Yesterday was Pioneer Day here in Utah — a statewide holiday that celebrates the arrival of Brigham Young and his followers after leaving Nauvoo, Illinois (where their leader Joseph Smith was murdered). You can read more on the day here.
We had been told, especially when we arrived in early July, that Pioneer Day was a much bigger deal than our nation’s actual Independence Day. And, true to form, our July 4th had not a firework in sight. But the entire city shut down on Pioneer Day. There was a parade (that we slept through), a pie-eating contest (zzzzzz) and a melon-eating contest (zzz..you get the idea). We missed a lot of the festivities on the account of catching up on sleep, but we did attend two great potlucks that evening. After all, the non-Mormons all call it “Pie and Beer Day.” Sounds good to me.
The first was held at a fellow USU faculty member’s house. It was so nice to meet more faculty and musicians in the community. We had a great time, but had to cut it short to make it over to Sean & Wallis’ place for fireworks and more celebrating with our friends from the Opera Festival. It was a late night, but luckily we had slept in. Remember? zzzzzz? (Next year, I’ll do my best to document the fun, but you guys know how much I love to sleep…)
Sometimes potlucks send me into a frenzy over what to bring. There are so many things I love to make and so many things I’d love to try, but since I’m still figuring out high-altitude baking (coming to a blog post near you), I went with a summer favorite that requires no oven…or any real cooking, for that matter. Here’s the recipe, which was a total hit. Next time I’ll remember to grab a photo or two!
Paula Deen’s Banana Pudding
(Originally titled “Not Yo’ Mama’s Banana Pudding” – how appropriate in light of recent PD events.)
2 bags Pepperidge Farm Chessmen cookies
6 to 8 bananas, sliced
2 cups milk
1 (5-ounce) box instant French vanilla pudding
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1 (12-ounce) container frozen whipped topping thawed, or equal amount sweetened whipped cream
Line the bottom of a 13 by 9 by 2-inch dish with 1 bag of cookies and layer bananas on top.
In a bowl, combine the milk and pudding mix and blend well using a handheld electric mixer. Using another bowl, combine the cream cheese and condensed milk together and mix until smooth. Fold the whipped topping into the cream cheese mixture. Add the cream cheese mixture to the pudding mixture and stir until well blended. Pour the mixture over the cookies and bananas and cover with the remaining cookies. Refrigerate until ready to serve.