One of the highlights of the American summer is here. Picture it now; kids running through the sprinkler with neighborhood friends on a sweltering hot July day, the savory smells of BBQ wafting through the air, a crisp cool drink in your hand, the sounds of firecrackers going off nearby. That’s right: July 4th. Independence Day. Time to party like it’s 1776. Not that you need an excuse to host a party, but the Fourth of July is one of the best times to throw a neighborhood bash. You’ve already got the awesome, all-American theme going for you (you can’t go wrong with all the red, white, and blue decor) and the food associated with today is back-yard, finger-licking, home-cooked good. We’re about to help you plan out your Fourth of July soiree so that it’ll be the talk of the block. From what’s on the table to what’s on your body; we’re laying out the must have’s you need to have on America’s birthday.
Top Kitchen Picks
Your table is about to be a smorgasbord of eye appeasing, mouth watering goodness. But before any of that can happen, you need to make sure that you are geared out with the right kitchen ware. You need enough serving bowls to contain the side dishes, pitchers of ice cold tea at the ready, cutting boards to slice and dice, as well as napkins to wipe and dab away spills. It may seem like a lot of things to have on hand; luckily you have the calm party planning demeanor of Martha Stewart, and this is just a minor obstacle in your ultimate Independence Day party.
Home of the Brave
Decorating for a party has never been easier than when it comes to the Fourth of July. With your backyard as the venue, your task of decorating is simple with the color palette of red, white, and blue. Add ambiance lighting extends into the night with tiki torches or string lights. Don’t forget about the jams! Put together a killer playlist and play it with via a wireless, bluetooth speaker to really get the party started. Gather up comfy pillows and blankets that you can throw onto grass at night so you all can “Oooooo” and “aahhhh” at the fireworks display.
Now that you have your table decked out, it’s time to show your patriotism by incorporating the red, white, and blue into your wardrobe. Deck out your whole family in the stars and stripes. It’s the one time of the year where you can clash the two patterns and it’s socially acceptable. Keep in mind, it’s going to be hot. I live in Texas and this is about the time you burst into flames if you’re not near a body of water. Keep the clothing easy breezy with thin cottons and linens (maybe save the black clothing for another day, you’ll be dying of heat for sure).
Shoo Fly, Don’t Bother Me
Keep bugs and creepy crawlies at bay with insect repellants. You’ll want to make sure that the sprays that you are using are only toxic to the bugs that you’ll be warding off and not toxic to your loved ones that you are spraying down. Look for sprays that are organic and chemical/preservative free.
Everybody is going to be out in the sun all day so makes sure that you have some sun screen on hand. Despite your preventive measures, there is always that one person that goes home with the worst farmers tan/burn. Ease their pain with some soothing aloe vera.
Throwing the perfect 4th of July soiree shouldn’t require you spending most of your time cooking in the kitchen. All work and no play? That’s no fun! Instead, prep some of the food the day before so that you can just fire up the grill and serve away. The menu doesn’t need to be complex. What is more American than some delicious, juicy burgers and an ice-cold brew? Raspberries, bell peppers, corn, tomatoes, blue berries, and eggplant are only some of the produce that is in season right now. Incorporate these deliciously-nutritious fruits and veggies into your meal. Also, encourage your guests to help out and bring one of their favorite side dishes to share. A happy guest is a full guest, so make sure that your spread can be available at any time so they can belly up to the trough.
- 6 ears of corn, husk and silk removed
- 2 tablespoons melted butter
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
- 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 tablespoons chopped cilantro
- 1/2 cup crumbled queso fresco*
- 1/4 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
- In a large pot, bring water to a boil. Boil the corn for 3 minutes, then remove and allow to cool slightly so that they can be handled.
- Cut kernels off the cob into a large bowl. Set aside.
- In a small bowl, whisk together butter, lime juice, chili powder, and chopped cilantro.
- Pour the chili lime mixture over the corn and mix to coat.
- Add the crumbled queso freso and stir. Season with salt to taste.
- Serve at room temperature. Refrigerate leftovers.
- *Queso fresco is a soft, mild, creamy Mexican cheese that can be crumbled easily. I found it at my local grocery store the cheese section, but if you cannot find it feta would be a good substitution.
