Culture

25 Best Menu Ideas for 4th of July That’ll Wow Any Party Guest

When it comes to throwing a fiesta for the Fourth of July, the first thing you’ll want to concern yourself with is the menu. You already know who’s coming, and you want to make sure that your loved ones have a good time. Well, the best way to ensure that is to make sure that there is PLENTY of good food — which is where this list comes in. From grilled avocados stuffed with a quinoa and black bean salad to classic Elotes to vegetarian-friendly empanadas that even meat-eaters will love, here are 25 menu items that are sure to WOW all of your July 4th party guests.

1. Grilled Avocado Halves with Cumin-Spiced Quinoa and Black Bean Salad

CREDIT: Photo: Food52

Grilling is a time-honored tradition for any summer holiday, and never is it quite as good or delicious as when you grill avocados. Yes, you heard that right! You can grill avocados, and then stuff them with pretty much anything for a truly delicious meal. Of course, I’d suggest you start with this quinoa and black bean salad… But, seriously, once you get the hang of it, anything goes!

2. Patriotic Fruit Salsa with Sweet Star Chips

CREDIT: Photo: B-Inspired Mama

Never heard of star chips? Well, they’re much easier to make than you might think! All you really need is a star-shaped cookie cutter and some whole wheat tortillas. That’s right, these sweet chips are made with tortillas and they are absolutely scrumptious. Make them with your favorite fruit salad, like the one suggested here, or the one we have coming up later in this story and YUM!

3. Sparkling Red, White & Blue Sangria

CREDIT: Photo: Gimme Some Oven

If you ask me, it’s not a holiday without some sangria. One of the best parts about this delectable drink is that it is highly customizable to the occasion. In this case, since it’s July 4th, you’ll want to include some red, white and blue into the mix. This drink, made with white wine, apples (white), blueberries (blue), and raspberries and strawberries (red) is easy AND delicious.

4. Patriotic Easy Layered Taco Dip

CREDIT: Photo: Tastes of Lizzy T

A layered taco dip is one of the easiest things you can make to bring to your next barbecue or summer fiesta. It’s no wonder: You just put things together and they taste AH-mazing. Well, for the occasion of July 4th, the best thing you can do to add a little oomph to your usual taco dip is to make this patriotic version that’s assembled, thanks to cheese and tomatoes, just like the American flag. Hey, why not?!

5. Red, White & Blue Watermelon Salad

CREDIT: Photo: Will Cook For Friends

Watermelon salad is an always-refreshing choice for summer, but it’s even better when you pair watermelon with blueberries, fresh basil and… Jicama! That’s right, those little “white” chunks of fruit are actually jicama. This fruit salad is truly a treat that you’ll enjoy over and over again.

6. Red, White & Blue Jello Candied Popcorn

CREDIT: Photo: Tips from a Typical Mom

As we recently learned, popcorn is actually from Latin America. That’s why this red, white, and blue combo is absolutely perfect as a little snack for your Fourth of July party. Whether you’re hosting one yourself or simply going to someone else’s house, this is THE dish to bring or serve. It’s sweet, so it can even double as a healthy-ish dessert for those sweet tooths you know and love.

7. Watermelon, Blueberry & Coconut Daiquiri

CREDIT: Photo: Fresh Fit N Healthy

This daiquiri, which is served up in a margarita class, might just be TOO perfect. It’s oh-so-pretty and absolutely delicious for anyone who loves a sweeter cocktail. It does require you to be able to manage making two layers, though, so be careful here. It’s easier than it seems, but it’s not as easy as just pressing “start” on a blender. But, hey, the coconut rum in here will be well worth it. 

8. Red, White & Blue Fruit Skewers

CREDIT: Photo: Eat Yourself Skinny

Fruit skewers are easy to make and especially lovely because the kiddies at your party might seriously appreciate them. They’re pretty and fun, and these Fourth of July-inspired skewers are particularly delicious. And did I mention they’re pretty? The use of pineapple gives these a little tropical twist, but another way to spice these up is to serve them with a chocolate dip.

9. Spicy Black Bean Burger

CREDIT: Photo: Spoon Fork Bacon

This one’s for all of the burger lovers, vegetarians, and black bean fans out there. Isn’t everyone? You’ll want to make the patties a day or two before, but you might want to make extras because there is no WAY that these won’t be in high demand. Definitely make sure that you create a good continents bar, too, and I always try to include jalapeños, avocado, tomatoes, cheese, and anything else you’d like. 

10. Grilled Salmon Taco Salad

CREDIT: Photo: The Year In Food

Grilled salmon is a great dish for anyone who loves dish or is trying to watch their diet a little bit. But it’s also just a tasty something you can make that’s more than just your typical hot dogs and steak. Combining your salmon with a taco salad is basically the best of both worlds, too, so don’t be afraid to dress this up. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if you make this throughout the summer. 

