6 BBQ Hacks For An Epic 4th Of July

Photo: Courtesy of Julie's Kitchen.
Independence Day is just around the corner — the time of the year where we get to let loose, enjoy some fireworks, don our best red, white, and blue duds, and celebrate our country’s birthday in the most American way we know how: a good ol' fashioned BBQ! What we don't suggest for this weekend? Spending more time than absolutely necessary in the kitchen.

Whether you’re planning on hosting a group of friends, or just want to whip up some deliciously ‘merican munchies for you and your S.O., we’ve tapped two of our favorite L.A. food bloggers for easy recipes.

Ahead, Adrianna Adarme of A Cozy Kitchen and Julie Lee of Julie’s Kitchen have created a mouth-watering menu that can be prepped the night before and assembled in minutes. Think: Instagram-worthy drinks that can be mixed in no time, a side dish recipe that put chips and dip to shame, and a no-bake dessert you can make a day in advance.

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Photo: Courtesy of A Cozy Kitchen.
Serves 4

Salty, sweet, and not too strong (you want to make it to the fireworks, right?!) A Cozy Kitchen’s astonishingly simple beergarita is the perfect cocktail to sip while celebrating.

1/4 cup white granulated sugar
1/4 cup water
Salt, for garnish
Ice cubes
3/4 cup lime juice (about 8 limes)
Lager beer (like PBR or Bud Light)
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Photo: Courtesy of A Cozy Kitchen.
1. To create a simple syrup, mix sugar and water in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir until dissolved, remove from heat, and allow to cool completely. This can be done the night before.

2. Add a few tablespoons of salt to a shallow plate. Dip the rim of each glass into the cooled simple syrup and then into the salt. Drop a few ice cubes into each glass; divide the simple syrup and lime juice amongst them.

3. Top each drink with a healthy amount of beer and a lime wedge (optional). Stir and serve.
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Photo: Courtesy of Julie's Kitchen.
Caesar Deviled Eggs
Serves 6 to 12

Forget basic deviled eggs! Yours will pack a punch with this simple trick from Julie’s Kitchen: Swap the usual mayo out for tangy dressing.

1 dozen hard-boiled eggs
1/2 cup Caesar dressing (like Ken’s Steakhouse Creamy Caesar)
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1 lemon, juiced
Lemon zest
Salt and pepper, to taste
Garnish of choice (like paprika, microgreens, radishes, or shallots)

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Photo: Courtesy of Julie's Kitchen.
1. Halve each hard-boiled egg (which you can make the night before to save time!) and place yolks in a bowl.

2. Mash yolks with Caesar dressing, Dijon mustard, lemon zest, lemon juice, salt, and pepper (to taste).

3. Spoon yolk mixture into egg white halves. To garnish, simply sprinkle each egg with paprika, microgreens, radishes, or shallots.

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Photo: Courtesy of A Cozy Kitchen.
Chili Cheese Dogs
Serves 6 to 8

There’s almost nothing as yummy as a hot dog fresh off the grill, that is, unless it’s a chili and cheese smothered hot dog fresh off the grill. Simply try this simple upgrade from A Cozy Kitchen to elevate your dogs.

For Chili
Olive oil
1 pound ground beef (85% lean/15% fat is ideal)
1/2 tsp salt
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 cup tomato paste
1/4 cup beef broth
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/8 tsp ground cayenne pepper

For Hot Dogs
1/2 onion, diced and divided
6-8 hot dogs and buns
Yellow mustard
1/2 cup cheddar cheese (or any other melty cheese you love)

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Photo: Courtesy of A Cozy Kitchen.
1. Heat about 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a medium saucepan. When the oil is hot, drop in half of the onions and cook until they're translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the ground beef, salt, garlic clove and mix until the meat has browned, about another 5 minutes.

2. Add the tomato paste, beef broth, cumin, and cayenne. Mix and cook for an additional minute or so. Turn the heat to low and cover the pot to keep warm while you prepare the rest of the ingredients. (You can prep your chili the night before, if desired.)

