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Archive for July 4th

JULY 4th: Red Velvet Cupcakes Recipe In Red, White & Blue

Red velvet, white frosting, blue berries.
Photo courtesy Wholesome Sweeteners.


These festive July 4th cupcakes combine popular red velvet cake with red and blue berries and white frosting (cream cheese!) Thanks to Wholesome Sweeteners, purveyors of organic and Fair Trade sugar, for the recipe. It makes 24 cupcakes.



  • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1½ cups sugar
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 2-1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk*
  • 1 to 1½ tablespoons red food coloring (depending on how vivid
    you prefer your red)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Cream cheese frosting (recipe)
  • Berries or chocolate morsels for topping

    *You can make your own buttermilk by adding a tablespoon of lemon juice or distilled white vinegar to milk and letting it stand for about 10 minutes. If you buy a quart, check the bottom of this article for other ways to use buttermilk.


    1. PREHEAT. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Cream the sugar and butter with an electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Scrape the sides of the bowl frequently throughout this recipe’s preparation.

    2. COMBINE. Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat until each is fully incorporated. Be sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl to ensure even mixing. In a large bowl, sift together the dry ingredients. Resift twice, making sure that the dry ingredients are well blended.

    3. BLEND. In another bowl whisk together the buttermilk, red food coloring and vanilla extract. Add ¼ of the dry ingredients to the creamed mixture and beat on low until just blended; then add a third of the buttermilk mix. Being careful not to overmix. Add another ¼ of the dry mix, then 1/3 of the wet mix, until all are incorporated.

    3. BAKE. Place cupcake papers into a cupcake/muffin tin and fill each about 1/2 to 3/4 full with the batter. Bake for 15 minutes, then rotate the pan and bake for another 3-7 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

    4. COOL. Allow to cool for a minute or two in the pan, then transfer the cupcakes to a wire rack to cool completely.

    5. FROST. Frost with cream cheese frosting. Sprinkle with fresh red and blue berries for July 4th. For Valentine’s Day, dust with cocoa powder or top with a chocolate kiss or other chocolate garnish.

    Makes about 2½ dozen cupcakes–depending on the size of the cupcakes, of course.

    Use a heart-shaped muffin pan.

    Recioe © 2011 Wholesome Sweeteners.



    JULY 4th: Triple Berry Shortcake ~ Red, White & Blue

    What’s red, white and blue—and delicious? A triple berry shortcake!

    You can serve this mixed berry shortcake classic style, with whipped cream, or turn it into an “ice cream shortcake” with vanilla ice cream.

    This recipe is from

    RECIPE: Spiced Triple Berry Shortcake


    For The Berry Filling

  • 2 cups sliced strawberries
  • 1 cup blueberries
  • 1 cup raspberries
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

    Triple Berry Shortcake with ice cream instead of whipped cream. Photo courtesy


    For The Shortcakes

  • 1-1/2 cups reduced fat baking mix
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 6 tablespoons fat free milk
  • Whipped cream or vanilla ice cream

    1. MIX berries and vanilla extract in large bowl. Mix sugar, cinnamon and ginger in small bowl. Sprinkle over berries; toss to coat well. Let stand 30 minutes to allow berries to release their juices, stirring occasionally.

    2. PREHEAT oven to 425°F. Mix baking mix, sugar, cinnamon and ginger in large bowl. Add milk; stir to form a soft dough. (If necessary, knead dough in bowl to incorporate dry ingredients.) Drop dough by 6 spoonfuls onto baking sheet sprayed with no stick cooking spray.

    3. BAKE 10 to 12 minutes or until golden brown. Cool slightly on wire rack. To serve…

    4. SPLIT warm shortcakes. Place 1 shortcake bottom on each plate. Top each with 2/3 cup berry filling and 1/3 cup whipped cream or 1-2 scoops ice cream. Cover with shortcake tops.

    TIP: If you have leftover fruit and cream but no more shortcakes, use up the ingredients on split muffins.



