Technically, summer doesn’t start until June 21 but many people consider Memorial Day to be the unofficial start of the season. This year, we celebrate the holiday on May 27. Many families will heat up the grill, head to the beach or take in a big blockbuster movie. But, Memorial Day has the word “memorial” in it for a reason.

The holiday got started on May 30, 1868, when Union General John A. Logan declared the day an occasion to decorate (called Decoration Day then) the graves of Civil War soldiers. Twenty years later, the name was changed to Memorial Day. On May 11, 1950, Congress passed a resolution requesting that the President issue a proclamation calling on Americans to observe each Memorial Day as a day of prayer for permanent peace and designating a period on that day when the people of the United States might unite in prayer. President Richard M. Nixon declared Memorial Day a federal holiday in 1971. Memorial Day is now observed on the last Monday of May. It is an occasion to honor the men and women who died in all the past wars.

One Memorial Day tradition is for the President or Vice President to give a speech and lay a wreath on the soldiers’ graves in the largest national cemetery, Arlington National Cemetery, in Virginia. Most towns have local Memorial Day celebrations, including parades. Memorial Day should also be a time of solemn reflection on some of the most sacred of human ideals: duty, commitment, heroism and honor. We are profoundly indebted to all those soldiers, Marines, sailors and airmen who have given their lives defending us.

A few years ago the US Congress passed the National Moment of Remembrance Act. It asked Americans to pause for one minute at 3:00 p.m. local time and think about those who have made the ultimate sacrifice.

Enjoy the day with your friends and family, but remember to pause and reflect at 3:00 p.m. It may seem like a small gesture, but it’s a way to, however brief, remember those heroes and maintain a tradition that encourages us not to forget.

If you are planning to invite a few friends over for the occasion, I have a few suggestions for your menu.

Memorial Day Menu

Memorial day 3

Grilled Potato Skins

Double the recipe, if you have more guests.

4-6 Servings


  • 2 large baking potatoes
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary or 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 cup (4 ounces) shredded cheddar cheese
  • 3 bacon strips, cooked and crumbled
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • Light Sour Cream, optional


Cut each potato lengthwise into four wedges. Cut away the white portion (reserve for another use), leaving 1/4 inch on the potato skins.

Place skins on a microwave-safe plate. Microwave, uncovered, on high for 8-10 minutes or until tender. Set aside until ready to grill.

Combine the butter, rosemary, salt and pepper and brush over all sides of the potato skins.

Grill potatoes, skin side up, uncovered, over direct medium heat for 2-3 minutes or until lightly browned. Turn potatoes and position over indirect heat; grill 2 minutes longer.

Top with cheese. (I push the potatoes together when I add the cheese, so it doesn’t fall through the grill grates.) Cover and grill 2-3 minutes longer or until cheese is melted. Sprinkle with bacon and onions. Serve with sour cream, if desired.

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Grilled Vegetable Platter

Prepare the vegetables first and let them rest while you grill the meats for the Mixed Grill.

6 Servings


  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 4 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 pound fresh asparagus, trimmed
  • 3 fresh carrots, cut in half lengthwise
  • 1 large sweet red pepper, quartered
  • 1 medium green or yellow summer squash, quartered lengthwise
  • 1 medium red onion, cut into wedges


In a small bowl, whisk the first seven ingredients together until blended. Place 3 tablespoons of the marinade in a large resealable plastic bag. Add vegetables; seal bag and turn to coat. Marinate 1 1/2 hours at room temperature.

Transfer vegetables to a grilling grid; place grid on the grill.  If you do not have a grilling grid, use a disposable foil pan. Poke holes in the bottom of the pan with a meat fork to allow liquid to drain. Grill vegetables, covered, over medium heat 8-12 minutes or until crisp-tender, turning occasionally.

Place vegetables on a large serving plate. Drizzle with remaining marinade.

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Italian Mixed Grill

Choose three of the meats/poultry listed for the mixed grill – ones that you and your guests would like.

Herbed Lemon Oil

  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh or 1 teaspoon dried rosemary leaves
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh or 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 3 large cloves garlic, finely chopped

Mixed Grill

  • 4 fresh Italian sausages (about 1 lb) (pork, turkey or chicken)
  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts or thighs (about 1 1/4 lb)
  • 1 lb boneless beef top sirloin steak, about 1 inch thick
  • 4 loin lamb chops
  • 4 boneless pork chops


In small bowl, mix all the Herbed Lemon Oil ingredients. Cover and let stand at least 1 hour to blend flavors.

Brush grill rack with vegetable oil. Heat coals or gas grill for direct heat. Brush all sides of the meat/poultry with the herbed lemon oil mixture.

Grill meats over medium heat, brushing frequently with the herb oil mixture and turning occasionally. Grill chicken and sausages 5 minutes. Then add beef, lamb or pork and continue grilling about 15 to 20 minutes or until the meat or poultry reaches the preferred temperature on a meat thermometer.

Slice meat and poultry and arrange on a decorative serving platter.

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Baked Beans

12-14 Servings


  • 3 bacon strips, diced
  • 1 large onions, finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 4 cans (15-1/4 ounces each) great northern beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 cup apple cider or juice
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1/2 cup molasses
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 2 bay leaves


In a large skillet, cook bacon until crisp. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon to a paper towel. Drain the skillet, reserving 1 teaspoon of the drippings.

In the drippings, saute onions, garlic and pepper until tender.

In a large bowl, combine the remaining ingredients. Stir in onion mixture and cooked bacon. Transfer to a greased 2-quart baking dish.

Cover and bake at 350°F for 45 minutes; stir. Bake, uncovered, 15-30 minutes longer or until thickened. Discard bay leaves.

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Fruit Tart

12 Servings


  • Pastry for single-crust pie (9 inches)
  • 1 package (8 ounces) light cream cheese, softened
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 teaspoon almond extract, divided
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries
  • 1 cup fresh raspberries
  • 1 medium ripe peach or nectarine, peeled and sliced
  • 2 tablespoons apricot preserves


Press pastry onto the bottom and up the sides of an ungreased 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom; trim edges. Generously prick the bottom with a fork.

Bake at 450°F for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown. Cool completely on a wire rack.

In a small bowl, beat the cream cheese, sugar, vanilla and ½ teaspoon almond extract until smooth; spread over the cooled crust.

Arrange fruit in a decorative pattern over the cream cheese mixture.

In a microwave, heat the apricot preserves and remaining almond extract, uncovered, on high for 20-30 seconds or until warm.

Brush over fruit. Store the tart in the refrigerator until serving time.

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