Friday Five: Five Favorite July 4th Foods

Much like Christmas and Thanksgiving, once July 4th rolls around, it’s a foodie’s heaven. Picnic tables piled high with goodies that can slide you into a food coma in five minutes flat!

Today, we’ve rounded up five of our favorite Fourth of July foods!

1) Hot Dogs. While my two-year-old eats them like they’re going out of style, I don’t officially delve into the hot dog happiness until the 4th arrives. Just in time, our friends at Epicurious were kind enough to roll through a hot dog taste test, so you can make sure you’re covered in the Delicious Hot Dog arena. Of course, I have a penchant for Applegate Farms and their organic hot dogs.

2) Mac & Cheese. So here’s where my catering experience kicks in. I love potato, pasta, and macaroni salads, but when you’re outside in the park or at the beach, it’s hard to keep an eye on the time. (As with all mayonnaise-based foods, you should always serve them chilled and keep them on the table for minimal time, especially directly in the sun, to avoid foodborne illness.) So I’ve switched my go-to dish to mac & cheese. It’s a crowd favorite and the kids will love it, too. The Los Angeles Times has a great Spicy Mac & Cheese recipe this week, direct from the Purple Palm in Palm Springs.

3) Crudites. I know it sounds silly, but a vegetable platter is a big hit at events, especially for picky eaters. And almost always the first place guests stop when they arrive at a party! Serve chilled vegetables with a great dip – think sour cream with a heavy dose of your favorite herbs. (Veggie tip – be sure to blanch your broccoli and asparagus. They’re easier, and more enjoyable, to eat.) Or you could mix it up by marinating your vegetables with a bit of balsamic vinegar and olive oil, and grilling them up next to your hot dogs.

4) Dessert! At first, I thought Jell-O, thanks to years of jigglers and Jell-O bites. But I love all the holiday desserts, from pies to cakes to cookies. Check out Vanilla Latte’s recipe for a delicious Red Velvet cake that’s perfectly colored for the Fourth of July. Thinking a little homemade ice cream on a hot day? Chef John at Food Wishes has a simple Vanilla Ice Cream recipe that’s sure to suit. Compliment with your favorite toppings, and your guests will love you.

5) Drinks! Whether I’m going alcoholic or non-alcoholic, there are plenty of options in this category. I love the use of basil in drinks these days, so I might try a little Basil Lemonade for the 4th. Our friend Andrew at the BA Foodist posted his suggestions for great BBQ wines under $15. And Esquire Magazine suggests a Fish House Punch, created in Philadelphia, in honor of Independence Day. In a mixing pinch? Seattle’s Andrew Boehrer suggests using your cooler as a drink mixer.

Of course, as with every event, remember to think green! Check out our suggestions for keeping your party eco-friendly.

Enjoy – and have a great holiday weekend!

~Jennifer Heigl

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