Sunday, July 4, 2010

Red, White, and Chocolate

I LOVE celebrating Independence Day! Summertime Fireworks make me so happy! The last 2 nights have been popping and cracking with evening fireworks. We are fortunate to see them from our 3rd story windows, but tonight we are headed to the waterside to see a grand illumination!!! The city spares no cost when it comes to pyrotechnic displays, lemmetellya. It's serious!

Typically, we celebrate with quiet time at home! Maybe a trip to the beach, maybe a visit to the "Great American Picnic" in Town Point Park to listen to the Fleet Jazz Ensemble. It's humbling to live in such a large military community. Norfolk is home to the largest Naval Base in the Country, making our city a great melting pot full of culture and diversity. Hampton Roads and the Tidewater area is also home to Army & Air Force Bases, the US Coast Guard, NOAA, the list continues.

Grateful to be able to celebrate this wonderful summertime holiday, we enjoyed a simple late afternoon picnic for our family.

Baked Steak Burgers
Garden Pasta Salad
Fresh Buttery Corn on the Cob
Watermelon Kabobs
Red, White, and Chocolate Cupcakes

Here are a few of my tips for a great summer picnic!
Pre-made patties are a great time saver! I just add some Montreal Steak seasoning to the tops of the burgers and broil on a rack, so the fat drips onto a foil covered pan.
Boxed pasta salad is great. Instead of using the seasoning mix, use a bottle of light italian dressing. Chop fresh veggies, like cucumbers, tomato, and red onion. Toss with your pasta and voila!

Watermelon is one of my favorite summer fruits! We have a hard time eating a whole watermelon by ourselves. Unless you feel like sharing some with your neighbors a you can keep it fresh it by making frozen fruit kabobs.
(This week I found several pounds of fresh fruit on sale! Peaches, grapes, strawberries, watermelon, oranges, apples, bananas. I used the fresh peaches, grapes, strawberries and watermelon sliced into thick chunks and skewered them. Wrap them in foil and freeze. This is a great way for the girls to have a cold treat on a hot day this week and it's healthy! Another way to enjoy these kabobs is with a cup of cold vanilla yogurt.)
These red, white, and chocolate cupcakes are a real treat! I make the basic homemade chocolate cake mix in cupcake form.
Store bought frosting can save some time. A way to jazz it up a little is to add 1 tsp of vanilla extract and 1 tsp of another extract such as almond or rum. Mix it together in a bowl and top your cupcakes. Use sprinkles to decorate. Another way to decorate is with edible glitter and cocoa powder. I chose to use a little bit of hot chocolate mix instead of cocoa. What a great way to use what you have on hand!!
I hope you enjoy celebrating your freedom and the love of this country! Happy 4th of July America!

No comments: