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Caribbean Cooking: 4th of July in the USA – Food and Fireworks

Beef burgers are probably the most basic of American fare. A good burger is hard to beat, especially if it has some delicious “add ons” like bacon, blue cheese, pineapple, sautéed mushrooms along with the basic lettuce, tomato and pickle. The possibilities are endless. Think Beef and Lamb Burgers, Chicken and Turkey Burgers, Fish and Veggie Burgers. Below are a few good tips and recipes:

  • Make sure the grill is the appropriate temperature for the recipe. If the grill is too hot, the burgers will burn on the outside and the inside will not be cooked. Best to keep the lid closed while cooking. This way the grill retains heat, shortens the cooking time and keeps the burgers moist.
  • Fat is needed for the burgers to be moist and flavorful. Use beef that is no leaner than 85%.  When using ground turkey or chicken, add a little olive oil to keep them moist.
  • Gently mix ingredients together. Kneading the meat with other ingredients will produce a tough burger.
  • Form a burger (patty) about 3/4 inch thick and make small indention in the centre, to keep patties from swelling in the middle,
  • To cook flavorful, juicy burgers, turn them only once and DO NOT press burgers with the back of a spatula as this releases all of the fat that makes them juicy.
  • Cook ground beef burgers to an internal temperature of 160ºF and poultry 170ºF.

MENU

Grilled Potato Skins

Chunky Guacamole

Snack Mix

5 Minute Citrus Chicken Salad

Tropical Fruit Coleslaw Salad

Greek New Zealand Lamb Burgers

Easy Oreo Cheesecake

GREEK NEW ZEALAND LAMB BURGER

Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 10 minutes
Serves: 4

1-1/2 lb ground lamb
1 onion, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
2 Tblsp. chopped fresh cilantro
2 Tblsp. chopped fresh mint leaves
2 Tblsp. chopped fresh oregano
2 tsp. white wine vinegar
1 tsp. molasses
1 tsp. ground cumin
1/4 tsp. ground allspice
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
4 pita bread rounds, cut in half
4 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
Garnish: Shredded lettuce, chopped tomatoes and onions.

Preheat grill for medium heat. Place the lamb in a large bowl and mix with the garlic, cilantro, mint, oregano, vinegar, and molasses. Season with cumin, allspice, red pepper flakes, salt, and black pepper, and mix well. Shape into 4 patties about 3/4 inch thick.

Clean and brush grill grate with oil. Place burgers on grill and cook about 5 minutes on each side for well done. Heat the pita pockets briefly on the grill. Cut burgers in half. Serve burgers in pita halves with feta cheese. Garnish.

GRILLED POTATO SKINS

Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 40 minutes
Serves: 4

4 medium baking potatoes
2 Tblsp. butter, melted
1/4 cup Picante sauce
1/2 cup (2 ounces) shredded Cheddar cheese
2 Tblsp. bacon bits
1/2 cup chopped tomato
1/4 cup sliced green onions, green tops included

TOPPING:

1/3 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup sour cream
2 Tblsp. Ranch salad dressing
1 Tblsp. bacon bits
1/2 tsp. garlic powder

Scrub potatoes; prick with a fork. Place 2 of the potatoes in the microwave oven. Micro-cook on 100% power (high) for 11 to 14 minutes, or until just tender, rearranging once after 7 minutes. Repeat with remaining potatoes. Cool enough to handle.

Cut potatoes in half lengthwise. Scoop out pulp, leaving a 1/4-inch thick shell. Discard pulp, or save for another use. Brush the inside of each potato with melted butter. Spoon 1 tsp. picante sauce into each potato shell. Sprinkle each with cheese. Add bacon.

Preheat grill to medium. Grill potato skins on an uncovered grill directly over coals for 10 to 12 minutes or till skins are crisp. Sprinkle with tomato and green onions. Top with sour cream mixture.

CHUNKY GUACAMOLE

Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 40 minutes
Serves: 4

3 medium ripe avocados, halved, pitted and peeled
2 Tblsp. minced onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 jalapeno chili, seeded and minced
1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro leaves
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
2 Tblsp. fresh limejuice

Mash with a fork the flesh from one avocado with the onion, garlic, chili, cilantro, salt and cumin, until just combined. Cube the remaining two avocados and add to bowl with mashed mixture. Mix all contents lightly and sprinkle lime juice over.

Note: Avocados are loaded with potassium and fiber.

SNACK MIX

Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 3 minutes
Serves: 14 or 7 cups

3 cups spoon size shredded wheat cereal
2 cups popped popcorn
1 cup small pretzels
1/2 cup cocktail peanuts
3 Tblsp. butter melted
1 Tblsp. Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp. seasoned salt

In a large microwavable bowl, toss cereal with popcorn, petzels and peanuts. Mix butter, Worcestershire sauce and seasoned salt in a small jug until well blended. Drizzle evenly over cereal mixture; toss to coat. Microwave on HIGH for 2 to 3 minutes or until cereal is crisp, stirring after 1-1/2 minutes

5 MINUTE CITRUS CHICKEN SALAD

Preparation time: 5 minutes
Serves: 4

8 cups baby spinach leaves
3 cups chopped cooked chicken breast (about 3/4 lb.)
1 (11 oz) can mandarin orange segments, drained
1 cup sliced mushrooms
1/4 cup raisins
1/4 cup balsamic vinaigrette dressing
1/4 cup pecan pieces

In a large  bowl, toss spinach, chicken, oranges, mushrooms and raisins. Drizzle with dressing just before serving; toss lightly. Sprinkle with pecans.

TROPICAL FRUIT COLESLAW SALAD

Preparation time: 5 minutes
Serves: 4

2 cups coleslaw blends
1 cup sugar snap peas
1 large red pepper, cut into strips
2 green onions, chopped
1 can tropical fruit salad, drained
1/2 cup zesty Italian dressing

In a large bowl, combine all ingredients except dressing. Add dressing, toss to coat. Serve immediately.

EASY OREO CHEESECAKE

Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 1 hour 10 minutes
Chilling time: 3 hours or overnight
Makes: 16 slices

1 (1lb 2oz) pkg. Oreo chocolate sandwich cookies, divided
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, melted
4 (8 oz) pkgs. Philadelphia cream cheese, softened
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup sour cream
4 eggs

Preheat oven to 325ºF. if using a silver 9-inch springform pan (or to 300ºF if using a dark nonstick 9-inch springform pan). Place 30 of the cookies in a resealable plastic bag. Flatten bag to remove excess air, then seal bag. Finely crush cookies by rolling a rolling pin across the bag. Place in bowl. Add butter; mix well. Press firmly onto bottom of pan.

Beat cream cheese, sugar and vanilla in a large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed until sell blended. Add sour cream, mix well. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating just until blended after each addition. Chop or crush remaining cookies. Gently stir 1-1/2 cups of the chopped cookies into cream cheese batter. Pour over crust; sprinkle with the remaining chopped cookies. Bake 1 hour and 10 minutes or until center is almost set. Cool. Refrigerate 3 hours or overnight. Cut into 16 pieces. Store leftover cheesecake in refrigerator,

Note: You can make this cheese cake in a regular 9×13-inch cake pan. Prepare according to directions, checking 5 to 10 minutes earlier for doneness, so it doesn’t overbake. Cut in squares.

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