Independence Day is a celebration of our present wellbeing, of reunion with our families and friends, and of our aspirations for the future in the Land of Opportunity.

These are good things to toast on a festive picnic or cozy backyard cookout.

Also, you could bring an extra bottle of wine for adults and an extra bottle of lemonade for kids to commemorate Thomas Jefferson and the other Founding Fathers, whose intellect and courage turned July 4 into an important day in the world history and into a grand national holiday.

You are right, such great toasts must be accompanied by delicious foods. So, let’s plan a scrumptious menu, which you can complement with adults’ and kids’ favorite beverages.

To add more flavors and colors to your Independence Day dinner, check out some recipes for fresh, no-cook starters, some recipes for grilled dishes, and some recipes for fruit desserts.


No-Cook Festive Appetizers

Installing the grill is never the first thing we do when we arrive at the picnic site, or even when we throw a cookout in the backyard.

What we do first is unpack the snacks brought from home or make some simple on-the-spot canapés and salads. Experience shows that after having a few bites, the grill becomes more user-friendly, and the anticipation of the main courses becomes more bearable.

To give the celebration a successful and tasty start, bring these light veggies and cheese wraps with you.

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To make the wraps in advance, you will need:

  • 5-6 oz. porcini mushrooms, sliced
  • 7-8 oz. green beans
  • 1 large red pepper, sliced
  • 2 15 oz. cans chickpeas or capers, drained
  • 1-2 oz. goat cheese, crumbled
  • 5-10 whole grain wraps, depending on how many yields you need
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 3 tbsp. lemon juice
  • salt and pepper to taste.

First, on rimmed baking sheets, roast the mushrooms, beans, and pepper with olive oil and salt for 30 min. over high heat (450°F).

Then, mash the chickpeas or capers with the lemon juice and pepper. Spread the mixture on the wraps and top with the crumbled cheese. Fold to wrap.

Pack the wraps carefully so you can safely transport them to the picnic place. Enjoy them with some fresh tomatoes and cucumbers.

But if you don’t want to spend time on cooking at home, you will like these tuna lettuce cups, which you can make in 15 minutes wherever the picnic takes place.

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Make sure you have some fresh butter lettuce, one-two cans of white tuna, a can of pitted Kalamata olives, a can of capers or chickpeas, two-three scallions, and a board and knife to halve the olives and slice the scallions.

Arrange the lettuce on a platter and place a few chops of tuna, some olives, capers, and scallion slices within each leaf. Sprinkle with lemon juice and olive oil if you have any.

Serve the lettuce cups with traditional potato salad or grilled corn on the cob. By the way, grilling corn will take as long as making the cups. So, you can share the culinary responsibilities with your dearest and enjoy both treats in parallel, while waiting for the grilled highlight of the festive dinner.

Simple and Splendid Grilled Treats

As we have already mentioned grilled corn on the cob, let’s see how to turn this Independence Day specialty into a really interesting and piquant dish.

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Grilled corn will pair perfectly with any of your favorite foods. Here are some, but not all, of the delectable combinations:

  • smoked paprika and bacon (you can grill bacon too if you like)
  • lime or lemon, garlic, fresh or grilled veggies, and greens
  • anchovies or crab meat
  • blue cheeses
  • herbed cheeses
  • soft and semi-soft cheeses like Ricotta, Cotija, or Feta.

To be sure that your grilled corn will be as appetizing as it is in the picture, follow a few simple grilling tips:

  1. As soon as the grill is installed, dust the grates with olive oil or cooking spray. So the corn, as well as vegetables and meat, will not stick.
  2. If you kept the corn in the fridge or cooler, bring the cobs to room temperature (or to street temperature), so they will cook more quickly and evenly.
  3. Preheat the grill to 350-450°F before cooking.

These tips will also be helpful when you grill meats, vegetables, or fruit.

Speaking of meat, what about these glazed pork and apple kebabs? These guys are quick to cook and convenient to eat.

