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Archive for Memorial Day

TIP OF THE DAY: Red, White & Blue Cupcakes For Patriotic Occasions

HAPPY MEMORIAL DAY! HAPPY INDEPENDENCE DAY!

These red, white and blue cupcakes are an eye- and palate-pleaser for any patriotic occasion.

And they’re easy to make, with just the added step of dividing cake mix into three bowls and coloring two of them. We chose a frosting of stabilized whipped cream, stiffened with gelatin (it won’t collapse) and topped the cupcakes with red, white and blue decorations.

RECIPE: PATRIOTIC CUPCAKES

Ingredients For The Cupcakes

  • 1 box white cake mix (or your own white cake recipe)
  • Red and blue gel food coloring (see notes in the last section)
  • Icing
  • Decorative sprinkles or stars
  •  
    Ingredients For 4 Cups Stabilized Whipped Cream

  • 2 teaspoons unflavored gelatin
  • 2 tablespoons cold water
  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream, chilled
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar, sifted
  •  
    Plus

  • Cupcake pan
  • Cupcake liners
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PREPARE a cupcake pan with paper liners. Place the cream in the freezer for 20 minutes prior to whipping (it will whip better).

    2. PREPARE the cake batter and divide it into three bowls. Use blue and red gel food coloring in two of the bowls (see notes about gel-paste below.)

    3. ADD one tablespoon blue batter to the each cupcake liner and spread evenly (we used a plastic teaspoon). Follow with a tablespoon of white batter, and a red layer on top of that, taking care not to mix the colors as you spread them.

    4. BAKE per cake recipe instructions and cool. While the cupcakes cool…

    5. MAKE the stabilized whipped cream frosting. Place the cold water in a small pan and sprinkle the gelatin over it. Let it thicken; then place the pan over low heat, stirring constantly, just until the gelatin dissolves. Remove from the heat and cool, but do not allow it to set.

    6. WHIP the cream with the powdered sugar, until slightly thick. While slowly beating, add the gelatin to whipping cream. Whip at high speed until stiff peaks form, about 5-7 minutes.

    7. DECORATE and serve.

     

    Red, White & Blue Cupcakes

    July 4th Cupcakes

    American Flag Cupcakes

    [1] Red, white and blue layered cupcake (photo Elegant Affairs Caterers | Facebook). [2] Even easier options: red fruit atop white frosting (photo GoBoldWithButter.com) and [3] cupcake “flag” (photo Sprinkles Cupcakes).

     
    WANT A RED, WHITE & BLUE LAYER CAKE INSTEAD OF CUPCAKES?

  • White layer cake, filled with raspberry and blueberry preserves.
  • White-frosted stack cake with red and blue berry topping.
  • Lemon loaf layer cake with white filling and red and blueberry topping.
  •  
    WHY USE SOFT GEL INSTEAD OF LIQUID FOOD COLOR

    The typical food colors available in supermarkets are water-based liquids that work well for most purposes. In many recipes, you use so little of it that the teaspoon or so of water isn’t going to impact the outcome of the recipe.

    But if you are looking for intense color—such as in red velvet cake—you need to use a lot of liquid to get the vibrant color. Too much liquid will alter the consistency of cake, candies, donuts and deep-colored frostings.

  • Soft gel food coloring (sometimes called liquid gel, not to be confused with the conventional liquid food color) delivers a deep, rich color without thinning the batter or frosting.
  • Gel paste food coloring is very concentrated and provides even deeper, more vivid colors than soft gel. It should be used in very small quantities.
  • Powdered food coloring is another very concentrated option that is often used to decorate cookies.
  •  
    You can often find gel food colors in craft stores, as well as in baking supplies stores and online, where you can buy red only or the four basic food colors. Wilton sells a set of eight gel colors, as well as neon and pastel sets. Don’t substitute one for another, unless you have time to test the results.
     
    TIPS FOR COLORING ICING

  • If exact color is important, mix the color in daylight so you can see the true hue.
  • Start with less color and adjust as you go.
  • Note that the longer the icing sits, the stronger the color will be. Proceed accordingly.
  •   

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    JULY 4th RECIPE: American Flag Ice Cream Cake

    This easy flag cake from McCormick is made from reddened brownie layers with vanilla ice cream and a blue-tinted whipped topping. You can cut 12 servings from the loaf.
     
    RECIPE: AMERICAN FLAG ICE CREAM CAKE

    Ingredients

  • 1 package (family-size) fudge brownie mix
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 bottle (1 ounce) red food color
  • 1 tub (8 ounces) frozen whipped topping, thawed
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure lemon extract
  • McCormick Neon Food Colors & Egg Dye in blue and purple
  • 1 cup miniature marshmallows, divided
  • 2 cups vanilla ice cream, softened
  • Optional: 1 cup strawberries, thinly sliced
  •  

    brownie-ice-cream-cake-mccormick-230

    The “red” in this American Flag ice cream cake is food coloring added to the brownie. If you want more redness, add a layer of sliced strawberries over the top of the ice cream (photo courtesy McCormick).

