Eat

Fourth of July Food Stations!

I love to have food stations at my parties. They’re interactive and fun to display – perfect for the all-day snack parade that partygoers expect on the 4th of July.

Here are a few ideas to get you started!

Starter Station: Chips & Dips
7YcOrThm3LFGxlQznBv7nY1t.jpeg:Amazon:photoSometimes the easiest foods are the biggest hits. Case in point: chips and dip. It’s a classic combo, and some might say “why mess with perfection?’ But I say, it never hurts to put an original twist on old favorites.

It’s the 4th of July, so red, white, and blue is kinda mandatory. Start with red serving bowls, blue-corn tortilla chips, and good old-fashioned potato chips. Ruffles are my personal favorite – I mean, they invented the crinkle cut. How brilliant is that?

Now for the dips! I have to start with my all-time fave, Old-Fashioned Onion Dip. To make it, all you have to do is mix sour cream with Lipton’s Onion Soup Mix. Refrigerate it for an hour to bring out the flavor, and you’ll have an instant crowd-pleaser. Easy, but the best!

Next up is my mom’s Clam Dip. Growing up, my mom made this for us every 4th of July and I’ve carried on the tradition. Here’s her recipe:

Ingredients

  • 12 oz cream cheese
  • ¾ cup mayonnaise
  • 1 small clove garlic,crushed and finely minced
  • 1 (7 oz) can minced clams, drained
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • ½ tsp paprika
  • 1 dash of cayenne or hot sauce (optional)
  • 1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice

 

Instructions

  1. Mix the cream cheese, mayonnaise, and garlic together until smooth
  2. Add minced clams and blend in with remaining seasonings
  3. Chill thoroughly before serving

 

No chips and dip spread is complete without some kind of bean dip. This White Bean Guacamole recipe combines my love of avocado with an updated take on the beloved refried bean.

Ingredients

  • 2 avocados
  • ½ cup of white beans (canned or homecooked)
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • ¼ cup cilantro
  • 2 teaspoons lime juice
  • 1 jalapeno pepper (optional)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

 

Instructions

  1. Use a fork to mash avocados with white beans and garlic
  2. Fold in cilantro and lime juice
  3. For a little kick add some diced jalapeno peppers
  4. Season to taste with salt and pepper

 

Entre Station: Sliders

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What’s more American than a hamburger? This time-honored meal is a must for any 4th of July party, but why fill up on a full size hamburger when you can experience a series of amazing taste sensations? My slider station is one part gourmet tasting menu, one part kid-friendly fun, and one hundred percent delicious.

To start, you’ll need enough ground beef for approximately three sliders per person. Use a cookie cutter to make small patties ahead of time. For buns, you can buy your favorite dinner rolls or just buy slider buns at the store, and toast them on the grill. The designated grill master at your 4th of July party will probably need to refresh the these basic elements throughout the day. Do him a favor by offering him a cold one every couple of hours.

For kids, you’ll want all the basic toppings: American cheese, pickle slices, mayo, French’s mustard, and Heinz ketchup. My kids also love PB&J sliders with grilled banana slices. Adults and adventurous kids, however, are in for a completely different experience. Here are some slider toppings you can offer:

  • Port caramelized onions – sauté your onions as usual, then after they start to become translucent, deglaze the pan with a couple splashes of port. Continue to sauté until caramelized.
  • Wasabi mayonnaise – mix three tablespoons of wasabi powder with one tablespoon of water adding more or less water as needed. Once a paste forms, add wasabi mixture to one cup of mayonnaise
  • Truffle ketchup – add two teaspoons of truffle oil to a cup of good ol’ ketchup

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  • Assorted Aioli – to make a basic aioli, crush 7-8 garlic cloves in a mortar and pestle. Once a paste forms, add two egg yolks. Once the egg yolks and garlic are thoroughly mixed, add olive oil one drop at a time while stirring constantly. Once the aioli starts to form, add a dash of sea salt. You can then customize your aioli by mixing in curry or chipotle powders. The same can be done with storebought mayonnaise. Horseradish mayo is especially good!
  • Truffle cheese – I crave Umami Burger’s version! To make your own, choose a mild, soft cheese such as Brie or Camembert. Thinly shave chips from a fresh truffle. Split the cheese wheel in half and place truffle chips on one half, then top with the other half, soft side down, like a sandwich. Wrap tightly in plastic and refrigerate overnight. Slice the cheese wheel into thin, square-shaped slices that can be melted on a slider.
  • Grilled maitake mushrooms with yuzu-miso glaze – mix one tablespoon of white miso, two tablespoons of mirin, and two teaspoons of green or red yuzu (all ingredients should be available at your local Asian market, or some health food stores like Whole Foods). The consistency should be similar to heavy cream. Spread mixture evenly over the top of your mushrooms and grill for about 10 minutes.

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  • Deep fried capers – start with ¼ cup of capers that have been packed in salt. Remove them from the jar and soak in water for 30 minutes. Heat 1 ½ cups of vegetable oil in a one-quart pan until the temperature reaches 375. Drain the capers and fry in batches, until golden, 30-45 seconds per batch. Transfer to a paper towel with a slotted spoon.
  • Fried Olives & Pickles – dredge pitted green olives in egg and milk, then roll in breadcrumbs. Fry in vegetable oil until golden brown, and transfer to papertowel. Repeat with your favorite brand of sliced pickles.

