Perfect 4th of July Menu (No Really, It’s Perfect)

I want to make your 4th of July easy and delicious, mostly because I want to live vicariously through you.

I don’t have big plans, being that we’re in the Bay Area and I have no idea what to do around here (and currently have very few friends).

But if you have tons of friends near you and are looking for the perfect 4th of July menu, I’m going to tell you the 5 major components of an Amazing 4th of July (because I know you are dying to get my unsolicited advice).

The idea is to keep it simple and delicious, so here’s what you’ll need. . .

1.  Meats

Ribs.  Always grill ribs on 4th of July.

In my perfect Food Network world, I imagine that Gina and Patrick Neely make the best ribs.  So let’s go with their recipe found here.

If you don’t have a grill (heresy! oh wait, I don’t either), then make them in the oven a la Smitten Kitchen.

Photo Credit: Smitten Kitchen

Regardless of what you choose, ribs are a must.

2.  Hot Dogs

Nothing says 4th of July like Hot Dogs.  You can get sassy and put egg salad on them:

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Or go traditional and grill up some fatty sausages and slather them in mustard!  I swear Costco’s Kirkland brand hot dogs are the best for the price.

PSA: Don’t forget to grill the buns too!

3. Side Dishes

You don’t need a million side dishes, but you need some diversity.  And let’s be honest… you need carbs.

This Torellini Salad is amazing.  You need to include it.  I’ve made it for 4th of July and other gatherings.  It’s always a hit.   If you’re not feeling tortellini, use rotelle pasta and you’re good to go.

Photo Credit: The Kitchn

This Red, White and Blue Potato Salad looks awesome.

Photo Credit: Chive Cooking

If you don’t love mayo, you’re a liar.  Make this potato salad anyway.  People love mayo.

And of course, no summer meal is complete without baked beans.  Normally, I would just say buy a few cans at the grocery store (because I really do think canned baked beans are delicious and I’m not ashamed), but you can also give these slow cooker ones a try.

If you don’t love beans, we can’t be friends.

Let’s also not forget to have a fruit salad or some watermelon, because fruit is a wonderful refreshing side.  And potato chips.  Always potato chips. Because ‘Merica!

4. Dessert

Pie is for 4th of July!

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Strawberry Rhubarb Pie with a touch of bourbon is a fine option.

You might also want to consider this Bourbon Banana Pie, because it’s simply divine.

BourbonBananaPie3Let’s also not forget the magic that is cake.  This year, I’m sort of itching to make an American Flag cake.  Too cheesy?  Maybe, but doesn’t this one look good?

Photo Credit: Oh Sweet Basil

5. Drinks

Beverages must be flowing on 4th of July.  Beer is an obvious choice.  But Gin is also a winner.  Try these strawberry-basil gin and tonics

strawberrybasilginandtonic2For something alcohol-free (and really hydrating, because it’s hot and hydration is important), keep a pitcher of this Coconut Mint Cooler in the fridge.

coconutmintcoolerWith this menu, I promise your 4th of July will be a hit.   You’ll be well-fed, happy and ready to celebrate our nation’s independence.

You can also feel free to throw some cornbread into this menu mix.  We could always use more cornbread.

What’s on your 4th of July menu?

 

 

Burlap and Sage Baby Shower

Pinterest has really changed the way we throw parties.  Or at least parties with my sister.

For me, parties are about food and people.  She loves parties to be beautifully decorated and perfect.  So when it was time to throw her another baby shower, Pinspiration had to happen.

This weekend we threw a baby shower for my sister’s second child.  Baby James will be here soon, so what better way to celebrate him than with some cute decorations and tasty foods.  Normally, I would want to make a ton of foods to feed a crowd, but things have been crazy over here in Foodologie-land.

Here’s a quick update before we get into the baby shower details.  I’m currently homeless.  Jesse and I moved out of our apartment last week.  Our stuff is in storage and we’re moving from house to house for the next few weeks until we move up to the Bay Area at the end of the month.  Between moving and work and life, I didn’t have a whole lot of time to make food in advance.  Instead, I focused on decor and kept the food simple (and store-bought).

I think it worked out well and was far less stressful than trying to make all the food myself.

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We rented tables and sage green table cloths.  My sister bought a burlap runner that we trimmed to fit each table.  

The centerpieces were simple but nice.  Some beautiful hydrangeas, some small candles and some letters to spell out James.   The flowers I got at Costco that morning.

Tip: Costco is a great place for flowers if you’re throwing a party! IMG_9084

For favors, we got some little burlap sacks and put some hershey kisses and hand sanitizers in them, along with a little tag that says Thank you.

