Cherry tomatoes, chicken kabobs are two July 4th food ideas

For today’s fare, whip up patriotic recipes for a perfect 4th of July.

No, it is not too late to do a last-minute barbecue, picnic or family dinner.

Luckily, along the Coast, red, white and blue can be found in fresh off the vine or tree fruits and vegetables. Mississippi blueberries are some of the sweetest fruits, as are next-door Louisiana’s strawberries. That’s two out of the three colors.

Let the children or teens handle the cold firecracker pops, a recipe of the California Strawberry Commission. All that is needed is fresh strawberries, lollipop sticks, red and white candy melts and blue sprinkles. The candy melts are available at most craft stores or at some supermarkets, as are the sprinkles.

An adult may need to melt candies for the kids if they are young, but most youngsters 9 and up can melt the candies in a microwave with little trouble. Wash strawberries, insert lollipop stick into large end, and dip into red melted candy about one-third of strawberries. Let dry on parchment paper covered baking sheet. When dry, dip half of remaining strawberries. Dip strawberry tip in blue sprinkles. Let dry about 15 minutes. Refrigerate to speed up the process. Young and old will enjoy these sweet treats.

For summer holidays, the less time in the kitchen the better. Quick fixes are in order, along with tasty snacks as the food cooks on the grill. Red, white and blue crunch mix is a good snack before or after a meal. It is good for munching, stored in an airtight container after the holiday.

Try chicken and bratwurst kabobs instead of burgers. One-inch pieces of chicken and sausage, green peppers and onions are marinated and then threaded on wooden skewers. These take about 50 minutes from start to finish. Don’t forget to soak those skewers in water, so they do not burn on the grill.

A frosty red, white and blue frozen cocktail is refreshing on a hot, summer day, holiday or no holiday.

Enjoy these quick fixes for today’s activities that celebrate the USA.

Feta-stuffed cherry tomatoes

24 firm cherry tomatoes

3 ounces cream cheese, softened

1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese

1/4 cup sour cream

1 green onion, finely chopped

3/4 teaspoon lemon juice

1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano

Coarsely ground pepper

Cut thin slice off the top of each tomato. Scoop out and discard pulp. Invert tomatoes onto paper towels to drain.

In a small mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese, feta cheese, sour cream, onion, lemon juice and oregano until well blended. Place the mixture in a heavy-duty resealable plastic bag; cut a small hole in a corner of bag. Pipe mixture into tomatoes. If desired sprinkle with black pepper. Chill until serving. 1 stuffed tomato equals 25 calories. – “Taste of Home Holidays & Celebrations”

Red, white and blue crunch mix

3 cups Crispix

3 cups Rice Krispies

2 cups dry roasted peanuts

4 cups pretzel sticks, broken

1 package (11 ounces) caramel bits

4 cups white candy coating disks

1 cup red candy coating disks

1 cup blue candy coating disks

In a large bowl, combine the cereals, peanuts, pretzels and caramel bits.

In large microwave-safe-bowl, 2 waxed paper-lined baking sheets. Microwave the white candy coating at 50 percent power for 1 minute; stir. Cook at additional 20 to 30-second intervals, stirring until smooth. Drizzle over cereal mixture; toss to coat.

Transfer to 2 waxed paper-lined baking sheets. In a microwave, melt red and blur candy coating disks. In separate bowls, drizzle over snack mix. Let stand until set. Store in airtight container. – “Taste of Home Holidays & Celebrations”

Chicken & bratwurst kabobs

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

1/4 cup cider vinegar

2 tablespoons pepper jelly

2 tablespoons stone-ground mustard

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1/2 cup olive oil, divided

1 can (15 ounces) peach halves in light syrup, drained and cut into ½-inch cubes

2/3 cups minced onions

1 jar (12-ounces) mango chutney

6 boneless chinless chicken breasts (about 6 ounces each)

1 package (14 ounces) bratwurst links

2 each green pepper, sweet red pepper and yellow pepper

1 large onion

3 tablespoons brown sugar bourbon seasoning

Whisk together vinegars, pepper jelly, mustard, salt and pepper. Gradually whisk in 1/3 cup olive oil until blended. Add peaches, minced onion and chutney.

Cut chicken into 1-inch cubes and bratwursts into 1-inch slices. Cut peppers into large squares and onion into cubes. Toss with brown sugar bourbon seasoning and remaining oil.

On 12 metal or soaked wooden skewers, alternately thread chicken, bratwurst and vegetables. Grill skewers, covered, on a greased grill rack over medium-high direct heat, turning occasionally, until chicken is no longer pink, and vegetables are tender, 10-12 minutes. If desired, sprinkle with additional brown sugar bourbon seasoning during grilling. Serve with chutney. 1 kabob is 433 calories. – “Taste of Home Holidays & Celebrations”

Red, white and blue frozen cocktail

Blue layer:

1 cup ice

2 1/2ounces blue curacao

1/2 cup lemonade

1 tablespoon hone

Red layer:

1 cup strawberries

1 tablespoon honey

2 ounces vodka

1 cup ice

White layer:

1 cup ice

2 ounces vodka

1 tablespoon honey

1/2 cup lemonade

Garnish: A strawberry

Add all the ingredients for the blue layer in a blender and blend until smooth. Pour into a container to store in the freezer while making the other two layers.

Rinse the blender, then place all ingredients for red layer in the blender and blend until smooth. Pour into a container and store in freezer. Repeat with white layer.

Once ready to serve the cocktails, add red layer into a glass. Add the white layer, and the top it off with the blue layer. Garnish with whole or half strawberry.

Note: The layers need to be thick enough to sit on top of each other. – From the California Strawberry Commission

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