Thursday, July 3, 2008

4th of July Kabobs, Potato Salad & S'Mores

6/25/08 Cook’s Corner
Betty Kaiser

From beginning to end, the Fourth of July is a bang up celebration. A traditional red, white and blue holiday, its festive colors carry over into all aspects of the day beginning with cookouts and ending with bright, sparkly fireworks.

Picnics are the usual order of the day and it’s easy to get carried away with complicated menus. Don’t do it! This is one of those times to apply the KISS principle: Keep it Simple Silly (the operative word used to be ‘Stupid’ but that’s now considered demeaning).

If you’re planning a picnic at the lake or a nearby park, remember the other rules: Keep hot foods hot and cold food cold. This takes a little preparation on the part of the cook but lots of ice is usually the key to keeping things fresh. Start now to freeze commercial ice packs and fill your own extra ice containers.

Traditional hamburgers and hot dogs are great for picnics but meat and buns along with condiments take up lots of room in coolers and baskets. If you must take hamburgers, make the patties before you go, separate them with wax paper and slide in a plastic bag.  If you freeze them the night before and let them thaw slightly before cooking, they’ll be perfect for grilling.

Kabobs are a great idea for a main dish that is tasty and a little out of the ordinary. No condiments are needed. Only a marinade has to be transported. The kabobs can be threaded on soaked skewers at home; then covered in plastic wrap, covered again with foil and kept on ice in the cooler until time to grill.

Be sure to cut the pieces large enough so they don’t fall off. The foods should be lightly touching but not jammed up next to each other. Your goal is to evenly cook each piece. Spray the grill after it is heated; lay the kabobs on the grill and cook an average of 6-8 minutes per side or until the vegetables are done. Baste frequently.

Think outside of the box when it comes to your meat choice. Smoked sausages and ham are less perishable than beef or chicken. The other night we had smoked sausage kabobs layered with just red onion, peppers and mushrooms marinated in a simple Italian dressing mixture. Wonderful!

Potato salad preparation is not an exact science. One must be able to “eyeball” the ingredients to determine whether or not to use more or less. When cooking potatoes, I figure one potato per person and a couple for the pot.

I like to marinate the potatoes in an Italian dressing and add the mayonnaise and eggs the next day. That way it doesn’t get too weepy.

Remember, these are just guidelines. Some like more mayo and some like less. Feel free to experiment and let me know how it goes. And don’t forget the S’Mores for dessert!

Smoked Sausage Kabobs

1 pound smoked sausage, cut into 1-inch pieces
½ large green bell pepper
½ large red bell pepper
½ large yellow bell pepper
1 large red onion
½ pound fresh mushrooms, sliced if large; leave whole if small
½ cup Italian dressing
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

Simmer sausage briefly in pan over low heat. Cut bell peppers into 1-1/4 inch squares. Add peppers to sausage mixture and let stand off heat 10 minutes. Assemble kabobs on skewers alternately threading sausage with onion, peppers and mushrooms.

Combine Italian dressing, soy sauce and Worcestershire sauce in small saucepan. Heat just until blended and warm. Brush kabobs with sauce and let sit until ready to cook. Grill or broil 4-inches from heat, turning and cooking until edges are crisp. Brush with remaining sauce and serve.

Creamy Potato Salad

2 pounds red potatoes, unpeeled, cut into chunks
1/2 cup Bottled Italian Dressing (reduced fat, if desired)
1 cup Mayonnaise (‘light’ if desired)
3 tablespoons sweet pickle juice
1 cup celery, sliced into moons
1/2 cup red onion, finely minced
1/3 cup sweet pickles, diced
Salt and pepper to taste
Garnish with:
3 boiled eggs, shredded or diced
Seasoning salt

Cook potatoes in boiling water 15 minutes or until tender. Drain and rinse with cold water until cool; drain again. Mix potatoes, celery, onion, salt and pepper with Italian Dressing. Cover and refrigerate.

Mix mayonnaise and pickle juice together. Add chopped pickle to potato mixture and lightly mix in mayonnaise mixture. Turn into a serving bowl. Cover top with shredded eggs and sprinkle with seasoning salt. Serves maybe 5-6 hungry people.

Graham Crackers
Chocolate Bars

Toast marshmallows over campfire. Place chocolate squares on ½ graham cracker, top with crispy marshmallow, another graham cracker square and eat. Delish!

Keep it simple and keep it seasonal! 
Betty Kaiser’s Cook’s Corner is dedicated to sharing a variety of recipes 
that are delicious, family oriented and easy to prepare.

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