Monday, July 4, 2011

Fourth of July Festivities

Happy 4th of July everybody!!!

I'm sure all of you had some similar holiday activities as me - waking up at the crack of dawn to start cooking, eating half of what you make before the guests arrive (my sister creatively calls it "testing for quality"), eating again with your party-goers (it's only polite, right?), eating some more as you bag up left overs.... - boarding a plane back to Northern California :(

Anyways, recap of our dishes anybody??

My sister & I were up at 6:30 to start the day off right: with some leftover blackberry and granola pancakes from the Hash House!!!! If you haven't been, you won't believe the portion sizes.  To give you any idea, this restaurant was on Man Vs. Food... so when I say pancake, I have no idea what size pan will allow you to cook a 1/2 ton flapjack.

She was off to go on a hike (we're quite an active bunch!) and I started preparing the days nummers:

I foodgawked & raided my favorite bloggers for some good recipe ideas, and I finally decided to visit Katie at The Dashing Dish, and try out her Red, White & Blue Healthy Cheesecake Bars!  This woman is a genius - she remakes all of the traditionally delicious, but so un-nutritious, desserts and turns them into healthified versions without compromising any of the wonderful tastes!  Check it out!

Red, White & Blue Healthy Cheesecake Bars
1 graham cracker pie crust - I bought a pre-made one
1 package of reduced fat cream cheese (8 oz)
3/4 cups of sugar substitute (Splenda!)
3/4 cups of low fat cottage cheese
1 whole egg
2 egg whites
1 tsp vanilla extract
About 2 tbsp of lemon juice
1/4 cup blueberries
1/3 cup low sugar or no sugar added strawberry preserves - I used raspberry (cause I loveee it)

- Crumble the graham cracker pie crust and mold to fit an 8 x 8 pan (cover with foil and non-stick spray), bake at 375 degrees for about 8 minutes.
- In a mixing bowl, combine all your ingredients - except the blueberries and the preserves - and mix with a hand mixer until smooth and creamy :)
- After the crust is baked, pour the mix on top of the crust and spread evenly.  Drop the preserves (by the spoonful) on top of the cheesecake and spread with a fork, creating a nifty pattern. Add in blueberries - or any other berry that sounds delish - and pop it into the over for about 30-40 minutes. 

This was seriously the hit of the barbecue... not to brag or anything
I'm really excited to adapt this recipe for some crazy cheesecake - I'm thinking oreo?  peanut butter? chocolate??  I'm open to suggestions!!

This year, I was surprisingly asked to contribute the cheesecake, another dessert, the baked beans, and the potato salad.  I was kind of excited to be promoted - usually I'm in charge of getting the soda from the garage or cutting up the fruit.

I whipped up a delicious and semi-nutritious potato salad using my leftover hassleback potatoes, low-fat cottage cheese, miracle whip, mustard, salt and peppppaa!  Nobody missed the extra calories or the extra saturated fat :)  big surprise.

Instructions: Chop up any leftover potatoes (I had about 9 medium-sized red potatoes) or boil your potatoes and let them cool.  I added in 3 hard boiled eggs because I loveee eggs!  And I added in about 1/3 of a chopped red onion.  In a mixing bowl, add about 1 1/4 cups of low-fat cottage cheese, 1 cup of miracle whip, mustard to taste, salt and peppppa!  Then blend the potato salad sauce, the eggs, onion, and potatoes together and refrigerate until ready to serve.

The beans were a collaborative effort between my sister and I - you can just call her the bean lady.  This girl's been eating baked beans since birth and they are by far her favorite food, which of course makes her the expert and the perfect taste tester!

We added white kidney beans, 2 cans of red kidney beans, black beans & pinto beans (all washed and drained) into the crock pot.  Then we added 3 tablespoons of worcestershire sauce, about 2 table spoons of "liquid smoke" (it literally tastes like barbeque smoke in a bottle), salt and pepper, about a half cup of ketchup, about a half cup of no sugar added maple syrup and some Walden Farms barbeque sauce. OH and some chopped onions because onions find their way into all my dishes.

She approved - which means the rest of the party approved too!

Lastly, we got a few phone calls and we realized the party would be bigger than the original crew, so we decided to add another dessert for good measure.  I didn't have the time or the supplies to make anything from scratch, anything creative, or anything semi-healthy, so I raided the pantry and found a box of betty crocker yellow cake mix - you can't go wrong with cupcakes, right?

In an effort to add a little flare to these bad boys, I divided the cake mix (guys, read the instructions on the back of the box if you need a step-by-step) into 3 separate mixing bowls and added red food coloring to one and blue food coloring to the other.  I layered the blue cake mix, the red cake mix and finally, the yellow mix into these patriotic cupcake liners, popped em in the over for about 18 minutes, let them cool, and let the former bean-lady-turned-cupcake-decorator get to work.

Look at how cute they are!
The bean lady is also the official cupcake tester.  duh.

I can't believe I'm about to leave for the airport - the days of stuffing my face, sitting on my ass, and taking advantage of my mom's amazing kitchen are over... back to the real world!!
Hope your holiday festivities were as delicious as mine! too bad you weren't here for cheesecake bars

:) yum

Question of the day:
- Any good ideas for those brilliant cheesecake bars?  I already mentioned oreos and peanut butter... but there has got to be more creative filling suggestions!
- Do you have any traditional barbecue dishes that I missed?! (Usually burgers, beans, brats, and tater salad covers it)

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