March 29, 2018

Unforgettable Memorial Day Meals To Share With Friends and Family

What’s your first memory of Memorial Day weekend?

For me, it’s sitting out on the porch, sipping lemonade with my cousins, while the grown-ups were cooking up barbecue in the backyard. Ah, those were the good ol’ times!

While the majority of our neighbors saw these days as an opportunity to get away to the coast or have a picnic someplace nice, my immediate and extended family conjured at our house, ready to make culinary magic.

Even though Memorial Day is about much more than just food, the majority of Americans associate this holiday with cookouts, parties, and parades. In my mind, there is nothing wrong with that. Food brings people together in a joyful manner, in a way that no other thing in the world can.

This statement inevitably leads me to the question – what are your favorite Memorial day meals? I love asking this because the answers can vary greatly, as there is no (at least to my knowledge) particular dish that folks prepare especially for this occasion.

Thanksgiving has turkey, Christmas has ham, and Easter calls for eggs, but what about Memorial day? Well, today, I would like to offer you a few mouthwatering recipes designed for this event. No matter if you like barbecuing, cooking in the comfort of your kitchen, or just packing up a few snacks for the picnic, I've got you covered with meals for any of the options mentioned above.

Read up, see what looks good and make yours and your loved ones’ tummies happy.

History of Memorial Day

Now, out of respect for the true purpose of this holiday, I’d like to delve into the history of Memorial Day, just for those who might not know what it commemorates.

Memorial day is celebrated in the United States on the last Monday of May, and it honors the people who lost their lives while serving in the country’s military.

 The holiday emerged after the civil war and was originally known as Decoration Day, and it wasn’t until 1971 that it became an official federal holiday. Most Americans celebrate it by having family gatherings, attending or taking part in parades, or visiting cemeteries.

Origins

After the Civil War ended in 1865, the country started establishing first national graveyards, since the quarrel took more lives than any other conflict in American history.

 In the following years, Americans started going out to the cemeteries, decorating the graves, and reciting poems to the fallen. Even though the holiday is now celebrated nationwide, it is not certain where exactly it originated.

The present

Throughout the years, Memorial day became known as the unofficial beginning of the summer season. Many people still honor the traditions, but some other, more “light-hearted” ways of celebrating it have become popular.

 These ways include organizing cookouts and parties, taking weekend trips and using it as an excuse to get together with people and have a good time.

The great American BBQ cookout

As you’ve probably noticed, I’ve already mentioned the word “barbecue” a few times in this article, and yes, I admit – I am obsessed with it. Even though I feel a little bit guilty of “blasphemy” for solely associating this day with grilled meat, I can’t help it, and I’d like to share my favorite BBQ ideas with you.

To keep it interesting, I figured it would be the best to include three of the most popular meats into the list, so as you can see there's a beef, pork, and a chicken recipe. Also, vegans, don’t think I forgot about you!

1.The “Remembrance” Beef Burger

Ingredients:
  • 1 lb of ground pork
  • One egg
  • 1/2 tablespoon of Dijon mustard
  • One teaspoon of Worcestershire sauce
  • One onion
  • One clove of garlic
  • ½ teaspoon of salt
  • ½ teaspoon of pepper
  • Four white buns

Optional

  • Grated rind of 1 lemon
  • One teaspoon of Cajun seasoning
  • One tablespoon of barbecue sauce

Instructions:

  • Light up a nice charcoal grill.
  • Peel and finely chop the onion.
  • Break the egg into a bowl and whisk in the mustard, Worcestershire sauce, garlic, onion, salt, and pepper.
  • Once the garlic and the onions soften, add soy sauce, banana ketchup, brown sugar, salt, and lemon juice. Stir until the ingredients are combined well, this will be the marinade.
  • Place the ground beef into a bowl and add the mixture slowly. Mix it in by hand or with a fork.
  • Make sure to handle the meat as lightly as possible, because it will get tougher if you work it too much.
  • Divide and shape the mixture into four burgers. Don't press the meat very hard; they should be about ¼ thick.
  • Make a dent in the middle of the patties with your thumb, to prevent puffing up during the cooking process.
  • Place the burgers on the grill and cook them for about 5-8 minutes per side.
  • When the meat is no longer pink inside, the burgers are done.
  • Place them in the buns, add the desired toppings.

