Tuesday, July 5, 2016

May July 4th be with you!

Hooray for Independence Day! Yesterday, we celebrated with good friends, sparkly sparklers, and way too much food! I think having enormous amounts of food on holidays must be an American tradition for just about every holiday. Or maybe it's just my family on every Sunday, er, holiday. 

I love having friends over on holidays because it gives me a chance to try out  new recipes. Cooking and baking are two things I really love doing but with working full-time, I usually only have time to experiment on weekends or holidays. So, yesterday, I made BBQ pulled chicken and pork sandwiches, Paula Deen's Southern Baked Beans, and the Smitten Kitchen's Pasta Salad with Roasted Tomatoes. Our friends brought over the most amazing corn on the cob (they have a secret ingredient they use to make it so tasty. Yes. An actual secret ingredient to making corn on the cob!), papaya, watermelon, hot dogs, Conecuh sausage (which our friends swear is the best sausage in the world and is only available at select markets across the US -  mostly in the South. I have to say, after my few dining experiences with this particular piece of meat, I am now a Conecuh fan) and a very festive, homemade ice cream cake. Everything turned out absolutely delicious. 

For the Smitten Kitchen's pasta salad, when slow roasting the tomatoes, my tomatoes went into the oven like this:

but then I lost track of time and scorched about a third of them. Instead of Gaeta olives, I used kalamata olives and they paired beautifully with the slow roasted tomatoes that I had left. For the cheese, I chose Queso Fresco just because I wanted to see how it would work with the salad. I knew feta cheese would have done wonderfully but so did the Queso Fresco. The salad had a very Mediterranean flavor to it which I really liked. My finished product, in my opinion, was just a little too heavy on the noodles but that was all my fault. Had I not scorched all of those tomatoes, I think I would have been hard pressed to find anything wrong with my dish. However, despite my mistakes, this is definitely a salad I would make again. 

Paula Deen's Baked Beans recipe, of course, turned out amazingly. We don't often cook many Paula Deen recipes anymore. Let's be honest. Mr. Rochester and are both in our mid-thirties now and we have to save the recipes cooked in bacon grease and/or a pound of butter for special occasions. Definitely not the perfect image of a healthy recipe but it sure was delicious. I doubled the recipe since her recipe only calls for a 16 ounce can of pork and beans and I was using a 28 ounce can. But even with doubling the recipe, there still wasn't much leftover afterwards. 

And that was our fourth! Usually, we sit on our back porch and the church behind our house puts on a great fireworks show but unfortunately for us, that was the first night in years they apparently decided not to do it. The kids still ran around with sparklers and we watched other parts of the sky light up with color. 

Just to leave you with one more bit of cuteness. Little Dorrit wore her first ponytail with a big bow to church on Sunday. She was so mad at me when I was putting it in her hair but, as soon she saw herself in the mirror, she was enamored with how she looked and just pranced around all day with that bow in her hair, never once trying to yank it out. It.was.adorable. Also, cheese sticks are a staple at our house these days. Little D. is still a very picky eater but one of the things she will eat, and asks for about 6 times a day, is a cheese stick. 
I posted this one on Instagram. She's talking on her phone (notice it's really a cheese stick). 

Notice, I didn't say anything about my two month hiatus away from the blog? I missed it! My computer was giving me issues and blogging on my phone or iPad just isn't the same. And, then I just got out of the habit, but I'm back again, and I'm actually thinking about migrating my site somewhere else. If I do though, I'll make sure to make it public knowledge so you know where I am. This little site has been my online home for so long but I'm considering shaking things up a bit. More to come on that (if I actually get motivated to do something about it).