Showing posts with label Independence Day. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Independence Day. Show all posts

Friday, July 4, 2014


by Sheila Connolly

I was going to give you a recipe for how to cook a weed, but that didn’t sound quite right for the Fourth of July (even though it is a native species of weed!), so you may see that one in coming weeks.

Happy Independence Day! 

Between Massachusetts and Pennsylvania, I’ve been spending a lot of time (in my head, at least) with the Revolutionary War recently. Maybe it was the early influence of Johnny Tremain (written by Esther Forbes and published in 1943; Walt Disney made a movie of it in 1957), which was required reading for my sixth grade English class, but I’ve always found the whole thing romantic—those ill-equipped farmers without uniforms or decent weapons standing up to the might of the well-trained, well-supplied British Empire in defense of their homes and livelihoods and maybe even some ideals. It’s a great story with a happy ending, isn’t it?

Back to the food. Summer has finally arrived around here, and there are parties and fireworks to watch this week (plus that annoying Hurricane Arthur), and mosquitoes to swat, so I’m going to keep it simple. Here’s a nice recipe for a salad with a few little twists.

Pea Shoot and Hazelnut Salad with Mustard-Honey Vinaigrette


1-1/2 Tblsp balsamic vinegar (flavored if you like)
1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp honey
1 small shallot, minced
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
freshly ground black pepper


1/2 cup hazelnuts, chopped
5 oz. baby arugula (or any other small greens you prefer)
3-4 oz. pea shoots (available in packages at your market!)
4 large radishes, trimmed and thinly sliced
1 fennel bulb, trimmed and thinly sliced (the white part only)

Right up front, I’ll give you a choice: you can prepare your own hazelnuts:

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Spread the hazelnuts on a cookie sheet and toast until they are fragrant and the skins blister (12-15 minutes).   Transfer them to a kitchen towel and let cool slightly, then rub the nuts together vigorously to remove the skins. Chop the nuts coarsely.

Or you can just buy a package at your market--much simpler! Although the toasting is a good idea because it brings out the nuts’ flavor.

In a large bowl, whisk together the balsamic vinegar, mustard, honey and shallot. Add the olive oil and whisk until blended. Season with salt and pepper.

Arugula--looks like oak leaves, doesn't it?
Pea greens
n another bowl, toss the arugula, pea shoots, sliced radishes, sliced fennel, and chopped hazelnuts. Add the vinaigrette and toss again to cover. Serve.

As with any salad, you can add whatever greens are fresh and available. Can’t find pea shoots? Try thin slices of sugar snap peas.

Razing the Dead involves a body (or two or three) found near the site of the Paoli Massacre, a notorious battle from the Revolutionary War, fought outside of Philadelphia. The monument shown on the cover is based on the real one, in Paoli, and is the second-oldest military monument in the country (after the one at Concord, MA, naturally).

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Win on Independence Day!!!

Happy Independence Day! 

May you be enjoying the freedoms of our great country. Family. Friends. Good food. Fireworks.

To celebrate...

I read Jenn McKinlay’s RED VELVET REVENGE (and was asked to blurb it). It was such a fun read. 

It just launched yesterday!  In the book, she highlights cake pops.

For 40 years (or something like that), chocolate cake with white frosting has been by far my favorite cake. (Of course, I also love strawberry shortcake, white cake with chocolate icing...all sweets...) 

Now that I’m gluten-free, and inspired by Jenn’s delicious delights, I thought it would be a great idea to offer a gluten-free version of cake pops.  Enjoy the recipe.


    1 Betty Crocker super moist GLUTEN-FREE chocolate cake mix
    1/2-3/4 cup Cream Cheese frosting (gluten-free) (see below)
    1 (24 oz) package of white chocolate candy coating
    1/2 cup chocolate or colored sprinkles
    25-30 Lollipop sticks
One Styrofoam box or box of some sort to slot the cake pops into.

    Start by baking the Gluten-free chocolate cake mix by following the instructions on the package. While the cake is baking, MAKE the cream cheese frosting (recipe below). Set aside.  THEN place the sprinkles into a bowl. Set aside.
    Once your chocolate cake is fully baked and cooled (about 30 minutes to cool), crumble it entirely in a large bowl (plastic or metal) while adding 1/2-3/4 cup of cream cheese frosting. That’s right, crumble it. Mix it all together until thick. Once thick enough, start making round 1-2 inches cake balls. Place each of them on a large baking tray, which you will cover with plastic wrap and place in your fridge (overnight).
    The next day. Place all the white chocolate candy coating into a microwaveable bowl and follow the melting instructions. Next, dip the tip of a lollipop stick (about half a inch) into the chocolate candy coating and then insert it into a cake ball (about halfway). Repeat this operation for each cake ball.
    One cake ball or cake pop at a time, dip it entirely into the melted white chocolate coating. Use a spoon to fully cover each cake ball. Tap gently to remove any extra coating (if too much). Repeat this operation for each cake pop and set them balls up on a styrofoam box.

Immediately sprinkle the cocoa powder and sprinkles on the melted coating. Once done, place your cake pops into the fridge. Let them cool for about an hour. The only thing left to do now is to enjoy them!

Cream Cheese Frosting
1 cup powdered sugar
¼ cup butter, softened
1 8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Blend all together until smooth.


BAKER'S NOTE:  These were so much fun to make that I wish I had a passel of little helpers!  Get your kids into the mix!! However...they were messy!  The warm chocolate dip was a little thick. Not sure if I should have thinned with a little water so the cake pops dipped easier. And because it's warm, rolling the balls immediately in sprinkles made the sprinkles sort of melt, so if you can bear it, wait a few minutes before rolling. I'm sure they'll stick.  Also, I froze half of the cake balls for use at a later time. I've eaten one since, plain, and it's yummy!


BY THE WAY, my protagonist from A Cheese Shop Mystery series, Charlotte Bessette, has taken over the blog at Killer Characters today. F-R-E-E-D-O-M!!  Chime in, won't you?  

AND LASTLY...I'm starting some mini-contests to promote THE COOKBOOK NOOK MYSTERIES which come out one year from today!  

feature a cookbook store owner
who is an avid reader and admitted foodie - 
set in picturesque coastal California town!

The first contest runs this week until next week. Leave a comment on this MLK post with your favorite ADULT OR KIDS DESSERT COOKBOOK TITLE and you're entered to win a book of your choice from A CHEESE SHOP MYSTERY series and lots of fun swag, including the new COOKBOOK NOOK kitchen gripper. 


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She doesn't say all the same things Avery does. Promise.

Say cheese!