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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Immigrant Communities Put Their Own Unique Spin On Thanksgiving Traditions, Here Are Some Of Our Favorites

Culture

Immigrant Communities Put Their Own Unique Spin On Thanksgiving Traditions, Here Are Some Of Our Favorites

Locale Magazine

Among the many holidays celebrated in the United States (and Canada!) perhaps Thanksgiving is the one most closely related to family. Each year, hundreds of thousands of families reunite even if their members live in a different state or even a different country. Thanksgiving, in its contemporary iteration, is a celebration than is also a reminder that the land that is now the United States has been fertile ground for stories of second chances and dreams fulfilled (we should not forget, of course, that the land was never ceded by the original Native-American owners and that other than the original indigenous population everyone is a guest). 

One of the ways in which folk celebrate their own cultural identity during Thanksgiving is giving the traditional turkey and fixings a personal taste derived from the culinary traditions of their own home countries, or the part of the world from where their families originally come from. 

However, taking a liking to the very American turkey is not always an easy feat for some migrant communities.

Credit: Unsplash

As a recent article in The Washington Post wittily points out: “Many first-generation immigrants to America can’t help but eyeball the bird with skepticism, no matter how much they want to adopt the customs of their new home. Turkeys — often hulking specimens, hard to cook, rather bland — are not native to many countries around the world”. You can only imagine what a Mexican abuelita who knows how to make mole the traditional way, with about a million ingredients, must think of just sticking a big bird into an oven and lazily waiting for it to cook with butter, garlic and a bit of herbs and spices. Not for her! We are sure this hypothetical abuelita is up for a bigger challenge! 

So what about adding a bit of this? Yes, the smokey chile ancho!

Credit: Spices, Inc.

Mexican-American chef Adán Medrano recently revealed his secret to The Washington Post: the humble ancho chili, which is nothing more than a dried and sometimes smoked poblano. He created a recipe for Turkey Enchilado, channeling the culinary tradition of his family’s native Coahuila, in Northern Mexico. His recipe is spectacular in its simplicity. Medrano describes it like this in his blog: “A delicious Mexican favorite, this recipe for Turkey Enchilado, or Guajolote Enchilado, will bring mouthwatering smiles to your family and amigos, amigas.  I use only one type of chile, Chile Ancho, because I like the direct flavor and also because this is the dried chile that my mom used most often during the holidays”. Here’s the absolutely delicious and simple recetita. You are welcome. 

What about pavo con mole? Nothing screams “Mexican abuelita” like this timeless classic.

Credit: Locale Magazine

Mole is a complex sauce that, among many other things, contains chocolate, chilies and broth. This recipe is adapted for those more gringo inclined palates and has a bit of a sweet and tangy feel to it. It has plenty of shortcuts (like using Dona Maria mole instead of making it from scratch, just don’t tell your tias or they will eat you alive with chismes). This sweet and savory turkey can be the centerpiece of a good Cena de Accion de Gracias, and you can complement it with all the Mexican sides, such as papas con chorizo, nopalitos and of course a container full of steaming tortillitas. Find the recipe here

And did you know some dishes from India have a piquancy similar to the one found in some Latin American dishes?

Credit: Pink Chai Living

Have you ever tried tandoori? It is a delicious mix of spices that is used in the area known as Punjab, in Northern India. It is used to season grilled meats and make them tender and juicy on the inside, so it is the perfect fit for a Thanksgiving turkey. If you have a Latino family and want to be just a bit daring, this might be the way to go. Raj Thandhi, an Indian-Canadian woman and editor of the blog Pink Chai Living came up with an amazing recipe that honors her roots while also being the perfect hero for a family dinner. Tandoori is as complex as any mole and the paste requires a series of perfectly balanced ingredients. Just look at this list, which is enough to make your head spin!

3 cups yogurt
2 tbsp chilli powder
1.5 tsp cumin
1.5 tsp coriander
1.5 tsp chaat masala
1.5 tsp garam masala
1.5 tsp black peper
1.5 tsp crushed fenugreek leaves
2 tsp black salt
5 tbsps each ginger and garlic paste
3 tbsps oil
2 tsp red food color 2
1/2 cup chopped coriander
1/2 cup chopped mint 

Ready to get down and dirty in the kitchen and impress all your guests?

