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Make it a delicious 4th of July!

Make it a delicious 4th of July!

By Melanie K. Nelson

My favorite part of the 4th of July is the big cookout that we host every year!  I am always looking for new, festive recipes to impress all of our friends and family.  This year I got a little help from our friends over at allrecipes.com who sent over their most popular recipes for Independence Day!  Read on to hopefully gain some inspiration, I think this might be our best cookout yet!

I always like to have two choices for the main dish, each featuring a different kind of meat.  This year we will be making (Actually) Delicious Turkey Burgers and Rosemary Ranch Chicken Kabobs.  These are slightly healthier options than typical backyard barbecue food.  As impressive as they sound, they are both surprisingly quick, easy and perfect for entertaining!

Turkey Burgers_(2)

Actually Delicious Turkey Burgers

Ingredients

  • 3 pounds ground turkey
  • 1/4 cup seasoned bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup finely diced onion
  • 2 egg whites, lightly beaten
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

Directions

  1. In a large bowl, mix ground turkey, seasoned bread crumbs, onion, egg whites, parsley, garlic, salt, and pepper. Form into 12 patties.
  2. Cook the patties in a medium skillet over medium heat, turning once, to an internal temperature of 180 degrees F (85 degrees C).

Serve with your favorite toppings, I also like to toast the buns with a little butter to make them extra yummy!

Rosemary Ranch Chicken Kabobs_(2)

Rosemary Ranch Chicken Kabobs

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup ranch dressing
  • 3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon white vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper, or to taste
  • 1 tablespoon white sugar, or to taste (optional)
  • 5 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves – cut into 1 inch cubes

Directions

  1. In a medium bowl, stir together the olive oil, ranch dressing, Worcestershire sauce, rosemary, salt, lemon juice, white vinegar, pepper, and sugar. Let stand for 5 minutes. Place chicken in the bowl, and stir to coat with the marinade. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  2. Preheat the grill for medium-high heat. Thread chicken onto skewers and discard marinade.
  3. Lightly oil the grill grate. Grill skewers for 8 to 12 minutes, or until the chicken is no longer pink in the center, and the juices run clear.

For side dishes I always do bowls of fruit and chips, but this year I will also be adding the Sweet Restaurant Slaw!

Sweet Restaurant Slaw

Sweet Restaurant Slaw

Ingredients

  • 1 (16 ounce) bag coleslaw mix
  • 2 tablespoons diced onion
  • 2/3 cup creamy salad dressing (such as Miracle Whip™)
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt  
  • 1/2 teaspoon poppy seeds

Directions

  1. Combine the coleslaw mix and onion in a large bowl.
  2. Whisk together the salad dressing, vegetable oil, sugar, vinegar, salt, and poppy seeds in a medium bowl; blend thoroughly. Pour dressing mixture over coleslaw mix and toss to coat. Chill at least 2 hours before serving.

This recipe is as easy as it gets, but note that it needs time to chill!  This is definitely going to be the first thing I make early in the day.

My favorite part of the meal is absolutely dessert!  I always have too many ideas about what to make and end up making it all, but is too much dessert really a bad thing?  Not in my house!  The first dessert that we are going to make is about as traditional as it gets, Southern Peach Cobbler. 

Peach Cobbler_(2)

Southern Peach Cobbler

Ingredients

  • 8 fresh peaches – peeled, pitted and sliced into thin wedges
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
  • 1/4 cup boiling water
  • Cinnamon Sugar (Mix: 3 tablespoons sugar  and 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C).
  2. In a large bowl, combine peaches, 1/4 cup white sugar, 1/4 cup brown sugar, 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, nutmeg, lemon juice, and cornstarch. Toss to coat evenly, and pour into a 2 quart baking dish. Bake in preheated oven for 10 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine flour, 1/4 cup white sugar, 1/4 cup brown sugar, baking powder, and salt. Blend in butter with your fingertips, or a pastry blender, until mixture resembles coarse meal. Stir in water until just combined.
  4. Remove peaches from oven, and drop spoonfuls of topping over them. Sprinkle entire cobbler with the sugar and cinnamon mixture. Bake until topping is golden, about 30 minutes.

I love serving warm cobbler with ice cream, it gets melt-y and delicious!

Finally I love baking cakes for special occasions.  This year I will be making two; one that is impressive on the outside, and one that is impressive on the inside!