     

    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 350°F. Empty the brownie mix into a large bowl. Add the sour cream, eggs and red food color; mix well.

    2. SPOON the batter into a greased, foil-lined 9×5-inch loaf pan. Bake for 55 to 60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with fudgy crumbs. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes, remove from the pan and cool completely on a wire rack.

    3. MAKE the frosting: Stir the whipped topping, lemon extract, 1 teaspoon Neon Blue and 5 drops Neon Purple food colors with a spatula until evenly tinted. Stir in 3/4 cup of the marshmallows. Set aside.

    4. LINE a loaf pan with foil, with the ends of the foil extending over the sides of pan. Cut the brownie loaf horizontally into 2 layers. Place the bottom layer in the loaf pan and gently spread with the ice cream and the optional strawberries.

    5. PLACE the top brownie layer over the ice cream and spread the whipped topping mixture over the top. Press the remaining 1/4 cup of marshmallows into the whipped topping. Cover carefully with foil.

    6. FREEZE at least 2 hours or until firm. Use foil handles to remove dessert from pan. Place on cutting board; let stand 10 minutes to soften. Cut into slices to serve.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Creative Toppings For Burgers, Brats & Franks

    Memphis Burger With BBQ & Coleslaw

    Burger With Avocado & Salsa

    Cheeseburger Surprise

    Top: The Memphis Burger, with cheddar, barbecued pork and cole slaw (photo courtesy Cheesecake Factory). Center: South Of The Border: avocado and salsa (photo courtesy Omaha Steaks). Bottom: Mac and Cheese Burger (photo courtesy Glory Days Grill.

     

    On Father’s Day, most people assume that dads wants to dine out. But a recent survey of 775 dads nationwide conducted by restaurant guide Zagat, says something different. While 80% of those surveyed say they love dining out in general, for Father’s Day more than half of them just want to stay home.

  • 52% of the dads claim they just want to stay home for a meal with their families.
  • 29% reveal that “having to go out at all” is their number one Father’s Day dining out complaint.
  • 14% “just want to be left alone.”
  • When asked about their ideal Father’s Day meal, only 14% prefer a high-end steakhouse.
  • 18% would enjoy going out to something easy and local.
  •  
    Other complaints against include going out include dread of driving (traffic, parking), having to pay the bill at their own celebration, and having to dress up.

    The best path, of course, is to ask your dad what he wants. If that’s just burgers and franks in the backyard, you can still make it a special celebration with these ideas for creative toppings from ThePamperedChef.com, along with a few of our own.

    Pampered Chef is a great resource for high-quality kitchen wares and yummy recipes to make with them.
     
    SPECIAL TOPPINGS FOR BURGERS, BRATS, FRANKS & SAUSAGES

    It’s time to set aside the ketchup and mustard, says The Pampered Chef, and take burgers and hot dogs from meh to amazing.

    Whether dad prefers burgers made of beef, bison, chicken, pork, turkey or veggies—or prefers brats, classic hot dogs or sausages—plan a creative cookout.
     
    CREATIVE BURGER TOPPINGS

  • Bacon, Brie and grilled apples
  • Bacon, blue cheese and caramelized onions
  • Bacon and peach jam
  • Fried egg, pickled onions, baby arugula and barbecue sauce
  • Fried onion rings, queso (cheese sauce) and pickled jalapeños
  • Goat cheese, roasted red peppers and chutney
  • Grilled pineapple and teriyaki sauce
  • Guacamole, chunky salsa and tortilla chips
  • Hummus or spinach dip, crumbled feta cheese and Kalamata olives
  • Kimchi and wasabi mayonnaise
  • Mac and cheese with sliced tomato, onion and crumbled tortilla chips
  • Pimento cheese spread and grilled onions
  • Provolone cheese, marinara sauce and fresh basil
  • Potato chips and onion dip
  • Sautéed onions and mushrooms
  • Sautéed spinach and mushrooms
  • Snow crab, avocado and pickled ginger
  •  