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Upon arrival, guests took a photo of themselves and filled out a “Wishes for Baby” card, with cute advice for Baby James.

Then there was food of course… IMG_9105 IMG_9106 We kept it simple with a sandwich bar and salads.  

The salads included: green salad, pasta salad, potato salad, and fruit salad.

For Dessert, we had various treats (mostly for decorative purposes) and pies! IMG_9108

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Like I said, I didn’t have a whole lot of time to bake, but Coco’s has some seriously good and reasonably priced pies.  Definitely recommended.  We had fresh strawberry pie, dutch apple pie, banana cream pie, chocolate cream pie and cheesecake pie with lemon curd.  

They all looked and tasted great!

For drinks, I did strawberry flavored water and a fun concoction I found on pinterest, a mix of pineapple juice, lemonade and sprite.  It was a bit too sweet but tasty! IMG_9095 We didn’t do any baby shower type activities.  Instead people just had fun while eating and drinking.  

Overall, this baby shower was much less stressful to plan.  Keeping the food simple made the whole event come together more easily.

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I hope the mom-to-be (aka my sister) liked it.

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I can’t wait to meet Baby James!

Coming up next on Foodologie…. Fun-employment and a few trips coming up before the big move.  Hopefully some good eats along the way.  Stay tuned!

What’s your favorite part of throwing a party?

How to Have a Fried Chicken and Waffles Party

Chicken and waffles are one of those food combinations that have a cult following.  In Los Angeles, Roscoe’s House of Chicken and Waffles is an institution, and I’m pretty sure Lay’s makes a Chicken and Waffles flavored chips.

I remember having Roscoe’s once in high school, but I don’t remember if I tried the chicken and the waffles together.  I’m pretty sure I ate them separately.  That’s clearly not the “right” way to eat them.

Like most things I find intriguing, I wanted to try making my own chicken and waffles.  But let’s be honest, frying chicken is not something I’m going to take lightly.  I wasn’t going to just make 2 pieces of chicken, 2 waffles and call it a day.  No no.  This was my first time frying chicken.  It was going to be an event.  And thus the Chicken and Waffles party was born.

The first thing you need for an event is guests, so I recruited this crew to be my chicken and waffles testers.

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So if you’re like me, and you feel the need to make chicken and waffles an event, here’s a how.

What You’ll Need:

  • Chicken: I used drumsticks and thighs
  • Peanut Oil for frying
  • Buttermilk for the chicken (and the waffles)
  • Flour, paprika, salt and pepper for dredging the chicken
  • Yeast, Milk, Eggs, Flour, Sugar, Salt and Butter for the Waffles
  • Maple Syrup or just pancake syrup
  • Plate, forks, knives, napkins
  • Beer.  Lots of beer. And ice to keep it cold.

First things first.  You have to convince people that you are an awesome cook and that your chicken and waffles will be amazing.  I suggest creating invites to get people excited (don’t see how they wouldn’t be, also don’t tell them you’ve never tried frying chicken before).  I used Evite, because I’m a nerd.  But you can also e-mail, text or call your friends to invite them.  Make sure they RSVP so you know how much to make.

I estimated 3 pieces of chicken per person and at least 3 waffles per person.  My worst fear is someone leaving my house hungry.

A day or two before your event buy all the things you need (see list above).

The night before the event, start your waffles.

I used Smitten Kitchen’s Essential Raised Overnight Waffles.

They were amazing. I absolutely recommend them!

But because I’m a fiend for feeding people, I figured one waffle recipe for 8 people wasn’t enough (I was right).  So instead of doubling the recipe, I used a recipe a friend shared with me (made day of).  It was oh so buttery and tasty.

Day of…

Set up your table.  Dress it up, dress it down.  Always include fresh flowers.

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Start making the chicken.  Let me preface this by saying this was my first time making fried chicken.  I did A LOT of research.  After reading the million ways to make the “perfect” fried chicken, I decided to keep it simple. I pretty much used this recipe from AllRecipes but didn’t use their method.  My method was to make sure the oil wasn’t too hot and I kept turning it for even golden-goodness all around.

Frying the chicken is the most time consuming part, so start early (depending on the size of your skillet and how much chicken you make it’ll determine how long it will take).

First drown your chicken in buttermilk and let it sit there for a few minutes.  Then put about 3 cups of flour in a bag with 1 tbsp each of paprika, salt and pepper (more salt if you’d like, mine wasn’t salty).

