Entertaining for the Fourth of July

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The Fourth of July is a perfect holiday to have some fun with your entertaining.  But, it’s also one of those holidays that tend to sneak up on us, so we might not have many extra dollars in our budget to do-it-up in style.  And, the good news is you don’t have to spend a lot to set up a top-notch patriotic party.

Here are the details of the ideas I showed in the segment.  Remember the key is to just think Red, White and Blue!

The Food

• Berries, cherries, blueberries are all on sale during the Fourth. Take advantage of that and work them into your desserts and drinks.

• The pureed berries can be added to any clear drink, sparkling cider and even sparkling wine or margaritas.
 
• For the Patriotic Dipped Strawberries I headed over the ABC Baking and Cake Decorating at 2853 E. Indian School Road in Phoenix.  I’ve said it before, I love this place.  I purchased the huge containers of blue sugar and red, white and blue sprinkles there for about $2.80 each.   Keep in mind you can use these for any patriotic holiday throughout the year.  You can also find the blue sugar at grocery stores but you get a smaller amount for the same price.  I found the white dipping chocolate at Fry’s, but you also can use the similar candy coating product found at craft stores.

• I found the mini ice cream sandwiches at Trader Joe’s.

• Here’s the Red, White and Blue Potato Salad recipe.  It comes from foodnetwork.com and grill superstar, Bobby Flay.  Keep in mind that it’s perfect if you’re going to be outside for your picnic because it doesn’t contain any mayo.  I substituted a mixture of red, white and purple potatoes to up the festive factor a little more.  I found those at Fry’s, but can readily be found at most grocery stores.

The original recipe makes a lot – I cut it in half and it worked fine!

Grilled Red Potato Salad with Bacon-Blue Cheese Vinaigrette
(By Bobby Flay, www.foodnetwork.com)

• 4 pounds new potatoes, scrubbed, cooked until almost tender, drained, and halved
• 1/4 cup olive oil, plus 1/4 cup
• Salt and freshly ground black
• 3/4 pound hickory smoked bacon
• 1 large red onion, finely sliced
• 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
• 1 tablespoon sugar
• 1/4 cup coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley
• 1 cup crumbled Maytag blue cheese

Directions
Preheat grill. Toss potatoes with 1/4 cup olive oil and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Grill cut side down for 3 minutes. Turn over and continue grilling 2 to 3 minutes. Place in a large bowl.
Place medium skillet on the side burner or the grill and heat until almost smoking. Add the bacon and cook until golden brown and crisp. Remove to a plate lined with paper towels. Let cool and crumble.

Remove all but 2 tablespoons of the bacon fat from the pan. Add the onions and cook until soft, 5 to 6 minutes. Add 1/4 cup olive oil, vinegar, and sugar and cook until sugar is dissolved. Pour the onion mixture over the potatoes, add the crumbled bacon and parsley and toss to combine, season with salt and lots of black pepper. Spoon the salad onto a large platter and sprinkle with the crumbled blue cheese.

The Décor

How wonderful that so much can be done with just scrapbook paper or even patriotic wrapping paper!  I’m sure you can come up with even more ideas than I did – think outside the box and have fun!  Also keep the ideas in mind for any casual holiday – pick up the paper when it’s on sale.  Craft stores keep holiday papers in stock all year, you don’t have to wait for the holiday to roll around and that means you can shop when it’s on sale.

The Pin Wheels

I love these, but they were a little trickier to perfect than I thought.  Keep these things in mind and they’ll spin like crazy!

Double sided paper works great but you also can use spray adhesive to glue two papers together.
It needs to be a square – no rectangles allowed!
Don’t cut all the way to the center – if you cut too far, simply repair with tape – I had to do it and it worked out fine.
A wine cork works best as your anchor point and use a small, thin nail as your center  - a thumbtack didn’t have a long enough shank.  Those little picture-hanging nails worked great!

So, Happy Fourth of July!  All these ideas cost very little money but can make a big impact.  Adding just one or two of these touches – or all of them – will have you hosting a perfectly patriotic party!

Live and Learn.