RWBlue Strawberry Shortcake

Red, White and Blue Strawberry Shortcake

Ingredients

  • 1 (18.25 ounce) package yellow cake mix
  • 1 (8 ounce) container frozen whipped topping, thawed
  • 1 pint blueberries, rinsed and drained   
  • 2 pints fresh strawberries, rinsed and sliced

Directions

  1. Prepare cake according to package directions and bake in a 9×13 inch pan. Cool completely.
  2. Frost cake with whipped topping. Place blueberries in a square in the corner, and arrange sliced strawberries as stripes to make an American flag. Chill until serving.

This cake could be made using whatever cake recipe or mix is your favorite.  I am thinking about red velvet cake to make it even festive!

American Flag Cake

American Flag Cake

Ingredients

  • 3 (10.25 ounce) packages white cake mix
  • 9 egg whites
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 3/4 cups whole milk
  • 2 tablespoons clear vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons red food coloring
  • 1 tablespoon blue food coloring
  • 1 cup white chocolate chips
  • 10 cups fluffy white frosting
  • 1 tablespoon white chocolate chips, or as needed
  • 2 tablespoons white sugar, or as needed
  • 1 4-inch round paper or cardboard stencil

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and line 4 8-inch round cake pans with parchment paper.
  2. Combine white cake mix, egg whites, vegetable oil, milk, and vanilla extract in a large mixing bowl. Beat for 30 seconds using an electric mixer on low speed. Increase mixer speed to medium and beat for 2 more minutes. The batter will still be slightly lumpy.
  3. To make the red cakes, measure half the batter into a separate bowl and whisk in red food coloring. Evenly transfer the red batter into 2 of the 8-inch prepared cake pans; smooth tops of batter with a spatula. Transfer half of the remaining uncolored batter into a 3rd prepared cake pan; smooth top as before. This will be the white cake portion.
  4. Add blue food coloring to the remaining uncolored batter in the large mixing bowl; fold 1 cup white chocolate chips into blue batter until combined. Transfer batter to remaining prepared 8-inch cake pan; smooth top of batter with a spatula.
  5. Bake all 4 cakes in the preheated oven until a toothpick inserted into the center of each cake comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Remove the cakes from oven and place onto cooling racks until cooled completely.
  6. Run a knife around edge of each cooled cake. Invert cakes, remove pans, and peel off parchment paper. Use a sharp knife to trim tops of cakes flat and even.
  7. Cut both of the red cake layers and the white cake layer in half horizontally. You will have 4 thin red cake layers and 2 thin white cake layers.
  8. Place a 4-inch round stencil on top of 1 thin red cake layer; cut out a 4-inch red cake round. Repeat, placing stencil on 1 thin white cake layer to make 1 4-inch white cake round. Center the 4-inch round stencil on the blue cake; cut out and remove center portion covered by the stencil to make a blue cake ring.
  9. To assemble the cake, you will need 2 thin 8-inch red cake layers, 1 thin 8-inch white cake layer, 1 4-inch thin red cake circle, 1 4-inch thin white cake circle, and 1 blue 8-inch cake ring. Reserve the leftover thin red cake layer and other cake pieces for making crumbs for decorating.
  10. To assemble cake, place 1 8-inch thin red cake layer on a cake pan and frost the top generously with white frosting. Place the thin 8-inch white cake layer on top of the red one, and frost the top. Place remaining 8-inch thin red cake layer atop the white one. Frost the red layer.
  11. Place the blue ring cake on top of the 2nd red cake layer and carefully frost the inside of the blue cake ring. Gently fit the 4-inch white cake layer into the blue cake ring. Frost the top of the 4-inch white center. Place the 4-inch red cake layer on top of the white one. Gently press small cake circles flush with the top of the blue ring.
  12. Frost the entire outside of the cake generously with the remaining frosting.
  13. Crumble red and blue pieces of leftover cake into 2 separate bowls. Score lines into the top of the cake’s frosting with a kitchen knife to make a flag design on top of the cake. It should have a 2-inch square at the upper left for blue field and white stars, and 7 thick horizontal stripes about 1 inch wide.
  14. Fill the square field at the upper left with blue crumbs and press 1 tablespoon white chocolate chips upside-down into the blue crumbs to make ‘stars.’ Fill the bottom stripe and every other stripe with red crumbs to make red stripes. Sprinkle white sugar generously into the white stripes to make them stand out.
  15. To serve, cut cake into wedges. The inside of the cake will reveal its layers of red and white stripes and blue field with white chocolate chip stars in every slice.

I am so excited about this cake, I think I am going to make the extra cake pieces in to cake pops for the kids!

Hopefully this will give you some ideas for your own celebration!  Happy 4th of July!

 

Recipes courtesy of Allrecipes.com