11. Mexican Corn on the Cob

CREDIT: Photo: Damn Delicious

Mexican corn on the cob, a.k.a. Elotes, is pretty much everyone’s favorite. Corn is in season all summer long, which is why it is a standard at everyone’s July 4th menu. But you can take the corn to another level when you make it with this recipe, which includes everything we love: butter, chili powder, and Cotija cheese. Who can resist?

12. Coconut-Lime Fried Shrimp with Fiery Mango-Peach Jalapeño Sauce

CREDIT: Photo: Half Baked Harvest

Coconut and lime are flavors that are often used together in cooking because they’re basically BFFs. When you put them on top of shrimp, though, then it’s a Three’s Company situation. This shrimp recipe is definitely a winner but it’s made even more perfect by the salsa on the side. The mango and peach, combined with the jalapeño, give a spicy-sweet kick to an already delicious dish.

13. Big Batch Matador

CREDIT: Photo: Food52

If you’ve never made a big batch cocktail, then you are in for a TREAT. Making something large allows you to relax for the rest of the day, not having to deal with making and remaking the same thing over and over again. Instead, you can put all the ingredients together (in this case, tequila, pineapple juice, and lime juice) and just get ready to sip and enjoy. Your friends will appreciate it, too.

14. Grilled Banana Boats

CREDIT: Photo: Betty Crocker

Bananas are by far my favorite fruit (sorry to anyone who doesn’t agree, but you’re WRONG), so finding a dessert that takes bananas to the next level is pretty much my dream. These banana boats are grilled and basically have s’mores ingredients, which is why they are absolutely PERFECT for Fourth of July.

15. Skillet-Grilled Fish Tacos with Cilantro-Lime Crema

CREDIT: Photo: Food52

Fish tacos are a classic dish to do during the summer. It’s practically mandatory, especially for the Fourth of July, amirite? You can have a lot of different types of fish tacos, of course, using many different ingredients. But what I love about this particular recipe is that they’re easy, can be made inside or outdoors, and include a crema that’s pretty much to die for.

16. Corn and Black Bean Weeknight Nachos

CREDIT: Photo: Smitten Kitchen

What exactly are “weeknight nachos”? Well, basically, they’re just nachos that are so easy that you can make them any time of the week — including this July 4th, which is on a Wednesday. But who cares if our nation’s birthday is on a weekday instead of a weekend when these delicious nachos are around? Make them for your guests and everyone will be happily munching ALL. DAY. LONG.

17. Mexican Potato Salad

CREDIT: Photo: The Harvest Kitchen

Potato salad is one of those dishes that many, many people love. I love it too, but I specifically love this version because it brings in some of my favorite flavors and styles of cooking. Sure, potatoes on their own can be delicious, but why not also add some of the things you love about Mexican food into a potato salad as well? That way, you can have the best of both worlds.

18. Slow Cooker Beer Carnitas Tacos

CREDIT: Photo: How Sweet Eats

Have you ever made things in a slow cooker? It can be intimidating at first, but it is probably my absolutely favorite tool in the kitchen. These slow cooker carnitas tacos are really easy to make, and one of those dishes that you can cook overnight and set up the next day during your Fourth of July fiesta. That way, you’ll have more time to actually socialize and enjoy yourself, instead of always playing the host.

19. Portobello Steaks with Avocado Chimichurri

CREDIT: Photo: Minimalist Baker

You already probably know how to grill steak, which is why we’re putting something a little bit more inventive on your menu: Grilled portobello steaks. These are basically portobello mushroom caps that are seasoned and grilled, then topped with an avocado chimichurri. Now, regular old chimichurri is absolutely fabulous but adding some extra avocado is just, well, a special treat. 

20. Red, White & Blue Sangria

CREDIT: Photo: Montalvo Country

If you’re looking for a more classic sangria recipe than the one earlier, then look no further. Using peaches to represent white, strawberries and raspberries to represent red, and blueberries to represent blue, all you need now is some white wine. And that little bit of sparkling water? It’s just the cherry on top!

21. Avocado Crab Rolls

CREDIT: Photo: Food52

Crab rolls are a HUGE part of summer if you live in the Northeast, but you can translate them into Southwest flavors with this recipe. Thanks to avocado, this recipe is transformed and ready to be eaten by your friends and family. They’re delicious and will definitely up the ante in any celebration.

