Summer Berry Trifle

I don’t have very many Fourth of July food traditions, but there was one dessert my grandma and I used to make every year: the quintessential flag cake.

I’m sure most of you know the cake I am talking about as I’m sure it has appeared on almost every Fourth of July spread at some point in time. Vanilla sheet cake, vanilla frosting, cut strawberries, or raspberries, laid across to create the stripes in the American flag, 50 blueberries placed in the upper left corner to mimic the flag’s stars.

It is a delightful classic, but I decided this classic needed a major makeover. As much as I love the original, oftentimes the red from the strawberries bleeds into the vanilla frosting if decorated ahead of time and who wants to be laying out lines of strawberries in the kitchen while everyone else is outside enjoying the barbecue.

Also, I am all about multi purposing and the flag cake is not really an enjoy-it-all-summer-long kind of treat. When I was looking through an old issue of the Food Network magazine I came across the perfect solution: this patriotic berry trifle.

Cubes of moist angel food cake are layered with fluffy homemade whipped cream and fresh sweet berries to create a delicious, fuss-free, make-ahead, presentation-worthy dessert. Now that’s a quadruple win right there!

I must admit that I had a serious addiction to this dessert and may have eaten three servings in one sitting… I’ll never tell!

Perfect for your Fourth of July party, Labor Day potluck and just-because-it’s-a-nice-day-out barbecue.

Summer Berry Trifle
Yield: 8-10 servings
  • ¾ cup sugar, divided
  • ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
  • ¼ teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 pre-made angel food cake, cut into 1" slices
  • 8 ounces reduced fat cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 16 ounces fat free Cool Whip
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, to taste
  • 2 pints blueberries, washed and stems removed
  • 2 pints strawberries, washed, hulled and thinly sliced
  1. Over medium-high heat in a small saucepan heat ¼ cup of the sugar and ¼ cup of the lemon juice. Stir frequently while heating until the sugar dissolves. Remove the saucepan from the heat and stir in the almond extract.
  2. Lay the angel food cake slices face down and brush with the syrup. Flip over and brush the other side of the cake slices. Cut into 1" cubes.
  3. Beat the remaining ½ cup of sugar and the cream cheese on medium speed with a mixer until fluffy. Add the Cool Whip and very lightly beat until smooth. Stir in the tablespoon of lemon juice, to taste.
  4. Using a 13 cup trifle bowl place half the cake cubes in an even layer on the bottom. Add a layer of ⅓ of the blueberries, followed by half the cream mixture. Layer with half of the sliced strawberries, followed by the remaining cake. Then layer ⅓ of the blueberries, followed by the remaining cream mixture.
  5. Top with a layer of strawberries overlapping around the edge of the bowl. Place the remaining ⅓ of blueberries on the top in the center. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour before serving.
For easiest preparation, cut angel food cake with a serrated knife in a slow sawing motion.

Recipe slightly adapted from the July/August 2010 issue of The Food Network Magazine.

Dallas Burger with Barbecue Sauce and Coleslaw

One of my first cookbooks I purchased was Bobby Flay’s Burgers, Fries, and Shakes. As soon as I saw the title I knew I had to have it. I like burgers! I love fries! I would bathe in milkshakes!

Unfortunately I haven’t tried nearly enough of the mouthwatering recipes by now, but everything I have tried has been mmm-don’t-talk-to-me-right-now-I’m-busy-eating good.

One of those is the Dallas burger. Complete with creamy coleslaw, pickles and a sweet and spicy sauce, this burger is a barbecue lover’s dream. All the components add an extra flair to your average backyard burger, but this finger-lickin’ amazing sauce needs to get a special mention.

Sautéed onions, molasses and ancho chiles are just a few of the ingredients that add layer upon layer of flavor to this pourable gold. The ultimate proof for how good this sauce is? I am a cheese addict and never eat a burger without cheese. Notice something? This is a burger recipe, not a cheeseburger recipe. Now that is the delicious power of this sauce.

