We hold these truths to be self-evident…..
For a full-size readable copy of the above photo, click here.
Still a sucker for July 4th. I’ll be watching 1776 sometime over the holiday. There will be fireworks. And a picnic. I love that we are a country of rebels and continue to be a country of rebels. It’s not always pretty, but really, would we have it any other way?
Last year it was Orange Creamsicle Gelato, Caribbean Coleslaw (recipe here) and Key Lime Bars (recipe here). This year it was Grilled Bourbon Chicken (recipe here) and Jicama Slaw (recipe here). Have a safe and fun 4th.
Since the 4th of July is barreling toward us, I thought I should get some ideas together. This is absolutely my favorite holiday. Food, fireworks and friends, what could be better? So let’s jump right into the food portion of our festivities.
These are quick and easy ribs if you don’t want to do the smoke for the whole day style, the citrus glaze is the star of this recipe: Baby Back Ribs with Citrus Glaze (recipe here).
Buttermilk Pie (click here) will get all the ooo’s and aaahhh’s, until the fireworks anyway. As pretty as it is tasty.
JeffreyW makes a Classic Orange/Lemon Shakeup (pictured above and recipe here)
And for a different take on cucumber salad, how about Minted Cucumbers, (recipe here).
Hopefully that will give you some ideas for your own July 4th celebration. What’s on your menu for this weekend and for the holiday? What are your favorite recipes for the celebration? We always have to leave room for the funnel cake at the fireworks. Hit the comments to share your recipes and what you like to do on the 4th.
Tonight’s featured recipe is one I made a few years ago on a whim, inspired by a recipe I didn’t follow for various reasons, and I get requests for it every July 4th now. Because it’s a kabob style, it’s a bit labor intensive, but you can prepare all of it the day before. If you want your chicken even drunker, you can soak it in the extra bourbon overnight.
Grilled Bourbon Chicken Appetizers
- 1- 1/2 lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts
- 3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
- 1/4 cup chopped Chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
- 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
- Bourbon whisky (how much you use and what you do with the leftover is between you and your bottle)
- 8 oz pineapple chunks
- 12 strips of sliced bacon (should be a pound)
- 12 short wooden skewers, soaked in water for 30 minutes before assembling and grilling*
Cut chicken breasts into 1-inch x 2-inch cubes, you should have 36 pieces (you can soak in bourbon if you like)
Mix together Chipotle peppers, brown sugar, cayenne pepper and add enough whisky and pineapple juice to make a thick sauce. Cover chicken cubes on all side with sauce and let marinate for at least 1 hour.
To assemble: Start with a pineapple chunk, add one end of full bacon strip, add chicken cube, then wrap bacon around the top of the cube and skewer, add another cube of chicken, wrap bacon around the bottom of that piece of chicken, then skewer, add a third and repeat with the bacon strip, you’re creating a ribbon with the bacon. Finish with a pineapple chunk.
(And I wish I had a photo of that step for you, but we got so busy doing them, I forgot to get the camera out. When I make them this year, I’ll remember, promise. I barely got a finished picture, had to grab someone’s plate before they started munching).
Grill over medium high heat (if using coals, start over hot coals, then move away from direct heat for the remainder of cooking time), turning frequently. Cook until chicken is 160-165 degrees. Shouldn’t take more than 10-15 minutes, don’t overcook or you’ll have dry, rubbery appetizers. Serve hot.
*please don’t forget this step or all you’ll have for appetizers is flaming skewers.
That’s it for this week. There won’t be a recipe exchange next week. And if you missed it, this week’s complete dinner menu and shop list is Pork Stir-fry and Tangy Lemon Pie (click here). Have a safe and happy 4th! – TaMara
JeffreyW makes an easy pasta salad. Just toss garden veggies and pasta with a little olive oi, vinegar and herbs. Dinner’s done.
In my email this morning there was a nice recipe for pasta salad and suddenly I had a craving for a veggie filled summer pasta salad. Pasta salads can be served cold, warm or hot, depending on what you’re looking for and what style of ingredients are added. The featured recipe tonight is a warm pasta salad using garden fresh vegetables and melted cheese.
This appealed to me because one of my clients has given me a big hunk of the most amazing cheese. I have no idea what it is, except it’s clearly a very sharp white cheddar in a black rind. It’s a creamy and salty, best I’ve ever had and goes great with apples and strawberries. It melts beautifully and crumbles like feta on salads. I’ll be sad when it’s gone. But…
I live within walking distance of a great cheese shop, it has an entire room that is basically a walk-in refrigerator. They even lend you jackets to wear while shopping. It’s fun to stop by there on a hot summer day and spend a half hour in the fridge and sample cheese from around the world and from local farms. I think I’ll see if they can help me identify or duplicate the cheese. Side note: I’ll miss everything that is within walking distance when I move. Right now I live near downtown and can walk to bank, post office and any number of great restaurants. But it’s the trade off for more space and a functional bike path.
