June 30, 2014



Fireworks and food are the best parts of the Fourth of July. If you're planning a backyard dig out the red and white checkered tablecloth and prepare a patriotic feast bursting with pride. To celebrate America's birthday, be sure to add some red, white and blue to your menu too.

Our son, Carsten, 3½, has been looking forward to the Fourth of July fireworks all year (well, that and Halloween). When I told him Sunday that fireworks were only five days away, he said, "Show me how many on your hands." When I held up five fingers he was ecstatic. He is a brave little boy and has never been scared of fireworks so we will see if he is as entranced in the array of bright colors in the night sky as years past.



Shredded Barbecue Chicken Sandwich

If you're having family and friends over for the 4th, take a little break from grilling by preparing barbecue chicken ahead of time. This chicken is also ideal for camping or to bring to a family picnic.

My college friend and fellow teacher Misty Nanna shared this recipe on her blog and said it also makes great leftovers.

6 frozen skinless, boneless chicken breast halves

1 (12 oz) bottle barbeque sauce

1/2 cup Italian salad dressing

1/4 cup brown sugar

2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

Place chicken in a slow cooker. In a bowl, mix the barbecue sauce, Italian salad dressing, brown sugar, and Worcestershire sauce. Pour over the chicken. Cover, and cook 3 to 4 hours on High or 6 to 8 hours on Low.

The last 30 minutes, shred the chicken in the crock pot with a fork. Let chicken cook for 30 more minutes. If you desire a thicker sauce, you may want to add a little bit of cornstarch.

Serve chicken on hamburger buns and alongside coleslaw.



Cajun Macaroni Salad

Macaroni salad is a perfect complement to burger, brats and hot dogs. Why not dress up your macaroni salad with a little crunch and a Cajun zing?

2 cups dry elbow macaroni

1/2 cup diced red onion

1/2 cup sliced green olives

1/4 cup diced celery

1/4 cup diced red bell pepper

1/2 lb cooked and peeled shrimp, tails removed (optional)

Dressing:

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1/8 cup olive oil

1/2 tablespoon Tabasco sauce

1/2 tablespoon lemon juice

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

Cook macaroni according to package directions and rinse with cold water and drain well. While macaroni cooks mix together ingredients for dressing. In a large bowl toss together macaroni, vegetables and shrimp. Pour dressing over the top and mix well. Cover and refrigerate until serving.



Red, White and Blue Cheesecake Salad

If you like cheesecake, you'll love this fruit salad. It's creamy and bursting with fruit flavors. Any kind of fruit can be used for other occasions.

1 bag of miniature marshmallows

16 oz vanilla yogurt

1 regular size tub Cool Whip

1 pkg No-bake cheesecake filling (found in the baking aisle)

1½ container sliced strawberries

1 container blueberries

3-4 sliced bananas

In a large box, whisk together yogurt, Cool Whip and cheesecake filling. Add marshmallows and stir. Fold in fruit. Cover and refrigerate until serving.

Optional: Spoon fruit salad into a pretty clear glass bowl and line the perimeter of the bowl with vanilla wafers right before serving.



Fourth of July Strawberries

Mindy of The Sisters Café has the cutest idea to dress up strawberries for the Fourth. These red, white and blue berries will disappear as fast as you can put them out.

strawberries, washed and thoroughly dried

white chocolate or white almond bark

blue sugar, edible blue glitter, or blue sprinkles

Place blue sugar in a bowl. In a separate microwave-safe bowl, melt the chocolate in the microwave on 50% power for two minutes. Stir until the bowl is no longer warm. Then microwave for 30 second intervals at 50% power, stirring after each, until the chocolate is completely melted. If almond bark is used, melt in microwave until just melted (watch carefully).

Dip the lower two thirds of the strawberries in the melted white chocolate. Immediately dip the lower third of the strawberries in the blue sugar or spoon it onto the strawberry. Place strawberries on wax paper or silicon baking sheet until completely cool.



American Flag Fruit Kabobs

One of my favorite desserts for the Fourth of July is a yellow cake baked in a rectangular pan, frosted with Cool Whip and decorated with strawberries and blueberries to look like a flag.

If you are looking for a healthy treat that's also fun to eat, fruit kabobs are a hit with kids of all ages. Kids also love to assemble kabobs (if you can keep them from eating all the fruit!).

1 cup water

3 tablespoons lemon juice

1 pint strawberries, washed, trimmed and halved

1 cup blueberries

6 bananas, cut into 1 inch pieces

12 bamboo skewers

May also use marshmallows instead of bananas

Mix water and lemon juice in a medium-sized bowl. Prepare fruit. Place bananas in lemon water to coat to prevent bananas from browning. Thread a strawberry piece, followed by a banana piece onto a skewer. Repeat the process two more times on all 7 skewers and end by adding one additional strawberry (there will be 7 pieces of fruit all together). On 5 additional skewers, thread a strawberry, banana, strawberry, banana, then follow with about 5 or 6 blueberries. Line all skewers up on a large rectangular serving platter to look like a flag and serve.