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Sherrie Norris Lovin’ Spoonful Cooking Column: Chillin’ and Grillin’ For The Fourth 

As I listened this morning to Lee Greenwood’s time-honored song, “God Bless the USA,” I felt the same stirring of patriotism in my heart that I feel every time I hear its haunting lyrics — and every time I see our American flag blowing against a gentle summer wind. 

With all its “ugliness” that tries so hard to disfigure the beauty of our country, I still have pride in my country and will forever be thankful to all those who gave their lives so that we may be free.

It is my hope that we all feel that same sense of pride in the coming week as we gather with friends and family to celebrate America. 

Many will be chillin’ and grillin’ and looking for ways to stretch out the holiday week, so hopefully something we’re sharing here will help make it a time to remember.

“The flag still stands for freedom  — and they can’t take that away . . I’m proud to be an American and I love this land . . . God Bless the USA!

Festive Freedom Brunch Dish

(Think of this as an “Americanized” French Toast )

1 Tbsp. flour

3/4 cup milk

3 large eggs

2 tsp. vanilla extract

1/4 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. cinnamon

1 angel food cake, cut into medium-thick slices

2-3 Tbsp. butter

Suggested toppings:

Whipped cream

Strawberries

Blueberries

Maple syrup

Fresh mint

In a small bowl, whisk flour and 2 Tbsp. of the milk together until flour is dissolved. Add remaining milk. In a larger bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk mixture, vanilla, salt and cinnamon.

Heat a large skillet or griddle over medium heat.

Gently dip the angel food cake slices into egg mixture, covering all sides. Allow excess liquid to drip off.

Place a little of the butter in skillet or griddle and allow it to melt.

Place 1 slice of the cake into melted butter and cook until golden, about 2-3 minutes per side.

Repeat with remaining butter and cake slices.

Serve topped with whipped cream, berries, syrup and mint.

Summer Salad

1 small watermelon

½  cup fresh mint

¼ cup red onion, thinly sliced 

12 oz. cherry or grape tomatoes, halved

2 Tbsp. olive oil

2 Tbsp. lime juice

1 tsp. honey

Salt and pepper

Crumbled feta

Cut watermelon into small triangles; arrange on a platter. Top with fresh mint, red onion and tomatoes. In a small bowl, mix olive oil, lime juice, honey, salt and pepper. Drizzle over watermelon; top with crumbled feta.

Firecracker Burgers

1 lb. ground beef

1 (4 oz.) can diced green chilies, drained

1 tsp. beef bouillon granules

4 slices Monterey Jack Cheese

Mix beef, chilies and bouillon; form into patties. Grill 3-8 minutes per side to desired level of doneness. Top each with cheese about 2 minutes prior to removing from grill.

(Double, triple recipe as needed.)

Grilled Shrimp

About 3 lbs. large shrimp, peeled and deveined

Juice  and zest of 1 lemon

3 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped

¼ cup olive oil 

1 tsp. kosher salt

¼ tsp. ground black pepper

¼  tsp. crushed red pepper flakes

Sea salt, chopped parsley, and lemon wedges for serving

In a large bowl, combine lemon juice, garlic, olive oil, salt and peppers.

Add shrimp and toss well to coat. Cover and refrigerate for 15 minutes. 

Preheat a grill/grill pan to medium-high heat. Oil grill grates and pan.

Place the shrimp in the grill pan or, if desired thread onto skewers and place on the grill over direct heat. Grill until shrimp is pink and opaque, about 2 to 3 minutes per side. Remove from the heat. Garnish with sea salt, parsley, and lemon wedges and serve immediately.

Patriotism in a Bowl 

8 oz. cream cheese, softened

½  sugar

1 ½ cup heavy cream

1 tsp. vanilla

1 white or yellow  pound cake, cubed 

2 cups blueberries

2 cups blackberries

About 1 ½  qt. strawberries, sliced

Beat cream cheese and sugar with mixer in a large bowl on medium-high speed for about 2 minutes until smooth.  Gradually add the cream and vanilla, mixing until blended, until soft peaks form. Place a single layer of cake cubes in a large glass or trifle dish. Top with a layer of blueberries and blackberries (using about ½ of the berries); cover with ½  of the whipped cream, then ½ of the strawberries. Repeat layers of cake and cream once more, then decorate the top with remaining berries. Best if refrigerated for several hours or overnight before serving.

Layered Festive Cream Pie

1 prepared graham cracker crust

1¼ cup fresh blueberries, rinsed and drained

8 oz. cream cheese, softened

14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk

1/3 cup lemon juice from concentrate

1 tsp. vanilla extract

Fresh strawberries, sliced

Place ¾ cup blueberries on bottom of crust. Beat cream cheese in large bowl until fluffy. Gradually beat in sweetened condensed milk until smooth; stir in lemon juice and vanilla. Pour into piecrust and chill for at least three hours or until set. Top with remaining blueberries and strawberries. Keep refrigerated.