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Memorial Day party food is all about looking forward to summer

Add a Bell Pepper Hash to your favorite cut of steak. It’s easy to make.
Add a Bell Pepper Hash to your favorite cut of steak. It’s easy to make.

Memorial Day is all about remembering our loved ones and honoring those who served our country.

Memorial Day weekend is all about anticipation: What lies ahead for summer?

It’s that one party of the year when the focus really can be just outdoor food and fun. (The Fourth of July is all about fireworks and staying cool, after all.)

As I’ve said numerous times before, bring out the classics your friends and family clamor for, but make room for an improvement, a little recipe finagling or one totally new dish.

For example, add grilled pineapple and Cheddar cheese to burgers, give pulled pork a Southwestern spice-up (it’s made in the slow cooker in advance), try a new marinade on steak, then top with a mash-up of bell peppers.

Forget trying to serve hot vegetables and add them to a cold pasta salad. Combine pesto with grilled veggies for another chilled dish and give simple Italian Fruit Salad a try as a colorful display on the buffet table.

For dessert? Well, you’ll be outside, so hand out Frozen S’More Pops that are made in a 9-by-13 pan and can be frozen a day ahead.

CALYPSO BEEF BURGERS

1 pound lean ground beef

1/4 cup soft bread crumbs

1 egg white

1/4 cup mango chutney

2 teaspoons Caribbean jerk seasoning

4 fresh or canned pineapple slices, cut one-half inch thick

4 kaiser rolls or hamburger buns, split

4 slices sharp Cheddar cheese

1. Combine ground beef, bread crumbs, egg white, chutney and jerk seasoning in large bowl, mixing lightly but thoroughly. Lightly shape into four half-inch-thick patties.

2. Place patties in center of grid over medium, ash-covered coals; arrange pineapple slices around patties. Grill patties, uncovered, 11 to 13 minutes (over medium heat on preheated gas grill, covered, 7 to 8 minutes) until instant-read thermometer inserted horizontally into center registers 160 degrees, turning occasionally.

3. Grill pineapple, uncovered, 8 minutes or until heated through. (Gas grilling times remain the same.) About 2 minutes before burgers are done, place rolls, cut sides down, on grid. Grill until lightly toasted. During last minute of grilling, top each burger with cheese.

4. Place 1 burger and pineapple slice on bottom of each bun. Close sandwiches.

Make 4 servings, each with 480 calories.

Cook’s notes: Nutrition information based on 95 percent lean ground beef. Omit egg white and bread crumbs if preparing with 80 percent lean ground beef.

If fruit chunks in chutney are large, use kitchen shears to snip them into smaller pieces.

Beef Checkoff/California Beef Council/healthyeating.org

SLOW-COOKER BARBECUED PULLED-PORK FAJITAS

2 1/2-pound pork boneless loin roast, trimmed of fat

1 medium onion, thinly sliced

2 cups barbecue sauce

3/4 cup salsa

1 tablespoon chili powder

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 bag (1 pound) frozen stir-fry bell peppers and onions

1/2 teaspoon salt

18 flour tortillas (8 to 10 inches in diameter)

Shredded cheese, if desired

Guacamole, if desired

Sour cream, if desired

Place pork in 3- to 4-quart slow cooker. Place onion on top. Mix barbecue sauce, salsa, chili powder and cumin; pour over pork and onion.

Cover and cook on low heat setting 8 to 10 hours.

Remove pork from cooker; place on cutting board. Shred pork using two forks.

Return pork to cooker and mix well. Stir in stir-fry vegetables and salt. Increase heat setting to high. Cover and cook 30 minutes or until mixture is hot and vegetables are tender.

Using slotted spoon to remove pork mixture from cooker, fill each tortilla with 1/2 cup pork mixture. Fold one end of tortilla up about 1 inch over filling; fold right and left sides over folded end, overlapping. Fold remaining end down. Serve with cheese, guacamole and sour cream.

