Tasty side dishes add sizzle to summer barbecues

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SUMMERTIME SALAD: Give your barbecue a kick by serving Greek Tossed Pasta Salad instead of traditional potato salad.
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DELECTABLE BROWNIES: S’more Brownies are the perfect ending to any backyard barbecue.

Nothing says summer like a barbecue. While the grill might be the main attraction, putting a personal spin on classic summer dishes and desserts can add flair to your outdoor spread.

There are a number of quick and easy ways to add your signature touch to the standard summer barbecue fare. For instance, trade in the predictable potato salad for a refreshing pasta sensation.

With a few ingredients, such as candy sprinkles, marshmallows and nuts, you can add your own twist to brownies and transform them into a customized confection. They score huge “brownie points” with adults and children alike.

Between the perfect main course and delectable side dishes, barbecues will surely be a family favorite. For more ideas to make your barbecue sizzle, visit the Web site www.BettyCrocker.com.

Stars and Stripes Brownies

1 box (22.5 oz.) brownie mix with chocolate

syrup pouch

1 container (12 oz.) whipped fluffy white frosting

1 tube (.68 oz.) red decorating gel

1 tube (.68 oz.) blue decorating gel

1 tube (.68 oz.) white decorator icing

Decorating stars

Heat oven to 350°F. Line a 9-by-13-inch pan with foil, extending about 2 inches over sides of pan. Spray foil with cooking spray.

Prepare and bake brownies as directed on box. Cool completely, about 1 hour.

Remove brownies from pan by lifting foil; peel foil from sides of brownies. Yields 24 brownies.

Decorating options:

Flag Brownies: Frost brownies with white frosting. Using red decorating gel, pipe stripes onto frosted brownie. Add stars in upper left corner
of brownie.

Firecracker Brownies: Using a 1-inch round cookie cutter, cut out brownie rounds. Stack 2 brownie rounds together, spreading white frosting between rounds and on top. Garnish with stars.

Star Brownies: Using a 2½-inch, star-shaped cookie cutter, cut brownies. Place frosting in a resealable food storage bag; cut off one bottom corner of bag and pipe frosting on brownies. Sprinkle with stars.

Greek Tossed Pasta Salad

1 box (7.5 oz.) pasta salad mix

1/3 cup cold water

3 tablespoons vegetable oil

4 cups torn romaine lettuce

2 medium tomatoes, coarsely chopped

1 small cucumber, coarsely chopped

½ cup thinly sliced red onion

1 cup crumbled feta cheese

1 can (2.25 oz.) sliced ripe olives, drained

Cook and drain pasta as directed on box.

In a large bowl, combine seasoning mix (from pasta salad mix) with cold water and oil. Add pasta, lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber, onion, cheese and olives; mix well. Toss with croutons and Parmesan topping (both from pasta salad mix). Serve immediately or refrigerate until needed. Yields 12 servings.

S’more Brownies

1 box (22.5 oz.) brownie mix

3 cups miniature marshmallows

4 graham crackers, broken into small pieces

2 bars milk chocolate candy (1.55 oz. each), broken into 1-inch squares

Heat oven to 350°F. Grease the bottom of a 9-by-13-inch pan with cooking spray
or shortening.

Prepare and bake brownies as directed on box.

Set oven to broil. Immediately sprinkle marshmallows and graham crackers over warm brownies. Broil 4 to 5 inches from heat for 30 to 60 seconds, or until marshmallows are golden brown. (Watch carefully, as marshmallows and graham crackers will brown quickly.) Sprinkle chocolate pieces over the top.

Cool completely, or, if preferred, cool for about 30 minutes and serve warm. Yields 24 brownies.

Fresh Vegetable Pasta Salad

1 box (7.5 oz.) pasta salad mix

¼ cup cold water

3 tablespoons vegetable or olive oil

1 tablespoon vinegar

2 cups small fresh broccoli florets

1 small red bell pepper, coarsely chopped

1 small yellow bell pepper, coarsely chopped

¼ cup thin red onion wedges

Cook and drain pasta as directed on box.

In a large bowl, combine seasoning mix (from pasta salad mix) with cold water, oil and vinegar. Add pasta and remaining ingredients; mix well. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour to blend flavors. Yields 15 servings.