July 6, 2023

Fourth of July Party Menu

Ever since 2020, I haven’t been hosting dinner parties with the frequency I once did. But I miss doing that! I have such a blast coming up with a theme, planning a menu, and cooking up a storm for all my friends. I’ve been trying in the past few months to get back to it a little bit more, hosting a Kentucky Derby party in May, a Juneteenth dinner in June, and now, an Independence Day party in July. Since my blog is as much for my own memory archival as it is for readers, I hope you don’t mind if I start sharing out the menus and how these parties went.

My Fourth of July party didn’t start out as a party. I have friends visiting from Texas for the week, and it was originally going to be the four of us (my friend, her husband, and their baby). But then I started getting into the menu planning, and my guest list grew as I mentioned it to others: obviously my mom and boyfriend came, but then my friends Elizabeth and Heather said they would come too. Eight people is a party, right? At the very least, it was a fun excuse for me to cook a whole bunch of delicious food 🙂

Plate with mac and cheese, corn on the cob, barbecue ribs, and slaw
Here’s my overflowing plate of entrees and sides… yum!

The menu:

  • Strawberry Salsa (not pictured) – recipe from Taste of Home. When I first put this together, Allie and I tasted it and thought it was kind of bland; the tomatoes covered up the strawberries. But after it sat for several hours, the flavors really came together. I served it as an appetizer with lime tortilla chips, and it was never quite my favorite, but others couldn’t get enough, so… 4/5? It’s a different twist on salsa, but I think I prefer pineapple or mango if I’m adding fruit.
  • World’s Best Mac and Cheese – recipe from Mom on Timeout. My sister-in-law discovered this recipe a few years ago and we are obsessed with it. It’s so rich and delicious! If you can’t find gruyere, in a pinch, you can substitute swiss cheese. 5/5, I always look for opportunities to put this on the menu!
  • Slaw – recipe from Taste of Home. This was really simple, but really delicious, and added a nice pop of color. It was even better the next day, so I’d probably make it a day ahead next time. 4/5, would definitely make again.
  • Corn on the Cob – no recipe here; we originally planned to cook it on the grill, but since it was storming, chose to make it inside by boiling it in water instead. Corn on the cob isn’t my favorite, but for my boyfriend, it wouldn’t be the fourth of July without it. 3/5
  • Ribs – another one with no recipe, as I let my boyfriend be in charge of the grill. I think he seasoned them with a storebought rub, slathered them in Sweet Baby Ray’s, and then just threw them on? I am definitely not a barbecue expert! And I’m also not a huge fan of ribs, to be honest. They are tasty enough, but I always struggle with getting the meat off the bone, and either leave half of it on or end up gnawing on the bone to the point where friends make jokes about how I must be starving. Nope, I just don’t know when I’m supposed to stop because I’ve gotten all the meat there is 😂 2/5, would only do again if someone else wants them and takes responsibility.
Bowl of watermelon, patriotic lush cake, and strawberry pie
And here are the desserts, minus the M&M chocolate chip cookies that I put out with the initial spread and got gobbled up quickly 🙂
  • M&M chocolate chip cookies – recipe from Nestle Tollhouse. These choc-oat-chip cookies were my absolute favorite as a kid, and I thought I would swap in red white and blue M&Ms to make them festive. Unfortunately, I tried to make them a little bit healthier by swapping in applesauce for half of the butter, and while I’ve done that before with success, it wasn’t quite right this time and they ended up much fatter and softer than the crispy cookies I was hoping for. 3/5 for this particular batch, though the recipe itself is 5 stars.
  • Red, white, and blue cake lush – recipe from Domestic Rebel. I’ve made this recipe many times, as I absolutely love it, but this time I tried to make it patriotic by substituting strawberry oreos for the golden oreos, and then using red, white, and blue sprinkles. It came out pretty, but the strawberry oreos were much sweeter than the golden oreos, and the whole thing was a little bit sticky sweet. (PS – this is another one best made the day before.) I wouldn’t make these substitutions again, though I will make this recipe again! 4/5
  • Strawberry lemon pie – recipe from Bon Appetit. My mom made this one, so I can’t speak to the preparation, but it was delicious. If you’re never tried roasted lemons, you need to do so! I first encountered them in this amazing sheet pan dinner recipe, and was amazed at how rich and non-sour they were. Here, they add a bright element without being at all tart, and I loved them! 5/5, perfect for the Fourth of July.

For drinks, everyone kind of did their own thing, but I got strawberry pop rocks and they were a fun and festive addition to the rims of our glasses 🙂

It stormed most of the night, so what was originally going to be a barbecue on the deck became an indoor party. And with severe thunderstorm watches, a lot of fireworks shows were canceled! But we still had a lot of fun, and I’m glad I threw this little shindig 🙂

Laura standing in a blue dress with a white wine glass topped with red pop rocks
Happy Fourth of July!!

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