    TIP OF THE DAY: S’mores Bar

    Above: Just one of the options for a s’mores party bar. Image courtesy McCormick.


    Since the Girl Scouts popularized s’mores (the first published recipe is in their 1927 handbook), they have been a happy tradition around the campfire. Two marshmallows toasted on a stick, a square of chocolate and two graham crackers make a delicious chocolate marshmallow sandwich.

    The heat from the toasted marshmallow melts the chocolate a bit to add more lusciousness. The name of the sweet sandwich snack comes from its addictive quality: You’ll always ask for “some more.”

    These days, the grill most often replaces a campfire, but the treat is just as sweet. And the original concept has given way to different riffs on s’mores.

    This set of s’mores-inspired recipes, from McCormick, doesn’t even need a grill. It uses marshmallow creme, and sets up a build-your-own s’mores bar that offers different cookies in additional to graham crackers.

    Want more than a cookie sandwich? Make “ice cream s’mores” by crumbling the cookies and piling the ingredients atop a scoop of vanilla.

    Of course, you can use your own favorites instead of these ideas. Brainstorm with family and friends to come up with winning combinations:

  • Banana Split S’mores: vanilla wafers + vanilla marshmallow creme + chocolate sauce + chopped grilled bananas and strawberries
  • Chocolate Pretzel S’mores: graham crackers + mini chocolate covered pretzels + vanilla marshmallow creme + caramel sauce
  • Peach Melba S’mores: shortbread cookies + vanilla marshmallow creme + raspberry jam + chopped grilled peaches
  • Peanut Brittle S’mores: peanut butter cookies + vanilla marshmallow creme + caramel sauce + toffee bits and chopped peanuts
  • Raspberry Lemon Bar S’mores: sugar cookies + vanilla marshmallow creme + lemon curd + halved raspberries



    We love the combination of chocolate, marshmallow and graham crackers in any combination. You can:

  • Make s’mores on a stick by dipping plain (not toasted) marshmallows in chocolate and rolling them in graham cracker crumbs.
  • Make s’mores pie by filling a graham cracker crust with marshmallow ice cream (see below) and topping with chocolate sauce.
  • Make a s’mores sundae or parfait with marshmallow ice cream (see below), chocolate sauce and crushed graham crackers.
  • Here are variations on the classic s’mores recipe:

  • Cinnamon S’mores & Cappuccino Cocktail
  • Classic S’mores Recipes
  • Grilled Banana S’mores
  • Ice Cream S’mores Recipes
  • S’mores On The Grill

    S’mores sundae: crumble the cookies on top. Photo courtesy


    If you can’t find marshmallow ice cream in the store, here are two ways to create it:

    Vanilla Ice Cream + Marshmallows: Soften a container of vanilla ice cream enough to be pliable, mix in halved mini marshmallows and return to freezer.

    Toasted Marshmallow Ice Cream: For even more flavor, toast the marshmallows first. Here’s a recipe for toasted marshmallow ice cream.



    TIP OF THE DAY: A Red, White & Blue Drink With Iced Tea

    Green iced tea with berries. Photo by Eugene
    Bochkarev | Dreamstime.


    To quench thirsts over July 4th weekend, brew up a special batch of red, white and blue iced tea.

    Use red and blue berries and a white fruit to garnish:

  • Green iced tea
  • Hibiscus iced tea
  • Rooibos (red) iced tea

    White fruits can include:

  • Apple
  • Coconut chips
  • Lychee
  • Pear
    If you don’t want to add a white fruit, default to a white straw!



  • Brew tea correctly. Here’s how to do it.
  • Use tea ice cubes: Make those cubes from the same iced tea, to prevent dilution (recipe). You can also drop a piece of fruit into each compartment of the ice cube tray.

    Take our iced tea trivia quiz.

    Learn all about tea in our Gourmet Tea Section.

    Talk tea like a pro: See our Tea Glossary.


