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Carrie's Kitchen: Patriotic-colored desserts for Independence Day

Last week I had a variety of red, white and blue foods for Independence Day (tomorrow!), with everything from burgers to drinks to dessert. This week, I wanted to share more patriotic-colored dessert ideas, because they’re so fun, and realistically, they’re the dish we’re most likely to experiment with when it comes to color.

First up, I have this red, white and blue cheesecake salad. No, there’s no romaine, or even Jell-O, but there is pudding and whipped topping and then something I’ve never thought of adding to those two things: strawberry yogurt. Add yourself some fresh sliced strawberries and fresh blueberries for vibrant color and natural flavors, and then some mini marshmallows to make it a true American dessert salad, and you’ve got a colorful dessert that took minimal effort and may just be one of your guest’s favorite guilty pleasures.

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Speaking of Jell-O, I found this super colorful red, white and blue Jell-O cake. This is like a poke cake, made from a boxed white cake mix, which you let cool, then prepare your red and blue Jell-O liquids for and you to either syringe the Jell-O into the cake or poke it with a butter knife and carefully pour the colors in. The recipe recommends letting the cake to rest for 2 hours between adding both Jell-O colors so the first color will be set and they won’t mix. But if they do mix, it looks like tie-dye, so that’s not too bad of a thing either. The icing is Cool Whip mixed with vanilla pudding mix, and you top it with decorative strawberries and blueberries.

Another very easy dessert is this red velvet trifle, made from a box cake mix, homemade cream cheese frosting, and blueberries and strawberries in between. I’ve usually seen trifles with pieces of cake, but this author layers the whole cakes in the glass punchbowl or trifle bowl if you have one, and it looks beautiful. Then you just dig in with a big serving spoon when it comes time to eat it.

And then for one last, super-creative dessert, a watermelon cake. No, not a cake that is shaped like an oval with beautiful but not-so-tasty fondant icing, no, I mean an actual “cake” made from watermelon. You cut the ends off the watermelon so it can sit flat, then cut away at the rind so that you have a cylinder (or even a tall rectangle, if you feel more comfortable cutting that shape). Finally, spread a frozen whipped topping on all of the outside and top with blueberries for the full red, white and blue effect once you cut it open. I know one of my sons would love this “cake,” probably best of all the recipes I’ve listed this week.

Happy Fourth of July, and enjoy!

Red, white, and blue cheesecake salad

1 box (3.4 ounces) cheesecake pudding mix

12 ounces whipped topping

18 ounces strawberry yogurt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 pound strawberries, sliced

2 cups blueberries

2 cups miniature marshmallows

Place the whipped topping, pudding mix, vanilla extract, and yogurt into a large bowl. Whisk together until fully combined and smooth. Cover the mixture and refrigerate until for about one hour or until ready to serve.

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Wash and drain the blueberries. Wash, pat dry and slice the strawberries.

Remove cream mixture from the refrigerator and gently fold in strawberries, blueberries, and mini marshmallows, stir gently to combine.

Serve immediately. Serves 10.

Easy red, white and blue Jell-O cake

1 box white cake mix

1 box instant berry blue Jell-O

1 box instant strawberry Jell-O

1 (16 ounces) container of Cool Whip

1 box instant vanilla pudding

1 cup thinly sliced strawberries

1/2 cup fresh blueberries

Prepare cake mix according to package directions. Allow cake to cool and prepare berry blue Jell-O according to package directions. Allow Jell-O to cool slightly before adding to cake.

Using a syringe, inject cake with around 1 teaspoon of Jell-O around every inch. You may also just poke the cake with a butter knife and pour Jell-O with a teaspoon.

Place cake in refrigerator and allow the blue Jell-O to set for around 2 hours before adding the red Jell-O to keep the colors from bleeding.

Prepare the strawberry Jell-O according to the package instructions; allow to cool. Inject the Jell-O around every 1 inch, between the blue Jell-O. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours before adding the icing.

For the icing, in a large bowl, stir the vanilla pudding mix in with the cool whip until smooth and thickened. Spread over the top of the cake. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Add sliced strawberries and blueberries to the top, right before serving for best results.

Red velvet trifle

1 box red velvet cake mix (plus eggs, oil and water the package calls for)

2 blocks (8 ounces each) cream cheese, softened

¾ cup granulated sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 cups heavy whipping cream

2 cups blueberries

1 cup strawberries, halved

Prepare and bake cake, according to package directions, using two 9-inch round cake pans. Make sure to grease pans very well so cakes can be removed easily. Let cakes cool completely.

Beat cream cheese and sugar together in a large bowl with an electric hand mixer. Add vanilla and whipping cream. Continue to beat until thickened, creamy and combined.

Place one cake layer into the bottom of a large trifle dish. Spread half of the cream cheese filling over cake. Top cake with blueberries in a single layer.

Place second cake over blueberries. Spread the remaining cream cheese frosting over cake. Top with strawberry halves and a few more blueberries. Cover and chill trifle in fridge until ready to serve.

No-cook watermelon "cake"

1 large seedless watermelon

2 (8-ounce) containers frozen whipped topping

1 cup blueberries

Few springs of fresh mint

Slice 2 short ends off watermelon so it sits flat; cut away rind to make a cylinder shape. Transfer the watermelon to a cake stand. Frost with frozen whipped topping. Top with berries and mint. Slice as you would a cake and serve. Serves 10.

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