Celebrating Independence Day finds most Americans gathering for backyard picnics or cookouts.

Most of the time these celebrations are sort of potluck; and if you’re known for your special dessert, salad or dip, you’re probably asked to bring that dish. For the rest of us, anything goes, and you know hot dogs, hamburgers, chicken or ribs will be on the barbecue pit.

You can also bet that one or two watermelons are being chilled in the refrigerator or ice chests. So, any side dishes should be welcomed.

Here are a few suggestions I have found to be crowd-pleasers time and again.

First is a Baked Bean Medley that’s not only tasty, but convenient because it can be made ahead of time. It’s made with a combination of canned beans and cooked frozen baby limas, mixed with chili-seasoned ground beef.

You can substitute any bean combination you like for the beans. I used Bush’s Baked Beans, red kidney, pinto beans and frozen, cooked baby limas in this recipe, but use what your family likes or what you have in the pantry.

The Sour Cream Potato Salad is different from the traditional mayo and egg-based potato salad in that seasoned sour cream and diced dill pickle dress chunks of new potatoes. If you’re not a dill pickle lover, substitute with sweet relish.

Martha Ourso’s recipe for Vidalia Onion Antipasto is another favorite.

It’s served on a cracker and is easy and different. Just don’t tell people it’s marinated onion; they’ll never guess!