Sizzle Simmer Sauté – Party in the USA! Host a star-spangled 4th

Jennifer Ruple

Bring on the Boom in your backyard this summer with festive red, white and blue party décor and eats. I’ve brought back a few of my go-to 4th of July recipes for fun and added a couple of new ones.
When it’s time to the get the party started give guests something to munch on with a patriotic cheese tray, keep it light and healthy with a colorful fruit salad, satisfy your sweet tooth with cherry and blueberry cheesecake desserts, and keep it cool with iced fruit cubes. Pull it all together with a cheerful centerpiece that adds that touch of Americana.
Now, just add your favorite main dish – ribs, burgers, brats or chicken. And don’t forget the sparklers!

For the Centerpiece
Create an all-American table display with one large or a few small cobalt blue vases. Fill each vase with red and white flowers such as mini carnations, daisy mums, snapdragons, gerbera daisies, stock or ranunculus. Add a small flag to each arrangement and a little something sparkly. Display the arrangement on an American flag table runner.

Patriotic Cheese Tray
Charcuterie boards are all the rage for parties these days, and there’s a good reason why. Traditionally made with an assortment of meats, cheeses, nuts and fruit, charcuterie boards can be customized for the occasion and to your guests’ tastes. Add a 4th of July twist by incorporating – you guessed it – red, white and blue food. Try these ideas:

Salami and pepperoni
Roasted red peppers
Red grapes

Mozzarella cheese cubes or stars
A wedge of Brie
Hummus and pita
Water crackers
Marcona almonds

A block of blue cheese
Blue corn chips
Cherry and Blueberry Cheesecake Jars
Cherry and Blueberry Cheesecake desserts, served in individual eight-ounce canning jars, are perfect for little fingers and big ones too! Great for picnics, just pop them into the cooler and they’ll stay nice and chilled until it’s time for dessert, that is if they last that long…

Cherry and Blueberry Cheesecake Jars
Servings: 8
Eight 8-ounce canning jars
Two 3.4-ounce boxes of cheesecake flavored pudding
2 cups cold milk
⅔ cup graham cracker crumbs
⅛ cup sugar
4 tablespoons butter, melted
Cherry and blueberry pie filling

In a medium bowl, whisk pudding mix and milk together for two minutes.

Refrigerate for 15 minutes to set. Combine graham cracker crumbs, sugar and butter. Spoon even amounts of crumb mixture into canning jars. Divide pudding among canning jars. Top with cherry and blueberry pie filling.

Red, White and Blue Fruit Salad
Keep it light and healthy with a colorful and tangy fruit salad. A coating of this sweet and tart dressing enhances the salad and helps to keep the apples from browning.
To a large bowl, add any combination of American flag colored fruit such as strawberries, watermelon chunks, cherries, red grapes, blackberries, blueberries, peeled and chopped apples (or cut into stars with a small cookie cutter).

1 tablespoon sugar
1 ½ tablespoons lime juice
1 ½ tablespoons honey

In a small bowl, whisk together dressing ingredients.
In a large bowl, toss together fruit and dressing. Chill until serving.

Iced Fruit Cubes
Keep your beverages chilled with iced fruit cubes.
Fill ice cube trays with an assortment of fresh berries – strawberries, blueberries, blackberries and raspberries – any combo will do. Add water to the cubes.
Freeze and then add to beverage glasses. The fruit not only looks pretty, but it adds a nice infusion of berry flavor into your H20.

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