The 4th of July is right around the corner and as things seem to be returning to normal, I’m sure a lot of people are planning a gathering with friends and family to celebrate.  I know we sure are!  The weather is predicted to be beautiful and sunny, and we haven’t entertained in a while, so we are really looking forward to the holiday.

I have a few new recipes to share with you today.  They are all 4th of July themed and something you can easily add to your menu – or anytime throughout summer!  I plan on making a few of these this upcoming weekend and look forward to enjoying them at our party.

The first recipe is for Firecracker Hot Dogs.  Think hot dog wrapped in breadstick or crescent roll dough and baked to perfection.  They are super simple to make, will satisfy even the pickiest eater, fit the theme of the holiday, and can honestly be enjoyed by anyone.

The recipe can be found here.

Start by preheating the oven to 375 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Insert skewers through the entire length of each hot dog.  Leave about 1-inch exposed at the top.  This is where you will add the star shaped cheese.

Lay the crescent roll dough or breadstick dough flat on the counter.  Press together any seams.  Slice into 5 long strips then slice each strip in half.  You should have enough dough for 10 hot dogs.

Take one piece of dough and wrap it around one of the hot dogs.  Start at the bottom and work your way in a circular pattern toward the top.  Repeat with any remaining hot dogs.

Place the hot dogs on the baking sheet, leaving space between each one.  Bake for 12-14 minutes or until the dough is cooked through and starting to turn golden brown.

While the hot dogs are baking, use a star shaped cookie cutter to cut shapes out of the cheese slices.  I recommend using a block of cheese instead of cheese slices, if possible.  Cheese slices will work but will be flimsy and not stay on the skewer very well.  The block form of cheese can be sliced a little thicker so it’s easier to insert the skewer and stay attached.

Remove the hot dogs from the oven and cool for 2-3 minutes or until you can hold the skewers with your hands.  Place a piece of the cheese onto the top of each skewer (above the top of the hot dog).  This will help the hot dogs resemble a firecracker.  Cute, isn’t it?

Serve warm with ketchup and mustard.  Enjoy!

The recipe can be found here.

These are so fun to make and even more fun to eat – they will be a crowd favorite!

Next up is my recipe for Slow Cooker BBQ Baked Beans.  Sure, you could just buy a can of baked beans and heat them over the stove, but these are gussied up and have amazing flavor.  They are worth the wait from the slow cooker!  And I should tell you how easy they are to make.  As I’m sure you’ve heard before…set it and forget it 🙂

The recipe can be found here.

Start by chopping the bacon and adding it to the bottom of the slow cooker in an even layer.  It should mostly coat the bottom of the bowl.

Next, chop the onion and add it to the slow cooker in an even layer on top of the bacon.


In a large mixing bowl, add the baked beans (do not drain the can first), ketchup, brown sugar, molasses, yellow mustard, Dijon mustard, bell pepper, and jalapeno.  Mix well.

Pour the mixture into the slow cooker, making sure to fully cover the bacon and onion.

Cover and cook on high for 4 hours or low for 6 hours.  Stir halfway through to mix the bacon and onion into the rest of the ingredients.

Keep the slow cooker on warm and use it as a serving dish.  Serve the BBQ Baked Beans warms and enjoy!

The recipe can be found here.

I love the combination of flavors in this dish – smokey, spicy, and a little tangy.  You and your guests will love them!

The next recipe is for Pretzel Buns.  This recipe is JUST for the buns…. not a sandwich or complete meal.  That’s where you get to be creative and use the Pretzel Buns to your liking.  You could serve them with deli meat for a create your own sandwich bar, use as hamburger buns, pair with pulled chicken or pulled pork, or eat as is with some yummy beer cheese dipping sauce on the side.  The possibilities are endless, and the choice is yours!

The recipe can be found here.

Start by making the dough.  I find this easiest to do with a stand mixer but if you prefer to give your arms a good workout, more power to you 🙂

In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the brown sugar and WARM water (not hot, not cold, but warm).  Use the paddle attachment to mix on low speed until the sugar is dissolved.

Turn off the mixer and sprinkle the yeast over the top.  Let the mixture sit for about 5 minutes, until it starts to turn foamy.

Change out the paddle attachment and add the dough hook.  Add the vegetable oil and 3 cups of flour.  Turn on the mixer (low speed) and let the mixture start to combine.

