Friday, July 1, 2011

Fourth of July Eats

Wave Your Flag Cake
I must confess...(almost) nothing makes me happier than enjoying good food and drinks with family and friends. This has been a part of my social life since I was very young. Family reunions and church outings with my mom. The exciting question of "What should we bring?"

I love to cook and make people happy with my cooking. I'm not a chef or a culinary genius - but I put love into the things that I make. Sometimes, that makes all the difference in how the food tastes. If you enjoy what you do then it shows. (That goes for all things- not just cooking). When visiting my house, no one can ever complain about the food or the hospitality.

After seeing my mom slave in the kitchen, cooking for a family of five each night, it's often strange to think I would grow up and enjoy it as much as I do. I guess I learned a few things along the way and can appreciate the time she spent over the stove. (I love you mom!) I wanted to share what's on the tentative menu at my house for the Fourth and share a few ideas you might want to steal.

We'll probably go with that standard burgers and bratwurst for main course. Scott is the grillmeister around this house, so he'll take care of the meat. I'll have the snacks, sides and dessert. Here's what I have planned for my part.

Above is the Wave Your Flag cake. I made this a few holidays ago and everyone loved it. It can also be made with cream cheese for a cheesecake version - but I'm sticking with the traditional. It's lighter and feels more like summertime to me. Here are a few other options I thought looked fabulous and are pretty simple to make.

Brownie-n-Berries Dessert Pizza
This dessert looks great and it has the added benefit of being gluten free.

Jell-O Easy Patriotic Pie
This is beautiful and super easy to make (as the name implies). Watch the video for tips on how to layer the dessert. The top layer may look tricky - but it's not.

Great American Potato Salad
For sides, I'm going with the classics. Baked beans and potato salad. This one is pretty good, but I understand the debate about potato salad. No one makes a better one than your mother, etc. So, do yourself a favor and ask for the recipe (if you don't already know it by heart).

Jalapeno Popper Dip
For a snack/appetizer, I am trying this tasty recipe I found on the blog, Closet Cooking. Originally, I found the recipe for a Jalapeno Popper Grilled Cheese Sandwich. Let's just say...I'll be making this soon enough (but not for the Fourth). I was scrolling down the page and spotted this beauty. I can't wait for everyone to try this! I normally make my classic Chili Cheese Dip (recipe to follow), and some might be disappointed not to see it on the table. I almost feel like I should make it too (and I might).

Chili Cheese Dip
1 (8oz.) package of Philly cream cheese
1 can of Hormel chili (no beans)
1 package of grated sharp cheddar cheese (or grate from block)

Place the cream cheese into the casserole dish and microwave for 30 seconds. This will soften the cheese and make it easier to spread. Spread evenly across the bottom of the dish. Next, spread the chili evenly on top of the cream cheese (careful not the mix the two). Finally, shake grated cheese over the top evenly until you cover all chili. Place in a 375 degree oven for approximately 10 minutes or until you start to see the chili bubble in the corners and the cheese is thoroughly melted. Serve with tortilla chips (the Scoops variety works best and holds up to the weight).

This recipe uses a 8x8/9x9 glass casserole dish (and the recipe fills it about 3/4 full) Depending on the size of your crowd, you may need to use a bigger dish and double the recipe.

I hope everyone has a great holiday weekend. Let me know if you tried any of the recipes and share if you have good ones too. I love adding to the recipe box! Whatever you choose to do, be safe (with fireworks and the drinking). And make it your objective to find a service member and tell them you appreciate their sacrifice. We couldn't enjoy this holiday without them.

Until next time - Happy Fourth of July and remember Freedom is never free!
(All photos courtesy of Kraft, Betty Crocker and Closet Cooking websites)

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