By ANN CIPPERLY
On Memorial Day, savor time with family and friends at the lake, beach or your own backyard. Be sure to plan on plenty of delectable food and cold beverages for lingering over meals outdoors. While enjoying the day, set aside time to give thanks for the men and women who have given their lives serving our country.
A day for remembering and honoring lost soldiers came about over 150 years ago. It became an official holiday in 1967, then moved to the last Monday in May in 1968, becoming a three-day weekend.
When planning your menu for Memorial Day, select sides and desserts that can be prepared ahead to serve with grilled entrees. Lemon Dill Potato Salad should be prepared ahead so the flavors blend, and it should be kept stored in the refrigerator until ready to serve. The hearty Cornbread Salad is easily assembled using a Jiffy Cornbread mix.
Pound cakes can be prepared ahead and frozen. They become festive desserts when served with strawberries and blueberries, and topped with whipped cream or ice cream. If you are short on time, pick up an angel food cake at the grocery store and cover it with a refreshing creamy lime frosting.
When grilling burgers, remember these tips for having them perfectly cooked: Set the grill to medium and let it heat for a minimum of 10 minutes if using gas, or until coals turn white if using charcoal. Form patties and season with salt and pepper. Place an indentation in the center of the burger to minimize shrinking.
Cook burgers approximately four to five minutes, depending on size and thickness. Flip the burger once and grill an additional four to five minutes, or until the center of the burger reaches an internal temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit.
Dining outdoors can enhance the pleasure of a good meal. Cover a table with a bright, festive cloth and serve food buffet-style. Have plenty of ice-cold beverages on hand.
If you are staying home on Memorial Day, check into the local events being held to honor fallen soldiers. American Village hosts special events, and admission is free. Both Auburn and Opelika also have events planned for the day.
Opelika will host Memorial Day Services on May 29 at 10 a.m. at Courthouse Square. The opening prayer will be presented by Paul Dunbar, Kids Ministry pastor of First Baptist Church. The guest speaker will be Army veteran and City Council Member Todd Rauch. While serving in the Army, Rauch was named Soldier of the Year for the 18th Military Police Brigade in Giessen, Germany.
The Opelika Fire Department will perform the Presentation of Colors and Laying of the Wreath.
In case of rain, the 10 a.m. services will be moved to the Municipal Court Building at 300 Martin Luther King Blvd.
Following the Memorial Day services, the Museum of East Alabama will host a reception for the public.
Auburn is planning its 23rd annual Mayor’s Memorial Day Breakfast on Monday, May 29. The event will begin at 8 a.m. at the Hotel at Auburn University and Dixon Conference Center. Retired Navy Capt. Dick Phelan will be the guest of honor and the recipient of this year’s Distinguished Veteran Award. The Auburn Heroes Remembered Award will be presented to the family of Air Force Capt. Randal Hudon.
Tickets can be purchased at Auburn City Hall, located at 144 Tichenor Ave., and are $25 a person or $250 for a table of 10.
American Village in Montevallo will have free admission on Memorial Day from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. See military interpreters and restored military vehicles. Meet patriots of the past.
A memorial service remembering America’s fallen will be held at 11 a.m. at the Colonial Chapel.
American Village is located an hour north of Montgomery off I-65 at the Shelby County Airport exit. Food trucks will be on site.
Whatever is on the menu this Memorial Day, be sure to remember and give thanks for those who paid the highest price for us to enjoy this time with family and friends.
Layered Appetizer Torta
Two 8 oz. pkg. cream cheese, softened
1 pkg. dry ranch dip
Coarsely ground black pepper
Mix the above well.
1 jar pesto sauce or about 2 cups homemade
1 jar roasted red peppers, minced, divided
Line greased loaf pan with plastic wrap, letting it extend well beyond the sides.
Press about half of cream cheese mixture into pan, pressing to fill entire bottom and about 1/2 inch thick.
Add about half of pesto sauce.
Add layer of red peppers.
Fold down excess plastic wrap over bottom, pressing to make it flat.
Seal out all air, and refrigerate overnight.
Unmold on platter and garnish with fresh basil, cherry tomatoes or parsley.
Serve cold with assorted crackers.
Layered Mexican Dip
So easy and good!
1 can refried beans
1 cup sour cream
8 oz. picante sauce
2 tomatoes, chopped
Shredded cheddar cheese
2 green onions, chopped
4 ½ oz. can black olives, sliced
Spread beans in a 12-by-8-inch baking or serving dish. Layer the remaining ingredients and top with the olives. Serve with corn chips. Sally not only uses this as a dip, but as a side dish.
You can substitute chunky salsa for the picante sauce and chopped tomatoes.
Easy Grilled Pork Chops
Boneless pork chops
Salt and pepper
Heat grill over medium-high heat. Cook until seared and cooked through for 8 minutes per side. Use a meat thermometer. Pork chops should be cooked to an internal temperature of 145 degrees. You can pull the mat off the grill at 140 degrees, and it should reach 145 after resting.
Let chops rest 5 minutes before serving.
1½ lbs. ground beef sirloin or chuck
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
8 slices American, cheddar or Swiss cheese
Grilled Vidalia onions (recipe below)
4 hamburger buns
Mustard, ketchup, mayonnaise
Fresh sliced tomatoes
In a bowl, gently mix ground beef, salt and pepper. Divide meat mixture into eight equal portions and shape each into a 4-inch round. Top each of four rounds with 2 slices of cheese. Lay another patty on top of each and press edges together to seal.
