Classic American Recipes

Cooking spans across generations and reflects the diversity of our great nation. So, what better way to celebrate our country's birth, then with a few classic American recipes! Try them at your Fourth of July barbecue, with friends and family ... or cook up a few dishes and have a picnic on the beach ... then finish off with some yummy desserts, while watching fireworks!

Side Dishes and Appetizers

Senator Barb's Favorite Crab Cakes


  • 1 lb. jumbo lump or backfin crab meat
  • 2 slices white bread
  • 1 tbsp. mayonnaise (light or regular)
  • 1 tbsp. Dijon mustard
  • 2 tsp. Old Bay or Wye River seasonings
  • 1 tbsp. snipped parsley (optional)
  • 1 egg (or substitute for special diets)
  • Tartar sauce or cocktail sauce

    1. Beat the egg in a bowl.
    2. Trim the crusts from the bread and break the slices into small pieces.
    3. Add these pieces to the egg.
    4. Mix in the mayonnaise, Dijon mustard, Chesapeake seasoning and parsley, and beat well.
    5. Place the crabmeat in a bowl and pour the egg mixture over the top.
    6. Gently toss or fold the ingredients together, taking care not to break up the lumps of crabmeat.
    7. Form the cakes by hand into patties about 3 inches around and 3/4-inch thick. Shape should be like a cookie, not like a meatball or golf ball.
    8. Place the cakes in the refrigerator for at least 45 minutes before cooking.
    (Special Note: This is very important so the cakes don't fall apart.)

    Broil the Crab Cakes
    Slip them under a preheated broiler until nicely browned, turning to cook evenly, about 4 to 5 minutes on each side.

    Or saute
    Heat a small amount of butter or olive oil in a skillet and saute the cakes, turning several times, until golden brown or about 8 minutes total cooking time.

    Serve at once with tartar sauce, mustard, or cocktail sauce on the side.

    Recipe serves 6 people.

    Famous Senate Restaurant Bean Soup


  • 2 pounds dried navy beans
  • Four quarts hot water
  • 1 1/2 pounds smoked ham hocks
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • Salt and pepper to taste

    1. Wash the navy beans and run hot water through them until they are slightly whitened.
    2. Place beans into pot with hot water.
    3. Add ham hocks and simmer approximately three hours in a covered pot, stirring occasionally.
    4. Remove ham hocks and set aside to cool.
    5. Dice meat and return to soup.
    6. Lightly brown the onion in butter. Add to soup.
    7. Before serving, bring to a boil and season with salt and pepper.

    Recipe serves 8 people.

    Hoppin' John

    (From Senator McConnell's Kentucky Recipes)

  • 2 cups fresh or frozen black-eyed peas
  • 1/4 pound of bacon
  • 2 small red pepper pods
  • 2 cups uncooked regular rice
  • Salt

    1. Cover peas with water.
    2. Simmer peas, bacon and peppers in a covered pot over low heat for 1 to 1.5 hours or until tender.
    3. Add rice, cover and cook over low heat, stirring frequently until rice is cooked.
    4. Add more water during cooking if necessary. Add salt to desired taste.

    Recipe serves 8 people.

    Main Dishes

    Vegetable Lasagna


  • 1 medium zucchini, sliced
  • 1 cup mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, cut in small pieces
  • 2, 8-ounce cans tomato sauce
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon basil
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 large tomato, chopped
  • 1 cup low-fat cottage cheese
  • 1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded, (try part-skim)
  • 6 lasagna noodles, uncooked


    1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
    2. Mix zucchini, mushrooms, onions, and garlic with tomato sauce and seasonings in a saucepan.
    3. Cover; cook 15 minutes and set aside.
    4. Mix cheeses and chopped tomato.
    5. Spread one-third of sauce over bottom of 8-by 8-inch baking dish.
    6. Add half of the uncooked noodles and half of cheese mixture.
    7. Repeat layers and end with a third layer of sauce.
    8. Cover tightly with foil; bake 45 minutes.
    9. Remove from oven and let stand 5 minutes before serving.

    Recipe serves 4 people.

    Wild Game Polish Sausage

  • 25 pounds 50/50 pork trimmings (50% lean and 50% fat)
  • 20 pounds wild game (lean meat)
  • 1 quart water
  • 14 ounces (1 1/3cups) salt
  • 2 ounces (4 Tbsp.) cure
  • 1/2 ounce (6 tsp.) marjoram
  • 1 1/2 ounces (3 Tbsp.) mustard seed
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2 ounces (1/4 cup) pepper

    1. Mix all ingredients together and grind the product through a coarse plate. Follow that with a fine grind.
    2. Stuff in hog casing and smoke at 120 F for one hour, 150 F for one more hour, then at 170 F two hours or until internal temperature of 141 F is reached.

    (Follow same procedure as described for smoking venison summer sausage.)

    Mrs. Truman's Mac and Cheese

    (See original, hand-written recipe here.)


  • 8 oz. Mac.
  • ½ # grated cheddar cheese
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 egg
  • ¼ cup oleo

    1. Cook mac. Drain & cool.
    2. Place layer of mac. in baking dish, then add layer of cheese.
    3. Repeat layers.
    4. Combine milk & egg and pour over mac. & cheese.
    Special Note: This can be done day before & refrigerate.


    Mamie Eisenhower's Million Dollar Fudge


  • 4 1/2 cups sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tall can evaporated milk
  • 12 ounces semi-sweet chocolate bits 12 ounces German-sweet chocolate
  • 1 pint marshmallow cream
  • 2 cups nutmeats


    1. Boil the sugar, salt, butter, evaporated milk together for six minutes.
    2. Put chocolate bits and German chocolate, marshmallow cream and nutmeats in a bowl.
    3. Pour the boiling syrup over the ingredients.
    4. Beat until chocolate is all melted, then pour in pan.
    5. Let stand a few hours before cutting.
    (Special Note: Remember it is better the second day. Store in tin box.)

    George Washington's Cranberry Pudding


  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/2 cup molasses
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/3 cup boiling water
  • 1 1/2 cups sifted flour
  • 1 1/2 cups cranberries, cut in half


    1. Combine eggs, sugar, salt and molasses.
    2. In a separate container, put 2 teaspoons of soda in 1/3 cup boiling water. 3. Add to egg mixture.
    4. Stir in flour and cranberries.
    5. Steam in a buttered rice steamer for 1 1/2 hours.
    6. Serve warm with the following sauce.

    Directions and Ingredients for Sauce

  • 2 sticks butter
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup half and half

    1. Melt butter.
    2. Add sugar and half and half and stir until sugar is dissolved.

    Watermelon Popsicles


  • 3 cups watermelon juice
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 t. Fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup water


    1. To prepare watermelon juice, cut watermelon into cubes and rub through a strainer to remove seeds.
    2. In small saucepan mix together sugar and water; simmer 3 minutes.
    3. Remove from heat; stir in watermelon juice and lemon juice.
    4. Turn into 2 ice trays.
    5. Freeze until very mushy and insert a popsicle stick in each cube.
    6. Freeze.

    Makes about 36 small popsicles.

    Looking for more tasty recipes to enjoy with friends and family this Fourth of July? Check out July 4th favorites, party ideas, and more with's Ultimate Guide to the 4th of July!

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