It’s that time of the year again. Summer time of grilled delicious food, warm nights of sipping refreshing drinks and enjoying the festive bursts of explosive fireworks. Yes, for some reason the Fourth of July puts everyone in a good mood. One thing I love is laying on the grass and enjoying all the festivities that the fourth has to offer but before heading out to see the fireworks, here are a few menu items to help you kick off your 4th of July celebration.
Appetizers sure to please.
Grilled Pineapple and Guacamole. I love grilling and one thing about the summer is that I get to grill my veggies and certain fruit. Here’s one that you will not have to feel guilty about eating.
2 large avocados
- Juice of 1 lime
- 1/3 cup finely diced red onion
- Small handful of cilantro
- 1-2 serrano peppers, seeds removed and finely diced
- 2 pineapple rings ~1/2-inch thick, core removed
- Olive oil or cooking spray
- Preheat grill to high.
- Spray or brush both sides of the pineapple rings with olive oil or cooking spray.
- Grill 4 minutes on each side, until nicely browned.
- Remove from the grill and set aside to cool to room temp.
- Cut the pineapple into small cubes.
- Remove the pit and scoop the avocado from its shell.
- Add lime and salt, and then lightly smash with a fork.
- Stir in onion, cilantro, peppers, and pineapple cubes.
- Serve with tortilla chips or as a taco topping.
(Courtesy of “Confections of a Foodie Bride”)
Strawberry Salsa – Umm….. I could eat this without the pita or tortilla chips.
1 ear of Corn, husked & cut kernels from cob (about 1 cup of kernels)
- 3/4 cup diced Red Onion
- 1 1/2 cups finely diced Strawberries
- 1/2 to 1 whole Jalapeño Pepper (depends on how spicy you want it)
- Olive Oil
- 1 diced Avocado
- 1 Lemon juiced
- Season to taste with: Chili Powder, Black Pepper, Garlic Powder and Salt
- Feta Cheese or Goat Cheese for topping
- Adjust rack to the middle of your oven. Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees F. Toss corn, onion and jalapeño (keep pepper whole for roasting) in a little bit of olive oil. Arrange corn kernels, red onion and jalapeño on baking sheet in a single layer. Bake for about 10-12 minutes until kernels, onion & jalapeño are a bit browned and fragrant. Turn heat to low broil and roast for 2-3 minutes longer until you have a bit more char, be careful not to burn the mixture. Take out of oven and let cool to room temperature.
- Dice the jalapeño into tiny pieces. Gently toss corn, onions, strawberries and avocado with the above spices. Add jalapeno to taste. Start with a small amount, you can always add more later. Top with feta cheese or goat cheese.
(Courtesy of Marla via familyfreshcooking.com)
Red, White & Blue Strawberries – As an appetizer or dessert, no one can resist sugar coated strawberries
16 ounces white chocolate chips
1 pound fresh strawberries
- In a double boiler, melt the chocolate stirring occasionally until smooth. Holding them by the stem, dip the strawberries into the chocolate mixture.
- Insert toothpicks into the tops of the strawberries, if there isn’t a stem and dip them in the blue sprinkles.
- Lay the strawberries on wax paper to cool in the refrigerator for about 3 -4 hrs.
- Eat and enjoy.
The Blue Lagoon – Cool yourself down and enjoy your company as you sip on something refreshing.
- 4 lime slices
- 3 tablespoons coarse sugar
- 1/2 cup chilled lemon-lime soda
- 1/2 cup tequila
- 1/2 cup blue curacao
- 1/3 cup partially thawed frozen limeade concentrate
- 2 cups ice cubes
- Using lime slices, moisten the rims of four margarita or cocktail glasses. Set aside lime slices for garnish. Sprinkle sugar on a plate; hold each glass upside down and dip rim into sugar. Set aside. Discard remaining sugar on plate.
- In a blender, combine the remaining ingredients; cover and process until blended. Pour into prepared glasses. Garnish with reserved lime slices. Serve immediately.
- 2 pounds seedless watermelon, peeled and cubed, plus 1/2 pound watermelon cut into balls with a melon baller and skewered on picks
- 1 bottle dry white wine
- 6 ounces vodka
- 4 ounces Cointreau or other triple sec
- 4 ounces Citrus Syrup
In a blender, puree the watermelon cubes. Pour through a fine strainer into a pitcher. Add the white wine, vodka, Cointreau and Citrus Syrup. Stir and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Stir again, then pour the sangria into ice-filled white wine glasses and garnish with the skewered watermelon balls.
