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The summer months are fast approaching and no one should be caught unprepared for the prime barbecue season. Foremost in our collective mind is the Fourth of July Holiday and scenes of smoke rising from the grill, children running loose in bathing suits, and adults chatting under lush green canopies in back yards all over the country. Just thinking of the Fourth of July brings back cherished memories of family and familiar comfort foods. Here are four of my favorite recipes for such a summer celebration.
Never buy it again barbecue sauce:
Sauces and salad dressings are notoriously full of stabilizers, fillers, unspecified spices and suspicious flavorings. Barbecue sauce isn’t some mysterious ambrosia. Anyone can make succulent sauce with very simple ingredients for a fraction of the price it cost to buy it. Here is a basic recipe that can be adjusted according to your personal tastes. Combine these ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to a boil on medium-low heat: 1 cup of water, 1 cup of ketchup, ¼ cup of balsamic vinegar, and ¼ cup Worcestershire sauce.
When the sauce has begun to boil, add black pepper, Tabasco and honey to taste until you achieve the sweet and spicy balance you crave. Thicken the sauce with a well-stirred mixture of ¾ cup water and 2 tbsp. Flour. Remove from heat immediately and allow the sauce to stand for a few minutes. You can add various spices at the end to the sauce, such as oregano, basil, garlic powder, sesame seeds, soy sauce, or even spiced mustard. This sauce makes a great marinade for chicken in particular. I haven’t bought barbecue sauce in 10 years!
Recommended reading: Best Grilling Cookbooks
A light and flavorful salad dressing for warm weather:
Whisk together the following ingredients in a bowl: ½ cup extra light virgin olive oil, ½ cup red wine vinegar, 1 shallot (chopped fine), ½ cup orange juice, a pinch of tarragon, a teaspoon basil or rosemary, garlic (chopped fine) (Here are some great garlic presses for you!), black pepper, and crumbled feta cheese (optional). This dressing is light and flavorful, perfect for cool salads on hot days. Read about the best salad dressing mixers.
(Here’s some olive oil dispensers you may like)
Clam dip for potato chips that will keep you coming back for more:
Combine the following ingredients in a food processor or blender: 2 8ounce packages of cream cheese, 1 small can of baby clams (reserve the juice), Worcestershire Sauce and Tabasco to taste. Blend the ingredients until smooth, using the clam juice to achieve a creamy consistency. Chill in small ceramic bowls (or the best ramekins) and serve with regular or ruffled potato chips. Be careful! I once gained 10 pounds eating this dip at one long family gathering. This recipe was handed down to me from my grandfather, whose clam dip was famous and appeared at every family party beside the ever-present iced shrimp cocktail.
Grilled spaghetti squash or pumpkin:
Try this for an unusual barbecue vegetarian variation. Cut a small pumpkin or spaghetti squash into crescent shaped slices. Brush with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. (Check out our recommended salt and pepper grinder sets!)
Put the pieces directly on the indoor grill after the meat from your meat grinder has cooked, using the dying coals to cook the squash until it is slightly browned and soft. You’ll be surprised how tasty these morsels can be. Prevent leftovers from spoiling by shredding the grilled pumpkin or squash and adding it to crushed tomatoes to create a robust spaghetti sauce that can be frozen for future cool weather meals.
Recommended reading: Best Wine Fridges
FOURTH OF JULY BARBECUE BABY BACK PORK RIBS
1 Rack Baby Back Ribs
1 Bottle Sweet Baby Ray Honey Barbecue Sauce
Wash ribs. Cut into pieces, 2 bones per piece. Soak in salt water (1 tsp per quart of water) for about 10 minutes.
Spray ribs with cooking spray and place on a 400 degree grill. Brush on barbecue sauce and turn immediately. Brush sauce on top side. Cook for 5 minutes. Turn, brush top with sauce and cook 5 minutes more. Turn and cover with sauce one more time for 5 minutes. Check ribs. They are done when the meat is no longer pink. Makes about 4 servings.
Serve hot, with plenty of napkins or Wet Wipes.
12 – 15 small to medium red potatoes
1 stick of butter
1/2 to 1 cup fresh chopped parsley
1/2 cup chopped yellow onion (Here are some great onion choppers for you!)
1 tsp salt
Pepper to taste
Boil potatoes until done. Cut in halves. Cook onion in 1 cup of water until tender. Drain. Melt butter and add onion and parsley. Pour over potatoes and stir until parsley and onion are mixed through out. Serves 7 – 8.