- For the Grilled Chili Chicken Skewers
- 1 lb Boneless, Skinless, Chicken Strips
- 1 tbsp brown sugar
- 1 tbsp chili powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- For the Cilantro Lime Pesto
- 2 cups cilantro
- 1 cup parsley
- 1/4 cup honey roasted peanuts
- 2 tbsp lime juice
- 2 small garlic cloves
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp pepper
- For the Grilled Chili Chicken Skewers
- Preheat grill to medium heat.
- In a bowl, mix together brown sugar, chili powder, salt, and pepper. Rinse and pat dry chicken. Skewer chicken, drizzle olive oil over the chicken and sprinkle rub over chicken. Massage the rub into the chicken.
- Place chicken skewers on grill. Cook 10 minutes (flipping once) on medium-low flame until internal temperature reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Once done cooking, remove from heat and set to the side.
- For the Cilantro Lime Pesto
- While the chicken is cooking, place the cilantro, parsley, honey roasted peanuts, lime juice, garlic cloves, olive oil, salt and pepper in a food processor. Puree for 20-30 seconds until all the ingredients are well incorporated and broken down. Refrigerate the Cilantro Lime Pesto until ready to serve.
- Serve Cilantro Lime Pesto on top of the Grilled Chili Chicken Skewers.
- *Soak wooden skewers for 30 minutes or longer to avoid skewers from burning.
- Two hamburger buns
- Toasted sesame oil for toasting the buns
- ½ cup wild arugula or favorite leafy greens
- Sriracha for garnish
- vegan homemade gochujang mayo
- Asian-style pickled cucumbers
- BBQ Tofu
- Oil spray
- one (16-ounce) firm tofu, pressed overnight, slice in half (2 tofu slabs)
- 1 tablespoon dry mustard
- 1 tablespoon onion powder
- 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
- 1½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ¼ teaspoon ground cumin
- ¼ teaspoon ground pepper
- BBQ Sauce
- ¼ cup and 2 tablespoons organic ketchup
- 2 tablespoons finely minced sweet onions
- 2 ½ tablespoons coconut sugar
- 2 tablespoons seasoned rice vinegar
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- ½ teaspoon Barbecue Rub (see recipe above)
- pinch of ground cayenne
- pinch of ground black pepper
- Put all the “BBQ Rub” ingredients (dry mustard, onion powder, smoked paprika, garlic powder, ground cumin and ground pepper) in a small bowl and stir to combine. This is your “BBQ Rub”, set it aside.
- Put all the “BBQ Sauce” ingredients (ketchup, minced onions, dark brown sugar, seasoned rice vinegar, garlic, BBQ Rub mixture, ground cayenne and ground pepper) in a medium saucepan and stir to combine. Bring to boil over medium-high heat. Decrease the heat to low and simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes. Let the sauce cool a bit. Using a hand-held immersion blender, puree the sauce in your cooking pot.
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Rub the tofu slabs all over with the remaining “BBQ Rub.” Apply a thin layer of oil (or use a non-stick spray) to condition the surface of the pan, when needed. Bake for about 25-30 minutes until slightly browned and flipping both sides halfway.
- In a large saucepan at medium heat, warm up the “BBQ Sauce”. Quickly coat both sides of tofu and stirringly occasionally until desired temperature is reached (about 5-8 minutes). Do this for both tofu slabs. Drizzle the sauce over the tofu in the end. Optional: You can press the tofu slabs in a panini grill quickly for the creative grill marks.
- Toast your hamburger buns onto the griddle pan (at medium-high heat) with toasted sesame oil until slightly golden brown. Spread one of the buns with gochujang mayo. Add the BBQ tofu, greens and a bit of Sriracha. Add whatever filling you like! Serve and enjoy!
- Fresh Berries (blueberries, raspberries, and sliced strawberries)
- Coconut Water
- Drop beries into popsicle molds (smaller pieces will go to the bottom, others will have to be gently nudged into the mold using a butter knife or extra popsicle stick).
- Pour coconut water over the berries to fill the popsicle mold, then insert popsicle sticks.
- Cover and chill for several hours.
- Allow to sit on counter at room temperature for a few minutes for easy release from the molds.