The Fourth of July is a time to gather for an all-American experience. Fireworks, blow-out backyard barbecues and pool parties may be off the table, but food and family will save the holi-day! And your Fourth of July tablescape won’t even need a centerpiece with these patriotic, traditional and festive Visit Irving staff favorites… from our homes to yours. July 4th never looked so good.


When You Dip I Dip We Dip (Appetizers)



Lori Fojtasek, VP of “Show me the Money!”

Working Mom, Wife, Sports Fan, graduated from high school with Jamie Foxx in Terrell, Texas. After 26 years with the bureau, no one knows CVB Sales & Services better.  Goes by LoFo when whooping Fala P in football pools (see bio for baked beans).

If you love jalapeño poppers, you’ll love this dippable version! Serve up that fiery hot jalapeno popper taste without all the work.

#1 Lori's Firecracker Jalapeno Popper Dip

Source: Lori Fojtasek, VP of "Show me the Money!" Four 8 oz packages of cream cheese Two cups of mayonnaise Two 4 oz can diced green chiles Two 4 oz can chopped Jalapeño (not pickled, just c Grated Parmesan Cheese Preheat oven to 350 degrees.


Kathy Levine, Event Alchemist

Avid Cruiser, Astrology Lover, Ukulele Enthusiast, Wife, Mom, YaYa, and one heck of a Convention Services Manager.

Kathy is hamming it up this weekend with a former co-worker’s heavenly ham dip. Don’t worry about the ham in can. No one will be the wiser, and it’s yummylicious.

Freda's Ham Dip

Source: Event Alchemist Kathy Levine 4 whole eggs 1 can Deviled Ham Spread 6 tablespoons mayonnaise ½ cup cheddar cheese 2 teaspoons mustard 1 teaspoon onion powder 1. In a small bowl, mix eggs, deviled ham spread, mayonnaise, cheese, mustard and onion powder until smooth and creamy. 2.


Monty White, Digital Overlord

Monty White is a serious chewer of gum, connoisseur of cookies (the perfect food), collector of blue sweaters, a perpetual student and a reluctant blogger. He’s also the Director of Marketing and happens to be my work hubby. 

At our annual Christmas potluck, Monty’s Award-Winning Crack Dip is like, well, like crack. It’s the dip that makes you dip!

Monty's {Award Winning} "Crack Dip"

Monty's {Award Winning} "Crack Dip" 2 (11 ounce) cans Mexicorn, drained 1 cup real mayonnaise 1 cup real sour cream Tops of 3 bunches of green onions, sliced 1 (4.5 ounce) can green chilies, diced 1/3 cup of jalapenos (the jar kind), chopped 8 ounce package of Shredded Mexican Blend cheese Tortilla chips for serving 1. 


The Fireworks (Mains) 




Lori Mansell, Master Hugger & People Pleaser

Empty-Nester, Paleo fanatic, loves to read, travel and entertain clients.  Does not sit still well.  #Help! Oh and Ms. Mansell is the State & National Association Sales Manager.

Koo Koo for Coconut? Then you’ll be cray cray koo koo for Lori’s paleo, golden, sweet, crispy, coconut encrusted shrimp. Under different circumstances, you’d want to hug the Master Hugger!

Lori #2's Coconut Shrimp

Source: Lori Mansell, Master Hugger & People Pleaser courtesy of paleogrubs 1 1/2 pound large shrimps ; peeled and deveined 2 eggs 1/4 tsp black pepper 1/2 tsp salt 2 cups unsweetened shredded coconut coconut oil for frying In a shallow bowl, beat the eggs with salt and black pepper and set aside.


Side Show Sensations (All-American side dishes)


American dogs


Diana Pfaff, VP of “Irving Rocks!”

Sports, Shoes & Rescues:  Who Dat, Guns Up, Louboutin, Choo & Two-Eyed, Three-Legged Dogs.  Cream of the crop when it comes to Marketing & Communications and has been with the bureau for 25 years. Goes by Fala P when whooping LoFo in football pools (see bio for jalapeno popper dip).

Beans, Beans the magical fruit, on the Fourth there is no substitute, especially with, this delicious traditional dish!

Diana's Delicious Bar-B-Q Baked Beans

Source: Diana Pfaff, VP of "Irving Rocks" 1 pound ground beef ; optional 1 1/2 onions ; chopped 2 16 oz cans pork and beans 1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar 1/2 cup barbecue sauce 1/4 cup liquid smoke 2 tablespoons mustard Brown meat and onions; drain well.


