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What are you cooking for the 4th of July weekend?

I'm still trying to decide, and looking for some ideas to get out of our usual BBQ rut.

Tonight we are going to the beach for fireworks, so I'm packing a picnic with deviled eggs, tuna sandwiches, a ham & salami for my youngest guy, some pieces of fried chicken from the other night. Chips and pickles. Maybe bake some brownies or cookies to take. A huge water bottle full of the goose & lime juice for me, some IPA for the hubby.

But the rest of the weekend, I'm not sure. Bought sliders and also have some jalapeño cheddar dogs for the grill for lunches. Thawing out some bone in chicken breasts for bbq'd chicken one night. Bought a couple of rib eyes for another night. Also have a skirt steak thawing for some tacos, and bought a rack of baby back ribs, since they were a good price.

Have what I need for potato salad. Just need to pick up some corn on the cob and watermelon. Haven't thought any further about desserts too.

What is everyone else making for the holiday weekend?

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  1. I'm planning a roasted orzo salad, but trying to figure out what veggies to use. I have asparagus, eggplant, zucchini, green, and orange bell peppers, mushrooms, and onions. I've heard the Ina Garten recipe recommended, but not sure if I would be ok using more than just the eggplant and bell peppers included. Any thoughts?

    3 Replies
    1. re: SarahCW

      Yes, you can use any vegetables. It's very good.

      1. re: valerie

        Yay! I love roasted veggies, so I'm sure it will be delicious!

      2. re: SarahCW

        That's sounds great too! I love roasted vegs in a salad too.

      3. We host a July 4th party each year but unfortunately the weather is not looking good for tomorrow so I already postponed the party to Sunday. On the menu...

        Pigs in blankets
        Clam Dip
        Barefoot Contessa Guacamole Salad
        Chicken Fries (like chicken fingers but thinner strips-I get them for the kids but the adults love them too)
        Thai Pasta Salad
        Homemade ice cream cookie sandwiches
        Assorted pies

        2 Replies
        1. re: valerie

          Sounds great valerie, I'm missing my clam dip! And I have not heard of BC's guacamole salad, I'll have to look that one up. Hope you have sunny blue skies for your party!

          1. re: Dirtywextraolives

            We had a great day! The big hits were the guacamole salad (but I made it more like a salsa and served with chips) and my ribs are always a hit. Pigs in blankets are always popular with my crowd too.

            The clam dip tasted okay but I wouldn't make it again and surprisingly the pasta salad was not a huge hit either. I think it just came down to the fact that everyone was full from the appetizers and whatever room they had left, they saved for the ribs...people ate tons of ribs!

            And then there was dessert...apple pie, chocolate cream pie, my ice cream sandwiches, fruit. And then at the last minute I decided to make star-shaped Rice Krispie treats and I decorated them with red, white and blue, frosting and sprinkles.

            Nobody was hungry when they left!

        2. Our contribution to a friend's barbecue is a variation on a caprese salad: heirloom tomatoes, cukes, mozzarella cheese, all cut up into 1/2-inch cubes, with pitted Kalamata olives and garbanzo beans tossed with chiffonade basil, olive oil and balsamic vinegar. And I'll probably serve it on a bed of arugula.

          1 Reply
          1. ribs, grilled asparagus, grilled zucchini, 4 bean salad, peach pie.

            1 Reply
            1. re: rasputina

              Oh yum, that peach pie sounds good. We've got some really delicious peaches right now... Thanks for the idea!

            2. Oh Dirty, I finally found a place to meet on chow with my former LA hounds. Southern Style chicken (wings) and Waffle brunch. Then I'm filling up the rotisserie smoker with a few racks of baby backs, chicken wings and thighs, wild turkey legs, brats.

              They all come off at different times, so the flavor is somewhat different. Taking the chicken thighs and making Chinese stir fry with broccoli.

              Fried Fish, Hushpuppies, country fries, onion and tomato Sunday and left overs for a nightcap after delivery for the neighbors, I live in the land of the delta blues, where bartering is still king...

              Some local melons and fruit throughout the day and some yeast Rolls and Potato salad. Beer is on ice and midday Pina Coladas. Enjoy the show! Happy 4th foodie wkend. ~ck

              3 Replies
              1. re: CharlesKochel

                Sounds wonderful, CK! Are you still in LA or have you returned to the South?

