Category Archives: Holidays – 4th of July

Three Cheese Grilled Pizza

I have two favorite things about living in New Jersey.  First is having the luxury of living in the secluded countryside while only being a short train ride away from one of the world’s biggest and greatest cities.  And second, is pizza.  Good classic Italian pizza (and all other Italian deliciousness you find everywhere).

I rarely make pizza at home because we are surrounded by so many wonderful restaurants with those blazing brick ovens.  The ones that cook your pizza to a crispy, flavorful perfection within seconds.  But sometimes in the summer, when grilling season is upon us, I love to put on my sweats, grab a glass of wine and put a cheesy pizza over the coals.  It’s the next best thing to the brick oven kind. 

And if you’re like me, you’ll seek out your favorite pizza shop and buy the dough already made for only a couple of dollars.  More time to sit back, relax and soak up these sweet summer nights.

Three Cheese Grilled Pizza

This is more of the method opposed to a recipe.  Use whatever toppings you like.  For the three cheese pizza I used Shredded Provolone, Fresh Mozzarella and Shaved Parm, and it was superb.

  • Prepared pizza dough
  • Tomato sauce, recipe below
  • Olive oil
  • Toppings (I used shredded provolone, fresh mozzarella and topped with parmesan and basil, but you can use whatever you’d like!)

Tomato Sauce

(This recipe makes a lot of sauce, so if you’re only making one pizza, freeze the rest of it in individual ziplock bags to reuse in the future.)

  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • kosher salt
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 (28oz) can crushed tomatoes

Heat a saucepan to medium and add garlic, oil, red pepper and salt. Continue to saute for just about a minute. Add tomato paste, oregano and basil and cook for a minute longer. Add tomatoes, bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer.  Simmer for about 5 minutes and then adjust seasonings according to taste.

For the Grilled Pizza

Roll out dough on floured surface.  I like a thin crust, but don’t roll it out too thin or else it will burn quickly on the grill. Once your dough is rolled out heat the grill to med/high and have your sauce and toppings ready to go. 

Place the floured dough on a pizza peel (or back of a cookie sheet) and slide the dough onto the grill.  It should only take a few minutes, but check frequently to ensure it doesn’t burn.  You want it to have a nice browned bottom.  Once the bottom is browned remove from the grill with a spatula and pizza peel.

With the grilled side up, brush with olive oil and then add your sauce (a very thin layer of sauce is all you need).  Add the rest of your toppings beginning with the cheese.  Place the pizza back on the grill and cook covered until the bottom begins to brown and the cheese melts. 

Finish with fresh basil if desired.

UPDATE: If you are using the back of a cookie sheet or other surface, instead of a pizza peel which is made specifically for handling pizza dough, make sure you dust it with plenty of flour to ensure your dough does not stick to the surface when trying to transfer.  Or, it may just have to be a two person job!



Filed under All Posts, Appetizers and the likes, Great for a barbeque, Happy hour anyone?, Holidays - 4th of July, New Jersey, Pizza, Recipes, Seasonal - Summer

Kentucky Bourbon Balls



Believe it or not, I learned most about stereotypes long before I moved to New Jersey (surprising, I know!). 

As a native Ohioan, or more suitably I should say Cincinnatian, we have a serious love-hate relationship with Kentucky.  Depending on the situation, we will either turn up our nose and clearly make known, with all of our stereotypical glory, that the Ohio River creates a solid state line separating modern civilization with that other state.  Followed by some type of joke about cousins marrying cousins.

And then in other cases we’ll proudly proclaim that it is our sister state, our comrade, our next door neighbor that produces arugably the world’s best whiskey, hosts infamous horse races, and is home to the cowboy hat wearing, gun-slinging Mr. Raylan Givens (for all you Justified fans). 

In this case I think it goes without saying that Kentucky would be our friend.  Our close friend.  Dear friend.  Our great Makers Mark-producing, Knob Creek-making, cousin kissing friend!

