Happy 4th of July, everyone!!!!
Those who know me know that this is my favorite holiday; it has all my favorite things. To avoid being my usual, long-winded self, I’m going to make a list to save you all the pain of reading a blog post turned novel. SO….
- BBQ/cookout/grill food: is there ANYTHING more appealing than firing up a grill in the middle of a beautiful summer day (it is, by the way, 75 and sunny here and I’m currently writing this in my bathing suit in the backyard, not to rub it in). The smell of smoke, the the fact that’s it’s ok to eat only meat and NO VEGETABLES except CORN (not a veg, I know, I know) ALL DAMN DAY. Ugh…it’s almost too good to be true. Except it’s not. Because it’s the 4th OF JULY.
- Festive bevs: if I didn’t love day drinking already, how could I resist red, white, and blue concoctions with enough sugar and booze to knock me out both from alcohol poisoning and type 2 diabetes? I’m also having visions of a cold ass beer (Corona or Bud Light Lime come to mind, also Sam Adams Porch Rocker as a shout-out to P) on a boat, by the pool, literally on any body of water-ocean is obvi ideal, but we’re landlocked here in upstate NY, friends. Unfortunately, my upcoming wedding has me on a strict(er than normal, aka I’m not drinking/eating whatever I want) diet than usual, BUT, do not fear-I have a recipe coming up that will knock your RWB socks off, AND it’s “skinny.”
- Family and friends and NO WORK. I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels like I get lost in the shuffle sometimes, never having enough time to see my family, friends, plus work, eat, exercise, clean, blahdy blah-sorry, am I boring you? BUT today is a day where you (hopefully) have to worry about NOTHING. Except maybe where your American flag coozie is so you can bring it to your family’s cookout (double shoutout to P, that is going to be him this afternoon), and if that’s the case you might also have to worry about making sure your drunk cousins don’t steal it…maybe that’s just my family?
- AMERICA!!!! Not in a fuck all other countries, we’re the best and whitest and strongest, most macho man, I mean country, on earth kind of way. But in a fuck yes, we’re incredible despite imperfections, we’re still learning, and working, and figuring our shit out, and let’s celebrate hundreds of years of sacrifice by so many, and ultimately be thankful for the freedom that we all enjoy. Before I go on to the mushy part of this post, disclaimer: patriotism tends to get me emotional-it doesn’t help that P is in the military, and so are many people in my life that I love and care about. And I promise I will not get political, I’m just going to give my two cents, so here goes:
I think sometimes people think about being patriotic as being ignorant-like we can’t blindly stand by a country whose decisions and actions we don’t all agree with. Agree. But I tend to think about it in a different way-it’s about unconditional love. I was listening to the news this morning, and God Bless America was playing, aka I’m in my kitchen sobbing while making cupcakes, totally par for the course. All of a sudden I hear, “stand beside her, and guide her,” and, to me, that has to be the most important line in the whole song. When you love unconditionally, you don’t bail when things get hard, or shitty, or you disagree, or things are said that aren’t meant, or whatever shitty things happen in a relationship. When something is not perfect, we don’t abandon and find something new, but rather we choose to support anyway-not to say we agree or condone, but we are still here-with the hope that we’ll see this through to a better time. We’re here for our friends, our family, our fellow Americans, so how about let’s be here for America. To not only stand beside in hard times, but to guide her through these times to, hopefully, a better and brighter place. This isn’t new, you guys!!! People have been doing it for hundreds of years. So let’s keep the faith because it’s about standing by in hard times, and going full speed ahead to better times, it’s about not giving up. Always has been.
Ok, so, now that I’ve gotten that little piece of America love off my chest, I’m going to share some FAB recipes for today-easy, patriotic, delicious, and one is skinny, while the other is filled with sugar and cals, because BALANCE.
Ok so, my favorite WATERMELON MARGARITA. This is SO EASY you guys, like I can’t even tell you. Ingredients first, then recipe, even though it’s kind of redundant, because did I mention it’s really easy?
WHAT YOU NEED:
I always go for Altos, it’s my fav, but anything will do) silver, anejo, reposado, does not matter-they’re all perfect for what we’re about to do.
P and I fight about this alllllll the time, because he doesn’t believe in triple sec, so, as an ode to him, I will say this: you can substitute agave syrup, BUT I do not like it as much, plus you might have to add a little H20 to keep the amount of liquid the same..basically, my way is better.
I usually say 1 lime/margarita.
Fresh or frozen watermelon
MUST BE RIPE-this is crucial, otherwise it won’t add enough subtle sweetness, and you’ll be stuck with a drink with sub-par watermelon flavor-not ok. I would say like 3-5ish (emphasis on the ISH) 1 inch cubes (I’m awful at measuring, so DO NOT HATE ME if this is slightly off) per marg. Fresh or frozen does not matter until you come to the next step….
If you use fresh watermelon, I would say 3-5 ice cubes, but if you use frozen, a couple should be fine
SALT SALT SALT
I know salt or no salt is really polarizing in the margarita community-I NEED salt, P never has it, don’t feel bad wherever your allegiances lie. I will say, a little lime zest can take your salted rim to the next level, shoutout to Ree Drummond (ily) because I got the idea from her (but she used sugar instead of salt, so technically, I’m, like, really original).
