Memorial Day Weekend Recipe Roundup!
For those living outside the United States, Americans are entering a holiday weekend. The upcoming holiday is Memorial Day and is dedicated to the memories of those men and women who died while serving in the US Armed Forces. It’s an interesting holiday in that it’s a combination of bereavement, American patriotism, BBQ’s and beer!
Memorial Day Weekend tends to mark the beginning of the summer season, even if summer doesn’t OFFICIALLY begin for about another month. The time period between Memorial Day and Labor Day in September is usually filled with outdoor cooking, summer events, concerts, hiking, travelling and a general sense that its wonderful out there … let’s get out there and do something!
To mark the beginning of this period in time, I’ve collected over 20 recipes dedicated to cooking outdoors, social and family gatherings, as well as potlucks. Bring one of these to a Memorial Day party this weekend and you’ll be sure to receive loads of thanks!
On with the recipes! (click the links to see the recipes)
Strawberry Daiquiri Mocktail
Strawberry Spinach Salad
Broccoli Salad with Carrot, Cranberries and Bacon
Anne’s Turnip Gratin
Atomic Buffalo Turds
Carolina BBQ Meatballs
Low Carb BBQ Wings
BBQ’d Bacon Wrapped Basil Shrimp
Gluten-Free Yogurt Biscuits
Hot Dog and Hamburger Buns
Bacon Avocado Grilled Cheese Sliders on Coconut 2 Minute Bread
Bacon, Cheese and Tomato Open-Faced Sandwiches
Buffalo Chicken Burgers with Cucumber Slaw
Chipotle Lime Grilled Chicken
Slow Cooker BBQ Beef Brisket
Mmmmmm…. Grilled Pork Loin!
Maple Brined Pork Chops
Plrischsant Lemon Bars
Healthier Peanut Butter Cookies
Today’s post contains an odd assortment of recipes. They are mostly pasta and pasta-like recipes, with the addition of a few soups. They are all excellent recipes, except for the Tabbouleh, which I’ve begrudgingly dubbed “Tabboul-meh”. It was a sincere attempt at something I love, but … it just fell flat. A lovely woman on my facebook page suggested adding some mushrooms and a bit of chopped kale to boost the earthiness of it. I liked the idea. Maybe you will to!
Welcome to the beginning of the outdoor grilling season!
Creamy Pesto Chicken Primavera
This rapid-fire, one pan dinner takes just a few minutes to cook and is full of everything one needs to sustain life! It’s got plenty of good fats, protein and a nice selection of nutrients from the various herbs and vegetables. I know dairy is a problem for some, but for those that love cream, or even PESTO cream, you’ll LOVE this dish!
It started as a response as a desire to cut pasta out, completely. I wanted something that tasted like pasta and had all the “stuff” I’d put into a pasta, but … sans pasta! The goal was to see if I’d really miss it. I wanted to know if I could really live in a world with just stir fried veggies, floating in a thick and opulent cream sauce, with parmesan, basil, garlic and bacon! Not only does it turn out that I can, but I invited various family members over the evening I made this dish (along with about 10 others). They all unanimously agreed that THIS was the winner that evenings.
It’s tough to go wrong when everything on your plate is coated with cheese, cream and bacon! Even with all the green things! Yum.
Stir Fried Peanut Chicken with Kelp Noodles
This surprisingly tasty entry uses a noodle made of kelp. Yep! That weird stuff that floats around beaches, washes up on shore and generally makes the thought of swimming in it, make my skin crawl. I’ve actually eaten quite a bit of seaweed in my lifetime. At one point, it was all the rage in high end restaurants and was sliced, diced, pickled, tossed with sesame seeds, etc. Some of it was pretty tasty, too! However, until someone popped onto my Facebook page, proclaiming love for noodles made from Kelp, I’d never even heard of such a thing!
When I looked into them, they did read like a low-carber’s dream food. A 4 oz. portion has just 1 carb, and it’s all fiber. It’s also got only 6 calories, is high in iodine (YAY, thyroid function!) and other minerals and is also considered good eating by the Raw and Paleo communities. In a sense, it’s just water held in place with seaweed fiber, and flavored with just a touch of seaweed salt! No cooking is done, or required. Open a bag and eat up!
So, why aren’t people clamoring for more of these? Why aren’t they all the rage? Why hadn’t I heard of them?! Because they’re weird, Man! They’re just weird!
