July 4 means time for red, white and blue food

Jennifer Mastroianni

Hot dogs. Check. Corn on the cob. Check. Watermelon. Check. Don’t stop there while planning July Fourth picnic. The holiday is much more festive with patriotic-themed edibles.

Too busy, you say? We get it. There are kids’ bicycles to decorate, lawn chairs to set along the parade route and sparklers to purchase.

That’s why we picked these super easy menu items. Star dippers will get the party started right and are simple enough for the kids to help with. These crunchy snacks are made from seasoned baked tortilla shells, and they are perfect with savory dips to serve as an appetizer.

Or go sweet. Replace the spices with cinnamon sugar and use these sweet stars with spreads such as strawberry cream cheese sprinkled with blueberries.

For an entree, lemon-garlic flavored chicken is on-theme with baby red, white and blue Idaho potatoes. The kebobs are tossed on the grill for 10 minutes, tops, and can be made a day ahead for easy prep work.

Red, White and Blue Sangria takes about five minutes to make, and it is a refreshing and colorful libation garnished with strawberries, raspberries and blueberries.

As the grand finale, you can't go wrong with a Patriotic Twinkie Pie. Yes, Twinkies torn into pieces make up the cake. The hardest part of this dessert is making instant pudding. Effortless.

And hey, easy on the M-80s.


6 flour tortillas

3 tablespoons butter, melted

1/2 teaspoon dried basil

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

1/4 teaspoon seasoned salt

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/8 teaspoon pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Brush both sides of each tortilla with butter. Combine seasonings and sprinkle over one side of tortilla. With a 2 1/2-inch star shaped cookie cutter, cut out stars from each tortilla and discard scraps.

Place stars on ungreased baking sheet. Bake for 7 to 9 minutes or until crisp. Serve with favorite dip.

(Option: Omit the spices and seasonings and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar instead. Use these sweet stars with a strawberry cream cheese dip).


6-7 Hostess Twinkies, broken or torn into 1-inch pieces

1 pint fresh blueberries

1 lb. fresh strawberries, sliced

2 packages (5.1 ounces) instant vanilla pudding mix

6 cups milk

1 container (12 ounces) frozen nondairy whipped topping, thawed

Place half the Twinkie pieces in a 6-quart glass trifle bowl or trifle dish. In a separate bowl, combine the pudding mix and milk and stir according to the package instructions. Spoon half of the pudding over the Twinkies. Spread the blueberries over the pudding. Top with the remaining Twinkie pieces. Spoon the remaining pudding over the Twinkies spreading evenly. Spread the sliced strawberries over the pudding. Cover and refrigerate for several hours or overnight, until completely chilled and set. Add whipped topping just before serving. Makes 16 servings.


1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (squeezed from one lemon)

1 tablespoon fresh lemon zest (from one lemon)

1 tablespoon minced garlic

3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

Pinch crushed red pepper flakes

1 1/2 pounds boneless chicken breast, cut into 1 1/2-inch chunks

4 gourmet baby Idaho grown blue potatoes

4 gourmet baby Idaho grown white potatoes

4 gourmet baby Idaho grown red potatoes

4 or 5 (12-inch) wooden skewers (soaked in water for at least 1 hour), or metal skewers

In a medium mixing bowl, using a whisk, combine the lemon juice and lemon zest, garlic, salt, pepper and crushed red pepper flakes. Measure out 1/3 cup of the dressing mixture and set it aside. Add the chicken pieces to the bowl with the remaining dressing and toss well to coat them with dressing; set aside. (Chicken can be marinated in the refrigerator up to 1 day in advance of serving.)

Wash the potatoes and place them in a microwave-safe bowl. Add 3 tablespoons water to the bowl and cover. Microwave on high for 5-7 minutes, until tender. While the potatoes are cooking, preheat the grill to medium-high.

Assemble the skewers: Thread 3 pieces of marinated chicken onto each skewer. Follow that with a red, then a white, then a blue precooked potato. Finish each skewer with 3 more pieces of chicken. Repeat with the remaining 3 skewers and ingredients. (If there is leftover chicken, thread it all onto an extra skewer.)

Place skewers onto the grill. Close the grill and cook until chicken has distinct grill marks, about 5-6 minutes. Turn the skewers and continue to cook and rotate them at 3-4-minute intervals until the chicken is cooked through (about 10 minutes total grilling time). To serve, place skewers onto a plate and drizzle with reserved dressing. To serve, place skewers onto a plate and drizzle with reserved dressing. Yield: 4 servings.


1 bottle chilled white wine (Rioja is a good choice)

1/2 cup peach schnapps

1 shot Cointreau or triple sec

1 cup diet 7UP

1/2 cup diet ginger ale

1 cup sliced strawberries (fresh or frozen)

1/2 cup raspberries (fresh or frozen)

1 cup blueberries (fresh or frozen)

Combine the chilled white wine, the peach schnapps and the Cointreau in a large pitcher and stir. Add the strawberries, raspberries and blueberries to the pitcher. Top with the 7UP and the ginger ale and stir lightly to combine. Pour into individual glasses. Serves 6.