    Tart and terrific hibiscus iced tea. For a fourth of July drink, substitute red, white and blue fruits for the lime. Photo courtesy Republic Of Tea.




    PRODUCT: Funfetti Stars & Stripes Pancake Mix

    Funfetti for a fun July 4th.Photo by Elvira
    Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.


    If you’re planning July 4th festivities, start with breakfast. Hungry Jack has a patriotic pancake mix for Independence Day: Funfetti Stars & Stripes Pancake Mix.

    There are neither stars nor stripes in the mix, but teeny red and blue candy bits* that provide specks of color. They’re too small to add significant flavor or texture to the pancakes, but they are, as the product name says, fun. And the pancakes are delicious.

    If you want to make more of an impact, you can make special July 4th pancakes with:

  • Dried raspberries and blueberries
  • Fresh blueberries and diced fresh strawberries
  • Red, white and blue star sprinkles or non-pareils

    Check out all the different types of pancakes in our Pancake & Waffle Glossary.


    *Ingredients include sugar, cornstarch, vegetable oil, confectioner’s glaze, canuba wax and color.



    JULY 4th: American Flag Cherry-Blueberry Pie

    As American as blueberry and cherry pie.
    Photo courtesy Centerville Pie Company.


    If you’re planning for July 4th festivities, here’s a fun food idea from Centerville Pie Company of Centerville, Massachusetts: an American flag pie.

    Prepare your favorite blueberry and/or cherry pie recipe. The Centerville Pie bakers fill the pie crust 3/4 with cherry filling, and use blueberry filling in the upper left corner. Then, they simply cut the top crust in strips to resemble the stripes in the flag.

    You can also use whipped cream to create “stars” on the upper left corner.

    Centerville Pie Company is happy to ship a pie to you, and pie lovers will really enjoy looking at all of the delicious pies on the website.





    TIP OF THE DAY: Gourmet Hot Dog Recipes

    The Atlanta Dog: just peachy! Photo courtesy


    If you own a grill, chances are you’ll be using it this weekend to make hot dogs and other favorites. For a gourmet hot dog experience, Applegate Organic and Natural Meats—whose hot dogs count among our favorites—has provided some very special recipes.

    Here are 13 recipes representing cities nationwide.

    ATLANTA DOG: Vidalia Onion & Peach Relish

    It’s impossible to think of Georgia without imagining orchards full of peach trees and fields of sweet onions. In the ATL, they come together into one delicious hot dog topping. Pickled jalapeños bring the tang and heat to a fresh, juicy relish On the side: sweet tea, of course. Recipe.

    BOISE DOG: Baked Potato “Bun” With Bacon, Sour Cream & Chives

    At first glance, this specialty of The City Of Trees might look like a regular hot dog set-up. But look again, and you’ll see a fluffy baked potato standing in for the bun: a fitting homage to the Idaho potato! Recipe.


    BOSTON DOG: Baked Beans, Crumbled Bacon & Chopped Onions

    There‘s a double hit of bacon on this dog from Beantown: both cooked with the beans and crumbled on top. Recipe.

    CINCINNATI Dog: Cincinnati Chili, Cheddar Cheese & Onions

    The Queen City is keen on chili dogs. Cincinnati-style chili—mildly spiced and very meaty—makes an ideal hot dog topper. Keep some in the freezer and pull it out any time you need a fix. Recipe.


    COLUMBIA, S.C. OOG: Pimiento Cheese, Yellow Mustard & Diced Onions

    In The Capital of Southern Hospitality, pimiento cheese is a Southern classic, and its sharp creaminess turns out to be a natural with hot dogs. Recipe.

    DENVER DOG: Green Chile, Red Onions, Jalapeños & Sour Cream

    The Mile-High City deserves a hot dog with miles of flavor. A touch of sour cream tames the heat of roasted green chile sauce, chopped onions, and jalapeños. Recipe.

