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I hope that everyone is enjoying their summer! It’s that time of year again when we celebrate our nation’s independence. If you are planning on picnicking in the park, or having a small get-together with family and friends, why not take this July 4th with ease and prepare some of these favorite stress-free holiday recipes; I am sure that everyone will love them. To all … enjoy the summer and have a safe and fun 4th of July!

Blueberry-Berry Splash

1 (0.13-ounce) package unsweetened cherry drink mix

6 cups white cranberry juice

1/4 cup sugar

Fresh mint sprigs

Fresh blueberries for ice cubes

Mix together the first 3 ingredients and 2 cups water in a large pitcher until sugar is dissolved. Cover and chill. Before serving, add blueberry ice cubes and garnish with mint sprigs, if desired. Yield: approximately 2 quarts.

To prepare blueberry ice cubes:

Using an ice cube tray, add several blueberries to each cube; add water to cover the blueberries; place the ice cube trays in freezer until solid. Remove ice cubes from trays immediately prior to serving.

Chicken Barbecue Kabobs

2 pounds skinned and boned chicken breasts

1/2 large red onion, cut into fourths and separated into pieces

1 pint cherry tomatoes

8 (8-inch) metal skewers

Smoky Barbecue Rub (recipe below)

Preheat grill to 350° to 400°. Cut chicken breasts into 1-inch cubes. Thread chicken, onion, and cherry tomatoes alternately onto skewers, leaving a 1/4-inch space between pieces. Sprinkle kabobs with Smoky Barbecue Rub. Grill kabobs, covered with grill lid, 4 to 5 minutes on each side. Yield: 8 kabobs.

Note: To make Steak Barbecue Kabobs, substitute 2 pounds top sirloin steak, trimmed, instead of chicken.

To make smoky barbecue rub:

2 tablespoons firmly packed dark brown sugar

2 teaspoons garlic salt

1 teaspoon chipotle chile powder

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/4 teaspoon dried oregano

Mix together brown sugar, garlic salt, chipotle chile powder, cumin, and oregano. Sprinkle kabobs prior to grilling.

Spiced-Up Beef and Vegetable Sloppy Joes

1 pound lean ground beef

1 medium onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 cup chopped zucchini

1 cup chopped yellow summer squash

1 cup sliced fresh mushrooms

3/4 cup chopped green pepper

1 (16-ounce) jar salsa

1 teaspoon dried basil, crushed

1/2 teaspoon dried parsley flakes

1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed

6 to 8 Kaiser rolls, split and toasted

In a 10-inch skillet cook beef, onion and garlic over medium heat until meat until meat is brown and onion is tender; drain fat. Add zucchini, summer squash, mushrooms and green pepper. Cover and cook over low heat for 5 to 7 minutes, until vegetables are tender. Stir in salsa, basil, parsley and rosemary. Simmer, uncovered about 10 minutes, or until most of the liquid has evaporated. Serve on toasted rolls. Yield: 6 to 8 servings.

Grilled Turkey Sausage Patties

(Recipe requested by one of our readers!)

1 stalk celery, cut into 2-inch pieces

3 scallions, cut into 2-inch pieces

1 clove garlic, minced

1 pound ground turkey

1/2 pound turkey sausage, casing removed

1/2 cup grated zucchini, squeezed dry

1/2 teaspoon oregano

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1-1/2 teaspoons sugar

1 tablespoon soy sauce

Sliced tomatoes and lettuce

Golden onion topping (recipe below)

Combine and chop celery, scallions and garlic in food processor. Place in bowl and add turkey, sausage and next 6 ingredients; mix gently until well blended. Form into 6 patties. Place on grill for about 8 minutes, turning over for 5 minutes. Grill tomatoes 4 to 5 minutes, turning once. Top burgers with lettuce, tomatoes, and onion topping. Yield: 6 patties.

To make golden onion topping:

1/2 stick butter

2 Spanish onions, thinly sliced

2 teaspoons sugar

1/4 cup Gorgonzola cheese

In a large skillet (not nonstick), melt butter on low heat. Add onions and sugar, sauté approximately 1/2 hour, stirring occasionally, until golden and caramelized, raising heat to medium. Add Gorgonzola; stir until melted. Serve topping over patties.

