NOT YOUR MAMA’S KITCHEN: Red, white, and ‘Ooh, did you make that?’

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First Posted: 7/1/2014

You’re there for the food, the drink, the fire, the company – no matter what the reason, you will most likely be attending a Fourth of July party this weekend and will also be required to bring something along. Whether you’re a cooking master, someone who forgot the Fourth was even going on this weekend, or don’t like to put any type of food dish together at all, we’ve got you covered with dishes that will turn many a head when you walk into the party.

For the ones who waited until the last minute: We’ve all been there. It’s the day of and you need to just hurry the hell up and put some sort of dish together since you promised, oh, over a month ago, that you’d bring something but didn’t have the foresight to actually execute it.

Do you have access to strawberries, blueberries, angel food cake, and wooden skewers? Can you manage to impale things on said skewers without impaling yourself? Then you, my friend, are golden thanks to a recipe from Alternate strawberries (full or cut) with cubes of angel food cake, then throw blueberries at the bottom of the skewer to make a munchable bit of patriotism. And it only takes, like, five minutes.

For family-friendly affairs: Sometimes you just can’t avoid kiddos running about at holiday functions, so for this case, there should be suitable food for them to get their grubby little hands into.

I can’t imagine any kid who doesn’t like walking around with chocolate and ice cream smeared on his or her face and fingers after devouring a classic ice cream sandwich. These little goodies can be dressed up in a simple way thanks to an idea from Simply insert popsicle sticks into one end of a mini ice cream sandwich, then press the exposed ice cream into a plate of red, white, and blue sprinkles, completely coating all sides. Place ‘em in patriotic cupcake liners to keep the mess to a minimum.

For the actual chef: Some people (coughcoughmecough) look at holidays like this as a way to really wow friends and family with a dish that clearly took a lot of time and not only tastes, but looks, good. (Foodies like to brag. Just ask me about my Nutella blondies.) This is a more involved dish for those who appreciate the culinary arts: the Patriotic Poke Cake, courtesy of

First, start off with two 9-inch round cake pans and make a white cake mix (use boxed, or whatever recipe you may like to make white cake) for each. When they’re out of the oven, leave them in the pans to cool and set them aside.

While the cakes are baking, whip together both strawberry and blueberry syrups. For this you’ll need:

• 1 cup blueberries

• 3/4 cup water

• 2 tablespoons sugar

• 2 tablespoons berry blue gelatin

• 1 1/2 cups strawberries, hulled

• 1/2 cup water

• 2 tablespoons sugar

• 1 tablespoon strawberry gelatin

To make the blueberry syrup, combine the blueberries, water, and sugar in a medium sauce pan over medium-low heat, cover, and cook until the blueberries are softened, about 10 minutes. Pour the mixture through a fine-mesh strainer into a heatproof bowl and discard the solids. Whisk the berry blue gelatin into the liquid until dissolved and let cool for at least 15 minutes. To make the strawberry syrup, repeat the exact same process (combine ingredients, cook, and strain), then whisk in the strawberry gelatin and, again, let it cool for at least 15 minutes.

Use a wood skewer to poke 25 holes in the top of each cooled cake – though don’t poke through the bottom or all the syrup will end up clustered at the bottom of the pan. Slowly pour the blueberry syrup over one cake and the strawberry syrup over the other, then cover both with plastic wrap and refrigerate until the gelatin is set (at least three hours, but it could be up to one day).

When ready, turn both cakes out of the pans and place the blueberry cake right side up on a plate. Spread one cup of whipped cream over the cake, then place the strawberry cake on top of that, right side up. Use more whipped cream to cover the top and sides of the cake, garnish it all with strawberries and blueberries, and then watch everyone “ooh” and “ahh” at your lovely dessert instead of the fireworks.

For the drinker: Maybe you just want to say screw food altogether and lay into what many Americans consider the best way to celebrate any holiday: drinking. The fact that the Fourth falls on a Friday this year also helps this notion, so a strong cocktail should be what you’re seeking to take full advantage of the long weekend. Use this recipe to set this year’s festivities aflame.

Let the kids have their own version of Rocket Pops (lame!) and kick it up a notch with this booze-infused version of the melty, sloppy treat. To make a Rocket Pop drink, you’ll need to mix up three types of drinks, then artfully layer them in a tumbler.

Strawberry daiquiri: 1 ounce strawberry Daiquiri mix, 3/4 ounce Bacardi Dragonberry, ice – blend.

Piña colada: 1 ounce pina colada mix, 3/4 ounce Bacardi Rock Coconut, ice – blend.

Blue frozen margarita: 1 ounce margarita mix, 1 ounce Blue Curacao, ¾ ounce Camarena Tequila, ice – blend