Food & Drink

4 colorful recipes for your Fourth of July party

Fourth of July Rice Krispies treats turn out brighter when gel food coloring is used.
Fourth of July Rice Krispies treats turn out brighter when gel food coloring is used. The Wichita Eagle

One of my proudest moments of the past five years came on July 4, 2011.

Poking around online, I had found a recipe for a red, white and blue Jell-O creation that I fondly dubbed “Fourth of Jell-O.” It took lots of intensive Jell-O shopping (blue was hard to find back then) and hours of water heating, Jell-O dissolving and layering to complete. But it was a jiggly masterpiece, and the adults and children at my party were wowed by its patriotic prettiness.

Since then, I’ve been obsessed with red, white and blue recipes, and the Fourth of July is the best time to serve them. There’s something about those bright, all-American colors that makes people ooh and aah, and red white and blue dishes not only are fun to eat, but they provide decor for your Fourth of July table.

This year, I went hunting around for some new Fourth of July recipes and was overwhelmed by the number of options. Recipe sites are swimming with patriotic drink, dessert and salad recipes, especially this time of year.

Many of them involve Jell-O, marshmallows and food coloring. But many also employ seasonal, appropriately colored fruits like blueberries, raspberries, strawberries and watermelon.

Here you’ll find the recipe for Fourth of Jell-O that started my obsession plus three easier, less time-consuming recipes that I recently tested. All would be simple, quick and pretty additions to your Fourth of July plans.

Fourth of July Rice Krispies Treats

6 cups Rice Krispies cereal

1 package marshmallows

3 tablespoons margarine or butter

Red and blue gel food coloring

Divide the Rice Krispies and marshmallows in three for the three layers (2 cups Rice Krispies and about 2 cups marshmallows for each layer).

Melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a pan, then add 2 cups of marshmallows. When melted, stir in 1/4 to 1/3 of the tube of the blue food coloring. Then add the 2 cups of Rice Krispies and stir well. Press into a well greased 9-by-9 or 8-by-8 pan using wax paper. For the white layer, follow the same instructions but omit food coloring. Press on top of blue layer. For the red layer, follow the same instructions using 1/3 tube of red food coloring. Press on top of other two layers.

Let it set for a bit, then cut, serve and enjoy.


Fourth of Jell-O (aka Patriotic Gelatin Salad)

Yield:16 servings

2 packages (3 ounces each) berry blue gelatin

2 packages (3 ounces each) strawberry gelatin

4 cups boiling water, divided

2-1/2 cups cold water, divided

2 envelopes unflavored gelatin

2 cups milk

1 cup sugar

2 cups (16 ounces) sour cream

2 teaspoons vanilla extractIn four separate bowls, dissolve each package of gelatin in 1 cup boiling water. Add 1/2 cup cold water to each and stir. Pour one bowl of blue gelatin into a 10-in. fluted tube pan coated with cooking spray. Chill until almost set, about 30 minutes.

Set other three bowls of gelatin aside at room temperature. Soften unflavored gelatin in remaining cold water; let stand 5 minutes.

Heat milk in a saucepan over medium heat just below boiling. Stir in softened gelatin and sugar until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat; stir in sour cream and vanilla until smooth. When blue gelatin in pan in almost set, carefully spoon 1 1/2 cups sour cream mixture over it. Chill until almost set, about 30 minutes

Carefully spoon one bowl of strawberry gelatin over cream layer. Chill until almost set. Carefully spoon 1-1/2 cups cream mixture over the strawberry layer. Chill until almost set. Repeat, adding layers of blue gelatin, cream mixture and strawberry gelatin, chilling in between each. Chill several hours or overnight.


Red, White and Blue Chex Mix

3 tablespoons butter or margarine

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

3/4 teaspoon seasoned salt

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon onion powder

4 1/2 cups Corn Chex cereal

2 cup pretzels

2 cups mini marshmallows

1 cup red and blue chocolate candies

1 pound white almond bark

Red and blue gel food coloring

In large microwavable bowl, microwave butter uncovered on high about 30 seconds or until melted. Stir in next four ingredients. Gradually stir in cereal and pretzels until coated.

Microwave uncovered on high 4 to 5 minutes, thoroughly stirring every 2 minutes. Spread on paper towels to cool, about 15 minutes. Stir in mini marshmallows and chocolate candies, and toss to combine.

Divide the prepared Chex Mix into three even portions, and spread each portion in an even layer on a foil-lined plate or baking tray.

Heat the almond bark in the microwave or in a double boiler until melted. Divide the almond bark into three equal servings. Color one serving with red gel food coloring. Color the second serving with blue gel food coloring. Then leave the third serving plain (white).

Drizzle each portion of Chex Mix with one color of chocolate. Then let cool for at least 15 minutes, or until the chocolate returns to room temperature. When it’s ready, toss together the three colors of Chex Mix until combined and serve.


Fourth of July Fruit Kabobs

Two packages of raspberries

One package mini-marshmallows

One small package of blueberries

12 kabob skewers

For first five skewers: Thread onto skewer 1 raspberry, followed by two marshmallows, 1 raspberry, two marshmallows, then four blueberries. Make sure fruits touch and are centered so that the same amount of exposed skewer is at the top and the bottom. Set side by side on a white plate. For last seven skewers, follow this pattern: 1 raspberry and two marshmallows repeated three times with a single raspberry at the top. Arrange next to other skewers for a flag pattern. Garnish with fresh mint. If the marshmallows become too sticky to thread on the skewers, rinse the skewers with water then try again.

Source: Denise Neil