Sweet Southern Summer

03 Jul 2024

Recipes and Photos by Kaitlin Gooding

Sweet summertime is here, bringing long afternoons perfect for enjoying the outdoors together. No Southern gathering is complete without banana pudding, but this time, we’ve transformed it into a pie. Fresh from the fridge, this no-bake vanilla cream pie is the ideal dessert to complement any summer meal.

For a delightful drink, try the Spicy Summer cocktail. It's a tantalizing mix of tart, smoky, sweet and just the right amount of spicy. Instead of sweating over the grill, opt for a refreshing fruit bowl or a pasta salad. I guarantee you’ll be making these more than once this summer.

And don’t miss out on the baked white fish tacos, paired perfectly with homemade tomato salsa. This quick and easy recipe will soon become a favorite in your home.

Pasta Salad

Servings: 7-8 servings



  • 1 lb. pasta (I used bowtie)
  • 3-4 radishes, thinly sliced into halves
  • 1 can chickpeas; drained and rinsed
  • 2 green onions, diced
  • 1/2 lab asparagus; trimmed
  • 1 package of prosciutto, sliced into bite size pieces
  • Salt & pepper; as desired-
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil


  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • 2 tsp maple syrup
  • Salt & pepper; as desired


  1. Begin with making the dressing. Add all of the ingredients into a blender and mix on high. Remove the dressing from the blender and set aside.
  2. Boil the pasta in a large pot of salted water on medium-high. Cook the pasta according to the package directions. Once the pasta is al dente, drain the pasta and add to a large bowl.
  3. Add the asparagus to a pan and coat it in the olive oil. Sprinkle the salt and pepper over the asparagus while it cooks, continuously stirring for 5-10 minutes or until asparagus is soft. Add the chickpeas and allow them to warm through. Add the ingredients to the pasta.
  4. Toss in the radish, green onions and prosciutto pieces. Pour the dressing over top and toss to combine. Taste and add seasoning if needed.

Spicy Summer Cocktail

Servings: 1 cocktail


  • 1.5 oz mezcal
  • 3 oz pineapple juice
  • 1 oz coconut milk
  • 1 oz lime juice
  • Dash of vanilla extract; an extra dash if you love vanilla 
  • 2 slices jalapeño, seeds removed
  • Salt, to rim
  • Lime slices


  1. Pour your mezcal into a small cup along with your jalapeño slices. Allow it to sit for 10 minutes. Remove the jalapeño or leave in the mezcal for extra spice. Add the pineapple juice, coconut milk, lime juice, and mezcal to a shaker with ice.
  2. Shake the mixture well. If you don’t have a shaker, you can always use a mason jar with a lid to shake.  
  3. Use a lime slice to rim the rocks glass with juice. Add salt to a plate and roll the top of the glass to rim it with salt.
  4. Add ice to the glass and pour the mixture through a strainer into the glass and serve. You can use lime or pineapple to garnish.

Vanilla Cream Pie

Servings: 1 pie



  • 2 cups of vanilla wafer crumbs
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 8 tbsp butter, melted


  • 5 oz instant vanilla pudding
  • 1.5 tsp vanilla extract
  • 10 oz sweetened condensed milk
  • 4 oz cream cheese; softened
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1.5 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 1.5 cups cold milk
  • 3 bananas, cut into slices
  • Whipped cream for garnish


  1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Add your wafers to a blender or food processor and mix until it becomes a crumb consistency.
  3. Add the wafer crumbs to a bowl along with butter and sugar.  Mix well and then pour into a buttered pie plate.  Press the crumbs into the pie plate and up the sides to create a crust.  Bake in the oven for 8-10 minutes.  Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.
  4. In a bowl, mix the milk and instant pudding. In a separate bowl, mix the softened cream cheese and condensed milk until smooth. Pour the cream cheese mix into the pudding mix. In another bowl, whip the heavy whipping cream until peaks have formed. Fold it into the mix. Add cinnamon and vanilla extract and fold once more.
  5. Slice the 2 bananas and form an even layer over the base of the pie.  Pour the filling over top. Make another layer with the bananas and the remaining mixture over top. Refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight cover in plastic wrap.
  6. When ready to serve, add the remaining banana and slice for garnish along with whipped cream. I used the canned white cream to make a nice look, but you could also make your own. You can also substitute making the vanilla wafer crust for a store-bought graham cracker crust. 

Fruit Bowl 

Servings: 4-6


  • 3 peaches; slices
  • 2 cups cantaloupe, 1-2 in chunks
  • 1 cup blueberries
  • 1 cup strawberries, tops removed and quartered
  • 1 tbsp freshly sliced mint
  • 1/2 cup candied chopped walnuts
  • 2 tbsp grapefruit juice
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract 
  • Dash of sea salt


  1. In a bowl, add all the fruit and walnuts together. In a separate bowl, mix the grapefruit juice, vanilla and sea salt. Pour over the fruit. Add the mint over top and mix it all together. Drizzle honey over the fruit. Serve immediately or keep 1-2 hours in the fridge before serving.

Fish Tacos with Tomato Salsa

Serves: 3-4


  • 1 lbs white fish (grouper or tilapia)
  • Salt & pepper to season
  • 8 6 in. corn tortillas 
  • 2 eggs; beaten 
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs
  • 2 avocados 
  • Cilantro for garnish
  • Lime wedges to serve


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Pat the fish dry and season with salt & pepper. In one bowl add the beaten eggs and, in another bowl, add your flour and breadcrumbs and mix. Dip the fish into the egg mixture and then dredge in the flour-breadcrumbs.
  2. Arrange the fish on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. 
  3. Cook the fish all the way through; approximately 15 minutes.
  4. Warm your tortillas in the microwave or in a pan on the stove.
  5. Add the fish to your tortillas. Add in avocado slices, handful of cilantro, and top it off with the tomato salsa. Add a lime wedge to garnish.

Tomato Salsa (for fish tacos)


  • 2 cups Roma tomatoes; cored & quartered 
  • 1 tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 4 green onions
  • 1/4 jalapeño, seeded and thinly chopped 
  • 1/2 cup; fresh cilantro
  • 1 tsp salt 
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1 garlic clove


  1. Add all ingredients to a blender or food processor and pulse until you reach your desired consistency. Taste and add more salt if you desire. Store in the fridge for at least one hour. Serve over top fish tacos or serve as a side dish with chips.
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