My family always has fun in the kitchen in preparation for 4th of July. Every year it's fun to see the different flag cakes and red, white and blue treats on the picnic tables.
In addition to making patriotic-themed treats with the red, white and blue colors, we also make treats that remind us of the sounds of fireworks. We use popcorn because it "pops" and rice cereal treats that crackle to get all the senses in involved.
Red, white and blue popcorn treats
Before heading out to see the fireworks, we fill up clear plastic bags with popcorn. The bottom layer has popcorn that we tint red, the middle layer is the plain popcorn and the top layer is popcorn tinted blue.
To make the popcorn, we put ¼ cup butter and 3 T light corn syrup in a sauce pan on medium heat. Then I add ½ cup sugar and 1 box (3.5 ounce) of red or blue colored gelatin mix. After stirring, I bring to a boil and reduce heat. I simmer for five minutes. I then mix with 8 cups of popcorn. Finally, I spread the mixture on a non-stick baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes at 300 degrees. Cool before serving.
Since a lot of people in my family are chocoholics, we also make a batch of popcorn drizzled with chocolate.
Patriotic rice cereal treats
We follow the recipe on the box of the rice cereal to make our 4th of July treats. I like to use star-shaped cookie cutters and other patriotic shapes. We sprinkle the stars with red, white and blue candy sprinkles. The basic recipe for the treats is to melt 3 T of butter with a 10-ounce package of marshmallows and then mix with 6 cups of rice cereal.
Sometimes my kids like to add peanut butter or butterscotch chips when heating up the marshmallow goo.
Using fruits for decorating
My sons love fruit. My younger son helps me cut up strawberries used to top cupcakes. We also top mini cheesecakes with blueberries or cherries. It's also fun to dip strawberries in white chocolate. The key is to dip the strawberry only two thirds of the way, leaving the top one third "natural." Then, dip the lower one third of the berry in blue sugar. When finished, the strawberries will appear, from top to bottom, red, white and blue.
Making a "berry" good punch
For 4th of July, we make a berry good punch with 1 bottle of chilled club soda, 2 cups of pineapple juice and 2 cups of lemon lime soda. We fill ice cube trays the night before with drink mix made with red and blue flavored packets. Just before the party, we mix the sodas and juice, adding the ice chips at the end. Another version is to use lime and strawberry sherbet.
Healthy 4th of July treats
Although we take sweet treats to picnics, my kids and I like to eat healthy at home. For 4th of July breakfast, my son started making a patriotic open-faced sandwich. He smears a bagel with cream cheese and raspberry jam. Then he arranges blueberries and bananas on top. Sometimes we make crepes filled with strawberries, bananas and blueberries and then top with light whipped cream and ricotta cheese filling.Content by Laura Cone.