Okay, so we’ve all decided that the calories don’t count on the Fourth of July, right? Well, if you insist on eating healthy anyway, 1.) we’re jealous of your willpower and 2.) this recipe will help.

Ingredients:

2 pounds medium Yukon gold potatoes (about 6 total)
Salt and pepper
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 cup olive oil
1 shallot, minced (3 Tbsp.)
1/4 cup chopped fresh dill

Directions:

Scrub potatoes; place in a pot. Pour in enough cold water to cover by 1 inch. Add a pinch of salt; bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer until potatoes are just tender, about 20 minutes.

Combine mustard, 1/2 tsp. salt, 1/4 tsp. pepper and lemon zest in a large bowl. Add juice and stir until blended. Slowly whisk in olive oil.

Drain potatoes; set aside until cool enough to handle. Using a sharp knife, remove peels. Cut potatoes into 1-inch cubes; add to bowl with shallot and dill; toss gently. Season with salt and pepper, if desired.

Originally posted at MyRecipes.

It’s almost here! It’s almost here!

We love Independence Day. It’s a birthday party for our country and we celebrate in style. Fireworks are legal and available here. Everyone up and down our street has been shopping and we all anxiously anticipate sundown.

Finally dusk arrives. Cookouts wrap up and fireworks come out. All the neighbors set up chairs in our driveways for the show. For hours we watch the colors light up the sky, hear the bangs and pops, and smell the cordite.

But the tastes? Those are my domain. I love to bake, that’s no secret, but Fourth of July is an especially fun time for preparing desserts because of all the ripe, juicy berries available this time of year. Many of my desserts feature them.

Just before sundown on Independence Day I set up the kitchen island with desserts. Kids and adults alike are in and out of the house all night long. Some of these will be offered this year:

1.) Patriotic Pavlova

2.) Strawberry Shortcake, Nacho Style

Felicity Huffman's What The Flicka - 8 Delicious Fourth of July Desserts

3.) S’More and Strawberry Skewers

Felicity Huffman's What The Flicka - 8 Delicious Fourth of July Desserts

4.) Peanut Butter and Jelly Dessert Pizza

Felicity Huffman's What The Flicka - 8 Delicious Fourth of July Desserts

5.) Firecracker Red White and Blue Cake

Felicity Huffman's What The Flicka - 8 Delicious Fourth of July Desserts

6.) White Chocolate Peppermint Cake

7.) Butterfingers Brownies

Screen Shot 2014-06-26 at 11.33.07 AM

8.) Ice Cream Sandwich Cake

Felicity Huffman's What The Flicka - 8 Delicious Fourth of July Desserts

Learn to make delicious drinks from expert bartender and Liquor.com contributor Charlotte Voisey. She visits the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market in San Francisco and then creates a couple tasty cocktail recipes using late summer’s bounty of fruit.

Raspberry Bellini

.75 oz Stoli Razberi Vodka
2 oz Raspberry-White Peach Puree*
2 oz Sparkling wine

Add all the ingredients to a mixing glass and fill with ice. Stir, and strain into a Champagne flute.

*Raspberry-White Peach Puree:
2 White peaches, pitted and chopped
4 Raspberries
.5 oz Fresh lemon juice

Add all the ingredients to a blender and blend to a uniform puree.

Fresh Berry Delicious Cocktail

3 Large strawberries
1.5 oz Fresh lemon juice
.5 oz Honey syrup (one part honey, one part water)
.5 oz Solerno Blood Orange Liqueur
.5 oz Licor 43
1 oz Stoli Razberi Vodka
Garnish: Half a strawberry
Glass: Martini

In a shaker, muddle the strawberries. Add the remaining ingredients and fill with ice. Shake very well and double strain into a Martini glass. Garnish with half a strawberry.

Whether you’re going to a pot luck, BBQ, or hosting your own party, this Buffalo Mac n’ Cheese recipe is sure to be a hit. The best part (other than the taste) is that it’s quick and easy. This is a party favorite, so we can’t promise that there will be any leftovers!

Ingredients (serves 8)
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
salt
1 pound macaroni
3/4 cup Hot Sauce (I use Frank’s)
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
2 teaspoons dry mustard
2 1/2 cups half and half
1 pound sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
8 ounces monterey jack cheese, shredded
2/3 cup sour cream
1 cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
1/2 cup blue cheese crumbles (optional)
[Note: You could also add 3 cups of shredded chicken mixed with 1/4 cup hot sauce. Mix into the cheese sauce before pouring over macaroni.]

