Memorial Day Made Simple

Memorial Day honors our veterans and soldiers and signals the arrival of summer. Celebrate with this easy make-ahead menu.

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A lot of families like to kick off the summer season by going away for Memorial Day weekend. Rather than fight traffic, I like to enjoy every bit of good weather in my own backyard. Taking a day out to be with family and friends, sharing a simple meal with the neighbors, is my own small way of showing gratitude for the freedom soldiers have fought for and the bounty we have in our nation.

It's really about gathering together, joking, talking, and playing games, so the menu is simple fare: dressed-up burgers, a sophisticated pasta salad, and homemade ice cream if the weather is hot.

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My No-Fail Menu

  • Mojito Sparklers
  • Vegetable Kabobs
  • Chimichurri Burgers
  • Pea and Macaroni Salad
  • Rocky Road Ice Cream

Mojito Sparklers

Bubbly, fresh mojitos are a great way to start the party and they only take five minutes to make. Get rid of your prep time all together by setting up a cocktail station with the ingredients and having guests mix their own.

View Mojito Sparklers recipe

Vegetable Kabobs

Serve chunky grilled veggies on a skewer as an appetizer. Relax more and let your guests help. Lay out the food and skewers and let them put on just the vegetables they really want. You could also let them in on the fun of grilling and let them cook their own.

View Vegetable Kabobs recipe

Chimichurri Burgers

Chimichurri is a thick herb sauce found in Argentinean cooking. Here it's tucked inside burgers prior to grilling.

View Chimichurri Burgers recipe

Pea and Macaroni Salad

A summertime staple, try this version dressed up with horseradish mustard.

View Pea and Macaroni Salad recipe

Rocky Road Ice Cream

What's better than a spoonful of chocolate ice cream dotted with walnuts and marshmallows? Not much.

View Rocky Road Ice Cream recipe

The day before the party...

  • Make the base for the ice cream.
  • Prepare the Pea and Macaroni Salad.

Four hours before the party starts...

  • Make the Rocky Road Ice Cream and let it freeze a few hours to ripen.

Two hours before the party...

  • Prepare the Vegetable Kabobs; refrigerate until ready to grill.

30 minutes before the party starts...

  • Set up a cocktail station with all the ingredients for the Mojito Sparklers.
  • Get the burgers ready to grill.

Casual entertaining in the backyard is one of the joys of summer. If you're like me and you've decided to invite a ton of folks to drop by throughout the day, it's more fun to play the day by ear than come up with a formal plan.

  • Having a few activity stations set up is perfect for spontaneous fun, be it a vicious game of croquet or a light-hearted round of badminton.
  • For the kids, have hula-hoops and music for a contest, as well as sidewalk chalk, water balloons, and so on.
  • Don't forget to arrange some chairs in the shade and have a tub filled with non-caffeinated, non-alcoholic beverages to beat the heat. If you live in a hot and sunny clime, consider a kiddie pool for instant cool-offs.

Deli-Style Pasta Salad

Cheese tortellini makes this salad hearty enough to be a main course.

View Deli-Style Pasta Salad recipe

Mediterranean Potato Salad

Pair this distinctive potato salad with grilled lamb or steaks.

View Mediterranean Potato Salad recipe

Hawaiian Chicken Burgers

Take a leap out of the ordinary with this popular sweet-and-sour burger.

View Hawaiian Chicken Burgers recipe

Chiffon Pie

Tequila lime flavor in a salty pretzel crust -- yum!

View Chiffon Pie recipe

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