Labor Day Cookout 2017

One week to go and it’s Labor Day – the unofficial end to summer and the Backyard Party Season. Labor Day is an American celebration of the workforce. The very first Labor Day Parade took place on a Tuesday, September 5, 1882. It was the brain-child of Peter J. McGuire, a carpenter and labor union leader. Mr. McGuire felt the span between Independence Day and Thanksgiving was far too long, and the workers deserved a holiday all their own somewhere in between. His inspiration came from America’s northern neighbor, Canada. In 1887, Oregon became the first state to declare Labor Day as a public holiday. By 1894, Congress had unanimously voted to approve legislation to make Labor Day a National Holiday, moving the date to the first Monday in September.

All I know is that Labor Day is one of my all-time favorite National Holidays. Who doesn’t love a three-day weekend? It’s a last hora for the barbecue/picnic season, and it means Autumn isn’t far off – my favorite time of the year in the kitchen.

While I’m not sure just where we will be this Labor Day, my menu is planned and I’m excited to get cooking! First up, this year’s menu. Those of you who have read my blogs of the past know that one of my favorite things to do is to create menus. There’s something wonderful about the thought and reflection that goes into a set menu. Sometimes I fear the meal planning  task is a lost art for the homemaker of today. So busy with work, the children and running Mom’s Taxi Service, meals are often last-minute decisions.

Appetizers and Munchies:
Red, White & Blue Deviled Eggs
Roast Beef Spirals with Cream Cheese-Horseradish Spread
Store-Bought Chips, Dips and Assorted Munchies

Main Goodies:
Grilled New Mexican Marinated Flank Steak
Spice-Rubbed Picnic Chicken in Sourdough Bread Bowls
Hot Dogs & Hamburgers

Side Dishes:
Butterfly Pesto Pasta Salad
Mema’s Potato Salad
Watergate Jello Salad
Sliced Mellons such as Cantaloupe and Honey Dew

Sweet Delights:
Shirley Temple Bundt Cake
Platter of cookies or store-bought mini cupcakes


Red, White & Blue Deviled Eggs
For The Eggs
16 Hard Boiled Eggs (or as needed, see tip below)
1 Cup Mayonnaise
3 Teaspoons Dijon Mustard (or your favorite style)
4 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
Onion powder to taste
Garlic Powder to taste
Kosher Salt and White Pepper to taste

Tip: Boil 2 or 3 eggs more than required to fill serving tray. The extra eggs give more yolk filling, the extra whites allow for tasting and adjusting seasonings if necessary.

To Boil eggs, place eggs in a pan and cover with cold water. Bring to a full boil. Remove from heat, cover and let rest for 12-14 minutes. Drain, then plunge eggs into ice-cold water to cease the cooking process. The results will be a perfectly cooked egg with a sunny yellow yolk.

Tips for Peeling Hard-Boiled Eggs: Once eggs are cool enough to handle, roll gently on counter to crack shells. Place into cold water, refrigerate for 30 minutes to 1 hour. Remove from water and peel. Water will work its way into shell, the result is an easily peeled egg. Farm Fresh eggs are difficult to peel. Try to buy your eggs at least a week in advance.

Peel eggs and cut in half lengthwise. Remove egg yolks and place yolks in food processor with mixing/chopping blade. Set whites aside and mix coloring.

For The Coloring
2 or 3 teaspoon Royal Blue Food Coloring (more if needed)
2 or 3 teaspoon Red Food Coloring (more if needed)
2 tablespoons white vinegar, divide

In a glass bowl, mix 1 cup hot water, distilled white vinegar and Royal Blue Food Coloring. Mix well and add more coloring if desired. In another glass bowl, mix remaining cup of hot water, distilled white vinegar and Red Food Coloring. Mix well, and add more coloring if desired. Set coloring bowls aside until ready to color.

Mix/chop yolks until fluffy and are fine grade resembling bread crumbs. Add mayonnaise and mustard and mix until creamy. Mix in red wine vinegar one tablespoon at a time and season to taste. Transfer yolk mixture to a bowl and chill until ready to fill.

Divide egg white halves into three groups. One group is to remain uncolored, the remaining two are colored red and blue.

Color one-third of the egg whites, one at a time, in the blue mixture. Allow egg white to soak undisturbed for about 3 or 4 minutes. Turn gently to allow other side to soak.. Once desired color is reached, remove dyed white from coloring. Lay on a paper-towel lined baking sheet cut side down and let drain/dry. Repeat until a third of the egg whites have been colored blue.

Color another third of the egg whites in red coloring as above.

To assemble: Place 12 white halves on serving dish or egg platter. Select best of the halves.

Spoon filling mixture into a piping bag fitted with desired tip. (I like the larger star for deviled eggs), then pipe into egg white halves.

Tent with plastic wrap (using toothpicks for “tent) and refrigerate until ready to serve.

************

Roast Beef Spirals with Cream Cheese-Horseradish Spread
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, at room temperature
2 green onions, chopped about 1/2 cup
1⁄4 cup chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons prepared horseradish, drained
1⁄4 teaspoon salt
1⁄4 teaspoon garlic powder
8 ounces deli roast beef, sliced
2 10-inch flour tortillas, (flavored add a nice touch)

Combine cream cheese, green onions, parsley, horseradish, salt and garlic powder. Blend until smooth.

Place the two tortillas on work surface, spread half of cheese over each, top each with half of the roast beef slices, leaving a 1/2 inch border around edges.

Roll up, wrap tightly in plastic wrap.

Refrigerate until firm, 30 minutes or up to 1 day ahead. Remove from refrigerator, unwrap and cut diagonally into 1/2 inch slices. Arrange cut-side up on serving tray.

Note: For a red, white and blue presentation, add a little blue food coloring to the cream cheese mixture and use white flour tortillas.


New Mexican Marinated Flank Steak
For the Steak
2 to 2 1/2 pound flank steak

Place flank steak in a large casserole dish, allowing steak to lay flat. Set aside while marinade is made.

 

For the New Mexican Marinade
2 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons Mexican Oregano, crushed between your palms
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon Ancho chile powder
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon powdered cumin seed
Juice from 2 limes
4 to 5 cloves minced garlic

In a medium-size bowl, combine all the ingredients. Whisking to blend well.

Pour marinade over steak. Cover, refrigerate, and let marinate overnight or at least 8 to 10 hours, turning several times.

When ready to cook, remove from refrigerator 30 minutes prior to grilling. Prepare and pre-heat your grill for cooking. Grill the marinated steak 5 to 7 minutes per side, is medium rare or until the internal temperature reaches desired temperature on your meat thermometer. Flank steak is best when grilled rare or medium rare. Overcooking will result in a tough, dried out hunk of meat.

Remove from heat and let steak rest 5 minutes before slicing. With a sharp knife, slice steak thinly against (diagonal) the grain.

