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Kara's Sights & Bites: 4th of July favorites that don't require an oven

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     Newsflash:  Fourth of July 2024 will be a hot one. Since it's a couple of weeks away, I haven’t yet seen the weather report. But I just know it will be hot - maybe because I’ve suffered through numerous steamy hot holidays. But don’t ditch your celebration plans just yet. There are ways to keep your cool when preparing food for your Independence Day feast, regardless of its size. Scratch the plan for outdoor grilling and stay cool indoors by preparing minimal-baked dishes.

     My keep-your-cool tips include using the Crock-pot to prepare barbecue chicken, ribs and baked beans. Secondly, picking up a prepared salad from the supermarket. After all, who wants to boil potatoes or pasta in this heat?

     To make a festive flag cake, turning on the oven for about 45 minutes – just long enough to bake the cake base using vanilla or white cake mix (you can make it from scratch if you’re feeling industrious) shouldn’t heat up the kitchen too terribly bad. Top it off with an easy cream cheese frosting and sliced strawberries and blueberries. Or, follow my lead and mix and little confectioner’s sugar into plain ol’ Cool Whip. Just like that, you have a frosting that’s so good you won’t care that it’s semi-homemade.

     If you'd like the recipe for slow-cooked ribs and my easy-to-make flag cake (or need any additional Independence Day recipes), drop me an email and I’ll send them to you.

     Happy Independence Day, America!

Firecracker Crockpot Barbecued Chicken
4-6 chicken breasts, boneless and skinless
1 bottle of favorite barbecue sauce
1/4 cup vinegar
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon garlic powder

     Mix barbecue sauce with vinegar, red pepper flakes, brown sugar and garlic powder. Place chicken in crockpot. Pour sauce mixture over chicken. Cook on low 4-6 hours, stirring and flipping chicken periodically. 

Festive 4th Baked Beans
8 ounces bacon (half of a 16 ounce package)
55-ounce can of favorite baked beans
1 cup diced yellow onion
1/2 cup barbecue sauce
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 tablespoon yellow mustard
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

     Slice the raw bacon into 1/2-inch pieces. Cook on the stove top in a skillet until halfway browned, drain. Add to the slow cooker. Add the remaining ingredients and stir. Place the lid on the slow cooker. Cook on low for 5 hours or high for 3-1/2 hours.

     Kara Kimbrough is a food and travel writer from Mississippi. Email her at kkprco@yahoo.com.