Category: 4th of July

Strawberry-Blueberry Almond Muffins

Strawberry-Blueberry Almond Muffins

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Our youngest is home for a few days to celebrate her dad’s retirement.  And, just for grins and giggles, I stirred up a batch of muffins for breakfast. You might like them for the Fourth of July.

On Dave’s last day at work, he, too, lit up when I asked about a little tiny sweet to start the day.   Continue reading “Strawberry-Blueberry Almond Muffins”

Fourth of July–Breakfast and Afternoon Picnic

Fourth of July–Breakfast and Afternoon Picnic

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Start the day in happy and healthy 4th colors…

Skip the burgers and beer this weekend and put together a festive, but filling picnic-worthy meal of grilled pork tenderloin -one of my favorite summer meals- served with grilled sweet potatoes along with a choice of sauces. Bacon, too, if you want.  Throw together a spicy herb coleslaw and, if you’ve time, my most popular pasta salad–a tortellini and vegetable dish that’s easily made vegetarian (or even vegan) if necessary.  Make the beautiful Strawberry-Amaretto Ice Cream from my last post for the finishing taste and to leave everyone feeling sweet.  This meal lends itself to potluck if you’d like to pass out recipes and just wait for the food to roll in.  If there are any leftovers at all, you’re set for the next day, too, as everything in the post keeps beautifully and the pork makes perfect tacos.  Happy 4th!

Begin in the morning with coffee along with a bowl of sliced red and blue berries and chopped watermelon topped with Greek yogurt, a little granola, and a drizzle of local honey.

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Start the day’s festivities playing some great 4th of July music. Try Pandora or play this selection off youtube.com…  Raining?  Keep the troops happy watching a patriotic movie or two; snuggle up with the pups. Print off coloring pages for the little ones.

RED, WHITE, AND BLUE BREAKFAST SUNDAE

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You’ll have plenty of room for the big picnic later on in the day. A pomosa (Pomegranate juice and sparkling wine) on the side would be a very happy accompaniment, I think.  Figure on a cup each of berries and watermelon for every person, along with 1/2 cup Greek yogurt, 1/8 cup granola, and a teaspoon or so of honey. Continue reading “Fourth of July–Breakfast and Afternoon Picnic”

Strawberry-Amaretto Ice Cream:            Drink Your Dessert

Strawberry-Amaretto Ice Cream: Drink Your Dessert

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It hasn’t been summer in Colorado Springs until the past couple of days.  In fact, we’ve been wet and cool with little need for sandals (boo hoo), short sleeves or air conditioning.  Vegetables plantings have washed away and flower pots have been flooded, poured out, and replanted, only to start that entire cycle again the next day.  Neighbors have water in their basements for the first time in memory.  Living in a place where fire is a typical weather condition possibility many months a year, we don’t complain about rain. Ever. (But…)
IMG_7671As as cook who adores seasonal preparations, I really have been yearning for frozen margaritas, fajitas on the grill, plain ol’ burgers and dogs, and so on.   Until last weekend, summer’s been pretty much miss and very little hit.  And then it began to look like this around here:

IMG_2576After a nutty week of Dave traveling for work in Mexico, Miss Bo-Bo (Rosie) being horrifically ill and isolated with several upper-respiratory infections, me with multiple-cooking away-from-home jobs, Continue reading “Strawberry-Amaretto Ice Cream: Drink Your Dessert”

Ina Fridays — Main Dishes — Blue Cheese Burgers with Garlic Grilled Potatoes and Alyce’s Instant Pickles

Ina Fridays — Main Dishes — Blue Cheese Burgers with Garlic Grilled Potatoes and Alyce’s Instant Pickles

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 INA FRIDAYS –First Friday of every month. Come cook some Ina with us this weekend.  Scroll down to join the group. ♥♥♥         Upcoming:  Desserts:  July 4.     Check out Ina Fridays on Pinterest.

As a cook and a lover of my friends and family, one of my frequent questions to pose is:

What’s your favorite meal?

People will often need a moment because we have so very many things we love.  I myself can unequivocally answer,

Pizza!

This even though I often live on eggs, don’t particularly want to live without asparagus, and am rarely more pleased than when there’s beef stew for dinner.  I like great individual artisan pizza, take-out or delivery pizza, homemade pizza (my son makes the best), and probably only draw the line at frozen pizza — though I’ll eat Lou Malnati’s anytime, good Chicago girl that I am. I love pizza so much that I’m not picky. (Ok, I don’t do Chucky Cheese.)  But I’m amazed how many times Americans will answer, “Hamburgers”  when it comes to their favorite food. They include fries more than half the time, I’d wager. (Click HERE for a list of Top 50 American Foods.)  And while they love a great or famous burger from a bar, I think they’re even happier with a summertime grilled-at-home version or even a drive-in dive sandwich. (If I jump in the car, I can be at Cy’s in two minutes with a green line down at the corner.)  Continue reading “Ina Fridays — Main Dishes — Blue Cheese Burgers with Garlic Grilled Potatoes and Alyce’s Instant Pickles”

Blueberry-Rhubarb Cinnamon Crisp

Blueberry-Rhubarb Cinnamon Crisp

IMG_5815Is there anything more lusciously sumptuous than baked sweet and sour fruit with something crunchy on top and a scoop of ice cream upon which to dream?  Maybe you’d say crème brûlée or, if you were a chocolate hound, tender creamy, richly suffocating brownies. (Not that I don’t love either one.)  But I’m not sure you’d be right. Fruit is real stuff compared to egged sweet cream or flour and melted chocolate.  What’s better — or more real — than rhubarb?  Blueberries?

