Recipes and Memories from a Happy Independence Day!

Today is the 4th of July! When I was growing up, it was always a big celebration. We would spend the whole day at the pool, then watch the fireworks at night. My mother, I’ve already told you, is an amazing cook. So, our table was always full of wonderful summer salads, meats, and (of course) Texas sheet cake. It wasn’t the 4th of July until my daddy started churning the ice cream. My mom always made peach ice cream, and my daddy would crank it by hand in a White Mountain ice cream maker. My nephews would fight over who was going to sit on top of the maker to hold it in place as the ice cream hardened. As I grew up, they entertained many people every year by the pool in our backyard. It has always been one of my favorite holidays, and I look forward to spending the time with my family every year.

This year, I’m keeping it small, sticking with my husband and two daughters here at home. My daughter, Katie, is a fabulous photographer, and stole the camera while she was napping on the porch and watching the clouds with Ed. My son is in Knoxville this holiday, marching in the parade with Congressman Duncan, one of the many great perks of his internship. I had to work this morning; I got to photograph two adorable babies, which was a great kickstart to the day for me! When I got home, I made an array of food. I felt like my mother. I prepared the potato salad differently this year. I’m so used to making it the “traditional” way, but since I’m on a health kick, I changed it up. The new recipe is just to die for!

I also decided that today, I am going to eat whatever I want. I decided on Sahlen’s hot dogs (all the way from Western New York). What would summer be without them? My husband goes to Buffalo every year to visit his family, and takes an empty cooler with him to fill with all of our Buffalo staples. His first stop is Johnny’s Meats on Hertel Avenue. It is the #1 butcher shop in Western New York, and their homemade Italian sausage is second to none. Ed fills the cooler with pounds of sausage and hot dogs.

Since my husband and I are from two different parts of the country, and we grew up celebrating holidays differently, we have had to learn to mesh our traditions together. So, Buffalo dogs and Oklahoma sweet corn and potato salad. I love living in our nation’s capital during the 4th of July. It makes me feel so patriotic! Below are the recipes for some of the delicious foods that we had in our celebration today. How did you spend the holiday?

PicMonkey Collage

Potato Salad
8 potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2 in. pieces
1 onion, chopped
1 cup chopped kale
1 zucchini
1 carrot
1 bulb of fennel
1/2 cup light mayo
1 tbsp horseradish mustard (I use Weber’s from Buffalo)
1 tsp garlic, chopped
1/4 cup relish
1/2 tsp dill
2 tbsp salt
1 tbsp black pepper

Cook the potatoes in water over the stove until almost soft. While potatoes are cooking, chop kale, onions, and fennel. With a box grater, grate your zucchini and carrot (using the thickest grate). Mix vegetables in a medium-sized bowl. In a small bowl, mix the mayo and next 6 ingredients. Once your potatoes have cooked, drain and let cool. Mix into vegetables, then pour the mayo dressing over the mixture. Fold together until well mixed. Chill for 4 hours or overnight.

Corn on the Cob
4 ears of corn
1/2 stick butter
fresh basil

Melt the butter in a small bowl. Chop the herbs and stir into the butter. Spread over the corn so that each ear is evenly covered. Wrap in foil, and grill for 15 minutes.

Red, White, and Blue Cobbler
4 peaches
1 pint blueberries
3 apricots
1/4 cup sugar
1 tbsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp chili powder
1 tbsp flour
1 box yellow cake mix
1/2 cup hazelnuts
1 stick butter

Pre-heat oven to 350. Peel and cut your peaches and apricots. Mix in a medium bowl with the blueberries. Sprinkle sugar and next 4 ingredients over the fruit. Mix well. Pour into a greased 9×9 pan. In another medium bowl, mix 1 stick melted butter and the cake mix with the hazelnuts until well blended. Spread over the top of the fruit. Cook in pre-heated oven for 30 minutes or until fruit is bubbling over the cake mix. Let cool and enjoy (with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream…Perry’s is the best)!


Potluck Ideas for Your Summer Party

Though I had to spend this beautiful Saturday morning at work, I took full advantage of the rest of my weekend by visiting the Lake Anna with a group of my husband’s coworkers. The lake party is a potluck, so I chose to make two dishes, one from Giada’s Feel Good Food and one from my own noggin. It was a hot day, so I had to plan accordingly, avoiding any dairy or eggs in the dishes that would spoil quickly. I considered making my mom’s famous slaw, which is oil based, but chose to go my own way instead. I’ll have to make the slaw another day; she is such a fabulous cook!

After pouring through the pages of Giada’s book, I landed on a potato salad pg. 89 which looked like a delicious dish. The marinade used to roast the potatoes was absolutely delicious, and I just loved how the walnuts gave it an extra crunch. Only Giada would have thought of that! It was a simple salad because I already had all the ingredients. I’m sure it’s safe to bet you’ll have most of them as well.

What really shone in the day, though, was my watermelon caprese salad! I’ve included the recipe at the bottom of this post. When we tried it for ourselves at home, we wanted more and more! I knew that I had to save it, though, so we were limited to a taste. It’s an easy, festive, colorful dish which might make the perfect addition to your July 4th barbecue. I definitely suggest trying it out for yourself.

When you make the salad, you will want to cut the rind off of the watermelon without wasting any of the meat. Below, I have a few photos describing how I do this at home! You want to begin by cutting the watermelon on both ends so that it may stand while you carefully cut the rind off in strips, as shown below.


Once the rind is off, cut it in half length-wise, then again so that you have four quarters.


You’ll then want to cut the quarters into thin slices, each about a half inch wide. Now, you’ll have perfect, delicious watermelon slices, sans that pesky rind. Don’t forget to check below for the recipe now that your watermelon is all cut up.



Watermelon Caprese Salad

1 whole seedless watermelon

1 four ounce box of feta cheese

fresh basil

fresh mint

1/4 cup balsamic vinaigrette

Begin by cutting your watermelon into slices, as shown above. Arrange them on a tray so that they only slightly overlap. Roll all of your herbs together (like you’re rolling a cigar) and chop. Sprinkle the herbs and the feta cheese over the watermelon. Drizzle the balsamic vinaigrette over the entire salad, and you’re done! Easy, right? Check out the beautiful end result!