Fourth of July Family BBQ Tips

Columnist Kellyanne Koemp offers great recipes and advice for the upcoming holiday.

Well, the fourth of July is upon us and that means BARBEQUE!!!

As with any event involving the family, planning is the key. So here are a couple recipes for food and a few simple ideas for the entertainment.  I think these will help you this upcoming weekend as you enjoy the holiday in your backyard with family and friends.  

Be sure that you have a variety of kid friendly fare on hand, and to cut down on your work also something that parents can enjoy. Steak is great, but getting kids to savor it can be a problem. So, make sure to have hot dogs and hamburgers ready to go. Even small ham and cheese sandwiches (made on cocktail rye bread) can be perfect for the child on the go!  

The side dishes are often overlooked.  It is typical to have potato salad, macaroni salad and coleslaw. So thinking out-of-the-box on the side dishes will definitely be appreciated by all guests …. even the smallest of them. Here are two recipes to try:

1.  Easy Boston Baked Beans

Makes 6 servings. I made this for a Hail & Farewell in Guam (a Navy going away and welcome party), and it was a HUGE hit!

  • 2 cups navy beans
  • 1 pound bacon
  • 1 onion, (whirled in the food processor)
  • 3 tablespoons molasses
  • 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar

You’ll need to soak beans overnight in cold water. Simmer the beans in the same water until tender, approximately 1 to 2 hours. Drain. Keep the liquid for use later. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.  Pour the beans in a 2 quart bean pot or casserole dish by placing a portion of the beans in the bottom of dish, and mix them with bacon and onion.

In a saucepan, combine molasses, dry mustard, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce and brown sugar. Bring the mixture to a boil and pour over beans. Pour in just enough of the bean water to cover the beans. Cover the dish with aluminum foil. Then bake for 3 to 4 hours in the preheated oven, until beans are tender. Halfway through cooking, remove the cover and add more liquid if necessary to prevent the beans from getting too dry. Serve hot!

2. My Brother Andy Dohan’s Mango Salsa.  He doesn’t have exact amounts for the ingredients, so he suggests “eyeballing it” - but the key is to have more mangos in relation to the other ingrediants: 

    • Mango
    • Red Onion
    • Cucumber (for texture)
    • Jalapeno
    • Cilantro
    • Fresh lime juice

Marinade for at least 12 hours before serving. Feel free to omit the jalapeno in the dishes that are going to childern.  


Food isn’t the only ingredient to a BBQ gathering – have entertainment planned, such as outdoor games.  Not everyone is lucky enough to have a pool in their yard, so you’ll need to think of some good age appropriate games.  

Your typical teenager will roll their eyes, but horseshoes will eventually be fun for them if they give it half a chance. Three legged races are good for the entire family (well, maybe not Grandma if she’s had a hip replaced…) but by and large, it is a game all can play and enjoy. Egg and spoon races are always good for a chuckle.  So too is an egg toss, but if you don’t use hard boiled eggs this might hamper the guests enjoyment of the rest of the afternoon’s festivities if you don’t give them a warning that they might need a change of clothes. 

Try a nature scavenger hunt! The night before, walk around your backyard and come up with a list of 15-20 things that they can find (for example: pine cone, stone, leaf etc). Assign teams of 2 (a big kid and a small kid, so that one of them can read the list) and allow them to search. The first group to come back with ALL items the quickest gets an age appropriate prize (candy is always good for the older child as long as all parents agree). 

You can find more ideas at this terrific site: http://www.party411.com/PlanYourParty/Theme/Summer/SummerPartyGames.aspx ... they even detail fun prizes to give away!  

The bottom line is backyard barbeques are always a blast, but you want to make sure that you have planned activities to keep the kiddos busy and running themselves ragged so they will sleep in, the next morning…oh, or is that just me?

Happy fourth of July everyone and lets be mindful that the holiday is really more than just barbeques and fireworks.


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