    CREATIVE TOPPINGS FOR BRATS, FRANKS & SAUSAGES

  • Apple-cabbage slaw
  • Baked beans, diced red onion, shredded cheese, cilantro, optional salsa
  • Baked potato “bun” (put the bun in a well-done, split baked potato), bacon, sour cream & chives (The “Boise Dog”)
  • Carrot, cucumber and radish salad with herb mayonnaise (The “San Francisco Dog”)
  • Carrot salad with raisins and optional walnuts
  • Dilled cucumber salad with fresh parsley garnish
  • Caramelized onions and bacon with melted Gruyère
  • Chili, diced onions and shredded Cheddar cheese
  • Green chiles, red onions, red jalapeños and sour cream (The “Denver Dog”)
  • Crumbled potato chips and onion dip
  • Guacamole, cilantro and diced red onions
  • Ham, Swiss cheese, pickles and spicy mustard
  • Muffuletta olive salad (The “New Orleans Dog”)
  • Mustard slaw (half sauerkraut, half mustard or blend to taste), sweet pickle chips
  • Pesto, fresh basil, diced tomatoes, and grated Parmesan (“The Italian”)
  • Sauerkraut, shredded corned beef, Swiss cheese and Thousand Island dressing (“The Reuben”)
  • Queso (cheese sauce), pickled jalapeños, shredded lettuce, diced tomato and sour cream (“The Mexican”)
  • Pickled vegetables (giardiniera) and mustard slaw
  • Pineapple relish, lemon-garlic mayonnaise and starfruit (substitute diced mango) (The “Honolulu Dog”)
  • Pizza sauce, melted or shredded mozzarella and sliced pepperoni
  • Scrambled eggs and sautéed mushrooms (“The Brunch Dog”)
  • Sweet pickle relish and shredded pepperjack cheese
  • Vidalia onion and peach relish (The “Atlanta Dog”)
  •  

     

    Mexican Hot Dog

    Fancy Hot Dogs

    Top: A Mexican Dog with shredded Cheddar, onions, tomatoes and jalapeños; chili optional (photo courtesy Body By Bison). Bottom: Brat with dill pickles, pepperoncini and cilantro (photo courtesy Kindred Restaurant).

    ANOTHER THOUGHT

    Ask guests to suggest creative toppings in advance of the event. Create them and let everyone vote for the winner.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: The New Jell-O Mold Is A Mason Jar

    Red White & Blue Jell-O

    Red, White & Blue Jell-O Squares

    Top: Red, white and blue Jell-O mold in Mason jars (photo Victoria Belanger | eHow). Bottom: No spoon is needed with these Jell-O fingers. They’re gummy, like Jell-O shots without alcohol. Here’s the recipe from CommunityTable.Parade.com.

     

    Call them Ball Jars, Kerr Jars or Mason Jars, these 19th century inventions enabled the preserving foods for years, while avoiding spoilage and the growth of harmful bacteria.

    The original “canning” took place in hermetically sealed glass jars, invented to carry food for Napoleon’s army. Here’s the history of canning and the jars.

    The invention created an opportunity for civilians, too: to “put up” foods at harvest time to eat during the winter. But then came tin cans, and

    The growth of the artisan foods movement, small producers added charm to their jams and dilly beans by packaging them in Mason jars.

    Today, we’re presenting an idea adapted from Victoria Belanger. You can see step-by-step photos on eHow.com.

    RECIPE: RED, WHITE & BLUE JELL-O FOR MEMORIAL DAY & JULY 4TH

    Ingredients For 6 Servings
     
    For The Red Layer

  • 1 package ((3 ounces) strawberry Jell-O
  • 1 cup of boiling water
  • ½ cup cold water
  • 1 cup chopped strawberries
  •  
    For The White Layer

  • ¼ cup cold water
  • 1 envelope unflavored gelatin powder
  • ½ cup boiling water
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 cup vanilla ice cream, liquefied
  •  
    For The Blue Layer

  • ¼ cup cold water
  • 1 envelope unflavored gelatin powder
  • ½ cup boiling water
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1½ cups blueberries
  •  
    Plus

  • 6 half pint sized Mason jars
  • Garnish: whipped cream (Reddi-Whip is perfect here)
  •  
    Preparation

    1. MAKE the red layer. Combine the water and the Jell-O in a bowl, stirring to fully dissolve. Add the cold water and the strawberries. Stir and divide the mixture among the Mason jars. We used a wide-mouth funnel (so the strawberries would fit through) to keep the sides of the jars clean for the other colored layers. Victoria used a different technique.

    2. CREATE the “wave” effect by setting the jars at an angle in a muffin tin. First place uncooked rice in the muffin wells to hold the jars at an angle, then refrigerate for 30 to 45 minutes. When the red layer is nearly firm…

    3. MAKE the white layer. In a medium bowl, evenly sprinkle a packet of unflavored gelatin over the cold water. Allow the gelatin to set for 2 minutes, then add the boiling water and stir until the gelatin is completely dissolved. Add the sugar, stirring to dissolve, and then the melted ice cream. Spoon into the jars, taking careful to keep the inside walls clean for the blueberry layer. Refrigerate until firm, 20 to 30 minutes. When firm, you can remove the jars from the tin and keep them upright in the fridge.

    4. MAKE the blue layer. In a medium bowl, evenly sprinkle 1 packet of unflavored gelatin over the cold water. Allow the gelatin to set for 2 minutes, then add the boiling water and stir until the gelatin is completely dissolved. Stir in the sugar, then the blueberries. Do not add to the jars yet, but first refrigerate the blue mixture until it thickens to the consistency of a gel (otherwise, the blueberries will float to the top of the jar).