************

Spice-Rubbed Picnic Chicken in Sourdough Bread
For The Rub:
6 Tablespoons Brown Sugar
¼ Cup Kosher Salt (reduce by half if using table salt)
¼ Cup Chili Powder
½ Cup Paprika
4 Teaspoons Black or White Pepper
½-¾ Teaspoon Cayenne Pepper (increase for spicier flavor)

For The Chicken & Everything Else
2 bone-in Split Chicken Breasts, trimmed, skin slashed, cut in half
4 Bone-in Chicken Thighs, trimmed and skin slashed
4 bone-in Chicken drumsticks, trimmed and skin slashed
2 Large or 4 Small Bread Bowls, hollowed out (save bread)
2 Large or 4 small sheets of foil (to wrap the chicken-filled bowls)

Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with foil and top with wire racks. Set aside.

Combine sugar, salt, chili powder, paprika, pepper and cayenne in a small bowl. Coat chicken pieces with spice mixture, gently lifting skin to distribute spices underneath while leaving skin attached to chicken. Place chicken skin-side up on prepared wire racks, tent with foil and refrigerate for at least 8 hours, up to 24 hours for best flavors.

Adjust oven racks upper-middle and lower-middle positions and heat oven to 475-degrees.

Remove foil covering from chicken and roast until brown, crisp and breasts register 160-degrees. Roast chicken for 20 minutes. Switch and rotate baking sheets, continue to roast 15 minutes longer.

Transfer breast pieces to a platter or dish, cover to keep warm. Continue to roast thighs and drumsticks until they register 175-degrees, about 10-15 minutes longer. Turn off oven. Place an assortment of chicken pieces inside each bowl. Top with bread “lid”. Wrap tightly in foil and keep in the warm oven until ready to  place on the table, no more than an hour to prevent everything from drying out. Once removed from oven, keep everything wrapped in foil until ready to serve. Bread will absorb some of the chicken flavoring while keeping the chicken warm.


Butterfly Pesto Pasta Salad
3 Garlic Cloves, unpeeled
1 Cup Fresh Basil
1 ½ Cups Baby Spinach
¼ Cups Pine Nuts
¼ Cup Olive Oil
3 Tablespoons Lemon Juice
1 Tablespoon Red Wine Vinegar
Salt & Pepper
¼ Cup Parmesan Cheese
½ Cup Best Foods Mayonnaise
1 lb Farfalle Pasta (bow-tie)
1/4 Cup or so Reserved cooking water

Toast garlic in a small skillet over medium-heat, shaking pan occasionally, until fragrant and color deepens slightly, about 7 minutes. Let garlic cool, then peel and chop coarse.

Process garlic, basil, spinach, pine nuts, olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper in food processor until smooth, stopping to scrape down bowl as needed. Add Parmesan Cheese and mayonnaise, continue to process until thoroughly combined. Transfer pesto to a small bowl, cover and refrigerate until needed. (Mixture can be refrigerated for up to 24 hours).

Bring a large pot of salted water to a rapid boil. Add pasta and cook, stirring often, until pasta is just past al dente. Reserve ¼ cup of pasta cooking water, drain pasta. Toss pasta with a little olive oil and spread into a single layer on rimmed baking sheet. Let pasta cool to room temperature, about 30 minutes.

In a large bowl, toss cooled pasta with pesto, adding reserved pasta water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until pesto evenly coasts pasta.

************

Mema’s Potato Salad
3 lbs Yukon Gold Potatoes
4 Eggs, hard-boiled
1 Red Onion, minced
2 Celery Stocks, minced
1 Tablespoon Bacon Drippings, warm (Optional)
1 Cup Mayonnaise
1/4 Cup Sour Cream
1 Tablespoons Mustard
2 Tablespoons Red Wine Vinegar plus a sprinkling for potatoes
Kosher Salt & Fresh Black Pepper to taste
¼ Cup Parsley or green onion for garnish

Peel and slice potatoes into large chunks. Place potatoes in a stockpot and cover with 1-inch of salted water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until potatoes are just tender but not soft, about 10-15 minutes. Drain well. Sprinkle LIGHTLY with red wine vinegar and set aside in refrigerator to cool.

Place eggs in a saucepan, add cold water to cover eggs. Bring to a boil, remove from heat and cover. Let sit for 12-14 minutes, then plunge eggs into cold water to stop cooking process. Once cooled, roll egg on counter to crack the shell. Return eggs to cold water and let sit for about 15 minutes. This will help to make the eggs easier to peel.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl combine onions, celery, bacon drippings, mayonnaise, mustard, sour cream and red wine vinegar. Whisk to combine. Taste dressing and season with kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste.

Peel and chop 3 eggs. Add to dressing. Cut V marks in 4th egg to create two tulip flowers. Reserve 1 flower, chop other and add to dressing. Taste dressing a second time, adjust seasonings as necessary.

Place potatoes in a large bowl. Pour egg dressing over potatoes and toss to coat. Smooth out top. In the center, using the back of a spoon, create a small indentation. Place Egg flower into indentation. Sprinkle top of salad with parsley or chopped green onion for added color. If desired, sprinkle lightly with paprika. Cover with plastic and refrigerate until well chilled.

************

Watergate Salad
8 oz Cool Whip
1 Box Pistachio Pudding Mix (low-fat)
16 oz Crushed Pineapple with juice
1 Cup Mini-Marshmallows
1/2 Cup Chopped Pecans, optional

Fold pudding mix into cool whip until well incorporated.

Add remaining ingredients.

Cover and refrigerate until well chilled, at least an hour.

Note: To add a little more color, try using colored mini-marshmallows or garnish with maraschino cherries or both!


Shirley Temple Cake
The Bundt Cake
1 1/2 cups butter softened
3 cups granulated sugar
5 large eggs
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 Tablespoons lemon extract
3/4 cup 7-Up
1 jar maraschino cherries 10 oz, drained and juice reserved

Pre-heat oven to 325.

In large bowl mix together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.

Add in the eggs and continue to mix until blended. Next add the flour and mix again until smooth. Add the lemon extract and 7-Up. Beat lightly to combine.

Gently fold the cherries into the batter. Set aside until ready to bake.

Grease a bundt pan with shortening, then dust it with flour.

Spread the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 1 1/2 hours or until center is set.

Allow the cake to cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Remember, the cake will continue to cook while in the pan.

Turn the cake out on a cooling rack, then turn again so that it is right side up. Place the cake while still warm onto a serving dish.

Using a skewer, poke holes all over the top of the cake. Slowly pour the reserved cherry juice over the cake and let it all soak in. Don’t worry if the juice soaks all the way to the bottom. It will be fine. Let the cake cool completely. While cake cools, make the glaze.

The Glaze
2 cups powdered sugar
1 Tablespoon lemon extract
3-4 Tablespoons milk

In a bowl, mix together the powdered sugar and lemon extract. Add milk, one tablespoon at a time, until desired consistency is reached.

Once cake is cooled, drizzle with glaze. Garnish with cherries and serve.