3 cups coarsely chopped seeded watermelon
1/2 cup lightly packed fresh mint leaves
1 teaspoon finely shredded lime peel
3/4 cup fresh lime juice, chilled
32 ounce (4 cups) club soda, chilled
Fresh mint sprigs (optional)
Watermelon wedges or balls (optional)
- Place watermelon in a blender or food processor. Cover and blend until smooth. Strain watermelon puree through a fine mesh sieve; discard pulp.
- In a large bowl combine sugar and mint. Using the back of a wooden spoon, lightly crush mint by pressing it against the side of the bowl. Add grape juice, lime peel, lime juice, and watermelon puree, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Stir in club soda. Serve in glasses over ice. If desired, garnish with mint sprigs and watermelon wedges or balls. Serve immediately. Makes 9 servings.
Berry Tart – For a healthy dessert alternative, I prefer fruit tarts over cake. The fruit on top of mascarpone or some type of custard makes me feel like I’m doing something healthy for my body.
1 ounce refrigerated crescent dough
1/4 cup loosely packed mint or basil leaves
2/3 cup mascarpone or cream cheese, softened
6 cups berries (red and/or golden raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, and halved or sliced small strawberries), not mixed together.
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a 13x9x2-inch baking pan with heavy foil, extending foil beyond pan edges. Lightly coat foil with nonstick cooking spray. Press dough evenly into bottom of pan. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, until golden. Cool on a wire rack.
- Meanwhile, for syrup, in a small saucepan combine the 1/2 cup honey, the water, and mint or basil. Bring to boiling. Simmer, uncovered, for 5 minutes. Remove from heat; let stand to cool. Strain syrup, discarding herbs. Set aside.
- For cheese layer, in a medium bowl stir together mascarpone and 2 Tbsp. honey. (If using cream cheese, beat until smooth, then beat in honey.) In a chilled mixing bowl beat whipping cream to soft peaks; gradually stir into cheese. Spread cheese layer on crust. Use a knife tip to mark two lengthwise lines and three crosswise lines for form 12 squares.
- In separate bowls toss berries with about 1 Tbsp. syrup for each cup of berries. Spoon about 1/2 cup berries in each square. Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours. Drizzle with remaining syrup, if desired.
- Lifting foil edges, transfer tart from pan to serving platter. Serve immediately or chill up to 4 hours. Tart is best when served the same day it is prepared.
1 bag of pretzel rods
1 bag of semisweet white or chocolate, chocolate
Red, White & Blue sprinkles
To make two dozen, place 4 ounces chopped semisweet chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Stir occasionally until melted; remove from heat. Using a pastry brush, coat the upper third of each pretzel rod in chocolate. Cover with sprinkles; stand pretzels upright in a glass. Place in the refrigerator until firm, about 5 minutes.
Red, White & Blue Popcorn
1.) Decide how much popcorn you want to use. You will need 8 candy melts per 1 cup of popcorn. The red ones coat the popcorn a bit more intensely than the blue ones.
2.) Melt the candy melts in the microwave at half power for 1 minute and stir. Melt again for 30 second intervals until you are satisfied with the texture. If you don’t wish to use a microwave, a stovetop double-boiler method is best. Be very careful, candy will be HOT!!! Let candy sit for a few minutes to cool.3. In each bowl, put desired amount of popcorn. Carefully drizzle the candy melts over top of the popcorn and stir each color with a large spatula.4. Let popcorn mixtures cool separately for about an hour, until candied popcorn has hardened and cooled to room temperature. Mix the blue and red popcorn together in a fresh serving bowl. Serve and enjoy
The snack station & Tablescape – What is a party without a snack station? To make the patriotic water bottle shown on the left, visit your local craft store to purchase the flags and glue them securely to the water bottles for your guests. Use your imagination to create a festive tablescape or food station.
Ok guys, these are just a few ideas to get your party going. Don’t forget to add the kielbasa, Italian sausage and or hot dogs, along with your juicy burgers on the grill. No fourth is complete without it.