Happy July 4th!

July 4th Flag Cake

Happy July 4th to everyone! I hope you have a fun and safe day celebrating with family and friends.

I’ve seen this cake for a few years floating around numerous blogs and websites on the Internet. Last year, I was mesmerized after watching a short Instagram video from All Recipes on how to make this infamous July 4th Flag Cake. I then bought all the ingredients: multiple cake boxes, food coloring, eggs, oil and frosting. Unfortunately, after all of the hard work of baking multiple layers, carefully assembling the cake and frosting it to the finish, two of my layers of cake crumbled and half of the July 4th Flag Cake slide off the cake stand! This caused me to scramble to make a July 4th-themed dessert at the last minute. While all was completely fine in the end, I was a bit bummed that this cool treat hadn’t worked out the way I wanted.

This year, I was determined to redeem the past year’s epic failure. Luckily, it worked out marvelously. Take a peek below!

July 4th Flag Cake

Want to make this cake next year for July 4th? Find the recipe from All Recipes here: American Flag Cake.

Here are a few tips to baking a successful July 4th Flag Cake:

1. Cake: If you decided to use the boxed kinds of cake, make sure to buy several boxes (and, potentially an extra just in case!). The reason why is this: you don’t want to be stuck without a layer if one of your cake layers doesn’t happen to come out perfectly from the cake pan.

2. Frosting: Use frosting that is light and fluffy. It gives the cake a nice texture and adds some depth to the layers of cake (I used Pillsbury ‘Whipped’ Vanilla Frosting).

3. Red Food Coloring: Make sure the batter for the red layer is actually quite red. It could end up looking more ‘pink’ versus ‘red’ if not enough red food coloring is added.

How did you celebrate your July 4th holiday this year?

Cheers!

July 4th Flag Cake

July 4th Flag Cake

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Watermelon Mint Popsicles

Watermelon Mint Popsicles

Who doesn’t love an inexpensive dessert? Beyond the fact that homemade popsicles can be affordable and easy to make, they are also delicious and many can require just a few ingredients to make a tasty treat.

These specific popsicles, Watermelon Mint Popsicles, only call for four ingredients: watermelon, mint, lemon zest and sugar (*five ingredients if you count the ‘pinch of salt’!). This recipe reminds me of a classic watermelon mint salad, except it just takes the the best flavors from that salad and puts it into dessert form through a popsicle.

What’s your favorite fruit popsicle?

Watermelon Mint Popsicles

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Individual Strawberry Rhubarb Crisps

Individual Strawberry Rhubarb Crisps

Spring is a great season for many reasons, but as it relates to food, it brings about one of my favorite sweet, yet tangy food items: rhubarb. There are so many ways to prepare rhubarb – rhubarb ice cream, rhubarb pie, rhubarb shortbread bars and more – however, I wanted to make a quick dessert this past weekend. I decided upon making an Old-Fashioned Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp. Crisps in general are exceptionally simple, yet yield such fantastic flavors. This recipe was no exception, and I believe the mix of sweet flavors with the strawberries mixed perfectly with the tangy flavors of the rhubarb to create a nice balance that wasn’t too overpowering.

Step 1: Cut Rhubarb and Strawberries

Cutting up rhubarb for Individual Strawberry Rhubarb Crisps

Step 2: Combine Rhubarb and
Strawberries with Sugar, Lemon
Juice and Other Ingredients

Combining cut strawberries and rhubarb for Individual Strawberry Rhubarb Crisps

Step 3: Place Rhubarb and Strawberry
Mixture into Individual Rammekins

Putting strawberry-rhubarb mixture into rammekins for Individual Strawberry Rhubarb Crisps

Step 4: Combine Butter with Brown
Sugar, Oats and Other Spices; Place
on Top of Rhubarb-Strawberry Mixture

Adding butter-oat-sugar mixture to the top of fruit for Individual Strawberry Rhubarb Crisps

Step 5: Bake in the Oven and Eat!

Individual Strawberry Rhubarb Crisps

In my opinion, rammekins are just not used enough. When I saw this recipe, I instantly thought of using rammekins in order to create smaller portion sizes for the Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp. This worked great because each person was able to get just enough rhubarb and strawberry flavor, yet didn’t feel too full afterwards.

What’s your favorite rhubarb recipe?

Cheers!