Wishing you and your family a wonderful, fun-filled Labor Day! If you are looking for more Labor Day recipes, check out a few suggestions from the past:

Labor Day Picnic – A Fond Farewell To Summer

****** The Menu ******
The Main Dishes
Grilled Onion Hamburgers
Bratwurst in Beer – Picnic Style
Italian Muffuletta Picnic Sandwich

The Side Dishes
Cooler Corn on the Cob
Mema’s Potato Salad

The Salads
Asparagus and Tomato Salad with a Honey-Balsamic Vinaigrette
Red Potato Salad*

Tropical Pineapple-Lime Jello Salad 

The Sweet Dessert:
Peach-Almond Upside Down Cake


Labor Day – Oh My!

****** The Menu ******
The Grilled Meats
Grilled Smoked Sausage with Barbecue Sauce 
Boozy Bacon Bourbon Barbecue Chicken Kabobos 
Grilled Flat Iron Steak with Chimichurri Sauce 
Hot Dogs or Hamburgers for the Children

The Side Dishes
Roasted Rosemary Potatoes 
Slow Cooker Smokehouse Bacon Beans
Warm French Bread with Melted Garlic Butter

The Salads
Asparagus and Tomato Salad with a Honey-Balsamic Vinaigrette
Red Potato Salad

Tropical Pineapple-Lime Jello Salad 

The Refreshing Ends
Lemon Pie Squares
Sugar Cookie Fruit Pizza 


If nothing else, I hope you come away with some inspiration and create your own Labor Day celebration that is perfect for your family and friends.

Wishing Everyone a Wonderful 4th of July

Whether you are planning a backyard barbecue, a picnic or attending a big fireworks display – whatever you have planned, here wishing you the best 4th of July. Nothing is better than gather together with friends and family for some simple fun. Make water balloons for the kids – or the kid at heart. Eat sweet watermelon. Cook up hamburgers, hot dogs and enjoy! For many of us, the big event is the end of a well-earned four-day weekend. Yeah!

Still not sure what to serve? Check out a few postings of 4th of July past for ideas and suggestions.


Hurray for The Red, White and Blue

Starters
Patriotic Deviled Eggs
Cold-Cut Roll-Ups
Panko-Parmesan Crusted Marinated Artichoke Hearts with Lemon-Basil Aioli

From the Grill
Garlic-Beer Marinated Chicken Thighs
Grilled Smoked Beef Sausages
Basic Mini-Burgers

On the Side
Corn on the Cob
Macaroni Salad

Salads
Compressed Watermelon Salad with Tomatoes, Goat Cheese and Cherry Balsamic Vinegar
Cucumber-Tomato-Basil Salad with Dill Dressing

The Grand Finale 
American Flag Cake


Sparklers and Fire Sticks – Celebrating the 4th of July

Grilled Foods on a Stick
Super Sensational Sirloin Kabobs
Honey Chicken Kabobs
Apricot Preserve Grilled Pork Kabobs
Grilled Shrimp, Scallops and Squash Skewers


Keeping the 4th of July Simple

Beverage:
Vintage Lemonade

Main Attraction:
Fresh Ground Gourmet Burgers with Fire-Grilled Red Onions
Beer Bratwurst with Caramelized Grilled Onions

On the Side:
Mema’s Macaroni Salad
Cheater’s Easy Baked Beans

For Dessert:
Home Made French Vanilla Custard Ice Cream


The Birth of a Nation – An Independence Day Celebration in Food

Beverages:
Vintage Lemonade
Snapple Inspired Iced Teas

Main Attraction:
The Ultimate Barbecued Chicken
Easy Onion Burgers
Grilled Hot Dogs

On the Side:
Macaroni Salad
Potato Salad
Baked Beans
Corn on the Cob

For Dessert
4th Of July Flag Cake


Enjoy!

Hurray for The Red, White and Blue

I know, I’m a little later than usual with my holiday menu. June flew by so quickly, it made my head spin. Better late than never, right?

As a child growing up, we didn’t have the television as a distraction during dinner. For the longest time, the dining room table was in the kitchen, and the television (an old black and white contraption with rabbit ears and three channels to choose from) was in the living room. For a brief time, the dining room table was moved into the living room, although I haven’t a clue why. It was during this brief “fancy” placement of our table that music became a part of our dining experience. I don’t mean tuning in the radio or dropping a stack of top hit 45s on the record player. Dad was in charge of the music selection. Recordings of John Philip Sousa – lively marching music – was the usual selection. To this day, I enjoy a good march, and sometimes get a little teary eyed, although I cannot explain the deep emotional response to songs such as “Stars and Strips Forever”.

Image result for john phillips sousa

Fireworks and the music of John Philip Sousa were a big part of my childhood. Mind you, I grew up in a time when being a Patriot meant a sense of community pride and love of country. Today, Patriot seems to mean something entirely different, depending upon your political, religious and economical perspective. For the purpose of this simple posting, let’s put aside differences and those things that separate us. July 4th is but a week away – a time to come together to celebrate the birth of America with picnics and backyard barbecues.

Before we get into this year’s selection of appetizers, I have a confession to make. Recently I found two awesome matching deviled egg platters at a Flea Market – and so this year’s appetizers are centered around the platters. I’ve never seen platters quite like these – made to serve up your eggs and whatever else you wish to include – anything from assorted olives, to match-stick vegetables and whatever else you can dream up. My plan is to divide the appetizers between the platters and serve with a few olives in the upper corners just for show. The larger, middle section will be perfect for stacking the cold cut roll-ups, flanked on either side by marinated artichoke hearts, then the olives. In the smallest two “compartments” I plan to rest small forks for ease of serving.  What fun!


*** Independence Day from Start to Finish ***

Starters
Patriotic Deviled Eggs
Cold-Cut Roll-Ups
Panko-Parmesan Crusted Marinated Artichoke Hearts with Lemon-Basil Aioli

From the Grill
Garlic-Beer Marinated Chicken Thighs
Grilled Smoked Beef Sausages
Basic Mini-Burgers

On the Side
Corn on the Cob
Macaroni Salad

Salads
Compressed Watermelon Salad with Tomatoes, Goat Cheese and Cherry Balsamic Vinegar
Cucumber-Tomato-Basil Salad with Dill Dressing

The Grand Finale
American Flag Cake


Patriotic Deviled Eggs
16 Hard Boiled Eggs (or as needed, see tip below)
1 cup mayonnaise
3 teaspoons mustard (yellow, stoned or Dijon-Style Mustard – it’s a matter of personal tastes – try each to see which flavor suits you)
4 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
Onion powder, garlic powder, salt and pepper to taste
2 cups hot water, divided
1 teaspoon Royal Blue Food Coloring
1 teaspoon Red Food Coloring
2 tablespoons white vinegar, divided

Tip: Boil 2 eggs more than required to fill serving tray. The extra eggs give more yolk filling, the extra whites allow for tasting and adjusting seasonings if necessary.

To Boil eggs, place eggs in a pan and cover with cold water. Bring to a full boil. Remove from heat, cover and let rest for 12-14 minutes. Drain, then plunge eggs into ice-cold water to cease the cooking process. The results will be a perfectly cooked egg with a sunny yellow yolk.

