The Fourth of July Getting You Hungry?

by Intern Tessa

With Fourth of July celebrations coming up tomorrow, we know you’re excited and hungry. And on that note, we are providing you with some food ideas for your barbecues and other forms of celebration. We picked up these delicious, simple recipes for veggies, ribs, sauce and dessert from different websites, so feel free to head over to their pages for print outs. If you’re only looking to browse, check out their directions we’ve included below. Eat like an American!


Grilled vegetables are always tasty, especially in the summer.  The Food Network has a simple recipe for flavorful zucchini, mushrooms, asparagus, and more.




3 red bell peppers, seeded and halved

3 yellow squash (about 1 pound total), sliced lengthwise into 1/2-inch-thick rectangles

3 zucchini (about 12 ounces total), sliced lengthwise into 1/2-inch-thick rectangles

3 Japanese eggplant (12 ounces total), sliced lengthwise into 1/2-inch-thick rectangles

1 bunch (1-pound) asparagus, trimmed

12 green onions, roots cut off

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 teaspoon chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves

1 teaspoon chopped fresh basil leaves

1/2 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary leaves


Place a grill pan over medium-high heat or prepare the barbecue (medium-high heat). Brush the vegetables with 1/4 cup of the oil to coat lightly. Sprinkle the vegetables with salt and pepper. Working in batches, grill the vegetables until tender and lightly charred all over, about 8 to 10 minutes for the bell peppers; 7 minutes for the yellow squash, zucchini, eggplant, and mushrooms; 4 minutes for the asparagus and green onions. Arrange the vegetables on a platter. The key to getting those great grill marks is to not shift the vegetables too frequently once they’ve been placed on the hot grill.

Meanwhile, whisk the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil, balsamic vinegar, garlic, parsley, basil, and rosemary in a small bowl to blend. Add salt and pepper to taste. Drizzle the herb mixture over the vegetables. Serve the vegetables, warm or at room temperature.

While you’re on the grill, you may want to personalize the process a little bit more with your own barbecue sauce. has a recipe for you.


Ingredients (for about 2 cups finished sauce):

2 cups tomato ketchup

1/2 cup frozen orange juice concentrate

1/2 cup Frank’s Red Hot (could be optional: more on this in Step 2)

1/2 cup bourbon whiskey (anything decent will do, it need not be expensive)

1/4 cup honey (or molasses, more on that in Step 2)

2 Tbsp (equals 1/8 cup) soy sauce

Salt and pepper to taste

Tools and equipment:

Sauce pot (I have a saucier-like device from my Wolfgang Puck set of stainless steel pots)

Silicone spatula (my favorite sauce-making tool)

Splatter guard (indispensable for sauce making)



Who likes ribs? I know I do. Instructables  also reports a very detailed, special recipe for this.



The rub gives the ribs their initial flavor. The first time you try this recipe, stick pretty close to the original. Then you can try improvising and let me know what you do differently so I can try it, too.

The Rub:

1 tsp. salt

1 tsp. garlic powder

1 tsp. onion powder

½ tsp. fresh ground black pepper

½ tsp. sweet basil

1 tsp. paprika

½ tsp. cumin

½ tsp. chipotle chili powder

½ tsp. cayenne pepper

Large pinch nutmeg

Place two racks (4 to 6 pounds) of baby back pork ribs on a large baking sheet covered with plastic wrap. Sprinkle the entire mixture, coating both sides of the ribs.

Wrap tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour before grilling.

A mop in a barbecue recipe is a mixture to help keep the ribs from drying out during grilling and to add additional flavor. Because this recipe combines oils and water based flavorings, blending them helps keep them mixed long enough to get through the grilling process. I use a stick blender and it emulsifies the mixture nicely.

The Mop:

1 tbsp. olive oil

2 tbsp. canola oil

2 tbsp. water

¼ tsp. fresh ground black pepper

1 tsp. garlic powder

1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce

1 tbsp. brown sugar

Blend all ingredients. Keep this by the barbecue and brush on ribs throughout the cooking to keep the meat from drying as it cooks.

This is where the ribs will get their final flavor. Many people like vinegar or mustard based sauces but I grew up in the West where barbecue sauce had ketchup and molasses for a base.

Barbecue sauces should have a blend of sweetness, tanginess, savoriness and spiciness. This has to be a careful balance because we don’t want one flavor to overwhelm everything else. This recipe is the end result of nearly 20 years of experimentation.

