4th of July Cocktail

blueberry peach sparkler top viewI am working on 4th of July party food ideas. I will have Sewing Sister and my nieces with me, and we want to do a good picnic at the beach and watch fireworks. I think the adults will need a refreshing cocktail to balance out the meal. I first made this vodka sparkler when Aunt B was here last year. At that time, we used strawberries and peaches. At the swim meet last week, I mixed it up again using blueberries and peaches. Either fruit combination will be perfect for July 4th!

Ingredients

  • 12 strawberries (~10 for the fruit vodka and extra for garnish)
  • OR 1/2 pint of blueberries in place of the strawberries
  • 1 peach (peeled if it is not too soft)
  • 2 c. vodka
  • 1 c. simple syrup (see the notes)
  • 1 c. fresh lemon juice
  • Prosecco (or other sparkling wine)
  • fresh mint for garnish

strawberry peach sparkler ingredients

Directions

  • Cut 10 strawberries into bite sizes and place in a pitcher OR put blueberries in a pitcher. Cut the peach into bite sizes and add to the pitcher. Pour vodka over the fruit and let steep in the refrigerator 3+ hours.
  • Make simple syrup and let cool (see notes below).
  • After the vodka finishes steeping, strain the fruit from the vodka.
  • Mix equal parts fruit vodka, simple syrup, and lemon juice. I mixed 1 cup each of fruit vodka, simple syrup, and fresh lemon juice, which yielded about 4 cocktails. You can double or triple (or reduce) as needed.
  • Fill a glass about 2/3 full with crushed ice. Pour the drink mix over the ice; top with a splash of Prosecco (~2 oz.).
  • Garnish with a mint sprig and a slice of strawberry (or a few blueberries) and serve.

Notes

  • The color of the strawberries leeches out while sitting in the vodka, so it is not very pretty to leave the soaked fruit in your cocktail, but you certainly can. The blueberries retained their color, so I did use the vodka soaked blueberries as a garnish in the blueberry version.
  • To make simple syrup, Put equal parts water and sugar in a pot and heat on the stove until sugar is dissolved. Swirl the mixture a few times while heating. Remove from heat and let cool. If you only need a few cocktails, mix 1 cup of water and 1 cup of sugar. If you are mixing cocktails for a large group, double or triple. Leftover simple syrup can be kept in a container with a lid in the refrigerator for a long time.
  • Sonic Drive-In sells their really good pellet ice by the bag, cup, or will even fill your cooler! It is the perfect ice if you are making this cocktail in picnic/tailgate conditions. I find Reusable Tumblers and colorful straws add a nice touch too.

blueberry peach sparkler

Strawberry Shortcake

strawberry shortcake

It was TheRoomDad’s birthday this weekend, and there were many little opinions about the birthday dessert he should have. TheRoomDad typically does not go old school like I do and want a yellow cake from the grocery store with butter cream frosting (my favorite birthday cake). So, I made the executive decision to serve strawberry shortcake. TheRoomDad loves fruit desserts, and we all thought this particular version of strawberry shortcake was delicious.

Shortcake Ingredients

  • 1/4 c. sugar
  • 2 c. flour (plus more for rolling out dough)
  • 1 T. baking powder
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • 6 T. cold butter cut into small pieces
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 c. plus 3 T. heavy cream (plus more cream for serving)
  • 1 large egg yolk

Shortcake Directions

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  • Combine 1/4 c. sugar, flour, baking powder, and salt. Use a fork (or a pastry cutter) to cut in butter until the dry ingredients resemble coarse meal.

strawberry shortcake cut in butter

  • Whisk together egg and 1/2 c. plus 2 T. heavy cream in a separate bowl. Slowly add the liquid to the dry ingredients. Mix with a fork until the dough comes together.

strawberry shortcake add liquid

strawberry shortcake dough mixture

  • Transfer dough to a lightly floured surface. Pat the dough into a 6-in. square, 1-in. thick. Cut 4 rounds using a 2 1/2 in. cookie cutter. Place shortcakes on an ungreased cookie sheet.

strawberry shortcake biscuit cutting

  • Whisk together egg yolk and 1 T. cream in a small bowl; brush over the tops of the biscuits.