Tips for Peeling Hard-Boiled Eggs: Once eggs are cool enough to handle, roll gently on counter to crack shells. Place into cold water, refrigerate for 30 minutes to 1 hour. Remove from water and peel. Water will work its way into shell, the result is an easily peeled egg.

Peel eggs and cut in half lengthwise. Remove egg yolks and place yolks in food processor with mixing/chopping blade. Set whites aside and mix coloring.

In a glass bowl, mix 1 cup hot water, distilled white vinegar and 1 teaspoon Royal Blue Food Coloring. Mix well and add more coloring if desired.

In another glass bowl, mix remaining cup of hot water, distilled white vinegar and 1 teaspoon Red Food Coloring. Mix well, and add more coloring if desired.

Divide egg white halves into three groups. One group is to remain uncolored, the remaining two are colored red and blue. Place half of the “colored” whites into blue coloring, the other half into the red coloring.  Allow white to soak about 3 minutes or until desired color is reached. Place white up-side-down (cut side down) on a paper towel to drain. While colored egg whites drain, make filling.

Mix/chop yolks until fluffy and are fine grade resembling bread crumbs. Add mayonnaise and mustard and mix until creamy. Mix in red wine vinegar one tablespoon at a time and season to taste.

Place 12 white halves on serving dish or egg platter. Select best of the halves.

Spoon filling mixture into a piping bag fitted with desired tip. (I like the larger star for deviled eggs), then pipe into egg white halves.

Tent with plastic wrap (using toothpicks for “tent poles” ) and chill well until ready to serve.


Cold Cut Roll-Ups
Roast Beef Roll-Ups:
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro
2 to 3 tablespoons minced banana peppers
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 pound thinly sliced cooked roast beef

In a small bowl, combine the cream cheese, cilantro, peppers and garlic. Spread about 2 tablespoons on each slice of beef. Roll up tightly and wrap in plastic wrap.

Refrigerate overnight.

Ham and Turkey Roll-Ups
12 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup shredded carrot
1/2 cup shredded zucchini
4 teaspoons dill weed
1/2 pound thinly sliced fully cooked ham
1/2 pound thinly sliced cooked turkey

For ham and turkey rolls, in another bowl, combine the cream cheese, carrot, zucchini and dill. Spread about 2 tablespoons on each slice of ham and turkey. Roll up tightly; wrap in plastic wrap.

Refrigerate overnight.

Slice the roll-ups into 1-1/2-in. pieces. Yield: 6-7 dozen.


Panko-Parmesan Marinated Artichoke Hearts with Lemon-Basil Aioli
Artichoke Hearts
1 (12 oz) jar Marinated Artichoke Hearts, drained
¼ cup flour
Garlic powder, to taste
Sea salt to taste
White Pepper to taste
1 egg
2 tbsp vegetable oil
½ cup plain panko crumbs
¼ cup Parmesan, finely grated

Drain marinated artichoke hearts. Lay on a double layer of paper towels, top with another layer of paper towels. Press on them gently to squeeze any excess liquid out of them.The hearts need to be as dry as possible. If needed, change towels and continue to gently press out the excess liquid.

Place the flour in a bowl. Season to taste with garlic powder, sea salt and while pepper.

In another bowl, whisk the egg with a little vegetable oil.

In a third bowl, mix the panko and finely grated Parmesan cheese.

Dip each artichoke heart lightly into the flour mixture then in the egg mixture followed by the Panko-Parmesan mixture until completely coated.

Place the coated artichoke heart on small baking dish. Repeat with the remaining artichoke hearts until all the hearts are coated.

Place the plate of coated artichoke hearts unwrapped into the refrigerator for 30 minutes. This resting period is important. By allowing breaded artichokes to chill in the refrigerator the coating will better adhere to the artichoke, thus preventing the coating from falling off during the frying process. While the artichoke hearts chill in the refrigerator, make the Aioli (recipe below)

To Cook: Heat the olive oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat.
Once the oil is HOT, add the artichokes a few at a time, making sure not to crowd the pan too much.

Cook for 4-5 minutes, or until golden brown.

Carefully turn the artichokes over and continue to cook until golden brown.

Remove from oil with a slotted spoon and place on a rack lined with a paper towel to soak up any excess grease.

Lemon-Basil Aioli
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 clove of garlic, minced
2 tablespoons basil, finely minced
1 Pinch Fresh Dill
1 Lemon, zested
Juice of 1 Lemon

Place basil and dill in a blender or food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Add lemon zest and pulse one or two times more just to incorporate without over-processing.

Transfer basil mixture to a mixing bowl. Set aside.

In another mixing bowl, whisk the mayonnaise, minced garlic, and lemon juice together until well combined.

Add the basil mixture to the mayonnaise mixture. Whisk together, taste and adjust seasoning as needed. Cover and place in the refrigerator until well chilled.

To Serve: Arrange artichoke hearts on a small serving platter. Spoon Lemon-Basil Aioli sauce into a small bowl. Serve platter of artichoke hearts along side sauce for dipping.


Garlic-Beer Marinated Chicken
(1) 11 oz beer or dark ale
3 tablespoons sesame seed oil
1 1/2 tablespoons roasted minced garlic (from a jar okay)
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
4 lbs chicken thighs, bones and skin removed
2 limes, cut into wedges

In a bowl, whisk together beer and sesame oil. Add minced garlic, seasonings and spices. Whisk well.

Place thighs into a large zip-lock bag. Pour marinade over chicken. Turn bag several times to distribute the marinade. Place bag on a platter or casserole dish just in case bag might leak. Place into the refrigerator overnight, shooting for at least 12 hours of soaking. The longer the chicken percolates in the marinade, the deeper the flavor.

When ready to cook, remove chicken from the refrigerator and allow bag to lay flat on the counter for 30 minutes.

While meat comes to room temperature, build a nice bed of coals. Remove chicken from marinade and grill about 6 minutes per side. Move to upper warming rack, cook an additional 3 to 4 minutes or until cooked through.

Transfer thighs to serving platter and garnish with lime wedges before serving.


Grilled Smoked Beef Sausage
2 Packages Hillshire Farms Smoked Beef Sausage
1 1/2 Cup Barbecue Sauce, any flavor

Heat small grill gas grill for direct cooking. Split sausages in half width-wise to create 2 halves. Split again lengthwise to open sausage. You will now have 8 “J” shaped sausages.

When grill is ready, place sausage haves on grill skin side up until nicely cooked. Turn, brush with barbecue sauce and continue to grill until heated through.

Serve with additional barbecue sausage if desired.


Basic Mini Burgers
2 lbs Ground Beef
2 tablespoons Hamburger Seasoning
12 mini hamburger buns
Lettuce
1 Large Tomato, sliced
1 small Red Onion, sliced
4 Cheddar Cheese slices, optional
Pickles
Ketchup
Mustard
Mayonnaise

In a bowl, combine ground beef with hamburger seasoning. Divide ground beef into twelve balls. Pat down into patties just slightly larger than buns.

