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Celebrate July 4th with these colorful treat ideas and explosions of flavor

Jul. 02, 2013 @ 11:50 PM

HUNTINGTON -- "My country 'tis of thee, sweet land of liberty ..." Bring out the fireworks as Thursday, July 4, is Independence Day.

As I look forward to this annual celebration, I see it as more than a day off work, participating in a picnic or a barbecue, marching in a parade and seeing fireworks displayed. It is a remembrance of July 4, 1776, when America declared its independence, freedom and liberty.

To add some spark to the flavor, Betty Crocker Kitchens provides these recipes:

LAYERED FRUIT FLAG SALAD

2 (8-ounce) cans pineapple tidbits in juice

2 medium bananas, sliced

3 pints fresh strawberries

3 (6-ounce) containers 99 percent fat-free lemon burst yogurt

11/2 cups frozen whipped topping (thawed)

3 tablespoons powdered sugar

4 cups cubed cantaloupe, well drained

11/2 pints fresh blueberries

2 cups miniature marshmallows

Drain pineapple, reserving juice in small bowl. Pat pineapple dry with paper towels to remove any excess liquid. Toss banana slices in pineapple liquid; drain well, discarding liquid. Reserve 18-20 strawberries for flag stripes; cut remaining strawberries into quarters. In medium bowl, mix yogurt, whipped topping and powdered sugar until well blended and smooth. In ungreased 13- by 9-inch glass baking dish, layer cantaloupe and quartered strawberries. Reserve 50 blueberries for flag stars. Layer remaining blueberries over strawberries. Top with bananas, pineapple and marshmallows. With pancake turner, press fruit lightly to even out top. Spread yogurt mixture evenly over fruit. If desired, at this point, salad can be covered and refrigerated up to 4 hours. If serving immediately, add topping; if salad is refrigerated, add topping up to 1 hour before serving. Sprinkle reserved blueberries in corner to resemble stars of flag. Cut reserved strawberries into quarters. Arrange in rows to resemble stripes of flag.

FIRECRACKER RED WHITE AND BLUE CAKE

1 box white cake mix

Water, vegetable oil and egg whites called for on cake mix box

Red food color

Blue food color

1 (12-ounce) container whipped fluffy white frosting

Heat oven to 325 degrees. Generously grease a 12-cup fluted tube cake pan. Make cake batter as directed on box, using water, oil and egg whites. Pour 1 cup of batter into small bowl; stir in red food color until well mixed. Pour another cup of batter into separate bowl; stir in blue food color until well mixed. Pour red cake batter into bottom of pan. Carefully pour remaining white batter over red batter in pan. Carefully pour blue batter over white batter. (Blue batter does not need to cover white batter completely; it looks better if it just forms a ring in center of white batter.) Bake as directed on box or until toothpick inserted near center comes out clean. Cool cake 5 minutes. Meanwhile, place cooling rack over cookie sheet. Turn pan upside down onto cooling rack. Cool cake completely, about 30 minutes. When cake is cool, divide frosting evenly into three microwaveable bowls. Microwave bowl of frosting uncovered on high few seconds until smooth enough to drizzle over cake. With spoon, drizzle all white frosting back and forth around cake in striping pattern. Repeat microwaving second bowl of frosting until smooth. Stir in few drops blue food color until well blended. Drizzle over cake, scattering frosting back and forth. Repeat with remaining bowl of frosting and red food color, making sure red, white and blue frostings can be seen on cake. Let cake stand at room temperature until frosting is set before serving.

FIRECRACKER PUNCH

2/3 cup red cinnamon candies

4 cups water

1 (6-ounce) can frozen lemonade concentrate, thawed

1/3 cup frozen (thawed) orange juice concentrate

1 liter bottle ginger ale

6 orange slices, cut in half

In one-quart saucepan, cook cinnamon candies and 1 cup water over medium-high heat, stirring frequently until candies are melted; remove from heat. Cool completely, about 30 minutes. In large punch bowl, stir candy mixture, remaining 3 cups water, lemonade and orange juice concentrates until well mixed. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Just before serving, gently stir in ginger ale. Garnish with orange slices.

This recipe is furnished by Pillsbury Co.

