4th of July Food Recipe Ideas and Picks

Here's a Watermelon filled with assorted fruits cut out melons
with star shapes using a cookie cutter for a festive look!
Make some banana strawberry jello salad above for a refreshing treat!

Melting white chocolate and dipping fresh strawberries in blue sugar is fun for the kids!

Black and Blue Angus Burger

Looking for more grilled recipes?

Grilled  Lemon Shrimp
Grilled Lemon Pepper Chicken
Grilled Lime Chicken
Grilled Pizza
Grilled Shrimp and Pineapple Kabobs
Grilled Eggplant
Grilled Scallops
Grilled Herb Crusted Chicken
Grilled Ham
Grilled Portabello 
Grilled Wings
Grilled Beer Chicken
Grilled Porterhouse
Grilled Blackened Pompano
Grilled Wahoo
Grilled Lime Redfish
Grilled Meatballs
Grilled Lemon Salmon 
Grilled Pineapple Brown Sugar Salmon
Grilling Roundup
Grilled Chili Chicken and Steak Kabobs
Grilled Balsamic Chicken
Grilled Fish with Lime Dill Butter
Grilling Roundup
Grilled Chicken Whiskey Barbecue
Grilled Rosemary Lamb Kabobs
Grilled Portobello Balsamic Mushroom Sandwich
Grilled Rum Jerk Chicken
Grilled Southwest Chicken with Tequilla

Happy 4th of July 2013!!!

Coconut Cream Raspberry Filled Cupcake Recipe

All through my childhood I grew up with jam coconut cake and that was Dad's favorite cake. Simple but really delicious when combined with a golden  yellow or white cake, spread with jam topped with coconut. We all loved coconut cream pie also, so I thought lets put all these flavors together! Coconut filling, golden cake, raspberry jam and shredded coconut! Are you with me? Well here it is!

Golden Cake or Cupcake batter recipe:
In a bowl using an electric mixer cream:

1/2 cup shortening
1 1/2 cups sugar
Beat until light around 12 minutes.
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 eggs
2 1/4 cup cake flour or sifted flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
Beat with mixer alternating with 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons milk.
Pour into cupcake tins that are lined with paper cups and bake on 375 degrees until browned on top slightly 25 minutes. Cool completely.
Make Coconut cream filling:
Homemade filling or use boxed puddings such as French vanilla,  vanilla or coconut cream by package directions adding 1/4 cup to 1/3 cup of shredded coconut:
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups unsweetened coconut milk
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1/4 cup cornstarch
5 egg yolks
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup flaked, unsweetened coconut toasted**
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 tablespoon butter

Directions:In a nonstick 1-quart saucepan, combine 3/4 cup sugar, coconut milk, and 1 cup milk. Scald mixture. In a small mixing bowl, whisk the remaining 1/2 cup milk and cornstarch together to make a slurry. Whisk egg yolks with salt in medium bowl. Temper yolks by adding 1/2 cup scaled milk mixture to yolks and whisk well. Add yolk mixture and put back into milk mixture and whisk vigorously over medium heat until thickened, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and add coconut, vanilla, and butter. Whisk until uniformly incorporated.
*** To toast coconut, spread it in an ungreased pan and bake in a 350 degree F (175 degrees C) oven for 5 to 7 minutes, or until golden brown, stirring occasionally.
Cut the centers out of each cooled cupcake.
Fill with cooked coconut cream filling or vanilla pudding, instant pudding per package instructions. Add 1/4 cup shredded coconut to the pudding. More for on top garnishing.
Cut the middles out with a knife or apple corer. Fill with pudding. Place the middle back in the cupcake after filled.
In the microwave warm 1/2 cup seedless Raspberry jam for 15 seconds. Spoon 1 teaspoonful over cupcake. Add more flaked coconut on top.
Add a dollop of whipped cream on top or whipped topping. Garnish with fresh raspberries dipped in warm jam on top.