Impress your guests this Fourth of July and serve up these extreme barbecue burgers. They will not only thank you, but might randomly show up at your house all summer long with a six-pack of beer just hoping you’ll have an impromptu barbecue featuring these burgers. Don’t worry, you’ll want one too.

Dallas Burger with Barbecue Sauce and Coleslaw
Yield: 4 burgers, 2 cups barbecue sauce
for the barbecue sauce
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 Spanish onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 chipotle chile in adobo, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon molasses
  • Salt and pepper
for the burger
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • 1 pound 80% lean ground beef
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
for assembly
  • 4 burger buns
  • 1 cup coleslaw
  • Dill pickles
for the barbecue sauce
  1. Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook the chopped onion until softened, about 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  2. Add ⅓ cup water and the ketchup and stir. Bring to a boil then let simmer for 5 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients, except the salt and pepper, and simmer until thickened, about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Remove from the heat and puree until smooth in a food processor. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Pour into a bowl and let cool to room temperature.
for the burger
  1. Preheat a grill or grill pan to medium-high heat.
  2. Divide the ground beef into four equal parts and create 4 uniform burgers. Make an impression with your thumb in the middle of each burger patty so it doesn’t bulge in the middle when it cooks. Season both sides of the burgers with salt and pepper.
  3. Lightly brush the seasoned patties with the prepared barbecue sauce as they cook and grill until cooked the way you prefer, turning once. For medium cook for 8 minutes total.
for assembly
  1. Lightly toast the burger buns then top with the cooked patties, some barbecue sauce, coleslaw and dill pickles.

Recipe adapted from Bobby Flay’s Burgers, Fries, and Shakes.


I love the Fourth of July probably for the same two reasons most of America loves the holiday: days off work are awesome and barbecues are even better. I’m sure day-drinking summer beers is high up on the list as well. There are so many great barbecue side dishes that it’s hard to play favorites, but one that I always look forward to is coleslaw.

You’re probably thinking, “She just got us all hyped up about barbecues to bring the discussion to… coleslaw? Really?” Think about it though, it’s not only a side dish, but also a topping for burgers and hotdogs fresh off the grill. Versatility at its best. I’ve had some poor luck with homemade coleslaws, mostly because fast food chains have spoiled coleslaw for me with their little plastic cups of goodness probably loaded with preservatives and other fast food chemicals used to make things delicious.

I’ve never let failure stop me before so I kept searching until I found a barbecue-worthy coleslaw. And I did! This coleslaw is simple, crunchy, slightly sweet with a bit of tanginess. Enjoy it on your plate, on your burger and in your stomach this Fourth of July.

Yield: 10 servings
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • ½ white onion, grated
  • 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons celery seeds
  • 1 small head cabbage, shredded
  • 1 carrot, shredded
  • Salt and pepper
  1. In a large mixing bowl whisk together the mayonnaise, grated onion, apple cider vinegar, sugar and celery seeds. Add the shredded cabbage and carrot then toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Let sit at least 1 hour before serving.

Recipe from Bobby Flay’s Burgers, Fries, and Shakes.

Croissant S’mores

We are officially in summer mode, which can only mean one thing: time for another s’mores post. Whether I have to use an oven broiler, microwave or fire pit I am constantly looking for more ways to sneak s’mores into my diet.

I have posted several different s’mores-flavored desserts on Lemon & Mocha, but I wanted to share something that was purely a s’mores recipe. Of course with a twist to make it blog-worthy. I found my calling with croissant s’mores.

Absent of graham cracker squares, buttery toasted croissant halves serve as the vessel for this scrumptious dessert sandwich. The combination of high-quality dark chocolate and sea salt flakes will literally melt in your mouth.

After smearing the sandwich with marshmallow fluff I decided I still wanted the crispy texture and smoky taste you get from traditional s’mores. After some research and tasty experimentation I determined that toasting the marshmallow with a kitchen torch or oven broiler will do the trick just fine.

Although it’s hard to top the original s’mores, the pastry lover in me almost prefers this treat. Almost.

