School’s out! Enjoy a first day of freedom feast

Recipes include: Chicken Salad Wraps with Crunchy Slaw with Cilantro and Mint and Chocolaty Cherry Nut Cookies

There was always a wonderful sense of urgency in our house on the last day of school. The final bell rang at 11:15 and the Nye children had strict instructions to come right home. My mother was a master of organization and efficiency. Within minutes of walking in the door we were in the car headed north to New Hampshire.

In spite of our rush to get to Pleasant Lake, Mom always took us to Ricky’s in Nashua to celebrate the end of school and start of summer. Ricky’s was one of those funky, family-owned roadside drive-ins. We gathered around one of the picnic tables for a first day of freedom lunch.

How do you celebrate the last day of school? Instead of eating out, why not try a fun and delicious picnic? Enjoy a healthy lunch and a few games at your favorite park or beach. Don’t forget to add a few tasty cookies. After all, it is a celebration.

By Susan Nye

Chicken Salad Wraps
Serves 4

1-2 T. mayonnaise
1-2 T. nonfat Greek yogurt
1 T. Dijon mustard
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
2-3 c. chopped or shredded cooked chicken
1/2 c. peeled, seeded and chopped cucumber
4 radishes, chopped
1/2 T. fresh chopped tarragon
1/2 T. fresh chopped parsley
1/2 T. fresh chopped chives
Mixed baby greens
4 whole-grain tortillas
1/2-1 avocado, peeled and chopped

Put mayonnaise, yogurt and mustard in large bowl, season with salt and pepper and whisk to combine.

Add chicken, cucumber and radishes to the bowl, sprinkle with herbs and toss to combine. If mixture seems dry, add a little more mayonnaise or yogurt or both.

Place a handful of greens onto each tortilla. Add a generous spoonful or two of chicken salad and a few pieces of avocado. Roll up. Cut each wrap in half and serve.

Crunchy Slaw with Cilantro and Mint
Serves 4-6

3-4 oz. coleslaw mix
3-4 oz. broccoli slaw
1/2 cucumber, chopped
1/2 red or yellow bell pepper or a mix, chopped
2 scallions, trimmed and thinly sliced
2 T. roughly chopped cilantro
2 T. roughly chopped mint
About 1/3 c. roughly chopped roasted peanuts (optional)

Make vinaigrette (recipe follows) and let sit for at least 30 minutes to combine the flavors.

Put vegetables in large bowl, sprinkle with the herbs and peanuts, and toss to combine. Drizzle with enough vinaigrette to lightly coat, toss and serve.

You can make the slaw a day ahead and store in the refrigerator.

Spicy Vinaigrette
3-4 T. apple cider vinegar
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
1 T. (or to taste) minced jalapeno
2 tsp. brown sugar
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/2 c. (or to taste) extra-virgin olive oil or peanut oil

Put all ingredients except the oil in blender and process to combine. Slowly add oil and process until well combined.

Store extra vinaigrette in the refrigerator.

By Susan Nye

Chocolaty Cherry Nut Cookies
Makes about 3 dozen

1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 c. (1 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. packed light brown sugar
1 large egg
2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
6 oz. (about 1 c.) mini chocolate chips
1 c. dried cherries
1/2 c. coarsely chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

Put flour, baking soda and salt in bowl and whisk to combine.

Put butter and sugars in large bowl and beat with electric mixer until creamy. Add vanilla and egg and beat until smooth.

Gradually add dry ingredients and beat until combined. Stir in chocolate chips, cherries and nuts.

Using a mini ice cream scoop or 2 spoons, drop batter onto prepared baking sheets.

Bake in the center of the oven for about 8 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on the baking sheets for a few minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Susan Nye writes for magazines throughout New England. Named one of the Top 100 Foodie Bloggers of 2012 by BlueStar Range, she shares many of her favorite recipes and stories about family and friendship on her blog at

Categories: Recipes, Summer Food