Fourth of July Food Guide

DSCN2131Every year, people all over the country celebrate America’s independence with a barbecue. Frequented by the usual suspects of hotdogs, burgers, deli-section-almost-frighteningly-yellow potato salad and a six-pack, buzz has a few more interesting selections to spruce up your Fourth of July spread. And who knows, maybe everyone will be asking for your recipes this year.

Main Course:

Beer Can Chicken

Using a can of beer inside the cavity when grilling helps to steam the inside, creating a really juicy and flavorful chicken.

    • Whole chicken, with innards removed, rinsed and dried
    • Salt
    • Pepper
    • Garlic Powder
    • Poultry Seasoning (if available)
    • Dried Thyme
    • Can of beer, any kind will do as long as it’s in an aluminum can


Start by mixing the seasonings together in a bowl (amount of seasoning based on the size of chicken). Then, rub the entire chicken, including under the skin and inside the cavity, with the seasoning.

Open the beer, take a break and drink half the can. Fit the can into the cavity and see if the chicken can stand on its own. If so, bring the bird and the beer outside to the grill. If not, use aluminum foil to make props so the bird can stand by itself.

When ready, place the beer (inside the cavity still) and chicken onto the grill, standing up (positioning the legs out sort of like a tripod usually seems to work). Cook on a closed grill, checking periodically. The chicken is done when juices run clear, or a meat thermometer registers at 165°.

Beef Ribs

Baby-back ribs always seem to steal the show, but can be pricey, especially around the holidays. Instead of using pork ribs, substitute beef ribs instead. The ribs are larger, have more meat and still hold that delicious grilled taste.

Seattle Barbecue Beef Ribs (adapted from

    • 1 rack beef back ribs (about 3 pounds total), cut in ½
    • 1 teaspoon seasoning salt
    • 1 cup vegetable broth
    • 1 cup apple juice
    • 2 cups favorite BBQ sauce
    • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
    • 1 teaspoon molasses
    • 1 teaspoon instant espresso, or 2 tablespoons strong brewed coffee


Place ribs in heavy large pot. Add seasoning salt, vegetable broth and apple juice plus enough water to cover ribs and bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer gently until meat is tender, about 1 hour. Using tongs, remove rib racks from pot. Cool slightly. Cut between bones into individual ribs. (Can be made to this point 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate.)

Preheat grill to medium heat.

In a medium bowl, combine BBQ sauce, vinegar, molasses and coffee. Brush ribs with some of sauce. Grill ribs until brown and thickly glazed, occasionally turning and basting with more sauce, about 10 minutes total.

NOTE: instead of boiling, you could also pre-cook the ribs in the slow cooker on low for 4 hours.


Grilled New Potato Salad (adapted from

Skip the deli section this year and make homemade potato salad instead!

    • 2 pounds new potatoes, boiled until just tender
    • Canola oil
    • Salt and Pepper
    • ¼ cup sherry vinegar
    • 1 – 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
    • 2/3 cup olive oil
    • 2 red bell peppers, grilled, peeled and seeded
    • 2 cubano peppers, grilled, peeled and seeded
    • 2 red onions, with skin, sliced ¼-inch thick and grilled
    • ½ cup roughly chopped flat-leaf parsley


Preheat grill over high heat.

Brush potatoes with oil, season with salt and pepper and grill until slightly charred.

Whisk the vinegar and mustard in a bowl, then slowly whisk in the olive oil. Whisk in salt and pepper, to taste. Add the potatoes to the vinaigrette, then add the peppers, onions and the parsley, and toss to combine.

Parmesan-Roasted Corn on the Cob (adapted from

This recipe makes enough for five, but can easily be adjusted for more or less.

    • ½ cup mayonnaise
    • 5 ears corn, husk and silk removed
    • 1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
    • 1 tablespoon chili powder
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper


Preheat grill to medium-high heat and lightly oil the grate.

Brush a thin layer of mayo on each ear of corn. Sprinkle the corn with the Parmesan cheese, chili powder, salt and pepper. Wrap each ear with aluminum foil and place on the grill.

Grill, turning occasionally, until the kernels begin to brown, about 10 minutes.


Watermelon Lemonade (adapted from

Of course beer is a staple around the 4th, but watermelon lemonade can be refreshing and good for kids and adults (just add the vodka later). This makes enough to fill two glasses with ice cubes. Can be easily doubled, tripled, quadrupled, etc.

    • ¼ cup fresh-squeezed lemon juice
    • ½ cup fresh watermelon puree, strained through a coarse strainer to remove seeds (a blender or food processor works well to puree the watermelon)
    • 3 tablespoons simple syrup (simmer one part water to one part sugar until sugar has dissolved, let cool)
    • ¾ cup cold water

Mix together and serve over ice.


Ice Cream Cone Cupcakes (adapted from

These are really easy and cute. They’re also an easy way to keep kids occupied in the kitchen if mom and/or dad are busy cooking.

    • Box of cake mix (and accompanying ingredients, eggs, oil and water)
    • Cupcake liners
    • Flat-bottomed cones
    • Frosting
    • Decorations


Prepare cake mix according to box. Place liners in each of 24 regular size muffin cups. Fill about 2/3 with mix. Bake according to directions on box.

Once cool, peel the liner off each of the cupcakes and place cupcake inside the cone. Frost and decorate. Serve.

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