22. Cuban Mojo Chicken with a Citrus-Avocado Salsa

CREDIT: Photo: Chelsea’s Messy Apron

Being Cuban, I will pretty much try to inject the flavors I grew up with into everything. This Cuban mojo chicken is basically the culmination of all that work, and it’s absolutely one of my favorite dishes to serve during the summer months because it adds a certain lightness to any dish. Making it to pair with a citrus avocado salsa, well… That’s truly delicious and unique.

23. Quesadilla Burger

CREDIT: Photo: Will Cook for Smiles

What’s better than a burger? A quesadilla burger, of course! Whenever there is a heaping load of cheese involved, you can basically count me in. Cheese is delicious, which is why quesadillas have become so very popular. When you serve these quesadilla burgers at your next get-together, everyone will pretty much go nuts over these. Can I have seconds?

24. Potato and Goat Cheese Empanadas with Avocado Chimichurri

CREDIT: Photo: Honest Cooking

Empanadas are another dish that you can actually make ahead and serve on the big day of your Fourth of July party. That’s one of the things you’ll want to do, of course, so that you have more time to enjoy yourself during the actual fiesta. It’s time to step up your cooking game and make these vegetarian-friendly empanadas that even your meat-eating friends will love. Trust me on that!

25. The Pink Paloma Cocktail

CREDIT: Photo: The Kitchn

Another day, another cocktail. Although you have a few options on this menu already, the Paloma is a Mexican classic that is surely not to be missed. It’s delicious, refreshing, and one of those drinks that pretty much everyone can fall in love with. Make sure you have extras, too, because people will LOVE these.


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It Could Be Time To Say Goodbye To Your Salsa Forever As Tomatoes And Chilies Are In Danger Of Going Extinct

Culture

It Could Be Time To Say Goodbye To Your Salsa Forever As Tomatoes And Chilies Are In Danger Of Going Extinct

Pixabay

Two of Latin America’s most important ingredients – staples of cuisines across the region – are in danger of possible extinction thanks to climate change. Tomatoes and chilies both make up a huge part of traditional recipes from Mexico to Brazil and Argentina to Cuba – and they’re close to disappearing from grocery stores everywhere.

We know that tomato and chili are two fundamental ingredients in Mexican cuisine. Due to the threats suffered by its main pollinator, the bumblebee, these basic ingredients could disappear forever.

Climate change is wreaking havoc on the planet. But one of the most at-risk species is the humble bumble bee. These often feared insects are a vital source of pollination for thousands of plant and flower species around the world – if they disappear so too do the species of plants that depend on them.

Pollinators are species of great importance for a healthy environment. They are responsible for the the diversity and health of various biomes. Across Latin America, the bumble bee is largely responsible for the pollination of modern agriculture and this could have a major impact on the production of tomatoes and chilis.

Unfortunately, bumblebees are currently threatened, resulting in the possible extinction of different vegetables, including tomatoes and chili.

But why does the tiny bumble bee matter at all?

The bumble bee belongs to the insect family Apidae, which includes hundeds of different species of bumblebees. In fact, the bumble bee can be found on every continent except Antarctica and plays an outsized role in agriculture. The insects are often larger than honey bees, come in black and white varieties and often feature white, yellow, or orange stripes. This genus belongs to the Apidae family that includes different species commonly known as bumblebees. They’re almost entirely covered by very silky hairs. An adult bumblebee reaches 20 millimeters or more and feeds primarily on nectar from flowering plants. A curious fact is that females have the ability to sting, while males do not.

Bumblebees are epic pollinators of the tomato and chili plantS. Together with different species, the bumblebee helps produce many staple foods that are part of healthy diets around the world. If these become extinct the eating habits of all Latinos would suffer drastic changes as several vegetables would disappear.

So why are bumblebees in danger?

The main threat of these insects is the pesticides used in modern agriculture. That is why it is necessary to avoid consuming food produced in this way. We can all help the bumblebee planting plants, protecting native species and especially not damaging their natural environment.

But climate change is also wreaking havoc on the breeding patters of bumblebees – leading to colony collapse. With fewer colonies there is less breeding and therefore fewer bees around the world to pollinate our global crops.

Can you imagine a world without tomatoes or chilies?

Salsa. Moles. Pico de gallo. Ketchup. Chiles rellenos. Picadillo. All of these iconic Latin American dishes would be in danger of going extinct along with the bumblebee – because what’s a mole without the rich, complex flavors of dried chilies?

Several groups are already working hard to help fund programs that would work to conserve the dwindling bumblebee populations. While others are working out solutions that could perhaps allow tomatoes and chilies to self-pollinate – much as other plants already do.

