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Red, white and blue desserts perfect for 4th of July entertaining

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Fourth of July will be filled with a lot of outdoor cooking and little time to be slaving in the kitchen. Grills will be filled with hot dogs and hamburgers and many will even strike up a second one to prepare the perfect side dishes - corn on the cob and good old tinfoil potatoes, smothered in onions, peppers, mushroom, and lots and lots of butter or 'EVOO' for the more health conscious.

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All that is left is the dessert, and nobody wants to be stuck indoors fussing with that when they have a patio full of guests to entertain.

The following are all excellent red, white and blue desserts that can be prepared in advance and either frozen or kept in the fridge. They are deliciously attractive and brighten up any table in keeping with the Fourth of July theme.

If you really want to keep it simple and just serve ice cream for dessert, check out the two decadently, delicious topping recipes that also can be made ahead of time and served alongside all your favorite garnishes for a make-your-own sundae bar.

Until next time, from my kitchen to yours, happy cooking!

Mini Cherry Cheesecakes

2 - 8 oz. packages of cream cheese

3/4 cup sugar

1 tbsp. lemon juice

2 eggs

2 tsp. vanilla

2 dozen vanilla wafers

21 oz. can of Cherry pie filling (or blueberry if you prefer)

24 foil cupcake liners

Mix cheese, sugar, lemon juice, eggs and vanilla until smooth. Line cupcake tin with cupcake liners and place 1 vanilla wafer in bottom of each liner. Fill half full with cheese mixture. Bake for 15 minutes at 350 degrees. Cool. Top with pie filling. Will keep up to ten days in the fridge. Also freezes well.

Raspberry Pretzel Dessert

1 1/2 cups crushed pretzels

1/4 cup sugar

1/2 cup melted butter

Mix and press in 9x13 pan. Bake 8 minutes at 350 degrees. Cool.

Mix 1 can sweetened condensed milk

1/2 cup water

1 package dry vanilla instant pudding

Beat all together a few minutes with mixer. Fold in 2 cups Cool Whip. Pour on crust and cool.

Top with 1 can Wilderness Raspberry pie filling. Store in fridge. Will keep for days.

Easy Ice Cream Bar Dessert

Line 9x13 cake pan with ice cream sandwiches.

Spread a layer of Cool Whip over the first layer and top with can of strawberry pie filling. Place a second layer of ice cream bars over the top. Spread on another layer of Cool Whip. Garnish with shaved chocolate and some fresh strawberries if you like, right before serving.

Fantastic Blueberry Dessert

1 pt. whipped cream

1 cup powdered sugar

1 (8 oz.) pkg. cream cheese (softened)

1 pkg. miniature marshmallows

Crust:

1 ½ cups graham crackers (crushed)

3 Tbsp. brown sugar

½ stick butter or margarine

1 can blueberry pie filling

Mix crust ingredients and place in 9x13 pan. Mix together cream, sugar, cream cheese and marshmallows and spread evenly over crust. Top with pie filling and refrigerate. Also freezes well.

Blueberry Sauce

2 Tbsp. butter

1 Tbsp. flour

1 16-oz package frozen or fresh blueberries

1/4 cup sugar

1 Tbsp. lemon juice

1/4 tsp. salt

2 Tbsp. water

Melt butter in saucepan and blend in remaining ingredients. Cook over medium heat, stirring until berries soften and thicken, approximately five minutes. Cool or serve warm over ice cream. Makes about two cups.

Strawberry Sauce

2 cups strawberries, cut up

1/2 cup sugar

2 Tbsp. water

In small bowl mix berries and sugar together well. Let stand about 1 hour.

In small saucepan bring to a boil over medium heat; cooking about 4 minutes, mashing and stirring. If berries are not very juicy, add 1 tablespoon of water at a time.

This is great served warm or cold. Also makes about two cups.

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