Jul 3, 2012

Easy to prepare food for a fabulous 4th.

I don't cook well but side dishes are easy and fun for me to make. So while my better half mans the grill (too punny?) I make the rest!  Here are my fast favorites:

Roasted Cherry Tomatoes:

  • l 3 lb. cherry tomatoes (red & yellow)     3T olive oil   Salt and pepper   1/4 cup chopped fresh herbs (any)
  • Preheat oven to 450°F. Place tomatoes on a large rimmed baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Shake baking sheet back and forth a few times to coat tomatoes with oil, salt and pepper. Bake, shaking pan once or twice, until tomatoes are softened but not falling apart, 10 to 15 minutes. Sprinkle with herbs while tomatoes are still warm. Spoon into a bowl and pour in any juices that have accumulated in bottom of pan, and serve.
  • Lettuce Wedges with Dressing
  • 1 T grated lemon zest (opt)    2 T lemon juice  1 T honey Salt and pepper 1C mayo  2 heads iceberg lettuce
  • Combine grated lemon zest, lemon juice, honey, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Add 2 Tbsp. hot water and mix well. Add mayonnaise and stir until smooth. (Dressing can be made up to 3 days in advance; cover and refrigerate.)  Cut lettuce into quarters (wedges). Arrange wedges on plates or a serving platter. Drizzle dressing over each, sprinkle with pepper, if desired, and serve. Serve with remaining dressing.
Fancy Cupcakes

You can make your own, buy a good quality mix, or start with plain from the bakery shop. Instant frosting is easiest but you also make from scratch or whip cream (like my Mom does) just before serving.  The key is not to top them too far in advance or they will get soggy.

12 - 24 cupcakes in a single or assorted flavors
1 tub of pre-made vanilla or cream cheese frosting
2 pints blueberries or blackberries
2 pints strawberries or red raspberries

Wash fruit and allow to dry. Be sure cupcakes are completely cool before frosting. Use a spatula an plop about 2T of frosting onto each cupcake. Add center strawberry and surround with 5-6 blueberries (depends on the size of your cupcake).

Grilled Citrus Corn on the Cob

  • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened         1 T each grated orange & lime zest                2 T lemon juice         16 ears fresh corn         2 T olive oil     salt & pepper
  • In a large bowl, combine butter, orange zest, lime zest and lemon juice. Beat with a handheld mixer or a wooden spoon until blended. (Butter can be made up to 2 days in advance. Cover and refrigerate; remove from fridge 15 minutes before serving to soften.) Prepare a charcoal grill and let burn until coals are glowing, or set a gas grill to medium-high. Shuck corn, discarding husks and silk. Brush with a small amount of olive oil and place on hot grill. Cook, turning often, until slightly charred in spots and soft, 5 to 10 minutes. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place corn on a large platter and top with a small scoop of butter. Serve remaining butter on the side.
Watermelon & Blue Cheese
1  (12- to 14-pound) seedless watermelon        2 champagne vinegar       2 extra-virgin olive oil    Salt and pepper      4 OZ blue cheese, crumbled
Cut watermelon in half crosswise. Place each piece, cut side down, on cutting board and cut in half from top to bottom. Cut each piece lengthwise into 3 wedges. Cut off peel from each piece and cut each piece into 1/2-inch-thick triangles. Place watermelon triangles in large bowl. In small bowl, whisk vinegar, oil, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper; drizzle over watermelon salad. Add blue cheese and toss very gently to coat. To serve, divide among 12 large paper cups or small bowls, or decoratively arrange on large serving platter.

Light Potato Salad

4 pound(s) small red potatoes, cut in quarters      Salt and pepper     1/4 cup dry white wine   1/2 cup low-fat buttermilk   
1/4 cup light mayo     1 Dijon mustard    
1 cup packed fresh basil leaves          Chopped chives, for garnish
In 8-quart saucepan, place potatoes and enough cold water to cover by 2 inches. Cover and heat to boiling on high. Add 1 teaspoon salt. Cover and reduce heat to medium-low; simmer 8 to 10 minutes or until tender. Drain well and transfer to large bowl. To bowl with potatoes, add wine and 1 tablespoon lemon juice. Toss gently until well mixed. Cool to room temperature. 
Prepare dressing: In large measuring cup, with wire whisk, stir buttermilk, mayonnaise, mustard, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, and remaining 3 tablespoons lemon juice until well blended. (Dressing can be made up to 3 days ahead. Cover and refrigerate.) To bowl with potatoes, add dressing and basil. Toss gently until evenly coated. Garnish with chives.