The Mexican State Of Queretaro Just Made The World’s Biggest Taco De Carnitas —And Guinness Records Confirmed It

Culture

The Mexican State Of Queretaro Just Made The World’s Biggest Taco De Carnitas —And Guinness Records Confirmed It

@luisbnava / Twitter

Mexicans have been putting food inside a tortilla, folding it in half and calling it breakfast, lunch and dinner, since before the Popol Vuh came to be. Tacos are our love language, our most precious export to the world —ok maybe that’s an exaggeration… or is it? You could offer us caviar, pâté de foie gras, white truffles, oysters and we’d (rightly so) still choose a taco de carne asada. But there’s one Mexican among us all who loves tacos so much, he set out to make the world’s largest one. Stuffed with Carnitas, and weighing an exorbitant amount, Alejandro Paredes managed to produce the world’s biggest taco de carnitas. 

Queretaro is the record holder for the world’s largest taco de carnitas.

The state of Queretaro in Mexico earned the Guinness World Record for their gigantic taco de carnitas a few weeks ago. The monster-taco stretched to an entire city block, and measured 102 meters long (nearly 335 ft) and weighed 1,200 kilograms of tortillas (almost 3,000 lbs) and 1,507 kilograms of delicious carnitas (just over 3300 lbs).

Alejandro Paredes Resendiz is responsible for the carnitas-filled monstrosity. 

Credit: @luisbnava / Twitter

The organizer of the event came up with the idea in 2011, when he promised his uncle —the head of Queretaro’s gastronomical council— that he would make the world’s biggest carnitas taco. 

Apparently, the Guinness record committee declined several applications prior to Paredes’.

Alejandro Paredes said the Guinness organizing committee had already declined five previous applications for ‘the world’s biggest carnitas taco’, so he waited until he knew he could fulfill all the requirements necessary to qualify for a world record.  “We used certified workers with history in Querétaro,” said Paredes. “We complied with all the regulations of the Guinness contract. All of the carnitas were made today, everyone had the proper equipment and, most importantly, we shared the food with all who attended.”

Guinness World Records does not award prize money, but Paredes said that if they raise any money as a result of the record, it will be donated.

“If we earn even one peso, it will be donated to the DIF family services center, because Querétaro should be the best state in Latin America,” he said.

For Reséndiz, the achievement was not only a world record, but also a personal best.

“I broke my own record because the last taco I made was 75 meters long. It was registered, but not certified. I hope that all 1500 people can eat. We began at six in the morning and we won’t go home until the volunteers feed the visitors and the taco is gone,” he said.

The enormous taco fed 1500 attendees. It took more than 25 chefs and 150 gastronomy students to prepare the record-breaking feat. The huge team of cooks started preparing the food 12 hours prior to the assembly of the taco. 

Queretaro managed to take Guadalajara’s record. 

The 102 meter long taco, made in Queretaro, broke the record that had been set by Guadalajara with its 75 meter long taco a few years prior.

But why carnitas in Queretaro?

Credit: donmacizo / Instagram

In Mexico, each state has its own culinary traditions and local plates — ‘carnitas’ is not typical of Queretaro, so why did they decide to make this particular taco?

“I recognize that there are other states in the country, like Michoacán, where they make delicious carnitas, but here in Querétaro there are seven different styles,” Paredes said. Alejandro Paredes claims to have conducted a study to find our which food was most consumed in his state, and voila, he found out that the people of Queretaro love carnitas. 

Carnitas are made by cooking the different parts of the pig in giant copper or stainless steel pots. The meat is traditionally seasoned with a mineral salt called tequesquite, but there are many different regional variations.

Local tourist agencies, taqueros, and municipal authorities plan to share the news about the record-breaking event, to promote tourism in the area and to invite taco-lovers everywhere, from Mexico and the world, to visit Queretaro and try its delicious carnitas.