Lay burgers on oiled barbecue grill over a solid bed of hot coals or high heat on a gas grill. Close lid on gas grill. Cook burgers, turning once, until browned on both sides and done to your liking.
Grilled Vidalia Onions
2 Vidalia onions, sliced crosswise, ¼-inch thick slices
2 Tbsp. olive oil
Salt and black pepper
Brush olive oil on both sides of the onions and season with salt and pepper. Grill onion slices for 3 to 4 minutes on each side until golden brown.
Grilled or Stove Top Burgers
1 lb. ground lean beef
1 large egg
1/4 cup minced onion or 1 tsp. onion powder
1/4 cup dried breadcrumbs or panko crumbs
1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 or 2 cloves garlic, minced, or 1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
4 hamburger buns
Toppings of choice
Mix ground beef, egg, onion, breadcrumbs, Worcestershire, garlic powder, salt and pepper until well blended. Divide mixture into four equal portions and shape into patties.
Cook on grill or in a skillet on the stove top, turning once, until browned on both sides and no longer pink inside.
If topping with cheese, add a minute before finishing cooking. Serve with toppings of choice and buns.
AJ’s Grilled or Stove Top Turkey Burgers
1 lb. ground turkey
2 Tbsp. panko crumbs or dried breadcrumbs
1/4 cup finely diced onion or 1 tsp. onion powder
1 clove garlic, minced or 1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
Few dashes Worcestershire sauce
Chopped parsley, optional
Mix ground turkey, panko crumbs, onion, egg, garlic, salt, pepper, Worcestershire and parsley. Form into patties. Place in refrigerator until ready to cook. Can freeze.
Cook patties on the grill or in a medium skillet over medium heat, turning once, to an internal temperature of 180 degrees. Be sure no pink remains and that burgers are fully cooked.
1 pkg. Hidden Valley ranch dressing mix
1 cup sour cream
1 cup mayonnaise
Tex Mex cornbread (recipe follows)
Two 16-oz. cans pinto beans, drained (black beans)
3 large tomatoes, chopped
½ cup chopped green pepper
½ cup chopped green onions
2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
10 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
2 16-ounce cans whole kernel corn, drained
Tex Mex Cornbread:
1 pkg. Jiffy cornbread mix
1 can chopped green chilies
Mix cornbread as directed on package, adding green chilies. Pour into a greased 9-inch pan. Bake as directed on package.
Combine dressing mix, sour cream and mayonnaise; set aside.
Place half of crumbled cornbread in a large serving bowl. Top with half of beans. In a medium sized bowl, combine tomatoes, green pepper and onions; place half of this on top of beans. Layer half of cheese, bacon and corn. Top with half of dressing. Repeat layers. Cover and chill at least 3 hours. Better made a day ahead.
Slow Cooker Barbecue Chicken
1 to 2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 jar of your favorite barbecue sauce
1 medium sweet onion, sliced
Place chicken in a slow cooker. Add onion slices and pour barbecue sauce over top.
Cook on low for 8 hours or until chicken is tender.
Lemon Dill Potato Salad
24 new potatoes (do not peel)
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tsp. lemon zest
2 Tbsp. fresh dill or 2 tsp. dried
1 small red or Vidalia onion, chopped
½ cup sour cream
½ cup mayonnaise
2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
Cover potatoes with salted water. Bring to a boil and cook until tender, about 10 minutes. Drain and refrigerate.
When cooled, quarter potatoes and season with salt and pepper. Add lemon zest, dill and onion. Fold in sour cream, mayonnaise and lemon juice.
Chill at least 3 hours before serving. Toss before serving. Serves eight.
Grilled Eye of Round Roast
Eye of round roast
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. coarse ground black pepper
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
2 sticks butter
Sprinkle garlic powder and salt over butter and let set at room temperature. Brown roast on grill for 25 minutes on each side.
Place roast on two layers of foil and add butter mixture, black pepper and Worcestershire sauce. Seal foil securely. Place back on grill with grill cover over roast.
Cook one hour or longer for tenderness. Slices beautifully when cooled. Spoon sauce over sliced roast.
Buttermilk Pound Cake Topped with Strawberries and Blueberries
Serve with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream topped with blueberries and sliced strawberries for a colorful Memorial Day dessert.
1 cup butter, softened
2 ½ cups sugar
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1 cup buttermilk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Confectioners’ sugar, optional
In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Combine flour and baking soda; add alternately with buttermilk and beat well. Stir in vanilla.
Pour into a greased and floured 10-inch Bundt pan. Bake at 325 degrees for 70 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool in pan for 15 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely. Dust with confectioner’s sugar, if desired.
Lime Frosted Angel Food Cake
1 angel food cake
1 can sweetened condensed milk, chilled
½ cup lime juice
2 tsp. lime zest
1 small container Cool Whip
1 pkg. flaked coconut, optional
Beat sweetened condensed milk; add lime juice and zest; continue beating. Fold in Cool Whip. Slice angel food cake in half. Spread frosting between layers and cover the cake. Sprinkle with coconut if desired.
Hearty Baked Beans
½ lb. ground beef
1 medium green bell pepper, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. pepper
Brown the above ingredients in a small amount of olive oil and drain well.
3-4 slices bacon, chopped and cooked until crisp in about 1 tsp. olive oil (do not drain).
Add to deep skillet or Dutch oven:
Browned ground beef mixture
1 large can pork and beans
½ cup Heinz ketchup
2 Tbsp. yellow mustard
1/3 cup dark brown sugar
Taste and add additional ketchup and/or brown sugar if desired and cook over low heat or bake in the oven for about 30 minutes.