Homemade Eggplant Parmesan Pizza Recipe

I have made several styles of pizza. So many kinds I just can't count. I just love them all. Pizza's of all kinds are really one of my favorite foods. You can do so much to change the toppings the skies the limit. I love Eggplant Parmesan so this one really made a big hit with everyone in my family that also loves it. If you love Eggplant this will be a new favorite pizza for you too. This pizza will be a whole meal, reminds me of a sub but opened faced.

Eggplant parmesan recipe:
1 eggplant washed and sliced thick, leaving partial skins on striping effect(for sandwich slices cut much thinner and fry)
1 1/2 cups of seasoned flour
1 egg beaten with 1/4 cup water
seasoning, 1/2 teaspoon of each, salt, pepper, parsley, oregano, garlic powder, basil
1 pinch of fennel seed (about 1/4 teaspoon) Optional
1 tablespoon minced fresh garlic
oil for frying
grated cheese long Parmesan and Romano blend
shredded mozzarella
favorite sauce
Heat oil in large fry pan. In a large plastic bag add flour and seasonings. Add eggplant slices to the egg mixture,(if you prefer a lighter coating moistened eggplant in plain water and shake in seasoned flour ) shake wet eggplant into the seasoned flour. Drop into hot frying oil about 1/2 inch of oil, fry each piece until golden brown. Spread out on paper towels to blot the oil.
1 pizza dough homemade or store bought

Spread pizza dough on a cookie sheet or pizza round pan.  Rise until doubled in size.  Cook the dough until light brown. Cool. 
Place cooked eggplant slices on top, generously sprinkle with parmesan cheese. Spread with Marinara sauce (homemade or store bought) top with shredded mozzarella, drizzle with olive oil and bake at 400 degree hot oven until cheese is browned and bubbly.

+claudia lamascolo Author

Mock Brownie Tiramisu and The Balancing Act Tv Segment Experience

Kraft Foods-Bakers Chocolate Blogger Recipe... by THEBALANCINGACT

Recently, I was thrilled to find out my video won the grand prize in a contest! I won television appearance on "The Balancing Act on Lifetime TV. The prize was also money and lots of Baker's Chocolate from Kraft! These were some photo's below while we practiced! A real exciting day for me. I was also so happy to have my family share this day with me,  my Husband Nemo,  son Curt Iffert and my brother John Colenzo were all in the audience.  This was such a fun experience. I started out just thinking I would never win when I entered and then when I got the email that said I was the winner, I was shocked, I couldn't believe it!  I always wanted to make my mom proud by cooking with her teachings and being this blog is dedicated to her memory and recipes ( R.I.P. Margaret Ann Fanelli Colenzo) this was a great tribute to her. She would have been so proud of this accomplishment because she has always been first and foremost my inspiration, teacher and continued motivation to do this blog, I only wish she was still here to see her cooking lives on in me. Working full time, blogging and then having won this certainly makes it all worth while! I am truly grateful to the fans and readers that made this possible by their votes.
Thank you all so much!

This is Joyce, she is the representative for Kraft Foods and bakers Chocolate. Great talking with her and sharing Baker's Chocolate history together.

My awesome hair stylist and makeup artist Jill!

Here are some photo's of me making this 
Mock Brownie Tiramisu

My son Curt Iffert, Joyce, myself, my husband Nemo and my brother John Colenzo
Thank you Kristy for being such a gracious host and to Baker's Chocolate and Kraft Company, The Balancing Act, my family supporting me and especially my voters,
 readers that made this possible,
 I really enjoyed this opportunity!

Here's the winning recipe CLICK LINK BELOW:

Mock Brownie Tiramisu

Dad's Favorite Raspberry Pancakes with Chocolate Chips Recipe

I just love the combinations of Raspberries and Chocolate. My
Dad's all time favorite pie was Raspberry Pie he loved raspberry anything and he would have loved  these pancakes. I really think he would have enjoyed these. I would have made them for him for Father's Day if he were still alive. Even though he has been gone now since 1995 I still think of him and the foods he enjoyed over the years.  I can't cook anything that mom or dad loved without wishing they could be here to taste the new recipes.  Time may go on but the memory of family favorites live on forever in our hearts and mind.  