FIREWORKS PIE FRIES

1/2 cup apple pie filling

1/2 cup cherry pie filling

1/3 cup blueberry pie filling

3 boxes refrigerated pie crusts, softened as directed on boxes

1 egg, beaten

Red, white and blue coarse sugar crystals

11/2 cups powdered sugar

Water

Red and blue food color

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line large cookie sheet with cooking parchment paper. Crush, process or blend each of pie fillings until semi-smooth and spreadable. Unroll pie crusts. Spread each flavor pie filling onto each of three crusts. Top each with one remaining pie crust, gently pressing to seal. Brush beaten egg evenly over top of each; sprinkle with matching color sugar crystals. Cut each filled pie-crust stack into 1-inch-wide strips. Cut each strip once crosswise so "fries" aren't too long. Place in single layer on cookie sheet. Bake about 20 minutes or until light golden brown. Remove from cookie sheet to cooling rack. Cool. Meanwhile, in each of three separate bowls, stir together 1/2 cup of powdered sugar with few drops of water, stirring just until thick. Leave one bowl with white dipping glaze. To make blue and red dipping glazes, stir few drops of blue and red food color into each of two remaining glazes. Serve "fries" with dipping glazes.

"Taste of Home" offers this all-American favorite:

ALL-AMERICAN BACON CHEESEBURGERS

2 tablespoons finely chopped onion

2 tablespoons ketchup

1 garlic clove, minced

1 teaspoon sugar

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

1 teaspoon steak sauce

1/4 teaspoon cider vinegar

1 pound ground beef

4 slices sharp cheddar cheese

4 hamburger buns, split and toasted

8 cooked bacon strips

Lettuce leaves, tomato, onion, pickle slices or other optional toppings

In large bowl, combine first seven ingredients. Crumble beef over mixture; mix well. Shape into four patties. Grill burgers, covered, over medium heat or broil 3 inches from heat 4-7 minutes on each side or until thermometer reads 160 degrees and juices run clear. Top with cheese. Grill 1 minute longer or until cheese is melted. Serve on buns with bacon and toppings of choice.

FOURTH OF JULY BEAN CASSEROLE

1/2 pound bacon strips, diced

1/2 pound ground beef

1 cup chopped onion

1 (28-ounce) can pork and beans

1 (16-ounce) can kidney beans, rinsed and drained

1 (151/4-ounce) can lima beans

1/2 cup barbecue sauce

1/2 cup ketchup

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

2 tablespoons prepared mustard

2 tablespoons molasses

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon chili powder

In large skillet, cook bacon, beef and onion until meat is no longer pink; drain. Transfer to greased 21/2-quart baking dish; add all of beans and mix well. In small bowl, combine remaining ingredients; stir into beef and bean mixture. Cover; bake at 350 degrees 45 minutes. Uncover; bake 15 minutes longer.

This recipe is from Hershey's:

HERSHEY'S FIRECRACKER CAKE

4 eggs, separated

1/2 cup plus 1/3 cup granulated sugar, divided

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1/3 cup cocoa

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup water

Powdered sugar

1 cup cherry pie filling

1 (8-ounce) tub frozen whipped topping, thawed and divided

Hershey's kisses brand milk chocolate, Hershey's hugs brand chocolates, Hershey's miniatures chocolate bars

Blueberries, raspberries, halved strawberries

1 Twizzlers strawberry twists

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Line 151/2- by 101/2- by 1-inch jelly-roll pan with foil; generously grease foil. Beat egg whites in large bowl until foamy, gradually add 1/2 cup granulated sugar, beating until stiff peaks form. Beat egg yolks and vanilla in small bowl on high speed of mixer about 3 minutes. Gradually add remaining 1/3 cup granulated sugar, continue beating 2 minutes. Combine flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt; add to egg yolk mixture alternately with water on low speed, beating just until batter is smooth. Fold chocolate mixture gradually into egg whites; spread evenly in prepared pan. Bake 12-15 minutes or until top springs back when touched lightly in center. Immediately loosen cake from edges of pan; invert on towel sprinkled with powdered sugar. Carefully remove foil. Immediately roll cake in towel, starting from narrow end; place on wire rack to cool. Unroll cake; remove towel. Spread with pie filling and 11/2 cups whipped topping; reroll cake. Frost cake with remaining whipped topping. Place candies and fruit on frosted cake so they form stripes around the cake. Add strawberry twist for "wick." Refrigerate until serving time.

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