Happy 4th of July
Today is the day for Americans to recognize how fortunate we are to live in “the land of the free,” as it is sung in the Star Spangled Banner. 🇺🇸 A day to watch fireworks, gather with family and friends for a festive cookout or take advantage of the long weekend and take a trip. However you choose to celebrate, I hope that you have a wonderful day.
There are a lot of people who incorporate cookouts into their 4th of July celebrations - and I love a good cookout. I think we can all agree that the grill is magical and it just makes everything taste better. 🌭 You probably think that a cookout wouldn't be my cup of tea, because I'm not a fan of hamburgers or hot dogs. BUT - there are plenty of other grilled foods that I do enjoy at a cookout. Grilled chicken, grilled vegetables, grilled shrimp and last, but certainly not least - turkey burgers! 🍔
If you're a turkey burger fan - you need to bookmark this recipe. (You'll thank me later.) These are by far the best turkey burgers around. I dressed mine up with sautéed onions and mushrooms, a slice of Swiss cheese and some fresh avocado. It's like a salad and a burger - all in one. 😂
1 pound ground turkey
1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
1/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp liquid smoke
1/2 tsp dried Italian herb mix
1/4 tsp black pepper
fresh brioche buns
condiments and toppings
Flip patties and grill until cooked through.
Enjoy your 4th of July and stay safe friends.
I bet you never knew that I was a chicken farmer.🐓 For a brief period of my childhood - my family raised chickens. And my role in our family chicken endeavor was to collect the eggs. 🥚 You're probably picturing a Little House on the Prairie scenario but that isn't quite how it went down. First of all, our house was just outside the suburbs of Cleveland... smack dab in the middle of a subdivision. Secondly, our suburban chickens were great little egg producers but they were also a little mischievous. I'm told that the name for the variety that we owned was "jungle foul" and I'd say that accurately described their demeanor.😅 These free spirited chickens had an unquenchable desire to explore the neighborhood - and they did just that. Despite my dad's best efforts to keep their wings clipped, these determined birds managed to escape their coup on a regular basis.
When the coup was empty, my brother and I would gather up all of our friends from the neighborhood and traverse the subdivision - missing persons style - in an attempt to round up all of the AWOL chickens. It was not uncommon for the residents of our subdivision to see a flock of chickens running down the street, followed closely by a group of screaming kids determined to catch them.🏃🏽♀️ My parents fielded a fair number of calls from neighbors that summer to let them know that they had found chicken eggs in their yard, flower beds and mailboxes. 😬 And now you have a better understanding of my role as egg collector. 😅
Our chicken farming lasted for only a short time but during that season - we had plenty of fresh eggs and we were in the best shape of our lives. 😂 Because of that experience, I have a whole new level of respect for my Georgia friends who raise egg producing chickens in their suburban yards. I've never even seen them chasing a chicken past my house or found a random chicken egg in my garden. 😂
Raising chickens in a suburban Cleveland neighborhood in 1978 was not common practice. But raising backyard chickens in 2022 - very hip and trendy. And I'm not mad about it either because my chicken farming friends are always willing to share their fresh eggs - and I don't have to run all over the neighborhood to collect them. 😅 Fresh chicken eggs deserve to be served in the best way - like on a homemade english muffin and topped with hollandaise sauce.
2 quarts water
2 Tablespoons vinegar
8 Tablespoons butter
3 egg yolks
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 teaspoon salt
6 English muffins
fresh chives, chopped
Press each half into an 8" disk onto a silpat lined baking sheet.
Spoon hollandaise sauce over egg and sprinkle with fresh chives.
This is the second blueberry recipe in a row - you know what that means - THEME week!!! Welcome to Blueberry-palooza friends!🫐 😅
My husband has never been so in board with a recipe theme week. He LOVES blueberries! Over the course of 24 hours, we had Blueberry Cream Pie recipe AND blueberry pancakes and fresh picked blueberries from the blueberry farm. 🥧🥞
I have a blueberry bush that I share with the neighborhood deer that wander through my yard and particularly hungry birds that happen to be passing by my house. By the time the animals fill their bellies, I get only a small portion of the blueberry crop, but I'll take it. I eat the handful of berries that I bring in every few days as an afternoon snack and sometimes I even have enough to sprinkle into a batch of pancakes for a fruity breakfast treat.
Blueberry pancakes are a favorite in this house. We eat A LOT of them. And they're not just reserved for our morning meal. We eat blueberry pancakes in the morning, we eat them for lunch (and call it brunch) and we eat them for dinner. There's really no wrong time of day to indulge in this decadent treat. And if you've never made a batch of homemade pancakes - you don't know what you're missing. 😉
Deluxe Blueberry Pancakes
5 Tablespoons butter
2 cups flour
3 Tablespoons malted milk powder
2 Tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups buttermilk
1 1/2 cups blueberries
1/2 teaspoon oil
Repeat with remaining butter and pancakes.