Makes 18 servings, each with 290 calories, 140 mg cholesterol, 620 mg sodium, 37 grams carbohydrates, 2 grams fiber, 18 grams protein. Exchanges: 2 starch; 1 vegetable.

Tablespoon.com

BELL PEPPER HASH

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and sliced into strips (1/4 inch by 2 inches)

1 yellow bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and sliced into strips (1/4 inch by 2 inches)

4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

1/2 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, coarsely chopped

Heat the olive oil in a cast-iron skillet directly on the embers on the side burner of a gas grill or on the stove.

When the oil is hot, add the peppers, garlic, and parsley. Cook over high heat until the peppers and garlic begin to brown, 2 minutes. Immediately pour over the steaks and serve at once.

Editor’s note: I think you could substitute cilantro or basil for the parlsey and get two interesting flavor alternatives.

Steven Raichlen’s “Barbecue Bible”

SIRLOIN WITH OLIVE OIL MARINADE

2 pounds sirloin, at least 1-inch thick and trimmed of excess fat

MARINADE:

1 cup olive oil

1/4 cup soy sauce

1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic

1 1/2 teaspoons minced shallots

1 tablespoon minced carrots

2 tablespoons minced onions

1 tablespoon minced celery

1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, chopped

In glass measuring cup, whisk together all the marinade ingredients. Place the sirloin in a glass baking dish or plastic sealable bag. Pour the marinade over. Cover dish or seal bag and marinate at least 3 hours.

Preheat the grill to medium-high. Remove sirloin from marinade and wipe off the marinade. Grill about 5 to 7 minutes on one side or until you get nice grill marks. Turn over and finish the grilling, about 5 to 7 minutes more for medium-rare, depending on the thickness and size of the steak. Remove from the grill and let the steak rest at least 10 minutes before slicing. Makes 6 servings.

Randy Emert, executive chef of Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital

FARMERS MARKET PASTA SALAD

1 pound. orecchiette pasta (or other small pasta), uncooked

4 cups small broccoli florets

5 ounces baby spinach leaves

2 cups grape tomatoes

1 yellow pepper, chopped

4 ounces salami, cut into strips

3/4 cup italian dressing

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1/4 cup chopped fresh basil

Cook pasta in large saucepan as directed on package, omitting salt and adding broccoli to the boiling water for the last 4 minutes; drain. Cool.

Combine pasta mixture with all remaining ingredients except cheese and basil in large bowl. Refrigerate 1 hour.

Top with cheese and basil just before serving.

Makes 16 servings, 1 cup each with 170 calories, 5 grams fat, 5 mg cholesterol, 260 mg sodium, 25 grams carbohydrates, 2 grams fiber, 3 grams sugar, 7 grams protein. Carb choices: 1 1/2. Diet exchange: 1 1/2 starch, 1 fat.

kraftrecipes.com

GRILLED ZUCCHINI, EGGPLANT AND ROMA TOMATO SALAD

1 medium eggplant, peeled

Kosher salt

1 medium zucchini

2 large Roma tomatoes, peeled, seeded, diced (see note)

2 cups large-diced fresh mozzarella

1 1/2 cups fresh pesto

1/2 cup Kalamata olives, pitted, cut in half lengthwise

Salt and black pepper to taste

To prepare the vegetables for grilling: Slice the eggplant lengthwise into ½-inch-thick slices. Place the slices on a baking sheet and sprinkle heavily with salt. Set it aside for about 30 minutes or until the eggplant sweats and releases a brownish liquid. Discard the liquid and rinse the eggplant.

Cut the zucchini lengthwise into 1/3 - to 1/2 -inch-thick slices. Set aside.

Preheat the grill to medium-high heat.

Oil the grill grates. Grill the eggplant and zucchini slices until just tender, about 3-4 minutes on each side. Remove from the grill. When cool enough to handle, cut the eggplant and zucchini into dice-size cubes and place in a bowl. Add the tomatoes, mozzarella, pesto and olives. Cover and chill for at least one hour before serving.