I popped open the bag, expecting something along the lines of the Shirataki noodles (another weird noodle, made from Konjac, a southeast Asian yam-like thing). Shirataki noodles are very soft, rubbery and packed in bags full of water. This was like little strands of hard plasticy-rubber, packed tightly into a vacuum packed baggy. We’re not in Kansas anymore!
I tore a strand of glassy fiber from the bag and put it in my mouth. It felt like plastic, in every way I know. It would not have taken much convincing to tell me that this was the raw material behind cellophane (saran wrap). I bit into it. It was actually really pleasantly crunchy! All of a sudden, I COMPLETELY enjoyed the wonderfully cheerful texture of the noodle. Then, the flavor hit me. It was a very subtle taste, like a cross between salt and something like a mildly bitter baking soda. I was back to regarding these noodles with some skepticism.
Yes, you can eat these right out of the package. There are many that love these things and swear by them. People pop the bag, cut up the noodles, slather them with cucumbers and avocados and chow down. Not only is this possible and acceptable, it’s quite common! I think from my personal vantage point, I’ll need to rise to that particular occasion. I’m more a regular ol’ noodle type dude, and these hard elastic strands just kind of weirded me out. I read and read and discovered that prolonged exposure to acid will start to soften them, somewhat. I rinsed them in warm water, cut them into manageable strands, and then tossed them with fresh lime juice, where they sat on the counter for about an hour. Interestingly, liquid pooled at the bottom, which I poured off. The noodles did, indeed, soften somewhat. Cooking them with other ingredients really whipped them into a nice noodley shape! In the end, I think these are kind of a fun product to play with, the flavor is very mild and easily cancelled out by other ingredients and can be tamed into something wonderful like … Stir Fry Peanut Chicken with Kelp Noodles!
Purchase Note: I personally purchased my noodles from Amazon.com, but I also noticed they sell them at the local asian grocery store. I assume they can be found in some stores, but suspect they can be a bit of a challenge to find. I do recommend them, though, if you’re up for something kind of different!
When I was younger, I worked in a sort of strange restaurant. It seemed to want to be all things to all people, serving a wide range of high end foods, including ingredients like sea urchin and goose liver, while also offering ornate bar foods in the expensive, cold and fancy social gathering area, where beautiful people would ignore the sporting events on the walls. Our menu had both pizza and sushi.
Good food … weird place! While it was a hopping joint at the time, I believe it’s the only restaurant I’ve ever worked in that doesn’t still stand, today.
In any event, we had a few sushi chefs on hand. They had a boss … the lead sushi chef, whose complicated name was a challenge to pronounce. He was lovingly dubbed “Tamale Cauliflower” by the crew. Tamale was a dutifully honorable and stoic Japanese man. His sushi and his creations were well above any I’ve ever seen. I learned A LOT from Tamale. He could do things I’ve never seen duplicated by any other chef, and he knew it. Between orders, he would sit and read the paper, which would get you fired in most places. Tamale was the only man I’ve ever known, in any kitchen, anywhere, who could not only get away with sitting and reading a paper while working, but … could make it look like it was part of his job description. He could sit and quietly read, while emanating a paradoxically strong busy demeanor!
Somewhere, somehow, I’d managed to convince Tamale that he shouldn’t isolate himself so much and that he should contribute to the team. It’s not that Tamale was standoffish. Tamale was an incredible guy, but he just radiated something tough to penetrate. He lived his own rules. I somehow managed to reach in there and convince him to cook dinner for the staff, if even only occasionally.
Once a month, Tamale made “Singapore Noodles” for a group of about 40 people. He’d show up early and quickly, quietly, calmly and effortlessly float around, gathering the ingredients. Then he would methodically slice everything into perfect little strips, ribbons and cubes. He’d sort the ingredients into perfectly lined rows, set up on a bamboo tray. He’d carry the tray to the Wok station, crank the massive industrial Wok to high and then Tamale would … dance! That’s the only way I know to describe it! Between working the water flow with his knees, shucking and jiving, while tossing the ingredients into a thousand degree Wok hovering above a rocket engine; Tamale’s whole being just grooved into this amusing/amazing 12 minute burst of curry powder, shrimp and vegetables. It was really quite a sight to see from a man who never smiled, never frowned, never showed any kind of display … of any kind.
Yet, once a month … Tamale would dance and give us “Singapore Noodles”. They were good, too!