    HONOLULU DOG: Pineapple Relish, Lemon-Garlic Mayo & Starfruit

    Hot dog stands in Hawaii offer a range of tropical toppings—think relishes made from coconut, mango or papaya. This recipe, inspired by The Big pineapple, pairs a snappy pineapple relish with a cool lemony mayo and slices of starfruit. Aloha! Recipe.

    LOS ANGELES DOG: Red Cabbage & Scallion Slaw, Kimchi & Sesame Mayo

    The City of Angels is a city of many cultures and cuisines. Based on the now-famous Kogi Dog from the original Kogi food truck in L.A., this hot dog explodes with flavors and textures: fiery, tangy, creamy, crisp, nutty. A squirt of sriracha sauce completes the Asian theme. Recipe.


    The Boise Dog: adapting a baked potato to a hot dog. Photo courtesy Applegate.


    NEW ORLEANS DOG: Muffuletta Olive Salad

    The Big Easy is known for its flavorful food. A favorite local condiment—finely chopped salad of olives, pickled vegetables, garlic and capers—makes a vinegary counterpoint to meaty dogs. Recipe.

    NEW YORK CITY DOG: New York City: Sauerkraut & Spicy Mustard

    The Big Apple chooses a classic combination of crisp, vinegary kraut and spicy brown mustard. It’s so simple, yet so good. Recipe.

    PHILADELPHIA DOG: Pepper Hash & Spicy Mustard

    Pepper hash, a traditional accompaniment to hot dogs in the City of Brotherly Love, is a sweet, vinegary slaw. Sometimes the hot dogs are served with a smashed fish and potato cake, too, but you can simply finish your dog with a drizzle of spicy mustard. Recipe.

    SAN FRANCISCO DOG: Carrot, Cucumber & Radish Salad With Herb Mayonnaise

    Inspired by the incredible produce available in the Bay Area, this colorful salad topping is refreshing and beautiful. The green herb-flecked mayo adds a touch of richness to this Fog City dog. Recipe.

    TAMPA DOG: Cuban-Style With Ham, Swiss & Pickles

    There’s no guava on this hot dog from The Big Guava. Instead, locals adapt the traditional Cuban sandwich combo of ham, Swiss and pickles to the hot dog. Recipe.


    Hopefully, Applegate will post the recipes to these yummy dogs, which you can see in a video on the website: Baltimore, Chicago, Des Moines, Kennebunkport, Las Vegas, Memphis, Pittsburgh, Portland, San Antonio, Santa Fe and Seattle.

    Enjoy the holiday weekend!



    TIP OF THE DAY: Bacon Makes It Better

    Bacon cole slaw with Wisconsin blue cheese. Photo courtesy


    If you’re looking for a way to change up your summer cole slaw and potato salad, we recommend bacon (or vegetarian bacon). Or, you can substitute the vegetarian, kosher Baconnaise, a bacon-flavored mayonnaise we love. Real bacon or faux flavor, the smokiness adds a level of deliciousness.

    We presented a variation of this “red, white and blue” cole slaw recipe for Independence Day, but we didn’t add the bacon.

    Yesterday we found ourselves with a package of Niman Ranch bacon and this recipe from We made it and declared it a hit.



  • 6 cups cabbage, shredded (a large head provides up to 10
  • 6 slices bacon, fried, drained and crumbled
  • 3/4 cup (4 ounces) crumbled blue cheese
  • 1 pint (2 cups) cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 3/4 cup prepared slaw dressing
  • For Slaw Dressing

  • 1-1/4 cup mayonnaise (we really like Trader Joe’s)
  • 1/4 cup cider or white wine vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon celery seed
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • Salt to taste
  • Optional: 1 tablespoon sugar (used to cut the tartness of the vinegar, but if you’re cutting back on sugar, leave it out)

    1. DRESSING. Combine all ingredients in a jar; cap and shake well. Refrigerate for an hour or longer to let the flavors blend.

