Red, white and blue cookies, just in time for 4th of July

Thinking ahead to your next few meals? Here are some main dishes and sides to try.

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Red, white and blue cookies are perfect for your 4th of July celebrations.

Red, white and blue cookies are perfect for your 4th of July celebrations.

Red, white and blue cookies

Makes 36 cookies

Preparation time: 10 minutes; Freezing time: about 30 minutes

Cooking time: 18 minutes; Cooling time: 3 minutes


  • 1 cup butter, at room temperature
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • Red gel food color
  • Blue gel food color
  • Clear cake sparkles


Heat oven to 350 degrees. Place parchment paper on rimmed baking sheet.

Beat butter and sugar until blended and fluffy. Add flour and vanilla and beat until well combined. Divide the dough into three equal pieces and color one piece red and another piece blue with food color gel.

Shape each piece of dough (red, white and blue) into 2 logs, each 8 inches long, 1 1/2 inches wide and about 1/4 inch thick. Place blue dough on flat surface. Top with white dough, then red dough.

Roll in waxed paper or parchment paper and freeze 30 minutes or until dough is firm enough to slice. Repeat with remaining refrigerated cookie dough. Slice each chilled cookie dough log into 18 cookies.

Arrange on prepared baking sheet and sprinkle with cake sparkles. Bake 15 minutes or until bottoms are golden.

Cool 3 minutes on baking sheet. Transfer to wire rack and cool completely. Repeat with remaining chilled cookie dough log.

Per serving: 86 calories, 1 gram protein, 5 grams fat (53% calories from fat), 3.3 grams saturated fat, 9 grams carbohydrate, 14 milligrams cholesterol, 45 milligrams sodium, no fiber.

Carb choices: 1/2.

Black beans and rice

Makes 5 servings

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: about 20 minutes plus rice


1 cup brown rice

1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil

1 medium chopped onion

1 chopped red bell pepper

4 ounces diced ham

1 tablespoon minced garlic

1 teaspoon each cumin and dried oregano

2 (15-ounce) cans undrained reduced-sodium black beans

1/2 cup water

2 teaspoons red wine vinegar

1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Lime wedges and diced red onion for garnish

Cook rice according to directions; set aside. Meanwhile, heat oil in a large nonstick skillet on medium. Add onions and bell pepper; cook, stirring 8 minutes or until softened. Add ham; cook 2 minutes or until browned. Add garlic, cumin and oregano; cook, stirring 30 seconds or until fragrant. Stir in beans and water; bring to simmer. Reduce heat to low and simmer 10 minutes to blend flavors. Remove from heat; stir in vinegar and cilantro. Serve over rice. Garnish with lime wedges and onion.

Per serving: 348 calories, 18 grams protein, 4 grams fat (10% calories from fat), 0.8 grams saturated fat, 60 grams carbohydrate, 12 milligrams cholesterol, 280 milligrams sodium, 9 grams fiber.

Carb choices: 4

Spicy shrimp Alfredo

Makes 8 servings

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: less than 15 minutes plus pasta with peas


1 pound multigrain spaghetti

1 1/2 cups frozen petite green peas, thawed

1 tablespoon canola oil

1 medium chopped onion

3 teaspoons Cajun seasoning, divided

1 pound peeled and cooked medium shrimp

1 (10-ounce) package refrigerated reduced-fat Alfredo sauce

Cook pasta according to directions; add peas the last 2 minutes of cooking. Drain and return to pot. Meanwhile, heat oil in a large nonstick skillet on medium. Add onion; cook 4 minutes. Stir in 2 teaspoons Cajun seasoning; cook 1 minute. Add shrimp; cook 2 minutes. Set aside. Cover and microwave Alfredo sauce and remaining Cajun seasoning 2 minutes on 30% power; stir and cook 2 more minutes or until heated throughout. To pasta in pot, stir in shrimp mixture and Alfredo sauce mixture. Toss to mix and coat. Serve immediately.

Per serving: 352 calories, 26 grams protein, 8 grams fat (19% calories from fat), 2.5 grams saturated fat, 47 grams carbohydrate, 128 milligrams cholesterol, 798 milligrams sodium, 6 grams fiber.

Carb choices: 3

Chicken and melon salad

In a large bowl, combine 3/4 cup red wine vinaigrette and 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice; let stand 10 minutes. Meanwhile, soak 1/3 cup thinly sliced red onion in hot water to cover for 10 minutes; drain and pat dry. To vinaigrette mixture, add onion, 2 romaine lettuce hearts (chopped), an 8- to 12-ounce package grilled chicken breast (chopped), 1 1/2 cups cubed cantaloupe, 1 1/2 cups seeded and cubed watermelon, 2/3 cup crumbled Greek feta cheese and 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil; toss to coat and combine. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup toasted slivered almonds. Serve immediately. Serve with chilled vegetable juice and crackers

Linguine caponata

Add a 7.5-ounce can caponata (eggplant appetizer) to no-salt-added or regular marinara sauce. Heat; toss with cooked linguine. Top each serving with a dollop of part-skim ricotta. Serve it with a spinach salad and garlic bread. Enjoy some cantaloupe for dessert.

Turkey tostadas

Heat oven to 450 degrees. Coat 8 corn tortillas with cooking spray. Bake, turning once, until crisp. Mix 2 cups diced deli turkey and 1/2 cup each reduced-fat sour cream and salsa. Spoon over tortillas and sprinkle with shredded Jack cheese. Heat until cheese is melted. Serve with corn on the cob.. Fresh cherries make a great summer dessert.

Stuffed peppers

Use your favorite bell peppers, hollow them, turn upside-down in a baking dish, cover and microwave on high 1 minute per pepper. Stuff them with heated beans and rice (moisten with a little unsalted chicken broth) and top with some crumbled Greek feta cheese. Serve with fresh broccoli spears and whole-grain rolls. Plums are good for dessert.

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