Patriotic Entertaining Ideas

This year, celebrate the Fourth of July with hot dogs and ice cream, or go for a conversation-starter menu of ribs and cola cake.
1. Choose the Food

Easy now. With sparklers to light, this is no time to fuss in the kitchen. Consider baked beans you don't have to bake. Or tap into a versatile marinade that goes with whatever your pleasure: ribs, chicken, or pork roast.

Too complicated? Hot dogs will do -- because frankly, franks are just perfect for the Fourth. Choose a recipe or two, then fill in the rest with easy options like potato chips and ice cream. This holiday is all about independence, so do it your way.

Three-Way Marinade and Sauce

Here are more choices than meet the eye. The marinade plays three ways: Mexican, Asian, or charged with orange and sage. Use it on ribs, chicken, or pork roast.

Skillet White Beans

Old-world character, new-world ease. A touch of balsamic vinegar and a drape of creme fraiche add Italian and French angles to our simplified take on this all-American dish.

Hot Dogs and Texas Tomato Chutney

Hot dogs do it all. Served solo on a bun, they're a kid's idea of the perfect feast. Paired with grape and tomato chutney, they switch into something-special mode, definitely appreciated by the over-10 crowd.

Continued on page 2:  2. Get the Look