Monday, July 9, 2012

4th of July Recap

What a lovely week. With the 4th falling on a Wednesday, Joe and I decided to have a little Pre-4th of July BBQ last Saturday. Then we both either took off or worked from home most of the week so Joe was home the whole time and I had an amazing 5 day weekend. Here's a little recap of two of the things I made for our 4th of July Celebrations.

For our BBQ, I decided to try out this BLT Pasta Salad I pinned a long time ago:

I prepared most of it Friday night and added the lettuce in on Saturday before serving.

After cooking the bacon, warm the tomatoes with some minced garlic

cooked pasta with the chives, sour cream, mayo and bacon

almost finished product (missing the lettuce, I forgot to take a pic after that)
The Verdict: It was sort of plain. I must confess I didn't use enough chives and sort of forgot the thyme, but I don't think that would have made much of a difference. It was ok - just nothing much to it.

Things to Consider: I think throwing in a packet of Ranch dressing mix and some more sour cream would really help it out. It would give it some more flavor. Perhaps I will attempt that next time.

BLT Pasta Salad (from a bird and a bee)

  • 12 ounce corkscrew shaped pasta
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 12 ounces lean bacon
  • 3 medium ripe tomatoes, cut into chunks
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 cup mayo
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 4 tablespoons chopped chives
  • 5 heads Bibb lettuce, quartered, or 5 cups chopped romaine hearts
Cook the pasta in a large pot of salted boiling water as the label directs. Drain and toss with the milk in a large bowl; set aside.
Meanwhile, cook the bacon in a large skillet over medium-high heat until crisp. Drain on paper towels. Discard all but 3 tablespoons drippings from the pan. Add the tomatoes, thyme and garlic to the pan and toss until warmed through; season with salt and pepper. Crumble the bacon into bite-size pieces; set aside 1/4 cup for garnish. Toss the remaining bacon and the tomato mixture with the pasta.
Mix the mayonnaise, sour cream and 3 tablespoons chives with the pasta until evenly combined. Season with salt and pepper. Add the lettuce; toss again to coat. Garnish with the reserved bacon and the remaining 1 tablespoon chives. Serve at room temperature.

I also made a version of this summer punch and it was a hit. Of course I forgot to take pics, so I will just have to make it again to be able to post about it.

On Wednesday we went to the annual 4th of July BBQ at Joe's parent's house. I saw this pin last year, and have been dying to make it ever since:

Now a lot of the people in attendance at this BBQ have restrictions on their sugar intake, so to account for that, I used boxed cake mix - the kind made with splenda. I just followed the directions, using food coloring to try and make them appear red and blue. I used a box for each color - making two 9" rounds of red, two 9" round of white (really yellow cake mix - apparently there is no white splenda mix), and 1 super thick 9" round of blue.
I know it looks green, but I swear its blue!
I know the pin calls to make one 9" round of each color and cut them in half. I knew these have a tendency to fall a little flat and cutting them would be a challenge, so I just decided to go with a huge layer cake and make all the stripes I need in separate pans.

Next up I frost a red round onto a white (yellow, whatever).

Then I cut a the center out of the blue (green, whatever) cake, and used that "hole" as a guide to cut the same size out of the remaining red and white layers.

I frosted the little red circle onto the little white circle, and then plopped them into the hole in the blue. I then attempted to frost the whole thing.

You can sort of see the red circle inside the blue

Attempting to frost the whole thing

Finished product!

Hurray it sort of worked!

The Verdict: It sort of worked. When Joe cut into it at his parents, I am not sure they knew what they were looking at, but once we explained it was a flag everyone got it. It didn't come out nearly as pretty as the pin, but you can see the flag. It was just so huge (the equivalent of 2 boxes of cake mix and 2.5 cans of frosting)!

Things to Consider: Working with the splenda mixes was challenging. I find everything to be sticky. The cake was very crumbly, and the frosting is super sticky and thick. You can see the crumbs in the top coat of the frosting and putting the small red and white layers into the blue was almost a disaster. The coloring was hard to get right also, though I am not sure if that the splenda or a user error. I used a whole tube of red gel in the one box and it still looks pink to me. The blue has a greenish tinge (and of course the white is really yellow).
The layers were thick, but I don't think I would have been able to easily cut them in half. Next time I think I would do one 8" round of each color and that would make them easier to cut.

I think I will definitely be attempting this again next year -  but maybe using a real sugar cake for a different event.

Hope everyone had a great 4th! I am not sure how I am going to survive a full week of work this week! Ugh.

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