SWEET CORN ON THE COB
Fresh corn on the cob
Salt amp; Pepper
Brush corn with melted butter. Sprinkle with a mixture of even amounts of salt, pepper and paprika. (If you like added sweetness, add a little sugar to your spice mix.) Wrap in foil, sealing ends well. Place on the grill and cook for about 10 to 15 minutes, turning often. Serve with more butter.
FOIL PACK POTATOES
2 medium white potatoes
1 small onion
2 TBSP fresh chopped parsley, or
2 TBSP fresh chopped chives
About 1/4 cup melted butter
Salt amp; Pepper to taste
Double two large (about 12 x 15 inch) pieces of heavy duty foil. Mix the potatoes, onion, parsley or chives and butter and place in the center of the foil. Fold foil together with seam in middle. Fold seam several times. Fold ends tightly. Cook over the grill for about 15 minutes, turning often. Check for doneness by squeezing packet with pot holder. Done when potatoes feel soft. Each packet will serve about two people.
For variety, you can also add other vegetables to packet. Carrots, zucchini, and yellow squash taste great.
About 2 pounds medium to large peeled and deveined shrimp
1 red (or orange) bell pepper, cut into slices or chunks
Whole fresh mushrooms
Sauce: 1/4 cup vegetable oil, 1/2 cup water, 1 TBSP paprika, 1/4 cup orange juice and 1/4 cup brown sugar
Wash shrimp and vegetables. Mix together vegetable oil, water, paprika, orange juice and brown sugar. Thread shrimp and vegetables onto skewers. Brush with sauce mixture. Cook over hot grill for about 10 minutes, turning and brushing with sauce often.
Makes about 8 – 10 kebabs.
4TH OF JULY FROZEN RED FRUIT SALAD
1 package Strawberry Jell-O (3 oz)
1 cup boiling water
1 can frozen lemonade
1 large Cool Whip, thawed
1 can crushed pineapple, well drained
1 cup fresh blueberries
1 cup sliced fresh strawberries
Mix Jell-O, water, and lemonade. Cool and chill until slightly thickened. Blend in Cool Whip. Add fruit. Pour into 9 x 13 inch pan. Freeze for several hours or overnight. Slice and serve on a leaf of lettuce.
HAPPY KID HAMBURGERS
Lean, ground chuck or ground round hamburger patties
1/2 cup Worcestershire Sauce
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup catsup
1/2 package Lipton Onion Soup Mix
Mix sauce, sugar, catsup and soup mix together. Spray hamburger patties with vegetable oil spray. Place on hot grill. Brush on the sauce. Cook for about 5 minutes. Turn and brush with sauce. Cook about 3 minutes and turn again. Cook until done.
Serve on buns with choice of cheese, onions, mustard, pickles, or crushed potato chips.
PERFECT PECAN PIE
1 1/2 cup dark Karo syrup (warm)
1 cup sugar
2 TBSP butter, melted
1/2 tsp vanilla flavoring
About 1 cup pecan pieces
Beat first 5 ingredients together well. Put pecans in unbaked 9″ pie crust. Pour syrup mixture over pecans and bake at 350 degrees for about an hour. Pie is done when it puffs up and just begins to split. Great served warm with ice cream or Cool Whip.
OLD FASHIONED CHESS PIE
2 cups sugar
1 TBSP yellow corn meal
1 TBSP flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup melted butter
1/2 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla flavoring
Mix all together with mixer. Pour into unbaked 9″ pie crust. Bake for about an hour. Pie will puff up and the top will crack slightly when done. It will be a light golden brown.
4TH OF JULY FIRECRACKER COOKIES
1 cup shortening
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla flavoring
1 tsp water
About 2 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp salt
Red and Blue Food Coloring
1 cup sugar
1 egg white
Mix first 5 ingredients well with the best hand mixer. In a separate bowl, mix flour and salt. Add to liquid ingredients. Divide dough in half. Add 1/2 tsp red food coloring to one half and 1/2 tsp blue food coloring to the other half of dough. Make into firecracker shape by rolling about 1 1/2 TBSP dough into cylinder shape with hands. Cut off ends. Beat 1 egg white until frothy and brush onto cookies. Sprinkle with sugar. Bake at 375 degrees until light golden brown. Makes about 2 dozen red cookies and 2 dozen blue cookies.
Years ago, my mother made these for my kids. Kids? What am I saying? We all loved them.
1 package Jell-O (3 oz) your choice of flavor
1 package Kool-Aid, color to match Jell-O
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
Mix all and then add water to make 2 quarts. Pour into popsicle molds and freeze.
1 package Jell-O (3 oz) Orange or other flavor
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
2 cups milk
1 TBSP lemon juice
Mix all and then add 2 cups water. Pour into molds and freeze. For creamier dreamsicles, do not all the last 2 cups of water, or add less to your taste.
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