author of "Inherited Secrets," and a blogger.

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