July 4th Recipes

I can’t remember the last 4th of July  where I didn’t go to a BBQ or watch fireworks somewhere.

As a young child at sleep away camp, there were always some sort of red, white, and blue festivities with equally pleasing patriotic cookies coupled with red, white and blue bug juice.

Since then, I’ve always tried to be patriotic on the festive day.  Before I really got jazzed about cooking, that simply meant buying American flags for my kids to wave around.

However, now that my pantry is actually stocked, it’s fun to show our true colors and help ring in the Red, White and Blue through food.

Need some ideas for your celebration?

Click on the links below for  some tasty 4th of July recipes that are also fun activities for the entire family:

Red, White and Blueberry Mini Whoopie Pies

 

Flag Pizza

Patriotic Strawberries

No Bake Strawberry Pie

Green Pea Guacamole

greenpeaguacamole

Is there anything better than freshly-made guacamole in the summertime?

Apparently, New York Times food columnist Melissa Clark sparked outrage across social media yesterday after publishing a recipe that encourages English peas to be used as a replacement for avocados into the traditional guacamole dish.

Everyone from President Obama to Jebb Bush weighed in on twitter; it seemed as if no one was willing to support the mushy green replacement for the vibrant creamy avocados (even though the local drought out west has been drying up the California avocado crop and subsequently their prices have skyrocketed in stores).

Where do I net out?

Well, I made a Green Pea Guacamole last year and will admit that the new variety was a beautifully vibrant and well-received dish for all of my guests. However, I must admit, I did compromise.  I added green peas in addition to the avocado which rendered a nice sweet compliment to the warmth of the avocado.  In fact, the peas’ lacy sweetness might even make you raise your eyebrow and say, “Aha, this is good.”

Honestly, simply add in some coarse sea salt, hot sauce  and then serve your dip with blue corn chips and you’re set for a wonderful variation on a celebrated dip.

Walk into a party with Green Pea Guacamole and I promise you’ll definitely get the attention you deserve– hopefully not with a tweet from Obama or Bush!

I loved the Green Pea Guacamole and will definitely make it again but no one can deny that freshly-made guacamole with Haas avocados (my fave) is unrivaled.

Have you seen my video on how to make tradition quacamole?  If not, watch here, it’s way too easy:

 And, you will certainy enjoy the Green Pea Guacamole too!

Shrimp with Tomato and Feta

roasted shrimp with tomatoes and feta cheese

“The moment a child is born, the mother is also born.  She never existed before.  The woman existed, but the mother, never.  A mother is something absolutely new” Rajneesh

 

I never needed my mother more than the very first day I became a mother.

The day I delivered my daughter Maddy (who’s now 13!), I worked from 8:00a-6:00p and complained of cramps from 8:00a-6:00p.

How was I supposed to know I was in labor?

It was two weeks before my due date and I had never had labor pains before.  It was also the hottest day on record for April 17th, 2002.  The mercury rose to 92 degrees and unfortunately for me, I was only outfitted in maternity clothes appropriate for winter and early spring.

So, stretching a regular-sized small tank top over my 9-month pregnant belly was not an easy task.  Hence the cramps all day, right?

Fast-forward to 11:35p (that same day). I was holding my very healthy, beautiful, blue-eyed baby girl. And, one day later, I headed home panicked that I had a beautiful blue-eyed baby that was MINE.

MINE to bathe.  MINE to feed.  MINE to console.  MINE. MINE. MINE. MINE. MINE.

Help.

I was the youngest of three.  I was always the one babied.  Even when I was leaving for college, my mom packed with/for me (ask my sister if she packed for her).  Reluctantly I took my baby out of the car in her little snap-n-go, traveled up to my apartment carrying the “unwieldy load,” opened the door, and in that moment everything calmed.

I was engulfed by the sweetest smells.

The music playing.

The nursery set and read-to-go–and Mom in the kitchen.

Thanks to Mom –Mommy Poppins—I felt coddled, comforted, safe and more primed to face my newest challenge: motherhood.

She committed herself to be my confidante, post-partum punching bag, chef, shoulder-to-cry on, stroller walking partner, dirty-diaper changer and much more for my first two weeks home.  Two weeks of advice, comfort, wisdom and companionship with a very healthy newborn.  For those two weeks I felt more like a very lucky daughter than a new mother.

It’s strange to think that certain food smells can be reassuring.

I remember the sweet tomatoes and garlic wafting from the stove and how they immediately made me sense Mom’s presence the moment I crossed the threshold of our door.  These smells confirmed to me that I was going to be okay—at least for the two weeks Mom was staying with me.

Mom’s Shrimp with Feta and Tomato Sauce was all we needed for our “first meal.” It pre-empted  any type of potential stress associated with parenthood.  That night, we only relished in the good food being served rather than on the fear associated with the parental unknown.

That civilized meal earmarked our first night home as new parents about to begin our uncharted journey.

I decided to cook Mom’s Shrimp with Tomato and Feta dish for our first weekend night home alone as a family of two without my daughter and son who left for sleep away camp for 7 weeks!

I needed to cook something soothing and obviously this dish came to mind.  I was thrilled that I had all the ingredients on hand except for the shrimp.  The prep time was a breeze but equally emotional as I envisioned Mom prepping this meal in my apartment kitchen, anticipating my arrival from the maternity ward.

Shrimp prepped and waiting….

It wasn’t until I was staring down at my own skillet bubbling full of the familiar ripe tomatoes, garlic, shrimp and wine sauce that I felt transported back to April 2002– when I first crossed into my apartment not just as someone’s daughter but as a mother too.

The meal is always bittersweet for me as it is a constant reminder of  how intense it is has been for me to be a mother without having my own mother.

Mom and my daughter - although sick with only a cold at that point, nothing would stop her from helping out.

Mom and my newborn (circa 2002) – although sick with only a cold at that point, nothing would stop her from helping out.

 

Summer Broccoli Salad

broccolisalad

When I’m in a pinch for green side for a meal, I go to broccoli. Usually it’s served sautéed with some olive oil, sea salt and a sprinkle of fresh Parmesan cheese.

During the dog days of summer, cool broccoli for crunch in a salad definitely sounds more appealing than some warm sautéed broccoli.

Fresh chilled broccoli salad is an ideal side to any lunch picnic or dinner. With raisins, raw broccoli, BACON, some red onions and a bit of mayonnaise, it satisfies all the taste buds and more! And, it tastes just as good the following day.

The confluence of the sweet, salty, creamy flavors is insane.

Just another side dish add to your repertoire.  Feel free to experiment with other vegetable additions and share here.

Try it!

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