July 1, 2013

Soon it will be time to spark your friends and family's appetites with some mouthwatering side dishes and desserts to serve alongside hot dogs and hamburgers.

I remember when I was first learning to use the oven I saw a picture of a cake decorated to look like the American flag in a magazine. It was a yellow cake in a 9x13 pan, covered in Cool Whip, and decorated with blueberries and strawberry halves. This idea is not only a delicious and light dessert, it's a fun way to get kids involved in the fun. It's become a tradition that I make a flag cake and let my son, Kellan, place the berries on the cake.

My memories of the Fourth of July as a child include swimming all day at the Carroll Country Club. I was not a good swimmer, but I loved to play in the water and dive off the diving board. On the Fourth there was a special soda fountain for kids to serve themselves pop (a really big deal to a kid), a golf tournament and a golf cart parade. The day's festivities ended with watching the display of fireworks with my friends.

Fourth of July Baked Beans

When I think of summer, I think of these beans. It is a side dish hearty enough to be served as a main dish, and any combination of beans can be used.

1/2 lb sliced bacon, diced

1/2 lb ground beef

1 cup chopped onion

1 (28 oz) can pork and beans

1 (17 oz) can lima beans, rinsed and drained

1 (15 oz) can kidney beans, rinsed and drained

1/2 cup barbecue sauce

1/2 cup ketchup

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

2 tablespoons mustard

2 tablespoons molasses

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon chili powder

In a large skillet, cook bacon, beef and onions until meat is brown and onions are tender; drain. Transfer meat into a greased 2 1/2-quart baking dish; add all the beans and mix well. In a small bowl, combine the remaining ingredients; stir into beef and bean mixture. Cover and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Uncover and bake for 15 minutes longer.

Asian Broccoli Slaw Salad

My friend Gracie Quijano shared this recipe with me for an easy salad with a twist. It calls for broccoli slaw, which is near the bags of pre-cut coleslaw.


1/3 cup raspberry or red wine vinegar

1/2 cup olive oil

1/2 cup sugar

2 flavor packets from Ramen noodles


2 bags broccoli slaw

6 green onions, chopped

1 package uncooked Ramen noodles

1/2 cup sunflower seeds

1 (4oz) can mandarin oranges

In a small bowl, whisk together dressing and set aside. In a large bowl, mix together salad ingredients. Pour dressing over salad and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Fresh Corn Salad

When I hosted a bridal shower for my good friend Licia Pettit, I made a variety of food including Ina Garten's corn salad. It is a different way to serve fresh corn mid-summer.

5 ears of corn, shucked

1/2 cup small-diced red onion (1 small onion)

3 tablespoons cider vinegar

3 tablespoons good olive oil

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/2 cup julienned fresh basil leaves

In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the corn for 3 minutes until the starchiness is just gone. Drain and immerse it in ice water to stop the cooking and to set the color. When the corn is cool, cut the kernels off the cob, cutting close to the cob.

Toss the kernels in a large bowl with the red onions, vinegar, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Just before serving, toss in the fresh basil. Taste for seasonings and serve cold or at room temperature.

Ranch Potato Salad

My husband, Danny, loves potato salad, especially alongside grilled hamburgers. This is potato salad with a zing.

1 packet (1 oz) Hidden Valley Ranch dressing mix

½ cup mayonnaise

¼ cup water

8 medium potatoes (boiled, peeled and cubed)

1 cup sliced celery

½ cup chopped red onion

2 hard-boiled eggs, chopped (optional, this is how Danny likes his)

Combine dressing mix with mayonnaise and water. Add potatoes, celery and onions. Toss to coat. Chill.

Makes 4-5 servings

Fancy Fruit Salad

If you have a crowd to feed on the 4th, prepare a fruit salad to share. It will be a pretty and colorful addition to your table.

½ of a large watermelon

1 cantaloupe melon

1 honeydew melon

¼ cup sugar

¼ cup fresh lime juice

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 tablespoon orange-flavored liqueur (optional)

1 teaspoon grated lime peel

1 ½ cups fresh strawberries, washed, hulled and halved

1 cup black or red seedless grapes, washed and halved

With a melon baller, scoop out flesh from watermelon, cantaloupe and honeydew. In a large bowl, combine sugar, lime juice, orange liqueur and lime peel. Stir well.

Add all melon balls, strawberries and grapes; toss to combine. Allow fruit to chill in refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Buster Bar Dessert

This sweet treat comes from Elizabeth Juergens of Carroll. It was part of a collection of recipes given to me by my PEO sisters at my bridal shower in 2004.

1 small pkg Oreo cookies

½ cup melted butter

2 cups powdered sugar

2/3 cup chocolate chips

1½ cups evaporated milk

½ cup butter

1 teaspoon vanilla

½ gallon vanilla ice cream (softened)

1½ cups salted peanuts

Crush Oreo cookies and add ½ cup melted butter and press into a 9x13 pan. Boil the sugar, chocolate chips, milk, butter, and vanilla for 8 minutes, stirring constantly.

Cool and layer over crust - ice cream, sauce, then repeat layers - ice cream, nuts, and sauce over top. Freeze.

Angel Food Trifle

This light dessert makes six servings and has 5 Weight Watchers points. To give this dessert a red, white and blue look, use a combination of red and blue berries.

1 cup skim milk ricotta cheese

2 cups light vanilla yogurt

½ angel food cake, cut into 1" cubes

2 cups thawed frozen unsweetened berries (raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, or blackberries)

¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons whipped topping dessert

Mix together the ricotta cheese and yogurt in a blender or food processor until smooth. Arrange half of the cake cubes in the bottom of a medium-size glass bowl. Top with 1 cup of the berries. Top with 1½ cups of the cheese-yogurt mixture. Top with layers of the remaining cake cubes, ¾ cup berries and the remaining cheese-yogurt mixture. Decorate with the remaining ¼ cup berries. Top each serving with 1 tablespoon whipped topping.