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Super sides add zest to summer barbecues

Memorial Day weekend fills me with gratitude as we honor our veterans who made possible the freedom we so often take for granted. It’s a weekend of recognition and thanks.

This holiday weekend also signals the beginning of summertime fun. Many families mark this tradition with a barbecue, making it the official start of grilling season.

As I write this, there’s a great deal of uncertainty about meat supplies and prices so I can’t, with confidence, give you a frugal and fabulous meat choice. So, I decided to focus on some very inexpensive side dishes.

Here are three classic recipes that you’ll use to bring big flavors without big costs to every barbecue you’ll have all summer long. Grilled corn on the cob, compound butter and coleslaw go with absolutely everything you’d likely barbecue, including hamburgers, hot dogs, steaks, chicken, pork and fish.

If I’m invited to a summer potluck, you can bet I’ll be bringing one or all of these dishes.

Isn’t it amazing what grilling does to corn? As the sugars caramelize, the corn tastes even sweeter with that beautiful hint of smoke.

There are many ways to grill corn. I find this method the easiest and it produces tender sweet corn, every time. You’ll notice I neither soak the corn nor remove the silks prior to cooking. I’m such a rebel. Soaking isn’t necessary if your corn is fresh and leaving the husk on steams the corn in its own moisture. And, removing the silks is easier when the corn is cooked.

These three adaptable side dishes will add variety and flair to summertime meals throughout the season. I hope you enjoy them. All of us at Divas on a Dime wish you a safe, healthy and happy Memorial Day weekend.

GRILLED CORN

What you’ll need:

4 or more ears of corn, with husks intact

Butter and salt or compound butter, recipes below

Here’s how:

Prepare your grill for high, direct heat. Using a scissor, trim the exposed silks from the top end of the corn (or they will smolder and burn). Remove the outermost layers of the husk, leaving enough husk to completely cover the corn. Place on your heated grill, covered, for about 12 minutes, turning every two to three minutes. The husk will blacken and burn while the corn cooks, don’t worry, this makes removing the husks even easier.

Remove from grill and let rest for five minutes.

Using a clean towel, oven mitts and tongs, remove the husk and silks from the hot corn. Slather with butter and salt or compound butter and enjoy.

If you like more caramelization, please do this: Brush the cooked corn with some butter or compound butter and return it to the grill to get a little color. Then add more butter and devour. Divine!

Compound butter: Compound butter is butter with panache. So easy to make, mix softened butter with your favorite sweet or savory flavors. To serve, put a pat of butter on hot foods to melt and make a rich, flavorful sauce.

Chili lime honey butter: ½ cup butter, juice and zest of half a lime, 1½ tablespoons honey, 1 teaspoon chili powder, ¼ teaspoon salt, dash cayenne pepper , optional.

Herbed butter: ½ cup butter, 1 to 2 tablespoons fresh herbs of choice, minced (basil, chives, parsley, cilantro or tarragon) Optional: lemon zest to taste, salt to taste.

Honey butter: ½ cup butter, 1½ tablespoons honey, 2 teaspoons powdered sugar, pinch kosher salt.

This must-have, totally customizable, crunchy coleslaw recipe is almost too embarrassingly easy to share. And yet, here I go.

Easy coleslaw: In a large bowl, combine 3 tablespoons mayonnaise, 1 tablespoon rice vinegar (or apple cider vinegar), 1 teaspoon sugar. Add 4 cups (16-ounces) green cabbage, sliced, chopped or shredded and mix until coated. Optional add-ins: shredded carrot, purple cabbage, kale, green onions.

Lifestyle expert Patti Diamond is a recipe developer and food writer of the website “Divas On A Dime – Where Frugal, Meets Fabulous!” Visit Patti at www.divasonadime.com and join the conversation on Facebook at DivasOnADimeDotCom. Email Patti at divapatti@divasonadime.com.

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