Happy Monday everyone, I hope you had an awesome weekend!
I feel like I’ve been running around like a chicken with it’s head cut off this month! Last week we were out of town celebrating Ben’s brother’s graduation, then we scurried home to prepare for this…my Dad’s SURPRISE 60th birthday party!
All the days and hours spent working on the yard, patching up the deck, and party planning was all to surprise my Dad with 40 of his closest friends and family under SUNNY skies (thank God!) in our backyard this Saturday. We had a blast and seriously owe the big man upstairs a favor because after overcast skies nearly all day, the clouds parted 30 minutes before the party began and we had a beautiful evening spent eating, socializing, playing lawn games, and celebrating my Dad!
So let me back up, Ben’s younger brother graduated this past week from school about 1-1/2 hours away. His family traveled back to our place afterwards so we told told my Dad that we were having a little grad party for him at our house. He mosied in the backyard at 5:30 Saturday evening expecting caps and gowns, but saw a happy birthday sign and his friends instead. It was so awesome!
I had absolutely no idea how much work and coordination went into throwing a big backyard party (our first real “grown up” party at the house,) but it was all worth it to celebrate my Pops…and see the look on his face when it hit him. Seriously just PRICELESS. I’d do it all again in a second just to see that reaction one more time!!
The party was from 5-8pm, but my parents and Ben’s family parked it on the deck until long after the sun went down. Earlier that day Ben and I strung lights in a tree overhanging the deck while trying not to kill each other and oh my gosh it turned out so well! I had a Pinterest vision in my head and the first attempt turned out, um, NOTHING like it, but after a few hours we tried again and it was honestly just so magical. Yep! I got the lights at Target and think I’ll pick up a few more strings so we can go even higher up into the tree. I 1,000% loved the ambiance!
While the graduation and party are now over, the madness of May feels like it’s just begun – good thing June is just around the corner (WHAT?!) I’ve got some tasty Memorial Day-inspired recipes coming later this week, but today I’m excited to share a roundup of my favorite grill out, potluck, and picnic themed recipes to inspire you for the upcoming holiday weekend.
I’ve included a bunch of appetizer and side dish recipes in the roundup to help if you’re attending a grill out, entrees if you’re hosting, and a dessert and cocktails to make regardless of your plans.
With that said, here are 20 of my favorite things to eat on Memorial Day – enjoy!
Ultimate Red Skinned Potato Salad (Mayo-Free!)
No mayo, no problem! This Ultimate Red Skinned Potato Salad is mayo-free and really light, yet still has that creamy, decadent taste that all good potato salads should have. Perfect for a Memorial Day potluck or picnic.
Mojito Fruit Salad
Born from my deep love of mojitos (I seriously start tailspinning from a mere whiff of mint,) Mojito Fruit Salad combines the classic combo of mint, lime, and fruit in a seriously delicious, fresh and light fruit salad. Rum optional!
Judy’s Baked Beans
I know I say it every year, but no cookout is complete without a big bubbling dish of Judy’s Baked Beans. Salty, savory, and sweet, you will DEVOUR it. An IGE classic!
The Best Fruit Dip EVER
The Best Fruit Dip EVER is a gift from my favorite 80s cookbook. Just three ingredients combine to make one of the most addictive dips on earth. Seriously E-A-S-Y, too!
Fig and Prosciutto Roll Ups
These elegant little bites will go super quick at your Memorial Day potluck or picnic, and can be made way ahead of time. The combination of salty prosciutto, sweet fig jam, and peppery arugula in Fig and Prosciutto Roll Ups is phenomenal.
Best Ever French Onion Dip
Store-bought chip and veggie dips are convenient, but man is the homemade stuff delicious. Try my Best Ever French Onion Dip and you’ll see exactly what I mean.
Easiest Fruit Salad
Easiest Fruit Salad, including strawberries, mandarin oranges, bananas, and marshmallows, SCREAMS Midwest (and delicious!) It’s a potluck staple in my opinion.
Marinated Grilled Chicken with Cucumber Watermelon Salsa
My Mother in Law carved a giant watermelon from Costco for my Dad’s party this past weekend and it was soooo sweet. I already have plans to use the leftovers for Marinated Grilled Chicken with Cucumber Watermelon Salsa this week. So fresh and light!
Dijon-Brown Sugar Marinated Steak
The recipe for Dijon-Brown Sugar Marinated Steak came from a friend of a friend and I’m forever grateful that it found its way to me. The three-ingredient marinade (plus salt and pepper) is stupid good!
Fresh Margarita Chicken
What, I thought, would happen if I marinated chicken in my favorite homemade margarita mix and then grilled it? Turns out, really good things! Fresh Margarita Chicken is seriously tasty and, bonus, you can buy double the marinade ingredients and make yourself a tasty cocktail to sip on while ya’ grill.
Roasted Red Pepper Hummus Burgers with Caramelized Onions and Smokey Mayo
Just take my word for it and make these Roasted Red Pepper Hummus Burgers, would you?? The hummus in the burger mix gives them an awesome, crispy crust on the grill. A showstopping grilled entree for Memorial Day, that’s for sure.
Root Beer Can Chicken
Speaking of showstopping! Root Beer Can Chicken could not be easier and the homemade spice rub is unbelievable. We keep a mason jar of it on hand to season chicken with all throughout the week.
The Iowa Burger
An oldie but goodie, The Iowa Burger’s got a special porky ingredient mixed into the patties, which are topped with yummy sweet corn. This burger is all Iowa, baby!
Grilled Caprese Chicken with Basil Vinaigrette
Sometimes I get so bored with grilled chicken, and if you’re having a grill out for Memorial Day you may feel slightly guilty serving plain ol’ grilled chicken breasts to your burger-averse guests. Go the extra mile and make this Grilled Caprese Chicken with Basil Vinaigrette for them. They’ll love ya’ for it!
Peppercorn-Crusted BBQ-Ranch Burgers with Chili-Lime Crunchies
When I first made my Peppercorn-Crusted BBQ-Ranch Burgers I thought the coarse-ground pepper-crust was going to blow my face off, but they came out juuuust right. The BBQ-Ranch dressing and Chili-Lime Crunchies help tame the heat, too.
Grilled Chicken, Bacon, and Avocado Melts with Sun Dried Tomato-Basil Mayo
Told you I get bored with plain grilled chicken! These Grilled Chicken, Bacon, and Avocado Melts are anything but ho hum and the sun dried tomato-basil mayo smeared on the grilled buns is UH-mazing.
Take away my Pepperidge Farms birthday cake, but NOT my Dirt Cake! I am forever thankful there is a gluten-free “Oreo” on the market so I can continue making and enjoying my all-time favorite summer dessert, Dirt Cake. My family has been making this treat for decades. Psst! Here’s my gluten-free Dirt Cake recipe, too!
Sweet, thirst quenching, and fresh. I could drink buckets of refreshing Strawberry Mojitos this Memorial Day!
The recipe for Best-Ever Sangria comes from a friend’s Mom and just gets better as it sits so it’s perfect for making the night before, or morning of, your Memorial Day celebration.
Warm holiday nights beg for the salty/sour/sweet combo of Chambord Margaritas that have a pretty pink blush from the addition of Chambord liquor. These drinks are AMAZING.
Be back with a couple more Memorial Day-friendly recipes later this week!