WHAT’S COOKING ?: Time to get ready for ‘patriotic’ celebrations | Whatscooking


Well we had an exceptionally wonderful party this past weekend! My youngest son’s entire backyard was set up like a waterpark. All of the children “splashed and slid up” big appetites. On this occasion, though, because we had eaten grilled foods so many times this spring-summer, my son opted on pizza delivery for a joint-birthday for my two- and four-year-old granddaughters. You see, at this point in their little lives, long-held status of chicken nuggets as their “favorite food” recently transitioned to a definite preference for “pizza.”

The sizable gathering of young cousins, friends and other extended family members sank their teeth into slice after slice of pizza. Of course there was a tub filled with individual bags of various types of chips, and the “littles,” “tweens” and teens enjoyed freeze pops galore. Dessert – my favorite part, of course – was a princess cake and cupcakes aplenty!

My beautiful granddaughters so enjoyed their exciting party, and as the afternoon was winding down, we “grownups” began planning for “fun and fare on the Fourth.” If you haven’t decided what you’re going to enjoy this coming patriotic holiday, perhaps consider trying the following food lineup and decorate accordingly.

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Watermelon-blueberry ‘salad’

1 round seedless watermelon

3 cups whole fresh blueberries

1/2 cup chopped fresh mint

1 cup mild cheddar cheese

Wash the outside of the seedless watermelon well and dry it. Cut it in half. Wrap one half in plastic wrap and refrigerate it for later enjoyment. Put the other half on a clean surface and carefully carve out the inside, cut it into bite-size pieces and put them into a large bowl. Rinse the blueberries a few times and drain them well. Put them into the bowl with the watermelon. Use a large spoon to combine the watermelon, blueberries, the chopped fresh mint and the lime juice. Transfer this mixture to a clear serving bowl and top it with crumbled bits of mild cheddar cheese and salt and pepper to taste. Cover and refrigerate this or keep it in a cooler until you are ready to serve it. This colorful, refreshing salad is so good on a warm summer day.

Honey-jalapeno chicken

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

1 small Vidalia onion, peeled, cut in sections

2 fresh red jalapeno peppers, halved and seeded

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon ground allspice

8 boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs

In a medium bowl, combine the honey and lemon juice. Whisk these ingredients until well blended. Remove 1/2 cup of the mixture and put it in a food processor or blender container. Set the bowl containing the other 1/2 cup honey and lemon aside to use as a topping after the chicken is cooked.

To the honey-lemon mixture in the food processor or blender container, add onion, jalapenos, oil, garlic salt, pepper and allspice. Process until very finely chopped, scraping down the sides when necessary. Spread this mixture evenly over both sides of the chicken pieces.

COOKING ALTERNATIVES: Preheat your grill OR preheat your oven to 375 degrees and spread a thin coating of vegetable oil on the grill rack, OR in a 9×13-inch-baking pan. Arrange the pieces on the rack or in the baking pan.

Grill the chicken for eight minutes on each side. Pierce it with a fork. If the juices run clear, it is done. If not, grill it a few minutes more on each side, OR bake the chicken at 375 degrees for 18 minutes on each side.

When the chicken is done, place the pieces on a serving platter, and serve it plain or top each piece with a portion of the reserved honey and lemon mixture or your other favorite sauce. This recipe makes 8 servings.

Cheese biscuits

10 ounces of extra sharp Cheddar cheese, grated

1 cup Land ‘O Lakes butter (not margarine)

2 cups plain flour, sifted

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

1 teaspoon Texas Pete hot sauce

Dash or two of Cayenne pepper

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees, and get out the largest cookie sheet you have. In a large bowl, fold (stir) all of the ingredients until they are well combined and form a thick, cheesy “dough.” Use your hands to form dough balls of equivalent size. Use a smooth, floured drinking glass or rolling pin to flatten the balls – the thinner you roll them, the crispier the “biscuits” will be. Carefully place them on a cookie sheet, fairly closely, because they will not spread as much as cookies do. Bake them at 325 degrees for about 15 minutes or until just very lightly browned. Allow them to cool for at least five minutes before removing them from the pan.

Perfect summer

blueberry muffins

(This recipe from Albertine “Teeny” Taylor yields great taste.)

1/2 cup softened butter or margarine

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 to 1-1 / 2 cups fresh (or frozen) blueberries

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. In a large bowl, combine the sugar, butter or margarine, eggs and milk. Beat the ingredients well. In a separate bowl, use a fork to combine the flour, salt and baking powder. Add this to the sugar mixture and beat until blended (about 1 minute). Use a ladle or large spoon to fold in the blueberries. Spoon the batter into 18 well-greased muffin cups. Bake at 375 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes. Enjoy!

Sweet endings

strawberry pie

1 large pie shell very lightly browned

Or 1 large graham cracker pie crust

2 heaping tablespoons cornstarch

2 cups fresh strawberries, cut in chunks

1 small box (3-ounce) strawberry Jell-O

1 large (12-ounce) tub of whipped topping

In a small saucepan, combine the sugar, water and cornstarch. Bring the ingredients to a boil, stirring constantly; reduce heat to medium and boil, stirring frequently, until the mixture is clear and thickened. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the dry Jell-O. Refrigerate the ingredients – in the pan – until slightly congealed. Stir in the strawberry chunks and pour everything into the pie shell. Chill until the filling is firm. It’s actually best when chilled overnight. It will still be delicious if you use sugar-free Jell-O.

Contact writer at tgmhatchell @ yahoo.com


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