The Sauce:

¾ cup tomato ketchup (or catsup or whatever you call it)

½ cup molasses

1 tsp. curry powder

1/8 tsp. fresh ground black pepper

¼ tsp. sweet basil

1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce

1 clove garlic, finely minced

½ medium onion, finely chopped

Mix all the ingredients in a non-metal container. I usually just mix it in the measuring cup after I put in the ketchup and molasses. There should be enough for basting the ribs twice with some left over for dipping sauce.

Now it’s time to bring it all together.

Make sure your grilling surface is as clean as possible. Before starting, give it a light coating of canola oil. The Kitchen Science section below explains why.

I don’t grill with gas. If you do, that’s fine and you can skip down a bit. But if I wanted to cook with gas, I’d do this on the stove indoors.

My barbecue is equipped with a thermometer that lets me know when it’s the right temperature. If your grill gets too hot, close the vents slightly to limit the amount of oxygen that can get to the charcoal. If it gets too cool, open the vents wide. This is one of two ways you can regulate the temperature inside your barbecue.

Start with the ribs concave side down. The coals should be as close to the grill as possible. In my grill, I raise the charcoal platform to the top stop. With some barbecues, you’ll lower the grill.

Close the barbecue and allow the ribs to cook undisturbed for 10 minutes. After that time, flip the ribs, close the grill and allow to cook undisturbed for another 10 minutes. Yes, there’s more Kitchen Science involved here.

Now lower the coals (or raise the grill) to allow the ribs to slow cook. Baste both sides of the ribs with the mop. Make sure all surfaces are covered.

Turn the ribs every 15 minutes, basting both sides each time. Continue until the internal temperature is 165 to 170 degrees. When measuring the temperature, make sure the thermometer isn’t touching bone. It’s tricky but it can be done.

Once this temperature has been reached, baste both sides of the ribs with sauce. Close the grill and allow to cook for 5 minutes. Baste and flip the ribs one last time and allow to cook for 5 more minutes.

Remove the ribs from the grill and allow to cool for 5 minutes before cutting.

Preparing the grill: canola oil has a higher smoke point than most other cooking oils. It will keep the ribs from sticking to the grill and make cleanup easier.

The first 20 minutes: this process sears the outer surface of the ribs to help seal in moisture.

Resting the ribs: allowing any meat to sit for five minutes before cutting it will allow the fibers in the meat to reabsorb moisture. If you cut the meat before that resting time, those juices will wind up on your plate instead of in the meat. The next time you get dry pot roast or turkey, look on the carving platter and you might see what I mean (other things can dry out the meat, too).

Sauce #1: the acids in the vinegar and tomatoes in ketchup act as natural meat tenderizers.

Sauce #2: when preparing fresh garlic, cut the clove in half before chopping it. If there is a green shoot starting to emerge, pull it out. This will keep the garlic from being bitter.

Sauce #3: unless your food processor has a magic setting that mine doesn’t, I don’t recommend using one to chop onions. Every time I’ve tried this, I wind up with pulpy onion juice. If you have a method that works, please share it in the comments.

Overall #1: I can’t overstate the importance of cleanliness, especially when dealing with raw meat. I mixed all my ingredients and put the spices away before I even opened the packaging for the ribs. This can help minimize the risk of cross contamination. While the ribs were cooking, I thoroughly cleaned the baking sheet so I could use it to move the ribs from the grill to the kitchen.

Overall #2: don’t even think of trying this recipe if you don’t have an accurate and reliable meat thermometer. Undercooked meat can cause you all kinds of problems. Besides, if you cook the ribs to the recommended temperature, they won’t be overcooked and dry.


For dessert, eat the flag! This delicious Red, White and Blue Strawberry Shortcake is brought to us by It’s pretty easy if you’ve ever made a cake before, and even if you haven’t, it’s still pretty easy. Then you get to be artsy and apply berries to the top. Yum!



                  1 (18.25 ounce) package yellow cake mix

                  1 (8 ounce) container frozen whipped topping, thawed

                  1 pint blueberries, rinsed and drained

                  2 pints fresh strawberries, rinsed and sliced


Prepare cake according to package directions and bake in a 9×13 inch pan. Cool completely.

Frost cake with whipped topping. Place blueberries in a square in the corner, and arrange sliced strawberries as stripes to make an American flag. Chill until serving.

There you go! A three course meal fit for a patriot.


(Images courtesy of their respective websites)

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