Chow Town

Flavor fireworks: Five ways to rock your Independence Day party

Updated: 2013-06-27T19:54:48Z

By Sarah Gish

The Fourth of July is a week away. Planning a party? Here are five ways to wow your cookout crew before the fireworks start.

1. Upgrade the go-to American flag cake with homemade batter, cream cheese frosting and raspberries instead of strawberries.

2. Skip the can and make baked beans from scratch. This recipe took my family grill-outs to a whole new level. And yep, it works in a Crock Pot.

3. While you’re feeling ambitious, make homemade ice cream, too. Switch up this super-creamy base recipe with chocolate chips, fresh peaches, vanilla -- whatever you like. Me? I spike it with coffee and stout beer.

4. Freeze cocktails on sticks to make poptails. Enough said.

5. Prep Jack Stack’s famous Cheesy Corn Bake at home. If you can believe it, the famed Kansas City smokehouse put its recipe online at jackstackbbq.com. The super-decadent casserole isn’t exactly healthy, so I probably won’t be adding it to my regular recipe rotation. But on America’s birthday, I’ll make an exception.

Jack Stack’s Cheesy Corn Bake

Yield: 10-12 servings

8 oz. cream cheese, cubed into 1-inch pieces

2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, shredded

3/4 cup 2% milk

1/2 tsp. garlic salt

1/4 lb. smoked ham, diced into 1/4-inch pieces

10 oz. frozen corn kernels

In a four-quart sauce pan, over low heat, melt cream cheese with cheddar cheese and 2% milk. Stir constantly to prevent scorching, until thickened, smooth and bubbly. Stir in garlic salt and remove from heat. Stir in corn and ham. Transfer mixture to a two-quart casserole dish. Bake at 350 degrees for one hour.

Want some healthier options? Check out this story on tasty summer side dishes that are big on flavor, not on fat.

Enterprise reporter Sarah Gish writes dining and bar guides for Ink magazine. She also writes a monthly cooking feature for The Star’s Food section. Tweet her your favorite Fourth of July recipe @sarah_gish.

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