Carol Stoddard, Head Organizer of Chaos

Writer, organizer, support staffer, baby boomer. Lover of the DFW Metroplex and its history. When she’s not working, she’s writing or chasing her cats off the counter. She loves to explore new places and try new area restaurants, and thinks the best keep popping up in Irving. Carol thrives as Senior Marketing and Communications Coordinator for Visit Irving.

Life’s a picnic!  Serve the potato salad.  

Carol's Picnic Potato Salad

Source: Head Organizer of Chaos Large pot of washed, unpeeled new potatoes 1 cup Olive Oil Mayonnaise ¼ cup Dijon Mustard 2-3 Hard-boiled Eggs, chopped 4-6 Kosher Dill Pickle Spears, chopped 1 Red Onion, chopped 1 tsp Poppy Seeds 1 tsp Lemon Pepper 1. "Boil potatoes until soft. 2.


Sparklers (Desserts)




Staff submissions: three dips, one main, two sides and EIGHT dessert favorites. We really do love these red, white and delicious desserts. 

Eduardo Alvarez, Executive Happiness Whisperer & Hunger Buster

Always smiling. Never says no. Humble and Kind. Passionate. Chef Extraordinaire. Family man. 2019 winner of the “Their PASSION MADE Your Event POSSIBLE” Unsung Hero Award presented by Northstar Meeting Group. He’s our awesome-sauce Executive Chef at the Irving Convention Center… and he has opened his personal recipe book to a patriotic dessert.

Chef's Panna Cotta Party

Source: ICC Executive Chef Eduardo Alvarez 3 cups heavy whipping cream 1.5 teaspoon unflavored gelatin 1 tablespoon granulated white sugar 1 vanilla bean split and seed scraped 1 basket blueberries 1 basket raspberries 1 basket strawberries Pour gelatin in small bowl with 2 tablespoon of water and set aside.

Katherine DiPietro, SMERF Schmoozer

Wife, golfer and all-around go-getter who oversees the Social, Military, Education, Religious and Fraternal sales markets (no, she has nothing to do with little blue people). Always on the ball, she’s been the driving force behind the Irving Convention Center’s largest gatherings, including Comic Con, and most city-wide hotel bookings.

This star spangled berry pie is a sure-fire hit for the Fourth of July.

Katherine's Fourth of July Berry Pie

Source: SMERF Schmoozer Katherine DiPietro 2 - Pillsbury Pie crusts 14.2 oz 2 CT. 8 cups mixed berries ; slive the strawberries 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar ¼ cup cornstarch ¼ cup fresh lemon juice from 2 lemons salt 2 large egg yolks 2 tablespoons heavy cream Roll out 1 pie crust on lightly floured surface.

Wendy Foster, CMP, Director of WOW

House divided Clemson-Alabama football fan, toes in the water-a$$ in the sand beach junkie, country girl, wife, mom and friend and a kick-a$$ Senior Convention Services Manager.

This ooh-and-aaaah-and-WOW ya cake is the perfect patriotic dessert, and Wendy, the Director of WOW, spills the secret that this patriotic cake is easy peasy to prepare. Shhhh, don’t tell if you bake to impress.

Wendy's July Fourth Go-to American Flag Cake

Source: Wendy Foster, CMP, Director of WOW courtesy of thespruceeats 18 1/4 ounces vanilla cake mix 8 ounces cream cheese 9 ounce frozen whipped topping (slightly thawed) 3 tablespoon powdered sugar 1 pint blueberries 1 to 2 pints raspberries Gather the ingredients. Prepare cake in a 9-by-13-inch baking dish, according to package directions.

Cheryl Hopkins, Corporate Closer

This June she celebrated 28 years with the Visit Irving dream team and is taking names and kicking booties as the Corporate and Airlines National Sales Manager. A frequent recipient of the Sales Manager of the Year award, she’s also a fan of the late great Dinah Shore and often leads staff celebrations with an unforgettable rendition of “Happy Birthday.”

Cheryl’s rendition of Ina Garten’s scrumptious strawberry dessert takes the cake.

