Great 4th of July Sides!!

Everyone does baked beans, french fries and potato chips for sides when grillin' out for the 4th of July! But why not spice it up a little bit with some unique sides that'll make your neighbors jealous!

Bacon Wrapped Stuffed Jalapeno Peppers:

  • 1/2 cup cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
  • 12 jalapeno peppers, halved lengthwise, seeds and membranes removed
  • 12 slices bacon
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Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.
  2. Mix cream cheese and Cheddar cheese together in a bowl until evenly blended. Fill each jalapeno half with the cheese mixture. Put halves back together and wrap each stuffed pepper with a slice of bacon. Arrange bacon-wrapped peppers on the prepared baking sheet.
  3. Bake in the preheated oven until bacon is crispy, about 15 minutes.

Cheezy Potato Salad:

  • 3 pounds baby potatoes, halved or quartered if large
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup canned spray cheese
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 3 ribs celery, thinly sliced
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced, white bottoms and green tops kept separate
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 6 strips bacon, cooked and crumbled

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Place the potatoes in a medium saucepan or pot. Add enough water to cover the potatoes by 1 inch and add the salt. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to medium-high and simmer until the potatoes are tender when pierced with a fork, 12 to 15 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, combine the Cheez Whiz, sour cream, celery, white bottoms of the scallions, and black pepper in a large bowl.
  3. When the potatoes are ready, drain and run under cold water to cool completely. Once cooled, drain off as much water as possible.
  4. Add the potatoes to the bowl of dressing and toss to coat. Transfer to a serving dish or bowl. Garnish with the green tops of the scallions and crumbled bacon just before serving.

BBQ Chicken and Macaroni Salad:

INGREDIENTS

For the chicken:
  • 1 quart warm water
  • 1/4 cup kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 to 1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts (2 to 3 individual breasts)
  • 1/2 cup barbecue sauce, store-bought

For the salad:

  • 1/2 to 1/4 cup barbecue sauce, store-bought
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
  • 1/2 pound elbow macaroni (about 2 cups)
  • 1/2 medium red onion, diced and soaked in cold water until needed
  • 1 medium red or green pepper, diced
  • 3 to 4 stalks celery, diced
  • Salt and pepper

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. For the chicken, combine the warm water, salt, and sugar in a shallow baking dish. Stir gently until the salt and the sugar are completely dissolved. Add the chicken to the brine. It should be completely submerged; add more warm water if necessary. Cover and brine the chicken for 1/2 to 2 hours, refrigerating if brining for more than 1/2 hour.
  2. When ready to cook the chicken, turn on the oven broiler and position an oven rack 4 to 5 inches below the broiler element. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and set a wire rack on top.
  3. Remove the chicken from the brine and discard the brining liquid. Pat the chicken dry and coat each side with a few tablespoons of barbecue sauce. Lay the chicken, spaced an inch or so apart, on the wire rack over the baking sheet. Transfer to the oven and broil for 6 minutes. Flip the breasts and broil for another 6 minutes. Check that the chicken is cooked through and registers at least 165°F on an instant-read thermometer; broil in additional 2-minute intervals if necessary until the chicken is cooked. Remove the chicken from the oven and set aside to cool.
  4. Whisk together 1/2 cup of the barbecue sauce, 1/4 cup of the mayo, and the cider vinegar in a small bowl. When the chicken is cool, shred or cube into bite-sized pieces. You should have 2 to 3 cups of shredded chicken.
  5. Cook the macaroni in a large amount of salted, boiling water until it is cooked a little beyond al dente. Drain and immediately toss with about 1/4 cup of the dressing.
  6. In a large bowl, combine the cooked macaroni, shredded chicken, drained red onions, pepper, and celery. Toss with the remaining dressing until evenly coated. Taste the salad and add salt, pepper, more mayo, more barbecue sauce, or a splash of cider vinegar to suit your taste.
  7. Serve immediately or refrigerate until serving. This salad will keep unrefrigerated for 4 hours, or up to a week refrigerated.

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