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The Foodie Column for July 1, 2015

By T. Myers

While we go into Frontier Days and La Pine Rodeo Mode and our company gathers to celebrate the 4th of July, we can make it easy on our guests and ourselves by setting up a little advance food prep to be ready to pull together easy meals in the heat of the day- and we are looking at triple digits this year- with variety for the household and ease for the hostess.

What do we like to eat? We want the traditional foods that come with the mid-summer holiday and we want to eat when we feel hungry. There is never anything wrong with the barbeque, but when it is really hot, cooking over any hot fire is not always the thing to do. Besides there are other things to focus on- like bug spray and sunscreen on everyone and keeping the pool clean and setting up the water balloon fights.

Try this: We can make up burger patties, cook and reheat them by doing a little bbq work on one night to make everything for the weekend a day or two in advance. Cook your burgers, chicken and even hot dogs and put them in Tupperware to grab and heat in the microwave or with a steamer on top of the stove if you are doing it for a crowd. A selection of buns at the ready can also be filled with simple tuna or chicken salad.

Fix a big container of grab and eat veggies that can be served with a bottle of ranch dressing. Get a big watermelon and a couple of cantaloupe that can be wedged and served for breakfast or dinner. Boxes of cereal for am and a gallon of milk will cover breakfast. Add some good toast and a jar of peanut butter and you can go from toast to PB and J sandwiches that are easy and quick. I love to make muffins and biscuits for breakfast and a big skillet of scrambled eggs can go from breakfast to dinner if you add a salad with vinaigrette. Good coffee in the Am and good Decaf in the PM, some juices, and an assortment of sliced and cubed cheeses and sandwich meat or a baked ham will help you pull together good meals in a hurry. Don’t forget the potato or macaroni salad- always good in picnic mode. Potato and corn chips, dips and cookies from the store or your oven complete the snack list. Keep salad things ready, too.

Jell-O salads can be dessert or side and there are so many recipes, but on the 4th– that crazy pretzel, cream cheese, strawberry and gelatin dessert topped with fresh whip cream and blue berries and strawberries is always a winner. And the kids love strawberry poke cake!

Follow directions for a white cake mix in a 9X13 pan. Cool and take a wood handle spoon and poke holes all over the cake. Mix up a batch of Strawberry or raspberry Jell-O and pour the jello all over the cake to fill the holes you make. Put it in the fridge to cool and top with fresh whip cream when you are ready to serve. Line up a few rows of berries across the top. I love a few sprinkles of coconut for texture and cut and serve to show the red streaks going through the cake. This is pretty and easy to do and will keep for a few days while you eat every morsel.

If you have lots of company, try a Texas Chocolate Sheet cake. Big flat pieces of cake with yummy frosting will satisfy a crowd! The nuts make it extraordinary!

  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • Frosting, below
  • ***Frosting***
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 box (1 pound) confectioners’ sugar, sifted (4 1/4 cups sifted)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans, optional
  • Preparation
  • Cake: Combine 1 cup butter, water, and 1/4 cup cocoa in saucepan over medium heat; heat until butter melts. Add sugar, flour, salt, eggs, soda, sour cream, and 1 teaspoon of vanilla; mix well.
  • Pour into a 15x10x1-inch jelly roll pan.
  • Bake at 350° for about 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  • Frost while still hot.

Frosting: When the cake is almost finished baking, combine 1/2 cup of butter, 1/4 cup of cocoa, and milk in a saucepan; bring to a boil. Add the confectioners’ sugar and 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla mix well with electric mixer. Stir in pecans, if using, and pour over the cake.

Spread to cover the hot cake

Bon Appetit!

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