Janet's Notebook
Food Will Be the Star at Your July 4th BBQ

Patriotic Gelatin Fruit Salad

Make sure you've made a run for propane or charcoals... Fourth of July is next week! I'm gearing up to host a party. I've pulled together recipes that'll make any 4th of July cookout burst with flavor!

Start the afternoon with Brandy Male's (Mustang, OK) Club BLT Dip Brandy's Way. "This is so easy yet gets rave reviews," says Brandy. I don't know about you, but when I'm hosting a BBQ easy is key.

She was looking to make a mock club sandwich dip and oh boy did Brandy succeed. Adding smoked turkey to mock the flavors of a club sandwich is genius. If you love the sandwich, you'll love this layered dip. Let's be honest... sprinkling cheese and bacon on top of a dip is never a bad thing.

Packed with seasonings, Eileen Hineline's (Coolidge, AZ) Juicy Hamburgers will be delicious at your cookout. Thanks to the addition of milk and hot water, these are some juicy burgers! Mustard is an unusual ingredient to put into the actual burger but I loved it - adds a little zing to the meat.

There are a lot of seasonings in the hamburger mixture that elevates these burgers from frozen patties that are sometimes served at cookouts. It's easy to make ahead of time (since you need to chill the meat), so I suggest trying these burgers next week. Fresh is so much better than frozen.

Ribs more your thing at a BBQ? Well, try Brad Nichols' (Pleasantville, NY) Simple, Succulent BBQ Baby Back Ribs. "For anyone who doesn't have the time, equipment, skill or desire to spend 2.5+ hours smoking BBQ ribs the 'proper' way, this recipe will give you a great outcome that only the most hardcore BBQ fanatics would object to... and even then, only until they get a taste," explains Brad.

If you're a ribs beginner, this recipe is for you. Even if you're a pro at cooking ribs, this is a quick recipe that results in tender and delicious meat that just falls off the bone. Brad's kicked-up barbecue sauce really enhances the overall flavors. I added chili flakes for a little extra bite, but leave them out if you're around a crowd that doesn't like spice. It's just as good without the heat.

You can't have a cookout without some type of salad and a favorite is Meryl Hausner's (Fair Lawn, NJ) Lemon Vegetable Pasta Salad. It's a different type of pasta salad than what's typically served. Fresh veggies, like asparagus, yellow bell pepper, and snap peas, add tons of crunch. The lemon mayo dressing has a light, fresh taste.

"This salad goes a long way, great for large gatherings," shares Meryl. Be prepared, this makes a lot so use a large bowl when making this recipe. If you're not feeding a crowd, definitely cut it in half.

Fredda Rosenbaum's (Abilene, TX) Patriotic Gelatin Fruit Salad will be the star of your cookout. "The combination of cherry pie filling and strawberry gelatin came about by accident," says Fredda of how she came up with her yummy recipe. "I began to prepare this recipe, but my strawberries weren't good. I substituted my regular recipe using canned cherry pie filling and the taste was scrumptious!"

I loved the cream cheese layer. Combined with the whipped topping, it was light and not overly sweet. The cherry pie filling mixed with the strawberry Jell-O makes that layer a bit creamy.

It's so impressive when complete, you can use it as part of the table decoration for the celebration. There are a few steps to this recipe, but much of the time is waiting for the layers to set. Patriotic and delicious.

If you want even more recipes, take a look at our Fourth of July recipe collection. It's got all-American treats and cookout favorites. I hope everyone has a happy and tasty Fourth of July. Happy Pinching!

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