I lived in San Francisco in my late teens and early 20’s. A great place to be in your youth! One of my absolute favorite haunts was a restaurant called “Kan Zaman”, which apparently shut down in early 2013, sad-to-say. This upper-Haight restaurant was ACTION PACKED in the early 90’s. It’s clear they had a good 20+ year run, which is pretty spectacular by any measure (most restaurants don’t make it more than a year or two!). The food was Middle Eastern; everything was shared, family style. Alongside one wall was a row of pillows, where you could sit, comfortably on the floor with friends, while sipping warm spiced wine and pick over foods like falafel, baba ganoush, shawarma, stuffed grape leaves, hummus, all manner of grilled meat on sticks and … the fresh herbed tabbouleh!
After dinner, you could request a hookah and smoke apple scented tobacco, while watching belly dancers twirl around with swords. An amazing place at a special time in life … It’s interesting to me that “Kan Zaman”, in Arabic means “A long time ago …”
In any event, this is the place and time that introduced me to the amazing foods from the Middle East. Fresh and simple, with mouthwatering blasts of herbs and spice!
Tabbouleh is a salad harking from the eastern Mediterranian, between Anatolia and Egypt. You might find Tabbouleh in countries like Syria and Lebanon. Traditionally it is made with Bulgur wheat, tomatoes and a mixture of mint and parsley. In fact, I’ve been told many times in my life that the chopped herbs should be about equal to the bulgur. I’ve even seen recipes which were almost all herbs, with only a small amount of bulgur. It’s FULL of herby goodness!
Throughout my adult life, I’ve seen this dish recreated a million times. Here I am, throwing my little low-carb spin at it. Mine is full of veggies and herbs, as well as my miracle cauli-rice. This gives both a little boost of natural flavor, while adding bulk and some texture. I was so excited when I made it, because I love Tabbouleh. I love the bright acid flavors, and all the textures of the fresh raw vegetables. I wanted so badly for this to match the Tabboulehs of my youth and it was SOOO close! SOOOOO CLOSE! It’s tough to give this a B, but … I’d be lying if I called it a home run, or an “A”. It was everything I wanted in a toubouleh, from the health aspects to the colors and textures. It was wonderful, on all fronts. The only way I can describe it, in as truly honest a way as I can … it was just … somehow …
There was an earthy depth that the bulgur brings to this dish, and this missed that particular element. The last thing I want to do is talk you out of this. It is really quite good, much better than most low-carb replacements that I’ve seen, but … it’s a B. Bring it to the next Potluck, where everyone else is going to bring their “C” Game!
Next time … more herbs and less miracle-cauli rice!
Broccoli Cheddar Soup
I’ve never liked cheese based soups. For the most part, I’ve just never really trusted them! It’s always been my belief that a cheese soup was somehow that weird “cheese food” that you get on the nachos at ballgames. It’s entirely possible that I’m full of pretentious snobbery and pompous hoity-toity, but … I’ve just always struggled with these strange processed cheese foods, generally feeling the issue comes down to texture for me. There’s just a strange glutinousness to it that I’ve always struggled with. Even in my darkest days, I’d still manage to avoid this particular foodstuff.
In any event, this is not about that. There are benefits to processed cheeses, one of which is its ability stay emulsified or … “together”. Many cheeses will melt and separate into stringy strands of protein, floating around in pools of oil. I happen to love this particular behavior in things like Queso Fundido, but … in a soup, it makes for an ugly stringy mess. The same is often true of things like cheese sauces for Macaroni and Cheese. If a cheese is sufficiently emulsified or diluted, it tends to stay smooth and creamy, even when melted. This is why some cheesy cream sauces stay “creamy”. It’s also why thickeners are added to sometimes allow for other ingredients to be added, while adding flour to help with the “mouth feel”.
I’m way off track, here … I can tell.
Point being, melted cheese is fussy stuff. It’s tough to make a good soup out of it, without some trickery! In my case, the “trickery” is … cream cheese! This is an emulsified soft cheese, which is thick and tasty. It makes a perfect vehicle for a cheese soup. It creates a thick and velvety “sauce”, in which the cheese can make itself at home in. Throw in some cooked broccoli, simmer and eat! It’s an AMAZING taste sensation!
In case you’re wondering … I’ve been trained to be a little full of myself. Sorry! Blame the chefs that came before me! 😉
Bacon Note: If you’d like, you can use bacon fat, in place of the butter at the beginning. You can also replace the vegetable stock with chicken stock, and garnish with bacon bits. You know … if you’re not a vegetarian.
