Fourth of July

flagtrifleThe Fourth of July—or Independence Day as it is more officially known—has always been a celebratory day in my family. It's partly because my birthday is on the 2nd and the local Barnum Parade always takes place around that date. As a kid I remember getting up early and excitedly readying myself for the party and parade. My cousins would come over and we would spread a blanket on the sidewalk to watch the parade. My mother would stay home to prepare fried chicken and potato salad. My dad would grill hamburgers and hot dogs once we got back. And of course the celebration always ended with a great big birthday cake.



For me any celebration, party, or simple gathering cannot end properly without dessert. Dessert may come last in the succession of a meal, but it should never be considered the least important. Even after filling our bellies to the brim with wonderful food, there's always room for dessert. A sweet concoction like cake or ice cream is the ideal ending to an old-fashioned backyard barbecue. You don't want something heavy, but also not something too light. Still it should be rich yet refreshing.

I always take the opportunity to make a special dessert for a special occasion, such as this flag cake.



This recipe is a twist on trifle, the classic British no-bake dessert, but assembled like an Italian tiramisu. What could be funnier on a day that celebrates independence from Britain? I can't help but think about all the different cakes I ate every single birthday. This one is probably the most festive.

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chilidogDid you know July is National Hot Dog Month?

I guess it makes sense since this is the month when Nathan's Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest takes place.  I think this year, fifty-nine hot dogs were eaten in 10 minutes and then an overtime round was required because of a tie.  Ack!  Fifty-nine dogs plus the tie-breaker round...no thanks!

We don't have hot dogs around here very often, but when we do, we like them slathered with chili and cheese.  And not just any chili, it has to be sweet and super tangy.  I love chili with cumin and cayenne but not on a hot dog. I prefer something that really forces my taste buds to stand up and salute.  This is why I came up with this recipe.  Hold me.

These chili-dogs have an amazing burst of flavor like you have never tasted before.  The tang gives you this awesome puckering sensation in your mouth but in a very good way.  It's not overpowering, it's just right.

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While eating at a pretty divey but good bbq joint in the industrial section of town, I was missing you terribly and smiling because I kept hearing an old conversation of ours in my head...

bbqsign.jpg

AMY
I'm starving.  What should we eat?

LISA
Something light, I think. 
I'm only slightly hungry.

AMY
Ok.  How about BBQ?

LISA
That's your idea of something light?

AMY
Oh, you know me.

LISA
Yep.

Wish you were here with me. 
Hope all is well.
Love, Lisa

Fourth of July CakeThis recipe is actually Ina Garten's recipe for her 4th of July Flag cake. It is one of the BEST tasting cakes and frostings out there.

It was my intention to make this into a flag cake but at the last minute could not find my large star tip for my pastry bag to make the stripes and stars so I improvised and just decorated the cake as is.  It turned out beautiful.

If you are having a large gathering this summer make this amazing cake, you can decorate it with anything you like and it feeds an army.

All my fruit came from local farm stands so it was extra delicious. Happy summer entertaining!

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