Memorial Day weekend is upon us, the weather forecast in Michigan looks decent, and the probability of heading to or hosting a holiday cookout is pretty high. I wanted to share a few delicious recipes so you can enjoy a little taste of what we’re bringing to the cookouts we’re attending this weekend!
As a person who loves all food, but loves to cook and share that delicious food with friends and family even more, I have brought the following dishes to gatherings time and again. They are always a hit, and they are always high on the request list of my family, too. Here’s hoping you and your family have a safe Memorial Day weekend full of fun, delicious recipes, and, most importantly, remembrance for those who made the greatest sacrifice while serving our country.
My best friend and I invented this recipe years ago by basically doing a fridge/cupboard sweep, and it makes a ton of dip. (You can easily halve this!) Note that for the full recipe, you’ll need a 10-cup or greater capacity food processor, so if yours is smaller, do this in two batches and then combine. The food processor gives this a fine and consistent texture which is key, especially for those people who don’t like black olives. The olives add great texture but are so finely ground that even my staunch-black-olive-hating father likes this dip. Don’t skip them!
- 16 oz sour cream
- 1 block cream cheese, room temp (do not use fat free)
- 16 oz jar traditional salsa like Pace Picante Sauce
- 2 cups shredded Cheddar or Monterrey Jack cheese
- 1 can whole black olives, drained
- ½ cup taco seasoning
- Combine cream cheese and sour cream in food processor and pulse until large chunks are broken down, then give it a whirl until well mixed.
- Add remaining ingredients in the order listed, one at a time, mixing well in between.
- Serve immediately or keep chilled. Stir before serving with tortilla chips.
Refreshing Spring Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette
This recipe is delicious served chilled on a warm day! The vinaigrette makes the flavors in this crisp salad really pop. What’s fun about this is it’s easily modified—for crunch, add some fried morel mushrooms or croutons; for protein, add grilled chicken or steak; and, for color, add sliced strawberries or some edible flowers like violets or pansies (make sure to I.D. correctly and ensure that they are not sprayed with any lawn chemicals!).
- 1 lb asparagus
- ½ lb sugar snap peas
- 12 oz Romaine hearts
- ½ cup crumbled goat cheese or shaved parmesan
- ½ cup walnut halves, roughly chopped and toasted
- Coarse sea salt
- Lemon wedges
Lemon Vinaigrette Ingredients:
- ½ cup olive oil
- ¼ cup white balsamic vinegar
- 2 T lemon juice
- 2 T honey
- ¼ t black pepper
- Cut asparagus and snap peas into 1-inch pieces. For pretty presentation, cut on the bias.
- Blanch the vegetables by dropping them in boiling water for 1 minute and immediately transferring to a bowl of ice water. Let stand in ice water until they are cool to the touch. Drain well and pat dry.
- Chop rinsed Romaine hearts into bite-sized pieces, place into your salad bowl, and top with veggies, cheese, and nuts. (This is a great recipe for a chilled metal salad bowl if you have one!)
- Sprinkle a pinch or two of salt about the salad. We love a very coarse sea salt for a little crunch, and the salt livens up the lettuce and the veggies.
- Combine dressing ingredients and mix well. Dress salad, and serve with lemon wedge garnish for anyone who wants extra tang.
- Salad can be chilled ahead, but dressing should be mixed when it’s ready to serve.
Harvey’s Mac & Cheese
My mom and I created this recipe for my grandpa, Harvey, after a lot of trial and error in search of the perfect creamy macaroni and cheese. We had a lot of fun letting grandpa taste test and getting his feedback—he sure did love his mac and cheese! Mom says the secret to the creaminess is processed cheddar, but I like it just as well with freshly grated Tillamook Medium Cheddar. You’ll have to test for yourself to see which one you like! Grandpa Harvey passed away several years ago, but he was a decorated WWII veteran who was POW/MIA and earned a Purple Heart, so we always love to celebrate him on patriotic holidays.
- 1 lb elbow macaroni
- 3 cups heavy whipping cream
- 2.5 cups half-and-half
- ½ cup regular milk
- 6 T butter
- ½ cup flour
- 3 t kosher
- ¼ t nutmeg
- ¼ t pepper
- ¼ t cayenne pepper
- 16 oz Gruyere, shredded
- 8-10 oz medium Cheddar, shredded
(enough to make 8 total cups between the Gruyere and the Cheddar)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Warm the whipping cream, half-and-half, and milk gently.
- While the milk mixture is warming, melt butter in a heavy-bottomed sauce pan; add flour; cook 1 minute.
- Whisk milks into butter/flour mixture, and simmer until bubbly and slightly thickened, stirring often.
- Remove from heat. Stir in spices and 6 cups of the shredded cheese.
- Cook macaroni; mix with sauce; pour into greased roaster pan or large cast iron dutch oven and top with the remaining 2 cups of shredded cheese.
- Bake uncovered for 30-40 minutes.
If there’s anything us Michiganders love in springtime, it’s rhubarb. One of the first vegetables to hit farmers markets (yes, it is a vegetable!), the tangy flavor makes for wonderful desserts. This one has been floating around my family’s recipe boxes for so long, I don’t even know where it originated! The copy I have in my box is a purple-inked “ditto” if you’re old enough to remember those. Give this old-school recipe a try!
- 1 cup flour
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 3/4 cup uncooked rolled oats
- 1/2 cup melted butter
- 1 t cinnamon
- 5 cups diced rhubarb
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup water
- 2 T cornstarch
- 1 t vanilla
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Mix all crunch ingredients except rhubarb until well combined.
- Press half of the mixture into a greased 9″ x 13″ pan.
- Cover with the diced rhubarb.
- Combine filling ingredients in a small saucepan and cook, stirring regularly, until solids have dissolved and mixture is clear and thickened.
- Pour over rhubarb and top with remaining crumb mixture.
- Bake for 1 hour. Allow to cool 15 minutes before slicing.
I truly hope that your family and friends will enjoy these recipes as much as mine do. Nothing brings me greater joy than a gathering of good friends, loving family, and delicious food! Happy Memorial Day weekend to you and yours!