Janet's Notebook
Crowd-Pleasing Recipes to Celebrate the 4th of July

Red, White and Blue Chicken Salad

Get out the sparklers and make sure the grill's in working order. It's almost the 4th of July!

Each year, my neighborhood has a barbecue. We proudly wear our red, white and blue and pile our plates high with our favorite 4th of July recipes.

One necessity at every cookout is a good burger. Cora Swindoll (Lake Charles, LA) makes One Killer Burger. "It's a great, juicy and flavorful burger," thinks Cora.

What makes Cora's burger so special? She adds chorizo and minced onion to her ground beef. The chorizo gives the burgers a great smoky flavor. Add the toppings (bacon, Colby cheese, lettuce, tomato) with a smear of chipotle mayo, and these burgers rock.

When firing up the grill for burgers, make sure to leave room for a few hot dogs. While a juicy hot dog on a toasted bun with mustard and relish is great, why not kick things up a bit. Make a batch of Lillian Russo's (Long Island, NY) Hot Dog Onions and your hot dog will never be the same.

"I tried many different hot dog onion recipes," explains Lillian. "I mixed and matched them until I got the perfect combination." Hot sauce, chili powder and a pinch of cayenne add some heat to these onions. But a bit of sugar balances the flavors. Quick and easy to prepare, these are going to become a staple at your cookout.

Eddie Jordan's (Bristow, OK) Red, White and Blue Chicken Salad is a refreshing twist on chicken salad and great for those who aren't in the mood for a burger or hot dog.

Dried cranberries and blueberries are an unusual addition that I just loved. The mixture of flavors and textures is amazing. It's sweet and savory with a little tang. This can be made ahead which is always a time saver when having company. Serve on a buttery croissant and you have a festive chicken salad.

It's fun to eat food on a stick and it'd be great to greet guests with Mary Hutchinson's (Lynchburg, SC) BLT Skewers. They were "gone in just minutes" when Mary last took them to a church gathering, and I can guarantee they'll disappear from your party in no time.

The pancetta is the star of this recipe. It's a great twist on traditional bacon - which would be a good substitute and just as delicious. If you love a BLT, then you'll devour these. I'd consider doubling the recipe... guests will love these.

A staple side dish at summertime cookouts is macaroni salad. And, I'll admit, it's something I've gone to the deli to purchase. It can be very hard to replicate the flavors and texture of an authentic deli mac. But, Helene Mulvihill's (Magnolia, TX) Deli Mac Salad pulls it off beautifully!

Helene's recipe is so good because her husband's family owned a deli in New Jersey for many years and Helene shared their recipe. Now we know the secret and I'll never buy it from the store again! Creamy, tangy and sweet this macaroni salad is delicious.

Create a patriotic ending to a festive day by serving Faye Patterson's (Erie, PA) Fourth of July Cheesecake. "I make this every year on the Fourth of July," shares Faye. "It's one of my favorite traditions."

Faye's classic cheesecake is both delicious and fun. If you're having kids to the party, make but don't decorate the cheesecake. Then, let the kids finish off the flag design. It's impressive when served and a fun way to get kids involved in cooking.

Hopefully, you're enjoying the long weekend with friends, fireworks and, of course, good food! I'd like to wish everyone a happy and safe July 4th. Happy Pinching!

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