Thursday, June 27, 2013

Happy 4th of July!

The 4th of July is one of my favorite days of the year.  I love any holiday, of course, but I really love a good holiday in the summertime.  It’s hot outside, there is usually a parade of some sort, a BBQ, and the best part….fireworks!  It isn’t a holiday that centers around gift giving, or really even food.  It is about being together and the Red, White and Blue.  Can’t beat it.

When I was growing in up California, we went to a parade every year on the 4th.  I grew up going to the Clayton 4th of July parade.  It is a classic small town parade.  The fire trucks are in the parade, along with the library, swim team, local girl and boy scouts, etc.  But the best part is that all the kids get to decorate their bikes, scooters, skateboards, really any mode of transport, and be in the parade!  I did it, and my kids did it before we moved to Reno.

Nowadays, I love a good Reno 4th of July.  I love hanging out all day with new friends and ending the night at the Star Spangles Sparks by the Nugget.  And of course, I love all the food!  I have a few great recipes that would be perfect at any 4th of July party that you might be having, or going to.  I will show you how to make a homemade French Onion dip, a yummy Peachy Onion Topping for grilled sausages or hot dogs, and a fantastic Cherry Amaretto Pie Pop.  Who doesn’t love food on sticks?!

Let’s start with the dip.  My husband has always been a fan of French Onion Dip.  You know, the packaged kind?  I figured I could make my own version that could be tastier then a powdered version….I use sweet onions, sour cream, mayo to name a few ingredients.  It is sweet, tangy and perfect for any party.

I start by slicing the onions and throwing them in a sauté pan with a little bit of olive oil.  You can use any oil you have, or even butter.  I salt and pepper the onions and cook them low and slow.  Seriously, I cook them for like 45 minutes.  I don’t want to brown them; I want to caramelize them so that they cook down and get super sweet.  Cooking them slowly, over low heat, brings out the onions natural sugars.  This is what sets this dip apart from the packages kind….the sweet onions!

While the onions are doing their thing, I mix together equal parts of sour cream and mayonnaise.  I could eat it like that.  Try not to use fat-free, but low fat is fine.  Fat Free will taste a bit off.


When the onions are caramelized, I pop them in the fridge to cool off.  I chop enough rosemary that I have a scant tablespoon.  Too much rosemary and your food will taste like you threw a pine tree car air freshener in it.  If you are unfamiliar with fresh rosemary….you only use the leaves.  Discard the woody stems. 

Once the onions have sufficiently cooled, I mix the sour cream/mayo mixture, onions and chopped rosemary together.  It needs to chill in the fridge for about one hour before you serve it.  This helps the flavors meld together, and lets the rosemary soften a bit.

I serve this dip with potato chips, of course!  Various veggies could be good too, and probably welcome since there will be lots of treats at most parties.

As for my Peachy Onion Topping….it really is super easy.  I use more onions, Gourmet Rooster County Fair Peach Spread, Dijon mustard and a spare beer that will most likely be sitting around on the 4th.

You can totally make this whole thing on the grill, or inside on the stove top while someone else is grillin’ up the sausages.  BTW-I use brats for this, but any type of grillable sausage will work.

I start by thinly slicing my onions.  Then, I throw them in a pan with a couple of tablespoons of butter.  Yes, this starts a lot like the dip above.

I let the onions sauté on medium for about ten minutes.  I am not as concerned about these onions getting color.  I mainly want to soften them.  Once they are soft, I added a whole beer.  Nothing fancy, in fact, I think I used Coors Light when I made this last.

I let the onions and beer simmer together for about five minutes, or until most of the beer as evaporated.  Once that has happened, I add in the mustard and peach spread.  You can feel free to use any peach preserve you can find, and even plain yellow mustard if you need too.  It will still be great!

Once the whole mixture has simmered another five minutes, and has gotten pretty thick, it’s done!  Spoon the topping over any kind of grilled sausage and get ready to accept many compliments. 


This topping is tangy, sweet and all together perfect.  It makes a plain sausage something extraordinary.  It’s messy though, so provide a lot of napkins!

My dessert is an American favorite…..Pie!  But not apple.  I chose cherry filling for these pies.  But not just any cherry filling.  I jazz my pie filling up with Amaretto.  And it is totally safe for the kiddos because the alcohol cooks off.

I start my pie filling by boiling a ½ cup of Amaretto in a sauce pan.  I boil the Amaretto until it has reduced down to ¼ cup.  This intensifies the flavor.  Once I have ¼ a cup, I add in a can of cherry pie filling.  Yep, a can.  I’m not pitting a pound of cherries when I’ve got parades to go to!

I let the pie filling and Amaretto simmer together for a few minutes until the flavors meld.  Once that is ready, I can move on to the crust.

And yes, I use a pre-made crust too.  I just unroll the crust, and I used a 2 inch in diameter cookie cutter to punch out about 16 circles from one crust (remember these are pie pops!). This will give me eight pies.

And oh yea, soak your lollipop sticks in water for a few minutes to prevent them from burning in the oven.

I’m good at math.

I lay out eight circles onto a baking sheet and top each circle with about a teaspoon of filling.  Then I put a lollipop stick in the center, and top each circle with its lid.  Make sure to seal your edges!

These bake for a few minutes, and they are too cute when they are done.  It is basically only a bite of pie though, so make a lot!  Once can of pie filling will make at least thirty two pies.


Are those not the cutest thing ever?  And the Amaretto makes these cherry pies to die for!

Have a great 4th of July!  Stay safe and have fun!

Caramelized Onion Dip

2 tablespoons olive oil OR butter

2 onions, sliced

1 cup sour cream

1 cup mayonnaise

1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped

Salt and pepper, to taste


Sauté sliced onions, in oil or butter, on low heat for about 45 minutes, until onions are caramelized.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Chill cooked onions in refrigerator for a few minutes.

Mix together sour cream and mayonnaise.  Stir in chilled onions and chopped rosemary.  Mix well and chill for one hour/

Makes 2 ½ cups


Peachy Onion Topping

2 tablespoons butter

2 large onions, sliced thinly

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon black pepper

1 bottle of beer, any flavor

½ cup Dijon mustard

8 ounces Gourmet Rooster County Fair Peach Spread

Melt butter in a large sauté pan.  Add onions, salt and pepper and cook over medium heat for about 10 minutes, or until onions are soft and translucent.

Once onions are soft, add beer.  Increase heat and simmer until beer has reduced, about 5 minutes.  Add mustard and peach spread and simmer another 5 minutes until topping has thickened.

Makes enough to top about 8-10 sausages.


Cherry Amaretto Pie Pops

½ cup Amaretto

21 ounce can cherry pie filling

2 boxes refrigerated pie crust (4 rounds)

32 lollipop sticks

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Pour amaretto into a saucepan.  Boil until reduced by half.  Add pie filling and simmer together over medium heat for 5 minutes.

Unroll pie crusts and punch out 32 circles with a 2 inch diameter round cookie cutter.  Place half of your circles on an ungreased baking sheet.  Top each circle with a teaspoon of filling.  Place stick onto circle and top with remaining circles.  Seal edges by pressing down, all the way around.

Bake at 450 degrees for 5-8 minutes. 

Makes 32

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