Fresh Peach Cobbler

6 tablespoons butter

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

2 cups sugar, divided

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/8 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup milk

2 cups sliced fresh or frozen peaches

Cream, whipped cream or ice cream

Preheat oven to 350°. Melt butter in a deep 1-1/2-quart casserole. Combine flour, 1 cup of the sugar, baking powder and salt in a large bowl; mix well and stir in the milk. Pour batter evenly into the melted butter without additional stirring. Combine peaches with remaining cup of sugar; pour into middle of batter without stirring. Bake 30 minutes or until lightly browned. Serve warm with cream, whipped cream or ice cream. (You may substitute apples, blueberries or blackberries for the peaches.) Yield: 4 to 6 servings.

Strawberry Cheesecake


3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs

1/4 cup finely chopped walnuts

1 tablespoon firmly packed brown sugar

2 tablespoons butter or margarine, melted


1 (8-ounce) container cream-style cottage cheese

2 (8-ounces each) cream cheese or Neufchatel cheese, room temperature

1-1/4 cups granulated sugar

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 teaspoon grated lemon peel

Pinch salt

4 large eggs, room temperature

1 (8-ounce) container sour cream

Strawberry Sauce:

2 (10-ounce) packages frozen strawberries in light syrup, thawed

1 pint strawberries, sliced thin

Crust: Preheat oven to 350°. Butter an 8-inch springform pan. Combine crumbs, walnuts, sugar and butter in small bowl until crumbs are evenly moistened. Pat evenly over bottom of prepared pan. Bake 10 minutes; cool on wire rack. Keep oven on. Tightly cover outside bottom and sides of springform pan with heavy-duty foil.

Filling: Puree cottage cheese in blender or food processor until smooth. Beat cream cheese in large mixer bowl at medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in cottage cheese. Gradually beat in sugar, scraping sides with rubber spatula, until completely smooth, 3 minutes. Reduce speed to medium, beat in lemon juice, vanilla, lemon peel and salt. Add eggs, one at a time, beating just until blended after each addition. Beat in sour cream just until smooth. Pour filling over crust in pan; place in larger roasting pan on oven rack. Pour enough hot water into roasting pan to come 1-inch up side of springform pan. Bake 1-1/4 hours or until center is just set. Cool completely on wire rack. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Just before serving, run knife around edge of pan and remove sides. Serve with Strawberry Sauce. Yield: 12 servings.

Strawberry Sauce: Puree strawberries in syrup in food processor or blender until smooth. Transfer to bowl and stir in sliced strawberries.

Tip: The best method for a light and creamy cheesecake that is less likely to crack or sink is baking it in a hot-water bath. Covering the outside of the springform pan with heavy-duty aluminum foil, or a double layer forms a strong seal. Add filling, then place the pan in a larger pan and pour enough boiling water to come 1-inch up side of the smaller pan. The water provides even distribution of heat during baking. Your cheesecake will turn out perfect every time.

Please send your email requests to, and write “Helen’s Kitchen Request” or “Helen’s Kitchen Recipe Exchange” in the subject line to make sure that I receive and promptly respond to your email.

Vegetable Relish

(Great as a side or on burgers and hot dogs!)

3 large green bell peppers, chopped

3 large red bell peppers, chopped

3 cups onions, chopped

1/2 cup salt

3 cups julienne carrot strips (1x1/4-inch)

3 cups julienne zucchini strips (1x1/4-inch)

3 cups green beans (cut 1-inch)

3 cups cauliflower flowerets

3 cups celery, diced

6 cups white distilled vinegar

6 cups sugar

1/4 cup Dijon-style mustard

3 tablespoons mustard seed

Combine peppers, onion and salt in large bowl; toss. Add cold water to cover. Refrigerate covered overnight. Drain.

Cook carrots in boiling salted water to cover 2 minutes. Stir in zucchini and green beans. Heat to boiling; drain. Combine peppers, onions, carrots, zucchini, green beans, cauliflower and remaining ingredients in Dutch oven or large pot. Heat to full rolling boil. Follow Canning Procedure. Using slotted spoon, pack vegetables in pint jars up to 1-inch from tops; pour in hot syrup, leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Process in boiling-water bath 15 minutes. Yield: 10 pints.