Cheryl's Mmmmmm Version of Ina Garten Strawberry Cake

Source: Corporate Closer Cheryl Hopkins CAKE 1 box white cake mix 1 3oz box of strawberry jello - dry 1 16oz frozen strawberries packed in syrup 4 eggs 1/2 cup vegetable oil 1/4 cup water ICING 1/4 cup butter- softened 1 8oz pack of cream cheese - softened 1/4 cup of strawberry puree reserved from the cake 1/2 tsp vanilla 1 pound powdered sugar CAKE Defrost the strawberries and puree in blender.


Kimberly Kresge, Chief Pastry Princess

It’s all about food for Kimberly. She loves to cook and bake and exudes enthusiasm in her role on the Convention Services team.

Kimberly must be an angel bringing us this light, fluffy, fruity and fantastic treat for your Fourth of July menu!

Kimberly's Raspberry Angel Cake

Source: Kimberly Kresge, the Pastry Princess 1 Angel Food Cake 1 box (3 ounces) raspberry-flavored gelatin 1 1/4 cups boiling water 1 box (10 ounces) frozen raspberries 1 can whipping (heavy) cream In large bowl, stir together the boiling water and gelatin to dissolve the gelatin. Add raspberries and stir until they thaw.


Marianne Lauda, Director of Bean Counting and Money Maestro for the Bureau 

Highly seasoned Bureau employee, piano and keyboard aficionado and music enthusiast. She loves spending time with family and friends.  She’s a very thorough Accounting & Budget Director.

This is far from your typical salad. In fact, it’s not a salad at all. Strawberry Pretzel Salad is along the lines of Grandma’s Ambrosia Salad. You know... the Thanksgiving side that you try to keep from touching the savory food on your plate? Let me clear up your confusion. Strawberry Pretzel Salad IS A DESSERT that’s called a salad, a three-layer salad made of a pretzel crust, cream cheese center, and strawberry topping. Whatever you call it, it’s a fun and colorful summer sweet treat.

Marianne's Hello Jell-o Pretzel Salad

Marianne's Hello Jell-o Pretzel Salad 1 ½ cups crushed pretzels 4?½ tablespoons white sugar ¾ cup butter, melted 1 cup white sugar 2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese 1 (8 ounce) container frozen whipped topping, thaw 1 (6 ounce) package strawberry flavored Jell-O 2 cups boiling water 1 (16 ounce) package frozen strawberries Step 1 Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).


Kayla Mansour, Social Sensation & Idea Inspiration

Wifey, Mommy, Foodie, Dallasite and working lady @VisitIrvingTx. Lover of social media & marketing/comm. You'll find Kayla living life in sassy shoes w/ big hair. Kayla ROCKS IT as Visit Irving’s Marketing Manager. Therefore, #IrvingRocks.

These are stress-free, shortcut cookies that start with a box of cake mix, any kind of cake mix. Yellow, chocolate, strawberry, red velvet, funfetti + chips, sprinkles and nuts = fun & yum!

Kayla's Colorful Cake Mix Cookies

Kayla's Colorful Cake Mix Cookies 1 box cake mix of your choice 1/4 C oil 2 Tbsp water 2 eggs Mix all the ingredients. Drop by teaspoons on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees at for 9 minutes, Remove from oven, let cool 1 minute.


Lori Sirmen (me, me, me), Ambassador of Buzz

Marketer. Marathoner. Adventure Seeker. High Energy. Creative. Fun & Fun-loving. My Faves: food & wine, friends, fam, my sweet pup Bear, running & travel. I’m also the Communications Manager at Visit Irving, but lately I find I’m becoming the #FoodieFriday phenom. For some reason, I’m always hungry.

Crunchy and gooey at the same time! These are simply the best chocolate chip cookies ever, because of the "secret" ingredient which gives them a little extra crunch.

Lori's-Fernando's-David's Secret Ingredient Chocolate Chip Cookies

Source: Lori Sirmen courtesy of Fernando and allrecipes 4 1/2 cups crispy rice cereal 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour 1 teaspoon baking soda 1/2 teaspoon salt 1 cup butter softened 3/4 cup white sugar 3/4 cup light brown sugar 2 eggs 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).






Maura Gast, FCDME, Chief Amazement Officer

Impassioned Destination Definer. Irving Evangelist. Runs with Scissors. She is a dynamo in her role as the bureau’s Executive Director.