A few years back I posted our favorite pancake recipe and my Dad's favorite fresh fruit on top which is raspberry.  Fresh fruit with a raspberry glaze topping make these more than a special breakfast. You can garnish these with whipped cream as well. I actually made them in his honor on Father's Day but couldn't get the post up the same day. Here is the link below if you want to make them from scratch. Raspberries and Chocolate go famously together! Add some pure maple syrup or the Raspberry glaze homemade fresh recipe below. Just toss them in the cooled glaze and top your favorite pancakes using either a mix or homemade version.  Dad would be thrilled that I am growing my own berries. I am so lucky to live in Florida and they grow so easily! As a child Dad and I would always go berry picking in Upstate New York in near by woods and farms we visited often. I have a ton of fresh berries now and can't wait to make more recipes with them!

Raspberry Glaze:

1 pound Red Raspberries washed or Strawberries (more fresh  berries for topping the pancakes, two pounds total are plenty)

1/3 cup water
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon lemon juice 2 teaspoons corn starch

Combine the berries, water, sugar and juice in a saucepan on high. Cook for 10 minutes boiling. Mash the berries in the pan down. Put through a strainer.  In the mean time, add the cornstarch with a little water to make a paste. Place into the strained juice from the berries and boil for around 5 minutes until thickened. Cool completely add more fresh cleaned berries whole to this glaze to top your pancakes with. For a quicker store bought version try and ice cream topping mixed with the fresh berries. Top pancakes with minature chocolate chips and whipped cream with glaze. For homemade recipe for pancakes click on the link below.

 CLICK HERE : Homemade Raspberry Chocolate Chip Pancakes Link 

@Claudia Lamascolo Author

Grilled Ribeye Mom's Italiano Style Recipe

All I can say is Mom loved to cook sirloin steak under the broiler, dad loved his steak on Saturday nights and it was always a night us kids looked forward too, sirloin was all they could afford in those days, they would have loved ribeyes. All winter long even though we would have 6 feet of snow on the ground. We rarely had it on the grill with such unpredictable weather. Most of the time it either rained, snowed or was just plain freezing out.  We grew up in Upstate New York, Utica to be exact, we had a charcoal grill back then which to me still has the best flavor for grilling meats. Pretty much gas grills took charcoal grills  place and the most popular now.  We looked forward to every Saturday night back then as it was family steak night. Dad always got the biggest piece and ate first, he told the boys when they get their own house and grew up he would get the bigger piece. Back in those days the man worked all day and he ate first. As time went on things changed growing up with those rules.  Mom worked a full time job which was unheard back in those days,in the early 1960's but she had her own deli then later on worked in a supermarket as a deli manager. 

Now in this new age,  some of us are lucky to all ever have a family night when everyone sits down at the table instead bringing their food into the parlor, parked in front of the television  that is hooked up to gaming stations to  play video games and eating on a paper plate or playing on their cell phones.  The man of the house gets whatever is left and the kids eat first. Dad would never had never understood this technical world that has taken over.

Geesh the good ole days of yester year..  oh the memories. My  oldest brother John  would be playing the piano and still does for a living, my other brother Luke would be anxious to sop his bread up in the amazing juices that the steak made with the freshly homemade Italian hunk of bread and probably still does.  
I can still smell the aroma of that broiled steak. 
Oh well we have the greatest memories.

Here is the recipe she used and her version adapted in 2013 using the same ingredients but a grilled version that I make occasionally but not every Saturday.

4 well marbled Rib Eye Steaks around 1 inch thick
olive oil
garlic cloves cut in half
freshly chopped parsley
dried oregano
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, salt, pepper

(Use enough of each to cover the tops of each steak is the rule of thumb for all ingredients)

pinch of cayenne
2 tablespoon melted butter
1/4 cup burgundy wine

Cut small slits in the steaks and stuff the garlic cloves inside. Place on a deep cookie sheet of baking dish. Drizzle the steak with olive oil, sprinkle evenly with herbs, spices, lemon juice,  salt,  pepper, evenly. Marinade overnight or at least three hours. Melt the butter in a small pan, shut off,  cool a little then add the burgundy wine mix together, add the pinch of cayenne pepper.
Heat the grill on high and cook steak on each side 2 minutes a piece. Lower to medium heat and grill to your desired doneness. Baste with butter and burgundy wine as its cooking.

