4th of July 2014

This summer I’m throwing my annual 4th of July party at the lake, and I can’t wait to spend a day relaxing with delicious food, friends & family. Here’s what I have on the menu this year:

To Start

July 4th is a long day and people are going to stay until dusk, so make sure you have some snacks out for grazing. Plan accordingly based on how many guest you will be having over. You don’t want to run out!

Being Italian, I always have an Tuscan table theme at my parties, and I encourage you to put your personal spin on yours. One of the best things about our country is that it’s one big melting pot of all different cultures. Bring your background into the fore-front with food and decor.

Italian meatball skewers are perfect for appetizers or entrees. Just defrost my veal meatballs from HSN and stick them on a skewer with bell peppers and onions. Grill until the peppers and onions are soft and charred, and serve with either my spicy arrabbiata or classic marinara for dipping. These are great as snacks because they can be served hot or at room temperature. Staying with the Italian theme, I always serve my father’s famous focaccia with a charcuterie and imported mozzarella cheese.

Next, I’m making a spinach artichoke dip with homemade tortilla chips and my
Rosemary & Truffle Oil Donatella Popcorn. Finally, I’ll make an easy shrimp and avocado margarita

The Main Courses

I am so excited to be cooking in my Woodstone pizza oven, which is part of my brand new outdoor kitchen designed by Lynx Grills. It is beyond awesome!! I will be making a few of my signature pizzas:

  • Classic Margherita- with fresh mozzarella, tomatoes, and basil
  • Funghi- Assorted charred mushrooms and smoked mozzarella
  • And for fun: The “Americana.” It’s a nod to the Italian interpretation of the American diet: hot dog & fries pizza. It’s so bad it’s good, and I think my guests will get a kick out of it too!

On the Side

You can’t celebrate the 4th of July without Hot Dogs & Burgers- because that’s what people expect. Elevate your party and get creative with the condiments and toppings. Try my herbed aioli on burgers or dip fries in it in place of ketchup! Also, be sure to check out my 5 Tips for Grilling to perfection.
For sides and starches, I’ll have a balance of healthy vegetables, pastas and salads. Zucchini, eggplant, asparagus, and corn will be grilled to perfection on my new Lynx grill. Italian Baked Mac & Cheese and panzanella salad are always crowd-pleasers!

Dessert

I like to stick to one or two signature desserts, and this year I’m making my Sparkling Watermelon and a Watermelon Granita- served in my HSN Baker. People love to bring sweets, so I usually let my guests contribute the rest.

I love letting the dessert be a fun activity for the kids, so I let my non-chefy team experiment with decorating cheesecake and mini sponge cakes. Buy or make a cheesecake in a sheet tray and use star-shaped cookie cutters to make individual cakes. Arm the kids with frosting, food coloring, sprinkles, fruit, and other patriotic decorations and let them design their own masterpieces! We did an “Iron Chef” competition here at the office, and my intern Carly killed it! It was so much fun and totally delicious.

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