Transfer a piece of buttermilk soaked chicken into the flour bag, toss around.  Place chicken on a parchment paper lined baking sheet.  Repeat until all the pieces of chicken are covered in the flour/buttermilk mixture.  Note: the amount of chicken you make will determine how much flour you need.  If you need to make more, just remember the ratios above (1 cup flour = 1 tsp spice, feel free to increase the spice).

Let the chicken sit and the coating get paste-like as you heat the oil.  Fill a large (I used 12″) cast iron skillet about half way full of oil.  Turn on heat to medium and let the oil get hot.

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I didn’t use a thermometer.  I used the flour trick.  What’s the flour trick? Sprinkle some flour into the oil.  If it starts to bubble your ready to fry.  Keep the flame at about medium.  Once the oil is hot, add a few pieces of chicken to the skillet.  You don’t want to crowd the pan but you should be able to fit about 4-5 pieces in there.  Fry chicken, turning every 3 minutes about 14 minutes for drumsticks and 18 minutes for large thighs.

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Cut through one to make sure it’s cooked through so you know your estimated cooking time from now on.  Place chicken on a paper towel lined baking sheet and put in a 200 degree oven to keep warm and crisp.

Repeat until you’re done making your chicken.

Next make your waffles. If you’re using Smitten Kitchen’s recipe, now is the time to mix in the 2 eggs and baking soda.  Or mix together your waffle recipe of choice!  Cook your waffles in your waffle iron.

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I borrowed my sister’s waffle iron so that I had two going at the same time.  It made the process faster.  If you’re making waffles for a crowd, keep them warm and crisp in the 200 Degree oven by putting them on a baking sheet IN A SINGLE LAYER (I didn’t do that and totally got soggy waffles.  Sad face.).

Now that your chicken and waffles are made.  You’re ready to eat.  Pile a platter high of chicken

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and another of waffles, and don’t forget the syrup!

chickenandwaffles2And your table will be ready for a crowd to dig in!

bwchickenandwaffles(Obviously they all had to wait while you took pictures of the table setting)


Now sit around, pass the waffles

chickenandwaffles6and the chicken

chickenandwaffles7And eat them how you like best, don’t be scared to use your fingers or smother everything in maple syrup.

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If you have left overs, don’t worry.  Reheat it all in the oven in a single layer and it’ll taste delicious the next day too!

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Thanks to David, Talia, Rachel, Marco, Allison, Joe and Jesse (especially Jesse for being my co-chef) for having chicken and waffles with me!  You guys are the best!  Thanks for testing out my food and being all around pleasant company!

Ok so have I convinced you?  When are you throwing a chicken and waffles party?

I would totally do it again!

Hot Air Baloon-themed Baby Shower

I totally forgot to tell you all about something.  If you follow me on Instagram, you might notice that I keep posting pictures of a baby.

That’s Graham.  My nephew.  He’s so stinkin’ cute.

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Sometimes he matches my boyfriends.  They’re both pretty stinkin’ cute.

But before Graham was born, I threw a baby shower for my sister, in anticipation of Graham.  That’s what I forgot to tell you about.

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It was cute and hot air ballooned theme, with lots of ideas from Pinterest.  So in case you’re looking to throw a baby shower, here are some ideas.

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Paper lanterns with cardboard take out containers make great hanging decor.   And obviously, you need a lot of food…

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We had fruit salad, green salad, as well as sandwiches, appetizers, and guava and cheese pastries from Porto’s Bakery, a cake and cupcakes.

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The cake almost looked awesome, but I’ll be honest the bakery we got it from pretty much sucked.  The fondant cracked a bunch and when I called to complain, they didn’t really want to listen to my complaint.  Bad service for an over priced cake.   But aside for them blah cake, there were awesome cupcakes made by me.

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And oreo truffle pops.  If anyone’s interested, I can remake these and give a tutorial on how to make them look cute.  Any takers?

In addition to the food, we set up a welcome table

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which included a guest book and a Fujifilm Instax Mini.  Guests took a picture of themselves, then filled out a card with wishes for the baby (which I got on Etsy in case you’re interested)

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Then they put their photo next to their completed card in the album!

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It worked out well!

The center pieces were simple, candles with red flowers to fit the red and blue theme.

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And of course, the favors were pies in jars made with lots of love from Foodologie.

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Pinterest made planning this baby shower fun, but also a little more stressful.  I think Pinterest raises everyone’s expectations of what an event should be.  What do you think?  Does Pinterest give you unrealistic expectations about parties?

I can’t even imagine what my wedding would be like!

Do you have any events coming up?  Are you using Pinterest to plan?