Maura Shares Her Shortcuts for the Whole Shabang 

Being the leader that’s the overachiever, Maura submitted recipes for mains, sides, desserts stating, “So – first thing to know is I look for “easy” and short-cuts with almost everything I cook…and ‘set it and forget it’ is my MO for long holiday weekends.” I like her style.


Two more mains

This recipe is a two-in-one. Depending on which sauce you choose, you can serve up some Texas-style Carnitas or Pulled Pork. This is a great option for holiday weekends when you would actually like some time to relax. Just set the slow cooker and go about your business.

Maura's Slow Cooker "Set it and forget it" Pork Shoulder

Source: Maura Gast, Chief Amazement Officer 1 package Frontera Grill's GarlickyCarnitas slow cook sauce OR 1 package Campbell's Apple Bourbon BBQ slow cook sauce Boneless pork shoulder roast 1 big dollop Molasses (only if you're using the Carnitas sauce) mini -flour tortillas OR slider buns cotija cheese limes salsa any additional fixings of your choice! 


This sliced brisket is another one of Maura's brilliant hacks to save time. 

Maura's Shortcut Sliced Brisket

Source: Maura Gast, Chief Amazement Officer precooked, sliced brisket barbecue sauce flour tortillas shredded cheddar refried beans Or brisket fixings of your choice Heat it up, basted with the bbq sauce of your choice. Serve with flour tortillas, shredded cheddar and re-fried beans, as well as the usual brisket fixings of your choice.


Two more sides

Maura has taken Muy Bueno's Corn in a Cup - Mexican street food at its finest - and made it a tad easier with a few shortcuts. Traditional Mexican elotes, grilled Mexican street corn, is slathered with creamy, cheesy, lime-scented, chili-flecked sauce. Esquites are the off the cob version.

Maura's Corn in a Bowl - Esquites

Source: Maura Gast, Chief Amazement Officer courtesy of allrecipes 10 ears corn ; shucked and kernels removed OR canned or frozen corn 1 1/4 cups butter 2 1/2 cups lime juice 2 1/2 cups crema Mexicana (Mexican cream) 1 teaspoon chili powder ; or to taste 1 pinch salt ; to taste 1 1/4 cups scrumbled cotija cheese 1 dash hot pepper sauce (such as Valentina®) ; or to taste 10 wedges fresh lime tep 1 Place corn in a saucepan and cover with salted water; bring to a boil.


It's not often that you can use the word "refreshing" to describe something other than a cocktail, but this summer salad is darn near revitalizing and loaded with flavor and crunch. With only four vital ingredients, its a breeze to throw together... especially if you buy your watermelon already cubed.

Maura's Watermelon Jicama Feta Salad

Source: Maura Gast, Chief Amazement Officer cubed watermelon cubed jicama crumbled feta cheese Balsamic GLAZE Optional: EVO mint salt Portion to your preference and toss! Be sure you use Balsamic GLAZE and not BALSAMIC vinegar. Feel free to add olive oil, mint and salt to enhance the flavor.


Two more red, white & delicious desserts

Fresh and easy, sure to please. This lovely cake recipe is perfect for the Fourth of July or any summer soiree.

Maura's Fresh Strawberry Upside Down Cake

Source: Maura Gast courtesy of allrecipes 2 cups fresh strawberries ; crushed 1 (6 ounce) package strawberry flavored Jell-O® mix 3 cups miniature marshmallows 1 (18 ounce) package yellow cake mix ; prepare cake as instructed on the box Step 1 Preheat an oven to 350 degrees F Step 2 Spread crushed strawberries on the bottom of a 9x13 inch baking pan.


This gorgeous layered dessert is a showstopper that's surprisingly easy to make. Every trifle layers something cakey, something creamy and something fruity or even crunchy to make a luscious sweet treat. The creative combinations of fruits, sweets and flavors are endless. So fun!!!

Maura's GO-TO Trifle Cake

Source: Maura Gast, FCDME, Chief Amazement Officer prepared Angel food cake ; cut into cubes whipped topping instant pudding ; your favorite flavor fruit or bite-sized candy bars Take turns layering in a clear bowl. A trifle bowl is lovely, but any clear bowl will work!


This year, stay home, stay safe, and let good barbecue, summer sides, sparkling desserts - and even better, the company of family -  be the best recipe for a perfect Fourth of July. We always love seeing your fun #foodie photos, especially if you're trying out our recipes, be sure to tag us @VisitIrving #IrvingRocks.



Cheers y'all!