July 4th on a Plate: 7 Dishes for a Memorable Menu

The Fourth of July is almost here, and it’s time to fire up the grill and prepare your best iconic American meal. The great thing about this summer holiday is that partygoers know what to expect when they show up at Independence Day feasts – think hot dogs and hamburgers galore — but as always, there’s always room to impress your guests, and this year, you can make your best food spread yet.

If your holiday meal planner is still looking bare, take our advice and prepare one of these dishes that we believe should be included in any July 4th feast. Taking into consideration preparation time, summer taste buds, and overall healthfulness, these recipes are sure to be a hit at your soiree and will be just one more thing worth celebrating.

Source: Thinkstock

1. Fruit Skewers and Dip

For a light, flavorful, and fun aperitif, whip together this incredibly easy fruit dip from Brown Eyed Baker and serve it with fruit and cheese skewers. For your fruit skewers, simply thread strawberries, grapes, pineapple chunks, and cheese cubes on wooden skewers, and then prepare to dunk them in this delectable dip.

Ingredients:

  • 8-ounce package cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 7-ounce jar marshmallow creme

Directions: In a bowl, stir together the cream cheese and marshmallow creme until thoroughly combined.

Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/sweetbeetandgreenbean/

2. Beef Sliders

Here’s a recipe from Martha Stewart that serves 8. Whether you’re putting your beef on the grill or in the oven, just make sure you make extras, because chances are your guests are going to want seconds.

Ingredients:

  • 3 ounces (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 to 3 shallots, minced
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2 pounds ground sirloin
  • 20 round dill pickle slices
  • 20 slices (2-inch square) white cheese, any type
  • 20 soft dinner rolls, split and toasted
  • 20 small lettuce leaves, any type, for serving
  • 3 Roma or plum tomatoes, thinly sliced crosswise, for serving
  • Condiments, such as ketchup, mayonnaise, and mustard, for serving

Directions: Melt 4 tablespoons butter in a small pan. Add shallots and cook until softened, about 1 1/2 minutes. Stir in water and season with salt and pepper. Form 20 patties using 2 tablespoons ground sirloin for each. Place on a rimmed baking sheet and coat patties with remaining 2 tablespoons butter. Press a pickle slice into each patty (refrigerate for up to 2 hours).

Preheat broiler. Season patties with salt and pepper. Broil for 4-5 minutes. Top burgers with cheese during final 30 seconds. Spread shallot butter on bottom half of each roll, then top with 1 burger. Sandwich with top half of roll and serve with lettuce, tomatoes, ketchup, mayonnaise, and mustard.

Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/quiddle/

3. Cornmeal Oven-Fried Chicken

Even if you fear the deep fryer, you can still make this recipe from Taste of Home, because as the name suggests, your oven takes care of the frying. Your guests will be amazed at how good this 0ven-fried chicken tastes, and you will, too.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup dry bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup cornmeal
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh parsley or 4 teaspoons dried parsley flakes
  • 3/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1 broiler/fryer chicken (3 to 4 pounds), cut up and skin removed
  • 1 tablespoon butter, melted

Directions: In a large resealable plastic bag, combine the first nine ingredients. Place the buttermilk in a shallow bowl. Dip chicken in buttermilk, then add to bag, a few pieces at a time, and shake to coat.

Place in a 13-by-9-inch baking pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for 10 minutes; drizzle with butter. Bake 30-40 minutes longer or until juices run clear. Yield: 6 servings.

Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/stereogab/

4. Smoked Mozzarella Pasta Salad

And for your non-meat eaters, make this dish from Southern LivingYou won’t even miss the meat in this creamy pasta dish.

Ingredients:

  • 1 (6-ounce) jar marinated artichoke hearts
  • 1 (8-ounce) package rotini pasta, cooked
  • 1 (7-ounce) jar roasted red bell peppers, drained and cut into strips
  • 1/2 pound smoked mozzarella cheese, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1/2 (5-ounce) bag baby spinach leaves (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 1/2 (4.5-ounce) can chopped green chiles, drained
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • Garnishes: tomato wedges, baby spinach leaves

Directions: Drain artichokes, reserving marinade. Cut artichokes into strips and place in a large bowl. Add pasta and next four ingredients, and gently toss. Stir together reserved artichoke marinade, mayonnaise, and next four ingredients until blended. Add to pasta mixture, stirring to combine. Cover and chill. Garnish, if desired.

Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/luann_snawder_photography/

5. Flag Pizza

For dessert, we recommend this offering from Taste of Home. With a base made of flour, butter, and sugar, and a topping made of cream cheese, fruit, sugar, and vanilla extract, you really can’t go wrong with this recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/2 cup cold butter
  • 2 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 2 cups halved fresh strawberries
  • 1/2 cup fresh or frozen blueberries

Directions: Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. In a small bowl, mix flour and confectioners’ sugar. Cut in butter until crumbly. Press mixture onto a greased 12-inch pizza pan. Bake 10-15 minutes or until crust is lightly browned. Let cool.

To make an American flag, in a small bowl, beat cream cheese and sugar. Add vanilla and lemon juice, mixing until smooth. Spread 1 cup cream cheese mixture over crust. Set remaining cream cheese mixture aside. Arrange rows of strawberries on top of pizza to create the red stripes of a flag. Place blueberries in the upper left corner.

Cut a small hole in the tip of a food-safe plastic bag; insert a #21 star pastry tip. Fill bag with reserved cream cheese mixture. For white stripes, pipe a zigzag pattern between the rows of strawberries.

Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/neilconway/

6. Blueberry Crisp

Do we even have to justify this next dessert? Here’s a blueberry crisp from Martha StewartGrab your berries, grab your sugar, grab your butter, and unbuckle your belt.

Ingredients:

  • 6 cups (3 pints) blueberries
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt

Topping

  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats (or chopped nuts, such as almonds)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 3 ounces (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/3 cup sugar

Directions: Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. For the filling, mix blueberries, sugar, cornstarch, lemon juice, and salt in a bowl. Transfer to an 8-inch square baking dish. For the topping, stir together flour, oats, baking powder, and salt. Cream butter and sugar in a mixer until pale and fluffy. Stir dry ingredients into butter. Using your hands, squeeze topping pieces together into clumps.

Sprinkle topping evenly over filling. Bake until bubbling in center and brown on top, about 1 hour. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool for 30 minutes before serving.

Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/harshlight/

7. Sangria 

Your guests are definitely going to need something to wash all the food down with, and that’s what this sangria from Emeril Lagasse is for. Made with red wine, brandy, liqueur, and some fruit juice, this sweet drink will quench just about anyone’s thirst (as along as they’re 21), and what’s more, it can be made in bulk.

Ingredients:

  • 1 (750-milliliter) bottle red wine
  • 1/4 cup brandy
  • 1/4 cup orange-flavored liqueur (recommended: triple sec or Grand Marnier)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 orange, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 lemon, thinly sliced
  • 1 unwaxed apple, cored, and cut into thin wedges
  • 1 (750-milliliter) bottle sparkling water, chilled

Directions: Combine everything but the sparkling water in a large plastic container or glass pitchers. Cover and chill completely, 1-2 hours. When ready to serve, add the sparkling water.

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