Aside:  Sliced rhubarb, uncooked, as well as blueberries, freeze very well.  Pack tightly in well-sealed containers and freeze for 10-12 months. You can have rhubarb crisp or blueberry pie for Fourth of July or Thanksgiving–even Christmas.

Before the recipe, here’s a little photo story….

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  A chop of the rhubarb, a mix with blueberries, a little sugar and…a rest to drain off the liquids…  (above)

IMG_5799Into a buttered casserole awaiting its topping as a dog waits for supper…(above) Continue reading “Blueberry-Rhubarb Cinnamon Crisp”

Fourth of July Berry Cake–Buy a Pound Cake if You Don’t Want to Bake

Fourth of July Berry Cake–Buy a Pound Cake if You Don’t Want to Bake

I first posted this recipe in Oct., 2012, but think it’s perfect for the 4th, so am reposting.

Just looking at this cake will tell you that it’s not difficult to make and it’s NOT.  A quick glance at the recipe, however, might put you off.  Don’t let it.  There may be a little reading involved, but the cooking and baking are fairly simple and don’t take long.  In fact, though it’s two layers, you only bake one cake.  After it’s cool, you cut it in half.

But listen, if you’re not a baker, this is just the cake for you… because you can get away without baking a cake at all!  Just buy a Sara Lee pound cake(or one from your bakery) and cut it into layers–maybe three?–and do a loaf-shaped cake on a pretty rectangular tray.  Follow the rest of the directions for the berries and filling and there you are!   You could also bake a box cake into cupcakes, slice them, put half in a pretty coffee cup and decorate from there.  Whatever you do, this is a beautiful, tasty cake for 4th of July, Easter, Mother’s Day, or the Memorial Day picnic.  (Assemble this cake where you’re serving it.)  If you don’t have a special cake plate, don’t worry about it.  Whoever eats this will be happy no matter what.  Next time you run in Good Will, see a funky antique shop or a garage sale,  keep an eye our for great serving pieces.  No need to spend a fortune at the department stores.

Another idea comes from my mother-in-law, who, when I was  a young wife, often made a similar cake using a homemade or store bought angel food cake.  To cut calories, she used Cool Whip, but I can’t go that far.   If I’m eating cake I want to eat cake.  Let them eat cake!  But if you really must cut the whipped cream for health or allergy reasons, try the Cool Whip version.



  • Easy Berry Butter Cake (Aida Mollenkamp–courtesy Food Network)
    Difficulty: Easy | Total Time: 1 hr 5 mins, plus cooling time | Active Time: 25 mins | Makes:8 to 10 servings
     For the cake:*
    • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for coating the pan
    • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
    • 1/4 plus 1/8 teaspoon fine salt
    • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick), softened, plus more for coating the pan
    • 1 cup granulated sugar
    • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
    • 1/2 cup whole milk
    *Or use a purchased cake like Sara Lee Pound Cake
    • For the filling:
    • 1/2 cup mascarpone cheese, at room temperature
    • 1 cup heavy cream
    • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
    • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
    To assemble:
      • 1 1/2 pounds mixed berries*, washed (if you’re using *strawberries, they’ll also need to be hulled and quartered)  You might not need quite this many berries; mine didn’t fit on the cake. 
      •  
    INSTRUCTIONS
    For the cake:
      1. Heat the oven to 350°F and arrange a rack in the middle. Coat an 8-inch round cake pan with butter and flour, tap out the excess flour, and set the pan aside. Combine measured flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl and whisk until evenly combined; set aside.
      2. Place measured butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and beat on medium high until light in color and fluffy, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add sugar and continue to beat on medium high until white in color and the texture of wet sand, about 3 minutes more.
      3. Add eggs one at a time, letting each incorporate fully before adding the next. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. With the mixer on low, add half of the flour mixture. Mix just until incorporated, then add milk and continue mixing until smooth. Add the rest of the flour mixture, mixing just until incorporated, about 2 minutes more.
      • Scrape the batter into the prepared cake pan. Bake until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean, about 40 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool, about 15 minutes. Run a knife around the perimeter of the cake and turn out onto the rack, right side up, to cool completely. Meanwhile, make the filling.
    For the filling:
    Place mascarpone in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment and whip on medium speed until smooth, about 1 minute. Add cream, sugar, and almond extract, increase speed to medium high, and whip until ingredients are combined and firm peaks form, about 15 seconds more. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
    To assemble: *
      1. Slice cake in half horizontally using a serrated knife. Divide filling evenly between the cut side and the top of the cake. Divide berries evenly over the filling. Stack cakes on top of each other and serve.
     