For more grilling recipes:

Grilled  Lemon Shrimp
Grilled Lemon Pepper Chicken
Grilled Lime Chicken
Grilled Pizza
Grilled Shrimp and Pineapple Kabobs
Grilled Eggplant
Grilled Scallops
Grilled Herb Crusted Chicken
Grilled Ham
Grilled Portabello 
Grilled Wings
Grilled Beer Chicken
Grilled Porterhouse
Grilled Blackened Pompano
Grilled Wahoo
Grilled Lime Redfish
Grilled Meatballs
Grilled Lemon Salmon 
Grilled Pineapple Brown Sugar Salmon
Grilling Roundup
Grilled Chili Chicken and Steak Kabobs
Grilled Balsamic Chicken
Grilled Fish with Lime Dill Butter
Grilling Roundup
Grilled Chicken Whiskey Barbecue
Grilled Rosemary Lamb Kabobs
Grilled Portobello Balsamic Mushroom Sandwich
Grilled Rum Jerk Chicken
Grilled Southwest Chicken with Tequilla

+claudia lamascolo author

Spinach, Peppers and Plum Tomato Saute Recipe and My Courageous Niece Pamela

The first time I made this was a few years ago when I couldn't get escarole all year round (which is my first love and favorite to use) I then started using spinach as a substitute and loved it.

 Recently I visited my niece in Upstate N.Y. and she invited me to lunch. I couldn't believe it when I got there and she had made something so similar I posted awhile back it was mind boggling how much we cook alike, her peppers and spinach dish was fantastic!  We never knew that each other made this type of dish before. Since I live in Florida and her in New York, we see each other maybe once a year.

 I want to repost and dedicate this blog post to her, as she is battling breast cancer. Pamela is truly remarkable woman, mother of two small children, loving wife and wonderful friend. I had posted on my other Blogs Got Heart site her battle and fight against Lyme disease a true to life article she wrote, yet another struggle she has dealt with such remarkable strength and courage. Recently she found out she had invasive lobular carcinoma breast cancer and underwent a double mastectomy.  She is recovering to get her strength back  from surgery. It's been a slow recovery, more than two weeks now but finally feeling stronger by the day,  eating healthy to retain her strength before she starts her next treatments. It certainly hits you right in the gut when you can read about this all day about others and it's not resonating but then you realize wow this can happen in your own family and to anyone. We ask how can this happen, why and change on many things we took for granted. Everyone needs to make time to enjoy every minute your healthy.  I believe there is much more strength in prayers and asking all my readers for them to get her through this with complete healing. Anyone out there going through the same thing we are all praying for a cure for breast cancer for everyone. 

Claudia and Pamela my beautiful courageous niece I enjoyed out day and lunch together!

Her courage and strength is an inspiration to all woman who battle this disease to stay strong, eat right and keep fighting and most of all keep loving life and enjoying family that's her main focus, to believe and encourage others.  We are all praying for her quick recovery. Love you Pamela Colenzo Ward, you are in our thoughts and prays every day and we will continue to fight this together. We are making plans when it's all over for her and her family to vacation here with me and I plan to do a whole post on her recovery with the success of beating this cancer. 

I  just love this on a plate sprinkled with some toasted bread crumbs with a chunk of fresh Italian bread, sharp provolone cheese and a little vino on the side. Chianti preferred. The best starters can be side dishes for a topping on meats, used in fillings for calzones or just added to some crusty Italian bread to make a sandwich with. Try this filling with eggs to make a vegetarian omelet too. I am sure you will think of many ways to use this delicious filling or add more vegetables that you love!

3 cloves garlic
1 large bag spinach
1 bag sweet baby peppers cleaned and seeded sliced or leave whole depending on your usage
4 plum tomatoes sliced
salt, pepper to taste
cayenne pepper to taste
olive oil to cook with
grating cheese
slices of  provolone or mozzarella
loaf of crusty fresh Italian bread
(Chianti wine to drink optional)
 Optional : toasted bread crumbs see note on the bottom

optional : add mushrooms, olives, leftover cooked potatoes, leftover cooked meats, sausage etc.

