All-American Menu for July Fourth

Celebrating America’s Independence Day is one of those occasions that creates fun memories and brings people together for a relaxed, enthusiastic, and fun party. If you’re craving a bit of classic American cuisine this July 4th, here are recipes to help you in the kitchen: Sean’s Blue Cheese Burgers, Julie’s Potato Salad, Tomato Corn Salad, and American Apple Pie.

Sean’s Blue Cheese Burgers

2 pounds low fat ground beef

5 ounces crumbled blue cheese

2 teaspoons olive oil

desired condiments and rolls

1. In a bowl, mix the raw ground beef with the crumbled blue cheese. Blend completely to make sure the cheese is evenly distributed within the meat. Form hamburger patties to suit your family’s appetite. Do not press hard when shaping the burgers. A tightly formed patty ends up being a fairly dense burger. Remember to wash up after handling raw meat.

2. Warm the olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Place the burgers in the skillet and cook them uncovered for 3 minutes. Flip them over and let them cook for 2 to 3 minutes. They may need additional time so check them with a meat thermometer. The internal temperature should be a minimum 160 degrees to properly cook the meat. You can also broil or grill the burgers, but I prefer to keep the cheese from dripping by cooking them in a skillet.

3. Serve the burgers with your favorite condiments on a fresh roll. A few pieces of crumbled blue cheese and some mayonnaise make especially tasty toppings for this burger, bringing out the flavor of the blue cheese.

Julie’s Potato Salad

1 to 2 pounds small red or new potatoes, halved (if using larger potatoes, cut into quarters)

1/2 cup virgin olive oil

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon smooth Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon minced roasted garlic

1 small red onion, very thinly sliced

a little butter

1 pound green beans (frozen or fresh)

3 cups cherry or grape tomatoes, halved

Chives, chopped

1. In a mixing bowl, whisk together 1/4-cup olive oil, balsamic vinegar, Dijon, and chives. Once mixed thoroughly, stir in the tomatoes. Set aside in a cool place.

2. In a pan over medium to medium-high heat, cook the potatoes in nearly all of the remaining olive oil until lightly browned, stirring often. Stir in the onions and continue the frequent stirring as they cook together. Once the potatoes and onions are completely cooked, transfer to heat-safe colander to let cool slightly before stirring into the sauce mixture.

3. In the same pan, add a small amount of butter with the last bit of olive oil and warm on low to medium heat. Add the garlic and let cook for less than one minute then add the green beans and stir to coat the beans with the butter/oil/garlic. Stirring frequently, let cook until beans are cooked but still firm. Once this is achieved, set aside for a moment.

4. Add the potatoes and onions to the sauce mixture and stir to coat then do the same to the green beans. Can be served hot (if so skip any cooling or setting aside steps and use a Pyrex or heat-safe serving dish) or cold (cover and refrigerate for two to eight hours prior to serving).

* This dish is vegetarian. Omitting the butter and selecting pure Dijon (as opposed to a Dijon dressing which may have eggs or a mayonnaise base) will make this a vegan-friendly dish.

Tomato & Corn Salad

5 ears of cooked sweet corn, kernels only (or 12 ounces drained canned sweet corn)

1 1/2 cups diced Roma tomatoes

1/4 cup finely chopped cucumber

1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1/4 teaspoon balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/2 tablespoon diced shallots

1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley (or cilantro, if you want more flavor)

1. In a medium mixing bowl, mix the corn, tomatoes, and cucumber together. Set aside this salad mixture in a cool place while preparing the dressing.

2. Using a whisk or a blender, combine the lime juice, lemon juice, vinegar, oil, pepper, and shallots. Once the ingredients have been blended thoroughally, pour the dressing over the salad mixture. Toss the parsley in with the salad and mix so the dressing coats everything.

3. Cover and chill until time to serve. The flavors are best after resting in the refrigerator for at least 20 minutes (ideally 1 hour).

* This dish is vegetarian and vegan.

American Apple Pie

2 refrigerated pre-made pie crusts (in the biscuit or cookie dough section of your grocery market)

6 cups Granny Smith apple slices (peeled and cored before slicing thinly)

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

2/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar

1/4 cup granulated sugar

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1. Preheat oven to 450°F.

2. Let both the pie crust pastry circles warm to room temperature (do not heat rapidly to accomplish this), then place one in a 9-inch round glass or ceramic pie dish. Prepare the bottom crust according to the instructions on the package, which should require it to be baked for 10 minutes, the cooled for 10 minutes before adding the pie filling. While the crust is baking and cooling, prepare the filling.

3. Place the apple slices in a bowl and pour the lemon juice over them. Toss them together. The lemon juice will hinder the browning of the apples from being exposed to oxygen. In a separate mixing bowl, blend the brown sugar, granulated sugar, flour, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a bowl. This can be done with a hand mixer for quicker results, or with a fork. Once the ingredients are well blended, add the mixture to the apple slices and toss them together, like you would a salad.

4. Spoon the apple filling into the slightly cooled pie crust. Dot the filling with butter then add the uncooked pie crust to the top so its edges meet up with the edges of the bottom crust. Pinch the edges against the dish or the bottom crust to seal the apples inside. This increases the heat to cook the filling more evenly and efficiently. Flute the rim however you prefer it to look.

5. Cut small slits in the top crust or even be creative and cut small teardrop or heart shapes from the top pastry. This allows some steam to escape and you can keep an eye on when the filling starts bubbling.

6. Bake the pie for 15 minutes. Then reduce the oven temperature to 350 degree and bake the pie for another 45 minutes. Check often during the final 15 minutes of baking to make sure you remove the pie just when the top is starting to take on a pale brown shade and the crust edges are tan. Through the slits or openings, you should be able to see the apple filling bubbling.

7. Let the pie cool for 10 to 15 minutes before serving with cinnamon ice cream. The pie is equally good after being refrigerated and reheated briefly in the microwave. Though it is likely the pie won’t last long, its lack of preservatives give it a shelf life of 3 to 4 days, if covered and refrigerated.

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