    If using a purchased cake like frozen Sara Lee pound cake, you might want to slice it (into thirds, perhaps) while it’s still partially frozen.  (Recipe first posted in May of 2012)

     

    Note:  I’ll share with you that whenever I’ve made a recipe by Aida Mollenkamp, it’s been incredible.  I don’t see her on Food Network anymore; is she still on?  But she does have a lot of recipes.  One that immediately comes to mind is her lasagna. Can’t make that very often.
     

     I like berries because of all the things they can do for us…provide tons of vitamins, fiber, antioxidants,  memory ability boosters, and more…  But I also love them because they’re gorgeous, inexpensive (relatively),  taste incredibly good, and are low in calories.  Many of them are also easy to grow at home.  And while we’re out of berry season in most places in the country, I just got a couple of pints of Michigan blueberries much like the tiny wild Maine berries that are often lusciously sweet-tart and make such great pancakes and muffins.  For more on berries and why we should eat them, click here.  

     My gorgeous partner of 39 years turns 60 on Wednesday.  Happy Birthday, Honey!  He wanted a big backyard Burgers, Brats, and Beer Party and that’s what I did yesterday.  A very good time was had by all. Wednesday night, we’ll celebrate at the Twins game.  Tickets to see the Yankees play our Twins on Fireworks night are my birthday gift to him.

     Sing  a new song,
    Alyce
Red, White, and Blue Kale Salad for 4th of July

Red, White, and Blue Kale Salad for 4th of July

Stay cool!

Where we live in Saint Paul, it can already be warm pretty early in the morning.  I’m a 
morning person; the earlier the better.  I’m also the daughter of both my father and father-in-law, because after I push the button on the coffee (pot filled night before), I check the temperature on my back porch.  In the summer if it’s above 70, I sigh heavily, drink my coffee, and get out for my morning hike.  Why?  Because it will soon be 80, then 90, and today, my friends, the little weather gizmo on my iphone says it will be 99.  If you’re a regular reader, you know what my house is like:

 

                                   Above:  Ah, our house in winter….

In other words, I have a nearly 100-year-old  house on three levels  with radiator heat and no capability for central air conditioning.  A couple of window units make life possible and there’s a cool basement that occasionally serves as our “cabin.”   Naturally, such climate also produces things like the best tomatoes on earth or my south garden roses:

Exercise and real cooking or baking must be done very early indeed on 100-degree days and I have invested in a combination microwave-convection oven where I can bake without getting the house too terribly hot.   I’ll be honest and say the convection oven is not all it’s cracked up to be, but it’s a real improvement over no oven for three months in summer.  A basement kitchen is what I want and there are many in the Twin Cities.

Most of the time, I do summer meals like everyone else: grilling, salads, ice cream for dessert.  Each year, the salads change depending on what’s good to eat or what I have at any given time.  If your frig or garden is full of kale (CSAs are notorious for delivering ton of kale!), this salad is for you.  I call it a shop and chop; you buy a few ingredients (here, feta and olives) and just chop up whatever else you’ve got.   Try this for the 4th; the kalamata olives serve as the “blue.”  It’s a great accompaniment for barbequed pork chops, Italian sausages, salmon, or marinated chicken breasts.

red, white, and blue salad for the 4th of July**
serves 8 as a side, 4 as a main dish

  • 10 cups finely chopped kale or baby kale
  • Juice of 1 lemon, divided
  • kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 cup each:   chopped feta cheese and whole, pitted kalamata olives
  • 2 cups chopped English cucumbers (no need to peel)
  • 1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup red onion, very thinly sliced
  • 1 t dried Turkish oregano
  • 1/4 cup fresh dill, roughly chopped
  • 2T good quality red wine vinegar
  • 4 T extra virgin olive oil

 Place kale in a large bowl.   Drizzle about half the lemon juice over the greens and season lightly with salt and pepper.  Toss well.  On top of the seasoned kale layer the feta, olives, cucumbers, tomatoes, and onion.  Sprinkle salad evenly with oregano, dill, and a bit more salt and pepper.  Drizzle on the rest of the lemon juice and the red wine vinegar.  Toss well.  Drizzle on oil and toss again. Taste and re-season if necessary.  Serve immediately with wedges of lemon.   (Can be made several hours ahead:  make as described above, but do not add any lemon juice, vinegar, or oil until you’re ready to serve.  Cover and chill; dress right before serving.)

**If you have leftover grilled vegetables or sautéed eggplant from another day, these things make tasty additions to  this salad and are a great way to use up leftover vegetables.   If you’ve leftover grilled chicken, shrimp, or pork tenderloin, you could add them for a more robust main-dish salad.

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 Stay cool…especially all our loved Colorado folks….and sing a new song,
Alyce