Let’s Party: Fourth of July Grub

Today, we have a party, where we will watch the Addison Kaboomtown fireworks from a nearby home, doing the potluck thing. Tomorrow? McKinney’s Fourth celebrations at another friend’s house. A lot of potlucking, so I like to make dishes that travel well, but also dishes that aren’t labor intensive – I mean, it’s a holiday weekend, right?

So tonight, I’m bringing my baked beans, and this really good sour cream-based dip that’s phenomenal on potato chips (and veggies, if you must). Tomorrow, I’m bringing an old standby that came from childhood – the Jello cake.

So would you like to make these, too? Well then, let’s jump, shall we?

First, the baked beans. I concocted this recipe over time. It has flashes of inspiration from Paula Deen, a little soupçon from a recipe from Whole Foods I saw once, and it’s potentially adaptable for vegetarians, too – just leave off the bacon, and substitute vegetarian Worcestershire sauce. I also cook them in the Crock Pot, because I like to just let the flavors percolate all afternoon. Plus, it cuts out the step of boiling all this stuff together, then transferring to a casserole dish and baking. One pot is better, yes?

Barbecue “Baked” Beans

2 15 oz cans of pinto beans, drained and rinsed

1 15 oz can of ranch beans

3/4 cup ketchup

1 tablespoon sun dried tomato paste

1/4 cup beer

3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

2 tablespoons honey

2 tablespoons real maple syrup

2 tablespoons brown mustard

5 strips of cooked bacon, diced

1/4 cup diced onion

Mix the pinto beans and the ranch beans together in the Crockpot. Add the ketchup, tomato paste, beer, syrup, honey, mustard and Worcestershire sauce, folding all of the ingredients into the beans. Fold in the bacon and onion, and cover and cook on low for an hour, two, whatevs. Taste, and add salt as needed.

Now for the dip. I like this dip with potato chips because basically, it’s like eating a little mini loaded baked potato. I made this dip thinking of the best things about a loaded baked potato, by the way.

Bacon and Chive Dip

2 strips bacon, diced

1/4 cup diced chives (I like to snip mine into submission, but you can knife yours if you like)

1 1/2 cups sour cream

Throw in a container, fold in together, refrigerate. The end.

Jello Cake

This cake is perfect for summer desserts. It’s chilled after baking, which means it just turns into this wonderfully cool, refreshing treat. Topped with whipped cream and berries, it’s really a light, not-too-rich dessert.

1 box white or vanilla cake mix

1 dowel or wooden spoon

1 big box or two small boxes of your favorite flavor of Jello


whipped topping


Prepare the cake as directed on the box, baking it in a 9 x 13 baking pan. When done, take the handle end of your wooden spoon, a dowel, chopsticks and poke holes in the cake, every few 1/2 inches. Don’t poke all the way to the bottom of the pan. When done, make the Jello according to the package directions, letting it cool, but do not refrigerate. Pour the liquid over the cake evenly, then refrigerate for about 3 or 4 hours, until the Jello firms up. Frost with whipped topping, and then decorate with berries. For the Fourth, you could always create a flag or something with blueberries and raspberries or strawberries, IJS.


  1. That bean recipe looks easy AND good…I’ve been looking around for a bean recipe that works with more than just bbq (chicken, fish, etc.) I think we have a winner!


  2. I should mention that if your house doesn’t have beer drinkers in it, you can substitute the beer for 1/8 cup water and 3 tablespoons of bourbon. It gives it a different flavor, obviously, but the bourbon works really well with the maple syrup and everything, too.

    This is also even better the next day. So if you have a need for it on, say, Sunday, you could make it Saturday, and then refrigerate it overnight and warm it up again right before serving.


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