    2. COMBINE. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl; mix well.

    3. CHILL. Refrigerate for at least an hour to let the flavors blend.


  • Adapt the recipe to potato salad using the same dressing. We add diced bell peppers (any and all colors) and red onion to our potato salad.
  • Use wasabi mayonnaise (make your own or buy Trader Joe’s or The Ojai Kitchen’s) or other flavored mayonnaise. The Ojai Cook, a NIBBLE Top Pick Of The Week, makes a variety of flavors of lemon-accented Lemonaise, available on Choices include:
    Cha Cha Chipotle Lemonaise
    Fire & Spice Lemonaise (tomato, cayenne and cumin)
    Garlic Herb Lemonaise
    Green Dragon Lemonaise (wasabi)
    Latin Lemonaise With Chiles, Lime & Cumin
    Lemonaise Light



    Niman Ranch bacon costs more, but its money well spent. All Niman Ranch meats support small, family-run, sustainably-managed American farms. The meats have much better flavor and texture than factory-farmed meat. (If you haven’t seen The Meatrix, it will open your eyes).

    The other difference is the cure—a topic filled with misinformation and controversy about nitrates and nitrites. The issues are presented below.

    Niman Ranch bacon has a noticeably lower moisture content than supermarket brands, and thus shrinks a bit less, with less curling, as it cooks.

    Another observation: The bacon is thicker and browns more slowly, so you can make it well done without over-crisping.


    Niman Ranch Bacon. Photo by Evan Dempsey | THE NIBBLE.

    What Is Uncured Bacon?

    Conventional bacon gets a “quick cure”: The pork belly is injected with brine plus the chemical form of sodium nitrate (which converts to sodium nitrite in the processing). Sodium nitrite extends the shelf life of the meat, prevents bacterial growth and provides the familiar pink or red color.

    Uncured bacon typically uses a nitrate/nitrite-free cure with celery juice, salt and a lactic acid starter culture.

    Then why is it called “uncured?”

    Under federal labeling laws, if a meat product is not cured using the chemical form of sodium nitrate, it must be labeled uncured, whether or not it is preserved by another preservation technique.

    Add this to the mountains of confusing government legislation. It’s easy for most consumers to think that uncured meat is less preserved, and thus more dangerous (the danger is the potential growth of the bacterium Clostridium botulinum, which can cause botulism).

    But there’s more:

    Celery is a natural source of sodium nitrate, so nitrites go into the meat anyway. But by adding nitrite-rich celery juice to the meat instead of actual chemicals, manufacturers legally to claim “no added nitrates.”


    Here’s the lowdown on this issue:

    Several decades ago, an animal study that got significant media attention concluded that sodium nitrite was a carcinogen. Large amounts of the chemical were fed to the animals.

    But follow-up studies—which did not get hyped by the media—did not show the correlation. According to

    Numerous scientific panels have evaluated sodium nitrite safety and the conclusions have essentially been the same: sodium nitrite is not only safe, it’s an essential public health tool because it has a proven track record of preventing botulism. The National Toxicology Program, an agency within the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, conducted a multi-year study to evaluate sodium nitrite’s safety. The study found that sodium nitrite was safe at the levels used.

    According to the FDA, sodium nitrite does not become toxic or increase risk of cancer in doses up to 10 mg of sodium nitrite per pound of body weight. This translates to an intake of 19 pounds of cured meat for a 150-pound individual.

    So: Buy Niman Ranch bacon because it’s sustainable and tastes better—not because of “no added nitrates or nitrites.”



    JULY 4TH RECIPE: Red, White & Blue Potato Salad

    Whenever we’re asked to a July 4th party, we always bring our Red, White & Blue Potato Salad. It’s special on Independence Day and potato salad occasion.

    While we generally enjoy sharing, we keep our exact recipe a secret. We worked for years to get the dressing right!

    But the United States Potato Board sent us a substitute red, white and blue potato salad recipe. It mixes three different potato types with onions, bell peppers and ham in a balsamic vinaigrette. This fancy potato salad is a world away from a potato-mayonnaise mix, a delight for potato salad fans.

