a food tribute

Because Baker Blonde continually amazes me with the effort and preparation and creativity she puts into hosting her wonderful celebrations - be it Mardi Gras, birthdays or Fourth of July - I thought I'd dedicate this wrap-up of the Fourth of July cookout menu to her.

Exhibit 1: the cupcake stand. We did not put cupcakes on it, though. We put little cupcake wrappers full of snacks - like berries and cheese cubes - to make grabbing a handful of something simpler for adults and kids alike. She thinks of those things - constantly - and the extra thought and care that go into those efforts is so awesome and inspiring

She even has an adorable kitchen helper who enjoys sweets like her mom and can't resist leaning in for a whiff of fresh-baked brownies.

Something I also appreciate about Baker Blonde is her patience. For some reason, my efforts to help in her kitchen seem to go wonky, as if her kitchen does not know what to do with me. This time, the wonkiness included an unusual Jello recipe that didn't make sense and required some ad-libbing...

...and a lesson (for me) in the process of melting white chocolate. (Did you know that chocolate will "burn" and clump up? I do. Now.)

The Jello flag turned out well enough, though, even with our mishaps in the layering process.

Our philosophy by the end of the process was, "as long as one corner looks pretty enough for a picture, we'll be happy." Mission accomplished.

Something Baker Blonde does very well is balance the menu with a variety of items, preparation-wise. Sure, we spent a lot of time on the Jello flag and a few other dishes - but then we spent almost no time on things like cut-up fruit.

She also creates well-rounded menus. Savory items included easy little pizza "muffins" (or cupcakes, as the recipe labels them) that smelled and tasted so delicious that I can't wait to try them myself...

...and two trays of barbeque meat (one purchased from a local BBQ place, the other cooked in her crockpot all day) for sandwiches.

But enough of the savory stuff. Let's keep talking about desserts...like the patriotic kabobs she assembled with brownies in the shape of a star! These were a huge hit for adults and kids alike, and I'm disappointed that my picture doesn't do them justice.

Speaking of disappointment - I apparently didn't get any pictures of the tie-dye fudge. It was rich enough to knock your teeth out, but so good that you didn't mind.

Thankfully, that whole chocolate-melting thing worked out well enough that I could claim a true success in the form of this yummy bark. After taking just one bite, Wildcat Guy declared this to be a "must make" - so I imagine it will be seen around these parts again in the future (including a fun little "how I made it" coming soon).

There was also a fruit salsa...

...to dip into with some adorable cinnamon sugar tortilla chips. Yet another example of how she's always looking for the best possible presentation - because, where most people would have just sliced the tortillas into wedges, she chose the recipe that instructs you to cut them into stars with a cookie cutter. Simple genius, people!!

And after all that - after putting together three tables of food for her party of 40+ people - she served as the ice cream lady, as well. (Because as I've mentioned before, you can't visit Granny's house, where the cookout is held, without ice cream. You just can't.)

I'm always so impressed and so proud of Baker Blonde's food endeavors, and this year's cookout was certainly no different. Cheers to you, dear friend, and thanks for letting me be your sidekick in the kitchen!!

Where I am: home
What I'm reading: an old issue of Yoga Journal and At Home on the Range by Elizabeth Gilbert


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