2.Filipino BBQ pork skewers

Ingredients:

Skewers:

  • 2 lbs of pork butt
  • Two onions
  • 30 cloves of garlic
  • 1 cup of soy sauce
  • ½ cup of lemon juice
  • Six tablespoons of brown sugar
  • One bottle of Filipino banana ketchup
  • One tablespoon of salt
  • One tablespoon of canola/coconut oil

Dipping sauce:

  • One tablespoon of sugar
  • ½ cup apple cider vinegar
  • Two shallots
  • One chili pepper

Intructions:

Skewers:

  • Take the pork and cut it into strips (1 inch wide, ¼ inches thick)
  • Peel and chop the onion, and peel the garlic cloves.
  • Add the oil to the pan, place it over medium heat and throw in the garlic and the onions.
  • If you like, add any of the optional ingredients f​​​​or enhanced flavor.
  • Place the ground beef into a bowl and add the mixture slowly. Mix it in by hand or with a fork.
  • Strain the mixture to remove the solids, pour the marinade into a plastic container, and refrigerate for an hour.
  • Place the pork strips and the marinade in a large Ziploc bag. Press out all the air and make sure that the meat is coated evenly.
  • Refrigerate the meat overnight.
  • Light up the grill.

Dipping sauce

  • Take a small bowl and mix the sugar and vinegar.
  • Finely chop the shallots and the pepper, and add them to the mixture.

Cooking process:

  • Light up the grill.
  • Take the pork out of the Ziploc bag, but keep the marinade.
  • Thread the pork strips onto the skewers. You should get around 30 skewers.
  • Cook for around 5 minutes and then baste the skewers with the marinade.
  • Continue cooking and turning until the meat is browned and slightly charred.
  • Serve with white rice.

3.Honey Chicken Wings

Ingredients:

  • 21chicken wings
  • 1 tablespoon of honey
  • 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 teaspoon of black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon of garlic powder
  • 1/2 cup of hot sauce
  • 6 tablespoons of butter

Intructions:

  • Take a big bowl and combine the salt, black pepper, and garlic powder.
  • Coat the wings with the salt mixture.
  • Light up the grill.
  • Place the chicken wings on the grill. Place the wings closely together so that the meat can steam during the cooking and stay moist.
  • Flip the wings every 5 minutes until they’re done. It should take around 20 minutes. Remove the wings from the heat.
  • Melt the butter in a saucepan, and stir in hot sauce, vinegar and honey.
  • Turn up the heat on your grill so that it’s very hot.
  • Dip the wings into the butter mixture, and grill them on high heat for a minute or two on each side. The wings should be crisp.
  • Remove from the grill and serve.

Grillable Veggie Burger

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup raw walnuts
  • 1 ½ cup of cooked black beans
  • 1 cup cooked brown rice
  • 1/3 cup of panko breadcrumbs
  • ½ tablespoon of grapeseed oil
  • 1 white onion
  • 1 tablespoon of cumin powder
  • 1 tablespoon of chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon of smoked paprika
  • ½ teaspoon of salt
  • ½ teaspoon of black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons of vegan BBQ sauce

Intructions:

  • Heat a pan over medium heat and toast the walnuts for about 5 minutes, until they are golden brown. Take them out and leave them to cool.
  • Add the oil to the same pan, peel and chop the onions, and sauté them until they are soft and brown.
  • When the walnuts are cool, place them in the food processor and add cumin, chili powder, smoked paprika, salt, and pepper. Blend until you get a fine meal.
  • Take a large bowl and pour in the black beans. Mash them with a fork.
  • Add brown rice, panko breadcrumbs, BBQ sauce, sautéed onion, and the walnut mixture. Mix well with your hands, and if the mixture is too dry, add more crumbs.
  • You should be able to form about 5 large patties. Press the mixture firmly to shape the burgers.
  • Heat up the grill and brush it with oil to prevent sticking.
  • Cook for about 4 minutes on one side, and then flip very gently.
  • After a few more minutes, remove from the head, put them in a bun, and serve with your desired toppings.

