4 easy recipes for July 4th fun

July 4th celebrations call for delicious food, amazing drinks and great company. If you’re hosting America’s birthday party at your place this year, you might be doing any or all of the following things right now: making lists, planning menus, contemplating hanging fairy lights in your trees, and wondering if you have time to re-sod your backyard.

Keep it simple

The truth is, you don’t have to go overboard to host an amazing party. The 4th of July is not a holiday that calls for fancy food. It’s about cold drinks, red, white and blue food, classic backyard BBQ staples, and making sure everybody has a good view of the fireworks.

The secret to being an amazing host? Keep it simple! A night out under the stars with good food and great friends is not to be squandered. This year, spend more time socializing and less time sweating over the details (not to mention the oven) with these easy, crowd-pleasing recipes, from a refreshing cocktail to a patriotic 4th of July dessert.

Cocktail: Watermelon Margarita

Start your party with a bang! Not only does this 4th of July cocktail fit the patriotic color scheme, nothing says summer like watermelon. Simply toss some chopped up watermelon into your blender, then add silver tequila, triple sec, agave, lime juice and a pinch of salt. Bonus points for a salted rim with a touch of chili powder. Top it off with a watermelon/lime garnish while you’re at it.

Serve up some juicy slices of watermelon for an easy snack the kids will love, along with this grownup version of our favorite seedless summer fruit. Follow simple step-by-step directions with this video. Cheers!

Appetizer: Chips & Mango Salsa

You’ll need something to snack on while the grill is heating up. Something cool. Something refreshing. Something quick and easy. It is, after all, the dead of summer, and it’s h-o-t! Keep things easy breezy with a light mango salsa served alongside tortilla chips for dipping, because today we celebrate our freedom to dip things. (Full recipe below.)

Main dish: All-American DIY Hot Dog Bar

While being from different parts of the country may stir up rivalries during baseball season and election years, there’s one thing that can bring everyone together: hot dogs. This July 4th, grill up a bunch of dogs and lay out a fixin’s bar that covers preferred toppings from all corners of the country.

From pickle spears, peppers and mustard for a Chicago dog to chili and coleslaw for a taste of the South, our differences never tasted so good. Check out this video for more tasty inspiration, including bacon-wrapped L.A. dogs and New York-style stewed onion toppings. The best part? No recipe necessary. Beyond grilling up the dogs and setting out toppings, your guests do the rest.

Dessert: Summer Berry Angel Cake

This summer berry angel cake is the perfect July 4th dessert, complete with red, white and blue flair to celebrate America. With juicy, ripe berries, along with angel cake, lemon curd, and a delicious creamy filling, it’s a sweet ending to a perfect day. The secret ingredient? A stand mixer that mixes without the mess. Oh yeah, and store bought angel food cake for the ultimate shortcut. Shhh, we won’t tell … Check out Kari Karch’s complete recipe below.

Recipes

Mango Salsa

Ingredients
1 ripe mango
½ jalapeno pepper
½ red onion
1 lime
3 Tbsp. cilantro, roughly chopped

Directions
Cut the mango in half in line with the seed. Score the mango into small square shapes with a knife, being careful not to cut your hand. Push the skin in and gently cut the cubes of mango into your bowl.

Repeat this process for the second half of the mango. After cutting off the cubes, finely dice this half of the mango. Add the diced mango into the bowl with the cubed mango and mix together.

Cut a jalapeno in half and use a spoon to clean out the ribs and seeds to cut down the spice. Finely dice the jalapeno.

Finely dice 1/2 of a red onion. Add to the bowl of mango along with the finely diced jalapeno.

Add the juice of 1 lime. Tip: Press and roll the lime against the counter before cutting to get more juice. Add 3 Tbsp. of roughly chopped cilantro and mix it all together.

Leave in fridge for at least 10 min then serve!

Summer Berry Angel Cake

Ingredients
1 Store-bought angel food cake
5 Egg yolks
1 cup sugar
4 Lemons, zested and juiced
1 Stick butter, cut into pats and chilled
1 8oz. light cream cheese
1 Pint heavy cream
1 Tbsp. almond extract
¼ c Granulated sugar
1 pint each: blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries
Mint for garnish

Directions
Using a serrated knife, slice the angel food cake into 1 ½ inch layers and place the bottom layer on a cake stand. Add enough water to a medium saucepan to come about 1 inch up the side. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat.

Meanwhile, combine egg yolks and sugar in a medium size metal bowl and whisk until smooth, about 1 minute. Measure citrus juice and if needed, add enough cold water to reach 1/3 cup. Add juice and zest to egg mixture and whisk smooth.

Once water reaches a simmer, reduce heat to low and place bowl on top of saucepan. (Bowl should be large enough to fit on top of saucepan without touching the water.) Whisk until thickened, approximately 8 minutes, or until mixture is light yellow and coats the back of a spoon.

Remove promptly from heat and stir in butter one piece at a time, allowing each addition to melt before adding the next. Remove to a clean container and cover by laying a layer of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the curd. Let cool while making the whipped cream.

Pour heavy cream, extract and sugar into your stand mixer. Start whisking on low and increase speed to high once cream starts to thicken. Whip until peaks form (about 3 minutes).

Spread a layer of whipped cream on the bottom slice of angel food cake. Top with a mixture of berries and place another angel food slice on top. Spread lemon curd onto this layer and top with berries. Repeat each step alternating whipped cream and lemon curd. Top with berries and garnish with mint.

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