strawberry shortcake brush biscuit top

  • Bake until golden brown, ~25 minutes. Remove from the cookie sheet immediately and cool on a wire rack for ~15 minutes.

strawberry shortcake biscuits baked

Strawberries

  • Cut ~16 oz. of strawberries (the standard container size, about 2 cups) into quarters/bite sized pieces and put in a bowl.
  • Top with 3 T. fresh lemon juice and 1/4 c. sugar. Stir gently without crushing the strawberries.
  • Let stand about 1 hour.

strawberry pieces

Assembly

  • Cut shortcake biscuits in half like a hamburger bun.
  • Place biscuit halves in the bottom of a bowl. Top with sweetened strawberries making sure to get a little strawberry juice on there too.
  • Drizzle heavy cream over the top.

Notes

  • You can serve the shortcake with whipped cream rather than the liquid heavy cream.
  • Use a glass with a thin rim to cut the biscuits if you do not have a round cookie cutter.
  • Trying not to overknead the shortcake dough, keep reshaping leftover dough and cutting more biscuits until the dough is used. The final biscuit can be formed by hand rather than using a cutter.

strawberry shortcake with heavy cream

Strawberry Pretzel Salad

strawberry pretzel salad serving

First of all, let’s just clarify that this recipe is not for a real salad. It is for a dessert. It is called a salad in the sense that Jell-O with fruit or nut bits mixed in is known as a Jell-O salad, gelatin salad, or congealed salad (that name gives me the “no” feeling).

My grandmother had a whole box of these gelatin salad recipes. Some of the combinations made no sense to me like grated onion in lime Jell-O with a tuna topping. I am happy to report that there is nothing repulsive about this strawberry pretzel salad. It is delightful and delicious, and it was the perfect ending to our neighborhood 4th of July parade and feast.

strawberry pretzel salad pan

Ingredients

  • 2 c. crushed pretzels
  • 10 T. butter, melted
  • 1 c. sugar
  • 16-oz cream cheese, softened
  • 1 t. pure vanilla extract
  • 8 oz. Cool Whip, thawed
  • 1 6-oz pkg strawberry flavored Jell-O
  • 2 c. boiling water
  • 3 c. strawberries, sliced

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  • In a bowl, pour the crushed pretzels and 1 cup sugar and stir to combine. Add the melted butter and stir again until mixed thoroughly.

strawberry pretzel salad crust

  • Press the pretzel mixture on the bottom of a 9×13 pan and bake for ~8 minutes.
  • Remove pretzel crust from oven and let cool completely.

strawberry pretzel salad crust pan

  • While the crust is baking, slice strawberries and put them in a bowl in the freezer. The cold strawberries will help the gelatin set up faster.

strawberry pretzel salad strawberries

  • In a large bowl, combine cream cheese and sugar, and stir until smooth. Add the Cool Whip and continuing stirring until cream cheese is combined, and the texture is smooth again.

strawberry pretzel salad filling

  • Spread the cream cheese mixture evenly over the cooled pretzel crust. Make sure the cream mixture is against the edges of the pan to prevent the Jell-O mix from seeping through.

strawberry pretzel salad filling layer

  • Place the pan with the crust and cream layers in the refrigerator while you mix the Jell-O.
  • Bring 2 cups of water to a boil. Remove from the stove and add strawberry Jell-O. Stir until Jell-O is dissolved. Let sit for a few minutes to cool. Add the strawberries from the freezer and let Jell-O cool a little more.
  • Remove the pan from the refrigerator and carefully poor the Jell-O mix over the cream layer.

strawberry pretzel salad jello layer

  • Put pan back in the refrigerator until the Jell-O is set. It will take a minimum of 1 hour.

Notes

  • If the Jell-O is too hot when you pour over the cream layer, it will leak through. This will not ruin the taste of the dish, but it won’t look as pretty.
  • Skinny pretzel sticks or the tic-tac-toe board pretzel shapes work well. You can crush in a food processor or put the pretzels in a Ziploc bag and run a rolling pin over them. Pretzel crushing is a great job for littler helpers.
  • There are many versions of this dessert, and I compared several recipes. The ingredient list and amounts stay about the same. You may want to add a few more scoops of Cool Whip than what I listed.

strawberry pretzel salad slice