Fourth of July Celebrations: Traditions Old and New

From all of us at Watermark Retirement Communities, we wish everyone a happy and healthy Fourth of July. We know this year’s celebrations might look different, but there are many ways to enjoy the festivities while staying safe. From themed recipes and virtual video parties with family and friends to live video fireworks displays, there are many ways to celebrate the holiday and have a blast.

Recipes that Sparkle
Show your patriotism by preparing a festive and fun assortment of food and drink to enjoy. Share recipes with loved ones near and far, and connect over something delicious. These red, white and blue treats are sure to make virtual video celebrations both memorable and mouthwatering.

Independence Day Cupcakes
2 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cup white sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
3 egg whites
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup milk
1 (1 ounce) package instant sugar-free vanilla pudding mix
2 cup skim milk
1 (7 ounce) container light whipped cream
12 thinly sliced strawberries, or as needed
24 fresh blueberries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 24 cupcake cups with paper liners. Whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a large mixing bowl. With a pastry cutter, chop the shortening into the dry ingredients until the mixture becomes crumbly. Beat in the egg whites, vanilla extract, and 1 cup of milk to make a smooth batter. Spoon batter into the paper-lined cupcake cups, filling them about 2/3 full. Bake 22 to 26 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean. Allow cupcakes to cool completely.

In a bowl, beat together the pudding mix and 2 cups of skim milk until the pudding is thickened, about 2 minutes. Allow to stand for 5 minutes to finish thickening. Spoon the pudding into a pastry bag with a medium tip. To fill and decorate cupcakes, use a thin paring knife to cut a small hole, about 1/2 inch in diameter, into the top of a cupcake. Insert the knife about 3/4 of the way down into the cupcake, and remove the core. Use the pastry bag to fill the hole with pudding. Frost the tops of the filled cupcakes with light whipped cream, spreading it into a smooth layer. Place a blueberry in the center of each cupcake. Around the blueberry, arrange 5 slices of strawberry with pointed ends outward to make a star shape. Store in refrigerator.

Red, White and Blue Deviled Eggs
3 drops of red gel food coloring
2 drops of blue gel food coloring
2/3 cup water, or as needed
1 box toothpicks
8 hard-boiled eggs, peeled
2 1/2 Tbsp mayonnaise
1 Tbsp hot prepared horseradish
1 tsp rice vinegar
1/8 tsp salt, or to taste
1 pinch fresh-ground black pepper
1/4 tsp smoked hot paprika
1 tsp fresh chives

Combine red food coloring and 1/3 cup water in a small bowl; do the same with the blue food coloring in a separate bowl. Gently insert 3 or 4 toothpicks about 1/4-inch deep through the center of an egg and balance it so that one end is dipped in one of the dyes. Don’t pierce the eggs too much, or they’ll break after you halve them. Let stand for 5 to 10 minutes, depending upon how strong you like the colors. Dip the other end of the egg in the other dye so the eggs have red, white and blue bands. Slice colored eggs in half lengthwise and set the whites aside on a serving platter. Push the yolks through a sieve into a bowl or use a potato ricer. Mix mayonnaise, horseradish, rice vinegar, salt and pepper into the yolks and stir until smooth. Taste and adjust seasoning. Transfer filling into a piping bag and pipe filling into each egg white half. Gently dust with paprika. Sprinkle deviled eggs with chives. Chill until ready to serve.

Watermelon Blueberry Coconut Healthy Daiquiri
2 heaping cups cubed watermelon, frozen
1 cup frozen blueberries
1/4 cup canned coconut milk
1/4 cup coconut water
3 oz. coconut rum
2 oz Vodka (coconut or vanilla flavored or plain)
Honey to taste (optional)

Cut watermelon into small cubes and place in freezer until frozen. When frozen, blend together watermelon, coconut rum and coconut milk, set aside. In a cleaned blender, blend blueberries, coconut water and vodka. Pour part of both mixtures slowly into each glass; sprinkle with coconut if desired.

Lighting the Way for a Beloved Tradition
Do you know why we set off fireworks every July 4? The beloved and now widely practiced tradition began in Philadelphia on July 4, 1777, during the first celebration of Independence Day, when the Sons of Liberty set off fireworks over Boston. Since then, it has been an annual tradition to light up the sky in honor of our American independence.

As we continue to practice social distancing, there are alternative and convenient ways to enjoy a beloved pop of light and color this year. Many cities across the nation are hosting virtual video celebrations that include fireworks, music from local artists and tributes to essential health care workers. These events are being held over Facebook Live, YouTube and other platforms that are free and accessible from any smart device.

Check to see if your city is hosting a virtual event. If not, celebrate with your family by watching A Boston Pops Salute to Our Heroes and PBS’ A Capitol Fourth (or something similar), available only on television, radio and digital media. This spectacular night of entertainment will feature musical guests and a fireworks show for all ages.

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