Celebrate freedom with these easy recipes

Published 1:21 am Wednesday, July 4, 2007

The Fourth of July is usually celebrated across the country with cookouts and fireworks.

When it falls during the week, like today, many people wait until the weekend to get together at the lake, watch the flotilla and cookout.

If you are one of those people who is going to just kick back today and relax but head back to work tomorrow then these recipes are for you. They are easily made ahead of time and can be ready for the real party this weekend.

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Bacon-mushroom burger

When it comes to grilling out my favorite thing to do is burgers. They are easily done ahead and everyone of all ages loves a burger.

The key to good burgers are the mushrooms. White mushrooms are just like little sponges (that is why you wipe them clean not wash them) so they absorb the beefy flavor of the burger and help keep the moisture in so your burgers don’t dry out.

Everyone will love the bacon flavor and your non-mushroom lovers will never guess they are in there.

6 slices of bacon

1 pound ground sirloin

1 pound ground chuck

1/4 cup chopped onion

1/4 cup chopped white


Salt and pepper to taste

Cook the bacon over medium heat in a skillet until cooked through, but not crispy. Drain well and cool. Then cut into very small pieces. Combine both meats, bacon, onion, mushrooms and seasonings. Use your hands so you get the ingredients mixed well and shape into six patties. Cook on your grill to medium-well. Serve warm or after they cool wrap them well and place in the refrigerator. To reheat, pour a little canned beef broth into a pan, add your burgers and bring to a slow simmer on your grill or heat slowly in your oven.

Adapted from Lobel’s meats in New York

Marinated vegetable salad

Cooking out and celebrating the Fourth of July means being outside. So you need side dishes that are best at room temperature and don’t have mayonnaise and egg in them. With all the fresh produce available this time of the year, this marinated vegetable salad recipe is perfect for this weekend. It is one of those salads that you can add anything you want to the basic recipe, and it does best when made ahead.


2 cups vegetable oil

1 cup white vinegar

1/2 cup wine vinegar

1/2 cup lemon juice

1/4 cup salt

1 teaspoon oregano

1 teaspoon dry mustard

1 teaspoon granulated garlic

2 teaspoons black pepper

Combine the dressing ingredients in a jar and shake well.


4 small zucchini, washed and sliced

3 small yellow squash, washed and sliced

2 cups broccoli, stems chopped and floret part left whole

1 1 / 2 cups cauliflower in bite-size pieces

2 carrots, washed and sliced thinly

1 cup thinly sliced purple onion

1 cup tomatoes, seeded and chopped

Combine all the vegetables in a large bowl or Ziploc bag. Add two cups of dressing and place in the refrigerator. This needs to set for several hours or overnight before serving. Stir or turn the bag over occasionally.

This recipe came from the Gift Horse Restaurant in Foley, Ala.

Black bean and corn salad

While this next dish is great as a side dish, my favorite thing to do is eat it with Fritos or another heavy chip. If you don’t like Cilantro you can substitute fresh parsley or basil but the flavor will be completely different. Go easy on the vinegar or lemon juice until you find the amount you like.

3 cups cooked black beans, if using canned rinse them well

1 1/2 cup corn kernels

1 red bell pepper, seeded and minced

1 medium red onion (use a Vidalia onion if available), minced

1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro (if you don’t like cilantro you can use fresh parsley)

Salt and pepper to taste

2 tablespoons olive oil

2-4 tablespoons of red wine vinegar or lemon juice to taste

Mix everything except the vinegar or lemon juice. Then add two tablespoons of either one and wait 30 minutes and taste. Remember you can always add more and it gets stronger as it sets.This is best if made the night before and served at room temperature.

Peanut Butter Pie

with Fudge Topping

This pie is just flat out yummy. Cool, creamy and peanutty and definitely best made ahead. Give it a try, and I promise everyone will love it. I have a friend who uses Cool-Whip instead of whipping the cream. Not quite as good but a whole lot quicker.

1 graham cracker crust


8 ounces of cream cheese, softened

1 cup creamy peanut butter

1 cup powdered sugar

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

1 tablespoons vanilla extract

1/2 cup whipping cream


1/2 cup heavy cream

6 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and bake the crust until lightly brown, about 8 to 10 minutes and let it cool completely.

Beat the cream cheese and peanut butter with an electric mixer until well blended. Add the sugar, butter and vanilla and continue to beat until fluffy. Set aside. Whip the cream until not quite stiff. Fold a large spoonful of the whipped cream into the peanut butter mixture to lighten and then gently fold in the rest of the whipped cream. Spoon the mixture into your cooled crust and spread evenly. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator until firm, about three hours.

Bring the cream for your topping to simmer in a small pan. Add the chocolate and stir until smooth. Set aside and let cool to about lukewarm. Spread this over your pie and then place in the refrigerator until set.