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10 Summer party ideas for Memorial Day through 4th of July

Kori Ellis is an editor and writer based in San Antonio, TX, where she lives with her husband and four children. At SheKnows, she writes about parenting, fashion, beauty and other lifestyle topics. Additionally, Kori has been published i...

Summer party fun

The summer party season is upon us. Outdoor barbecues, beach picnics, garden weddings -- so much fun to be had! From Memorial Day through the 4th of July is the peak of summer party fun. Here's a look at some extraordinary summer party ideas.

Red, white and blue dessert bars

These creative and colorful dessert bars -- made with the sweet flavors and nourishment of blueberries and pineapple -- are the perfect finish to your summer holiday celebration. This recipe is courtesy of Makes eight servings.


1 can (15 ounces) wild blueberries in light syrup
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 cups low-fat granola with raisins and nuts
2 tablespoons melted margarine or butter
1 package (8 ounces) low-fat cream cheese
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 can (8 ounces) crushed pineapple in its own juice, drained
3/4 cup heavy whipping cream*
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup strawberries, stemmed and halved


1. Drain blueberries over a medium saucepan. Whisk cornstarch into blueberry juice. Cook juice until it comes to a simmer and thickens. Add blueberries and cook until mixture returns to a simmer. Cool.
2. In work bowl of food processor fitted with a metal blade, pulse cereal until crushed. Add margarine and pulse until combined. Press granola mixture into bottom of an 11- by 7-inch baking dish. Chill.
3. In medium bowl, beat cream cheese and ginger until light and fluffy. Add pineapple and beat until combined. In separate bowl, beat whipping cream until stiff. Stir in powdered sugar and vanilla. Fold whipping cream into cream cheese mixture and stir until combined. Pour over crust.
4. Spoon blueberries on top of cream cheese mixture in three diagonal lines. Garnish with strawberries. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

* 1-1/2 cups non-dairy whipped topping may be substituted for the whipping cream, powdered sugar and vanilla extract.

See: Red, white, and blue desserts >>

Homemade strawberry ice cream

Homemade ice cream is heavenly and perfectly suited for a summer soiree. This recipe by Emeril Lagasse is courtesy of The Food Channel.

1 quart fresh strawberries, washed, stemmed and quartered
1-1/2 cups sugar
4 cups half and half
1 cup sugar
1/2 vanilla bean, split in half and scraped
6 egg yolks

1. In a blender or food processor, combine the strawberries and 1/2 cup sugar. Blend until smooth.
2. In a saucepan over medium heat, combine the half and half, 1 cup sugar, and vanilla bean. Bring to a simmer.
3. In a small mixing bowl, whisk the egg yolks until smooth. Add 1 cup of the hot liquid to the egg yolks and whisk until smooth. Add the yolk mixture to the saucepan of liquids and whisk until incorporated.
4. Bring the liquid back to simmer and continue to cook for 4 to 6 minutes.
5. Remove from the heat and stir in the strawberries. Whisk until smooth.
6. Pour the mixture into a glass bowl and place a piece of plastic wrap directly on top of the mixture. Cool the mixture completely.
7. Process the mixture according to your ice cream machine's instructions.

American flag cake

This red, white and blue American flag cake is the perfect dessert for your summer party.

1 package (two-layer size) white cake mix (plus other ingredients to make cake, as listed on box)
1 package (four-serving size) Jell-O, any red flavor
1 cup boiling water
1/2 cup cold water
3-1/2 cups (8-ounce container) Cool Whip topping, thawed
1 pint strawberries, washed and sliced
1 cup blueberries, washed
1 cup Kraft miniature marshmallows

1. Grease 13- by 9-inch pan with margarine and dust lightly with flour. Prepare, mix and bake cake according to package directions. Cool cake for 15 minutes.
2. With the end of a wooden spoon, make holes in cake about every 1/2 inch or so.
3. Pour Jell-O into mixing bowl. Add cup of boiling water and use scraper to mix thoroughly until gelatin is completely dissolved. Use measuring cup to pour gelatin over cake. (The Jell-O will run down into holes, creating red stripes in the cake when it's sliced.)
4. Chill cake in refrigerator three to four hours.
5. Cover tray with aluminum foil. Put about one inch of warm water in kitchen sink. Take pan out of refrigerator and dip bottom (don't let water come up over sides) into water for about 10 seconds. Put large tray on top of cake, and invert.
6. Frost sides and top with whipped topping. Arrange strawberries and marshmallows in alternating rows for stripes, leaving upper left for field of blueberries. Chill again until time to serve.

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