                1. re: Dirtywextraolives

                  I have returned south. We live way out in the country and do a lot of gardening, hunting, fishing and gathering. Yesterday we harvested about 150 ears of sweet corn - know as the best in the world, gorgeous tomatoes and we make sweet sun tea every day. It's the south and how I grew up - my culinary soul. I look forward to sharing some southern secrets.

                  I really miss the west coast seafood and some of the "masters of whatever they do." I had a black market spiny lobster dealer that would dive at night and deliver them in the morning, can't do that in Arkansas. . . great to re-connect!

                  1. re: CharlesKochel

                    Aw, how nice! Sounds great! I grew up in the country too.... Well, the northeast, but it was much more country than LA, hah!

                    Yea, a little hard to find spinies in AR but at least you've got craw dads, right??

                    Well, I for one miss your reports and gentile Southern charm in your posts! Come visit us when you can. And if I ever make it out to your neck of the woods, I'll give ya a shout....

                  1. re: Dirtywextraolives

                    Cute, right? Hopefully they turn out to look like that. I swear, I think Pintrest was designed to make people feel depressed and inadequate :)

                    1. re: schrutefarms

                      Hahaha, I agree! Have you ever seen the parody of it where it shows the failed creations people made trying to look like the Pinterest pics? It's hilarious.....

                      1. re: Dirtywextraolives

                        HA! I just wasted about 30 minutes on epicpinterestfail.com….so funny!!!

                1. Today it's ribs, coleslaw, corn on the cob with blueberry pie & vanilla ice cream. All house-made, even the barbecue sauce.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: JoeBabbitt

                    Yum, sounds great.... I haven't made my root beer BBQ sauce yet this year, thanks for reminding me!

                  2. I BBQed half chickens and served them w/ roasted veggies.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: Kelli2006

                      Next time I pick up a whole bird, I'm doing this too.... It's easier than grilling the pieces, isn't it?

                      1. re: Dirtywextraolives

                        I much prefer doing halves instead of quarters or individual pieces.

                        I brined them for 4 hours and then BBQd them for 1 hour over charcoal and applewood chips in a Weber kettle. It required 1 hour to get an internal temp of 170 in the breast and thigh. They were still surprisingly moist , but I was able to get a 1/4" smoke ring.

                        I was quite impressed because modern chicken is difficult to cook to 170 and not dry it out.

                        1. re: Kelli2006

                          Nice job. Yes, the brining definitely helped!

                    2. DH marinated a couple of strips steaks in this:


                      Which was delicious. And cooked them on the grill with some Vidalia onions and bell pepper chunks. We had corn on the cob, our first tomatoes from the garden and baked potatoes.

                      He picked up 5 lbs of sweet cherries from the store, so I made a double crust cherry pie (from the old Joy) and some vanilla ice cream with Sonoma Syrup Co's vanilla, which I love, and Haitian vanilla that my sister gets when she volunteers in Haiti every winter. The Sonoma Syrup Co. vanilla is floral, and the Haitian is darker tasting.
                      We'll see how that worked out later when we have our dessert.

                      24 Replies
                      1. re: kitchengardengal

                        That does sound delicious, thanks for the link.... My son loves cherry pie, but my pitter broke a few years back...how long did it take you to pit 5 lbs of cherries?

                        1. re: Dirtywextraolives

                          Took me about 20 minutes to pit the cherries, including pulling the stems off.

                          Now I have the pits soaking in apple cider vinegar. Makes great salad dressing.

                            1. re: kitchengardengal

                              I've never heard of such a thing - what sort of flavor do the pits impart? Cherry? Or nutty/almondy? Or both?

                              1. re: biondanonima

                                Mostly a cherry flavor, but not sweet.
                                I do it with the pits and peels from peaches when I make peach jam, and with the pulp left from the food mill when I make blackberry jelly.

                                We mostly use these vinegars to cook pork loin with Marcella Hazan's Pork with Vinegar and Bay Leaves.

                                1. re: kitchengardengal

                                  Nice! I will have to give it a go next time I pit a batch of cherries!