In honor of the Kentucky Derby coming up I wanted to share these, but they are a really delicious treat for any type of party.  Make them ahead of time and store them in an airtight container for up to two weeks, sometimes I add coconut, sometimes I dip them in an extra layer of chocolate, and sometimes I just nibble on them with a glass of red wine.  Truly an easy and succulent treat.

Kentucky Bourbon Balls

Adapted from Williams Sonoma Cookies Cookbook

Makes about 4 1/2 dozen cookies

  • 1 box Vanilla Wafers, crushed
  • 6 oz dark, or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/3 cup Kentucky Bourbon (or can substitute other bourbon)
  • 2 cups toasted pecans, finely chopped
  • pinch of salt

Begin by crushing the vanilla wafers in a food processor (or by placing them in a large plastic bag and crushing them with the back of a spatula or rolling pin).

Melt the chocolate in a double boiler or in the microwave for 30 minute increments, stirring in between.  Remove the chocolate from the heat and add brown sugar, corn syrup, bourbon and salt.  Next, stir in the vanilla wafers and half of the pecans.

Measure out 1 tablespoon of dough and roll into a ball.  Roll the ball in the remaining half of pecans.  Refrigerate the cookies for at least one day prior to serving to allow flavors to merge.  




Filed under All Posts, Great for a barbeque, Happy hour anyone?, Holidays - 4th of July, Holidays - Christmas, Holidays - Easter, Holidays - Thanksgiving, Ohio, Recipes, Sweet Treats

Salsa and Avocado Deviled Eggs

I’m a huge egg fan to start, but when I was pregnant with my butterbean I couldn’t get enough.  Specifically the deviled kind.  Something about that creamy, tangy filling hit my ravenous hard-boiled-egg-spot every time.

Because I did try to nourish myself with some healthy choices during my nine-month long egg-a-thon, I incorporated lots of different variations into my diet.  This version is among my favorites and although lighter than the classic mayo mixture, it is still packed with tons of flavor. 

Spicy salsa, creamy avocado and complete with fresh cilantro.  Ahhh, I can’t think of a better combination!

Salsa and Avocado Deviled Eggs

(You can add a diced jalapeño if you like a little heat)

  • 12 hard-boiled eggs
  • 1/2 cup prepared salsa
  • 1/4 cup (light) sour cream
  • 2 green onion, green part sliced
  • Squeeze of fresh lime
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 2-3 tbs cilantro
  • 1 avocado, diced

Slice eggs in half lengthwise and scoop out yolks into medium bowl.  Add salsa, sour cream, squeeze of lime juice, green onion, freshly cracked pepper and a generous pinch of salt.  Combine well until the mixture becomes smooth and the egg yolks are creamy.

Spoon out the salsa mixture into the egg whites and top with avocado and cilantro.  Chill, serve, enjoy!




Filed under All Posts, Appetizers and the likes, Great for a barbeque, Happy hour, Healthy Options, Holidays - 4th of July, Recipes, Side Dishes

Beer Beans


It isn’t very often New Jersey gets to see 60 degree days in January.  The uncharacteristically warm temps over the past weekend had me day dreaming of sunny blue skies and long summer days.  When you get an opportunity like this it only makes sense to fire up the grill.  So, we did just that — a little mid-winter barby!

In efforts to avoid breaking our lazy day streak, we quickly threw together some dishes with the ingredients we had on hand.  These beans were among the feast and turned out so succulent and flavorful (think Boston Baked Beans).  These will be making their way into our dinner repertoire, for sure. 

So, grab a beer (and one for the beans!) and head on over to the kitchen…  

Beer Beans 

(If you want to get really fancy, add some diced up weenies!)

  • 2 cans small red beans
  • 5-6 slices smoked bacon
  • 1/2 large onion, chopped
  • 1 bottle of beer (of your choice)
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 2 tbsp molasses
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • a couple dashes of Worcestershire sauce
  • a few dashes of tabasco sauce (depending on your taste)
  • salt/pepper

In a large dutch oven cook bacon until crisp and brown.  Remove bacon from pot and set aside. 