Cooking at home 

Despite the greatness and deliciousness of barbecue, not everyone is crazy about this method of cooking. Some folks enjoy plain old stovetop and oven meals, and honestly, this way of preparing food gives you the most flexibility.

This section is for those who like to spend Memorial day in the comfort of their own homes and enjoy some nourishing, satiating meals. Instead of giving you a bunch of random recipes, I decided to compose a full-blown meal - from starter to dessert. I’m absolutely certain that you’ll enjoy this magnificent feast.

  1. Starter – Mushroom cream soup

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb of baby Bella mushrooms
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1/3 cup of flour
  • Two tablespoons of butter
  • One tablespoon of olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • ½ cup of heavy cream
  • 2 cups of vegetable broth
  • 2 cups of water

Intructions:

  • Wash the mushrooms, and chop them roughly.
  • Peel and finely chop the garlic.
  • Place a pot over medium heat, add the olive oil, mushrooms, garlic, salt, and pepper. The mushrooms will release their moisture, and keep sautéing until the liquid evaporates.
  • Add the butter and when it melts, add the flour too. Remember to keep stirring because if you don’t, the ingredients will stick to the pot.
  • After about 2 minutes, add the broth and the water. Stir until the flour from the bottom of the pot dissolves.
  • Turn up the heat to bring the soup to a boil, then reduce the heat and let it simmer.
  • After some time, the soup will start to thicken, and when you achieve the desired thickness take it off the heat.
  • Stir in the cream and serve hot.

2.Main course – roast chicken and potatoes

Ingredients:

  • 3-4 lb chicken
  • 1 lb of carrots
  • 1 lb of potatoes
  • 6 cloves of garlic
  • 5 sprigs of rosemary
  • Olive oil
  • 1 lemon
  • Salt and pepper

Intructions:

  • Turn on the oven and let it heat up at 420 F.
  • Wash and scrub the carrots, then cut them in halves lengthwise. Throw them into to a large roasting tray.
  • Wash, skin, and cut the potatoes in halves. You can cut the large ones into quarters. Add them to the tray.
  • Peel the garlic cloves, and crush them with the side of a knife.
  • Remove the rosemary leaves from the stalks and add them to the tray, along with the garlic.
  • Rub the chicken with olive oil, salt, and pepper. After that, stuff it with the whole lemon.
  • Put the chicken on the tray, over the veggies.
  • Reduce the heat to about 400 F and roast the chicken for about 40-50 minutes.
  • Remove from the oven, flip the vegetables and then return to the oven.
  • After about 30 minutes check if the meat is done. It should be soft and clear juice should be coming out of it.
  • Remove the chicken when done, cover it with aluminum foil, and let it sit for about 10 minutes.
  • After that, remove the foil, and the meal is ready to serve.

Dessert – peach cobbler

Ingredients:

  • Two ¼ cup of all-purpose flour
  • Five ripe peaches
  • ¾ teaspoon of salt
  • Five tablespoons of cold water
  • One ¼ cup of granulated sugar
  • Two tablespoons of sugar
  • Four tablespoons of butter
  • ¾ cups butter-flavored shortening

Intructions:

  • Take a large bowl, pour 2 cups of flour in it, and add ½ teaspoon of salt.
  • Add the shortening and mix with a pastry blender until the mixture becomes crumbly.
  • Add the cold water one tablespoon at a time and mix it in with a fork.
  • The mixture will eventually form a bowl. Place it into a plastic wrap and shape it into a rectangle.

  • Bring a pot of water to a boil and fill another one with ice. Boil the peaches for a minute and then transfer them to the ice. When they are cool, peel and chop them into small pieces.
  • Take a large saucepan, throw in the peaches, one ¼ cups of sugar, ¼ cup of flour and ¼ tablespoon of salt, and bring to a simmer.
  • Remove from heat and stir in 2 tablespoons of butter.
  • Pour the mixture into a shallow, 3-quart baking dish.
  • Preheat the oven to 370 F.
  • On a slightly floured surface, roll the dough into a rectangle big enough to cover the baking dish. Use a cookie cutter to cut holes into it.
  • Place the dough over the baking dish and remove the excess from the sides.
  • Melt 2 tablespoons of butter, brush the though with it, sprinkle it with 2 tablespoons of sugar and let the cobbler bake for an hour.
  • Remove from the oven and serve when it cools.

