veggie loaded stuffed bell peppers.

Last Friday, I attended my first real “event” since the lockdown. It was my daughter’s end-of-year soccer party, held in the backyard of her coach’s house. Guests were instructed to bring the sides, and so I made a summery quinoa salad — essentially the “stuffing” of these stuffed peppers.

It was well-received, but what stole the show was a tray of sliders, the recipe for which I immediately began tracking down. (You’d expect nothing less, right?) Turns out it’s a recipe from the King’s Hawaiian website, made with turkey instead of ham and without the mayo.

I left the party dreaming about those sliders and upon returning home immediately found the recipe online. It’s incredibly simple. In sum: assemble the sliders, make a simple sauce from pantry ingredients, pour the sauce over top; then pop in the oven.

I have yet to make the sliders, but this experience reminded me of a similar scenario several years ago in which I was introduced to Trader Joe’s 3-ingredient lentil salad, which blew my mind then and continues to every time I dump those three magical ingredients into a bowl. I have similar feelings every time I make these 4-ingredient balsamic-roasted mini peppers.

Why are these simple recipes often the most crowd-pleasing? The most show-stopping? Why do we ever make anything else? (If I’m being honest, as I continue dreaming about those sliders, I find myself thinking about how I could complicate them by maybe making the rolls from scratch or turning them into veggie sliders with roasted red peppers and eggplant and perhaps some pickled onions… will I ever learn? But doesn’t that sound delicious? I’ll keep you posted.)

Friends, I’m wishing you all a Happy Fourth 🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸 Below you’ll find a few of my favorite dips, salads, and sides as well as a few seasonal desserts and a favorite, festive drink, too 🎉🎉

PS: This Memorial Day Weekend post may give you some more ideas for grilling and summer entertaining: there’s a recipe for a dead easy steak marinade, a favorite smoky grilled chicken, and the best, easiest ribs you’ll ever make (NOT on the grill).

PPS: The Best Brioche Buns

Light Brioche Buns, Even Better

A Few Dips

Pickled crudité in glass jars, one with a funnel.

Are we ready to dip again? When you dip we dip I dip 💃🏻. Anyone?

Before we get to the dips, let’s consider the dippers. Have you ever tried pickling your crudité? I think it makes all the difference, and it’s really very simple: stuff raw vegetables into jars; pour a basic brine over top. If time permits, plan ahead: ideally, do this the day before you plan on serving the crudite, just so the veggies have time to chill and crisp up in their brine.

I typically stick to cauliflower and carrots with the pickling. Then I cut up whatever else looks good: Romaine, endive, watermelon radishes if you can find them (not easy this time of year) or other radishes and turnips (readily available!) if you can’t.

The veggies below are paired with this spicy cashew dressing/dip. It’s one of my faves.

A platter of crudités with spicy cashew dip.

Salads & Sides

Find Many More Ideas Right Here → Salads & Sides


Many More Ideas Right Here → Desserts

Paloma Slushie

A paloma is similar to a margarita but it’s made with grapefruit juice. This strawberry variation, adapted from a recipe in Julia’s Turshen’s Small Victories, is one of my favorites to make when entertaining because it lends itself to large-batch mixing. The trick? Instead of juicing limes, you peel them and blitz them whole in a blender. Brilliant, right? And instead of salting the rims of glasses, you add salt directly to the mix, which Julia notes serves two purposes: 1. Reduces work 2. Enhances the flavor of the juices. 

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A trio of paloma slushies.

Recipes for July Fourth: Strawberry Paloma Slushie

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Adapted from the recipe for Paloma Slushies in Julia Turshen’s Small Victories, which calls for grapefruit juice as opposed to strawberries. 

As with cooking, drink making requires adjusting to taste. Depending on how sweet your strawberries are, you may need more or less honey (or agave) or fresh lime. Also, depending on the size of your blender, you may need to add the strawberries in batches, and you may need to add the ice in batches as well. It all works out in the end, just be mindful of your blender’s capacity.


  • 4 limes
  • 1/4 cup (85 g) honey or agave syrup, see notes above
  • 3 to 4 cups strawberries
  • 1 cup (240 ml) tequila
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 4 cups (720) ice cubes


  1. Peel three of the limes by lopping off the tops and the bottoms of each one, cutting just deep enough to expose the fruit beneath the pith. Stand each lime on your cutting board—it should be nice and steady. Cut the remaining peel and pith off the lime in wide strips, working your way around the fruit, so that you end up with a complete, peeled piece of fruit. Discard the peels or reserve them from another use. Cut the remaining lime into thin slices.
  2. Put the peeled limes in a blender; add the honey or agave, the strawberries, tequila, and salt; and blend until combined. Add the ice (see notes above—you likely will need to do this in batches) and let the machine run until the ice is totally blitzed and the mixture is very smooth.
  3. Pour into four glasses and garnish with the lime slices. Serve immediately.
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Category: Drinks
  • Method: blender
  • Cuisine: Mexican, American