The last few years have been rough for all of us. There has been so much division across so many areas in our lives that it can be hard to find common ground. When we think about the relationships we’ve had in our lives, whether it’s been our spouses or our best friends, those relationships were formed because of a common interest shared. This month, we celebrate the Fourth of July. It is an opportunity to come together and celebrate freedom in unity with one another.
Whether you are republican or democrat, the things that make us different can bring us closer together. By being open and receptive to other viewpoints and differences, we can understand others and ourselves better. Let’s embrace the beauty in our differences and celebrate this national holiday together!
My favorite part about Fourth of July is barbecuing. When you have fabulous summer weather and the space to entertain, then you’re going to want to try these amazing recipes.
Mint is not just for mojitos and dessert garnishes anymore. It brightens up the flavor and adds a touch of summer to savory dishes too. If you are using wooden skewers, make sure you soak them for at least 30 minutes, so they do not burn on the grill.
Minted Greek Chicken
- 1 1/2 lb skinless boneless chicken breast halves, cut into 1-inch cubes
- 2 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 clove garlic, crushed
- 1 teaspoon dried mint
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1 bunch fresh mint
- 1 red onion, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 8 12-inch metal or wooden skewers
- Cut chicken into 1-inch pieces.
- Mix chicken, 1 tablespoon olive oil, garlic, mint, oregano, salt, and pepper in a medium bowl. Cover and marinate in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to 24 hours.
- Whisk remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil and lemon juice in a small bowl.
- Preheat grill to medium high heat.
- Pull off large mint leaves from stems. Alternate chicken, onion, and mint leaves on skewers. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
- Grill kebabs until chicken is cooked through, turning and basting with lemon-oil mixture, about 9-10 minutes.
These muffins are a hit with everyone, 8 or 88! If you bake up a batch for your Fourth of July part, make sure you eat one before putting them out, because they will be gone in a flash! For really special occasions, I add a pound of diced cooked lobster meat instead of tomatoes.
Heirloom Mac and Cheese Muffins
- 1-pound whole wheat elbow macaroni
- 4 teaspoons olive oil
- 1 shallot, finely diced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1½ cups half-and-half
- 1½ cups 1% milk
- 3 tablespoons unsalted organic butter
- 5 tablespoons whole wheat flour
- 1-pound sharp Cheddar cheese, grated
- ½ pound Gruyère cheese, grated
- 1 tablespoon coarse sea salt
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 3 large heirloom tomatoes, diced
- ¼ cup seasoned dried breadcrumbs
- 3 teaspoons minced fresh thyme leaves
Preheat the oven to 375°F. Coat three 12-cup muffin pans (disposable aluminum pans will work fine for this) with cooking spray.
In a large pot of boiling water, cook the pasta until al dente, according to package directions. Drain well.
Meanwhile, heat 1 teaspoon of the oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Add the shallot and garlic and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes. Set aside.
Combine the half-and-half and milk in a small saucepan and heat over medium heat; do not let boil. Keep warm.
Heat the butter and 2 teaspoons of the oil in a large pot over low heat. Whisk in the flour and cook, whisking frequently, until the mixture thickens and turns a very pale yellow, about 5 minutes. Add the sautéed shallot-garlic mixture and the warmed milk mixture and gently stir until the mixture thickens, 2 to 4 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the Cheddar, Gruyère, salt, and pepper. Add the cooked macaroni and stir to combine. Fold in the chopped tomatoes.
Mix the remaining 1 teaspoon oil with the breadcrumbs in a small bowl. Fill each muffin cup about three-fourths full with the pasta mixture and sprinkle each muffin with breadcrumbs.
Bake until the sauce bubbles and the macaroni has browned, 30 to 35 minutes. Cool for 5 minutes. Serve garnished with the thyme.
(Makes about 36 muffins)
Consider this dessert the carbohydrate portion of a healthful summer “pc combo” meal. Peach cobbler is a fantastic ending to a meal of grilled fish or chicken. If you can’t find white peaches, use yellow; it will be just as delicious!
Peach Bing Cherry Cobbler
- 4 medium white peaches, peeled, pitted, and cubed
- 2 cup Bing cherries, pitted
- juice of 1 lemon
- 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
- 1/4 cup organic palm sugar
- 2 tablespoon whole wheat flour
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, ground
- 1 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
- 1/3 cup organic palm sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 3 tablespoon unsalted organic butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
- 1/2 cup low fat buttermilk
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 tablespoon sugar in the raw (also called turbinado sugar)
- Preheat oven to 400°. Coat an 8”x8” square baking dish with butter flavored cooking spray.
- In a bowl combine peaches, cherries, lemon juice, lemon zest, sugar, and cinnamon. Toss and coat fruit evenly. Pour into a prepared baking dish. Bake at 400° for 15 minutes.
- While the fruit is baking make the topping. Combine dry ingredients into a medium size mixing bowl.
- Add chilled butter by cutting it into small pieces with a pastry blender or by cross cutting with two knives.
- Next, add reduced fat buttermilk and water stirring until the batter is slightly moist.
- Remove fruit from the oven and using a medium sized serving spoon place 8 dollops of topping evenly over fruit.
- Leave a one-inch border around the baking dish. Sprinkle dough with sugar in the raw (also called turbinado sugar).
- Bake for an additional 25 minutes or until top is golden brown and fruit filling is bubbling.
NOTE: A dessert like this is always meant to be part of a PC Combo. If you don’t know what that is, you better check out my books!
If you’re not a huge fan of peaches, try this Pear sorbet (for adults only). Bartlett pears work especially well for this sorbet because they have a sweet yet subtle hint of tartness that pairs (no pun intended) nicely with the pinot grigio. If you cannot find Bartlett pears, experiment with a different variety. You can make this up to 1 week ahead.
Tipsy Pear Sorbet
- 1 lemon
- ½ cup low glycemic sweetener like Coconut Palm Sugar
- 1¼ pounds Bartlett pears, unpeeled, cored, and cut into cubes
- 3⁄4 cup pinot grigio or other dry white wine
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- Mint leaves, for garnish
With a vegetable peeler, peel off thin strips of lemon zest to use as a garnish. Juice the lemon.
Combine 1 cup of water and sweetener in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the pears and reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook, partially covered, until the pear cubes are very tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the lemon juice, wine, and salt.
Press the pear mixture and cooking liquid through a fine mesh strainer or pass through a food milk into a bowl to remove the skins. Whisk to blend evenly.
Pour the puree into a 9 x 13-inch glass baking dish and freeze for 20 minutes. Pour into an ice cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturer’s instructions until thickened, 25 to 30 minutes. For a firmer texture, transfer to an airtight container and freeze for another 8 hours before serving.
Serve garnished with a twist of lemon zest and fresh mint leaves.
You can also try my Cocoberry Cupcakes, which are red, white, and blue – perfect for the Fourth of July holiday. I also have perfect side dish recipes like Grilled Endive and Grilled Fruit Kabob with Acai Icelandic Yogurt Dip that are perfect for any grilling party!
Don’t forget to be safe if you are going to be using fireworks and keep your furry family members secure and comforted when festivities are happening, so they are not anxious throughout the night.
Let’s embrace the beauty of our differences rather than arguing about our differences. Let’s listen to one another, opening ourselves up to learning more about each other. Remember: United We Stand, Divided We Fall.