Julia Child once wrote: “to me the telling flavor of Bouillabaisse comes from two things: the Provenà §al soup base “” garlic, onions, tomatoes, olive oil, fennel, saffron, thyme, bay, and usually a bit of dried orange peel “” and, of course, the fish “” lean (non-oily), firm-fleshed, soft-fleshed, gelatinous, and shellfish.”
Bouillabaisse is a French seafood stew, originating over 2,500 years ago, in the South Eastern part of France. It’s usually a blend of both fish and shellfish. The core focus is on using very fresh seafood. The fish should wiggle, as it’s cooked. Additionally, it should use and very local seafood, which can be tough for the people of Denver. As a result, TRUE Bouillabaisse can really only come from France and use French seafood, French herbs and French vegetables. Alas, my version … is a cheap knockoff!
As is always the case, the fresher the better. The closer to the actual food source you are, the better (usually). Meaning, if you know the farmer who grew your onions, or the fisherman who caught your fish, you’re that much closer to a sublime Bouillabaisse experience. If you grow or catch your own, your stew will be even that much better!
Bouillabaisse had another eccentricity: It’s a stew, but it’s very often served with the goodies strained out and served separately from the broth. The broth is often served as a first course, with bread and Rouille, which is a mayonnaise made from saffron and cayenne. The seafood is often served separately!
Now, because the overwhelming majority of us are not in France, and we don’t eat bread, I’ve had to modify my recipe to be somewhat neutral in geography and lower in carbs. If you have both the access and the desire to add sea creatures such as eel, sea urchin, octopus, scorpion fish and spider crabs, definitely, completely, totally throw it in there (in due time, of course). I have opted out of these regional specifics, knowing the local grocery store is unlikely to carry these things. However, by no means does that diminish the time, care and attention that went into creating this really quick-to-make and amazing bowl of fresh brothy seafood!
Next time you’ve got company over, give this a shot! Oh’s and ah’s will abound!
There just isn’t a whole lot to say about Rouille! It’s a fancy French mayonnaise. I suppose that somewhat undermines it. It’s a fancy French aioli, which is a fancy French mayonnaise with garlic. The only difference, really, between aioli and mayonnaise is the addition of garlic, but … that little change suddenly transcends a basic mayonnaise creating a smooth, creamy and mildly hot French elixir!
If you add saffron (the most expensive spice on earth!) and a little cayenne to aioli, you suddenly have Rouille!
That’s it! That’s all she wrote! HOWEVER! My website is designed a certain way. The page doesn’t look right, unless I type a certain amount of words. What do I do when I have nothing to say?! MUST … TYPE … WORDS! (taking up space!)
When I was about 19, I was lucky to have been hired into a famous San Francisco restaurant frequented by the likes of Robin Williams, Danny Glover, Jodie Foster, bands like Phish and even Bill Clinton (one of his consultants was an investor). We had a fish special one night, and the fish was topped with Rouille. The chefs would create the special dishes, then bring us the ingredients, where they would show us how to assemble the dishes. At that point, I’d never heard of Rouille before. I was impressed!
At the end of the night, I needed to wrap up what I had left, add a cover, label and date it, but … I didn’t know how to spell it! This was the days before iPhones. I couldn’t just whip out my phone and ask the universe. I had to sheepishly ask my Chef, “How do you spell Rouille?” She just looked at me like I’d asked her how to get to my own home, sighed dejectedly, turned and walked away, leaving me to fend for myself. Being that I was in a hurry to get out into the world and be 19, I wrote, “Roooo-eeeeee” and then promptly ran out into the night.
In the middle of the night, while we were out being young line cooks, the bosses would comb through our refrigerated ingredients and throw out anything old, out of place or unlabeled. They were serious about their high quality, fresh ingredients and strict labeling policies! The next day, I walked in and found my Rooo-eee had gone missing! I still didn’t really know what it was and didn’t know how to make it and needed more. Oh no! I panicked! Had the Chef really thrown it away? What do I do?! I walked up to her and asked her if she’d seen my Rouille. She looked at me, tilted her head back and LAUGHED the kind of laugh that can’t be controlled. She put her hand on my shoulder and explained that she’d been having a particularly tough time of things and when she was combing through my stuff, she saw my spelling and was beyond delighted. It apparently caught her at such a rotten time, that the sheer absurdity of it lifted her spirits and completely changed the tune of her day. She’d spent the morning showing everyone my “hysterical” joke and had just forgotten to put it back.
In other news, Rouille is usually served with fish, traditionally served with Bouillabaisse and is also yummy on sandwiches and wraps. This hard to spell sauce is delicious!
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