Independence Day is this weekend. I am excited for one of my favorite Fourth of July traditions: the cookout. Each summer, I search for new and delicious fare to serve for this festive occasion. This year, I found some great recipes on Good Housekeeping’s website and also on azcentral.com.
Firecracker Buffalo Chicken Sandwiches
If you’d like to add a little spice to your holiday lineup, this sandwich will really hit the spot.
½ c. hot sauce
¼ c. unsalted butter
3 tbsp. ketchup
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
½ c. ranch dressing
Bleu Cheese-Apple Slaw
1 c. packed shredded Savoy cabbage
1 small apple
2 celery ribs
1½ oz. bleu cheese
¼ c. coarsely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
3 tbsp. olive oil
1½ tbsp. apple cider vinegar
½ tsp. sugar
Preheat grill to medium-high.
Combine the first three ingredients in a bowl; reserve 1/4 cup of the mixture. Add chicken to the remaining mixture and toss to coat. Marinate for 20 minutes. Remove the chicken from marinade; discard marinade.
Grill chicken, covered, until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F, 5 to 7 minutes per side. Grill buns until lightly toasted, 1 to 2 minutes. Spread dressing on buns.
Serve chicken topped with Bleu Cheese-Apple Slaw and drizzled with reserved sauce between buns.
To make the slaw:Combine all slaw ingredients in a large bowl.
Smoky Barbequed Shrimp & Peach Kabobs
For lighter fare, these flavorful skewers kick it up a notch.
12 metal or bamboo skewers
1 tbsp. packed dark brown sugar
1 tsp. chile powder
1 tsp. sweet paprika
½ tsp. ground cumin
¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
1 lb. shelled de-veined shrimp
3 medium peaches
1 bunch green onions
If using bamboo skewers, soak skewers in cold water at least 30 minutes to prevent burning. Prepare outdoor grill for direct grilling on high.
In large bowl, combine brown sugar, chile powder, paprika, cumin, cayenne, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper. Add shrimp, peaches, and onion; toss until evenly coated.
Thread shrimp, peaches, and onion alternately onto skewers.
Grill 3 to 4 minutes or until browned and shrimp become opaque throughout, turning once. Serve with lime wedges.
Red, White, and Bleu Potato Salad
This fresher version of a traditional staple is a welcome accompaniment to any summer barbeque.
3 lb. red potatoes
¼ c. aged sherry vinegar
1 small shallot
2 tsp. Dijon mustard
½ c. bleu cheese
⅓ c. olive oil
3 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
14 oz. watercress
2 green onions
Place potatoes in an 8-quart saucepot. Add water until potatoes are immersed. Add 2 tablespoons salt and heat to boiling on high. Reduce heat to medium. Boil 10 to 20 minutes or until potatoes are just cooked through, but not soft. Test by piercing a potato with a thin skewer or toothpick; when skewer meets some resistance but can slide all the way through, drain potatoes immediately. Potatoes can be drained and set aside at room temperature up to 4 hours ahead.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the vinegar, shallot, mustard, bleu cheese, and 1/3 cup oil. This vinaigrette can be covered and refrigerated up to 4 hours ahead.
Prepare outdoor grill for direct grilling on high.
Cut potatoes into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Brush both sides of each slice with the remaining 3 tablespoons of oil, then sprinkle with a 1/2-teaspoon of salt and a 1/4-teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper.
Place potato slices on the hot grill grate. Grill 5 to 10 minutes or until the potatoes are lightly browned on both sides, turning over once.
Place watercress on large serving platter. Top with the potatoes and green onions. Drizzle the vinaigrette on top. Serve immediately.
Firework Fruit Skewers
The kids (and adults) will love these colorful and festive fruity fireworks.
1 set of 10-inch skewers
Star cookie cutter
Red grapes (optional)
Wash fruit and skewers.
Slice watermelon into 1-inch pieces that fit your cookie cutter’s width.
Cut out stars from the watermelon using your cookie cutter.
To assemble the skewers, slide a blueberry onto a stick. Follow with a mini marshmallow.
Repeat, rotating between berries and marshmallows until there is about an inch of stick left.
Place a star-shaped watermelon slice at the top of each skewer, making sure the pointed stick is not exposed.
If desired, add red grapes or raspberries after the marshmallows to make a red, white, and blue pattern on the stick.
Don’t forget a crisp and refreshing beverage to beat the summer heat.
1 bottle white wine
3 oz. elderflower liqueur
2 c. blueberries, washed
2 c. strawberries, washed and quartered
3-4 Granny Smith apples
12 oz. sparkling water
Combine the first four ingredients in a pitcher.
Slice the apples into 1/4-inch pieces, wide enough to fit your cookie cutter.
Cut out stars from the apple slices using your cookie cutter.
Chill beverage for at least 4 hours.
Just before serving the sangria, add sparkling water.
Serve sangria in a tall glass with ice and garnish with an apple-star cutout.
