Countdown to a sweet Fourth

 

Use star-shaped cookie cutters to decorate the top of this Fourth of July cheesecake.

Use star-shaped cookie cutters to decorate the top of this Fourth of July cheesecake. Photo by: myfoodandfamily.com

 

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All that's needed to make these Firecracker Milkshakes is vanilla ice cream and a few drops of food coloring.

All that's needed to make these Firecracker Milkshakes is vanilla ice cream and a few drops of food coloring.
Photo by: delish.com

 

Yogurt, condensed milk, lemon juice and chopped pecans are among ingredients in this Patriotic Frozen Dessert recipe that takes about 10 to 15 minutes to put together before freezing.

Yogurt, condensed milk, lemon juice and chopped pecans are among ingredients in this Patriotic Frozen Dessert recipe that takes about 10 to 15 minutes to put together before freezing.
Photo by: tasteofhome.com

 

 

Jan Swoope

 

 

In just a week, many of us will be giving the menu a last once-over, dropping by the grocery store for that item we forgot, or checking our decor inventory of things red, white and blue. Next Thursday, our nation celebrates the Fourth of July. It's an occasion that connects us all, and it seems to call for some form of sharing. That could be something as simple as flying the flag to show our neighbors we recognize the significance of this commemoration of the Declaration of Independence. Or it could be more elaborate, a matter of cookouts, family reunions, concerts and fireworks. One thing is certain: it usually involves food. We've shared numerous recipes so far this summer for good things to grill; today the focus is on sweets to round out a July 4th feast. Each of them boasts festive patriotic colors. 

 

Get out the star-shaped cookie cutters to make the Fourth of July cheesecake recipe from myfamilyandfriends.com. Or whip up the Firecracker Milkshakes with instructions from delish.com. They are easy to prepare, and they visually pop. A Patriotic Frozen Delight from tasteofhome.com requires no baking, just freezing. All these desserts make a deliciously colorful statement.  

 

How about some star-spangled watermelon as sweet appetizers? Use a small star-shaped cookie cutter on slices of watermelon. Turn each star into a "watermelon pop" by putting it on a lollipop stick (or a coffee stir stick in a pinch).  

 

Hosting festivities at your place? Remember, this is a celebration of Americana: Set up a game of corn hole or horseshoes, or put up a volleyball net. Maybe toss around a few hula hoops, and offer prizes. After the sun does down, consider showing an outdoor movie. (Yes, a white sheet screen still works.) Timely film choices include "National Treasure," "Music Man," "The Sandlot" or "Independence Day," depending on your audience. 

 

If fireworks are part of your Fourth, enjoy them. If not, have plenty of sparklers on hand so the young and young at heart can wish America a happy birthday. At 243 years old, she's still looking pretty grand. 

 

 

 

FOURTH OF JULY CHEESECAKE 

 

Prep: 20 minutes 

 

Cook: 1 hour 

 

 

 

1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs 

 

1/2 cup butter, melted 

 

1/4 cup granulated sugar 

 

2 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese, softened 

 

2 cups powdered sugar 

 

1 tub (8 ounces) whipped topping, thawed 

 

1 cup strawberry jam, warmed 

 

1 cup blueberries 

 

 

 

  • Combine graham crumbs, butter and granulated sugar; press onto bottom of 13-by-9-inch dish. 

     

  • Beat cream cheese and powdered sugar with mixer until blended. Gently stir in whipped topping; spread over crust. Refrigerate 1 hour. 

     

  • Place assorted sizes of star-shaped cookie cutters on top of cheesecake; press gently into cheesecake to secure. Drizzle jam around cookie cutters; spread gently to completely cover area around cookie cutters. Carefully remove cookie cutters. Arrange blueberries around edge of cheesecake. This colorful cheesecake can be refrigerated up to 24 hours before serving. 

     

    (Source: myfoodandfamily.com) 

     

     

     

    FIRECRACKER MILKSHAKE 

     

    Total time: 10 minutes 

     

    Makes 4 servings 

     

     

     

    1 half gallon vanilla ice cream 

     

    3 drops red food coloring 

     

    3 drops blue food coloring 

     

     

     

  • Soften ice cream to a soft serve/yogurt texture. Evenly divide ice cream into three bowls. 

     

  • Place red food coloring in one bowl and blue food coloring in the other; using a whisk beat each bowl until color is well blended. 

     

  • Layer bottom of glass with red ice cream, then plain vanilla and blue ice cream, using long spoon or knife drag it from the bottom to the top, stirring in between to mix the color (do not overmix). 

     

  • Optional decorating 

     

    (Source: delish.com) 

     

     

     

    PATRIOTIC FROZEN DELIGHT 

     

    Total time: 10 minutes, plus freezing 

     

    Makes 12 servings 

     

     

     

    1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk 

     

    1/3 cup lemon juice 

     

    2 teaspoons grated lemon zest 

     

    2 cups plain yogurt 

     

    2 cups miniature marshmallows 

     

    1/2 cup chopped pecans 

     

    1 cup sliced fresh strawberries 

     

    1 cup fresh blueberries 

     

     

     

  • In a bowl, combine milk, lemon juice and zest. Stir in yogurt, marshmallows and pecans. Spread half into an ungreased 11-by-7-inch dish. Sprinkle with half of the strawberries and blueberries.
  • Cover with the remaining yogurt mixture; top with remaining berries. Cover and freeze. Remove from the freezer 15-20 minutes before serving. 

     

    (Source: tasteofhome.com)

     

  • Jan Swoope is the Lifestyles Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.

     

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