We Found The Best Latino Eats At Trader Joe’s So You Wouldn’t Have To

Culture

We Found The Best Latino Eats At Trader Joe’s So You Wouldn’t Have To

Trader Joe's

Trader Joe’s may not be the first name that comes to mind when you’re thinking of authentic Latin food. But surprisingly enough, this cult-favorite specialty store has a variety of foods from across Latinidad that (while they may not be as good as abuela’s) hit the spot when you’re in a pinch. 

From Frozen quesadillas to packaged plantain chips, Trader Joe’s has a ton of foods from Latin America to satisfy your wallet and your tastebuds. And who knows? Maybe even your abuela will approve. Take a look at 10 of the best Trader Joe’s Latin food options below! 

1. Southwest Chicken Quesadillas

via Trader Joe’s website

According to Reddit user u/gratefulem220, these treats fly woefully under the radar. “Southwest quesadillas are so good. They’re like southwest egg rolls from any chain restaurant but in quesadilla form”

2. Chili Spiced Dried Mango

via Trader Joe’s website

You may have grown out of your Vero Mango days, but Trader Joe’s offers a sweet and healthy alternative to the famous Mexican candy. According to Trader Joe’s, this dried fruit is lovingly coated in a “blend of paprika, cayenne, sugar, & salt”. What’s not to love?

3. Chicken Enchiladas Verde

via Trader Joe’s website

According to Trader Joe’s, their Chicken Enchiladas are filled with “chicken breast, Monterey jack cheese, and a special enchiladas verdes sauce made from crushed tomatillo, onion, green chili peppers, and diced poblanos.”  We know it’s hard to beat homemade, but Trader Joes usually comes through with yummy late night snacks.

4. Mini Chicken Tacos

via Trader Joe’s website

Sure, these aren’t your madre’s tacos, but these Mini Chicken Tacos haven’t become a fan-favorite for nothing. According to Trader Joe’s, these tacos are made with crispy yellow corn tortillas, and then “are filled with chunks of chicken leg and breast meat that’s been simmered in a tangy, green chile tomatillo sauce kicked up with a bit of jalapeño pepper”. Sounds delicious.

5. Cuban-Style Citrus Garlic Bowl

via Trader Joe’s website

Finally, a snack fit for the Cubanos out there. While Trader Joe’s may be famous for it’s iterations of Mexican food (it was founded in Southern California, after all), once in a while, they throw the rest of Latinidad a bone. This time, they tried their hand at a Cuban Style Citrus Garlic Bowl. According to TJ’s, the bowl is made of marinated chicken thighs, yellow rice, diced bell peppers and onions, black beans, plantains, and cilantro. And to make matters even better, it’s topped of with mojo criollo sauce.

6. Black Bean & Cheese Taquitos

via Trader Joe’s website

Taquitos are arguably the perfect snack food. If it’s gameday finger food or mouth-watering appetizers, taquitos always hit the spot. These ones are made with “seasoned black beans & Monterey Jack cheese”. You can’t go wrong with this tasty vegetarian snack option. 

7. Chicken Chilaquiles Rojo

via Trader Joe’s website

Chilaquiles are a breakfast staple in Mexico, and TJ’s has offered up it’s own version on this savory treat. If you really want to take this frozen food to the next level, don’t be afraid to experiment in the kitchen a bit. “We made this this weekend, topped with sour cream, avocado, a sunny side up egg and a dash of hot sauce,” said Reddit user u/Pepperpeople444.

8. Roasted Plantain Chips

via Trader Joe’s website

In many parts of Latinidad, plantains are as common to Latinos as apples are to North Americans. Those who miss their sweet banana snacks are in for a treat when they visit Trader Joe’s. “They’re just crispy, crunchy, starchy goodness!” says Reddit user u/Hazy_Cat. “There’s just a teeny-tiny hint of sweetness that makes them ultra addictive. The TJ ones are my favorite”.

9. Giant Peruvian Inca Corn

via Trader Joe’s website

If you’re in the mood for something salty and crunchy but know that potato chips won’t hit the spot, opt instead for a bag of Giant Peruvian Inca Corn. “For years of my life, my favorite go to snack was TJ’s giant Peruvian Inca Corn. It’s crunchy salty goodness got me through many nights of school and games. Satisfied me through many hungry afternoons,” says Reddit user u/Doombuggie41. “Corn nuts don’t do the same thing”.

10. Trader Joe’s Peruvian Style Chimichurri Rice

via Trader Joe’s website

According to Reddit user u/crazypterodactyl, there’s a million ways to use this delicious frozen rice: “We make ours into soup (they had it as a sample one time). One bag chimichurri rice, one can black beans, one carton black bean soup. I add garlic and lime juice, but that’s not necessary. Serve plain, or with cheese, sour cream, and/or cilantro. So good and so easy!”