Growing up on 40 acres in Kansas, the 4th of July was all about one thing: fireworks.
And I'm not talking about sparklers, snakes and little spinners. I'm talking big, booming, multi-tiered, dangerous fireworks set off at your own home. When you have prairie for a backyard, you can do those sorts of things.
Mr. McC grew up in Arizona when fireworks were illegal (you can now set them off there to your hearts content). To me, this was a tragic circumstance. He had never even held a Roman candle!
See what I was used to? I know, I know. It's so dangerous. But it's so fun.
For Mr. McC's first 4th in Kansas we spent more money than I care to say at a fireworks stand and created one of the most epic extravaganzas I've ever experienced. Our neighbors told us the next day that they thought we hired someone to put on a show.
It was exhilerating. I've never run for my life more times in one night.
Holiday in Carmel
Independence Day in California is pretty tame compared to those Kansas adventures. This year we spent the long weekend in Carmel-by-the-Sea with family.
And yes, that is the true name of the town. It's such a beautiful setting.
Mr. McCormick and I kicked off the holiday with a long, long walk along Pebble Beach with the kiddos.
The little getaway rental my in-laws have for the month couldn't be more adorable. We can't wait to come back.
Gosh I love it here. There are beautiful scenes everywhere you look.
Red, White & Blue Sangria
When family invites you to stay at an adorable cottage in Carmel, the least you can do is cook for them. We began with this fresh and happy sangria, which I adapted from a Tieks Instagram post.
1 bottle Sauvignon Blanc
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 cup simple syrup
1/2 cup blueberries
3/4 cup strawberries, hulled and sliced in halves
1 cup pineapple, sliced into chunks
Combine all ingredients in a large punch bowl or pitcher and stir well. Cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours. Serve well-chilled with a good scoop of fruit floating in each drink, or serve over ice.
Simple syrup: To make 1/4 cup simple syrup, boil 1/4 cup water and add 1/4 cup granulated white sugar. Turn heat to simmer and stir until dissolved. Turn off the heat and let cool.
Red, White & Blue Trifle
I love, love, love trifle. My mom's trifle is legendary, and I could never hope to recreate it perfectly. This dish was inspired by her classic and a recipe I found on The Kitchn.
Note: You can adjust the proportions of these ingredients based on your tastes and the dish you'll be serving the trifle in. The amounts listed are for a large trifle dish and serve 12.
8 cups angel food cake, cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes
8 cups vanilla pudding*
2 pounds strawberries, divided
2 cups raspberries
4 pints blueberries, divided
2 cups blackberries, sliced in half lengthwise
2 cups heavy cream
1/4 cup powdered sugar
Zest of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
*I used store bought pudding packs for ease. If you prepare from scratch or over the stove, let it set up in the fridge long enough to be scoop-able before you add to the trifle layers.
Use a trifle bowl that can hold 20 to 24 cups.
For the red fruit: Hull and quarter 1 pound of the strawberries and mix with the raspberries. Refrigerate. Reserve remaining strawberries for topping the trifle.
For the blue fruit: Lightly mash 2 cups of the blueberries just until they release their juices. Stir in 2 more cups of blueberries and the blackberries. Refrigerate. Reserve remaining blueberries for topping the trifle.
Whip the cream and sugar with beaters or in the bowl of a stand mixer until light and fluffy and it forms soft peaks. Whip in the zest and vanilla.
To assemble the trifle
Pack half of the angel food cake into the bottom of a large glass bowl. Top with half of the pudding, spreading in an even layer.
Drain off any juices that have collected in the bottom of the fruit bowls. Spread the red fruit over the base layer of cake and pudding.
Top gently with the whipped cream, then with the remaining cake cubes.
Whip the remaining vanilla pudding until creamy, and spread over the cake cubes. Top with the blue fruit mixture, then with a final layer of the whipped cream.
To finish the trifle, hull and slice the remaining strawberries. Arrange the remaining strawberries and blueberries on top of the trifle.
Refrigerate uncovered for at least 2 hours or up to 24 hours before serving.
We'll begin with the sangria, which was light, fresh and very easy to drink. After 5 hours it was a bit like fresh berry wine, and I imagine sitting overnight would deepen the flavors even more.
We really liked it with a few extra blueberries for color. You could also add a bit of berry-flavored vodka or triple sec to this mix for a heartier drink.
And the trifle, oh my goodness. It was so, so good. I used the proportions above to make four mini trifles for us to enjoy after dinner. As soon as we started eating them, not a word was said until all had licked their spoons clean.
Don't skimp on the vanilla and zest in the whipped cream. The flavors really shine through to compliment the other layers.
My mom's trifle uses pound cake which makes it a dense, buttery delight. I also love this lighter angel food cake version.
The best part is that you can use whatever combination of fruits (fresh or frozen) you love. The longer everything sits together and mingles, the better the dish is. These will be added to our favorites list, stat!
Hope you had a very happy 4th!