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July 4th Appetizers

For the past few years we have been hosting a July 4th party. This year, we have about 15 adults and about 15 kids (ages 2-7). Party is called for 3:00, so I will put this food out, and then there is dinner around 5:30. I've got the menu mostly set, but I'm just questioning my list of appetizers:

-- Crudite with Barefoot Contessa's pan-fried onion dip (made it last year - a big hit)
-- GHG's Black Bean dip with tortilla chips (new this year and excited to try it)
-- Mini-hotdogs (my friends all love these, so do the kids)
-- Tomato Pesto Bites (never made them but thought they sounded good) http://www.pipandebby.com/pip-ebby/20...
-- Sun-dried tomato hummus, artichoke olive spread, tapenade...served in a 3 part dish so they look like red, white and blue(ish) when in the dish. Served with crostini or crackers.

I like the idea of everything on the list, but is it too heavy on the dips/spreads? I can't decide...any thoughts? Thanks.

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  1. >>>-- Mini-hotdogs (my friends all love these, so do the kids)<<<

    Are these pigs-in-a-blanket? I may use these. What kind of mini hotdogs do you use?

    I like your selections! Maybe whip up a bit of guacamole to go with the black bean dip and tortilla chips.

    5 Replies
    1. re: Gail

      Yes, pigs in a blanket. Nothing fancy...Hebrew National cocktail franks wrapped in a piece of Pillsbury crescent dough. In the oven for about 15 minutes. They are gone in a matter of minutes!

      I was contemplating a mango salsa to go with the black bean dip, but I wasn't sure if I felt like cutting up the mangoes. Maybe I will do guacamole instead.

      1. re: valerie

        Thanks Valerie. Can't get much easer than that. I'm always in charge of apps for T-day. So I will do those...a crowd pleaser!
        The mango salsa would be nice. I have an upscale local market that makes it. Are you close to any place like that? Sounds as if you have your hands full with other things.

        1. re: Gail

          It's actually very easy to make, so I'm still considering it. I could probably find it at a market, but always like my homemade version better!

        2. re: valerie

          Just an idea: For easy-to-cut mangoes, I'm totally addicted to using the frozen mango chunks sold by Trader Joe's and Whole Foods, if you're near one of those. Here in California, TJ's has lately started selling frozen Indian mangoes (as "Sweet Mango Halves"), which are so heavenly.

          1. re: abijah

            Ooo, abijah, I didn't know TJ's was selling these, I will have to look for those now, thanks so much!

      2. Valerie, can you give us an idea what's on your dinner menu? It would help decide what we could add here.

        2 Replies
        1. re: Breadcrumbs


          -- Ribs (have made these the past 2 years and now people expect them!)

          -- Super Slaw -- have not made this but thought it sounds good

          -- Potato Salad

          -- Corn on the cob -- the kids all like it

          1. re: valerie

            Valerie your menu sounds wonderful, wish I could make it!! My first thought, when looking at your appetizer menu was that maybe it could use something that folks could just pick up and eat. As you say, there is a dip focus. A meat, poultry or seafood first came to mind which is why I thought it may help to see your menu since you wouldn’t want to duplicate something.

            So, w that said, here are some ideas:

            - chicken or beef or shrimp satay w peanut dipping sauce. I’ve been making this Epi recipe for years and it’s always a huge hit - http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo...

            - meatballs and a dipping sauce, these Spicy Meatballs from BBC Food are yummy http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/34...

            - Beef Sate with Spicy Szechuan Sauce, a Wolfgang Puck recipe that’s always a huge hit w guests of all ages. http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/wo...

            - Red Pepper Rouille and Shrimp Toasts – an awesome Bon Appetit recipe http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo...

            - Hoisin Chicken Wings – everyone loves these delicious wings http://www.canadianliving.com/food/ho...

            Let us know what you end up making valerie and have a wonderful celebration!

        2. Grilled artichokes are always a hit. And I also like to grill figs wrapped in prosciutto stuffed with goat cheese....and brushed with a little balsamic glaze.

          1 Reply
          1. re: perk

            perk - how do you make your balsamic glaze?

          2. My go-to handheld party appetizer, especially if there's a grill around, are homemade jalepeno poppers -- usually stuffed with garlicky cream cheese and wrapped with bacon, but there are lots of variations online. It can a while to stuff all the peppers, but they're oh so good.

            1. I just saw a recipe for Summer squash that sounds divine and easy and perfect one-plate or finger food: halve them lengthwise, salt lightly, let sit 10 minutes; pat dry. Grill over med-high flame, turning once, until tender. As they come off the grill give them a good spankin' dollop of Boursin or garlic quark. 1-2 per person, deliciousness galore, easy on the budget, yumm. Oh, and? It's not an app. but for the adult table, Jello Jigglers in red, clear (or white, using coco milk) and blue, w/ vodka. Triple XX; adults ONLY. :) Cheers; I'm sure this party will be a huge success; you care too much for it not to work.

              1 Reply
              1. re: mamachef

                mama - so nice to see you! Your suggestion for the jello jigglers reminds me of my one and only attempt many many years ago - I was so excited to make jello shots - but I didn't realize that you had to replace the water with the vodka - so we had to slurp ours! still fun - but not the same! BTW - how would you make the white using the coco milk?

                edit - maybe I will attempt these jello jigglers for an early 4th celebration at our book club this week!

              2. I made the Barefoot Contessa's onion dip last year for the first time, and I agree -- it was a huge hit. I like to serve a lot of dips, too. What I would do is add extra crudites to go with them as well as the onion dip.

                1. I think it sounds great. The dips are different from each other. I would only add some vegetables for dipping and just eating (carrots, celery, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes) and maybe add some fruit like the mango recommended and maybe watermelon, pineapple, strawberries. Two and half hours from arrival to dinner leaves a lot of snacking time.
                  Do not add anything that keeps you in the kitchen. (If you really must add something else make it salami, cheese, marinated peppers and bread).
                  But it will be great as is. Have fun.

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: mscoffee1

                    I will definitely have a crudite platter with onion dip, plus Ruffles too for dipping :)

                    I'm sure people will show up closer to 3:30, so yes, a fair amount of time.

                    nd as you mention, I don't want to be in the kitchen, which is why I always lean towards things that can me made ahead of time. I like the idea of the poppers or the satay, but I don't want to grill before I grill (I make ribs in the oven and throw them on the grill to crisp them up before serving). So I might just file those away for another time.

                    What I am thinking about now is adding the mango salsa or guacamole to serve with the black bean dip and tortillas. And instead of serving the hummus, artichoke spread and tapenade with the crackers on the side, I will assemble them on crostini and arrange on a platter. I think it's easier for people to just grab a piece or 2 at a time than to keep spreading it themselves. And this way it's less of a "dip".

                    Clearly, it's a very casual party. Everyone just sits around the table and eats while the kids play in the backyard, go under the sprinklers, etc. And there will be enough food for an army...I just can't help myself!

                    Thanks for suggestions.

                    1. re: valerie

                      Your crostini or bruschetta sounds tasty, but you may not want to make too many ahead of time, otherwise the bread will go soggy before any latecomers get to enjoy them.

                      1. re: Phurstluv

                        Good point. I was thinking that I would make the hummus, etc, ahead of time and assemble right before serving.

                        1. re: valerie

                          Valerie, instead of the last minute worry about the hummus and crostini, make your hummus to a looser consistency and serve with the crostini as a dip. A favorite restaurant of ours serves this the minute you are seated as a dip with crostini and it's wonderful.

                          1. re: Gail

                            Great thought, but I think she was originally concerned w having too many dips to begin with.