3. Grill or pan-cook the hot dogs. Place the dogs in their buns, add some mustard, top with a generous spoonful of chili and cheese. Top with the remaining diced white onion.
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Photo: Courtesy of Julie's Kitchen.
Mezcal Spiked Watermelon Agua Fresca
Serves 10

This is the perfect batch cocktail for large groups, and takes the traditional aguas fresca to a whole new level by spiking it with mezcal. Thank you, Julie's Kitchen.

6 cups watermelon, cubed, plus a few wedges for garnish
1 cup of simple syrup (see instructions in slide one)
1/2 cup lime juice
2 cups mezcal
Mint sprigs
1 cucumber, sliced
1 jalapeño, sliced (optional)

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Photo: Courtesy of Julie's Kitchen.
1. Puree watermelon cubes, simple syrup, and lime juice in a blender. Strain into a large pitcher and chill.

2. Mix mezcal, mint sprigs, cucumber, and jalapeño into pitcher.

3. To serve, pour agua fresca over ice. Garnish with a watermelon wedge and cucumber slices.
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Photo: Courtesy of A Cozy Kitchen.
Elote Corn Salad
Serves 4 to 6

Traditional Mexican street corn is a L.A. favorite for one big reason: It's the prefect mix of sweet and savory. A Cozy Kitchen’s street corn hack makes for a wonderfully lighter take on this grilled corn dish.

For Dressing
1/4 cup créme fraîche
1 lime
1/4 tsp ancho chile powder
Pinch of cayenne pepper

For Salad

5 ears of corn
2 tbsp diced red onion
2 serrano peppers (optional), thinly sliced
Handful of cilantro
2 tbsp crumbled queso fresco
1/4 tsp ancho chile pepper

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Photo: Courtesy of A Cozy Kitchen.
1. In a small bowl, mix together the créme fraîche, juice from the lime, ancho chile pepper, cayenne pepper, and a few pinches of salt. Set aside.

2. Grill your corn, allow to cool, then cut the kernels off the cob with this trick from Adarme: Flip a smaller bowl upside down and set it inside a bigger bowl. Steady the corn on top of the smaller bowl and slice the corn off the cob with a knife. All of the corn will fall into the bigger bowl rather than spewing all over your kitchen.

3. Add the red onion, serrano peppers, and a pinch of salt to the corn.

4. Add the dressing and toss lightly, being sure the corn is evenly coated. Give it a taste test and add a bit more salt, cayenne pepper, or ancho chile pepper, if you like.

5. Garnish with a small handful of cilantro, queso fresco, and a few dashes of ancho chile pepper.
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Photo: Courtesy of A Cozy Kitchen.
Mocha Ice Box Cake
Serves 6 to 8

Whether you’re looking for something to bring along to a BBQ or saving the best for last with your own guests, this easy-to-assemble cake from A Cozy Kitchen is no-bake, and best of all, ready in 30 minutes!

1/4 cup dark rum
1/4 cup light or dark brown sugar
1 tbsp of instant espresso powder
Pinch of salt
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
16 ounces of mascarpone cheese, at room temperature
3 tbsp cocoa powder, plus 1 tbsp for garnish
1 (9 ounce) pack of chocolate wafer cookies

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Photo: Courtesy of A Cozy Kitchen.
1. In a small saucepan over low heat, mix the dark rum, brown sugar, espresso powder, and salt. Stir until espresso powder has dissolved; cook until reduced by almost half, about 5 to 7 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside to cool.

2. Whisk the heavy cream until light and fluffy with medium peaks, about 2 minutes. Scoop into a small bowl and set aside. Beat the mascarpone cheese in a bowl, then slowly pour in the rum syrup (don't stop mixing). It may appear curdled, but it won’t affect the flavor at all — don’t stress about it! Sift in the cocoa powder and fold it in until it’s completely combined. Lastly, fold in the whipped cream — it should be light and fluffy.

3. On a cake stand or large plate, arrange 6 cookies in a circle and place one in the center. Add a dollop of mascarpone cheese mixture to the center and spread it out into one even layer. Repeat with remaining mascarpone cheese mixture and cookies, making about 4 more layers, ending with the cheese mixture.

4. Cover lightly with plastic wrap and transfer to the refrigerator for at least 3 hours, ideally overnight.

5. Just before serving, dust liberally with cocoa powder. To serve, cut into this cake just as you would a regular cake to create slices.