Cook 1 minute and then flip and cook until second sides are golden brown.
I started making homemade pancakes out of necessity - I couldn't seem to keep pancake mix stocked in my pantry. I kept running out at the worst times - ie. when my family was requesting pancakes. 😬 Then I realized that I could make my own pancake mix that was just as easy and even more delicious than the boxed mixed. And you can you! You may have just bought your last box of pancake mix. I'm fairly certain that once you taste my homemade pancakes you're going to ditch the boxed mixes for good too.
When we first moved to Georgia, back in 2005, I had the brilliant idea to pack up my two young children one June morning and drive them to the local blueberry farm to pick buckets of the fresh, ripe fruit. I can assure you that the idealistic vision that had played out in my head was entirely different from how our blueberry picking experience actually went down . 😅 Here's what I learned about blueberry picking that day:
1. Blueberry bushes are great habitats for bugs - Big bugs, flying bugs, crawling bugs, bugs that bite and sting - all the bugs. 🪲
2. It takes A LOT of tiny blueberries and A LOT of time to fill a bucket. 🪣
3. The blueberries at the bottom of the bushes - ie. the ones the kids can reach - get picked first - so if you want to find more berries, you have to bring a ladder or be willing to hoist kids up in the air for long periods of time. 🪜
4. Blueberries ripen in the hottest months of the summer and waking up early to stand outside in buggy blueberry bushes all morning, makes kids grumpy. 😅
Despite our unpleasant inaugural blueberry picking experience - I haven't give up on the dream of fresh picked Georgia blueberries. In my little corner of the world, blueberries, blackberries and peaches are all ripe and ready for picking this week. 🫐 And as luck would have it, my 23 year old has no memory of the fateful day that I dragged her to the blueberry farm as an innocent 6 year old. So I decided it would be best if I didn't bring it up before I asked if she would go with me to pick blueberries this week, either. 😅 (Yet another reason that I'm thankful for my kids repressed childhood memories.🤣) So with fresh perspective, and a healthy slathering of bug repellent, we headed to the farm - bright and early, to fill our buckets with fresh, summer fruit.
We ended up coming home with a decent supply of fresh blueberries. It was definitely hot and just as buggy as I remembered but still worth it. And now I get to decide how to best enjoy all our fresh blueberries. Pies, cakes, shortcakes, cobblers, ice cream - so many blueberry possibilities. 🤣
My better half is a big fan of all things fruit so it's not hard to find a sweet, fruity treat that he will enjoy. The hardest decision is choosing which blueberry themed treat to make first. After some thoughtful planning, I decided to plan a full day of blueberry indulgence in honor of Father's Day. A batch of blueberry pancakes to kick off the day and a Blueberry Cream Pie to finish off the day.
Blueberry Cream Pie
12 whole graham crackers
2 Tablespoons sugar
6 Tablespoons butter, melted
1/2 cup sugar
4 teaspoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoons salt
4 1/2 cups fresh blueberries
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
8 ounces cream cheese
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup heavy cream
Fill bag with cream and pipe rosettes over pie.
Freshly picked blueberries are not a requirement for this recipe. Really, you don't even need fresh berries at all - you can always substitute frozen berries if that's what's available to you. Happy summer.
It's official - I'm a regular (insert name of famous gardener here.) 😅 The thing is... with the exception of Adam and Eve - I don't actually know of any famous gardeners. 😅 But I'm grateful for all of their anonymous hard work in perfecting these vegetables that I'm able to plant in my garden today.
Here is a little peak into what my garden looks like this week. Eggplant, tomatoes, basil, oregano, and a very big cucumber-less vine with lots of flowers. 😅 🍆🍅🥒🌿 Just ignore the weeds. 🤣
I take great pride in being the caregiver and nurturer of these precious vegetables. I launch into overprotective mamma bear mode the minute someone makes a face after tasting one of my prized vegetables. 🤣 I think it's the time commitment involved in the watering of these plants in oppressive 100 degree temperatures every day that bonds me to them. 💦
I decided to take advantage of all of the fresh vegetables in the backyard and make a dinner from our summer harvest this week. I searched the internet for eggplant/tomato/basil inspiration and it didn't take long before I landed on an eggplant crostini.
Eggplant crostini is an incredible garden fresh appetizer. But, if you're me, it also serves as a complete meal - paired with a nice glass of red wine, of course. 😅🍷 This was truly delicious and I will certainly be making this again - as soon as my next eggplant ripens.
1 zucchini, sliced in half lengthwise
1 medium eggplant, sliced into ¼-inch thick rounds
1 red bell pepper, halved, ribs and seeds removed
3 whole scallions
extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
1 cup halved cherry tomatoes
1 garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon sherry vinegar
1 teaspoon herbs de Provence
¼ cup chopped fresh basil
8 slices of bread, toasted
Spread hummus on toast. Top with vegetable mixture.
Add a sprinkle of shaved parmesan and serve.
Summer never tasted so good. Enjoy!
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