    The recipe was created by Jill Melton, MS, RD, former senior food editor of Cooking Light and director of communications for Food Insight. We had bacon on hand and substituted it for the ham: delicious!




    A potato salad for any festive occasion. Photo courtesy U.S. Potato Board.


  • 1 pound small white potatoes (Creamer,* Fingerling or Yukon Gold)
  • 1 pound small red potatoes
  • 12 ounces Purple Peruvian potatoes
  • 3 tablespoons walnut oil or olive oil, divided
  • 2 ounces chopped ham or bacon
  • 1/3 cup chopped walnuts
  • 8 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons sherry or white balsamic vinegar
  • 1 cup finely chopped red or orange bell pepper
  • 4 green onions, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

    1. Cut the potatoes into 1-1/2 inch pieces (do not peel). Steam for 25 minutes or until potatoes are tender.

    2. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a medium skillet. Add ham, walnuts, and garlic. Sauté 10 minutes. Add sherry vinegar, stir well.

    3. In a large bowl, toss ham mixture with potatoes, additional 2 tablespoons of oil, red pepper, green onions, salt and pepper. Serve warm or cold with grilled steak, burgers, chicken or fish.

    *Creamer potatoes are potatoes that are harvested while young, tender and small—often as little as one inch in diameter. The flesh contains a lower level of starch, which makes themsuitable for boiling. Creamer potatoes are typically Yukon Gold or red potatoes, which are called gold creamers or red creamers, respectively.
    Find more delicious potato recipes from the U.S. Potato Board.


    Yukon Gold potatoes, a favorite of chefs and foodies. Photo courtesy



    According to the USDA Economic Research Service, potatoes are the largest vegetable crop in the U.S., with an annual production of 41.3 billion pounds. More than one million acres of potatoes planted annually—the equivalent of filling the entire state of Rhode Island with potato plants.

    The U.S. Per Capita Potato Consumption is 117 pounds a year. Here’s the breakdown of what we eat, based on the 2010 forecast:

  • Frozen Potatoes: 50 pounds
  • Fresh Potatoes: 37 pounds
  • Potato Chips: 17 pounds
  • Dehydrated Potatoes: 12 pounds
  • Canned Potatoes: 1 pound

    Top 10 Potato Producing States
    (in Billion Pounds)†

    Potatoes are grown in all 50 states, but most of those 41.3 billion pounds are grown in:
    1. Idaho 11.5
    2. Washington 9.3
    3. Wisconsin 2.9
    4. Colorado 2.3
    5. North Dakota 2.3
    6. Minnesota 2.0
    7. Oregon 1.9
    8. Michigan 1.5
    9. California 1.5
    10. Maine 1.5

    †2008 Figures from USDA/NASS.



    TIP OF THE DAY: Star-Shaped Ice

    Make star-spangled drinks with star-shaped ice. Photo courtesy


    It’s the little touches that make guests smile. Like star-shaped ice in their July 4th drinks.

    Make each soft drink or cocktail more special with star-shaped ice, made in a silicon mold.

    No time to find ice cube trays?

    Head to the market for carambola, star fruit, to garnish the rims of glasses.

    Then, find some special cocktail recipes.

    Here are options in addition to the Star Spangled Banner and Patriot cocktail recipes we published last week:


  • American Flag Cocktail: Individual red, white and blue tequila shots. Recipe.
  • Fruit Cocktails: Red, white and blue cocktails made with blueberry purée, peach purée and raspberry purée.Recipe.
  • Sangrita: Tequila, triple sec and ginger ale with white ice cubes and blueberries. Recipe.


    Serve glasses of red, white or blue Prosecco or other sparkling wine:

    The red sparkler has a base of cranberry juice, the white is plain and the blue uses blueberry juice. Add two inches of juice to a Champagne flute and top with the sparkling wine. Don’t stir: It breaks up the bubbles.

    You can make a non-alcoholic version with with lemon-lime soda.

    Find more cocktail recipes.



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