July 4th is almost here and I'm sure most of you are busy getting ready for the festivities. Picnics, barbeques, fireworks . . . . all so much fun. And all of it outside. Where it's hot. Really hot, if you're in most places.
Don't let the summer heat spoil any plans! Thanks to grills and slow cookers, you can still enjoy many wonderful summer favorites with very little effort. I'm sharing a couple of my family's favorite summer recipes - one done in a slow cooker (what could be easier?) and one on the grill. Both are super simple and delicious!
Slow Cooked Baked Beans
1 lg. (55 oz.) can of baked beans (I used Bush's Baked Beans)
1 medium onion, chopped
1/2 cup barbeque sauce (I used Famous Dave's Sweet & Zesty)
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 tbsp. dry mustard
Spray the crock of your slow cooker with non-stick spray. Mix all the ingredients together in the crock. Cover and cook on the low heat setting for 4 - 5 hours. Stir well before serving.
Cheesy Grilled Potatoes
6 medium potatoes, cut into 1-inch chunks (Yukon Gold are particularly good!)
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tbsp. butter, cut into small dice
1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
2 tbsp. crumbled cooked bacon
2 medium green onions, sliced
Heat your gas grill or light the coals, if using charcoal. Place the potato chunks on a large piece of heavy-duty aluminum foil. Use two layers of regular aluminum foil. Sprinkle with the salt and dot the potatoes with butter. Sprinkle the cheese over the potatoes and butter.
Wrap the foil securely around the potato-cheese mixture, forming a little pouch. Pierce the top of the foil pouch once or twice with a fork to vent steam.
Place the packet approximately 4 - 6 inches from medium heat, cover the grill and cook for 45 - 60 minutes or until potatoes are tender.
Remove the potatoes from the grill and carefully open the foil packet. Sprinkle with bacon and onions.
Put the side dishes together, add something like a grilled bacon-cheeseburger and you've got a tasty, filling, fuss-free meal!
Need a little something sweet for after dinner or in-between meals on the 4th? A treat that can take the heat if you're picnicking outside? How about an iced sugar cookie? I've never turned down a sugar cookie and you can have so much fun decorating them for the holiday!
Iced Sugar Cookies
As many of you now know, I am not known for my cookie decorating skills. They are minimal, at best. Thanks to sites like Pinterest and the brilliant, wonderful people who share ideas there, I've been able to bump-up my abilities just a little. This year, we'll have "fireworks" cookies (like the ones pictured above) and even some tie-dyed stars (see below)! Aren't they pretty? And so unbelievably EASY!!
You can find a terrific sugar cookie recipe and wonderfully easy icing recipe here. The technique for making fun "firework" design can be found here and you'll find the tie-dye icing technique here.