Caterer Annette Jett Shares Her Recipe for Fabulous July 4th Celebration! by Elisa Schmitz
The 4th of July is filled with family traditions, creating memories and, of course, al fresco dining! 30SecondMom contributor and former caterer Annette Jett is bursting with ideas to make this Independence Day gathering one you won’t soon forget! Although Annette has a flair for all things food, she is also an advocate for special needs kids. Annette is the creator Pilots of Change where she features everyday heroes doing amazing things.
Q: As a former caterer, we know you like to cook BIG for the family. What’s on the menu for 4th of July?
A: This year, we’re going to chill at the pool and BBQ. We will provide the meats and let everyone bring a dish. Instead of chicken breasts, I’m grilling bone-in thighs; they are much more flavorful! Marinating in Hawaiian sauce makes them extra delicious. I like to offer a choice of meats too. For the most flavorful beef, check out these tips! And don’t forget something for the kids: all-beef hot dogs or turkey dogs usually do the trick.
Q: Do you have food tricks that will make us look like pros, whether we’re cooking at home or taking a dish?
A: I make an easy and healthy fruit dish by carving a watermelon into the shape of a shark; easier than it sounds! It would be a hit at any summer party. Make it light and fun. No one wants to eat heavy in the heat. Summer salads with berries are a great way to go as well! Another favorite is dessert. Try making red, white and blue trifles or dipped strawberries! If you’re using strawberries in your dish, you might enjoy these tips on handling them with care.
Q: If we’re having a lot of guests over, what are some tips to help us prepare for a crowd?
A: Plan ahead! This is tricky when the holiday lands in the middle of the week but these tips will help. Having a family/neighborhood party? Offer an incentive for older kids to entertain younger ones. Frees you up to be the host with the MOST! Fill a rimmed raft with ice and place on the tabletop. Put cold dishes inside to ensure freshness. Decorate with flowers or fruit!
Q: What kind of activities do you have planned for party guests?
A: We throw coins in the bottom of the pool and let kids swim for them. Relay swim races are fun, too! We also grease a watermelon and put it in the pool, then send the men in! The winner has to get it out of the pool safely on the side! Take time to honor the holiday by playing the National Anthem as your flag waves proudly. Great opportunity to teach kids! Fireworks are lots of fun, although some kids have sensory issues. Don’t ignore them – it could be a red flag!
Q: Now for the fun stuff: What cocktails do you suggest we serve or drink at an outdoor get-together?
A: Margaritas & Mojitos are favorites for summer celebrations! For extra BOOM: Dip a martini glass in white chocolate, pour in cosmos and garnish with blueberries stacked on a frilled toothpick! Don’t forget the mocktails: red- and white- and blue-stacked smoothies, flavored sparkling waters and fruit tea make great non-alcoholic choices.
Q: What is the best part about being a mom?
A: Being a mom has stretched me in ways I never thought possible. I have been blessed with the best of both worlds: I have one girl and one boy: one is neuro-typical and one is atypical. Through my children, I now see the world through different lenses. I have learned to be more patient and compassionate, and to realize what is truly important. This journey has put me on the path of my true calling, which is to be an advocate for those who are disadvantaged or don’t have a voice. My hope is that in some small way I can make the world a better place by raising my children to accept others just the way they are and to realize that our differences are really what make us similar to others. Oh, and the unconditional love and hugs are great, too!
Q: What is the best advice you have been given as a parent?
A: Give yourself a break. Parenting is not about perfection; rather, it is about awareness. We all make mistakes, but if we learn from them, rather than beat ourselves up over them, we grow. And rather than focusing on how your kids compare to others, zone in on their strengths and what makes them happy. Raising emotionally healthy children is the No. 1 job we have as moms (and dads).
Q: What is your favorite recipe?
A: I have lots, but one of my favorites is my Teriyaki-Orange Pork Tenderloin. Put olive oil in a sauté pan over medium heat. Rub a seasoning packet from Uncle Ben’s Original Wild Rice recipe generously over your pork tenderloin. Seal in the flavors by sautéing the whole tenderloins in your heated pan. Remove from the stove-top after each side of the tenderloin is browned. Put in a baking dish, cover with teriyaki sauce and a large can of Mandarin oranges. Heat for 20 to 25 minutes on 350 degrees; let stand for 10 minutes and then slice thinly. Serve on a platter with sauce on top.