Backyard barbecues are a great way to celebrate America's Independence.

On Wednesday, I'll enjoy grilled hamburgers and hot dogs, topped with grilled sweet onions, grilled peppers (see recipe), mustard, pickles and tomatoes.

Side dishes will include baked beans, pasta salad and potato chips .

For the past 20 years, I've made a red, white and blue dessert to celebrate the holiday, and I'll continue this year with homemade vanilla ice cream topped with fresh blueberries and strawberry slices.

It's a simple way to beat the heat and celebrate the colors of America before heading to Fort Hood for Freedom Fest and the big fireworks show.

Vanilla ice cream


1 quart fat-free half-and-half

1 quart half-and-half

½ pint whipping cream

1 cup Splenda (or sugar if you want the extra calories)

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 cups sliced strawberries

1 cup fresh blueberries


Mix ingredients in a bowl and transfer to ice cream maker to freeze following the machine's directions. Transfer mixture from ice cream maker to a plastic container and freeze until ready to serve.

Note: If you don't have an ice cream maker, you can freeze the ice cream in a flat container covered with plastic wrap. Simply check on the container and mix the ice cream about every 40 minutes until fully frozen.

Top ice cream with fresh berries to serve.

Makes: 1 gallon

Grilled peppers


2 large red peppers, seeded, cut into quarters

2 large yellow peppers, seeded, cut into quarters

2 large green peppers, seeded, cut into quarters

Cooking spray

1 teaspoon table salt, divided

½ teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground, divided

¼ cup fresh parsley, chopped

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

1 teaspoon minced garlic


Preheat grill or stovetop grill pan to medium-high.

Coat peppers with cooking spray; sprinkle with ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper.

Grill until lightly charred and tender, turning occasionally, about 10 minutes.

Place peppers in a medium bowl; add parsley, oil, vinegar, garlic, remaining ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper and toss to coat.

Serves: 12; yields 2 pieces of pepper (half a pepper) per serving.

— Adapted from

Contact M. Clare Haefner at or (254) 501-7551.

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