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On Pinterest: Stars and Stripes

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If you took a day off from work today (like me) to get a jump-start on your holiday weekend plans, then I hope you're not battling too much traffic right now to get where you need to be. Better yet, maybe you've already arrived or opted to skip the crowds and stay home, and with a drink in hand are currently catching up on a good book or TV series. Either way, I hope you enjoy. :)

I certainly hope to have a relaxing extended weekend, myself. My plans for the actual holiday will likely include throwing something on the grill and kicking back with a few cocktails, but tomorrow I'm looking forward to a day in the city with my mom. We have tickets for a matinee performance of Jersey Boys and are planning to go for dinner after the show. (P.S., if you have any suggestions for me on where to eat in NYC, I'd love some new ideas. Let me know in a comment or DM me on Twitter @fromannakitchen.)

If you're planning a big bash to celebrate the holiday, check out these red, white, and blue food and entertaining ideas curated from Pinterest and have a safe and happy holiday weekend!

What is Kombucha?

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Last year, I took a long weekend and drove down to Maryland to see my friend. At one point during the visit, we were eating dinner and I saw her open up a curious, brightly colored orange drink. It wasn't a soda, but made a similar "fizzy" noise every time the cap was taken on and off.

The drink, as it turns out, was kombucha, a beverage made by fermenting tea and other flavorings with a bacteria and yeast starter called a scoby. The smell was sour and fruity, like oranges or lemons. I took a sip and wasn't turned off, but my first taste left something to be desired.

Earlier this year, I came across a whole shelf of kombucha varieties in the organic section of Wegmans. I was determined to try it again to see if I could develop a taste for what was supposed to be an incredibly nutritious drink and a source of natural probiotics.

Strawberry Picking and Preserving: Strawberry-Balsamic Jam and Strawberries in Syrup

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A few weeks ago, Steve and I went on an impromptu strawberry-picking adventure to Grim's Orchard and Family Farms in Breinigsville, PA. We visited the farm last year for pick-your-own apples and pumpkins, which was a lot of fun, and decided that we would go back for strawberry-picking as soon as the season came around.

Steve picked strawberries when he was younger, so he was an ol' pro at it. We ended up hauling home a whopping 10 lbs of strawberries for about $25 -- not bad at all for some of the sweetest, ripest strawberries I think I've ever put in my mouth.

Of course, Steve was tasked with the all-important job of carrying our harvest, too. ;)

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I had a total of 10 quarts of berries on-hand after I included the ones that I picked up from the farmer's market earlier in the week before this adventure. Those berries were leftover from the strawberry-rhubarb preserves that I made and have been eating with my morning breakfast ever since because it's that damn delicious.

It may sound like a lot, but I assure you: Not a single strawberry went to waste. A small batch of strawberry-balsamic jam was up first followed by strawberries packed in syrup, using up every single berry that didn't otherwise end up in my mouth during the washing and chopping process.

It’s Official: This is My New Favorite Breakfast

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A recent trip to the market yielded me tons of gorgeous strawberries and rhubarb that I knew were destined to be a jam. I wanted something different, though, than a standard strawberry-rhubarb preserves. I ended up choosing a recipe from one of my go-to resources for canning, Food In Jars, that sounded incredibly unique -- a rosewater-scented strawberry-rhubarb jam.

Pantry Raid: Fig, Toffee, and Walnut Granola

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I was craving something sweet one afternoon when I thought back to an episode of Barefoot Contessa that I watched a couple of weeks ago. Ina Garten made homemade granola bars for an episode about breakfast. Her bars featured apricots, cranberries, coconut, and slivered almonds along with oats and a base made out of sugar and honey.

I was inspired to take a look at what I had on-hand in my own kitchen to make a batch of my own. I always have pantry basics, like oats and dried fruit, on-hand for baking. What I ended up making was something that, for granola standards, was really, really tasty. [wprm-recipe-jump text="Get the recipe below."]

Backyard Gardening Adventures

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If you're like me then you probably love the idea of growing your own vegetables and herbs in an effort to eat more healthfully and save money at the grocery store, but have something of a brown thumb when it comes to making a garden truly grow.

I tend to go pretty gung-ho at the beginning of the season only to end up giving up come the Fourth of July, annoyed by the fact that I have only 1-2 measly cherry tomatoes and half a bell pepper growing for all of my effort. What a pathetic salad that would make...

As I do every year, I planted during my time off over Memorial Day weekend. Steve and I made a trip to Lowes before the crowds of DIY-ers set in to buy things for their own holiday weekend projects. We ended up walking away with vegetable and herb plants; garden soil and topsoil; seed packets of swiss chard, lettuce, spinach, and flowers; and two hanging baskets, which I gifted to my mom. This year, I started off determined to change my tide of bad gardening luck.

Foodie Resolutions 2016: Mid-year Progress Update

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It's already half-way through June, a time when I planned to touch-base with an update on my foodie goals for this year to check on my progress.

In case you missed seeing the post on my old blog, foodie resolutions came out of an article on MSN Food & Drink that outlined new things that foodies should try to do in the new year. This is the second year in a row that I've set these goals for myself. Although I didn't complete them in entirety last year, I still had fun writing about them and going through the process. You can read a recap of the goals here.