Spend Less Time Cooking and More Time Enjoying the 4th This Year

The 4th of July is one of the most celebrated holidays in America. As a nation, we commemorate our independence, our beginnings, our patriotism, and for some, our futures. We enjoy barbecues, community events and spending time without family and friends – which is ultimately most important. However, preparing for the barbecues and events takes precious time away from the moments with our loved ones.

Wouldn’t you like to have more time making memories than dinner? Here are a few time-saving tips and quick and easy recipe ideas that can be prepared ahead of time, getting you out of the kitchen and in on the fun.

Grilling is a must on the 4th, but what we put on the grill isn’t always healthy. Hot dogs and hamburgers are convenient to most and are certainly a favorite. But, chicken can be prepared in the same basic time frame if you plan ahead and is much better for you. Simply marinate the chicken the night before your party, saving your preparation and cooking time.

Low-fat dressings, such as Italian, Caesar and Dried Tomato Basil are excellent marinades for chicken. By marinating the meat overnight, the meat soaks up not only the flavor but the juices, leaving your meat moist and tasty.

Corn on the cob is another favorite that can be prepared ahead. Rub the corn with butter or margarine, sprinkle on a little Cajun seasoning, or just salt and pepper if you prefer, wrap in foil and pop it in the refrigerator. It’ll be ready for the grill when you are and can be cooked at the same time as your meat.

Do you like onions? How about a blooming grilled Vidalia? Take a large Vidalia onion, cut it four ways from the top but not through to the bottom. Gently spread the onion open so that it stays intact but resembles a budding flower. Place the onion on a square of foil large enough to completely wrap the onion, sprinkle the onion with a touch of garlic salt and drizzle with melted butter or your favorite meat marinade. Wrap it up and put it on the grill for about 20 minutes. This dish can also be placed in the fridge overnight. Whether you prepare it ahead or put it on the grill right way, it’s delicious!

For dessert, whip up some instant raspberry pudding and top it with blueberries and a dollop of whipped cream. Or, how about some blueberry Jell-O® topped with whipped cream and a strawberry? Both are not only quick and easy, tasty treats but help you show off your patriotism in a flash.