While we fully intend to enjoy some good old-fashioned barbecue, baked beans, coleslaw and apple pie, Leslie Register, of Leslie’s Party Diaries, offers up some tantalizing summer fare with these four garden fresh recipes that are sure to be a welcome addition to any Fourth of July picnic or potluck spread.
Summer Watermelon and Tomato Salad
1/2 of a medium seedless watermelon
1 red onion, cut in half vertically and thinly sliced
2 cups pear-shaped yellow tomatoes, cut in half
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
3 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
Salt and pepper to taste
1 (4-ounce) package block feta cheese
Fresh mint or basil leaves for garnish
Cube watermelon into bite-size pieces, and place in a large bowl; add onion and tomato halves. Whisk together oil and vinegar until blended; stir in mint and basil. Drizzle over watermelon; toss gently. Add salt and pepper to taste. Top with feta cheese, and serve immediately. Garnish with fresh mint or basil leaves. Serves 8 – 10.
Learn from Leslie: To make a watermelon bowl, carefully cut the top third of the watermelon off horizontally, and then remove watermelon in 1-inch sections or rows. When all is removed, neaten up the edges with a paring knife, and scoop out excess juices with a large spoon.
Baked Corn and Jalapeño Dip
4 ears corn, kernels removed
4 ounces light cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 cups sharp Cheddar cheese, grated, divided
1 (4-ounce) can mild green chiles, drained
1/2 small Vidalia or sweet onion, finely chopped
3 to 4 jalapeños, seeded and chopped, reserving a few slices for garnish
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
4 slices cooked bacon, crumbled
Jalapeño slices for garnish
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine first 7 ingredients in a medium bowl, reserving ½ cup of the Cheddar cheese. Place corn mixture into a lightly greased, 1½-quart ovenproof dish. Bake for 20 minutes; top with remaining cheese and bacon, and bake 10 more minutes or until hot and bubbly. Garnish with jalapeño slices. Serve with corn chips (Leslie likes Frito Scoops). Serves 8 – 10.
Scallopini Chicken Fingers
2 pounds chicken tenders (about 10)
2 cups panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
1 cup Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon black pepper
3 eggs, lightly beaten
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons butter
Lemon slices and fresh herbs for garnish
Place chicken tenders between two sheets of wax paper. Using a meat pounder or rolling pin, pound chicken tenders to ¼- to ½-inch thickness. Combine next 3 ingredients in a shallow dish; set aside. In a separate dish, stir together eggs; add 1 tablespoon water. In a large nonstick skillet, heat half of the oil and butter on medium-high heat. Dip each tender into egg mixture and then panko. Place into hot skillet, cooking half at a time so as not to crowd the skillet. Use remaining butter and oil for the second batch. Keep cooked tenders warm on a cooling rack resting on a baking sheet in a 250 degree oven while cooking the remaining chicken. Serve warm on a platter. Garnish with lemon slices and fresh herbs. Serves 6 – 8.
The Ultimate Cobbler Topping
3 cups all-purpose flour
1¼ cups granulated sugar
1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
1 cup light brown sugar
1 cup slivered almonds, crushed
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 pound unsalted butter (4 sticks)
Combine all ingredients except butter in a medium bowl. Cut butter into small pieces and add to mixture. With the tines of a fork or a pastry blender, incorporate the butter evenly into the mixture. Using your fingers, make pea-size clumps. Divide into 4 Ziplock bags, and store in freezer until ready to use. Enough for 4 (9-inch) cobblers.
Learn from Leslie: For the 6-inch blueberry cobbler in the photo right, use:
1 pint of blueberries
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon lemon zest
juice from 1/2 of a lemon
1 tablespoon flour in the berry mixture
Top with 1 cup of The Ultimate Cobbler Topping. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 35 minutes until hot and bubbly and golden brown. Note: This topping works with all fruits and berries. Cooking times may vary depending on size of fruit and baking pan.