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Celebrate Your Independence—Picnic Style!

July 1, 2013

The Fourth of July is one of my favorite holidays. What’s not to love? There’s great food, great drinks, great company, fireworks, and recognition of that time-honored American trait: Independence!

But the reason I love it so much has nothing to do with any of that. You see, my birthday is the day after the fourth and when I was young—very young—my parents convinced me all the hoopla was for me. It’s funny now, but how can you not love it when your birthday is a national holiday? And, when you think of it, the Fourth really is a birthday celebration. Right?

Celebrate in style!

Celebrate the Fourth with a Picnic at CHEFScatalog.com“You have to love a nation that celebrates its independence, not with a parade of guns, tanks, and soldiers ... but with family picnics where kids throw Frisbees, the potato salad gets iffy, and the flies die from happiness. You may think you have overeaten, but it is patriotism.”
Erma Bombeck, (1927-1996), American humorist and newspaper columnist

I’m with Bombeck on this. Not that parades and celebrating our military aren’t appropriate for the day, but what I celebrate are the freedoms we have as a result of the sacrifices made by our Founders and by our military forces since then.

Independence Day is, of course, a national holiday—not my personal day of celebration. Similar to other summer-themed events, Independence Day celebrations often take place outdoors. Families celebrate the Fourth by hosting or attending a picnic or barbecue and take advantage of the day off and, in some years, long weekend to gather with relatives. Decorations (e.g., streamers, balloons, and clothing) are generally colored red, white, and blue, the colors of the American flag.

So, why not prepare your food in advance, pack it in a festooned picnic basket, and head to the fireworks watching/gathering place near you and beat the crowds? You'll be the envy of everyone with your front of the lawn seat--and when they smell your food, you may wish you'd brought more!

Whether you’re celebrating Independence Day (or my birthday), here are some foods to help you do it in style. Specifically, Picnic Style.

Some picnic food highlights

Grilled Buffalo Wings

A great appetizer any time of the year.

Grilled Buffalo Wings at CHEFScatalog.comIngredients

4 pounds chicken wings

olive oil

Blue Cheese Dipping Sauce

3/4 cup sour cream

3/4 cup mayonnaise

1 cup blue cheese, crumbled

1 green onion, finely chopped

2 tablespoons cider vinegar

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

1/4 teaspoon salt

Buffalo Sauce

1/4 cup butter

1/2 cup hot sauce

salt to taste

celery and carrot sticks

Cooking Instructions

Blue Cheese Dipping Sauce

In a small bowl add sour cream, mayonnaise, blue cheese, green onion, cider vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, salt, and stir. Dipping sauce can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Preheat the grill to medium heat.

Separate the chicken wings at the joint and remove the tips, then add to a bowl.

Drizzle some olive oil over the wings and season with salt.

Place wings on the grill and cook for about 30 minutes.

Buffalo Sauce

Add melted butter, hot sauce, cider vinegar, and salt to a large bowl. Mix well.

Add cooked wings and toss to evenly coat.

Serve with blue cheese dipping sauce, celery, and carrot sticks.

Cowboy Burgers

Burgers that pack a wallop with jalapeno peppers!

Cowboy Burger at CHEFScatalog.comIngredients

2 pounds ground beef

8 ounces bacon, cooked and cut in 1/2-inch pieces

8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, coarsely shredded

1/2 cup finely chopped red onion

2 jalapeño peppers, finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon sea salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Cooking Instructions

In a large mixing bowl, combine all the ingredients. Divide the mixture into 8 portions. Using your hands or a hamburger press, form each portion into a patty. Cook on a hot grill until desired doneness. Serves 8

Corn on the Cob with Lime-Pepper Butter

Not your everyday corn on the cob!

Grilled Corn with Lime Pepper Butter at CHEFScatalog.comIngredients

8 ears fresh corn, husked

Lime-Pepper Butter

1/2 cup butter, softened

1 tablespoon lime zest

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 teaspoon sea salt

Cooking Instructions

In a small bowl, whisk together the butter, lime zest, pepper, and salt.

Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil. Drop the corn into the water and cook for 2 minutes, or until the kernels are tender. Drain the corn and place it on a large platter.

Top with the Lime-Pepper Butter. Serves 4 to 8

Country Potato Salad

Country Potato Salad at CHEFScatalog.comIngredients

2 pounds potatoes, peeled and cubed

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/2 cup celery, thinly sliced

1/2 cup red onion, chopped

2 eggs, hard cooked, peeled, and chopped

1/4 cup sweet relish

salt and pepper to taste

Cooking Instructions

Add the potatoes to a 4-quart sauce pot, cover with water, and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes or until tender.

Drain and cool slightly.

In a large bowl combine the mayonnaise, apple cider vinegar, pepper, celery, onion, eggs, and relish. Fold to blend all the flavors.

Add the cooked potatoes to the bowl and mix all the ingredients together. Season with salt and pepper.

Add a sprinkle of sliced celery and chives and serve.

Grilled Fruit Skewers

A festive and delicious dessert, perfect over Butter Pecan Ice Cream!

Grilled Fruit Skewers at CHEFScatalog.comIngredients

1 16 oz. container large strawberries, cleaned and hulled

2 mangos, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1/2" chunks

1/2 large papaya, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1/2" chunks

1/2 pineapple, peeled, cored, and cut into 1/2" chunks

1 carton Butter Pecan ice cream

Cooking Instructions

If using bamboo skewers, soak them in cold water for at least 30 minutes to help prevent burning.

Prepare a charcoal grill to medium heat.

Thread fruit onto the skewers, beginning with strawberries then pineapple, papaya, and mango. Continue alternating between the four.

Grill the fruit, turning as necessary, for about 6-8 minutes. Grill time will vary depending on ripeness of fruit.

Remove the skewers from the grill and serve over scoops of Butter Pecan ice cream.

Chef Shellie's Watermelon Juice

Chef Sallie's Watermelon Juice at CHEFScatalog.comIngredients

1 medium watermelon, peeled, seeds removed, roughly chopped

1 bunch mint leaves, cleaned

2 sprigs basil leaves, cleaned

1 to 2 inch piece ginger, peeled, chopped

1 cup simple syrup, plus more to taste

3 limes juiced, plus more to taste

Gin of your choice (optional)

Lime wedges and mint sprigs, for garnish

Cooking Instructions

In a blender combineCelebrate National Picnic Month at CHEFScatalog.com mint, basil, ginger, and enough watermelon to come 2/3 of the way up the blender jar. Puree until smooth and transfer to large container. Puree remaining watermelon in batches and add it to the container. Taste the fruit in the large container as you add more watermelon and feel free to add more herbs or ginger in the pureeing process if you desire.

Add the sweet (simple syrup) and the sour (lime juice) components. Adjust amounts to fit your palate. Chill.

When ready to serve, stir in gin (if using) and pour over ice. Garnish with lime and mint.

Recipe provided by Chef Shellie Kark, Kitchencue

Copyright 2010 Kol Ha'kavod, LLC. The information here is not to be used or reprinted without permission.

Need more 4th of July recipes?

Browse through these other recipes geared to the Fourth of July at CHEFScatalog.com.

Love picnics? Then do we have some good information for you—right here on CHEFS Mix:

Your turn: When it comes to fireworks, do you prefer the loud, bright boomers or the quieter, but more colorful, explosions?

Grilling Essentials at CHEFScatalog.com

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Tags: Picnics, Party Menu, Fourth of July, Recipes

Categories: Food & Recipes