It’s the 4th. of July weekend, and I do mean weekend this year! This means baseball (such as it is during this pandemic), picnics (socially distanced of course), and backyard barbecues!
I know things are different this year and “normal” is anything but business as usual. But that doesn’t mean we can’t celebrate the birth of our nation in a grand way, just maybe not in the same way we’ve always done.
For many this weekend means firing up the grill for that all important barbecue. Sure grilled burgers, dogs, and steaks and smoked meats are 4th. of July favorites, but if you’re looking for something different read on!
I remember spending one 4th. of July in Bar Harbor, Maine. We stayed at the Wonder View Inn which was built on the site where Mary Roberts Rinehart’s estate once stood. The hotel had wonderful views overlooking Acadia National Park; and the site it was built on had an interesting history.
During the 4th. of July holiday Bar Harbor was decorated in full regalia, it has after all been voted #1 in America by the Today Show for it’s 4th. of July celebrations which includes parades and fireworks. The fireworks were spectacular, we viewed it from our room’s balcony. But the best thing I remembered from our 4th. of July vacation in Bar Harbor was the lobster! I seemed that every restaurant in town had a lobster special, and why not, Maine is definitely lobster country! They had everything from lobster rolls to lobster bakes going on.
So this year I decided that a Lobster Bake was how we’d celebrate our July 4th. holiday. Since going to Bar Harbor is not an option this year I thought bringing a Bar Harbor tradition home would be a great idea.
A traditional Maine lobster bake are pots of lobsters, mussels, clams, shrimp, corn, and potatoes all covered in seaweed and steamed. It’s usually steamed at the beach on hot rocks piled with seaweed and the other ingredients and covered with a large tarp, the seaweed steams the seafood to perfection. Of course you can dig a hole in the sand at a beach and do it the traditional way, but there’s a much easier option. I make my Lobster Bake on a sheet pan and bake it in the oven, easy peasy!
Here’s how I do it!
Easy Lobster Bake
6 – 10 Lobster Tails about 4 oz. each (I usually make 2 tails per person)
1 Lb. Extra Large Shrimp (peeled and de-veined but leave the tail on)
1 Lb. Clams
1 Lb. Hot and Spicy Sausage or any type of Sausage you prefer – cut in 1-2″ chunks
6 Red Potatoes – Cut into quarters
3 Cobs of Corn cut into thirds or 6 – 8 frozen mini corn cobs
2 Lemons cut in to wedges
4 Sticks Butter
2 Tbs. Garlic minced
1 Tbs. Old Bay Seasoning
1 Bunch parsley for garnish
Boil potatoes and corn in water for about 10 minutes or until potatoes are half cooked.
Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees.
Line very large baking sheet with parchment paper.
Melt 2 sticks of butter and add 1 Tbs. garlic and Old Bay. Still until well combined. Cook until butter turns golden brown, be careful not to burn this mixture. Remove from heat and set in a warm spot.
Drain potatoes and corn in a large bowl.
Cut each tail down the back but not all the way thru, this will make taking the meat out of the shell easier.
Place lobster tails, shrimp, clams, and sausage in bowl with the potatoes and corn.
Pour melted butter mixture over all and gently mix until everything is coated in butter.
Arrange everything on to the sheet in a single layer.
Place wedges of 1 lemon on the sheet.
Bake for about 18 minutes or until clams open, shrimp is pink, and lobster meat is white.
Meanwhile melt remaining 2 sticks of butter and add remaining garlic. Cook until butter is golden brown. Transfer to dipping bowls for serving.
Place remaining lemon wedges on a plate for serving.
Remove pan from oven, garnish with chopped parsley and serve.
Serve with bowls of corn slaw and biscuits or crusty bread.
Give each person a bowl of butter of dipping and allow them them to serve themselves from the baking sheet.
If I’ve learned anything from the recent recent lock downs due to the deadly virus it’s to make family meals using whatever is on hand.
For many of us lock downs are soon to be a thing of the past if your state hasn’t reopened already. But the treat of more lock downs may still loom in our future. Such is our new normal, at least until a vaccine or a cure can be found. In my opinion that’s a big reason to not forget the lessons we learned thus far.