On to the recipes.
First up, Chipotle Macaroni Salad (recipe here), which takes cold pasta salad up a notch and has become my go-to cookout salad.
One of the keys when making a good cold pasta salad is to cook the pasta al dente, drain, rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process and then drain again, but let the pasta stay wet. This allows the pasta to absorb whatever flavors are added, but not absorb all the moisture from the dressing. Don’t toss with dressing until just before serving. Taking these steps will keep the salad moist and flavorful, avoiding the mushy pasta, dry salad problem that makes many pasta salads unappetizing.
What’s on your menu for the first day of summer? Have any favorite salad recipes (pasta or otherwise)? I am crazy about salads, so would love to have a few new varitions to add to my recipe box.
Tonight’s featured recipe is adapted from an American Test Kitchen recipe. I’d link to the original, but it’s behind a firewall. Sorry for that.
Summer Vegetable Pasta
The beauty of this recipe is you can substitute whatever vegetables are fresh and available.
- 12 oz of favorite pasta (penne, large shells, rotelle, etc)
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 small yellow onion, diced
- 1 to 3 tsp crushed garlic (depending on your preference)
- 2 small zucchini, halved lengthwise and sliced 1/4 inch thick
- 1 small summer squash, halved lengthwise and sliced 1/4 inch thick
- 5 ounce package Garlic & Herb Boursin cheese – or any creamy cheese, flavored or you can add your own fresh herbs to it instead - I actually used the cheddar mentioned above because it melts so well, and is really creamy, not like typical cheddar.
- 2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved (more as desired)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Fresh basil, chopped
- Parmesan cheese as garnish
Dutch oven or large saucepan
Bring 4 quarts water to boil in Dutch oven. Add pasta to the boiling water and cook until al dente (this is a still chewy texture). Reserve 3/4 cup pasta cooking water and drain pasta (the easiest way to do this is to ladle pasta water into a measuring cup and then drain the remaining water).
Wipe out the pan, add oil and heat over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add onion and cook until softened, about 3 minutes. Add garlic and cook about 30 seconds. Add zucchini, summer squash, and ¼ cup reserved pasta water and cook, covered, until vegetables are tender, about 6 minutes. Stir in cooked pasta, and cheese, remaining 1/2 cup pasta water, tomatoes and basil until pasta is heated through.
Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve with grated Parmesan. Serves 4.
Have a great weekend – TaMara
I live within walking distance of one of the best family owned Mexican restaurants around, they have some of my favorite green chile sauce ever, so I rarely go to all the trouble of making a Mexican style meal.
But JeffreyW is always making some yummy south of the border treat. He was burning up the blog with some great recipes this week, so I’m going to highlight those tonight. Then the featured recipe is a simple and tasty wrap I often make for a casual meal when I have company.
First up, JeffreyW makes some excellent Chimichurri that I can’t wait to try.
Chimichurri is a green sauce used for grilled meat, originally from Argentina. It is based on finely-chopped parsley, minced garlic, olive oil, oregano, and white or red wine vinegar.
Pictured above are JeffreyW’s Chicken Enchiladas, recipe and more photos here.
For a quick kid-friendly dinner, I make a fun and popular with the kids Burrito Pie, recipe here.
What’s cookin’ this weekend? Anything fresh from the garden making it to your table yet? Hit the comments and don’t forget to share some of your favorite recipes, you guys have been great at giving me new recipes to try.
The featured recipe tonight is one of my quick and easy meals that works great when I have a house full and I want a casual build-your-own main course.
Santa Fe Wraps
(There is a full dinner menu at this link).
- 1 cup uncooked rice
- 14 oz can black beans
- 14 oz can red beans
- 14 oz can diced tomatoes
- 1 lb sirloin, London broil, or flank steak thinly sliced
- 2 tbsp oil
- 1 red pepper*
- ½ yellow onion
- 1 pkg. taco seasoning
- 12 oz shredded Jack Cheese
- 4-8 burrito size flour tortillas (maybe try a flavored style)
2 saucepans, skillet and 4 serving bowls
In saucepan, add rice, 2 cups water and bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes until all the water is absorbed. In other saucepan, add beans & heat on med-low until heated through. In 300° oven, place tortilla shells between two pieces of foil and warm. In skillet, heat oil, sauté onion & pepper add steak, cook 5 minutes, reduce heat & add tomatoes, taco seasoning and simmer an additional 5 minutes on medium. Put rice, beans, cheese and meat mixture in separate serving bowls, let everyone assemble their own wrap at the table.