Now, here’s the hard part-dump it all on a blender and BLEND, BABY, BLEND.. Kidding, it’s obviously not hard.
If you do like a salty rim, remember to run a lime around the top of your glass (I like to use big rocks glasses) and salt it BEFORE you pour in the marg-you’re laughing at me, but trust, bitches, it happens to the best of us. I’ve dirtied many a glass unnecessarily because I forgot to salt pre-pour
FINAL STEP: DRINK UP. Since today is all about the red (watermelon) white (salt) and blue, dump a couple of bluebs in there and call it a day.
Ok, now, on to the CUPCAKE FLAG. I always get put in charge of dessert, because no one in my fam likes to bake-so, every year, I make a flag out of cupcakes. SO ORIGINAL, I KNOW. But, it’s about tradition, and I love it, and I get off on making it, so here goes…
WHAT YOU NEED FOR CUPCAKES:
I box vanilla cake mix
Now, I know what you’re thinking, that I’m a phony and a fraud because I don’t make homemade cake mix-I’M NOT, I PROMISE-if I had time today to make from scratch, I would, but, I don’t-so I’m going the Sandra Lee, semi-homemade route, and am going to sex up this boring box of cake mix like you’ve never (jk you prob have) seen before. Also, for all you snotty purists out there, boxed cake mix rocks…but I don’t believe in using only egg whites to make vanilla cake “white” cake-like grow up, no one cares about that (unless you go and make lemon pudding with the egg yolks, if that’s the case then props to you, ily)
1 lemon, juiced and zested
This is going to be subtle but delish-it adds a depth of flavor that takes it totally to the next level. It’s the little things, you guys.
Fresh blueberries and strawberries
To take this doubly to the next level, I do the blue part of the flag with blueberry cupcakes, the red part with strawberry cupcakes, and the white part with vanilla-so amazing, amiright? Before you get too excited, I just add some berries to the vanilla cake mix, but it still SEEMS fancy. And don’t be mad, but I have no measurements for this *gulp*. I told you, I’m bad. Suffice it to say you need about 3 blueberries per cupcake and maybe 3ish chunks of strawberries depending on how big they are.
INGREDIENTS FOR FROSTING:
2 sticks softened butter
SOFTENED MATTERS-trust me, everything will go to shit if it’s not softened
1 softened 8 oz package cream cheese
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
6-7 cups confectioner’s sugar
I usually do about 7, both because I like frosting a little thicker and because the food coloring tends to thin it out a little after the fact
Red & blue food coloring
DISCLAIMER: you will NEVER EVER EVER EVER get bright red frosting-it will ALWAYS be pink. Please resign yourself to this fact, it will make your lives so much easier. The blue gets pretty blue, though not flag blue-but it’s not as frustrating as the pink, I mean red.
Optional: white gel frosting
DIRECTIONS FOR CUPCAKES:
- Follow the directions on the box of cake mix (trust me, you can do this)
- Mix lemon juice and zest into cake batter (doesn’t get much easier than this, you guys)
- Line cupcake tins with cupcake liners (I used red, white, and blue, because I’m amazing)
- Use a cookie scoop to spoon in batter into liners-I used to never use a scoop because I thought they were unnecessary, but TRUST, it’s worth it. P bought me one a while ago and I’ll will never go back to the barbarism of 2 spoons.
- Throw a handful of blueberries and a handful of strawberry chunks (assuming you knew to cut them up, not use them whole, because you guys are SMART) into SEPARATE bowls. Toss the berries with some regular flour and call it a day (this makes it so they won’t sink to the bottom)
- Throw the blueberries into the blue liners, strawberries into the red liners, and leave the regular vanilla as is
- Bake that shit OFF for the designated amount of time.
- Let cool-this is IMPORTANT
- Look at my process shots below, a couple things to note:
- my filthy kitchen
- my dog’s ball on my spoon holder-no, I did not clean it before I put cooking utensils back on there
- COOKING IS MESSY-do not believe anyone that tells you otherwise, they are LIARS
DIRECTIONS FOR FROSTING:
- While the cupcakes are cooling, use an electric mixer to mix the SOFTENED (I will not give up on this) cream cheese, butter, and vanilla until combined
- Add in sugar, one cup at a time, until desired consistency is reached
- Separate into 3 bowls (one can be slightly smaller, since there are only 6 blue cupcakes and there are 9 red and 9 white cupcakes)
- Add red and blue food coloring to their respective bowls until desired color is reached (you’ll never get there, so find joy in the imperfect)
- FROST FROST FROST: you can pipe or use a knife, I prefer the look of spreading with a knife-so rustic and I also get off on doing it, so it’s a win win
- Find a cookie tray, serving tray, or wood cutting board (my personal choice) and arrange in the shape of a flag!
- Add stars to blue cupcakes if desired (I usually use gel frosting, but you could always use a piping bag if you’re FANCAYYYYY
- Let all your family and friends admire what a baking goddess (or god) you are, and let them be completely impressed by you
- Shove at least 3 down your throat over the course of whatever gathering you brought them to
That’s it you guys! I know I promised to not be long-winded, but nonetheless, here we are. I hope you all have an AMAZING DAY!!! HBD AMERICA!