    5. SPOON the blueberry mixture into the jars and refrigerate until firm. When ready to serve, garnish with whipped cream.
     
    MORE USES FOR MASON JARS.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Hot Dog & Tater Tot Skewers

    Here’s fun for kids and adults alike over the holiday weekend. You can use your favorite franks, and also make a vegan option with Lightlife Smart Dogs.

    This recipe was created by Foodness Gracious for Lightlife.

    RECIPE: HOT DOG & TATER TOT SKEWERS

    Ingredients

  • 1 package hot dogs (we use Applegate, made in all natural and organic varieties)
  • 1 pound bag of frozen Tater Tots, thawed
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt and black pepper, or seasoning of choice
  • Ketchup, mustard and or barbecue sauce for dipping
  • Optional: cherry tomatoes
  •  
    Plus

  • Long metal skewers
  •  
    Preparation

     

    Hot Dog Skewers Recipe

    Yum, yum: Hot Dog and Tater Tot Skewers (photo courtesy Lightlife).

     
    1. PREHEAT the grill to a high heat. Slice each hot dog into three diagonal pieces.

    2. THREAD one piece of hot dog at the base of the skewer. Next add a Tater Tot, being careful not to tear it; then a cherry tomato. Repeat this process until the skewer is completely filled. Once all of the skewers are ready to grill…

    3. BRUSH them on one side with the olive oil. Season each skewer and place onto the grill. Grill for 1-2 minutes, then turn them over and repeat. They will be done when the hot dogs begin to blister. Serve at once with dipping sauce(s).
     
    MORE TATER TOTS IDEAS

  • Tater Tot History
  • Gourmet Tater Tots
  • Baked Potato Tots
  •   

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Make A Flag Cake For Memorial Day

    American Flag Cake

    American Flag Cake Recipe

    Brown Eggs Carton

    Top and center: This American Flag Cake is easy to make (photos courtesy TheKitchyKitchen.com). Bottom: You’ll need nine eggs for the cake (photo courtesy Organic Valley).

     

    We’re very fond of American flag cakes for Memorial Day and Independence Day. Check out these cakes on Pinterest.

    Many of them require the skills of a pastry chef, but you can make a sheet cake that’s easy to ice and decorate, and tastes just as wonderful.

    This recipe was sent to us by Claire Thomas of TheKitchyKitchen.com. An airy sponge cake is topped with cream cheese frosting and fresh fruit.

    The recipe makes one 9” x 13” sheet cake or two 10” round layers.
     
    RECIPE: AMERICAN FLAG SHEET CAKE

    For The Sponge Cake

  • 1-3/4 cups cake flour, sifted then measured
  • 2-1/4 cups sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1-1/2 cup eggs whites (about 9 large eggs)
  • 1-1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons grated lemon zest, packed
  • 9 egg yolks
  • 1/3 cup water
  •  
    For The Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 3 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 16 ounces cream cheese, softened to room temperature
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  •  
    For The Decoration

  • 1 pint blueberries
  • 1 half pint raspberries
  • 1 pint strawberries
  • 1 half pint red cherries, red plums or other red fruits
  • Whipped cream cheese frosting (recipe below)
  •  
    _________________________
    *Most cakes are either butter cakes made with a significant amount of butter (which provides firmness and density, as in devil’s food cake and pound cake) or foam cakes. Foam cakes (this recipe) are made without leavening (baking powder, baking soda). They get their volume and light, fluffy crumb by beating air into egg whites. Foam cakes can contain egg (sponge cake) or butter (génoise, gâteau); but as long as the cake is leavened with air instead of a chemical agent, it is considered a foam cake.

     

    Preparation

    This may look like a lot of steps, but each step is very easy.

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 350F°. Move the rack to the lower third of the oven. Grease or spray a nonstick 9” x 13” pan and line the bottom with parchment. Grease the paper as well.

    2. SIFT the flour, half of the sugar (1 cup plus 2 tablespoons) and salt into a bowl; set aside.

    3. CAREFULLY separate the egg whites from the yolks and whip the whites with the whisk attachment in the bowl of a heavy-duty mixer, just until frothy. Add the cream of tartar and whisk until soft peaks form. Add 3/4 cup sugar in a steady stream, whisking until you have thicker, stiffer, glossy peaks—about 2 to 3 minutes. Whisk in the vanilla, lemon juice and zest. Scoop the mixture into a VERY large bowl and set aside.

    4. WIPE out the bowl you used for the egg whites, and beat the egg yolks with the remaining sugar until thick and pale yellow—about 2-3 minutes. Add the water and beat until thickened, about 4 minutes: the yolks should be very thick and pale. Pour the yolk mixture over the whites and gently fold together with a rubber spatula. Sprinkle a third of the flour mixture over the egg mixture; fold to combine. Repeat two more times, just until all the ingredients are incorporated.

