(Family Features) When you combine the company of family and friends, the dazzling lights of a fireworks display and the mouthwatering flavors of a home-cooked meal, you have all the ingredients necessary for a fantastic Fourth of July. Whether you’re hosting the party or preparing a dish to share, these tasty options will make you the star of the celebration.
Add some sizzle with a brat bar
Let guests have a blast taking their juicy grilled dogs and brats to a new level with a topping station containing all the traditional favorites and a few unexpected twists:
• Ketchup and mustard (with flavor variations for added zing);
• Other sauces, such as barbecue or Sriracha;
• Chopped fresh and grilled onions;
• Chili (homemade or from a can);
• Peppers packing varying degrees of heat;
• Pickle spears and relish;
• Sauerkraut or cole slaw;
• Assorted shredded and crumbled cheeses;
The perfect summer snack
The Fourth of July is the perfect time to gather with family and friends and celebrate the birth of the nation. As you plan your celebratory menus, be sure to include a true American original – popcorn, which is naturally low in fat and calories, and versatile enough to be topped with any number of flavorings. This perfectly seasoned snack mix will be your “go-to” for parties or get-togethers all summer long. Make ahead of time, store in an airtight container and then sprinkle on warm popcorn when you need a quick, savory snack. For more simple, tasty and festive popcorn recipes, visit popcorn.org.
BARBECUE POPCORN SEASONING MIX
Makes: about 1/3 cup
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon paprika
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon cardamom
1/2 teaspoon celery salt
1 1/4 teaspoons cayenne pepper
In small bowl, mix all ingredients together. Store mixture in airtight container.
To use: Pour melted butter over warm popcorn or spray popped popcorn with cooking spray. Sprinkle popcorn with 2 teaspoons of seasoning mix for each quart of popcorn.
Spice up the festivities with superfruit
Take grilled chicken or fish up a notch in flavor and nutrition at your Fourth of July gathering with this Mango and Avocado Salsa. This salsa’s star ingredient is the superfruit mango, which is an excellent source of vitamins A and C, is a good source of fiber and also adds a delicious hint of tropical flavor to the menu. For more delicious mango recipes, visit mango.org.
MANGO AND AVOCADO SALSA
Prep time: 10 minutes
2 firm but ripe mangos, peeled, pitted and diced
2 firm but ripe avocadoes, peeled, pitted and diced
2 tablespoons serrano pepper, seeded and minced
1/4 cup red onion, diced
1/4 cup red pepper, diced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves
1 lime, zested and juiced
1 teaspoon chile powder
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
Combine all ingredients. Allow to sit at room temperature for 10 minutes before serving to allow flavors to blend.
Serving suggestions: Pairs well with grilled chicken or grilled fish, such as tuna or Mahi Mahi.
Nutritional information per serving: 112 calories; 1 g protein; 13 g carbohydrates; 7 g fat (54% calories from fat); 0 mg cholesterol; 8 mg sodium; 325 mg potassium; 2 g fiber.
A sweet, creamy grand finale
Nothing pairs with a spectacular fireworks show quite like a delicious, festive dessert you can make yourself. The Curious Creamery’s Ice Cream Cake Mix provides a simple way to make a delicious and impressive dessert for your Fourth of July party – no ice cream machine required. This Blueberry Vanilla Ice Cream Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting uses a puree of fresh blueberries for a base that is topped with rich cream cheese frosting. Strawberries add a touch of color to this festive summer treat. Find more sweet and healthier dessert recipes at TheCuriousCreamery.com.
BLUEBERRY VANILLA ICE CREAM CAKE WITH CREAM CHEESE FROSTING
Prep time: 20 minutes
Freezing time: 6-12 hours
10 ounces (about 2 cups) fresh blueberries, cold, plus extra for decorating
16.9 ounces heavy whipping cream, cold
6 ounces white granulated sugar, chilled
1 packet The Curious Creamery Vanilla Ice Cream Cake Mix
1 tub (14 ounces) cream cheese frosting
In blender or food processor, puree 10 ounces blueberries until smooth then place in refrigerator.
Pour heavy whipping cream in bowl of stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment. Add sugar. Pour in ice cream cake mix and then add blueberry puree.
Mix on low for 30 seconds. Cover mixing bowl with dish towel to prevent splattering. Turn mixer to high and mix for 4 minutes. The mixture will become wavy and creamy, and almost double in volume.
Pour mixture into 9-inch springform pan. Cover with plastic wrap and freeze at least 6 hours. Once frozen, ice cream cake will easily release from pan.
Remove sides of pan and decorate cake with frosting and berries. Return to freezer until ready to slice and serve.