Picnic recipes

Another popular way to spend Memorial Day is picnicking, and if the weather is kind, I believe that it is a great way to while away an afternoon. Now, people who want to enjoy the outdoors may not exactly have food as their priority.

However, this doesn't mean that one should settle for potato chips and peanuts. I think that you should go out of your way and prepare something scrumptious that you'll bring along to the picnic with you. Here is a list of my suggested recipes.

       1.Italian style sandwiches

Ingredients:
  • ¾ loaf of ciabatta bread
  • Six slices of provolone cheese
  • 4 ½ ounces of dry salami
  • Handful of basil
  • Handful of rugula
  • 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons of Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • Salt

Intructions:

  • Turn on the oven and heat it up to 350 F.
  • Cut the ciabatta lengthwise in half, open it, brush lightly with olive oil and let it bake for about 7 minutes. Take it out and let it cool.
  • Start layering the ingredients on the bread, including cheese, salami, basil, and rugula. Sprinkle with salt.
  • Mix up balsamic vinegar and the mustard in a small bowl. Drizzle the mixture over the ingredients in the sandwich.

  • Cut the sandwich into four equal parts and serve.

     2.Quinoa and cheese wrap

Ingredients:

Sandwich:
  • 2 cups of cooked quinoa
  • ½ cup of feta cheese
  • 1 cucumber
  • ½ cup cherry tomatoes
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 whole grain tortilla wraps
  • 2 cups of spinach

Pesto:

  • ½ cup of raw pumpkin seeds
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1 cup of kale
  • 1/3 teaspoon of Dijon mustard
  • ¼ cup of olive oil
  • Squeeze of lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Intructions:

  • Make the pesto by placing the kale and pumpkin seeds into a food processor. Pulse a few times, then add lemon juice, garlic, salt, pepper, and Dijon mustard. Pulse again. Let the processor run and gradually add the olive oil.
  • Peel and chop the cucumber into small pieces.
  • Wash and cut the cherry tomatoes into halves.
  • Take a big bowl, throw in the quinoa , feta, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, spinach and combine them well

  • Add a little bit of olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste.
  • Smear a bit of the kale pesto on each tortilla.
  • Place the ingredients from the bowl on the tortillas and wrap them up.

     3. Oatmeal and peanut butter cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of whole wheat flour
  • ¾ cups of peanut butter
  • 1 cup of rolled oats
  • 1 teaspoon of baking soda
  • 1/3 teaspoon of salt
  • ½ cup of brown sugar
  • ½ cup of almond milk
  • 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract
  • ½ cup of chocolate chips

Intructions:

  • Switch on the oven and preheat it to around 350 F.
  • Take a big bowl, add peanut butter, sugar, and vanilla extract, and start mixing it with an electric mixer on high speed. Do this until the mixture becomes fluffy. It should take about 2 minutes.
  • Add the oats, flour, baking soda, and salt to the bowl and start mixing again. You should get a crumbly dough.
  • Gradually add the almond milk and mix on low speed until everything until you have a dough
  • When the dough looks good, add the chocolate chips and mix them in by hand.
  • Take the dough and roll it into a ball with your hands.
  • Place the dough ball in a baking dish (ideally 8x8), and start pressing it so that you spread it out evenly across the dish.
  • Bake for 17-20 minutes, or until the crust becomes golden brown.
  • Take the dish out, let it cool, and cut it into squares.