Grill patties to desired doneness. Top with cheese and allow to melt before removing burgers from grill.

If desired, brush buns will a little olive oil and toast on the grill just before assembling burgers.

While the burgers are grilling, place a lettuce leaf on the bottom bun, top with tomato and a little red onion. Set bun bottoms aside until ready to use.

Once the cheese had melted on burgers, place patties on bottom bun. Top with top of bun. Arrange burgers on a platter and serve with condiments as desired.


Happy Father’s Day to my Wonderful Best Friend

It’s hard to believe I’ve had the privilege of sharing half my life with my best friend. We’ve had our share of ups and downs over the years, as all couples do. Through it all, our friendship has remained strong. Here’s to you, Hubby on this day reserved for men who step up to the plate and give it their all. Happy Father’s Day.

We’re having a wonderful day on the old home-front, enjoying some of hubby’s favorite dishes. He’s a real meat and potato kind of guy – a good steak and a baked potato is all it takes to keep Hubby happy . . .

Porterhouse Magic
1 Large Porterhouse Steak Per Person, about 1 ½ inches thick, 28-30 oz each
Salt to taste
Johnny Trigg Champion Meat Rub to taste

This first step is very important – buy your steaks the day of grilling and not a day sooner. Have a conversation with your butcher – ask him to cut your Porterhouse about 1 ½ thick. Tell him to give you steaks that he would have cut for his own family, with a generous side of filet and New York Strip on either side of the bone.

DO NOT put the steaks in the refrigerator. Open the package, sprinkle with salt on both sides. Then sprinkle with Meat Rub, pat into steaks. Allow the steaks to rest on the counter at lease an hour or two to draw in the salt with the rub.

Build a nice fire in the grill. Get it good and hot with a light covering of ash.

For medium – sear steaks for about 4 minutes per side. Transfer to warming rack of grill while searing less-done steaks.

For Medium-Rare – sear steak as above, skipping the transfer to warming rack of grill.

Return steaks to be cook medium back to main grill alongside those to be grilled medium-rare. Lower coals (or raise rack, depending upon grill type) and continue to grill with the lid closed for about 5-6 more minutes. Raise lid, flip steaks, then close grill and cook an additional 5 minutes. (The medium steaks are on the grill about 30 minutes total, the medium rare about 20 minutes).

Remove all the steaks from grill, place on a platter and tent to keep warm. Allow steaks to rest for about 5-10 minutes to regain their juices.

While the steaks are resting, it’s the perfect time to load up a baked potato with all your favorite toppings – butter, sour cream, chopped chives, salt and pepper to taste.

Place steaks on individual plates and drizzle with any juices that have accumulated on the platter.

Ready, set, enjoy! These are so flavorful, so tender and melt in your mouth good!

Old-Fashioned Baked Potatoes
4 Large Baking Potatoes, washed
Olive Oil
Sea Salt
Butter
Salt & Pepper to Taste
Sour Cream
Chives
1/2 Cup Grated Cheddar Cheese
2-3 Slices Bacon, Fried Crisp & Crumbled

Preheat oven to 400-degrees.

Wash potatoes, pat dry and rub skin with a small amount of olive oil and sprinkle with a little sea salt. Cut a small X in the middle of the potato on one side to allow steam to vent.

Place potatoes in the oven directly on the rack and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, depending upon size. (To see if the potatoes are cooked, remove largest potato from oven, and squeeze. Potatoes are done when there is no resistance.) Turn off heat, wrap potatoes in foil and leave potatoes in the oven until ready to serve.

While potatoes are baking, fry bacon crisp. Crumble and set aside.

To serve, unwrap potatoes most of the way, leaving foil on lower half. Press ends inward so potato “pops” open. Fluff potato with a fork, plate and serve with individual cups for garnishings: Butter, sour cream, chopped chives or green onions and bacon bits.

Have salt and pepper on the table for those who wish to use it.

The perfect side for Porterhouse Magic (above) or Grilling up a Tri-tip

For Hubby’s favorite cake, be sure to check out Happy Day Marbled Cake with Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

 

Next Up – Father’s Day

One more week and counting. This year, Father’s Day with dear old Dad is going to be celebrated on Saturday. Dad’s not getting about as he once did and doesn’t venture far from the family farm. Seems that whenever we get together for a family feed, Dad brings up how much he likes barbecued ribs. He says one of the things he misses are the “old days” when he could spend hours cooking up his barbecue ribs. (Hint hint). Dad can’t stand for very long without becoming dizzy (a very bad thing while bent over a bed of hot coals), and it’s just too hard to try grilling from his chair.The Farm This wonderful man has reached that reversed point in life when we need to show him the same loving care he has shown us our entire lives. Besides, giving back even a small portion of what he has done for me fills me with such joy, words cannot express the warmth I feel inside.

Hubby has been talking about different outings for Father’s Day – the Pirate Festival in the bay (complete with dueling ships), the Crawdad Festival along the river, hiking in the woods – anything to get out and away from the grind of every day and relax. That also means escaping from barbecue duty on Father’s Day. (Hint-hint). There was only one thing to do – and that was to please them both. Barbecue at the farm on Saturday, spending Sunday any way Hubby would like. After all, it’s his day, too. By splitting the weekend with a duel celebration everyone is happy.

Kiddo, Hubby and I have been mulling over the menu for our Saturday Father’s Day Barbecue. My guys are great at helping me to keep it simple. Oh sure, they will go along with whatever crazy menu I can conjure up (a great example was My Birthday Feast From Italy and what a wonderful birthday! There is no way I could have pulled it off without their wonderful helping hands). They have reminded me ever so gently that I needed to think about Dad – what he would like. That we would be doing the majority of the prep work and cooking at home, with the final touches at the farm and above all else, the food needed to travel well. At last, the menu was settled – time to share.

Father’s Day Barbecue
– From the Grill –
Oven-Grilled Smoky Barbecued Ribs

– On the Side –
Corn on the Cob
Hobo Skillet Potatoes
Texas-Style Ranch Beans

– Gotta Have Sweets –
Pudding Filled Cupcakes with Italian Meringue Butter Cream Frosting


While this recipe is designed to do at home, the ribs can go from the oven to a big foil pan for transportation. Just imagine skipping the hot dogs at your next picnic and serving up some grilled ribs at the park. Once grilled, simply move back into the foil pan for serving.

Oven-Grilled Smoky Barbecued Ribs
The Rub
2 tablespoon coarsely ground black pepper
1 tablespoons Hickory Smoked Salt
1 Tablespoon Onion Powder
1 Tablespoon Sugar
1 Teaspoon Chili Powder
2 Teaspoons Smoked Paprika
2 Teaspoons Mustard Powder
2 Teaspoons Garlic Powder

In a bowl, mix ingredients for dry rub, set aside until ready to use.