    5. GENTLY POUR the batter into the pan and level the top with a spatula. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the top springs back slightly when lightly touched and a toothpick comes out clean. Invert the pan onto a cooling rack and cool for about 45 minutes.

     

    Confectioners Sugar

    While granulated sugar is used to make the cake, powdered sugar is used to make the frosting. The particles are much finer, so it dissolves readily with no graininess (photo Katharine Pollak | THE NIBBLE).

     
    6. REMOVE the cake from the pan and slip a butter knife down one side of the pan and slowly move it around the perimeter to release the cake. When the sides are free, cover the cake with a rack and invert. Remove the cake pan and parchment. Let the cake cool completely. While the cake cools…

    7. MAKE the frosting. Chill a metal or glass bowl in the fridge, then add the cream and whip until stiff peaks form. Be careful not to over-beat the cream or it will curdle (that’s how cream is churned into butter). Set aside.

    8. MIX the cream cheese, salt, sugar and vanilla in a large bowl until very smooth (if you have one, use an electric mixer with a paddle attachment). Fold in the whipped cream, one third at a time. If you aren’t frosting the cake right away, keep the frosting in the fridge and let it warm up on the counter for 20 minutes prior to using.

    9. PLACE the cake on a serving platter. Spread the frosting about 1/2 inch thick with a spatula. Create the “stars” in a square in the top left corner with the blueberries, and place the red fruits in “stripes.”
     
    MORE MEMORIAL DAY RECIPES

    To find appropriate recipes for each holiday, pull down the “Holidays & Occasions” menu at the right of the title of this article.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Tricolor Jello Fingers For St. Pat’s, July 4th, Halloween, Christmas & More

    Green Jello Squares

    Jell-O Treats

    Tricolor Jello Mold

    Top: St. Patrick’s Day themed Jell-O from TheModernRoost.com used food color to create the darkest green layer. Center: The recipe for this Halloween Jell-O from SomethingNewForDinner.com. Bottom: Christmas Jell-O from Due Forni | Las Vegas.

     

    You’re never to old to enjoy a fancy Jell-O dish. Call it retro, call it Jell-O art; just call it to the table.

    Multi-layer jello finger food (no fork or spoon required), called finger Jell-O, ribbon Jell-O or Jell-O squares, is the type of food fun that the family can look forward to with each holiday. Simply match the colors to the occasion.

    You can make as many layers, and as many colors, as you like. The Pioneer Woman makes an even snazzier version. So does the Brown-Eyed Baker.

    You can slice this into what is known as “finger Jello,” because you can pick it up and eat it with your fingers. Extra gelatin is added to the Jell-O to create a firm texture.

    You can make it in any colors; for example:

  • Green and white for St. Patrick’s Day (one layer of Lime Jell-O, one layer of Melon Jell-O)
  • Red white and blue for Memorial Day and Independence Day
  • Blue and white for Chanukah
  • Orange and Peach or Black Cherry for Halloween
  • Black Cherry red and Raspberry red for Valentine’s Day
  • Team colors for the Super Bowl (use food color to tint as needed)
  •  
    Check out the different flavors and colors of Jell-O.
     
    You can make a diet version with sugar-free Jell-O, and swap the sweetened condensed milk for evaporated milk that you sweeten with a non-caloric sweetener.

    RECIPE: JELL-O SQUARES

    In this recipe, adapted from Taste Of Home, the Jell-O is firmed into “finger Jell-O” or “Jell-O squares” with the addition of extra gelatin. Prep time is 30 minutes, plus 90 minutes chilling/firming time.

    Make the recipe on a day when you can let each mixture come to room temperature at its own pace, and firm up each layer in the fridge for more than 30 minutes. Don’t skimp on the cooling and firming times, or you won’t be pleased with the results.
     
    Ingredients For 32 Pieces

  • 1 box (6 ounces) Lime Jell-O
  • 1 box (6 ounces) Melon Fusion Jell-O
  • 4 envelopes unflavored gelatin
  • 1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
  • Boiling water, cold water
  • Preparation

    1. SPRAY a 9×13-inch baking pan (ideally Pyrex) with nonstick spray.

    2. MAKE the bottom layer: In a medium bowl, mix the green Jell-O with 1 envelope of the unflavored gelatin. Add 2 cups boiling water and stir to dissolve. Cool to room temperature and pour into the pan. Refrigerate for 30 minutes or longer, until firm.

    3. MAKE the center layer: In a clean bowl, mix the sweetened condensed milk with 1 cup boiling water. In a separate small bowl, sprinkle 2 envelopes of unflavored gelatin over ½ cup cold water. Let the gelatin stand for 4 minutes and then add ½ cup boiling water to dissolve it. Add to the condensed milk mixture and stir to combine. Cool to room temperature and pour over the bottom layer. Refrigerate for 30 minutes or longer, until firm.