In a large fry pan add 3 tablespoon olive oil and saute the garlic left whole for 1 minute turning not to burn. Remove garlic add the spinach cook until it starts to wilt. Add the peppers and tomatoes and cook until they are softened.  This will now be ready to  be used in a sandwich or as a filling for calzones. You can also use any leftovers to make an omelet.  Serve with grating cheese and toasted bread crumbs on top and/or mozzarella slices, provolone slices cheese or both! Also delicious served as a side dish with steak, chicken or fish! Serve with crusty Italian bread and Vino! Enjoy.

To toast bread crumbs heat 2  tablespoons of olive oil in a pan on low heat. Add 1/4 cup Italian flavored bread crumbs and stir fry until heated and crispy around 8 minutes. Sprinkle on top of vegetable medley.

Thank you to all my readers for all your continued support
 and prays out there and for all of you going through the same we pray for your complete and full recovery as well.

+claudia lamascolo Author

James Gandolfini R.I.P. and Thank You For The Greatest Television Performance of all Time

               R.I.P. James Gandolfini  Born September 18th 1961 - June 19th 2013

The Westwood, New Jersey  bred actor whose Mafia-boss character survived six seasons of mobster hits and panic
 attacks on "The Sopranos'' died Wednesday in Rome, Italy. He was 51.

Gandolfini was a frequent visitor to Italy, where his parents both grew up. His family owns land somewhere near Milan.

In his memory our family will be cooking a Traditional Italian Sunday dinner as a tribute to this amazing character and actor. He will be sorely missed.

Thank you James Gandolfini and for your great talent you gave us, we will miss you. As you will live on in Tony Soprano and remembered eternally. Our deepest condolences to the family.

+claudia lamascolo  author

Deconstructed Jar Filled Pie Video Idea's and Recipes

I love pie of any kind  but not necessarily the mess that comes with making them especially if baked in these jars. Sure it's mouth watering to see the oozing berries or other fillings over flowing off the sides of the glass but do you really want to soak and clean them later with all that baked on mess? I don't!   Deconstructed pie makes cleaning easy as pie can be! No mess from baking, Why do you ask?  Well you are prebaking the crust first and then cutting or breaking it up into the jars instead of baking that gooey mess and getting the glass jars all sticky and impossible to clean! This is the perfect answer to us cooks on the go who hate to clean the mess and want to take the easy way out! Watch the video for more suggestions and tips to combine many ways to create these delectable pies in a jar! You can use fresh fruits, canned pie fillings, pre made puddings or homemade. The skies the limit of your creative pie making combinations. I just love the simplicity and ease, hope you do too! Fast and easy but oh so delicious!

Try cutting out shapes from your pie dough to create a festive flair to what ever holiday is upon you

Fill with your favorite fresh fruits or pie fillings even puddings alternating with whipped cream and garnishing for a gourmet pie treat!  Are you ready to astonish your family and friends?

Depending on your favorites you will need some of the following to make your jar pies you will need imagination with these ingredient suggestions to make your perfect deconstructed pie:

1/2 pint mason jars with cover lids

Ingredients Suggestions:

Whipped cream or topping
Chocolate chips
Chocolate candy bars
Mini marshmallows
Marshmallow cream
Graham crackers crushed
Pie Crusts
Ice cream toppings
Chocolate shavings
Cooked brownies crumbled
Crushed cookie crumbs
Candy bars cut up
Lemon or lime slices


Make pie crust baked on a cookie sheet according to package instructions but flat on a cookie sheet then cut up in strips or you can use a cookie cutter. You can allso cut and  bake them in various shapes per the package instructions on the cookie sheet.

Filling suggestions make according to pudding and box instrucitons:

Cheesecake filling,  puddings chocolate, vanilla, coconut cream, lemon, key lime or any other boxed  pudding cooked to package instructions
Cookies such as oreo's shortbread, peanut butter, snickerdoodles, oatmeal, nutter butters etc.
 Garnishes: Sprinkles, ice cream toppings,  coconut,  various jams to match the fresh fruits, cinnamon and sugar mixed together, white or chocolate chips or other crushed candy bars. Add anything else you like to add that you love!