                                2. re: kitchengardengal

                                  i recently heard about pitting cherries with bbq skewers or chop sticks

                                  1. re: betsydiver

                                    I would never go back to a non-semi-automatic cherry pitter, ever! If mine breaks, I will be online in a heartbeat ordering another.

                              2. re: kitchengardengal

                                @ Kitchen Garden Gal, Will you share your cherry pie recipe, it's my very favorite and sweets are not my expertise. ?"from the old joy"?

                                1. re: CharlesKochel

                                  Gladly, CharlesKochel , and welcome back to the South!
                                  My cherry pie recipe is in the Joy of Cooking, 1975. I've been making it this way since the book was new and I was young.
                                  Here's the recipe for Fresh Cherry Pie:

                                  Use a 2 crust pie dough, line a deep dish pie pan.

                                  Wash, drain and pit 4 cups fresh sour cherries (I use sweet cherries because that's all I can get! Plus I love them)

                                  Combine then mix gently with cherries :
                                  2 2/3 tbs quick cooking tapioca
                                  1 1/3 cups sugar (you could cut back with sweet cherries, but I don't)
                                  2 drops almond flavoring or 2 tbs kirsch

                                  Let fruit mixture stand 15 minutes. Preheat oven to 450'.
                                  Pour fruit into pie shell and dot with 2 tbs butter. Cover with a well pricked top or a lattice. Bake 10 minutes at 450', then reduce heat to 350' and bake about 40 minutes longer or till golden brown.

                                  DH had never had cherry pie till he was in his 50s, when I made it for him. He didn't know that people made real cherry pies from real cherries. All he ever saw was the canned gloppy pie filling, and never had the nerve to try that. I don't blame him. I'd never had real cherry pie till I made it myself.

                                  1. re: kitchengardengal

                                    Thanks for this too, kgg! When I get another pitter I will be trying this! But I guess I better get on it if I want to do this before the season ends.....!

                                    1. re: Dirtywextraolives

                                      I had to do all my cherries quick, while Publix had them for 1.99 a pound! I have had that pitter for almost 10 years, and use it on a good 8 to 10 pounds of cherries a year.

                                      1. re: Dirtywextraolives

                                        If you don't have a pitter, a paper clip unfolded so that there's just one U curve left at the end works really well, especially on sour cherries (which are much softer than sweet cherries). I find it faster than my pitter for sours, although I generally prefer the pitter for sweets.

                                        1. re: biondanonima

                                          Good to know, thanks! But I don't think I have even seen sour cherries in my markets....just sweet & Rainier.

                                          1. re: biondanonima

                                            I have 4lb sweet cherries and making KGG Cherrie Pie tomorrow. Need to pit them, with a paperclip? So, bend the paperclip to on large horseshoe shape - done...now what?

                                            1. re: CharlesKochel

                                              Some description of how to do it in this thread http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/404296. I tried the chopstick/beer bottle one, once. I didn't find it terribly effective.

                                              1. re: CharlesKochel

                                                I just shove the U shaped end of the paper clip into the indentation where the stem was - if you get the U curve under the pit, it will catch it as you pull it back out. It could still be a PITA though if your cherries are firm, which sweets usually are.

                                          2. re: kitchengardengal

                                            Thanks for sharing. My 4 year old and I gave it a try today. Fabulous! I sprinkled a slight bit of fresh dried lemon balm and about tsp of lemon. Sure wish I could find some sour cherries. My crust was just a mess, next time I think I'll make my own crust. It was a little bit juicy, so I drained a bit. Tips on a crust (light, flakey and buttery) is appreciated. Not Bad for my first pie. I might just have baking hidden in there somewhere!!!

                                            1. re: CharlesKochel

                                              Your little girl is beautiful. Your lattice, not so much..;-)

                                              No matter how it looks, I know it was delicious. I'm glad you liked the recipe!

                                              1. re: CharlesKochel

                                                Good for you for trying the method! Looks like I better get some cherries for a pie before the season is over....now I have no excuse!

                                                And I agree your little girl looks precious!

                                                1. re: Dirtywextraolives

                                                  Thanks. She is a doll, she helped me pit all the cherries and build the lattice (excuses.) As you can see, she would pit and eat.

                                                  The lattice was ugly then, but after my one year old dominated her cherry pie, wow! nothing better.

