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Smash the backyard barbecue with these dishes

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Ah, summer. The time for cookouts, campouts and warm evening conversations under soft outdoor lighting. As limitations on social gatherings lift more and more and vaccines get in arms, the return of the mighty backyard barbecue is imminent. Beyond cooking the standard hamburgers and hot dogs or swinging by Safeway and picking up a couple of bags of chips to contribute, why not zhoosh up the menu with a couple of new recipes for your next party.

Mac salad

Mak’s mac salad.

Mak’s mac salad

Potato and macaroni salads seem simple, but so many of them can turn out badly. It really just comes down to seasoning them well and getting the proportions right. Here is my own recipe that has yielded yummy sounds and second (and third) helpings from everyone who’s tried it.

Ingredients (Makes eight servings)

Note: All ingredient amounts can be adjusted based on taste and serving size.

  • Five eggs
  • 2 cups small elbow macaroni
  • ¾ to 1 cup mayonnaise
  • ½ sweet onion, diced
  • ½ cup frozen petite peas
  • ½ tablespoons relish (zucchini recommended)
  • ¼ teaspoons celery seed
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon everything bagel seasoning
  • ½ teaspoon onion salt
  • Salt
  • Pepper


Hard boil the eggs using your preferred method. If you have an InstantPot, put the eggs in a wire basket accessory with a cup of water and set it on manual, high pressure for five minutes. When the pot beeps, allow it to sit for an additional five minutes, then release the steam valve. Once all pressure is released, remove the eggs to an ice bath for at least six minutes. Set aside.

In a medium saucepan, cook the macaroni as per the instructions on the box. Drain completely and allow to cool slightly.

Dice the onion and place it in a small bowl and soak in cold tap water. This helps diminish that onion-y bite but retains the crunch and overall flavor.

Thaw the peas under cold running water then put in a medium-sized mixing bowl at least double the size of the amount of macaroni you have made.

Mix the macaroni, peas and onions with the mayonnaise until fully incorporated. Add more mayo if the pasta seems too dry and remember that some of the mayo will be soaked in further to the pasta after some time.

Chop or slice four of the eggs into pieces and mix.

Add relish and seasonings. Taste the mix and add more seasonings as desired.

Slice the remaining egg and garnish the top of the salad.

Cover the bowl and place in the refrigerator until ready to serve.


Brown sugar rubbed salmon.

Brown sugar rubbed salmon

You can make this sweet and savory salmon on the grill or in your oven, but here is how you do it on a smoker. The rub is also great on pork.


  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground pepper
  • 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • One salmon fillet
  • Lemon slices, optional


Preheat your smoker to 225 degrees Fahrenheit using your preferred wood (alder and cedar pair well with the fish).

In a medium mixing bowl, mix brown sugar with all dry ingredients until well combined. If the rub is a little lumpy, mix it in your food processor. Store in an airtight container or jar. Rinse the salmon fillet under cold water and pat dry with a paper towel. Coat the salmon thoroughly with the rub and place the fish skin side down on the smoker (recommend using a wire grill pan to cook it on to prevent sticking).

Place the lemon slices on top if desired. When the fish reaches an internal temperature of 140 degrees Fahrenheit, remove and wrap it with foil.

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