Sunday, July 6, 2014

The Three Fs- Fourth, Food, Festivities

Oh we had SUCH big plans at The Little Lake House this year. We live right across the street from the park, and the lake's events committee had scheduled a live band to perform in the park as part of the annual Independence Day celebration- basically our front yard. So while other folks had to load up coolers, lawn chairs, blankets, food, drink and use the dreaded Kybo, we were going to get to enjoy the party from our front deck, the fridge just steps away, loads of food to snack on and comfy patio chairs.

Sadly, Mother Nature had to throw a wrench into my plans and a rainy morning and stormy forecast caused the band to be cancelled. But the food and drink shall go on. My sister and her husband came, armed with St. Louis style barbequed ribs, and cocktails, and the night went on- with our own music!

Captain and Coke and a few ice cold beers got us started, and then the feasting began. Our menu for the night-
  • St. Louis Style Barbequed Ribs
  • Tacos Al Pastor with Jicama, Kohlrabi and Carrot Slaw
  • Hot Artichoke and Spinach Dip with pretzel bread
  • BLT Dip with crackers
  • Assorted cheeses and sausages
  • Mixed olives
  • Chipotle Ranch Tortilla Pinwheels
Yum, right? The ribs were made by my brother in law, Kim, who used Jack Stack Barbeque meat rub and smoked the ribs on the grill. Cheese and sausage was just cut into bite sized cubes. The BLT Dip had a little help from a couple mixes I had on hand- BTL Dip mix from a craft show (small batch local company) and some Bacon Bacon from Tastefully Simple, mayo and sour cream. We had lots left- thinking it's going to make a great burger spread! The artichoke dip was cheesy and creamy with chopped artichoke hearts, chopped fresh baby spinach, cream cheese, sour cream and a little packet of Okey Dokey Artichokey dip mix I had tucked in the cupboard. Chipotle Ranch Pinwheels also used a seasoning packet I'd had around- this one from Pampered Chef, with cream cheese, shredded Colby Jack and chopped scallions, served with salsa for dipping.

The Tacos Al Pastor took some research. I've had these tacos at Malo, but they actually stack the meat on a vertical roaster, which I don't have. So I have to improvise. The spices and chilies required for this dish were also quite an extensive and complicated combination and I thought might be a little over the top heat-wise for our guests, so looking over our spice and pepper collection I decided to start with Arizona Dreaming seasoning from Penzey's and play with that.

For the pork I used a boneless pork roast, about 3 lbs. It was very lean already so had no fat to trim. I cut the roast into six thick "chops" and placed in a ziptop bag. In a small bowl I combined a can of crushed pineapple in juice with about 3 tb. of the seasoning and a couple shakes of chili powder. I poured this into the ziptop bag and sealed it, then massaged the marinade allover all the pork, and placed in the fridge overnight. The next day I removed the pork hunks from the bag, browned in a little oil, then poured the marinade over all and roasted, covered, at 325 degrees for about 2 hours. When done I removed the hunks of pork, sliced into bite sized strips, and returned to pineapple mixture in the pot.

To serve the tacos, spoon some pork and pineapple into a tortilla and top with slaw. You can add salsa verde if you like. No cheese, no lettuce, just the fresh, crunchy slaw. 

Jicama, Kohlrabi and Carrot Slaw
  • 2 cups jicama, cut into matchsticks
  • 2 cups raw kohlrabi, cut into matchsticks
  • 1 cup carrot, shredded or cut into matchsticks
  • 3 or 4 scallions, sliced, including green tops
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 limes
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 3 tb honey
  • 1 cup cilantro leaves (or Italian parsley)
Combine the vegetables in a large bowl. Zest the limes and add to vegetables. Season well with salt and pepper. Juice the limes into small bowl. Stir in honey till dissolved. Whisk in oil. Pour over vegetables and toss well. Add cilantro right before serving and toss again.

This was my first time cooking with both jicama and kohlrabi and I have to say- they were so crunchy and fresh and delicious. I am SOLD! The lime and honey dressing was the perfect partner for these veggies. I did have to use parsley because I had no cilantro but it was just as fresh and delicious.

Our evening was capped off by fireworks around the lake and a ride around the muddy backroads in a Jeep- muddy and FUN !!!! So today, it's muddy laundry and cleanup and RELAX. I hope you all enjoyed a safe, fun and happy 4th of July. 

*Fireworks photo courtesy of Wikipedia Commons

Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 55: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

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