                                                  The recipe was fabulous, still can't figure out why it was so juicy/runny. I probably drained (reserved) 1/2 cup of cherry juice. I did brush some butter, but not that much. It was a huge hit with my family!

                                                  1. re: CharlesKochel

                                                    CK, sometimes mine are runnier than others. This time, the cherries were still pretty dry after sitting in the tapioca and sugar for 15 minutes. I just stirred now and then.
                                                    What I have done in the past when my cherries were really juicy, was to drain the juice off and cook it down in a saucepan till it's thickened, and add it back to the cherries.

                                                    1. re: kitchengardengal

                                                      That's a great idea. You can't predict how Mother Nature will make cherries sometime...juicy or not guess it depends on conditions of the soil, etc... Nonetheless the fact your kids helped you makes it the best pie in the world, doesn't it!

                                        2. Pulled pork tacos today, meat is still on the smoker. Yesterday it was grilled bbq chicken thighs.

                                          6 Replies
                                          1. re: rasputina

                                            Yum. We just looked at smokers today. I used to have one about 20 years ago..... Wish I still had it.

                                            1. re: Dirtywextraolives

                                              Dirty, we consider smokers in the delta like the Holy Grail. The Meadow Creek is one versatile mid size smoker (you can fit a small hog, or a couple of suckling pigs) ... spend some time on this site before you buy. http://amazingribs.com/bbq_equipment_...

                                              Lastly, if you are still reading this, the hidden gem of all great all Memphis Style BBQ lies in the dry rub. Here is the zen of Memphis Dry Rub.

                                              1. re: CharlesKochel

                                                Oh thanks so much for the links, CK. I always dry rub my ribs, but never had an authentic Memphis recipe. Now I'll have to buy some more ribs!

                                                1. re: Dirtywextraolives

                                                  The beauty of the rub is they eliminated salt. With meat we buy these days, it is usually brined or salted in some way to preserve. The salt, when heated, moves deeper into the meat, therefore salt takes over the rub. let me know what you think!!!

                                                  1. re: CharlesKochel

                                                    Interesting. Salt is the most important component! Did you find any difference in taste? This weekend, for my baby backs, I rubbed them with a commercial Cajun blend, and some brown sugar. Normally I also add some kosher salt to the rub before applying. I know salt is the first ingredient in the Cajun blend so I omitted it this time. And I definitely noticed it and found the ribs to be a touch underseasoned. Now normally I add some salt but I also let them sit for 24+ hours before low & slow in the oven. This time I didn't rub them that far ahead. So I wonder if the combo of no extra salt in the rub plus less time brining was the issue. Like I said, guess I'll have to get more ribs. I will def let you know when I try it, thanks again!

                                                    1. re: Dirtywextraolives

                                                      "Lost Shaker of Salt"

                                                      The original Memphis dust has 1/4 c salt. What we were finding in the last 3-5 years was the process and dust were exactly the same, but the meat being consumed was saltier and saliter. This was due to the originators changing their process by brining or adding/injecting a salt solution.

                                                      Also, in most of my recipes for smoking a brining procedure/ceremony of some sorts take place before the chimney's are lit.

                                                      I think when you find your taste, you will never buy another commercial blend/brand and it's much more the conversation pleaser when you make your own rub.

                                                      My recommendation is to start the rub with no salt and work your way up to 1/4 cup, stop when you get it right and share your stopping point. I'll so the same. After our 2nd child, my wife became very salt sensitive, so I eliminate it, but for me, about 1/6 c is straight on, if I am not brining. I do not use any salt if I brine.

                                          2. Well, last night we did baby back ribs, four cheese macaroni and cheese, a broccoli slaw and some local corn on the cob. Summer fruit crisp was the dessert.

                                            Tonight will be grilled chicken breasts on the bone, leftover Mac & cheese, grilled jalapeño & cheddar sausages, and a salad. Wished I had picked up more vegs to do some roasted vegs, but maybe next weekend.

                                            1. Friday we had chilled avocado soup, caesar salad, roasted potato's and grilled rack of lamb. Saturday my Dad fired up his pizza oven so we went over and enjoyed that.

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: mike0989

                                                That sounds very good! What type of pizza did he make?