Memorial Weekend: Open the Lake BBQ

Memorial Day weekend is for BBQs, friends, family, relaxation and fun. It is also a great excuse for a party to kick off the summer season. This is the first time in a long time that we aren’t traveling this weekend, so we plan to take full advantage.

We are starting out the weekend with a BBQ hosted by friends at a lake near their house. This is an annual party that they throw and they call it “Open the Lake” as it is the first weekend the lake is open. They have asked that I recommend some recipes for the BBQ that can withstand the sun and be enjoyed all day without refrigeration.

While the main dishes will be grilled meat – there are lots of side dishes, desserts and general munchie options that can be made. 

My top  favorite dishes for the BBQ are below. All of the dishes are extremely easy to make, can be made in advance and can be served all day.

Watermelon, Feta, Tomato & Basil Salad

(recipe serves 12 – enlarge or reduce as needed)

5 cups watermelon chunks/balls*
3 sliced tomatoes (red and/or yellow)
1 cup crumbled feta
2 large handfuls of chopped basil
Olive Oil and Sea Salt to taste

Directions: In a bowl combine all ingredients and serve.

*Helpful tip: Buy a full watermelon, cut off the top and use a melon baller to scoop out the watermelon. Save the scooped out rind and use it to hold punch (possibly spiked!)

Asparagus, Artichoke, Pea and  Pesto Pasta Salad

(serves 8-10)

1 box Pasta (any kind works)
1 cup fresh peas
1 1/2 cups sliced fresh artichoke hearts
1 1/2 cups sliced asparagus spears
1 can sliced black olives
1 red onion diced
1 jar pesto sauce
2 garlic cloves minced
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions: Cook pasta according to the package. Blanch the vegetables for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Combine everything in a large bowl and refrigerate overnight.

Dusted Angel Food Cake with Strawberries

(Serves 8-10)

1 box Duncan Hines Angel Food Cake*
Sliced strawberries
Powdered Sugar

Directions: Prepare the angel food cake as directed on the box. Let cool. Dust the top with powdered sugar. Serve with strawberries in a separate bowl so that guests can add the strawberries themselves.

* Hint: Angel food cake from scratch takes an unessarily long time – and the duncan hines version tastes just as good. Personally, I would shy away from buying a pre-made cake at the grocery store as they usually aren’t as light and fluffy as making it yourself (from the box)

*Alternative: Instead of just using strawberries, use any fruit(s) and combine them together.

Helpful Cooking Hint: Always make angel food cake using a proper angel food cake pan. Once you remove the cake from the oven. Place upside down on a wine bottle and let cool completely. This prevents the cake from deflating. Once cooled completely use a knife to separate the side.

S’mores Bars

(If you can make actual s’mores – then go for it! But, if you can’t these are the next best thing)

 3/4 cup butter
2/3 cup sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
18 whole graham crackers, crushed, about 3 cups
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 milk chocolate bars, approximately 1 1/2 ounces each
3 1/2 cups miniature marshmallows

Directions: Heat oven to 350°. Beat butter and sugar with electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla. Stir in crushed graham crackers, flour, and salt. Reserve 1 cup of the graham cracker mixture and press remaining mixture over the bottom of a greased 13x9x2-inch baking pan. Arrange chocolate bars, in a single layer, over graham cracker crust mixture in the pan. Sprinkle with marshmallows. Crumbled reserved graham cracker mixture over the marshmallows. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown. Cool in pan on wire rack for 10 minutes. Cut into bars and cool completely.
Makes about 2 dozen bars.

What are your plans for Memorial Day Weekend?


May 24, 2011. Celebrations, Dessert, Helpful Cooking Tips, Holiday, Menu, Recipes.

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