Sunday, July 5, 2015

Independence Day with Friends, Food, Fireworks

I love holidays. I love making themed food, I love spending time with friends and family, and I love celebrating! This comes from a childhood of my mom always decorating the house for every holiday, making us breakfast toast that looked like an American flag or cakes in the shape of a heart, and always getting to eat the leftover dessert for breakfast the next day (or few days).  To me it is tradition and I wouldn't have it any other way. However, this Fourth of July get together was a bit last minute and I have to say it worked out great.  The weather even held off for us to truly cook out! Started the day off with a soggy run, enjoyed food and friends, and ended the day with fireworks, I'd say it was a successful Independence Day! On to the menu...

Red, White, and Blue Sangria
Watermelon Salsa
Strawberry Pretzel Salad
Blueberry, Strawberry, & Banana Skewers
Baked Beans
Red Velvet Cake
Red, White, and Blue Sangria
This was a pinterest find from Imagine!
2 bottles of white wine
1 cup triple sec
1/2 cup berry flavored vodka
1/2 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup simple syrup I may have left this out, simply because I didn't have it, I don't recommend skipping it- it makes for a strong sangria if you do!
Strawberries, blueberries and pineapple cut into stars (I didn't get to cut mine into stars but wish I could have)
Combine all ingredients in a large pitcher, chill and serve. 
Watermelon Salsa
This was a Pinterest find from Love and Olive Oil and I have to say it will definitely be a repeat!! It is an easy recipe and so tasty!
4 small Roma tomatoes, chopped
1/2 onion, chopped
1 jalapeno, I actually did not include the jalapeno this time. Original recipe recommends discarding the seeds for a milder salsa.
1 cup diced watermelon
1/2 cup fresh blueberries
3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro, I used cilantro paste this time
3 tablespoons lime juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1. Add tomatoes, onion, and jalapeno to a food processor and chop finely, do not fully liquefy.
2. Transfer tomato mixture to a medium bowl and mix in watermelon, blueberries, cilantro, lime juice, and salt.
3. Cover and put in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
Strawberry Pretzel Salad
This recipe came from my mom's cookbook and we've been making it my entire life! I was floored when a woman at Bed, Bath, and Beyond was describing this new dish (strawberry pretzel salad) she had just eaten at friends, I was shocked she had never had it before, she was shocked I knew what it was!
Bottom Layer
2 1/2 cups pretzels, crushed
3/4 cup margarine, melted
1/4 cup brown sugar
Middle Layer
1 cup sugar
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
8 ounces frozen whipped topping, thawed
Top Layer
6 ounces strawberry gelatin
2 cups boiling water
10 ounces frozen strawberries
Bottom Layer
1. Combine pretzels, margarine and brown sugar.
2. Mix well and pat into a buttered 9 x 13 baking dish.
3. Bake at 350 for 10 minutes.
4. Let cool.
Middle Layer
1. Cream the sugar and cream cheese.
2. Fold in whipped topping.
3. Spread this mixture over the cooled crust, make sure the crust is sealed well with the mixture.
Top Layer
1. Dissolve gelatin in water while still warm.
2. Add frozen strawberries, stirring slightly to break up the strawberries.
3. Cool in refrigerator until mixture begins to set, do not let it completely set or it will be lumpy when transferred.
4. When gelatin mixture begins to set, pour over the dish.  Chill until firm, Serve.
Blueberry, Strawberry, and  Banana Skewers
Another Pinterest find
There really is no recipe for this dish but it was a fun Fourth of July themed Pinterest find.  I made six skewers with blueberries, strawberries, and bananas and 7 skewers with strawberries and bananas.  You lay them out in a flag design!
Red Velvet Cake
For this special themed dessert you need to make two recipes of the Red Velvet.
2 1/2 cups cake flour
1 1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
1 cup buttermilk
2 tablespoon (1 oz.) liquid red food coloring / for second recipe you will need blue food coloring
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon distilled white vinegar
1. Preheat oven to 350.
2. Combine cake flour, sugar, baking soda, cocoa powder and salt; whisk to blend.
3. With electric mixer, combine eggs, vegetable oil, buttermilk, food coloring, vanilla, and vinegar. Beat on medium speed until well blended. For second recipe, do not add food coloring at this time.
4. Mix in dry ingredients on low and beat until smooth, about 2 minutes.
5. Divide batter evenly among two circular baking pans. Bake for 30 minutes. Let cool in pans for 5-10 minutes then cool completely on a wire rack. Slice each cake in half to make 2 layers from each pan.
For the second recipe, combine dry and wet ingredients and take out 1/3 batter. In 2/3 batter mix in red food coloring, in 1/3 batter mix in blue food coloring.  Bake for 30 minutes.  Once cooled, cute the red cake in 3 layers. In each layer take cut out the center (I use a Margarita glass as my cookie cutter pattern) and lay the outer rim on top of the frosted cake, for the blue layer cut out the center and place inside the red. 
In the end I made about 3x this recipe for the entire cake.  The ingredients below are for 1 original recipe.
8 oz cream cheese
5 tbsp unsalted butter
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
1. Combine cream cheese and butter with electric mixer. Beat on medium speed until well combined and smooth, about 2-3 minutes. Mix in vanilla extract. Gradually beat in powdered sugar. Increase speed and beat until smooth.

I hope everyone had a great day celebrating our country and remembering our freedom! Happy Birthday America! Independence Day! Fourth of July!
Happy Fourth of July!!!