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and butter a large casserole dish (9×13 is recommended).
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook macaroni until al dente. Drain.
Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat.
Stir in the flour and mustard and whisk until smooth.
Whisk in the half and half, and the hot sauce. Stir until thick, about 2 minutes.
Add the cheeses and whisk in the sour cream. Stir until smooth. Remove from heat.
Spread macaroni in the baking dish.
Pour the cheese sauce evenly over the top.
Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter in the microwave.
Stir in the panko and the blue cheese if using.
Sprinkle over top of macaroni.
Bake until bubbly, about 30 minutes.
Let rest for 10 minutes before serving.

This decadent cake will satisfy the most demanding sweet tooth. 

Ingredients

2 quarts strawberries, halved
6 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons chopped mint, plus leaves for garnish
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
2 vanilla cakes, baked to package instructions and cooled

Directions

1.In a medium pot combine strawberries, sugar, salt and chopped
mint and let sit 15-20 minutes on low heat.

2.Whip together the heavy cream, vanilla extract and powdered sugar to soft peaks.

3.Place one cake layer on a cake stand, top with whipped cream and then cooled strawberries. Repeat with remaining layer. Garnish with mint.

I want to be your go-to guy when it comes to mastering your kitchen, and giving your food a heap of personality – but with simplicity, of course. Here are some of my summer grilling tips to help you master the grill.

Don’t be afraid to throw vegetables on the grill and get a nice char on them. It draws out so much flavor.

Also, get to know your grilling vegetables. For example, potatoes are dense and take longer to cook; so, to prevent burning, sear them on the outside and move them to a cooler place on the grill.

And for less mess, wrap some chopped veggies in foil packets with some olive oil, herbs and lemon juice. Incredible! I actually throw in some wine, too. I mean, why not? If you’re grilling, you’re probably drinking, too.

Happy grilling!

Quick 6 Tips to Grilling
1. How do I know if my grill is hot enough? Do the hand test. Place the palm of your hand five to six inches over the heat. If you need to remove your hand after two to three seconds, you’re good to go. A good “rule of palm” is two to three seconds for hot, five seconds is medium, and 10 seconds is low.

2. Gas or charcoal? Gas grilling is definitely healthier for you as the coals emit carbon monoxide. When it comes to taste though, charcoal wins out. You have to make the choice, but neither one is necessarily “better.”

3. When cooking meat, after you take it off the grill, let it rest for a few minutes so the moisture stays inside.
4. Avoid flare-ups. Choose leaner cuts of meat, or trim the fat so your food doesn’t char.

5. Is your meat done? Always use a thermometer when checking your meat. Here is a quick guideline. The minimum internal temperature of ground beef is 160°F, and Chicken must reach 165°F.

6. When you’re done cooking, clean off the grill while it’s still warm. It’s a lot easier.

Stu’s Sticky Ribs

Ask anyone who knows me, they’ll tell you my number one food of all time is ribs. I live for them. I could be on an island for the rest of my life with just ribs and be perfectly happy. Best of all, I love eating ribs with a small bit of chew on them. I get so much satisfaction from cooking and eating these babies.

Serves Four
PREP: 6 minutes
COOK: 60 minutes
CLEAN: 6 minutes

Side suggestions: BBQ Baked beans and Oven-Roasted Fries

Ingredients
24 pork spare ribs
1 1” piece ginger, sliced
4 cloves garlic, smashed
1 cup hoisin sauce
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
¼ cup low-sodium soy sauce
1 teaspoon Chinese five spice
3 tablespoons light brown sugar
1 tablespoon sesame seeds

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add spare ribs, garlic and ginger, bring back to a boil, and let simmer for 20 minutes. Take off heat and let sit for five minutes.
3. Meanwhile in a saucepan, combine hoisin sauce, vinegar, soy sauce, five spice and brown sugar. Heat until sugar is dissolved and sauce is smooth.
4. Drain ribs and pat dry with paper towels. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil. Place ribs on sheet and brush liberally with marinade.
5. Place in oven and roast for 30 minutes, basting at 15 minutes with more marinade.
6. If you have a grill lit (not necessary), throw ribs on the grill for 3 -5 minutes to caramelize that great sauce.
7. Serve on a platter and spoon extra sauce on top. You can sprinkle with sesame seeds if you have them in the cupboard.

Stuart’s Perfect Marinade
This is the only marinade you’ll need this summer.

Ingredients
½ cup soy sauce
½ cup port wine
½ cup balsamic vinegar
½ teaspoon chili flakes

Directions
1. Combine all ingredients in a Ziploc bag with your meat of choice. Marinade for at least 30 minutes.
2. Remove meat from marinade, place on the grill and cook to your desired (lack of) tenderness.
3. Pour the marinade from the Ziploc bag into a saucepan and reduce by half over medium heat for about 10 minutes. Brush on meat when resting after grilling.

Follow me on:
Twitter: @Chefstuart_
Instagram: chefstuart_
Facebook: facebook.com/chefstuartokeeffe
Pinterest: chefstuart