*Go wild, use a couple of different colors for added flavor and a pretty presentation.
Also, please note my friend who lived in Santa Fe says it needs chopped green chiles to be authentic. So add as desired.
That’s it for this week….happy Friday the 13th. - TaMara
These noodles won’t be for everyone, but I wanted to highlight them because if you’re avoiding gluten or on a low carb diet, these are a great addition to a meal. They can satisfy that pesky carb craving. They’re unusual in the fact that they are made from white yam flour (non-GMO), packed in water and refrigerated.
When you open the package, you’re struck with a strong fishy aroma – think end of the day at a fish market. There is nothing pleasant about it, in my opinion, but it does not flavor the noodles. To prepare them, you drain the water (holding your nose if you’re me) and rinse them for a full minute (I set a timer) with cold water. Then you boil them for 15 minutes. I rinse them for another full minute in cool water after cooking.
I like their texture, but it may not be for everyone. Regardless of how long you cook them, they have an al dente (to the tooth) texture and are chewy. They can be used in any dish you would use rice or rice noodles, I especially like them in soups because they don’t get mushy. They don’t have any real flavor of their own, but take on the flavor of whatever added to. I’ve never tried them in dishes that would normally use a pasta or macaroni. For those dishes, I stick with brown rice pasta if I need the dish to be gluten free.
I usually cook up two bags at a time, since they’re a bit labor intensive to prepare. They store well in the refrigerator for a week. I add them to sauce or soup and let them heat back up.
So if you need to satisfy your carb craving when you’re counting carbs, these just might do the trick. Gluten free, no soy and only 1g of carbs per serving.
They’re available at most Natural Food type grocers.
Baked Beans photo by JeffreyW
I was thinking of backyard cookouts when trying to pick a topic for tonight’s recipe exchange. Running through favorite side dishes, baked beans jumped to the top of the list. It is one of those dishes I equate with summer. I usually only put a pot of baked beans together for large cookouts or picnics and I love them. I like that you can mix up a variety of beans and sauces to get entirely different flavors: sweet or savory, spicy or full of smoky goodness. Difficult to choose a favorite.
Here’s a quick recipe that spices up a simple can of baked beans and adds a touch of sweet, too. Nita’s Baked Beans, recipe here.
If baked beans aren’t your thing, how about Butter Beans and Greens (recipe here), since in many backyard gardens, the collards, mustard greens and spinach could be flourishing.
What’s on your plate this weekend? Do you have any secret family recipes for baked beans? Go ahead, share in the comments, your secrets safe with us.
The featured recipe tonight is savory, sweet. smoky and oven baked. Who knew molasses could be so good?
Boston Baked Beans
This serves 8, but you can easily double it for large gatherings. The slow cooking, white beans and molasses are what give these baked beans their signature flavor.
- 1 pound (2 cups) dried white beans (Great Northern or navy beans)
- 2 medium onions, coarsely chopped
- 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
- 1/4 cup molasses
- 1/2 cup ketchup (or 2 tbsp tomato paste)
- 1 tbsp dry mustard
- 1/4 pound thick sliced bacon, cut into pieces
- 4 cups water, or more if necessary
- 1/4 tsp salt (more may be needed, but start here)
- 1/4 tsp pepper
large dutch oven, bean pot or heavy duty oven proof pot
Soak the beans overnight, drain, and rinse them. (Here at high altitude, soaking doesn’t do much, so I pressure cook them for 20 minutes instead, then let them soak for an hour)
Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
Drain and rinse the beans.
Put the beans in a large, ovenproof pot.. Add the onions, brown sugar, molasses, tomato paste, mustard, and bacon. Add water, salt, and pepper. Return the beans to a boil. Cover the pan and transfer to the oven.
Cook the beans for 4 hours, checking them every hour to see if the pan seems dry. Add more water as needed, ½ cup at a time.
Add more salt and pepper, if you like, and let the beans sit for 15 minutes before serving.
Note: To reheat leftovers, add more water and cook over low heat, stirring often, for 10 minutes or until hot.
That’s it for this week. If you missed it, this week’s menu was Grilled Rosemary Steak with Grilled Sweet Peppers and Potatoes. Have a great weekend! – TaMara