Let’s check the ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 lb. pork loin
  • 2-3 Gala apples, cored
  • 2 tbsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 c. apricot preserve
  • 5 tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. lemon zest
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil, and some more for rubbing
  • 1 small head leaf lettuce, torn
  • 1 shallot, sliced
  • 1 tbsp. prepared horseradish, drained
  • 2 tsp. fresh rosemary, chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste.

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Don’t forget wooden skewers.

You can bring all these ingredients with you and cook at the picnic site. Here are the directions:

  1. While the grill is heating, in a small bowl, whisk together the mustard, preserve, lemon juice, lemon zest, and rosemary. Put the mustard and apricot glaze aside.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the oil, horseradish,  2 tbsp. glaze, remaining lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Add the sliced shallot and toss to coat.
  3. Cut the pork loin into 1-inch chunks. Cut each apple into eight wedges, and cut each wedge in half crosswise. Thread the pork chunks and apple wedges onto the skewers. Rub with oil and season with salt and pepper.
  4. Grill the pork and apple skewers for 3-5 min. Turn occasionally. Brush with the glaze and continue grilling, turning and brushing occasionally until the meat is ready (about 3-5 min. more).
  5. Toss the shallots and horseradish dressing with the lettuce. Serve with the skewers and remaining glaze for dipping.


And catch one more tip: for the meat to brown evenly, pat its surface with a paper towel to remove moisture before marinating and grilling.

Three-Color Sweet Delis for Kids and Adults

An assortment of seasonal fruit is surely the best summer dessert for every occasion. But Independence Day is a way too special one and wants something themed and surprising.

Then, why not serve one warm and one cool red, white, and blue desserts together?

If you have the grill, bring some brioche buns and cream cheese with you.

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Halve the buns lengthwise. Sprinkle each half with olive oil if you don’t have butter to melt and spread on the buns. Grill them until they are slightly toasted. Top each bun with a dollop of the cheese and a handful of strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, or blackberries.

Finally, it’s time for the ice cream!

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If you plan a backyard cookout, you can keep the ice cream in the freezer until its time comes. But if your trip to the picnic site takes more than ten minutes, you will need a portable refrigerator to transport the delicate dessert.

Please note that in any case, you should take care about the ice cream at least one day before the holiday.
Let’s list the ingredients:

  • 1 c. strawberry or raspberry puree
  • 1 c. blueberry or blackberry puree
  • 8 oz. cream cheese
  • 1/3 c. milk
  • 1/3 c. confectioner’s sugar.

And check the directions:

  1. Fill one third of each ice cream mold with red or blue berry puree. Place the molds in the freezer for 2 hours.
  2. Blend the cream cheese, milk, and sugar with a food processor.
  3. When the first berry layer gets firm enough to support the cream cheese mixture, fill another one third of the mold with the mixture. Freeze for 40-60 min., since the cream cheese layer is firm enough naturally.
  4. Fill in the final one third of the mold with the other berry puree. Remember that the puree will expand when it gets frozen, so you shouldn’t fill in the molds to the very top. Place a wooden stick or skewer into each mold.
  5. Cover and freeze for 6-7 hours. Preferably overnight.

And keep this dessert secret from kids. Let it be a surprise for them.

Have a Happy Celebration

On July 4, 2019, we are going to observe the 243rd anniversary of our country’s self-affirmation in the world. Signed 243 years ago, the Declaration of Independence is not only a significant document. The Declaration of Independence is also a significant act that demonstrates how people can make history.

Thomas Jefferson famously wrote that Independence Day ought to be celebrated with parades, shows, games, and illuminations. He would be glad to see that we follow his prophecy by doing peaceful marches with music and dances, playing Frisbees on picnics, and watching marvelous fireworks together with our dearest and nearest.

As Erma Bombeck, an American humorist and author, noted, we might think we had overeaten on the holiday picnic, but it was just our patriotism.  

Marky’s wishes you a Happy Independence Day!