Here are the ideas and suggestions I have to make your favorite pies with some basic recipes.

Fresh fruits slices you prefer you can mix with coordinating glazes, ice cream toppings,  preserves or jams:

Raspberries or Blackberries
Orange Segments

or a combination of several above

Canned Pie fillings suggestions you can use to layer:

Key lime
Banana cream
Coconut cream
Chocolate cream

Remember you can always heat in the microwave  the filling first for a warm pie. Use the pre made cooked crust layers, warm filling layered and top with whipped cream or ice cream. Layer with whipped cream alternating with pie filling if you prefer.

Premade such as snack pack puddings or boxed cooked homemade pudding ideas below (for special treats make from scratch puddings):

Key Lime
Lemon Curd or Lime Curd
Coconut cream
Banana cream
Cookies and cream
Cheesecake mix
(some are found in the supermarket dairy cases)

Line the glass jar with strips of pie crust. Alternate with whipped cream, pudding then end with whipped  cream. 

Directions for Assembly:
Line the mason jar with strips of pie crust, cookie crumbs or graham crackers crumbs. Layer with pudding or favorite fruits,  whipped cream them repeat until the jar is full. Garnish with whipped cream, lime slices, lemon slices,  fruits, nuts, cherries, syrups, chocolate chips or sprinkles for a fun and festive pie. Coordinate if its a holiday with color doughs or colored sugars.
See video for exact instructions.

Here are some basic recipes for Mom's homemade crusts:

Homemade Crust:
2 cups of flour
1/2 teaspoons salt
2/3 cups shortening cut in the flour and salt
4 tablespoons ice water

Mix together till dough forms a ball, roll out dough to fit a pie plate. Place flat on a cookie sheet. You can cut out cookie cutter shapes to the current holiday or event or just cut into strips when cooked. Proceed with layering cooked pie crust with above suggestions for pie favorites.

Filling for Fresh Fruits:

Get creative and make a great memory!

Click links below for more ideas and homemade recipes.

@claudia lamascolo Author

How To Make Perfect Iced Coffee At Home Recipes

Brewed coffee poured over ice and adding your favorite flavorings is hardly a recipe. Whether it be served black, flavored or with a touch of cream you will have the perfect iced coffee treat that is alot less expensive than going to the pricey coffee establishments. Really the best coffees are made from being fresh perked over ice however in your busy schedule feel free to make it however you like from your fast coffee makers it just won't be as special.

Amazing what they charge for such an easy drink.

Here's all you do. See the tip at the end for your ice cubes!

Be sure to brew a good grade coffee and if all possible DONT USE A COFFEE MAKER.... I love my old fashioned perked coffee and fresh ground beans. Something you will still enjoy as it sits overnight in the refrigerator as it strengthens in flavor. Brew and store away till the next day.

In the morning add the ice in your cup or glass first. Pour the chilled coffee over the ice
 (see tip below).
Add  any flavoring of choice or plain with cream, sugar or black.

During the day:

For those who enjoy your coffee with alcohol add a shot of Amaretto, Frangelico, Godiva or the many other choices of sweet liqueurs out there but wait until brunch at least!

If you like cream top it off with a little cream. Add whipped cream on top or keep it skinny with none!

That's it enjoy!

Here some suggestions to try that are easy to have ready:

Vanilla Iced Coffee:

1 cup strong vanilla flavored black coffee brewed cooled
1 can evaporated milk room temperature
1/3 cup sugar
Place in a blender until smooth. Chill.  Pour over ice (see tip below) in a glass or cup.

Tip: Fill ice cube trays with brewed coffee or a mixture of cream and coffee (or liqueur if you prefer) and freeze. Take them out of the trays when frozen and add to freezer bags to use them in your coffee drinks anytime!

Coconut Iced Coffee Recipe

1 can condensed milk chilled (13 oz can)
1 can coconut milk chilled (14 oz can)
2 tablespoons instant coffee
ice cubes
Place the coffee and coconut milk in a blender until dissolved. Add condensed milk and pulse for 2 minutes. Pour over ice.