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Associated Press

Many favorite foods can be fixed in star shapes and will perhaps even taste better because you’ll smile as you munch.

Get your hands on whatever star-shaped cutters and pans you can find, or improvise with a knife, exercise cutting skills and some deft shaping of malleable edibles on a flat wood board. Colored sugars and icing, and food coloring, plus a few little paper flags can make toppings.

Here are some more ideas:For a hearty first course, add grated cheese, to taste, to hot-roll mix and bake star-shaped buns. Split and fill buns with burgers made of ground chuck seasoned with salsa and baked in star molds for 15 to 20 minutes in 350 F oven.

For a potato-salad side-dish you can prepare ahead of time, add red pepper, radishes and corn to a potato-mayonnaise mixture and pile into a star shape.

For a simple make-ahead dessert course, top meringue stars with blueberries, red raspberries and whipped cream.

Make a fruit cobbler, mixing strawberries and blueberries, or other seasonal fruits, with pastry star cutouts on top.

Decorate brownie cup cakes with cream cheese and colored-icing stars.

For fruit kabobs, thread star cutouts of fruits and cheeses on skewers.

Make white-chocolate mousse or cheese-cake stars in star molds, top with raspberries and blueberries.

Uncle Sam’s Potato Salad (Recipe from Wilton Industries)1 cup low-fat mayonnaise

1 cup light sour cream

1 tbsp. Dijon mustard

1 tbsp. lemon juice

3-1/2 lbs. petite red potatoes, unpeeled

1/3 cup chopped red pepper

2 green onions, finely chopped

1 fresh ear corn or 1 pkg. (10 oz.) frozen corn, thawed, drained

1/3 cup radishes, sliced

3 ribs celery, coarsely chopped

2-1/4-ounce can black olives, sliced

4 tbsp. parsley, chopped

1 tbsp. salt

1/2 tsp. seasoned salt

1/2 tsp. black pepper

1/2 teaspoon garlic powderIn small bowl, whisk together mayonnaise, sour cream, mustard and lemon juice to make dressing. Set aside.

Lightly spray star-shaped pan with vegetable spray. Line with plastic wrap.

Boil potatoes in skins until tender. Cool then cube potatoes. Combine potatoes, red peppers, green onions, corn, radishes, celery, olives, parsley, seasoned salt, pepper and garlic powder in large bowl.

Gently stir in dressing. Adjust seasoning, if needed. Place potato salad in prepared pan. Pack down. Cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate several hours or overnight. Unmold to serve.

Star Spangled Berry Cobbler

(Recipe from California Strawberry Commission)

Nonstick cooking spray

3 cups (about 1 lb.) halved stemmed strawberries

2 cups (about 12 oz.) blueberries

1/2 cup plus 1 tbsp. sugar

2 tbsp. cornstarch

2 tbsp. butter, cut into small pieces

2 tsp. lemon juice

1 tsp. ground cinnamon

1 sheet frozen puff pastry (1/2 of 17.3-oz. pkg.), thawed

Vanilla ice cream (optional)Preheat oven to 400 F. Lightly coat 8-inch-square baking dish with cooking spray; set aside.

In large bowl, combine strawberries, blueberries, 1/2 cup sugar, cornstarch, butter, lemon juice and cinnamon, tossing to mix well. Arrange in baking dish; set aside.

Unfold pastry sheet. Using 3-inch star cutter, cut out 9 stars. Arrange over fruit mixture; sprinkle with remaining 1 tablespoon sugar.

Bake 35 to 40 minutes or until filling is bubbly and stars are lightly browned. Serve warm or at room temperature with ice cream, if desired.

Makes 8 servings.

Nutrition facts per serving: 188 calories, 7 g. fat, 8 mg. cholesterol, 60 mg. sodium, 31 g. carbohydrate, 3 g. fiber, 1 g. protein.

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