Croissant S'mores
Yield: 1 serving
  • 1 croissant, carefully cut in half lengthwise to open it like a sandwich
  • 2-4 squares of high quality dark chocolate
  • ¼ cup Marshmallow Fluff
  • Pinch of coarse sea salt flakes
  1. If not using a kitchen torch, preheat the oven to broil. Line a small baking sheet with tin foil and set aside.
  2. Heat a grill pan or skillet over medium heat and lightly coat with cooking spray. Place the croissant halves cut side down on the heated pan and grill until warmed and slightly toasted, about 4-5 minutes. Remove from the heat and place cut side up. If using the broiler place the croissant cut side up on the prepared baking sheet.
  3. Place the chocolate on the bottom half of the croissant. Spread the Fluff on the top half of the croissant. If using the kitchen torch, torch the chocolate until melted and the Fluff until lightly charred. It’s ok if it catches on fire, just blow it out! Everyone likes an extra toasted marshmallow. If using the broiler, place the baking sheet on the top rack of the oven and broil until the chocolate is melted and the Fluff is toasted, about 3-5 minutes, making sure you are watching carefully.
  4. Sprinkle the sea salt flakes on the melted chocolate then place the top half of the croissant fluff side down onto the melted chocolate half. Serve and enjoy or devour it right at the counter. I chose the later.


Hobo Egg Grilled Cheese

Naturally I ponder about my favorite foods multiple times throughout the day so it is no surprise that I also fantasize about ways to make them even better. To make the ultimate version of all your favorite foods, now that is the dream.

When I stumbled upon this ingenious idea to elevate my family’s beloved hobo egg I almost couldn’t breathe from the excitement. A. Hobo. Egg. Grilled. Cheese? Must. Make. One. Now.

And of course my list of recipes to try is so long I didn’t get to it until many months later, years even, but I’m so happy I finally did. Combining the best of breakfast and lunch this is a spot-on lazy Sunday brunch meal.

Cheese and eggs have been a classic combination since the stone age when a caveman accidentally knocked a bowl of cheese curds onto his sizzling dinosaur egg omelette, or so I imagine, so before even taking a bite you know this sandwich is about to blow your mind.

And it does, again and again with every bite until you find yourself standing over the stovetop already making a second one. I hope you enjoy as much as I did, and don’t forget the bacon!

Hobo Egg Grilled Cheese
Yield: 1 serving
  • 2 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 2 slices bread
  • 2 slices cheese, preferably cheddar, American, or any cheese that melts well
  • 1-2 slices cooked bacon
  • 1 egg
  • Salt and pepper
  1. Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a skillet over medium-low heat. Meanwhile prepare your grilled cheese by covering one of the slices of bread with the cheese and bacon then sandwiching the other slice of bread on top. When placing the bacon on the sandwich try to keep it around the corners of the bread so it doesn’t get cut out when you later cut out the circle from the middle.
  2. When the butter is melted and the pan is hot carefully place the grilled cheese in the skillet. Place a pan lid or tent a piece of foil over-top the sandwich in the skillet to help the cheese melt.
  3. When the cheese has started to melt and the bread is very lightly browned, about 2-3 minutes, carefully flip the grilled cheese. Cook until the other side of the bread is very lightly browned, about 1-2 minutes. Remove from the pan.
  4. Using the rim of a glass or a 2” cookie cutter cut a circle out of the center of the grilled cheese. Enjoy as a pre-meal appetizer. Press down on the sandwich to flatten it slightly.
  5. Melt the remaining tablespoon of butter in the skillet over medium heat and return the sandwich to the pan. Carefully crack an egg in the hole of the sandwich. Season with salt and pepper. Cook for 3 minutes then carefully flip over. Cook until the egg is no longer jiggling, but still feels soft to the touch, about 3-4 minutes. You want to make sure the whites are cooked through, but the yolk is still runny. Remove from the pan, cut in half and serve dipping the sandwich halves into the runny yolk.