Monday, July 14, 2014

July Celebrations... and a Recipe!

By Andrea Renee Cox

The first week of July is always exciting for me. My sister celebrates her birthday, and our country celebrates its independence. Cake and fireworks. Celebrations don’t get much better. Since we live in town, we decided to try something new this year. On the fourth, we drove out to the country and found a great spot to pull off the road where we had a great view of several different bursts of fireworks. It was practically a panoramic view. Oh, they were beautiful! We were far enough away where we couldn’t hear the loudness of them, which is my least favorite part, but the variety of colors took my breath away.

On the fifth, my family had a barbecue and invited a family who are great friends of ours. Chicken and hot dogs, pasta salad, healthy cheese-less mac & cheese (trust me, it’s delicious!), fruit salad, and several desserts were laid out and enjoyed. Conversation flowed through our living room, along with laughter. We had a great time.

The reason we had our party on the fifth was because our town held its fireworks show that day. After we ate and the sky grew dark, we sprayed with bug spray (crucial in this summer of chiggers!) and sat in chairs in the grass by the railroad tracks. (Don't worry. There weren't any trains coming.) From there, we had a great view of the fireworks the city shot off from the high school. It was another beautiful show. There was a new firework I hadn’t seen before. It appeared to be a small white cloud when it burst. Very cute but kind of puzzling.

Getting together with friends for any celebration, or even just because, never gets old. Fun times and happy memories are always to be had. I like this new tradition we’ve started, having a barbecue for the Fourth of July (this year, on the fifth) with another family in town. Hopefully we’ll be able to continue these fun times for many more years to come.

I tried a few new dessert recipes this year. I’ve already shared my root beer float cookies with you. Here’s another one that my family and friends really liked. It’s definitely a keeper. Not only that, but it may be adapted for nearly any celebration with just a few alterations.

RED, WHITE, ’N’ BLUE SALAD
Red, White, 'N' Blue Salad

Ingredients:
1 (3 oz.) package berry blue gelatin
2 cups boiling water, divided
2 ½ cups cold water, divided
1 cup fresh blueberries
1 envelope unflavored gelatin
1 cup heavy whipping cream
6 tablespoons sugar
2 cups (16 oz.) sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 (3 oz.) package raspberry gelatin
1 cup fresh raspberries
Whipped topping and additional berries, optional

Directions:
1. In a large bowl, dissolve berry blue gelatin in 1 cup boiling water; stir in 1 cup cold water. Add blueberries. Pour into a 3-quart serving bowl (a clear bowl works well so you can see the beauty of this dessert). Refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour.

2. Meanwhile, in a saucepan, sprinkle unflavored gelatin over ½ cup cold water; let stand for 1 minute. Add the cream and sugar; cook and stir over low heat until gelatin and sugar are completely dissolved. Cool to room temperature. Whisk in sour cream and vanilla. Spoon over the blue layer. Refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour.

3. In a large bowl, dissolve raspberry gelatin in 1 cup boiling water; stir in 1 cup cold water. Add raspberries. Spoon over white cream layer. Chill until set, about 1 hour. Garnish with whipped topping and additional berries, if desired.

This recipe will quickly become a favorite among your family and friends. To create a similar dish for holidays or parties other than the Fourth of July, simply use different flavors of gelatin with fruits that compliment them. Examples: grape gelatin with halved grapes or whole blueberries; orange or lemon gelatin with mandarin oranges; strawberry gelatin with quartered strawberries. Play with it and have fun!

If you’re not making a mess, you’re not really cooking.

Readers, it’s your turn. What are your family’s Fourth of July traditions? Do you ever try new recipes for your family get-togethers, or do you stick to your favorites? Care to share any?


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