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It’s tradition for me to make deviled eggs for the Fourth of July but it’s not about picnics, campgrounds, or family reunions. In our family, it’s about fireworks.

deviled eggs

I pack up smoky deviled eggs flecked with bacon and trek across the border—the Minnesota and South Dakota border on U.S. Highway 14—where for a week and a half, my sister Kalli runs her in-law family fireworks store on the edge of the state line rest area.

fireworks semi sign

She is a South Dakota resident and I live a few miles into the Land of 10,000 Lakes & 1 Trillion Mosquitoes so we are practically neighbors for nine days! (South Dakota residents can buy fireworks in the state between June 27 and July 5, visitors can buy any time.)

SD sign and fireworks flags

She runs the store during the days and her friend Barry works at night and he stays overnight in a camper to guard the place. He usually texts me on June 27  to remind me that he is looking forward to my deviled eggs. And within a few days, I show up with the smoky little devils.

fireworks store

And because of it, there are two fireworks named after me. (OK, not really.)

sweets firework

Sweet and stressed out. I guess those could be named after a lot people I know.

stressed out firework

(As you can see, she runs an orderly ship around there.)

fireworks store inside

What is a Fourth of July food tradition in your family?

Deviled Eggs

hard-boiled eggs

mayonnaise

mustard

Worcestershire sauce

dash of liquid smoke

onion salt

garlic powder

dried bacon and onion seasoning (I use Tastefully Simple Bacon Bacon; you could use bacon bits and dried onion flakes.)

pepper

  1. Peel the eggs. Discard the shells or use them in your garden.
  2. Slice eggs in half lengthwise with a sharp knife.
  3. Pop the yolks into a bowl and set the whites in a container.
  4. Mash up the yolks with a fork. Add the remaining ingredients to taste and desired consistency.
  5. Scoop the yolk mixture into the egg whites with a spoon or use a bag to pipe it in. I use my Pampered Chef Easy Accent Decorator with the large star tip so the bacon bits don’t get stuck.
  6. Sprinkle with a few bits of Bacon Bacon.
  7. Cover and store in refrigerator for a few days.

Sweet and smoky wishes,

Staci

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I lured you in with patriotic jars of jiggly sugar. There aren’t really one thousand seven hundred seventy-six of them. As we are celebrating in the United States, 238 years ago today 56 men penned their signature on a document composed of the most eloquent and liberating words in our history – the Declaration of Independence.

patriotic JELLO jars

I haven’t read the Declaration of Independence in its entirety in years. Probably since middle school. I read it, twice, today. Maybe if you have a few minutes, you will want to read it too.

Happy Independence Day to my United States friends! May God, our Creator, continue to bless and guide our nation.

IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.–Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.


The 56 signatures on the Declaration appear in the positions indicated:

Column 1
Georgia:
Button Gwinnett
Lyman Hall
George Walton

Column 2
North Carolina:
William Hooper
Joseph Hewes
John Penn
South Carolina:
Edward Rutledge
Thomas Heyward, Jr.
Thomas Lynch, Jr.
Arthur Middleton

Column 3
Massachusetts:
John Hancock
Maryland:
Samuel Chase
William Paca
Thomas Stone
Charles Carroll of Carrollton
Virginia:
George Wythe
Richard Henry Lee
Thomas Jefferson
Benjamin Harrison
Thomas Nelson, Jr.
Francis Lightfoot Lee
Carter Braxton

Column 4
Pennsylvania:
Robert Morris
Benjamin Rush
Benjamin Franklin
John Morton
George Clymer
James Smith
George Taylor
James Wilson
George Ross
Delaware:
Caesar Rodney
George Read
Thomas McKean

Column 5
New York:
William Floyd
Philip Livingston
Francis Lewis
Lewis Morris
New Jersey:
Richard Stockton
John Witherspoon
Francis Hopkinson
John Hart
Abraham Clark

Column 6
New Hampshire:
Josiah Bartlett
William Whipple
Massachusetts:
Samuel Adams
John Adams
Robert Treat Paine
Elbridge Gerry
Rhode Island:
Stephen Hopkins
William Ellery
Connecticut:
Roger Sherman
Samuel Huntington
William Williams
Oliver Wolcott
New Hampshire:
Matthew Thornton

View Declaration of Independence on http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/charters/declaration.html.

Make the JELLO jars using Jars of Rainbows instructions, using 12 (4-ounce) jars. Use two small packages of blue JELL-O® and one small package of red JELL-O®.

Jars of RainbowsMaybe cream cheese cookies are more your thing.

cream cheese sugar cookies

 

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You may not think a big bowl of salsa makes a meal, but you won’t be able to stop eating this hearty condiment until your belly is full. If you have a garden, run out and pick a few tomatoes, green onions, and as many varieties of peppers as you can. Sauté a pound of chicken seasoned with Mexican spices, throw a few beers on ice, and in 30 minutes you’ll have a perfect summer meal.

Our favorite sidekick for scooping up this salsa is a big bag of Margaritaville Sea Salt Tortilla Chips. (Thanks to my sister, Kalli, for the recommendation a couple of years ago.) For those of you in the Midwest, you can purchase the chips at Hy-Vee, Fareway Foods and Schnucks.

Of course, no meal is complete without something sweet so we topped off this spicy summer meal with a light and creamy, no-bake dessert — Summer Breeze Lime Pie.