Individual Strawberry Rhubarb Crisps

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Peanut Butter Cookie Ice Cream Sandwiches

Peanut Butter Cookie Ice Cream Sandwiches

It seems like ages have passed since I the last time I had indulged in an ice cream sandwich. The only reason why I did this past weekend was due to my boyfriend suggesting them for a dinner party that we attended. My initial thought was that the idea seemed too plain; however, I was quickly dissuaded after brainstorming through a few different flavor combinations for the ice cream filling and for the cookie itself. We finally settled upon peanut butter (because peanut butter-anything is just always amazing) for the cookie flavor and decided to go a more classic route with vanilla ice cream for the filling. Lastly, we couldn’t forget rolling the ice cream sandwich finished product in chocolate chips. This is a nice dessert that doesn’t require too much effort, yet if planned right, the end result is delicious!

Next time I’d like to invert these flavors and complete a dark chocolate cookie peanut butter swirl ice cream sandwich. Thoughts?

What’s your favorite ice cream sandwich flavor combination?

Cheers!

Peanut Butter Cookie Ice Cream Sandwiches

 

Peanut Butter Cookie Ice Cream Sandwiches

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Braised Chicken with Artichokes and Olives

Braised Chicken with Artichokes and Olives

Sometimes I’ll pick a recipe because it encompasses a favorite ingredient of mine. In this case, the recipe Braised Chicken with Artichokes and Olives, has not just one of my favorite ingredients, but three: artichokes, olives and chickpeas.

As others have recommended in this recipe, I fully agree to double (if not more) the use of spices to enhance the flavor as well as cook for longer. The result is a beautiful blend (although be wary of the intense yellow color that turmeric produces) of flavors and aroma.

Step 1: Slice Olives, Mince Garlic
and Chop Onions

Cutting olives for Braised Chicken with Artichokes and Olives
Step 2: Measure Spices to Use

Getting spices together for Braised Chicken with Artichokes and Olives
Step 3: Cook Chicken for 3 Minutes
Each Side and Remove;
Saute Onions and Garlic

Sauteing Onions for Braised Chicken with Artichokes and Olives
Step 4: Add Chicken Broth and Spices
and Simmer; Add Chicken Back
into Pot with Olives, Artichokes
and Chickpeas; Simmer

Putting spices together for Braised Chicken with Artichokes and Olives
Step 5: Serve and Eat!

Braised Chicken with Artichokes and Olives

As I was making this recipe, I found myself singing the line “… these are a few of my favorite things” over and over as heard from The Sound of Music. Luckily, in this instance, these three ingredients – artichokes, olives and chickpeas – came together nicely into a dish that was flavorful, yet not too heavy or overpowering.

What’s your trio of favorite ingredients that you’ve used lately?

Cheers!

Braised Chicken with Artichokes and Olives

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Mustard Pork with Sage, Hazelnut Topping

Mustard Pork with Sage and Hazelnut Topping
I am definitely a true carnivore at heart and have a great appreciation for trying all different types and cuts of meat. One of my absolute favorites is a well-cooked pork loin. I was drawn to this recipe, Mustard Pork with Sage, Hazelnut Topping, for several reasons, but especially as a result of the hazelnut topping. Over the last few years, I have experimented with pork many times, including different rubs, sauces or relishes, but never with a nut topping.

Hazelnuts are particular tasty and not overly oily which makes them an ideal choice to use in this recipe. The use of mustard combined with a flavorful rub allows the pork to be juicy while the hazelnut topping mixed with sage creates a nice crunch and aroma that fills the kitchen. I served this pork recipe during the holidays for my family and it was crowned an instant hit.

Have you ever added hazelnuts or another type of  nut to pork? Please share in a comment below.

Cheers!

Mustard Pork with Sage and Hazelnut Topping

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Pork Tenderloin with Date and Cilantro Relish

Pork Tenderloin with Date and Cilantro Relish

When done right, combining sweet and savory flavors can result in a nice combination. One of these examples is the use of pork and certain fruits. Some of these include classic examples such as peaches and pork chops, ham and pineapple on a pizza or prosciutto and melon. This specific recipe, Pork Tenderloin with Cilantro Date Relish, smartly uses a very sweet date as a relish but is able to balance the intense sweet flavors with the use of cilantro as well as by adding a nice peppery and salty rub to the pork.

Deemed a winner by all who tried it, this recipe is a nice one to use for a Sunday dinner with family or friends. I’d recommend to add extra cilantro (as shown in the below picture) and add a few cloves of roasted garlic.

What is your favorite fruit and pork combination? Share in a comment below!

Cheers!

Pork Tenderloin with Date and Cilantro Relish

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