In a summer recipes series, the ScholarNet team is serving up favorite Independence Day recipes to financial aid professionals and lenders.
Like you, the ScholarNet team members all have our favorite summer foods to make. To start off our summer recipe series, we’re sharing a light appetizer; a cocktail; and a refreshing red, white, and blue dessert option.
We’ll start things off with Food Network’s Caprese Salad recipe – it’s one Renola Swoboda submitted as a summery favorite. It’s a nice, healthy counterbalance to the dessert and cocktail recipes we’ll be sharing with you later.
3 medium vine-ripe tomatoes, cut into 1/4-inch slices
12 oz. fresh mozzarella or burrata cheese, cut into slices
Olive oil, for drizzling
Good-quality balsamic vinegar, for drizzling
Bunch fresh basil leaves, for topping
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Fan the tomato and mozzarella rounds across a platter, alternating between the two. Coat with olive oil and drizzle with balsamic vinegar. Tear pieces of basil and sprinkle over the top. Season with salt and pepper.
Now that you’ve got an appetizer ready, it’s time for a refreshing drink. You can rely on expert mixologist Biz Daniel to suggest a summery cocktail to help make the holiday festive.
Biz’s Bikini Martini
1 oz. of vodka of your choice (I use Tito’s or Grey Goose)
1 oz. of coconut rum
1 oz. of pineapple juice (Dole’s)
Dash of grenadine for color
Add all ingredients in a shaker with ice and shake well. Pour into a chilled martini glass and garnish with a maraschino cherry.
After mixing up a round (or two) of beverages for those who are partaking, it’s time to fire up the grill and really kick it into summer holiday mode. We’ll let you do whatever it is you do – spare ribs, barbecued chicken, burgers, or some grilled corn, asparagus, mushrooms, or other vegetarian options.
But eventually, you’ll be ready for something sweet. Dana Staats shared her berry trifle recipe for layers of refreshing star-spangled flavor in a semi-healthy dessert – fruit is healthy, right? And there are worse things for you than angel food cake. It’s just that things get a little creamy and decadent after that. But, hey – it’s a holiday, so enjoy the festivities with this summer classic!
¼ c. plus 2/3 c. sugar
¼ c. fresh lemon juice
¼ t. almond extract
1 premade angel food cake, cut into 1-inch slices
1 pound cream cheese, at room temperature
2 c. heavy cream, at room temperature
2 pints blueberries
2 pints strawberries, hulled and sliced
Heat ¼ c. sugar, the lemon juice, and ¼ c. water in a saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring, until the sugar dissolves. Remove from the heat and stir in the almond extract.
Brush both sides of each slice of cake with the syrup. Cut the slices into 1-inch cubes.
Beat the remaining 2/3 c. sugar and the cream cheese with a mixer on medium speed until smooth and light. Add the cream and beat on medium-high speed until smooth and the consistency of whipped cream.
Arrange half of the cake cubes in the bottom of a 13-cup trifle dish. Sprinkle evenly with a layer of blueberries. Dollop half of the cream mixture over the blueberries and gently spread. Top with a layer of strawberries. Layer the remaining cake cubes on top of the strawberries, then sprinkle with more blueberries, and top with the remaining cream mixture. Finish with the remaining strawberries and blueberries, arranging them in a decorative pattern. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.
We at ScholarNet wish you and yours a safe and happy Independence Day celebration. And stay tuned for more staff favorites in the next installment of our summer recipes series!