The Bright Sides of Summer

By Jennifer Ruple

Summertime is meant for picnics, potlucks and all kinds of outdoor events.Keep your cool this season with a variety of side dishes to accompany just about anything you can throw on the grill.

CrunchyAsian Salad
This light and colorful salad is bursting with flavor and has a hearty crunch thanks to ramen noodles and sliced almonds. Servings: 15
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Dressing
¼ cup canola oil
¼ cup rice vinegar
2-3 tablespoons sugar
¾ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper

Salad
1 package (3 ounces) ramen noodles
1 bag (16 ounces) coleslaw mix with shredded cabbage and carrots
8 medium green onions, thinly sliced
½ cup sliced almonds
1 medium red bell pepper, cut into strips
1 can mandarin oranges, drained
2 cups fresh baby spinach leaves, coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds

In a large bowl, whisk together dressing ingredients until sugar is dissolved. Break up ramen noodlesin bag before opening. Discard seasoning packet. To the dressing, add noodles and remaining salad ingredients.Toss to mix well. Sprinkle with sesame seeds. Serve immediately. (Recipe adapted from bettycrocker.com)

Orzo Salad with Cilantro-Lime Dressing
Rice-shaped pasta, grape tomatoes and bell peppers are bathed in a flavor-packed dressing. The addition of a little sugar balances the tartness of the lime juice. Servings: 6
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8 ounces orzo pasta
2 limes, juiced
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
½ teaspoon onion powder
½ teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon sugar
½ cup cilantro, chopped
1 bunch green onions, thinly sliced
1 yellow bell pepper,seeded and diced
1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
Salt and pepper to taste

Cook orzo according to package directions. Rinse with cold water and set aside. In a small bowl,whisk together lime juice, olive oil, onion powder, garlic powder and salt. Stir in cilantro and pour over orzo.Add green onions, bell pepper and tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper. Refrigerate until chilled. (Recipe adapted from thestayathomechef.com)

Potato Salad with Bacon and Sour Cream
Most families have their own preferences or secrets when it comes to making potato salad, and mine is no different.My grandmother,Lucy Ries, added bacon, sour cream and paprika to hers making it the best in the whole world. I could be just a tad bit biased though.
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5 pound bag of red potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes
4 pieces bacon, crispy cooked and crumbled
1 medium Vidalia onion, diced
1 cup light sour cream
1 cup light mayonnaise
Salt and pepper to taste
Parsley
Paprika

Cook potatoes in boiling water. Drain and allow to cool. In a large bowl, combine potatoes, bacon, onion, sour cream, mayonnaise, parsley and salt and pepper to taste. Generously sprinkle with paprika. Chill for a few hours before serving.