Slowly add the remaining 2 ¾ cups of flour, while the motor is running.  Continue to mix until well combined and the dough pulls away from the side of the bowl.

Lightly oil a large bowl and transfer the dough to it.  Cover with plastic wrap and let stand at room temp (in a warm place) until it has doubled in size, about 45-60 minutes.  I personally love making bread in the summer because the house is warmer, and the dough seems to rise that much faster!  I’m never hunting for a warm place to set the bowl!

Once the dough has doubled in size, preheat the oven to 425 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Divide the dough into 16 pieces and shape as desired.  I find it easiest to divide the dough into 4 equal pieces and then divide each of those pieces into an additional 4 pieces.  This helps maintain consistent sizes.

Sometimes I like to shape the dough into a roll and sometimes I like to create a pretzel shape.  It’s really up to you – how much effort you want to put into creating the pretzel buns and what you want the presentation to look like.

Cover with a towel or plastic wrap and let rise for another 15 minutes.

In the meantime, bring 12 cups of water to a boil in a large pot.  Once boiling, add ½ cup baking soda.  Add the pretzels, in batches, into the boiling water.  I like to add 3-4 pretzels at a time, so the pot isn’t overcrowded.  Boil for 15-30 seconds then flip over and boil on the other side for 15-30 seconds.

Use a slotted spoon to remove the pretzels to a parchment paper lined baking sheet.  Repeat with the rest of the pretzels.

Whisk the eggs together in a small bowl.  Liberally brush over the top of each pretzel and sprinkle with salt.

Bake at 425 degrees F for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown on the sides and browned on the top.

Let cool slightly, about 5 minutes will do, so you don’t burn yourself.  Then, eat as is, slice and serve as buns, or enjoy with a cheese sauce on the side for dipping.  So good!

The recipe can be found here.

If I could find the time, I would make these more often.  They are SO good and make the softest pretzels.

Lastly, I will be making a Triple Berry Pie for dessert.  This pie screams summer with all the fresh berries (triple berry = 3 kinds) and the refreshing taste.  You definitely won’t feel any guilt indulging in this dessert after a day of eating 🙂

The recipe can be found here.

Start by preheating the oven to 450 degrees F.  Set the pie crust on the counter to soften for about 5 minutes so you can easily work with the crust.  Make sure the pie crust is not frozen – keep it in the fridge until ready to use.

Unroll one crust and lay it in the bottom of a 9-inch pie pan.  Bake according to package instructions and cool completely.

Unroll the second pie crust.  Use cookie cutters to cut out one large star shape and 10-12 small star shapes.  Place on an ungreased baking sheet and sprinkle with sugar.  Bake for 8-10 minutes or until golden brown.  Set aside to cool completely.

Add 1 ½ cups sliced strawberries to a small bowl.  Use a fork or potato masher to mash the strawberries.  I found a fork to be easiest but use the tool that works best for you.  Another idea would be to pulse the strawberries in a food processor or blender, but you want to make sure you aren’t pureeing them!

In a 2-qt saucepan, whisk together ¾ cup sugar, ¼ cup cornstarch, ½ cup water, and 2 Tbsp lemon juice.  Add the mashed strawberries and stir to combine.

Heat over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the mixture thickens and comes to a slow boil.  Continue to boil for one minute.  Remove from the heat and pour into a bowl to cool slightly.

Remove 1/3 cup of the hot mixture to a small bowl.  Add the blueberries and stir to combine.  Set aside.

Add the remaining 2 ½ cups sliced strawberries and the raspberries to the remaining hot mixture.  Stir to combine and set aside.

In a small bowl, mix the cream cheese and lemon zest.  Spread on the bottom of the cooled pie crust.  Be careful so you don’t create too many holes or cracks in the crust!

Pour the strawberry-raspberry mixture into the pie pan.  Make a well in the middle and pour the blueberry mixture in the center.  The berries might appear to be piled quite high at this point, but they will settle a bit while chilling in the fridge.

Refrigerate for 3 hours.  When ready to serve, place the large star in the center and arrange the smaller stars around the edge.  Slice and enjoy!

The recipe can be found here.

A scoop of vanilla ice cream would be perfect with this Triple Berry Pie!  Yum!  I’m sure the pie and other goodies I shared with you today won’t last long.  Have a safe, healthy, and happy 4th of July!

Happy Cooking!

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