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4th of July Party Food

{Hey Everybody! We’ve got a guest blogger here on Everyday Life at Leisure for today! Welcome Celia Harkey, our Leisure Arts Food Editor! She’s all excited about 4th of July party food, and she’s got a free Peppermint Crunch Candy recipe for you from our Celebrating Party Foods cookbook!} 
I enjoy patriotic holidays and I’m so looking forward to next week—Independence Day or, as most of us call it, the 4th of July! I love getting out all my red, white, and blue decorations, including large and small American flags, plus numerous other patriotic items to set the 4th of July party theme.

In addition to the patriotic sparkle, summer is a fun time to have a delicious variety of hot and cold party food to share with friends, family, and neighbors. Leisure Arts’ Celebrating cookbook series includes Celebrating Party Foods—an enjoyable assortment of foods with fun themes as well as hostess tips and decorating ideas.

One of my favorites is a Christmas Open House celebration that you could use for 4th of July. WHHHHAAAAT??? I can just hear you now, “Christmas party food for 4th of July?” The best thing about the Celebrating Party Foods cookbook is its entertaining collection of 13 menus, each with a tasty selection of recipes for party food and Success with Parties tips. So what am I going to do to change Christmas into patriotic! It’s much easier than you might think!

The Holiday Open House chapter, with 21 recipes, includes some of the following party food: Hot and Sweet Tidbits, Festive Cheese Ball, charcoal-grilled Marinated Pork Tenderloin Sandwiches with Jezebel Sauce, Party Meatballs, Peppermint Crunch Candy, Cheesecake Bites, Chocolate-Coconut Cream Fudge, Merry Cherry Cocktails, and ice-cold Sparkling Fruit Tea. So to transform Christmas into 4th of July, just think patriotic red, white, and blue!

A sweet, cinnamon- and chili-flavored appetizer is Hot and Sweet Tidbits. This is a perfect crunchy snack to nibble in the cool shade with a glass of ice-cold Sparkling Fruit Tea. The tidbits are made with cereal, nuts, popcorn, and seasonings and then red and green candy-coated chocolate pieces are added before serving. To change from one season to another, just substitute summertime red, white, and blue candy-coated chocolate pieces—it’s that easy.


The Festive Cheese Ball is a tasty blend of Parmesan and cream cheeses with bits of celery and carrots for a touch of crunch. This flavorful spread is shaped into a ball and decorated with green, red, and yellow sweet pepper cutouts to resemble a Christmas ornament. From ornament to patriotic only requires a few changes! Press the cheese mixture into a star-shaped container lined with plastic wrap. After chilling, turn the cheese mold out onto a blue serving plate and decorate with finely chopped sweet red pepper and yellow pepper stars cut out with a small star-shaped aspic or cookie cutter.



A quick and easy treat to make is the Peppermint Crunch Candy (see recipe below). These sweets are shown in the book in red, white, and green candy cups on a Christmas-theme plate. 




Changing them to fit into your 4th of July party takes no extra time at all! Make the candies in patriotic-themed paper candy cups.


PEPPERMINT CRUNCH CANDY
INGREDIENTS:

24 ounces vanilla candy coating
26 vanilla sandwich cookies, coarsely chopped
Crushed peppermint candy
PREPARATION:
1.
Place about 5-1/2 dozen paper candy cups on baking sheets; set aside.
2. Melt candy coating in top of a double boiler over hot, not simmering, water. Fold cookie pieces into melted candy coating.
3. Drop rounded teaspoonfuls of mixture into candy cups. Immediately sprinkle crushed peppermint candy over tops before candy coating hardens.
4. Chill about 15 minutes or until candy is firm.
5. Store in a cool place.
Yield: about 5-1/2 dozen candies

Wasn’t it easy to make the Peppermint Crunch Candy? Then you should know that hosting parties for lots of different occasions will be a breeze for even the novice cook with this collection of 13 themed menus and 101 party food recipes. Celebrating Party Foods offers entertainment for all age groups, parties include a sweet baby shower, elegant chocolate party, holiday open house [that’s our 4th of July re-do!], wine and cheese party, bridal shower, girls’ night pasta party, casual meal for sports fans, teen fiesta, child’s birthday party, Halloween party, kids’ Christmas party, New Year’s brunch, and a book club luncheon. Some plans call for a variety of snacks and sweets, while others feature a complete dinner. Each provides a starter menu with kitchen-tested recipes plus ideas to enhance the fun. General cooking tips and advice for Success with Parties are included. Easy? And bonus—You can order the downloadable e-version of Celebrating Party Foods right now and be planning for your 4th of July party tomorrow!
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