The Ribs
3 or 4 lbs Baby-Back Pork Ribs
Water as needed
2 Tablespoon Liquid Smoke
1 Onion
4 Cups Barbecue Sauce (your favorite)

Trim excess fat from ribs and remove thin layer of skin (that silver membrane) from the back of the ribs. The best way to remove the membrane is to slide a thin knife under the membrane and lift about an inch or so from the bone. Using a paper towel to help, grab the membrane while pressing down on the rib bone. Then give it a good tug toward you. Think of it as ripping off a band-aid – pull quickly. If your ribs are a long slab, you might need to do the same at the opposite end. Be quick and rip. Works every time.

Once the ribs have been trimmed, it’s time to rub. Lightly brush meat with a little olive oil (this helps rub “cling” to meat). Generously coat meat with rub, then use your fingers to massage seasoning into meat. Wrap in plastic wrap and place in refrigerator for several hours or over night for best flavor.

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

Using a broiler pan, pour about a half-inch or so of water into the bottom. To the water, add liquid smoke.

Peel and cut onion into large slivers. Scatter onion slivers over the smoky water in the pan.

Place the top rack of broiler pan over the flavored water. Unwrap ribs and lay on rack. Cover tightly with foil to seal well.

Bake ribs in the oven for about an hour. Check ribs. You want them to be cooked through but not falling off the bone. (Be careful, a puff of steam will poof out when the foil is lifted). Bake another 30 minutes, then check again.

Meanwhile, build a nice fire in your barbecue for both direct and indirect grilling. (Build coals on one side rather than spread out). Sear ribs over the direct heat. Move to indirect heat, mop with barbecue sauce. Close lid and let smoke about 10 minutes. Turn ribs, mop again and let smoke another 10 minutes.

Remove from grill. Cover and keep warm until ready to serve.

************

The beauty of Cooler Corn is that you can boil the water at home, pour it over the corn and pack the corn for a “road” trip – by the time you get to your destination, the corn will be cooked. Keep it in the cooler to keep it hot. Use tongs to serve straight from the cooler.

Cooler Corn on the Cob
12-24 Ears of Corn
Boiling Water

Husk, clean and trim ears of corn. Place corn in a clean camping cooler. Bring several kettles or pots of water to a boil, enough to cover corn.

Pour boiling water over corn, close lid and let steep for 30-45 minutes.

************

I love Texas Style Ranch Beans with barbecued meats – especially smoked pork or beef. These beans are more than tasty – once heated through they will travel well. For our barbecue, I plan to transfer the beans to a foil pan with a tight-fitting lid for transportation.

My pans are part of those “cheap” chafing sets you can get at a party supply store. These great for transporting foods and will keep everything nice and hot. Oh sure, you could accomplish the same thing with a fancy chafing dish, but for backyard barbecues and casual entertaining the aluminum foil sets are great – as well as versatile. You can use full pans, half pans or even quarter pans, depending upon how much food you’ll be serving.

Easy Texas Style Ranch Beans
1 Tablespoon Bacon Dripping
1/2 Medium red onion, diced
2 tsp New Mexico chili powder
2 large Cans Original Ranch-Style Beans
1 can (10 oz) Ro-tel Tomato & Green Chilies, undrained
1/4 cup Water (optional – see cooking methods)

Heat bacon drippings in a non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add onions, saute until tender. Season with chili powder. Stir to blend.

Quick Method: Open cans and empty contents into large pot. Add water and onions. Heat over medium heat until bubbling.

Slow Method: Open cans and empty contents into a slow cooker. DO NOT ADD WATER. Stir in onions, cover and simmer on high for about an hour or until beans are heated through. Lower to keep warm and serve directly from the pot.

************

While the potatoes are designed to serve straight from the cast iron skillet, again those foil pans with a tight-fitting lid are perfect for travel while keeping the casual “hobo” appeal of the potatoes.

Hobo Cast Iron Skillet Potatoes
4-5 bacon strips
2 tablespoons butter
5 medium/large red potatoes, diced
1 small sweet yellow onion, diced
1-2 teaspoons seasoned salt
pinch of ground black pepper

Heat skillet over medium heat and fry the bacon until crispy. Place the bacon on a paper towel, leaving the grease in the skillet. Add the butter.

Carefully add the potatoes and onion to the skillet.

Sprinkle the salt and pepper over the potatoes and stir gently until all of the mixture is coated in the grease.

Cover with a lid and cook for 25-30 minutes, until potatoes are fork tender. Stir potatoes every 5 minutes or so to prevent burning/sticking.

Before serving, crumble the cooked bacon and toss it into the potatoes.

************

Pudding Filled Cupcakes with Italian Meringue Butter Cream Frosting
The Pudding Filling
1 package Instant Pudding and Pie Filling (any flavor – white chocolate, vanilla or chocolate works best)
2 Cups Milk, very cold

In a medium bowl, empty Pudding mix. Add milk and mix until smooth. Continue to whisk until pudding thickens. Place plastic wrap directly over the pudding and refrigerate until well-chilled, at lease an hour.

The Cupcake
1 Box French Vanilla White Cake
3 Eggs
1/4 Cup Vegetable Oil
1/4 Cup Melted butter
1 Cup Water

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Line muffin tin with paper cups. Set aside until ready to fill.

Place eggs in a mixing bowl. Beat with paddle until pale, about 2 minutes.

Melt butter in a microwave safe dish. (Butter should be melted but not “hot”). Add to eggs. With paddle running, slowly add vegetable oil and water until light and frothy.

Add cake mix, blend for 30 seconds on low, then 2 minutes on medium high.

Using a small ice cream scoop, spoon batter into prepared tins. Bake according to package directions for the size cupcakes you are making. Regular tins work well, jumbo are also excellent for filling. While Mini cupcakes are okay, these are far more difficult to “core” and “fill” – which can lead to frustration.

Note: If more than a dozen regular or six jumbo cupcakes are desired, double the batter recipe.
Remove cupcakes from oven and let cool completely on a rack before filling and frosting.
While the cupcakes cool, make the frosting.

The Frosting
1-1/4 Cups Sugar
2/3 Cup Water Room temperature
5 Large Egg Whites
Pinch Cream of Tartar
2 Cups Unsalted Butter Room temperature, cut into tablespoons
1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract

In a small saucepan over medium heat, bring sugar and water to a boil. Continue to boil until sugar syrup reaches the soft-ball stage, 240 – 244 degrees on a candy thermometer. As the syrup cooks, start the meringue.

Separate eggs and place the whites in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat whites on low until foam begins to form, increase to medium until foamy. Add cream of tartar, and whip on medium-high-speed until medium to stiff peaks form. Do not whip to the point that the whites are dry.

With mixer running, add cooked syrup to whites in a slow but steady stream, beating at high-speed. In a steady stream, the addition of the sugar syrup should take about 5 minutes.

Add butter one tablespoon at a time, beating until smooth, approximately 4-5 minutes.
Beat in vanilla, scrape down sides gently and beat again for 1 minute.
Note: This frosting will keep up to 3 days at room temperature, 2 weeks refrigerated

To Assemble Cupcakes: Here is the EASIEST tip for filling the cupcakes. Take an APPLE CORER and pull a cylindrical plug of cake out of each cupcake. Save the plug on the side while you pipe filling into the hole you’ve created.