Now that you have some delicious ideas for your holiday cookout, you can have peace of mind going into this busy holiday weekend. Just remember to hit your local farm stands and farmers’ markets to get the freshest local organic ingredients.
Here are some great gift ideas for your special dad.
Plan an Outing: Take your dad to his favorite restaurant or plan a family fishing trip, hike with a picnic, movie, concert, or sporting event that he would enjoy.
Plan a special at-home treat: Make him breakfast in bed, or plan a night in you can make his favorite dinner, then watch a video and relax.
Build him an eco-inspired bird house out of a recycled bottle – HERE
Get dad some new items for the barbecue to inspire more summer night barbecues.
Show dad how much he’s appreciated by making a homemade picture frame. Here’s a link for some creatives ways to make a frame – HERE
Create a gift basket and fill it with some of his favorite things. Maybe pick a theme based on his hobbies or favorite treats and fill the basket based on the theme. Some great examples of theme ideas: sportsman, coffee lover, sweet-tooth fanatic, bookworm, Mr. Fix It, film buff or outdoorsman, to name just a few.
Get him a digital magazine subscription or pick out some books by his favorite author at a used bookstore.
This Father’s Day, show dad how important he is and how much he’s loved.
This Friday will mark the 46th year of the Earth Day movement! Earth Day continues to inspire and ignite passion to motivate people into action to help protect our planet. There are many ways we can start incorporating eco-friendly ideas into our lives to lessen our impact on the globe. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
Volunteer to pick up litter at your neighborhood park, beach, hiking trail, etc.
Help evaluate the recycling system in your home and office to ensure you are using the best system possible.
Be conscious of your energy and water usage. Turn off lights and unplug appliances when not in use, shorten showers, wash laundry in cold water, etc.
Evaluate your home’s efficiency, ensure you have energy-efficient light bulbs, lower water temperature, and adjust your thermostat at least one degree lower during cold days and one degree higher on hotter days to help conserve energy.
Use reusable water bottles and coffee mugs rather than paper to-go cups or plastic bottles.
Bring your own reusable shopping bags for groceries.
Plan an unplugged night – turn off the TV, computers, laptops, cell phones,and tablets, hang out with family or friends, play games, talk, laugh, and enjoy an electronic-free night.
Get outside and enjoy our planet: have a picnic, play games, garden, etc.
These simple ideas may not seem like they will make a big impact, but if we all incorporate them in our lives they can add up to big changes.
What changes are you planning on implementing in your life this Earth Day? Tell us in the comments below.
When most people see a food item that is labeled organic, they automatically assume that it is healthy for you. The truth is, food is labeled organic based on how it is grown, raised, or prepared, not based on the nutritional value. Unhealthy foods can be made with organic ingredients and be labeled as such, but will still be lacking in wholesome, nutritious ingredients. Check out this fun video that explains the difference between organic and healthy and will let you know what to look for next time you are shopping for a healthy meal:
Father’s Day is a great time to recognize all of the wonderful things dads have done for their children this year. There are many ways to show appreciation, like planning a special event, finding that perfect gift, or doing something nice to help him out. Here are some ideas that are fun for Dad and friendly for the environment.
Prepare an organic breakfast-in-bed
Buy him a nice organic-cotton tie, shirt, or bathrobe
Take him on a trip to a farmer’s market or a local restaurant
Take him to a concert, festival, or sporting event
Set up a hammock for him in the backyard so he can relax
Take him bird watching and take pictures of birds you see
Go on a hike or bicycle ride and spend some quality time together
Get a pair of fishing poles and take him out to the river
Find a nice recipe for dinner that the two of you can make together
Whatever you decide to do, the best part of Father’s Day will be spending some quality time together!
Now that school is out and the weather is hot it’s time to think about what kind of fun activities you can plan to keep the whole family happy. Here is a list of 25 ideas we came up with. Use some of our ideas or come up with a few of your own.
Volunteer at a local animal shelter, nature center, or organization that you support.
Plan a camping trip and head out to the great outdoors.
Visit your local farmer’s market for some yummy produce and local goods.
Use the berries you pick or the farmer’s-market finds to make delicious smoothies!
Have a picnic at a park.
Go canoeing at a local lake.
Have a backyard campfire – with s’mores.
Go biking on a trail.
Plant a garden of herbs and veggies.
Have an outdoor painting party using huge canvas or cardboard.
Visit a museum.
Learn about stargazing and identify as many constellations as possible.
Go outside and play. Volleyball, basketball, baseball, badminton- whatever game you love, get out and start playing.
Get a map of the US and mark off all the exciting places you want to visit.
Lace up your skates and go rollerskating.
Make popsicles with your favorite organic juice.
Visit a flea market.
Pick up a new hobby like painting, writing, fishing, etc.
Visit a national park. The kids can even become Junior Rangers!
Have a game night with charades, Pictionary, Jenga, Monopoly, etc.
Attend an outdoor festival or concert.
Find a local carnival.
Have homemade-pizza night.
Fall into a good book.
Whatever you decide to do, enjoy the summer, be sure to stay hydrated and protect yourself from the sun!