By Merissa Principe

This Fourth of July, make entertaining look effortless with these simple hors d’oeuvres. Take your festivities up a notch with elevated chip and dip recipes that are guaranteed to wow the crowd. Fresh ingredients and bold flavors make each bite feel like an explosion of flavor on your taste buds. In addition to being tasty, these recipes are also low budget, making it easy to feed any crowd. Adjust the recipes based on the number of party attendees, and when July 4th comes around, take a few minutes to assemble the platters, serve, and enjoy a stress-free morning!

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Cowboy Caviar
Prep time: 15 minutes
Inactive: 1 hour to overnight
Total Time: 1 hour 20 minutes or more

Freshly chopped ingredients executed well is a surefire way to put any store brand can name to shame. Make your own version of corn salsa with these simple ingredients that pack a lot of flavor with minimal effort. Make this recipe the night before and simply pour into a serving bowl accompanied by any chip of your choice and serve!


For the dressing:

  • 1/2 cup of olive oil
  • 1/3 cup of lime juice
  • 3 tablespoons of fresh cilantro
  • 1 teaspoon of chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon of cumin
  • 1 teaspoon of salt

For the salad:

  • 1 cup of Roma tomatoes, seeded and finely chopped
  • 1 cup of red onion, diced
  • 1 cup of sweet corn (drained if from a can)
  • 1 can of black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 bell peppers, diced
  • chips (for serving)


  1. In a small bowl, add the olive oil, lime juice, cilantro, chili powder, cumin and salt. Whisk to combine.
  2. In a larger bowl, combine the chopped tomatoes, red onion, corn, black beans and bell peppers. Top with dressing and toss to combine.  Refrigerate for an hour, minimum, or overnight.
  3. Pour the caviar into a serving dish and arrange the chips as desired.
  4. Serve and enjoy!

Homemade Kettle Corn
Total Time: 5 minutes

No day of fun is complete without a bag full of popcorn. July 4th is the perfect time to rent a popcorn machine for your big celebration. If you don’t have a popcorn machine, a simple pot will do the trick. You can even make this popcorn a day or two in advance, the options are endless with this sweet treat.


  • 1/4 cup of oil, (any cooking oil of your choice, canola is a good oil for frying)
  •  1/2 cup of uncooked popcorn kernels
  • 2-3 tablespoons of granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon of salt
  • 1-2 tbsp melted butter (if desired)


  1. To start, set aside a large bowl to place the freshly popped popcorn in once cooked.
  2. In a large heavy-bottomed pot, add the oil along with three individual popcorn kernels. To avoid burning a whole batch of kernels, add three individual kernels to the oil, while it heats up. Once you hear all three kernels pop, add the rest of the kernels and shake the pan for about 10 seconds to coat the kernels.
  3. Next, pour the sugar and salt directly over the popcorn. Cover and shake for 3 seconds, rest for 3 seconds and repeat until popcorn begins to pop steadily.
  4. Continue shaking the pan, and pause occasionally to listen for breaks in popping. Once there is a two-second rest between pops, give or take, pull from the heat and transfer to the set-aside bowl, immediately.
  5. Allow the popcorn to cool for a few minutes before serving. Add butter if desired.

Caprese Pesto Bites

If Mediterranean food is what you crave, look no further than this ingenious deconstructed caprese salad. Skip the local deli prepared cheese platter this year and opt for a flavorful, elegant and most importantly simple starter. Make the pesto in advance and simply assemble the sauce in a small serving dish surrounded by cheese, tomatoes and sliced rustic bread. Supply toothpicks to hold all the ingredients in place and enjoy.

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  • 1 cup packed basil leaves
  • 1/4 cup of pine nuts1/4 cup romano cheese
  • 1/4 cup romano cheese
  • 1 large clove of garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup of olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 pack of cherry tomatoes (14 tomatoes or so per pack depending on guest attendance)
  • Mozzarella cheese
  • 1 loaf of Italian bread


To make the pesto:

  1. On medium-high heat, toast the pine nuts in a medium sized pan for 3-4 minutes stirring frequently.
  2. Then, place the toasted pine nuts into a food processor along with the basil and process until the mixture is chopped finely.
  3. Next, add in the Romano cheese, garlic and process until combined.
  4. While processing, drizzle in the olive oil slowly until completely incorporated.
  5. Add salt and pepper to taste, if desired.

To assemble the platter:

Cut the cherry tomatoes in half, slice the bread into 1/4 inch thick rounds as well as the mozzarella cheese. Place the pesto dish in a separate serving bowl as well as the rest of the prepared ingredients, accompanied by toothpicks to assemble all the ingredients into a perfect bite-sized appetizer.

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus
Prep: 5 min
Cook time: 20 min
Total Time: 25 min

A great way to feed a large crowd while still being pocket savvy is to make dishes that will stretch your dollar, chickpeas do just that. Once you’ve transformed your chickpeas into hummus, create a platter by adding some pretzel crisps, pita chips and freshly cut veggies with the hummus in the middle. Make this a few days in advance, store in the fridge and come celebration day simply assemble your platter and serve within minutes.


  • 2 large red bell peppers
  • 2 large cloves of garlic
  • 2 tablespoons of tahini
  • 1 can of chickpeas (240g drained or 1½ cups)
  • 2 lemons
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt


  1. To start, remove the seeds and the stalk of the pepper. Next, cut the pepper into quarters, (4 pieces.)
  2. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
  3. Roast the chopped peppers along with the garlic on a baking tray. It is best to keep the garlic in its skin while its roasts. Roast the garlic for 10 minutes and the peppers for about 15-20 minutes or until easily pierced.
  4. Once cooked, peel the garlic and place into the food processor along with the peppers, tahini, extra virgin olive oil and salt.
  5. Then, rinse, drain and add the chickpeas to the food processor.
  6. Juice the two lemons into the mixture, discarding the skins, and blend until you reach the desired consistency.
  7. Chill the hummus in the fridge for a bit before serving.

Cinnamon Sugar Pecans
Prep time: 10 min
Cook time: 1 hours
Total time: 1 hour and 10 min

Planning on celebrating the Fourth of July with a cold cocktail in hand? Treat your guests to a sweet treat with this easy DIY recipe for bar nuts. The cinnamon pairs well with the natural sweetness of the pecan nut. On the day of your celebration, warm the nuts slightly before serving as to entice guests and fellow cocktail drinkers to this simple and flavorful snack.


  • 1 egg white
  • 2 teaspoons of water
  • 2 teaspoons of pure vanilla extract
  • 1lb pecan halves
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 1/2  – 1 tablespoon of ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
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  1. To start, preheat the oven to 250 degrees.
  2. Prepare a baking sheet and coat with nonstick cooking spray.
  3. In a large ziplock bag, combine the sugar, cinnamon and salt.
  4. Then, in a large mixing bowl add the egg white, vanilla extract and water and whisk until frothy either with a fork or electric mixer.
  5. Next, add the pecans to the wet mixture and toss to combine.
  6. Add the coated pecans to the Ziploc bag and shake until all the pecans are covered in the dry mixture.
  7. Pour the pecans onto the baking sheet spread out evenly in a single layer and bake for one hour. Stirring the mixture every 20 minutes or as needed.
  8. After 1 hour remove the mixture from the oven, allow the nuts to cool, then serve!