 

Label all of your toppings with tags, and provide suggested pairings or combinations of toppings on cute, handmade cards. Is your kid a picky eater? Double dog dare him to try a “grown-up” slider, and soon he’ll be asking for yuzu-glazed maitake mushrooms in his lunchbox. On second thought, maybe just let him go with the American cheese and ketchup slider. He has plenty of time to expand his horizons, right?

Dessert Station: Snowballs

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It really is Christmas in July when you have snow cones that taste this good. I sampled some “N’awlins” style snow cones from Imperial Woodpecker in NYC recently, and I’m still dreaming about them! What’s the secret? Sweetened condensed milk. Here’s how to put together a dessert table that’s sure to become a summer staple:

Ingredients

  • Shaved ice
  • A variety of flavored syrups
  • Sweetened condensed milk

 

Utensils

  • Snow cone or shaved ice machine
  • Ice scoop
  • Paper cones
  • Striped straws
  • Plastic spoons
  • Glass bottles
  • Pour tops or spouts
  • Squeezable plastic bottles

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Purchase white paper cones, red and blue spoons, and red & white or blue & white striped straws and set these out next to your shaved ice. As an alternative to paper cones, you can serve your snowballs in cute red and blue Chinese takeout containers, purchasable at your local party or craft store.

Be sure someone is responsible for replenishing the shaved ice throughout the day, or if you can plug in the machine outside, your guests can make their own ice. If you use this method, you’ll need to buy a few bags of ice from your local grocery store to have on hand.

If you don’t have a machine, you can make shaved ice this way: wash a milk carton with soap and water and fill with clean water. Freeze. Peel off the milk carton on a cutting board to reveal your block of ice. Using a cheese grater, shave the ice, starting at the corners for maximum efficiency. Try not to touch the ice directly as your body heat will melt it. Scoop the shavings into a chilled bowl.

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Get a variety of syrup flavors, and pour them into glass bottles affixed with pour tops (you can get these at a restaurant supply store, or online).

vJRfCrft8nNEcYCKyfnyuC8k.jpeg:Amazon:photoTie a piece of twine and a hand written label identifying the flavor of the syrup around the neck of each bottle.

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Put out a few clearly labeled bottles of sweetened condensed milk next to the assortment of syrups. You can use clear plastic bottles like the kind that mustard or ketchup is served in, so your guests can create fun, swirly shapes on their cones. Make a large, stylized sign or use a chalkboard to display the instructions for making the snow cones:

Instructions

  • Scoop ice into cone
  • Pour your choice of syrup flavors over ice
  • Drizzle with sweetened condensed milk
  • Put a straw in the ice, grab a spoon, and dig in

 

Make another sign with suggested flavor combos, emphasizing red, white, and blue, of course! Here are some ideas:

  • Cherry-Cheesecake
  • Raspberry-Bubblegum
  • French Vanilla – Blood Orange
  • Strawberry-White Chocolate
  • Passion Fruit – Toasted Coconut
  • Blueberry-Daiquiri

 

You can find an infinite number of flavor combos and order syrups here.

There we have it! What kind of food do you plan to serve this 4th of July?

  • Lizzie

    We’re doing grilled brats (German sausages) with confetti salad (cucumber, red bell pepper, olives, orzo, feta cheese marinted in olive oil, red wine vinegar, salt and better) homemade cole slaw and some friends are bringing over desserts and drinks!

  • Daffny Laurito

    I cannot wait for Monday! We are doing pastry puff mini hotdogs for a starter and will be trying the onion dip you suggested. Also mini burgers-our first time making them so we are super excited. With sweet potatoe fires and macaroni salad for sides. Then fruit and cupcakes with cookies for dessert. Hope you have a great July 4th!

  • Robin Romanow

    Being 31 weeks pregnant this year, we’re not entertaining. Instead, we’re heading to my hometown of Milltown N.J. for a good old fashioned parade, then hot dogs and rides down at the Boro Park. Nothing tops seeing my daughter smile from ear to ear during the parade and rides! : )

    My son will be 22 yrs. old this 4th of july, and he’ll be spending most of his day with friends. Oh how time flies!

    Thank you for the recipes and tips! : )

  • Richel Newborg

    I love food stations at a party. It keeps everyone moving and prevents back up! I love sliders! They are the best at a party!

  • Teresa Arrington

    We are having a party that day and I have 3 small kids plus 3 more coming. I decided to do a treat that my mom taught me years ago and that is a layerd jello dessert. Blue raspberry jello on bottom, knox unflavored in the middle and cherry on top. Cut into cute shapes, the jello treats look really patriotic but super easy.

  • Carolyn Roberson

    Homemade BBQ, slaw, baked beans for us. Dessert is still up in the air. Tori, you are a delight!

  • kim meares

    yum………….food is my favorite pastime and most definitely an art! thank you tori for sharing some of your great ideas. i cant wait to make the clam dip.

  • Kristie Visser

    I love the ideas! The colours basically work for us aussies as well – although Australia Day isn’t until January!! I’ll have to try them out before then though!

  • Vanessa Jacobo

    Are we ever going to get your red velvet recipe?? PLEASE