DO NOT fill cupcakes to the top, you need a little room to reinsert the “plug”. Trim bottom of “plug” a little so as to cap the pudding-filled hole.

Once all the cupcakes have been filled and capped, pipe on the frosting as desired. Chill until ready to serve.

When ready to serve, remove the paper from the cupcake, plate and serve. It’s best to eat with a fork to avoid filling from dripping out on your clothes. Besides, serving a cupcake on a dessert plate elevates the cupcake to an elegant presentation. If desired, garnish the plate with a few berries and mint leaves or edible flowers.

Memorial Day – More than just Backyard Barbecues and Family Fun

Like just about everyone in America, I look forward to Memorial Day – a three-day weekend with plenty of family, backyard barbecues or picnics and trips to the beaches, parks and forests that abound. Like most of us, I avoid the media bombardment of Blow Out Sales.

I think it’s important, while unofficially kicking off the summer season of family gatherings and grilled foods, to remember the roots of this National Holiday. Today Memorial Day represents a day of remembrance for all of those brave souls who sacrificed their lives in their service to protect and defend the United States of America. Did you know that Memorial Day was originally called Decoration Day? It was a day set aside to honor those killed in the American Civil War. All across the land, in different ways designed to honor fallen soldiers from opposing sides of the conflict, communities came together to lay flowers, flags and ribbons on the graves of their fathers; brothers; sons and husbands. The Civil War was the deadliest struggle in American history, and the wounds to the spirit of a country so bitterly divided ran deep. Some of those wounds remain with us today.

The Civil War, which ended in the spring of 1865, claimed more lives than any other conflict in U.S. history. So bloody was the war that it required the establishment of the country’s first national cemeteries. Since World War I, the holiday has gathered the nation together to honor all men and women who’ve lost their lives in conflict, from the American Revolution to the present day battles.

As we gather with friends and family, let us take a moment to join together as a Nation to remember the sacrifices of others, to bow our heads in silence and to truly give thanks.


MEMORIAL DAY MENU

Meaty Fixings
Chicken: Spiced Rubbed Barbecue Game Hens *
Beef: Tri-Tip Barbecue with Gourmet Rub *
The Usual Suspects: Grilled Hamburgers & Hot Dogs (Your favorites)

Flavorful Sides
Texas Ranch Beans *
Cooler Corn on the Cob *
Potato Salad *

Sweet Endings
Memorial Day Berry Trifle *
Patriotic Fruit Salad *
Red, White and Blue Cupcake (local Bakery)

* Recipes Follow


Meaty Fixings

Spice Rubbed Barbecue Game Hens
4 Game Hens
6 tablespoons Mesquite Seasoning
4 tablespoons New Mexico Chili Seasoning
4 tablespoons Barbecue Seasoning
4 Cups Barbecue Sauce

Remove backbone from game hens. Turn birds over and remove breast bone. Snip wings from breast meat. Discard wings (or freeze for chicken stock). Remove breast from leg/thigh meat. You should have four pieces of meat per hen (two breasts, two dark meat quarters). Rinse well and pat dry.

Mix seasonings in a small bowl. Rub chicken with spices, rubbing both under the skin as well as the skin. Place chicken in a baking dish and let rest on the counter while grill is prepared. (About 30 minutes should do the trick to let the flavors marry and the chicken come to room temperature for even grilling).

Build a fire with a nice pile of hot coals for both direct and indirect grilling.

Grill chicken over hot coals about five minutes per side to sear. Move to indirect heat, close lid and let chicken smoke for about twenty minutes. Turn chicken over and continue to grill about ten minutes longer. White meat will cook faster than dark meat.

Check breasts after about 15 minutes and if necessary place on upper rack to prevent meat from drying out.

Pour barbecue sauce into a microwaveable glass bowl. Baste chicken generously with barbecue sauce. Let cook five more minutes, turn and mop with more sauce. Let cook for five minutes.

Remove chicken from grill. Tent chicken to keep warm. Heat any remaining barbecue sauce in the microwave for about 90 seconds. Serve warm sauce  along side hens. Have plenty of napkins

Tri-Tip Barbecue with a Gourmet Rub
1 Tri-Tip Brisket, about 3 lbs
1/2 Tablespoon Fresh Ground Black Pepper
1 ½ Teaspoons Sea Salt
½ Tablespoon Smoked Paprika
¼ Teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
½ Teaspoon Dijon Style Mustard
¼ Cup Red Wine
¼ Cup Olive Oil
6-8 Garlic Cloves, crushed
1 Teaspoon Onion Powder
1 Teaspoon Dried Rosemary, crushed

Mix all ingredients for gourmet rub. Rub into tri-tip brisket. Wrap brisket in plastic wrap, refrigerate for 2 or 3 hours minimum – the longer the better. Remove from refrigerator, let stand on counter for 45 minutes prior to grilling.

While the tri-tip comes to room temperature, build nice bed of hot coals. Open the bottom and top vents half way, place grate over coals and close lid to heat, about 5 minutes. Clean grate and oil paper towels dipped in vegetable oil.

Raise coals to high position (or lower grate, depending upon grill). Grill meat, fat side up, for 3-5 minutes or until nicely seared. Turn using meat tongs (NEVER stick a fork into it – the juices will run out, and that just makes for a dry hunk of meat) and sear other side.

Lower coals (or raise the grate, depending upon grill), cover and continue to cook meat 7-10 minutes longer. Check for doneness using an instant read thermometer. You’ll want the thickest part at the center to be about 140 degrees. A thick tri-tip might need to be turned for a final time and grilled 5-8 minutes longer.

The key to a juicy piece of meat is to let the meat rest 10-15 minutes after grilling to allow the juices to soak back into the meat rather than run all over the cutting board. Keep in mind that while the meat rests, it will continue to cook, raising the internal temperature as much as ten degrees.

When carving, go ahead and slice on the serving platter. That way, any juices that escape can be spooned over the sliced meat when serving for extra flavor.

Don’t forget the Hamburgers and Hot Dogs with all your favorite fixings.

Image result for image hamburgers and hot dogs

************

Flavorful Sides

Texas Ranch Beans
2 Cups Dried Pinto Beans
1 Teaspoon Olive Oil
1 Onion, Diced
6 Garlic Cloves, minced
1 Cup Water
¼ Cup Chili Powder
½ Teaspoon Cayenne Powder
2 Tomatoes, peeled and seeded
1 Teaspoon Brown Sugar
1 Teaspoon Apple Cider Vinegar
1 Teaspoon Smoked Paprika
1 Teaspoon Cumin
½ Teaspoon Mexican Oregano
6 Cups Beef Broth
Salt & Pepper to Taste

Pick over beans, cover with water and soak overnight. Drain well.

In the pot the beans are to be cooked in, heat olive oil over medium heat. Sauté onions 3-4 minutes or until almost tender. Add garlic, sauté until aromatic about 30 seconds. Transfer onions and garlic to a blender or food processor. DO NOT clean pot; set pot aside.