    5. MAKE the top layer. In a medium bowl, mix the red Jell-O with 1 envelope of the unflavored gelatin. Add 2 cups boiling water and stir to dissolve. Cool to room temperature and pour over the middle layer. Refrigerate for 30 minutes or longer, until firm.

    6. SLICE into individual pieces, plate and serve.

     

    THE HISTORY OF JELL-O

    Gelatin (also spelled gelatine) has been made since ancient times by boiling animal and fish bones. Aspic, a savory, gelatin-like food made from meat or fish stock, was a French specialty centuries before the dawn of commercial gelatin. It was very difficult to prepare, relying only on the natural gelatin found in the meat to make the aspic set.

    Powdered gelatin was invented in 1682 by Denis Papin. But the concept of cooking it with sugar to make dessert dates to 1845 and an American inventor named Peter Cooper. Cooper patented a dessert product that was set with gelatin, but it didn’t take off.

    In 1897, Pearle Wait, a carpenter in Le Roy, New York (Genesee County), experimented with gelatin and developed a fruit flavored dessert which his wife May named Jell-O. The first four flavors were orange, lemon, strawberry and raspberry.

    Wait tried to market his product but lacked the capital and experience. In 1899 he sold his formula to a townsman and manufacturer of proprietary medicines, Orator Frank Woodward, for $450. The Jell-O itself was manufactured by Andrew Samuel Nico of Lyons, New York.

    Alas, sales were slow and one day, Wait sold Sam Nico the business for $35. In 1900, the Genesee Pure Food Company promoted Jell-O in a successful advertising campaign, and by 1902 sales were $250,000. In 1923 the owners created the Jell-O Company, Inc., which replaced the Genesee Pure Foods Company. The purpose was to protect the Jell-O trade name and to keep it from becoming a generic term.

    That same year, the Jell-O Company was sold to the Postum Cereal Company, the first subsidiary of a large merger that would eventually become General Foods Corporation. Lime Jell-O was introduced in 1930.

     

    Old Strawberry Jello Box

    Strawberry Jello Box

    Top: A box of strawberry Jell-O from the 1890s, courtesy eBaumsWorld.com. Bottom: Strawberry Jell-O today. Photo courtesy Kraft Foods.

     

    Today Jell-O is manufactured by Kraft Foods, a subsidiary of Phillip Morris, which acquired both Kraft and General Foods in the 1980s and ultimately merged the two companies. There’s a Jell-O Gallery Museum in Le Roy, New York.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Best Burger Buns

    Beefburger on a bun with assorted dips.

    A brioche roll adds a gourmet touch to any type of burger. Photo © Craig Holmes | BSP.

     

    Gearing up for a Labor Day cookout? Go beyond the traditional burger bun and generate excitement with a selection of specialty burger buns (also, a selection of burgers—beef, bison, turkey, veggie, etc.). Here are our favorite options:

  • Bakery Rolls. Check your local bakery. Those that make good bread often make delicious hamburger rolls.
  • Batard. Wider than a baguette and pronounced buh-TARD, this crusty French bread can be pre-sliced into burger-size. Here are the different types of baguette-like breads.
  • Biscuits. You can turn refrigerated biscuit dough into homemade burger rolls. See the recipe below.
  • Brioche Buns or Challah Buns. Our personal favorite! Eggy yeast breads with rich with a soft, fluffy texture, both deliver rich flavor. They are best for smaller patties and lighter ingredients, so the bun absorbs the juices, but doesn’t fall apart. The difference between challah and brioche: Brioche is made with lots of butter and is richer; challah, which is made to be kosher parve with all meals, has no dairy ingredient.
  • Gluten Free Buns. All health-conscious people, including those with this option, will appreciate tis option. Gluten-free rolls from Rudi’s and Udi’s are so delicious, you can’t tell that they’re gluten free..
  • Potato Rolls. Typically made with mashed potatoes, these rolls are characteristically soft and light, yet durable.
  •  

  • Pita. We have a fondness for lamb burgers in pita, but look for a thick variety since the pita can break.
  • Portuguese Sweet Rolls. A refreshing burst of sweetness against roasty meat. Look for the King’s Hawaiian brand, which makes hamburger and hotdog rolls in addition to dinner rolls and other styles.
  • Pretzel Rolls. A sturdier bun, pretzel rolls are ideal for meaty burgers topped with many ingredients.
  • Skinny Buns. Those watching their carbs will appreciate this lighter replacement option. These are sold under different names. Skinny Buns is one brand; among others, Pepperidge Farm makes Deli Flats.
  • Whole Wheat Buns. Those watching their carbs will appreciate this lighter replacement option.
  •  
    LIGHTER BURGER OPTIONS

    If you’re hosting a crowd of calorie counters, Chef Leo from Grecian Delights, maker of Skinny Buns, shares his three favorite “lighter burger” recipes:

  • The Kickn’ Cow. Beef burgers made with lean beef, stacked with shredded lettuce, tomato and Zesty Greek Yogurt Feta Dip on a toasted 100% Whole Wheat Skinny Bun.
  • The Swiss Bird. A turkey burger topped with Swiss cheese, lettuce and tomato on a toasted 100% Whole Wheat Skinny Bun.
  • The Ultra Vegetarian: A veggie burger layered with hummus, lettuce, tomato, red peppers, green peppers and red onion on a toasted Multigrain Skinny Bun.
  •  
    Switch the sweet ketchup for a spicy salsa, avoiding the high fructose corn syrup or other sweetener.

