Colorful recipes for the 4th of July

Left, blueberry pie filling creates the third layer on this delightful blueberry dessert, and right, A twist on gooey butter cake, this version uses a strawberry cake mix.

Wave an American flag, watch some fireworks, play some backyard games, and host a picnic this holiday. Find time to reflect on freedom and get caught up in the spirit of American independence, a joyous occasion to celebrate our many liberties and all of the blessings that life has to offer us. For a healthy, fun treat, skewer some fresh raspberries, mini marshmallows, and blueberries onto 6-inch wooden skewers, or use cubes of angel food cake, strawberries, and blueberries instead. Make some “frosted” grapes by washing some seedless grapes, leaving them slightly damp, then rolling the grapes in bowls of different red and blue varieties of Jell-O, like cherry and blue raspberry. Place the frosted grapes on a cookie sheet and pop them in the freezer for an hour to set. Patriotic colors of red, white, and blue are represented in these holiday recipes.

Creamy Strawberry Butter Cake

• 1 (15.25 oz.) moist strawberry cake mix

• ½ cup butter, melted

• 4 large eggs

• 1 (8 oz.) package cream cheese, softened

• 2 cups powdered sugar

• ¾ cup fresh strawberries, diced

• Powdered sugar for dusting

In a large bowl, combine the cake mix, butter, and 1 egg. Pat the mixture evenly in the bottom of a greased 9x13 pan. In a bowl, beat the cream cheese and the remaining 3 eggs with a hand mixer, on medium speed, until smooth. Gradually add the 2 cups powdered sugar and combine. Pour the mixture evenly over the crust. Bake at 350 degrees for about 40 minutes or until set. Remove from oven and sprinkle diced strawberries and powdered sugar over the top. Allow to cool completely before cutting into bars.

Patriotic Punch

Make a layered drink for the kids. Use a full-calorie (denser) drink for the bottom layer, such as a soda. Then, layer on diet or low-calorie drinks on top. Make sure you pour the drinks directly onto the ice cubes and not on top of another liquid.

Bottom layer: Fill the bottom of the glass with crushed ice and pour in Mountain Dew Frost Bite soda to cover the ice.

Next Layer: Use a drink that contains less sugar. For example, use diet cranberry juice by slowing pouring the liquid onto another layer of ice cubes.

Fruit Salad with Citrus Dressing

• 1 pint blueberries

• 1 pint strawberries

• 1 cup cubed pineapple

• 1 bunch red seedless grapes

• ¼ cup honey

• 2 limes

Rinse the fruits and pat to dry. Hull the strawberries and cut into quarters. Remove stems from the grapes. Place all fruit in a bowl. In a small bowl, whisk together the honey and 2 or 3 tablespoons of fresh lime juice. Pour over the fruit, cover, and refrigerate. Toss gently before serving.

Blueberry Pie Dessert

• 1 cup butter (2 sticks), softened

• 2 cups all-purpose flour

• 1 cup finely chopped pecans

• Pinch of salt

• 1 (8 oz.) package cream cheese, softened

• 3 cups powdered sugar

• 1 (16 oz.) container Cool Whip

• 1 (21 oz.) can blueberry pie filling

Combine the flour, pecans, salt, and butter in a bowl. Press into the bottom of a lightly greased 9x13 baking pan. Bake for 20-25 minutes at 350 degrees. Cool completely. Cream together the powdered sugar and cream cheese until smooth, about 3-4 minutes. Fold in the Cool Whip; spread the mixture over the cooled crust. Spoon the blueberry pie filling evenly over the top. Chill.

Individual Raspberry Cheesecakes

• 8 (8 oz.) glass canning or jelly jars

• 12 oz. cream cheese, softened

• ¼ cup sugar

• 1 cup heavy cream

• ½ tsp. pure vanilla extract

• 1 TBSP. fresh lemon juice

• 7-8 full sheet graham crackers, crushed (to equal one cup graham cracker crumbs)

• 1 ½ TBSP. butter, melted

• 1 ½ cups fresh raspberries

• ½ cup red raspberry jam

• ½ cup whipped topping

In a medium bowl, beat the cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Add the heavy cream and beat on high for 2-3 minutes, until the mixture is thickened. Beat in the lemon juice and vanilla extract. Stir together the graham cracker crumbs and melted butter and spoon into the bottom of the jars. Top the crumbs with some of the cheesecake batter, then half of the raspberries and the jam. Alternate layers with the remaining half of the raspberries and jam and cheesecake batter on top. Add a bit of whipped topping on the top. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Garnish with fresh raspberries.

— Amy Fischer lives in Fort Payne, Alabama, and is a Southern food enthusiast who loves to spend time in the kitchen creating tasty recipes. You can contact her at facebook.com/MySouthernTable.

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