Patriotic Trifle

It's almost here folks!  A true mark of summer, the Fourth of July.  I love this holiday!  The weather is always nice, everyone is in good spirits, it usually involves BBQ, you get to lay in the sun and play in the water, fireworks end the day, and of course there's amazing food.  Forth of July fare is comfort food at its finest.  One thing I particularly enjoy about cooking for this holiday is the abundance of fresh fruit.  The pies are one of the best parts for sure.  But If you're looking for something maybe a little cooler and more refreshing this trifle fits the bill.  Nothing but fresh fruit and homemade whip cream, you can't beat it.  What better way to celebrate our independence from the English than by eating a dessert they created but putting an American twist on it!
{amounts may vary depending on the size of your trifle dish}
4 cups fresh blueberries
4 cups halved fresh strawberries
3 cups heaving whipping cream
3 teaspoons vanilla
1/4-1/2 cup granulated sugar to taste

Using an electric mixer add the whipping cream, vanilla and sugar (add more sugar if you like it sweeter).  Whip on high speed for about 3 minutes or until stiff peaks form.  (Don't mix too long or it will turn into sweet vanilla butter!)

In trifle dish put a layer about an  inch thick of whipping cream.  Then using about 3 cups of the blueberries spread evenly over the whip cream.  Next add another layer of whip cream, this time about 2 inches thick.  Next add a  layer of about 3 cups of the strawberries.  On top of the strawberries add another 2 inch layer of whip cream.  Now you can decorate the top how you like.  I put a ring of strawberries on the outside, with a circle of blueberries in the middle.  Then I put a dollop of whip cream in the middle of the blueberries and added a final strawberry on top.

Keep refrigerated until ready to serve.  Serve on top of vanilla bunt cake or all on its own, both ways are delicious.  Enjoy! Serves about 10.

Warm Potato Salad with Bacon Vinaigarette

Summer is coming!  I'm holding out hope even though it snowed yesterday.  That means it's time to get outdoor and grilling fare on the menu.  I found this recipe last summer and was addicted to it from the first bite.  This dish is so good and is a nice alternative to the traditional mayonnaise based potato salad.  Plus you serve it warm or at room temp, so no worrying about how to keep it cool on a hot sunny day.  Here's the DL...
2 pounds potatoes, washed and cubed into 1 inch pieces (I have used all kinds of potatoes on this recipe and they all turn out good.  In the picture I used a mix of Yukon Gold and red potatoes)
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 medium onion, thinly sliced
1 Tablespoon sugar
2 Tablespoons butter
6 strips bacon
1 Tablespoon parsley

Vinaigrette Ingredients
warm bacon drippings
3 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/8 teaspoon thyme
1/8 teaspoon oregano
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon olive oil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a bowl mix potatoes, olive oil, salt and pepper.  Stir to coat.  Drizzle a little olive oil on a baking sheet.  Put coated potatoes on baking sheet and roast for 35-40 minutes, or until tender and golden brown.

Meanwhile, in small pan over medium heat melt the butter.  Add the onion and the sugar.  Stir to coat and let cook 10-12 minutes, turning occasionally, or until onions are tender and caramelized.

In medium sized pan over medium heat cook bacon until brown and crispy.  Remove bacon and let drain on paper towel.  Leave drippings in pan.

While drippings are still warm, over low heat add all the vinaigrette ingredients.  Whisk well until everything is incorporated and slightly thickened.  

Put hot potatoes into a large bowl.  Crumble the bacon and sprinkle on top of the potatoes.  Add the onions, parsley, and the warm vinaigrette to the potatoes.  Stir well until everything is coated.  Serve warm or at room temperature and enjoy!  Serves 6. 

Old Fashion Pancakes

Few things are as good for breakfast (or occasionally dinner) as pancakes.  This simple, basic, old fashion recipe for pancakes fits the bill.  These pancakes are fluffy, flavorful, and filling. And they're made with staple ingredients and mixed by hand.  Nothing like going back to the original recipe to make a good ol' standby like pancakes.  Your hungry crew won't be disappointed!  Here's the skinny...
3 cups flour
2 Tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons salt
5 1/4 baking powder
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 1/2 cups milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 Tablespoons butter, melted & cooled

Mix flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder.  Make a well in the center of the flour mixture.  Add eggs, milk, vanilla, and butter into the well.  Slowly stir until all the ingredients are incorporated.  Batter will be slightly lumpy.  Let batter sit for 5-10 minutes.
Meanwhile heat griddle over medium-high heat.  Coat griddle with butter or canola oil.  Pour about 1/4 cup batter per pancake on the hot griddle.  Flip pancake when bubbles start to rise to the top.  Continue to cook pancake until bottom is golden brown.
Serve pancakes warm with butter and syrup.  Enjoy!  Makes 24-26 six inch pancakes.