I’m fortunate enough to live in Hawaii, a state which hasn’t seen the devastation COVID-19 has wielded across the other 48 states that we refer to as the mainland. I’m not sure if it was our politicians’ prompt stay at home order which began on March 23, our health department’s mandatory 14 day quarantine of incoming travelers, our small population with less high density areas, or our isolated location which kept us from the widespread suffering experienced by the other states. I’m prone to think it was a combination of all these factors. But whatever the case maybe the virus was no more real or frightening for us on the islands as it was for our fellow citizens on the mainland.
Our fears heightened by 24/7 news reports and social media posts spurred many citizens to stand in long lines in search of toilet paper, hand sanitizer, and disinfectants just like our mainland counter parts. Fortunately for our family we didn’t wait in long lines searching for basic necessities. My daughter whose family lives in Northern Italy had been in lock down since February, she had urged us to stock up on food and other necessities weeks before US cases and deaths piled up. She had warned that it was only a matter of time before we faced the same issues they faced in Europe. Luckily we listened. We had shopped in early March, doubling and sometimes tripling what we normally purchased. Another plus was having an extra freezer and pantry.
Before the lock down began and we were stocking up our homes and kitchens we had decided that the plan was to have enough of everything so that during the lock down we just had to replenish a few things such as fresh fruits and veggies. During the lock down we’d have lists of what we ran out of which made our grocery trips faster and more efficient; we’d also wait until the list was pretty long before heading to the store.
Because we shopped less frequently and when we did shop not everything on the list was always available, we did run short of a few things. Which is why some of our favorite dishes had to be altered to make use of what we had on hand.
One of the easiest dishes to adapt to ingredients you have on hand is stew. I never really had to plan on making stew, I’ve pretty much use ingredients I found in my fridge and pantry. And in a pandemic stews are one of the best comfort foods to serve.
So during the lock down I made Hunters’ Stew. I call it that because I basically “hunt” for ingredients in my kitchen and toss them together to make my stew. So here’s my hunters’ stew “recipe”, feel free to substitute ingredients based on your tastes and what’s on hand.
Meat – beef, chicken, lamb, or no meat at all – cut meat into large chunks
Veggies – any combination of veggies such as potatoes, carrots, celery, okra, etc.
Flour for dredging
Salt & Pepper
2 Tbs. Oil
Garlic – fresh or powder
Oregano, basil, thyme, bay leaf, or Italian seasoning
Stock or broth – use the same broth as your meat – if you’re making beef stew then use beef broth, etc.
2 Cans tomato sauce or crushed tomatoes (you can even use tomato paste if that’s all you have – if you use paste you may have to use more liquid)
Heat oil in a large pot.
Mix salt, pepper, flour together.
Coat meat in flour mixture, shake off excess flour and place in pot.
Cook until all sides of meat are browned.
Add garlic and other spices.
Add broth and veggies and stir well.
Lower heat to simmer.
Cook covered until potatoes are cooked.
Add tomato sauce or crushed tomatoes.
Cover and simmer until meat is tender.
Store leftovers in the fridge.
Reheated left over stew is usually tastier than fresh stew!
Spring and summer are definitely ideal for barbecuing. So what are you grilling? Tired of the same old same old? Why not grill some finger licking good Barbecued Chicken?
Barbecued Chicken is one of my summer favorites and it took me a while to figure out how those barbecue joints make their delicious barbecues. Was it the sauce? Or is there a marinade? Well, after much searching I found out it takes both! Yup a really good rub AND a really good sauce is what it takes for some restaurant style Barbecue. Click here for my Basic BBQ Chicken Rub you’re going to need it to make your Best Ever Barbecued Chicken this weekend!
So really there are 3 steps to making the Best Ever Barbecued Chicken:
- Rub the chicken parts with my Basic BBQ Chicken Rub and let rest AT LEAST 30 minutes and not more than 24 hours in the refrigerator. (Use 1/4 of the BBQ Chicken Rub for 8-9 pieces of chicken. Drizzle 2 Tbs. Olive Oil on the chicken parts then massage the rub into each piece making sure it’s completely covered. I use boneless chicken thighs but you can use any part or parts you like. The rub works better on skinless parts so I’d advise you to remove the skin. Place chicken in ziplock bag and let rest for at least 30 minutes and no more than 24 hours. If using chicken that has been resting in the fridge for more than 30 minutes place chicken on counter 30 minutes before grilling so that temperature goes down to room temp.)
