Comfort Food

Comfort Food

What to Serve on July 4th?

Are you planning your July 4th menu and just don't know what to fix?  A few years ago, my husband and I took a week off around the 4th and I kept track of all the food I prepared during that week.  I know you'll find something in this post that looks good!


Grilled Beef Fillet and Shrimp

This couldn't be easier to prepare.  Sometimes you can even buy the shrimp already skewered from your seafood counter at the grocery.  Depending upon the size of your fillet, it will take about 10 minutes on a hot grill, turned once.  For medium rare, the internal temperature should be about 135 degrees.  You can use a spice combination on your steak.  We prefer a little salt and pepper only.

The shrimp are quick.  I like to drizzle mine in orange infused olive oil.  No spices beyond that flavor.  Again, you can spice yours with any combination you like.  Lemon pepper is great.  Turn them once and as soon as they are pink, they are done.  Just a few minutes.

I added roasted potatoes with sour cream and dill ... and a savory roll.  Delicious meal.



Blackened Red Fish and Shrimp

This meal was totally prepared in a big cast iron skillet over a wood fire ... outside.  You can do it easily in your kitchen, but the skillet needs to be hot for the blackening spices to stick.

Let's talk about the sides, first.  These are fingerling potatoes which I boiled first so they would quickly 'scar' on the hot surface of the skillet.  The brussels sprouts were steamed and barely seasoned with salt.  We love the earthy flavor, so I don't season them much.  After you blacken your fish, let the skillet cool down considerably and throw the potatoes ... cut side down ... on the surface.  They will absorb the flavors from the fish and crispen up.  Use a metal spatula to lift them off the skillet, so the crusty stuff stays intact.

I confess.  I use Paul Prudhome's blackening spices.  All you have to do is dry your fish and shrimp.  Sprinkle generously with the spice and carefully lay them on the hot skillet.  They will pop and sizzle and cook quickly.  Turn them with a metal spatula so you are lifting up the 'blackened' bits.  A fish fillet (and you can use any kind of fish) will take about 3 minutes per side.  The shrmp, depending upon the size, will take anything from a minute per side to 3 minutes per side.  You'll know when both are done.  They'll be firm and will have lost their gloss.  

In this picture you can see a little bit of sweet and sour corn relish on the fish.  It is a wonderful addition to the flavors and cools down the heat from the blackening spices.  Remember, you can control the heat of your blackening spices.  If you like 'hot', use plenty.  If you don't, use less.   Lots of iced tea or a cold beer makes this meal better.



Stuffed Pork Tenderloin off the Grill

This tenderloin was stuffed with sweet red bell pepper slices and scallions.  I grilled the onions and peppers first to soften them.  Let them cool down before stuffing the pork.

Prepare the pork by butterflying it.  Use a sharp knife to begin cutting the length of the tenderloin to open it up.  If you are unsure about this process, Google and find visual instructions.  It is simple.  I seasoned this tenderloin inside and out with a sprinkle of taco mix ... right out of the little packet.  Place the onions and peppers lengthwise on the pork and roll it back up.  Tie it closed at a few locations.

Grill the tenderloin over high heat.  Place it over the heat for about 5 minutes.   I love the word 'scar'.  It will scar, then you should turn it and leave it about 3 minutes on the other side ... or sides.

Place the tenderloin off the high heat and let it continue to cook until the internal temperature reaches 140 degrees.  I brush mine a few times with tomato juice. Remove from the grill and let the meat stand for ten minutes before serving.

Pork tenderloin cuts usually come 2 in a package, so plan to prepare them both.  This recipe is pretty easy ... just a little time consuming.  When you butterfly the meat, you can take another step and pound it out to make it thinner.  I don't usually do that, but it makes a neat presentation.

I usually prepare additional grilled vegetables to serve alongside the meat.  Rice or a potato ... or even pasta tossed with oil and herbs ... would make nice sides.




Slow Grilled BBQ Chicken

The best BBQ Chicken is cooked over low heat on the grill.  It usually takes at least an hour.  Sometimes a little longer. Breasts take longer than other pieces of chicken, so I usually cut a breast into 4 pieces ... spliting each half again.

Bring the temperature of your grill to about 375 degrees.  Place the chicken pieces over the direct heat and watch the pieces so they don't cause a flair up.  Turn them after a couple minutes so both sides are braized.   Then ... move the chicken to a cooler part of the grill or redduce the heat (on a gas or electric grill) to about 300 degrees. Turn them about every 15 minutes.  In what will be about the last 20 minutes of cooking, brush your favorite bbq sauce on.  In 10 minutes, turn the chicken and brush the other side.

Internal temperature  for chicken should reach 165 degrees.  Juices will be clear and the meat will be very tender.

We love corn on the cob and sliced tomatoes with this meal.  I usually cook the corn on the grill while the meat is cooking.  Just leave the shucks on the corn and move it around on the grill so all sides sit on the heat.  It will be juicy and delicious.  There are many ways to cook corn on the cob ... other than boiling a giant pot of water.   Look on line for microwave methods.  Make the process as easy as possible.



Ground Pork Sliders

We love pork burgers and these small versions were delicious.  One is topped with sliced Swiss cheese and the other with Cheddar.  Everything we love to dress them with is shown in this picture.  Onion and tomato are my favorites, but pickles are good.  Sweet red pepper relish is a tasty addition.

It is important to remember that slider burgers are small and it is easy to overcook them.  Don't.  When you place them on a 350 degree grill, stand right with them and turn them after a couple minutes.  Watch them carefully so they don't scorch.  It won't take a slider more than about 6 minutes.  Remove them from the heat and serve them immediately. 

Potato salad, macaroni salad, pasta salad ... or just chips ... are perfect on the side.










The Table is Set!

I am reposting this from a few years ago.


The Table is Set!


It has quit raining and the sun is shining ... just in time to set the table on the back deck for an evening meal!  The meal celebrates American Independence! 

I love the old movies that run on the 4th of July ... like Drums along the Mohawk with Claudette Colbert and Henry Fonda who portray newlyweds at the time of the Revolutionary War.  I decided to set a table following that theme, in part!


This gray/blue and white china is American made Royal and the pattern is "Pilgrim".  The scenes of colonial farming look so similar to some of the scenes in the movie!   I decided to use my new 'rag rug' place mats from Pier 1, because that weaving style replicates what might have been used in Colonial America.   The patriotic napkins came in a pack of 6 from Kohl's ... and each napkin was a different print!   Did I need new things for a July 4th table?  No.



Here are some other elements of the place setting.   The red, white and blue stemware are all different patterns from my vast collection of glassware.  The Cambridge flatware is something I use over and over.   Notice my patriotic pig.  Pigs are usually incorporated into my tablescapes, because my brother has called me 'Little Oink' or 'Oinker' my whole life!


The elements of the composed centerpiece are old and new.  The little wooden boxes came from Big Lots, which is one of my favorite places to buy very inexpensive decorator items.  The Hall pottery pitchers were new when I was a youngster.  That makes them antique, now!  I've used them hundreds of times for everything from flowers to fresh cream on the coffee bar.  The little red wicker chairs are used for whimsy.  We are flag people, so finding a bundle hidden away is never very difficult.


I hope you all have a wonderful 4th of July and that you remember those Colonials who fought so hard to give generations to come a free and prosperous home.

Thanks for stopping by.  I hope you'll linger ... go to my home page ... and check out other posts.






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