A Star-Spangled Celebration!

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Photo courtesy Northwest Cherries / Wilton Food Crafts

Cherry Salsa with Star Crisps, A Star of a Salad, Mixed Green Salad with Northwest Cherries, Almonds & Goat Cheese.

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Photo courtesy Northwest Cherries / Wilton Food Crafts

Red, White and Blue Bark, America’s Star Cupcake, Black Forest Brownie with Frozen Cherry Cream.

Celebrate the Fourth! Dine outdoors and serve a fabulous make-ahead menu.

Star-Studded Starter

Start with a sassy salsa of in-season sweet, plump Northwest cherries paired with peppers, onion and cilantro! Serve cracker-like crisps — cut from pita breads using star-shaped cookie cutters — for dipping.

Salads Make the Meal

Toss orzo, chicken and sweet cherries with red wine vinaigrette and pack into a star-shaped pan. Chill and then turn out onto a platter for serving. Add a simple mixed green salad topped with glazed almonds, creamy goat cheese and fresh, antioxidant-rich cherries.

Dazzling Dessert Trio

Swirls of red, white and blue candy bark, a giant cupcake adorned with stars and stripes, and luscious frozen cherry cream atop a brownie shell create a perfect patriotic finish to enjoy with the fireworks finale.

Visit www.nwcherries.com for cherry recipes and information about storage, purchasing, nutrition and health.

Check www.wilton.com for more celebration ideas and recipes, plus bakeware, books and decorating supplies.

A Star of a Salad

Makes about 12 servings

1, 16-ounce box orzo

3 cups diced cooked chicken breast or turkey breast

1-1/2 cups diced green bell pepper

1/4 cup finely chopped shallots

1/2 cup red wine vinegar

3 tablespoons olive oil

3 tablespoons honey

1 tablespoon Dijon-style mustard

1-1/2 teaspoons salt

1-1/2 teaspoons crushed dried thyme

1 teaspoon ground black pepper

3 cups pitted Northwest Red or Rainier cherries, quartered

Line Star Pan with plastic wrap. Prepare orzo following package instructions. Drain and rinse with cold water.

In large bowl, combine orzo, chicken, bell pepper and shallots. In small bowl, whisk together vinegar, oil, honey, mustard, salt, thyme and black pepper. Pour over orzo mixture; mix well. Gently stir in cherries. Pack into prepared pan. Chill at least 1 hour. To serve, place serving platter over star pan. Carefully turn over to release salad; remove plastic wrap.

Cherry Salsa With Star Crisps

Makes about 4 cups salsa

1 teaspoon crushed red pepper

2 tablespoons boiling water

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon granulated sugar

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

3 cups pitted Northwest cherries, quartered

1/3 cup finely diced sweet red bell pepper

1/3 cup finely diced purple onion

1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro

Star Crisps (recipe follows)

In medium bowl, place crushed red pepper. Stir in boiling water; let stand at least 10 minutes. Stir in lime juice, vinegar, sugar, salt and cinnamon. Add cherries, bell pepper and onion; gently stir. Let stand 30 minutes. Stir in cilantro and serve. Serve with Star Crisps.

Star Crisps

Makes 10 to 15 crisps

2 packages pocket pita breads (6 inch or larger)

Olive or vegetable oil

Coarsely ground salt and pepper (optional)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Using 2.4-inch or 3.23-inch star cutter, press and cut shapes from pita; pull apart into two pieces. Arrange on ungreased cookie sheet. Brush with oil. If desired, sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake 5 to 10 minutes or until lightly browned and crisp.

Mixed Green Salad with Northwest Cherries, Almonds & Goat Cheese

Makes 6 to 8 servings

1/4 cup pitted Bing cherries

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

6 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 pound (about 8 cups) mixed salad greens, washed, dried and chilled

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 cup Bing or other dark Northwest cherries, split in half and pitted

1, 4-ounce log fresh white goat cheese, crumbled

1 cup glazed sliced almonds*

In blender or food processor fitted with steel blade, purée 1/4 cup cherries, vinegar and oil until smooth; set dressing aside.

In large bowl, gently toss greens with dressing. Add salt and pepper. Sprinkle with 1 cup cherries, goat cheese and almonds; toss gently. Serve immediately.

*Found pre-packaged in the produce section of most supermarkets.

Red, White and Blue Bark

Each piece serves 1

1, 14-ounce package White Candy Melts

1, 14-ounce package Red Candy Melts

1, 14-ounce package Blue Candy Melts

Cinnamon drop sprinkles or crushed peppermint pinwheel candies

Line cookie pan with parchment paper.

Melt each package of Candy Melts following package instructions. Spoon candy into prepared pan, distributing colors randomly. Tap pan on counter to remove air bubbles; with spoon or butter knife, marble candy in pan. Sprinkle with cinnamon drops or crushed peppermint candies. Chill until firm, about 10 minutes.

Remove parchment from pan; break candy into smaller serving pieces.

America’s Star Cupcake

Makes 12 servings

6 cups of your favorite pound cake batter

3 cups buttercream icing

Red-Red and Royal Blue icing color

Patriotic nonpareils

2 packages Patriotic Stars icing decorations

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Spray Giant Cupcake Pan cavities with vegetable pan spray with flour.

Pour 3-1/2 cups batter into base/bottom half of pan and 2-1/2 cups batter into top part of pan. Bake 50 to 60 minutes or until cake tests done. Cool in pan 20 minutes; remove from pan and cool completely.

Stack cake layers on serving plate with icing between layers. Decorate sides of cupcake with lines of red and blue Decorating Tip #18 stars. Cover cupcake top with white icing using Decorating Tip #1M stars. Sprinkle with nonpareils; attach icing decorations.

Black Forest Brownie with Frozen Cherry Cream

Makes about 6 servings

1 cup granulated sugar

1 cup cold water

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon almond extract

1 pound (about 4 cups) individually quick-frozen cherries

1-1/2 quarts vanilla ice cream, softened

2 packages (about 15 ounces each) brownie mix (8 x 8-inch size)

Eggs, water and oil to prepare mix

Vanilla Whipped Icing or whipped topping

Whole Bing cherries, for garnish

In medium bowl, combine sugar, water, lemon juice and extract; stir until sugar is dissolved. Place in freezer until slushy, about 1-1/2 hours.

In food processor fitted with grater attachment, grate frozen cherries. Immediately whisk into slushy sugar syrup. Cover with plastic wrap or place in airtight container. Freeze 2 to 3 hours or until mixture is a soft serve consistency. Fold in ice cream; freeze 8 hours or overnight.

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 325 degrees. Spray Dessert Shell Pan with vegetable pan spray. In large bowl, prepare brownie mix following package instructions; spoon 1/2 the batter into cavities of prepared pan.

Bake 35 to 38 minutes or until brownies test done. Cool in pan 5 minutes; remove from pan and cool completely. Repeat with remaining batter.

Place cooled brownie dessert shell on plate; add scoop of cherry ice cream mixture; add whipped icing and cherry to garnish.

All materials courtesy of: Northwest Cherries / Wilton Food Crafts — From Family Features

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