     

    RECIPE: BURGER ON A BISCUIT

    Make your own burger biscuits with refrigerated biscuit dough. This recipe is from Pillsbury, and there’s also a hot and spicy version with jalapeño, Jack cheese and chipotle mayonnaise.

    Prep time is 10 minutes, total time is 30 minutes.

    Ingredients For 8 Burgers

  • 2 pounds lean (at least 80%) ground beef
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 8 slices American, Cheddar, Swiss or other cheese
  • 1 can (16.3 ounces) Pillsbury Grands Homestyle refrigerated original biscuits
  • Cooking spray
  •  

    biscuit-burger-pillsbury-230

    Make your own burger rolls from refrigerated biscuit dough. Photo courtesyPillsbury.

  • Toppings: lettuce, tomato slices, onion slices, pickles, ketchup and mustard
  •  

    Preparation

    1. HEAT gas or charcoal grill. In medium bowl, mix beef, salt and pepper; shape into 8 patties.

    2. PLACE patties on grill over medium heat. Cover grill; cook 10 to 12 minutes, turning once, until meat thermometer inserted in center of patties reads 160°F. Place cheese slices on patties to melt. Keep warm; reduce heat to medium-low.

    3. SEPARATE dough into 8 biscuits. Spray both sides with cooking spray. Place biscuits on double thickness of heavy-duty foil. Place foil on grill over indirect heat. Cover grill; cook 4 minutes; turn. Cook 2 to 4 minutes longer or until biscuits are golden brown.

    4. SPLIT biscuits in half. Place burgers on one half of each biscuit; top with desired toppings and remaining biscuit half.

      

    Comments

    FOOD FUN: Watermelon On A Stick ~ And Many, Many Other Foods

    Many people believe that everything tastes better on a stick. That’s why we consistently come across foods that have no need to be on a stick, served on a stick. County fairs and urban street fairs are full of them.

    We’re not talking about skewers, which make grilling and serving easier; or ice pops, candy apples or cotton candy, which require a stick to be held and eaten.

    No, many foods that were once served with a fork or a toothpick, with or without a dipping sauce, are now placed atop wooden ice-pop sticks. Consider chicken nuggets, fried ravioli, meatballs, mini franks, rumaki, bacon-wrapped baby potatoes and Caprese stacks. You can find them all on sticks.

    Why? It’s fun. (We hate to think, cynically, that the movement was started by manufacturers of the ice pop sticks.)

    We particularly liked the fun of watermelon slices on sticks: an idea for your upcoming Memorial Day festivities.

    The idea is from South Fork And Spoon, a Bridgehampton, New York-based caterer and “food concierge” that has a website full of tempting fare for lucky Hamptonians.

       

    watermelon-on-a-stick-southforkandspoon-230

    Watermelon on a stick: more elegant than hands-only, more fun than a fork. Photo courtesy South Fork And Spoon.

     

    Intrigued by watermelon-on-a-stick, we delved into the food-on-a-stick category.

    The Iowa State Fair touts “60 foods on a stick,” from hard-boiled eggs to deep-fried brownies. The blog Brit.co features 100 foods on a stick.

    Here’s a selection from both, which includes everything from junk food to elegant fare. Visit the sites directly to see the photos.
     
    BREAKFAST ON A STICK

  • Breakfast Sausage
  • Doughnut Holes
  • French Toast Squares
  • Griddle Stick (turkey sausage wrapped in a pancake)
  •  
    CANDY, FRUIT & SWEET SNACKS ON A STICK

  • Assorted Fruit & Cheese
  • Carmellows
  • Chocolate-Covered Tiramisu
  • Chocolate-Covered Turtle Mousse Bar
  • Deep-Fried Cupcake
  • Deep Fried Fresh Pineapple
  • Deep-Fried Milky Way & Snickers Bars
  • Fruit (with yogurt dipping sauce)
  • Monkey Tail (chocolate-covered banana)
  • Rock Candy
  • Salted Chocolate Dipped Almond Pretzel
  • Peanut Butter & Jelly
  •  

    sandwich-on-a-stick-onecharmingparty-230

    Sandwich on a stick. Photo courtesy
    OneCharmingParty.com.