Cook’s note: To peel the tomatoes, score an “X” on the bottom of each one. Place in boiling water for about 2 minutes or until the skin starts to loosen. Remove and plunge in ice water. Starting at the scored end, peel the tomatoes.

Serves: 8 (about 1/2 cup each) with 113 calories, 9 grams fat, 4 grams carbohydrates, 4 grams protein, 602 mg sodium, 9 mg cholesterol, 1 gram fiber.

Detroit Free Press Test Kitchen

This dessert can be stored in the freezer up to 24 hours before serving.

FROZEN S’MORE POPS

4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, melted

2/3 cup canned sweetened condensed milk

8 ounces cream cheese, softened

1 1/4 cups cold low-fat milk

1 package (3.9 ounces) instant chocolate pudding

1 1/2 cups thawed whipped topping

1 cup miniature marshmallows

9 graham crackers, broken in half (18 squares)

Mix melted chocolate and condensed milk; set aside.

Beat cream cheese in large bowl with mixer until creamy. Gradually beat in milk. Add dry pudding mix; beat 2 minutes. Stir in whipped topping and marshmallows.

Spread bottoms of graham squares with chocolate mixture. Place 9 squares, chocolate-sides up, in 9-inch square pan. Cover with pudding mixture and remaining graham squares, chocolate-sides down. Freeze 4 hours.

Remove dessert from freezer 5 minutes before serving. Let stand at room temperature to soften slightly. Use serrated knife to cut dessert into 18 bars, following lines in top crackers. Insert wooden pop stick into end of each frozen bar just before serving.

Makes 18 servings, each with 200 calories, 10 grams fat, 20 mg cholesterol, 200 mg sodium, 26 grams carbohydrates, 1 gram fiber, 19 grams sugar, 3 grams protein.

kraftrecipes.com

ITALIAN FRUIT SALAD

1 pound seedless watermelon, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes or balls (4 cups)

3 cups seedless green grapes, halved

2 cups fresh blueberries

2 tablespoons thinly sliced fresh basil leaves

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

1 tablespoon honey

In a large bowl combine watermelon, grapes, blueberries, and basil. For dressing, in a small bowl whisk together vinegar and honey. Pour dressing over fruit; stir gently to coat. If desired, cover and chill for up to 8 hours.

Makes 8 servings (1 cup each) with 91 calories, 0 grams fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 3 mg sodium, 23 grams carbohydrates, 2 grams fiber, 19 grams sugar, 1 gram protein.

Better Homes & Gardens

HOW TO GRILL CORN

1. Pull back, but don’t remove, the husk from the corn. Remove the silk. (An easy way to do this is to rub the silk off with a terrycloth-type kitchen towel.) Place the husk back around the ear of corn as much as possible.

2. Soak the corn in water at least 1 hour and up to 4 hours. This keeps the corn from drying out and prevents the husk from totally charring.

3. Preheat the grill to medium-high and grill corn in its husk — or pull the husk back and tie — 10 to 15 minutes or until it’s hot and crisp-tender. Turn occasionally as needed.

4. Remove the husk and serve with butter and salt or seasonings of choice.

5. Store: Cut leftover corn from the cob and store in the refrigerator or freeze. Use it in salsas, soups or as a side dish.

Detroit Free Press

HOW TO GRILL CORN

1. Pull back, but don’t remove, the husk from the corn. Remove the silk. (An easy way to do this is to rub the silk off with a terrycloth-type kitchen towel.) Place the husk back around the ear of corn as much as possible.

2. Soak the corn in water at least 1 and up to 4 hours. This keeps the corn from drying out and prevents the husk from totally charring.

3. Preheat the grill to medium-high and grill corn in its husk — or pull the husk back and tie — 10 to 15 minutes or until it’s hot and crisp-tender. Turn occasionally as needed.

4. Remove the husk and serve with butter and salt or seasonings of choice.

5. Store: Cut leftover corn from the cob and store in the refrigerator or freeze. Use it in salsas, soups or as a side dish.

Detroit Free Press

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