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Celebrate independence from complex holiday dishes
BC-US-FEA--Food-Grilled Fool-ref
A fool is a classic British dessert made from a fruit compote and whipped cream. In this version, the fruit is grilled rather than cooked on the stovetop.

If you’re the designated host for your family’s Fourth of July celebration, there’s no reason to lose any sleep over the menu.

Instead of racking your brain for complicated dishes, why not keep things simple with all-American items like hot dogs, hamburgers and ice cream?

Before you shrug that suggestion off, keep in mind that simple doesn’t have to mean boring.

Take hog dogs for instance. Instead of cooking up a plain one, why not wrap it in bacon before grilling, to make what is known on the West Coast as a "danger dog."

Executives with Wienerschnitzel, a California-based restaurant chain that specializes in hot dogs, say that the flavor combination is irresistible.

"Everybody loves bacon," said Tom Amberger, vice president of marketing for the chain.

"It just seems to make everything better."

If the danger dog is too meaty for your tastes, there are still ways to jazz up your plain hot dogs. Instead of the basic ketchup and mustard, kick things up a notch with an entire bar of toppings.

In addition to the traditional toppings like relish, chopped onions, chilli and cole slaw, try adding a few unexpected ingredients like jalapeno peppers, nacho cheese and guacamole.

A toppings bar is also an easy way to up the ante for grilled "baked" potatoes. A baked potato topped with a plethora of toppings — think grated cheeses, barbecue pulled pork, sour cream and crumbled bacon — is perfect for outdoor eating. Many of the toppings you set out for the potatoes can do double-duty on hamburgers or even hot dogs.

It’s also a great way to include a vegetarian option. Baked potato toppings like salsa, avocado, grilled mushrooms, diced red onion and grilled vegetables can help even your non-meat eaters walk from your barbecue fully satisfied.

Since you’ve made it through the main courses stress free, there’s no reason to sweat dessert. Your final course can also be simple, but still wrap-up the festivities on a sweet note.

Consider pulling out your ice cream maker for a quick and easy dessert. Instead of a traditional ice cream, why not mix up a quick frozen yogurt? You could even make patriotic sundaes by topping a vanilla frozen yogurt with fresh strawberries and blueberries.

If making your own isn’t an option, store-bought ice cream, frozen yogurt and sorbet can be just as festive. These frozen delights can also be set-up self-serve style with a toppings bar. Fresh fruit, sprinkles, chocolate syrup, caramel, cookie pieces and assorted candies are all good choices.

To help prolong the sundae bar fun, don’t forget to set your containers of frozen concoctions in a bowl surrounded by ice to help slow down the melting process.

Associated Press and McClatchy-Tribune News Service contributed to this article.