   4. Quiche

Ingredients:

Crust:

  • 1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
  • ¾ teaspoon of salt
  • 1 egg yolk
  • ¾ stick of butter
  • ¼ cup of ice water

Filling:

  • ½ lb of bacon strips
  • 4 oz of Swiss cheese
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 cup of heavy cream
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Intructions:

  • First, make the crust. Combine flour and salt in a food processor bowl. Add butter and egg yolk and pulse. Pour the ice water in and pulse again until the dough is moistened.
  • Place the dough on a floured surface and knead it for a minute.
  • A disk from the dough, wrap it in foil and leave it to cool in the fridge for about 30 minutes.
  • Preheat the oven to 370 degrees F. Spread the dough disk onto a floured tart pan with a removable bottom. Cut off any excess pastry.
  • Put it back in the fridge for another 15 minutes.
  • Bake the tart shell for about 30 minutes.
  • Now make the filling. Cook the bacon in a skillet until its crisp.
  • Line the bacon in the tart shell and grate the cheese over it.
  • Whisk the eggs, the additional yolk and heavy cream in a bowl and pour the mixture into the tart shell.
  • Bake for around 30 minutes.
  • Take it out when it’s done and let it cool before serving.

Cocktails

    1.Limoncello

Ingredients:

  • 16 ounces of limoncello
  • 8 ounces of lemon juice
  • 12 ounces of gin
  • 16 thin lemon slices
  • 16 ounces club soda
  • Ice
  • Fresh mint

Intructions:

  • Take a large pitcher and pour in limoncello, gin, and lemon juice.
  • Cover the pitcher and put it in the fridge for about 2-3 hours.
  • Put 2 lemon slices into each glass.
  • Throw in the desired amount of ice into the glasses.
  • Take the limoncello mixture, stir it up, and pour it into the glasses. Leave some room for the club soda.
  • Pour in about two ounces of club soda into the glasses.
  • Take a mint leaf and place in each glass.
  • Your drink is ready to serve.

    2.Beery Americano

Ingredients:
  • 1.5 oz of Vermouth
  • 1/3 oz of Campari
  • ¾ oz of guava syrup
  • ½ oz of lemon
  • Pilsner of choice

Intructions:

  • Pour vermouth, Campari, lemon juice, and guava syrup into a glass.
  • Fill the remainder of the glass with beer.
  • Optional: garnish with a lemon slice.

3. Grilled pineapple mojito

Ingredients:

  • One pineapple
  • Two limes
  • Fresh mint
  • Two tablespoons of sugar
  • Two teaspoons of coconut oil
  • 8 oz of light rum
  • 16 oz of seltzer

Intructions:

  • Pour vermouth, Campari, lemon juice, and guava syrup into a glass.
  • Heat up a grill and brush ​​​​it with coconut oil. ​​​​​​​​​​​​


  • Peel and cut pineapple into slices.
  • Cook it for a few minutes on each side until it is slightly charred.
  • When it cools down, chop into smaller pieces.
  • Cut the limes into eights.Take four large glasses and divide the pineapple, lime, sugar, and mint equally among those.
  • Mush the ingredients until the fruit releases the juices.
  • Pour two ounces of rum into each glass.
  • Throw in some ice into the glasses and pour 4 ounces of seltzer into each.
  • Serve.

        4. The bul

Ingredients:

  • 12 oz bottle of ginger beer
  • 12 oz bottle of pale ale
  • Eight limes
  • Ice

Intructions:

  • Take a pitcher and pour in the ginger beer and the pale ale. Make sure to do it slowly so that the drinks don’t get too foamy.
  • Squeeze the juice from the limes and pour it into the pitcher.


  • Put some ice into the glasses and pour in the cocktail.

Verdict

So there you go, my ultimate guide to Memorial day meals has reached the end, and boy was it a crazy, culinary ride. The recipes that you read about were carefully chosen concerning a number of factors including the occasion and the mood that this time of the year brings.

However, I would like this article to inspire you, and even if you decide not to prepare any of the meals from my list, I hope that your interest in cooking will increase even a little bit.

I feel that Memorial day’s more joyful note should be celebrated, and that’s what I put an accent on. What I mean by joyful is the friends and family, the good food, the laughs and the drinks.

The combination of these elements can be so wonderful that one cannot be blamed when he or she forgets about the initial purpose of this holiday. With all this being said, enjoy life, and bon appétit!

Jeanette Schmidt

Hi all, I am Jeanette Schmidt. At the age of 29, my learning never stops. A native of Texas, I was raised to go big or go home. Although food is currently my life, I’m still looking forward to the day when I can cook for my own family. At present, I am engaged to my long-time boyfriend, Paul, who’s very supportive of what I do. Read more about me here.

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