Thursday, July 4, 2013

Bacon Cheddar Macaroni Salad

Happy 4th of July! 

Fireworks off of Flagler Beach. Photo credit: Daytona Beach News-Journal / David Massey

Happy Independence Day, America! My very favorite place to watch the fireworks is Flagler Beach, pictured above. There's just something so wonderful about sitting with my toes in the sand and listening to the pounding of the surf along with the pop-pop-boom of the fireworks while taking in the beauty of the colorful lights both in the sky and reflected on the surface of the ocean. Breathtaking. This year we won't be watching them in Flagler though, but instead we will be having a blast at our friends' annual bash for the fourth and we're super excited for that too! Our friend Kevin, who we affectionately and jokingly refer to as a pyromaniac, loves to entertain all of us with an impressive display of fireworks each year and so far they've gotten better and better every year so we're really looking forward to tonight's display. Kevin and his wife Lindsey, one of my best and longest-known friends, provide burgers, dogs and chicken all freshly grilled and delicious, and the rest of us bring side dishes to go along with it. Every year it's a big decision to figure out what I feel like bringing. One year I brought buffalo chicken dip and ham roll-ups...last year I think I brought deviled eggs and broccoli casserole maybe? I can't even remember, it's terrible. This year I'm excited to bring my Bacon Cheddar Macaroni Salad, which is similar to my Basic Macaroni Salad with a few additions, like BACON. Making a delicious dish even better!

Makes 6 Servings

1 16 oz. bag pasta, (I like corkscrews, elbows and ziti for this dish)
2/3 cup milk
1/3 cup sour cream
2/3 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon garlic powder
2 tablespoons chopped dried chives
1 tablespoon dried thyme
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon pepper
3 medium tomatoes, cut into 1" cubes
1 bunch scallions, chopped
8 oz sharp cheddar cheese, cut into cubes
12 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled

Boil pasta in salted water according to package directions. Drain and toss in a large bowl with milk. Place in fridge to cool off for 10-15 minutes. Take out and stir in sour cream, mayo, garlic powder, chives, thyme, salt and pepper. Taste and add additional seasonings if needed. Toss in tomatoes, scallions, cheese and bacon. Serve immediately or cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. 

Mmm, this is delicious! There's something about biting into a chilled, creamy bite of pasta and getting a big bite of sharp cheddar cheese or crispy bacon along with it. I've also used other cheeses--swiss is good and monterey jack is really good too. I've served the pasta warm as well, but I just prefer it chilled at summer BBQs...too hot outside for hot pasta! Hope you have a great Fourth of July however you're spending it!

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