Add beans and beef broth to the pot. Bring to a boil, allow to boil 1-2 minutes, then reduce heat to simmer. Pour Chili puree into beans, stir to blend. Cover and simmer 2-4 hours (depending upon freshness of beans – may be tender in 2 hours, may take longer). When beans are tender and chili sauce has thickened, season with salt and pepper to taste. DO NOT add salt until the beans are completely cooked or they will become tough and undesirable.

Cooler Corn on the Cob
12-24 Ears of Corn
Boiling Water, enough to cover corn

Husk, clean and trim ears of corn. Place corn in a clean camping cooler. Bring several kettles or pots of water to a boil, enough to cover corn.

Pour boiling water over corn, close lid and let steep for 30-45 minutes.

Corn can be pulled from the cooler when ready to serve and placed on a big serving dish on the buffet tables, or left in the cooler. Just don’t forget a tub of butter and shaker of salt for the finishing touch.

Potato Salad
3 lbs Yukon Gold Potatoes
4 Eggs, hard-boiled
1 Red Onion, minced
2 Celery Stocks, minced
1 Tablespoon Bacon Drippings, warm (Optional)
1 Cup Mayonnaise
1/4 Cup Sour Cream
1 Tablespoons Mustard
2 Tablespoons Red Wine Vinegar plus a sprinkling for potatoes
Kosher Salt & Fresh Black Pepper to taste
¼ Cup Parsley or green onion for garnish

Peel and slice potatoes into large chunks. Place potatoes in a stockpot and cover with 1-inch of salted water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until potatoes are just tender but not soft, about 10-15 minutes. Drain well. Sprinkle LIGHTLY with red wine vinegar and set aside in refrigerator to cool.

Place eggs in a saucepan, add cold water to cover eggs. Bring to a boil, remove from heat and cover. Let sit for 12-14 minutes, then plunge eggs into cold water to stop cooking process. Once cooled, roll egg on counter to crack the shell. Return eggs to cold water and let sit for about 15 minutes. This will help to make the eggs easier to peel.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl combine onions, celery, bacon drippings, mayonnaise, mustard, sour cream and red wine vinegar. Whisk to combine. Taste dressing and season with kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste.

Peel and chop 3 eggs. Add to dressing. Cut V marks in 4th egg to create two tulip flowers. Reserve 1 flower, chop other and add to dressing. Taste dressing a second time, adjust seasonings as necessary.

Place potatoes in a large bowl. Pour egg dressing over potatoes and toss to coat. Smooth out top. In the center, using the back of a spoon, create a small indentation. Place Egg flower into indentation. Sprinkle top of salad with parsley or chopped green onion for added color. If desired, sprinkle lightly with paprika. Cover with plastic and refrigerate until well chilled.

This salad can be prepared a day in advance. Day old potato salad always seems to have that much more flavor.

************

Sweet Endings

Memorial Day Berry Trifle
1 package (3.4-ounce) instant vanilla pudding
2 cups fresh berries strawberries, washed and hulled, plus extra for garnish
2 cups blueberries, plus extra for garnish
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 cup whipping cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

24 to 36 ladyfingers (equally delicious with buttery pound cake or Angel’s Food Cake)

Slice the strawberries, then toss all of the berries with the lemon juice and the 1/4 cup of sugar. Set aside for 30 minutes to allow the berries to release their juices.

In a medium mixing bowl, whip the cream, vanilla extract, and remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar until soft peaks form. Set aside.

To make the layers, set a layer of ladyfingers (around 7 or 8) on the bottom of a large, clear serving bowl. Top with about a third of the berries, then with half of the pudding.
Add another layer of ladyfingers, another third of the berries and juice, and the rest of the pudding.

Add a final layer of ladyfingers and berries. Top with the whipped cream and a berry garnish.

Refrigerate until you’re ready to serve.

Note: If ladyfingers are not available, a loaf of Pound or Angle Food Cake cut into cubes make a wonderful substitute. Okay to make late in the morning, but not the night before or the cake becomes soggy.

Patriotic Fruit Salad
16 oz of Strawberries, washed and cut in half
1 pint of blue berries, rinsed
3 bananas sliced in thick chunks
1/8 cup of honey
1 fresh lime

Wash and drain all of the fruit. Slice strawberries and bananas. Combine fruit in an attractive serving bowl. Add blueberries. Set aside
Microwave the for 10 seconds before juicing. This will cause the limes to render more juice.
In a small bowl whisk together the honey and freshly squeezed lime juice.
Drizzle the honey lime glaze over the sliced fruit. Gently stir with a spoon to combine fruit with the glaze.
Refrigerate to chill until ready to serve.

And from your favorite bakery . . . Red, White and Blue Cupcakes!

Image result for image red white and blue cupcake

Happy Mother’s Day

Before I disappear into my kitchen to put the finishing touches on our Mother’s Day Tea Party, I wanted take a moment to wish everyone a Happy Mother’s Day.

If you are still looking for ideas from the kitchen, let me suggest a few:

A Simple Tea for Mother’s Day

Assorted Fruit Platter serve with Mimosas:
Pink Lemonade Mimosa
Assorted Berries (Strawberries, blackberries and Raspberries)
Mellon Balls (Honey Dew, Cantaloupe and/or Water Mellon)
Grapes and or Kiwi

Tea Service:
Selecting Teas

Tea Sandwiches:
Cucumber-Dill Canapés
Deviled Ham on Mini Croissants
Dill Egg Salad Tea Sandwiches
Feta, Roasted Peppers and Chive Tea Sandwiches
Red Pepper and Feta Roast Beef Finger Sandwiches

Cakes and Pastries:
Easy Boston Cream Cupcakes
Strawberry Cream Tartlets
White Chocolate Mousse Pastries


Mother’s Day Brunch – Country Style

Beverages:
Blueberry Mimosa served in Lime Sugared Rim Champagne Glasses
Fresh Orange Juice
French Press Coffee

The Buffet Table:
Chocolate Chip Pancake Casserole
Cinnamon Streusel Buttermilk Coffee Cake
Hobo Cast Iron Skillet Potatoes
Scrambled Egg, Sausage and Cheese Pull-Apart Sandwich Rolls
Biscuits and Gravy Casserole Style

Assorted Breakfast Meats:
Apple Wood Smoked Bacon,
Country Sausage Patties
Vermont Maple Sausage Links


Mother’s Day Menu 1

Beautiful Scallop Supper
Pan Seared Scallops with a Lemon Sauce
Fire Grilled Asparagus Spears

Salad Course
Caesar Salad with Homemade Dressing

Dreamy Dessert
Chocolate Mouse


Mother’s Day Menu 2

Elegant Steak and Potatoes Supper:
Steak Oscar
Roast New Potatoes with Caviar & Crème Fraîche

Heavenly Dessert:
Orange Chiffon Cake with Lemon-Orange Buttercream Frosting