Chicken and Black Bean Salsa

1 – 1-1/2 pounds unbreaded chicken breasts, cooked, diced and seasoned with Southwest Seasoning Mix or any combination of Mexican spices

3 large tomatoes, chopped

1/4 cup fresh lime juice (or lime juice from a bottle), to taste – you may want to add more to make it juicier

1/4 cup green onions, finely chopped just past the white part

2 (15 oz. each) cans black beans, drained and rinsed

3 Tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped

1/4 tsp salt, or more to taste

1/4 tsp pepper

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 cup diced pepper (red, green, orange, yellow, whatever kinds you like)

2 jalapeno peppers, finely chopped

Sauté the chicken until fully cooked.

Cut up all the vegetables, cilantro, garlic, and stir together in a large bowl with the salt and lime juice. Drain and rinse the beans and add to the vegetables.

When the chicken is done, stir it into the vegetable and bean mix. Serve with chips. Store in the refrigerator and serve leftovers cold.

Happy summer!

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Ah, summer time. That’s when you want to make this chilled, no-bake summer pie. The filling is light and fluffy with the perfect sourness of tart lime. When you bite into the pie, the salty crust balances out the sweetness.

The creamy filling uses lime curd, cream cheese, whipping cream, powdered sugar, lime zest, and lime juice. That’s why it’s great for spring and summer. For fall and winter, my favorite Key Lime pie is the kind you bake with sweetened condensed milk and eggs. Problem is, I can’t find the recipe right now.

A few months ago, I was looking for a Key Lime pie recipe that uses lime curd but I couldn’t find one. Last weekend, I was going through piles of recipes and magazines in my office and found this one in a Midwest Living magazine from June 2005. (It’s not Key Lime, but you can use Key Limes if you want. I’ve never been able to tell the difference anyway.) It’s on my blog and Pinterest board now so I’ll know where to find it next time.

Summer Breeze Lime Pie from Midwest Living 

Now, if I can just find my “winter” Key Lime Pie recipe before November…

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Before we know it, we’ll be filling our pools and sandboxes and searching for the beach towels. Summer is on its way. Serve these cute jars of rainbows at your first summer bash and you’ll be the talk of the party!

These remind me of those sand jars we made as kids, but the bright rainbow stripes are actually layers of gelatin. Make sure you have hours at home without having to leave though, because these take a minimum of six hours to complete and you can’t be away from them for more than 30 minutes at any given time. (It’s like having a puppy around for the afternoon.)

With that being said, I must tell you that these are definitely worth the time — when my sister and the kids’ grandma saw these, they couldn’t stop talking about them. And taste? Well, there’s a reason why I don’t mind taking six hours to create them — they are like summer in your mouth and the kids love them, too!

{Jars of Rainbows}

7-1/2 cups boiling water, divided (boil as you need it 1-1/4 cup at a time)

6 packages (4 serving size each), gelatin any flavors or see my suggestions below, divided

Gelatin Flavors (From Bottom to Top) for Rainbow Jars

  • Grape
  • Berry Blue
  • Melon Fusion
  • Pineapple
  • Orange
  • Cherry

1 cup plus 3 Tablespoons sour cream or vanilla low-fat yogurt

Glass jars: I used 7 recycled jars, mostly 15-18 ounce (such as jelly, pickle, bbq sauce, etc) but those were really just too big for one serving. Next time I make these, I will use 6 oz.-12 oz. ounce jars and that will be just perfect. So I estimate you will want a minimum of 13 jars if you use the smaller ones.

Let’s Jiggle!

STIR 1-1/4 cups boiling water into 1 package gelatin in small bowl at least 2 minutes until completely dissolved. Pour 1/8 to 1/4 cup of the dissolved gelatin into individual jars. Refrigerate about 15 minutes or until set but not firm (gelatin should stick to finger when touched). It works best to put the jars on a tray that will fit in your refrigerator so it’s easy to put them in and take them out. Refrigerate remaining gelatin in bowl about 10 minutes or until slightly thickened (consistency of unbeaten egg whites). Gradually stir in 3 Tbsp. of the sour cream into the remaining gelatin. Spoon over gelatin in jars. Refrigerate about 20 minutes or until gelatin is set but not firm (gelatin should stick to finger when touched).

REPEAT process with each remaining gelatin flavor. Be sure to cool dissolved gelatin to room temperature before pouring into jars! It works best if you dissolve your next flavor of gelatin in boiling water when you are waiting for the previous layer to cool in the refrigerator. That way, there isn’t as much time in between the creamy sour cream layer and the new color/flavor layer. Refrigerate gelatin as directed to create a total of 12 rainbow layers.

REFRIGERATE 2 hours or until firm. Top with whipped cream and a fun umbrella before serving. (If this is for a kid’s birthday party, you could put candles in the jars instead.) Store leftovers in refrigerator.

The original Rainbow Ribbon Mold recipe is from Kraft Foods. When My Grandpa  Elroy died, one of the church ladies made the ribbon mold for the funeral luncheon and I thought it was out-of-this-world delicious. And since funerals aren’t always the best place to go around asking for recipes, I searched and searched and found the recipe online.

This time, I changed it up by serving them in jars and I have tons of ideas about other fun ways to make these for different occasions. Some of those ideas include mixing alcohol into the creamy layer for a fun adult summer treat, creating layers of school or team colors, red and blue layers for the 4th of July, matching bridal colors for a shower or layering soft pink or baby blue layers for a cute baby shower treat.

I’d love to hear the creative ideas you have for these!

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