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Still Deciding What to Make for Your Weekend Cookout?

These tried-and-true favorites are sure to please!

Memorial Day is about remembering and honoring the men and women who sacrifice so much in the service of our country. So before we fire up the grill, I take the opportunity to reflect on how grateful and proud I am to be an American and how thankful I am for the victories that this collective sacrifice has won.

The holiday also symbolizes the beginning of summer. We want to be outside, enjoying the gorgeous weather and the freedoms that we've been afforded. We want to go to parades, head to the lake, gather with friends and family, and throw meat on a fire and listen to it sizzle! (Insert Tim "The Tool Man" Taylor man noises here).

The typical Memorial Day gathering is centered around grilling. You weren't invited to a cook IN. You're cooking OUT this weekend! While hamburgers and hotdogs are always on the menu, this weekend I am most looking forward to my all-time favorite recipe for barbecuing chicken. The simple 5-ingredient marinade creates a wonderful flavor combination and perfectly juicy chicken, hot off the grill!

Kentucky Grilled Chicken from Taste of Home

Yield: 10 servings
1 cup cider vinegar
1/2 cup canola oil
5 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
4 teaspoons hot pepper sauce (such as Frank's Red Hot)
2 teaspoons salt
10 bone-in chicken breast halves (10 ounces each)

In a small bowl, combine the first five ingredients; mix well. Pour 1 cup marinade
into a large resealable plastic bag; add the chicken. Seal bag and turn to coat; refrigerate for at least 4 hours (I like to marinate the chicken overnight). Cover and refrigerate the remaining marinade for basting. Coat grill rack with cooking spray before starting the grill.

Drain and discard marinade from chicken. Grill bone side down, covered, over indirect medium heat for 20 minutes. Turn; grill 20-30 minutes longer or until juices run clear, basting occasionally with reserved marinade.

Of course, if you’re attending a cookout rather than hosting one, chances are the main course will be provided.  My recommendation for what to bring to the cookout this weekend is my family’s favorite pasta salad.

Simply named for the type of pasta used, Rotini Salad is composed of a colorful array of vegetables and tri-color rotini. Why rotini? Because each little corkscrew-shaped noodle catches and holds the flavorful homemade dressing beautifully.

Always a crowd-pleaser, I don't know anyone who has tried this salad and not liked it. If there's an ingredient listed that you don't enjoy, leave it out (or throw it in for the sake of your guests, then push it aside when you enjoy the salad on your own plate). You can also be creative and substitute  something that you love, such as ribbon-cut zucchini, sliced banana peppers or marinated artichoke hearts. Make it your own!  My family has been making this summer cookout staple for years. I’m not sure where my mom got the recipe, but it’s certainly a keeper.

Rotini Salad

1 package tri-color rotini pasta, cooked according to package directions.

Drain and rinse with cold water.

Dressing:

2/3 cup sugar
2/3 cup oil
2/3 cup vinegar
1 t. garlic salt
1 t. onion salt
1 t. basil
1 t. Accent (available in the spice section)
1 t. black pepper

Combine the ingredients. Bring to a boil. Cool while you chop the following ingredients:

1 large onion, diced
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
1 red or yellow bell pepper, chopped
2 large tomatoes, chopped
pepperoni, chopped

Combine the pasta, veggies, and pepperoni. Pour the dressing over the top and toss to combine. Cover and refrigerate until serving.

Finally, no cookout is complete without dessert. In my opinion, you can never go wrong with a decadent cream pie.  I came up with this Chocolate Banana Cream Pie a couple summers ago.

Some friends were en route for an impromptu cookout when I realized that I had nothing to serve for dessert.  I quickly whipped up this pie from ingredients that I already had in my fridge and pantry. (Tip: I always keep a graham cracker pie crust, a box of pudding and whipped topping on hand in the event that I need to come up with a fast dessert).

The resulting recipe was big hit!  I’m still making it for summer cookouts.  Dressed up with whipped topping and garnished with chocolate syrup and maraschino cherries, it’s almost too pretty to eat.  Almost…

Chocolate Banana Cream Pie

1 graham cracker pie crust
1/2 bag semi sweet chocolate chips
1/8 cup maraschino cherry syrup from the jar
1/4-1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
2 bananas
1 box cook n' serve vanilla pudding, prepared according to package directions
milk, the amount recommended on the pudding box- approximately 3-4 cups
1/2 tub of whipped topping
chocolate syrup
maraschino cherries

Cook pudding according to package directions. Cool. In a microwave safe bowl, combine chocolate chips, cherry juice, and whipping cream (begin with ¼ cup of cream and add more to thin if needed after the chips are melted. You want to create a spreadable, fudge-like consistency) Microwave 30 seconds and stir until smooth. If chips have not melted after stirring, microwave for 5-10 more seconds and stir again. Spread chocolate into the bottom of a prepared graham cracker crust. Slice 2 bananas into the pie pan, over the chocolate layer. Pour cooled vanilla pudding over the bananas. Top with Cool Whip. Drizzle with chocolate syrup. Garnish with cherries. Chill until serving.

Happy Memorial Day!

Read more of Krista's recipes on her blog, Krista's Kitchen.

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