- Grill the marinated chicken perfectly. Click here for grilling tips.
- Baste chicken with my yummy homemade Barbecue Sauce – baste the last 2 minutes for grilling and after the chicken is cooked – you can also serve barbecue sauce on the side for dipping.
So here’s my super yummy Homemade Barbecue Sauce. The recipe makes about 2 quarts. I keep the sauce in quart sized mason jars in the fridge. It keeps for about 3 months.
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4 Cups Ketchup
1 Cup Blackstrap Molasses
1 Cup Dark Brown Sugar – Packed
1/2 Cup Seedless Blackberry Preserves
2/3 Cup Apple Cider Vinegar
2 Tbl. Basic BBQ Chicken Rub (click here from my recipes)
Place all ingredients in a saucepan and whisk together until preserves are no longer lumpy.
Simmer 10 – 15 minutes.
Remove from heat and use or transfer to jars for storing.
Best Ever Barbecued Chicken - Homemade BBQ Sauce
Combine all ingredients in a sauce pan and whisk together until preserves are no longer lumpy
Simmer for 10 - 15 minutes
Remove from heat and use or transfer to jars for storing.
Waking up to the aroma of freshly baked Cinnamon Rolls is one of life’s simple pleasures. It’s a sure way to get everyone out of bed and onto the breakfast table.
But who has the time to wake up at the crack of dawn to start a batch of dough? Not me that’s for sure! But I do love my cinnamon rolls so I found a way to make them fresh without all the work. Really! These cinnamon rolls are super easy to make, it uses frozen bread dough! Now how cool is that?
You can take them out the night before and let them rise in the fridge. In the morning you just have to put them in a pan, brush them with cinnamon butter (I use the Chef Shamy spread you can buy at Costco) and pop them in the oven. In a very short time your house will smell like cinnamon!
I like to either glaze each roll with a thin glaze or if I have the ingredients make a cream cheese icing for them.
Here’s the recipe!
24 frozen bread roll dough
Chef Shamy Honey Butter Cinnamon & Brown Sugar Flavor
1 Stick butter, 1/2 cup brown sugar (packed), 1 Tbs. Ground Cinnamon – mixed together to make a paste
1 1/2 Cup Powdered Sugar
2 Tbs. Milk
1 Tsp. Vanilla
Place frozen dough rolls on a parchment covered tray, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise in the refrigerator overnight.
Roll 2 rolls together to form a ball and cut 4 slits from top to bottom, but don’t cut all the way thru.
Place this into a greased muffin tin. Repeat with the rest of the dough. You will have 12 rolls.
Spread the Butter Paste on top of the rolls and also in between the slits. It’s best to do this with clean hands so you can get the paste deep into the slits.
Cover with plastic wrap that has been lightly sprayed with baking oil.
Let the dough rise until it’s double in size.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Remove plastic wrap and place risen rolls in the oven and bake about 15 minutes.
Gently remove from muffin tins and brush the tops with glaze or icing.
Mix glaze ingredients together until sugar is dissolved. Glaze will be slightly thicker but not icing consistency. Spread this on warm rolls before serving.
If you prefer ice with your favorite cream cheese icing.
Serve warm and don’t forget to brew some coffee!
As you may know my husband has been on a Keto Diet for a while now. Finding something that’s both Keto friendly and satisfying is sometimes challenging, specially finding something for his sweet tooth!
My daughter recently sent me this muffin recipe that is gluten free and keto friendly. It uses Monkfruit instead of sugar so it’s sugar free and has just 1 gram of carb. Best of all it satisfy’s everyone’s sweet tooth!
So here’s the recipe! You can adjust the sugar to your taste.
Keto Friendly Almond Muffins
Keto Friendly Almond Muffins
Pre-heat oven 350 degrees
Line muffin tins with cupcake liners
Cream together butter and sweetener until smooth
Add in eggs one at a time
Add milk and vanilla and mix well
In a separate bowl combine flours, salt, and baking powder.
Stir dry ingredients into butter mixture.
Fill muffin tins 2/3 full.
Bake for 30 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.