Add onion to the pot and sweat for a few minutes until onion becomes translucent.

Add 1/2 cup of beer, and then mix in ketchup, Dijon, molasses, vinegar, brown sugar, worcestershire, tabasco, salt/pepper .  Add beans, cover and simmer for about 45 minutes, stirring frequently.  Contiue to add the rest of the beer whille cooking  (you may also have to add a little water if the beans begin to dry out).  

Once the sauce cooks and thickens add the bacon back to the pot and serve.



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Filed under All Posts, Appetizers and the likes, Great for a barbeque, Holidays - 4th of July, Pork, Recipes, Side Dishes

All-American Apple Pie Bites


Something about the word “bite-size” makes me giddy.  Especially when it’s referring to a cuter and more petit version of it’s larger counterpart.  I can’t really explain my love for all things miniature, but what I do know is that these adorable tiny treats always have the ability to satisfy my extra-large sweet tooth.  There’s no better way to show your love for this sweet country than by giving her a taste of an American classic – bite-sized!


*I stole the Apple Pie recipe from my favorite classic baking site – The Joy of Baking.  I then simply prepared them in a greased mini muffin pan and baked for 20-25 minutes.  You will also need to cut the apples into smaller 1/2 inch pieces.  Simply delish!


Filed under All Posts, Great for a barbeque, Holidays - 4th of July, Sweet Treats

Grilled Shrimp Kabobs with a Firecrackin’ Jalapeno-Curry Dip

It is a requirement on the fourth of July to celebrate America’s birthday by flaming up the grill and cooking whatever possible over the coals.  Kabobs are always a crowd pleaser, and when paired with a super easy and absolutely delicious dip – you can still allow yourself time to kick back, relax and soak up all of America’s star-spangled glory.


 Grilled Shrimp Kabobs

  •  20 large shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • olive oil
  • fresh lime juice squeeze
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 4 metal kabob skewers (or if using wooden ensure skewers are soaked in water first)

Combine ingredients and marinade shrimp for 30 minutes to an hour.  Add 5 shrimps to each skewer and season with kosher salt and freshly cracked pepper.  Grill on each side for approximately 2 minutes each.

Firecrackin’ Jalapeno-Curry Dip

  • 1/4 cup mayo
  • 1 tbs Dijon mustard
  • 1 tbs plus 1 tsp freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1 jalapeno seeded and diced
  • 1/4 tsp curry powder
  • salt and pepper

 Combine all ingredients in small bowl and mix until well incorporated.


Filed under All Posts, Great for a barbeque, Holidays - 4th of July, Recipes, Seafood

Red, White and Blue Cheese Coleslaw

In preparation of one of my most favorite holidays, I will be sharing some fun and delicious ideas for your festive backyard barbeque.  I first learned of Bleu Cheese Coleslaw in Charleston, SC where it can be found as a side on just about every menu.  Some prefer eating it with a spoon, and others like it as an addition to their burgers and dogs.  My favorite way to eat this creamy and tangy slaw is atop a juicy hotdog with a drizzle of Dijon mustard.  You be the judge.

Boathouse Bleu Cheese Coleslaw


  • 2 heads green cabbage
  • 1/2 red onion chopped
  • 1 carrot, shredded
  • crumbled bleu cheese, to taste


  • 4 cups mayo
  • 1 1/2 cups sour cream
  • 1 cup half & half
  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • salt, to taste
  • cayenne pepper, to taste

In large bowl combine cabbage, carrot, onion, and bleu cheese.  In another large bowl stir together mayo, sour cream, half & half, balsamic, olive oil, salt and pepper.  Blend together throughly.  Pour dressing over slaw ingredients and mix well until evenly distributed.

(Derived from The Boathouse restaurant on Isle of Plams, SC


Filed under All Posts, Charleston, Great for a barbeque, Holidays - 4th of July, Recipes