     

    COOKIES, CAKE, PIE & ICE CREAM ON A STICK

  • Cake Pops
  • Cheesecake & Chocolate-Covered Deep Fried Cheesecake
  • Chocolate-Covered Chocolate Chip Cannoli
  • Chocolate-Covered Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Pop
  • Chocolate-Covered Frozen S’mores
  • Chocolate-Covered Key Lime Dream Bar
  • Chocolate-Covered Peanut Butter Bar
  • Coconut Mountain (coconut ball dipped in fresh chocolate)
  • Deep-Fried Brownie
  • Deep-Fried Ho-Ho, Twinkie & Twinkie Log (frozen Twinkie dipped in white chocolate and rolled in cashews)
  • Ice Cream Wonder Bar
  • Ice Cream Sandwich
  • Mini Pie Pops
  • Smoothie On-a-stick (frozen strawberry smoothie)
  • Strawberry Shortcake Pops (shortcake pieces, strawberries, whipped cream)
  •  

    MEAT & OTHER PROTEINS ON A STICK

  • Bacon Wrapped Pork Riblet
  • Cajun Chicken
  • Corndog & Cornbrat
  • Chicken Drumsticks & Thighs
  • German Sausage
  • Hard-Boiled Egg
  • Hot Bologna
  • Hot Lips (breaded chicken breast smothered with hot sauce, served with blue cheese dressing)
  • Octodog (hotdog in the shape of an octopus)
  • Pork Chop
  • Tandoori Tofu
  • Teriyaki Beef
  • Sesame Chicken
  •  
    SAVORY SNACKS ON A STICKv

  • Cheese Stacks or Fried Cheese Skewers
  • Deep-Fried Pickle
  • Grilled Cheese, Tomato & Basil
     
    VEGETABLES ON A STICK
  • Corn On the Cob
  • Grilled Pumpkin & Other Squash
  • Salad
  • Zucchini Lollipops (fried zucchini)
  •  
     
    RECYCLE THE STICKS

    There’s no reason not to collect, wash and reuse wood Popsicle sticks—or Wooden Treat Sticks or craft sticks, as they are more properly known (Popsicle is a trademarked name, not a generic term). Why throw things into the landfill when they can enjoy a second (or tenth) life?

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Make A Watermelon Boat

    Put your fruit salad or munchies in a
    watermelon boat. Photo courtesy Old World
    Gourmet.

     

    Have you ever carved a watermelon basket? The simple watermelon boat shown in the photo is a charming presentation. Most people fill it with fruit salad, but you can create rows of assorted munchies: cheese cubes, crudites, fruit, salami cubes.

    While it puts some labor into Labor Day, you can carve a true work of art from a watermelon, and it’s a fun project.

    The National Watermelon Promotion Board is here to help you, with almost 60 carved watermelon designs to inspire your fruit artistry. Beyond the conventional basket filled with fruit salad, there are:

  • Animal watermelons: cat, fish, hippo, ladybug, moose owl, penguin, pig, porcupine, rabbit, robot, seal, shark, turtle, T-Rex, whale
  • Kids’ watermelons: Minion (from “Despicable Me”), pirate skull and bones, smiley face, treasure chest, Viking helmet
  •  

  • Sports watermelons: eight ball, football helmet, golf ball, race car, sailboat, surf wave
  • Summer theme watermelons: beach bucket, flip flops, flower garden, flowers,
  • Assorted fun watermelons: Angry Birds, mermaid, purse, submarine, tea pot, tiki mask
  •  
    There are more, of course, including lovely basket designs and holiday-themed watermelon boats: Christmas, Halloween, Valentine’s Day, etc.

     

    RECIPE: WATERMELON RELISH

    Take some of that watermelon flesh and rind and make yummy watermelon relish. Use it to top burgers and hot dogs, mix it with yogurt for a dip, mix it with mayonnaise for a sandwich spread.

    Ingredients

  • 2 cups watermelon rind, dark-green skin removed and white part cut in 1/3-inch dice
  • 2 tablespoons and 2 teaspoons salt, divided
  • 2½ cups water and ¾ cup water, divided
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons lemon zest, finely grated
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 pinch each cinnamon and cloves
  • 2 cups diced watermelon
  •  

    Watermelon relish. Photo courtesy National Watermelon Promotion Board.

     

    Preparation

    1. MIX rind with 2-1/2 cups water and 2 tablespoons salt. Let stand covered at room temperature overnight. Drain and rinse well.

    2. COMBINE in medium saucepan the sugar, 3/4 cup water, 2 teaspoons salt, the lemon zest and juice, cinnamon and cloves. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Add the rind and cook gently for about 40 minutes or until the rind is translucent and tender (do not boil hard as mixture might caramelize). When done, remove from heat and cool.

    3. MIX in the diced watermelon.

    Makes 3/4 of a quart. The watermelon relish will keep refrigerated for 4 days.

      

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