Food & Drink

These Memorial Day recipes will spice up your outdoor gathering

Precooking ribs in the oven, then finishing them off on the grill, is an easy way to get food ready for a Memorial Day weekend party.
Precooking ribs in the oven, then finishing them off on the grill, is an easy way to get food ready for a Memorial Day weekend party.

Maybe the new grill is sparkling and ready for firing up.

Perhaps the lawn looks just right this year and you want to show it off.

And with an early start on planting, the flower beds are glorious and the gardener deserves some compliments.

There are plenty of reasons to have a Memorial Day weekend party in your backyard. The best may be to gather family and friends to enjoy each others’ company and a great outdoor meal.

I’ve kept it simple with suggested recipes: appetizer, salad, entree off the grill and a creamy-chilly dessert.

Hope for good weather, put out your flag and say thank-you to a veteran.

Party tips

Getting ready to party outdoors? Here are a few things you need to know:

  • Have enough seats — Press dining chairs into service, along with any benches or stools if you’re short of seating. If you’re keeping things casual, you can spread blankets on the ground and let people gather picnic-style. Or, just ask every body to bring a foldable chair or two with him.
  • Don’t leave guests in the dark — All you need is a little ambient lighting outdoors. Hang strings of lights on the deck, the fence, even tree branches, and add some hurricane lanterns or tealights.
  • Trip wires — If you need to run extension cords through the yard, snip old wire hangers with a wire cutter and bend them into skinny U-shaped pegs (like croquet wickets, but only an inch or two wide). Then arc them over the cords and hammer them flush into the ground.
  • Keep mosquitoes away — Get rid of any standing rainwater, from gutters, etc., that attracts mosquitoes. Also, plug in some fans. Mosquitoes are weak flyers, so even if a fan is set on low, it can create enough airflow to keep them away. This works best in a small area, like a deck, where you can set up two or three low fans around your guests. Or, offer guests bug wipes/towelettes that won’t create a smelly fog. Stash them in a basket by the back door.

Tropical Guacamole

3 medium ripe avocados, peeled

2 cups finely chopped fresh pineapple

1 medium tomato, seeded and chopped

2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and chopped

1/3 cup minced fresh cilantro

2 tablespoons lime juice

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

Tortilla chips

In a small bowl, mash two avocados. Stir in the pineapple, tomato, jalapenos, cilantro, lime juice, garlic, salt and pepper. Coarsely chop remaining avocado; gently stir into guacamole. Serve with chips. Yield: 3 1/2 cups.

Each 1/4 cup (calculated without chips) equals 77 calories, 6 grams fat, 0 cholesterol, 173 mg sodium, 7 grams carbohydrates, 3 grams fiber, 1 gram protein. Diabetic exchanges: 1/2 starch, 1/2 fat.

Editor's note: Wear disposable gloves when cutting hot peppers; the oils can burn skin. Avoid touching your face.

Simple & Delicious June/July 2011

Greek Pasta Salad

Need a faster way to make this salad? Skip the homemade vinaigrette and use a store-bought variety.

4 cups small-bite pasta, your choice (about 12 ounces)


1/4 cup olive oil

3 tablespoons lemon juice

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon water

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

3 tablespoons minced fresh oregano or 1 tablespoon dried oregano


Dozen cherry or grape tomatoes, halved

1 medium sweet red pepper, chopped

1 small cucumber, seeded and chopped or sliced

1 small zucchini, chopped

1 small red onion, halved and thinly sliced

1/3 cup sliced pitted Greek olives, optional

1 cup (4 ounces) crumbled feta cheese

Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain; rinse with cold water and drain well.

In a small bowl, whisk oil, lemon juice, vinegar, water, garlic, salt and pepper until blended. Stir in oregano.

In a large bowl, combine pasta, vegetables and, if desired, olives. Add vinaigrette and cheese; toss to combine. Refrigerate, covered, until serving.

Yield: 16 servings (3/4 cup each, calculated without olives) equals 142 calories, 5 grams fat, 4 mg cholesterol, 219 mg sodium, 20 grams carbohydrates, 2 grams fiber, 5 grams protein. Diabetic exchanges: 1 starch, 1 fat.

Taste of Home April/May 2015

Foolproof Ribs with Barbecue Sauce

Ina Garten’s secret to perfect grilled ribs: Instead of fussing with the heat of the grill, put the ribs in the oven, set a timer and forget about them. Before serving, reheat on the grill.

5 pounds baby back ribs (4 racks) or St. Louis ribs (2 racks)

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Favorite barbecue sauce

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a sheet pan with aluminum foil.

Place the ribs on the sheet pan meat-side up and sprinkle them with 2 teaspoons salt and 1 teaspoon pepper.

Pour the barbecue sauce generously on each rack and cover the ribs loosely with aluminum foil. Bake for 1 1/2 hours for baby backs and 1 3/4 hours for St. Louis ribs, until the meat is very tender when tested with a fork.

As soon as the ribs are out of the oven, spread them generously with additional barbecue sauce. Grill right away or refrigerate to grill later.

About 40 minutes before you want to serve, heat a charcoal grill with a layer of hot coals or heat a gas grill to medium-high heat. After the charcoal turns gray, brush the cooking grate with oil to keep the ribs from sticking.

Place the ribs on the grill ribs-side down, put the lid on top (be sure both vents are open) and grill 5 minutes. Turn the ribs meat-side down, put the lid back on and grill for another 4 to 5 minutes, until nicely browned. Place on a cutting board and cover tightly with aluminum foil and allow the ribs to rest for 10 minutes. Cut into ribs and serve hot with extra barbecue sauce on the side.

Oreo Slab Pie

This big rectangular pie has a hot fudge layer, so switch up your cookie choice to, for example, chocolate-chip or a layered caramel cookie. Or, even a combination.

1 box refrigerated pie crusts, softened as directed on box

1 jar (16 ounces) hot fudge topping (2 cups)

1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream

1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened

1/3 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

24 Oreo cookies, 16 coarsely crushed and 8 halved

1. Heat oven to 450 degrees. Remove pie crusts from pouches. Unroll and stack crusts on lightly floured surface. Roll to 17-by-12-inch rectangle. Fit crust into ungreased 15-by-10-by-1-inch pan, pressing into corners. Fold crust even with edges of pan. Flute or crimp edges. Prick crust several times with fork.

2. Bake 10 to 12 minutes, or until golden brown. Cool completely, about 30 minutes. Carefully spread hot fudge evenly on crust. Set aside.

3. Meanwhile, in medium bowl, beat whipping cream with electric mixer on high speed until stiff peaks form. Set aside.

4. In large bowl, beat cream cheese, sugar and vanilla with electric mixer on medium speed until smooth and creamy.

5. Gently fold whipped cream into cream cheese mixture. Fold in crushed cookies.

6. Spoon cream cheese mixture evenly over hot fudge. Refrigerate 1 hour. Garnish with halved cookies.

Cut this slab pie into 24 servings, and serve as hand-held bars. Cover and refrigerate any remaining pie.

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