Happy 4th of July! Happy Weekend!

fireworksIt’s a great day to celebrate our country’s independence, and to celebrate independence in general. We take for granted the rights we have in this country to make our own choices, and to choose those who enact those choices for us. We have the freedom to live where we want, cross our state borders freely, speak our minds and interact with the rest of the world. We should never forget that we are fortunate to be citizens of, and to live in, this country, nor forget the price and the responsibility of protecting our freedom to do so.

Today in America is all about celebrating liberty and freedom. And celebrate we will!

Here are some great dishes to share that are worthy of a celebration…or worthy of a weekend shared with family and friends. Whether you need inspiration for an appetizer, a salad, side, main dish or dessert, you can find it below. Click on the name under each image to link to its recipe.

Cheers, everyone! May those of you in the United States of America have a wonderful and safe Independence Day, and may all of you out there have a fantastic weekend.

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Deep South Deviled Eggs

You know you want one of these!

You know you want one of these!

Italian Sliders

This is what the patties should look like once off the grill, and see? They are juicy!

Sundried Tomato and Basil Turkey Burgers

Alas, another night shot which really doesn't do these justice, a wrinkle in my cloth, and my little digital camera ran out of space in the middle of shooting...plus I was hungry!

Alas, another night shot which really doesn’t do these justice, a wrinkle in my cloth, and my little digital camera ran out of space in the middle of shooting…plus I was hungry!

Easy Chicken Enchiladas Verdes

Texas Sheet Cake....you know you want it, you know you're gonna make it!

Texas Sheet Cake….you know you want it, you know you’re gonna make it!

Texas Sheet Cake

Ready for the picnic, cookout or pot luck, this salad has outdoor fun written all over it!

Ready for the picnic, cookout or pot luck, this salad has outdoor fun written all over it!

Couscous Salad

Luscious homemade peach ice cream. I mean really, can there be anything better than this? (A daylight picture perhaps?)

Luscious homemade peach ice cream. I mean really, can there be anything better than this? (A daylight picture perhaps?)

The Best Peach Ice Cream

Now THIS is a southern plate of food that makes me grin like a Cheshire Cat!

Now THIS is a southern plate of food that makes me grin like a Cheshire Cat!

Firecracker Slaw and Corn with Chipotle Butter

With such a fiesta of color, this dish just has to be good!

With such a fiesta of color, this dish just has to be good!

Betsy’s Famous Black Bean and Mango Salad

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Betsy’s Retro Cheese Olive Bites and Bacon Wrapped Dates with Apricot and Pistachio

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Curried Chicken Salad

Tarragon Pecan Chicken Salad on Brioche Crostini...need I say more? But I will!

Tarragon Pecan Chicken Salad on Brioche Crostini…need I say more? But I will!

Tarragon Pecan Chicken Salad on Brioche Crostini

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Cornbread Tartlets with BBQ Pork, Sauce and Wickle

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Crustless Summer Squash, Zucchini and Tomato “Pie”

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Peach Melba Pops

finished plate3Mock Maque Choux

The 4th of July all wrapped up in a dessert. Happy Independence Day!

The 4th of July all wrapped up in a dessert. Happy Independence Day!

Star Spangled Peach, Cherry and Blueberry Crumble

 

Rustic Roasted Potato, Broccoli and Corn Chowda!

I could eat this every day.

I could eat this every day.

While our neighbors to the north are digging through snow, we’ve had warmer temps and rain, rain and more rain down here in the South. Not that I’m complaining because it’s so good for the garden. However, there’s enough of a chill in the air to make you want something warming and comforting for dinner…wintery comfort food, in other words.

Not much to harvest in the broccoli and chives category, but still nice to have something from the garden this time of year.

Not much to harvest in the broccoli and chives category, but still nice to have something from the garden this time of year.

The broccoli harvest from my little winter garden was almost laughable, it was so small. There are still some babies on the stalks so I may see more before it’s all said and done, but for the time being…about 3 or 4 bites worth! I wanted to combo it with something where we both could enjoy its flavor, even if there wasn’t enough for a side dish, and that’s how I came up with this lovely chowder. It’s rich without being too heavy, and you can easily omit the bacon for a vegetarian option, if you want or need to do so. You just can’t go wrong with anything that combines roasted potatoes, broccoli, sweet corn, onions, and a creamy base topped with a little sprinkle of bacon for good measure. You just can’t!

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Roasting adds much depth to the flavor of the chowder.

Roasting the potatoes and broccoli adds a ton of depth and flavor to this chowder. Leaving the skins on the potatoes adds a rustic touch!

Rustic Roasted Potato, Broccoli and Corn Chowder
Serves 6

1 lb. red skinned potatoes, washed, scrubbed and cut into bite sized pieces, skin on
1 lb. Yukon gold potatoes, washed, scrubbed and cut into bite sized pieces, skin on
2 cups broccoli florets (I just used my smaller amount, but 2 cups is better!)
1 Tablespoon olive oil + 1 teaspoon
Kosher salt and freshly black ground pepper to taste
3 Tablespoons fresh thyme leaves, divided
1 large sweet onion, chopped (1 1/2 cups)
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
2 Tablespoons flour
4 cups 1% milk
1/2 cup cream
1 1/2 cups low sodium chicken stock, preferably homemade
2 cups frozen corn kernels
1 Tablespoon fresh chives, minced
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
A few grinds of black pepper
(Optional) Garnish of 3 slices of applewood smoked bacon, cooked until crisp, drained and set aside

Cover a cookie sheet in foil and grease it with a little olive oil. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Place the cut potatoes on the foil and toss them with the 1 tablespoon of olive oil, some kosher salt and pepper and 1 tablespoon of the thyme. Roast them in the oven for about 15 minutes, then give them a stir, then roast them for about 8 more minutes, or until the potatoes are starting to become tender when pricked with a fork and beginning to brown. Toss the broccoli florets in 1 teaspoon of oil and add them to the potatoes, then roast another 6-8 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside.

While the potatoes and broccoli are roasting, melt the butter in the bottom of a dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until it’s translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the flour to the butter and onion and cook the flour, stirring constantly, for about a minute or two, then add the milk slowly, stirring, then the cream, chicken stock and corn. Add the roasted potatoes and broccoli to the pot, then the chives, remaining thyme, cayenne pepper and salt, and bring to a simmer. Allow the chowder to cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Taste for seasoning, adding a few grinds of black pepper. Serve hot in bowls and crumble 1/2 slice of bacon on top of each serving, if desired.

Can’t Beat the Heat? Try Firecracker Slaw and Corn with Chipotle Butter

Now THIS is a southern plate of food that makes me grin like a Cheshire Cat!

It’s said that you can beat the heat by eating spicy foods on a hot day. And as we all know, folks in many parts of the world employ this method in their cooking to induce sweat, which cools the body. So seein’ as how we’ve averaged at least 100 dry degrees around here for days on end, I’ll try anything, and fighting heat with heat works for me!

Of course I just happen to really enjoy spicy foods, which is a plus. As a child and for a long time after that, I couldn’t tolerate spicy, but once I developed a tolerance there was no stopping me! Since we celebrated Independence Day here this week with fireworks and cookouts, it seemed the perfect time to invent something new to enjoy the festivities in style, and that something was my Firecracker Slaw. Continue reading