Friday, May 27, 2011

Memorial Day Picnic Tips!

Yesterday was the last day of school and I was woken up by an excited four year old requesting jelly beans for breakfast. I compromised with a chocolate chip granola bar and the day proceeded with fun and festivities. The kids had an end of the year festival, I personally downed 3 snow cones and the laughter and excitement was the perfect ending to the school year and beginning of summer.
We've been pawing through big brown grocery bags sent home with each child - filled with art projects, mementos, pictures and gifts from the teachers. My kitchen looks like a disaster hit it.

In the midst of the school celebrations, I need not forget the start of National Burger Weekend as we enjoy an extended holiday weekend observing Memorial Day. I have a fun menu planned with some helpful tips to get you out of a generic burger rut.

I plan on spending time at the pool with my family and having a big cookout - burgers, baked beans, chip and dip, a huge salad (I love salad) and some fun desserts.

Consider creating a topping bar for your family to enjoy choosing some new items to top their burgers.

Start with cheese: Sharp Cheddar, Blue Cheese, Brie and Pepper Jack are fun diversions to the stand by of American.

Think outside the box: Lettuce and Tomato are staples...but what about grilling or sauteeing your onions? Guacamole adds an interesting twist and I have fallen in love with green chilis on my burger. Feeling italian? Why not add some marinara sauce, mozzarella and basil?

For sides, don't go nuts and wear yourself out - your focus should be on enjoying time with your family and friends. Baked beans, macaroni and cheese, a salad - nothing over the top. Think hummus, salsa, bruschetta. Give me a bag of chips with some ranch or french onion dip and you won't hear from me for hours.

Desserts are my weakness and I have a few healthy and non-healthy options. Fresh fruit is plentiful this time of year and so I keep my house stocked with fresh peaches, strawberries and watermelon. Sweet as candy, we see fruit as a breakfast, snack and dessert option. It might be fun to create your own fruit kabobs - skewer some grapes, bananas and strawberries. Eat them plain or combine 8 oz. of cream cheese with sweetened condensed milk or some marshmallow cream and dip until you can't see straight. Or just spoon down the dip and call it a day. :)

I love chocolate - so a pan of fudge brownies with vanilla bean ice cream is hard to beat...but what about making your own ice cream sandwiches out of chocolate chip cookies and ice cream? My friend AmyA made them for my family once and we loved them, scarfed them, couldn't get enough.

I have an ice cream maker and so I plan on making homemade peach ice cream. I can already picture myself dipping my toes in the pool with a gigantic bowl of homemade ice cream in hand right now. Ahhhhhhhhhhh!

As you kick off your summer and celebrate Memorial Day, I hope you have fun enjoying time with those you love. May your laughter be sweet, your conversations uplifting and you Chinet full of goodness.

I salute the service men and women who so valiantly have served and continue to serve our country to keep us safe and preserve the right of freedom. May God Bless You All!


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