The Fourth of July is rapidly approaching and if you haven't already made plans, why not consider spending the day at your favorite picnic spot? Whether at the beach, lake, pool, or even in your own backyard, picniking is a great way to celebrate any occasion with family and friends.

Once you've decided on the location, planning the menu comes next. The usual fare includes hamburgers, hot dogs, chips, pickles, cold drinks and dessert. If you're game to try something new, here are a few suggestions (strawberry, of course) to make your holiday get-together even more memorable.

Happy Fruit Kabobs

8 12-inch wooden skewers
1/2 cup apple jelly
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
1/8 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 of a medium fresh pineapple, peeled and cored (about 9 oz.)
2 cups large fresh strawberries
1 nectarine, seeded and cut into wedges
1/2 of a 10-oz. frozen pound cake, cut into 1 1/2 inch cubes
8 small firm kiwi fruit, peeled and cut in half crosswise

1. Soak wooden skewers in water for 1 hour.

2. For sauce, combine apple jelly, lemon juice, and cinnamon in a saucepan. Cook over low heat, stirring occasionally until smooth and bubbly.

3. Cut pineapple into 1 1/2 inch pieces. Thread pineapple, strawberries, nectarine wedges, and cake cubes alternately onto skewers, placing kiwi halves on each end. Leave a little space between each piece so heat can go all around. Transfer kabobs to a baking sheet or tray so you can carry them easily to the grill.

4. Place kabobs on grill. Grill 2 minutes, carefully turning skewers over.

5. Use a long-handled brush to coat some of the sauce over the kabobs. Remove kabobs from grill. Makes 8 servings.

Summer Berry Brownie Torte

3/4 cup granulated sugar 6 tablespoons butter or margarine 1 Tbsp. water 1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips, divided 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract 2 large eggs 2/3 cup all-purpose flour 1/4 tsp. baking soda 1/4 tsp. salt 2 cups sliced strawberries and blueberries for filling

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Wax paper line and grease 9-inch round cake pan.

Combine sugar, butter and water in small, heavy-duty saucepan. Bring to boil, stirring constantly; remove from heat.

Add 3/4 cup chocolate chips; stir until smooth. Stir in vanilla extract.

Add eggs one at a time,stirring well after each addition. Add flour, baking soda and salt; stir until well blended. Stir in remaining chocolate chips. Pour into prepared round cake pan.

Bake for 20-25 minutes or until wooden toothpick inserted in center comes out slightly sticky.

Filling: Beat 1/2 heavy whipping cream and 1/4 cup granulated sugar in small mixer bowl until stiff peaks form. Top with berries. Refrigerate until serving time.

Makes 8-10 servings

Well, those are my suggestions for your Fourth of July picnic menu. Now it's up to you. Enjoy the fireworks and let me know how you liked the recipes by writing to:

Next month I'll be highlighting no-bake desserts that will keep you cool in the kitchen despite the temperature outside!

See you! All the best,