With the long 4th of July weekend ahead, we are looking forward to celebrating our country’s birthday by taking in a town parade, attending a festival or two, having a backyard BBQ with friends, and of course it wouldn’t be the 4th of July without fireworks. Today, we have put together a perfect treat that everyone will enjoy, as well as a table centerpiece to make your home a little more festive.
Let’s face it, one treat that everyone loves is a dessert with chocolate chips. Instead of a classic cookie, May decided to make chocolate chip cookie bars for an upcoming BBQ. They are easy to make, (no mixer required) travel well, can take the backyard heat, plus you can dress them up with a few fun and festive sides.
Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars
•2 and 1/4 cups all purpose flour ( I love King Arthur’s brand)
•1 teaspoon baking soda
•1 and 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 tsp cinnamon
•1/2 teaspoon salt
•3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
•1 cup packed light brown sugar
•1/4 cup granulated sugar
•1 large egg plus 1 large egg yolk, at room temperature
•2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
•1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
Optional toppings: M&M’s, whipped cream, strawberries and blueberries
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line the bottom and sides of a 9-inch square baking pan with aluminum foil or parchment, leaving an overhang on all sides to easily lift the bars out of the pan when cool. Set aside.
2. Whisk the flour, baking soda, cornstarch, cinnamon and salt together in a large bowl.
3 .In a medium bowl, mix the melted butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar together until no brown sugar lumps remain. Mix in the egg, then the egg yolk. Finally, mix in the vanilla extract. The mixture will be thick. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix together until combined. The dough will be very soft and thick. Fold in the chocolate chips. The chips may not stick to the dough because of the melted butter, but do your best to combine them.
4. Transfer dough to the prepared baking pan and smooth into an even layer. I usually add a few more chocolate chips on top of the dough before baking so you can see the chocolate chips on top. Bake for 32-35 minutes or until lightly browned on the sides. Use a toothpick to test for doneness; if it comes out clean from the center of the pan, the bars are done.
5. Allow the bars to cool in the pan set on a wire rack for at least an hour. Once they are cool, lift the foil out of the pan and cut into squares. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week.
These cookie bars are delicious on their own, or if you want to get into the spirit of the holiday, you can add a little vanilla ice cream with red, white, and blue M&M’s sprinkled on top, or a little whipped cream with strawberries and blueberries.
And for our table centerpiece we went super patriotic. This is the time of year to pull out all of the red, white and blue. Once again we kept the centerpiece super easy so you can put it together quickly, especially if you are hosting a party and have lots of other things to do.
We took a five bud vase holder and added tiny 4th of July pinwheels. June has loved pinwheels since she was a very little girl and this love has not waned. So when she saw these pinwheels they brought a smile to her face. The bud vase holder and the pinwheels were all found at Joann Fabrics. Joann Fabrics is a great place to find supplies and accessories to make centerpieces and mantle displays. They have cute seasonal items at reasonable prices and they always have coupons and sales.
We then added some sparkly dohookies (no idea what they are called) in red, white and blue.
A small chalkboard sign with a patriotic saying. For this chalkboard we just did USA, but other fun sayings could be “the rockets red glare,” “boom,” or “sweet land of liberty.”
And then we put it all on a very patriotic table runner.
It is always fun to put together a festive table centerpiece for a holiday. If you are hosting outside, this centerpiece would be particularly fun because the wind would twirl the pinwheels.
Have a wonderful 4th of July weekend! May you enjoy the sweet summer weather, family and friends, barbecue and fireworks. Most importantly remember to appreciate all that we are privileged to experience as Americans. –May and June
We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Thomas Jefferson