Flair on the Fourth: There's still time to add patriotic pizazz to your holiday table

July 3, 2013 11:35:38 AM

Jan Swoope - [email protected]


So, you've been too busy washing sand out of vacation swimsuits to plan much for the Fourth of July. Or, maybe you've been putting in so much extra effort at work so you can actually be away from the office tomorrow you've not had time to dream up a holiday menu. Perhaps you just need a little special something to take to a gathering of family or friends. 


Well, don't fret. You still have time to add some red, white and blue sparkle to your Independence Day celebration. We've found some simple recipes that don't take a day to make. Whether you're grilling steaks out on the patio, or picking up take-out chicken, these are pretty simple ideas you might consider incorporating.  


First of all, we're in luck: The season's tastiest foods -- like watermelon, tomatoes, strawberries, blueberries and cherries -- are the right colors.  


How about a patriotic fruit tray that salutes the Grand Old Flag? Strawberry. blueberry and banana kabobs (marshmallows make great white stripes, too) on skewers are a swift and healthy fix. Serve these with a drizzle of chocolate, if desired.  


Prefer watermelon? Try a melon and feta flag, an idea found at wenderly.com. A white rectangular (or oval, if need be) platter, half a seedless watermelon, an 8-ounce block of feta cheese, blueberriees in a bowl and toothpicks are all it takes. 




Icy colors 


You can show your colors, too, with layered drinks that are non-alcoholic and kid-friendly. The ingredients are 1 cup of Ocean Spray red cran-apple juice, 1 cup of white Sobe Piña Colada flavored drink, 1 cup blue G2 Gatorade and ice. 


Pour 1 cup of cranapple juice into your glass container, then fill it all the way to the top with ice. Slowly pour 1 cup of the piña colada drink directly on top of a piece of ice. Finish by slowly pouring 1 cup of the Gatorade on top.  


The secret is sugar content. The beverage with the heaviest sugar content goes on the bottom; the lightest sugar content goes on top. Some recipes call for Diet Sprite or Diet 7UP instead of the piña colada drink. You may come up with other selections. Just always pay attention to the sugar content -- and remember, pour slowly on top of ice. Practice makes perfect. 


Read on for recipes for pretty dessert trifles in individual Mason jars, a look-at-me red, white and blue dessert pizza and a zesty watermelon and tomato salad. They're all do-able dishes, even with one day to countdown. 


Sometimes, amid the fanfare, we tend to forget the reason we celebrate the Fourth of July. It can be fun to play a game of Independence Day trivia before or after your feast. An Internet search will turn up a multitude of great quizzes geared toward kids or adults. Most of all, make a point of enjoying family, friends, food and fireworks tomorrow. Happy Birthday, America. 






Makes 8 servings 




2 store-bought pound cakes 


1 pint blueberries 


1 pint raspberries 


Whipped cream (heavy) 




  • Slice pound cake into 1-inch slices; cut into circles to fit jars. (Or cut cake into cubes.) 


  • Starting with a layer of cake at the bottom, follow with blueberries, whipped cream, raspberries and then another layer of cake. 


  • Garnish with more whipped cram and berries if desired. (See whipped cream recipe below.) 


    (Source: unsophisticook.com) 






    Makes 2 cups 




    1 cup heavy cream (not ultra-pasteurized) 


    3 tablespoons sugar (granulated or confectioners) 


    1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 




  • Add heavy cream, sugar and vanilla to bowl. 


  • Whip cream using a whisk or an electric mixer on medium speed. 


  • When you can form soft peaks (meaning the peaks bend over at the top when you remove the whisk or beater), whipped cream is done. Be careful not to over-beat or the cream will become grainy as butter granules start to form. 


    (Source: unsophisticook.com) 










    1 box (1 pound, 2.3 ounces) fudge brownie mix 


    Water, vegetable oil and eggs called for on brownie mix box 


    1 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened 


    1/3 cup sugar 


    1/2 teaspoon vanilla 


    2 cups sliced fresh strawberries 


    1 cup fresh blueberries 


    1 cup fresh raspberries 


    1/2 cup strawberry jelly 




  • Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease bottom only of a 12-inch pizza pan with shortening or cooking spray. 


  • In medium bowl, stir brownie mix, water, oil and eggs until well blended. Spread in pan. 


  • Bake 24-26 minutes or until toothpick inserted 2 inches from side of pan comes out clean or almost clean. Cool completely, about one hour. 


  • In a small bowl, beat cream cheese, sugar and vanilla with electric mixer on medium speed until smooth. Spread mixture evenly over brownie base. Arrange berries over cream cheese mixture. Stir jelly until smooth; brush over berries. Refrigerate about one hour or until chilled. 


  • Cut into wedges. Store covered in refrigerator. 


    (Source: betterrecipes.com) 






    Makes 4-6 servings 




    5 cups (3/4-inch) seeded watermelon cubes  


    1 1/2 pounds ripe tomatoes, cut into 3/4-inch cubes  


    3 teaspoons sugar 


    1/2 teaspoon salt 


    1 small red onion, quartered and thinly sliced  


    1/2 cup red wine vinegar  


    1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil 


    Romaine lettuce leaves (optional)  


    Cracked black pepper to taste  




  • Combine watermelon and tomatoes in a large bowl; sprinkle with sugar and salt, tossing to coat. Let stand 15 minutes. 


  • Stir in onion, vinegar, and oil. Cover and chill two hours. Serve chilled with lettuce leaves, if desired. Sprinkle with cracked black pepper to taste. 


    (Source: "Seasoned in the South: Recipes from Crook's Corner and from Home," Southern Living)

    Jan Swoope is the Lifestyles Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.