Make and take this effortless side, or get it going while your main course is on the grill or stovetop! It’s all about grilling and chilling this Memorial Day Weekend.
Whether it’s burgers, brats, ribs, or steaks, the sides are just as important as the main course when you’re planning your Memorial Day bash.
There’s lots of planning and lots of dishes to prepare. Here’s a way for you to make things just a little bit easier on yourself this year.
Start with grilled veggies!
Any veggie will work here. My favorites are thick asparagus spears, bell peppers, red onions, zucchini and yellow squash, eggplant and portobello mushrooms.
For the asparagus, break off the tough ends and trim. For the mushrooms remove the cap and inner gills. Slice the eggplant and red onion into ½-inch circles. Cut the squash diagonally into ½-inch ovals.
As you slice your veggies lay them onto a baking sheet. You can use parchment paper to layer everything on top of each other. Brush both sides with vegetable oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Now you are ready to grill.
Use an open flame or your trusty grill pan to cook each slice turning once so that you have grill marks on both sides.
Make sure you do not over-cook. You want firm veggies, not mushy ones. Remember things keep on cooking after you remove them from the heat.
Transfer the veggies from the grill to the baking sheet. You can cook these the day before your barbecue. Cool to room temperature and cover with plastic wrap. Chill ‘til you are ready to serve.
Now, here is where we get creative!
1: Layer the veggies onto a platter. Drizzle with olive oil and red wine vinegar. Shave thin slices of Parmesan cheese over top and sprinkle with toasted pine nuts.
2: Stack the veggies, beginning with eggplant and layering from largest slices to smallest. Layer in a slice or two of mozzarella cheese and add a few leaves of fresh basil on the top. Drizzle with olive oil.
3: Layer the veggies onto a platter and add slices of tomato and watermelon. Use a round cookie cutter to cut out circles of the watermelon that are about the same size as the tomato slices. Add a sprinkling of blue cheese and drizzle with balsamic reduction.
4: Chop the veggies into similar size pieces and stir into rice for grilled veggie pilaf.
5: Slice the veggies into thin strips and pair them with your grilled beef or chicken for fajitas, enchiladas, or quesadillas.
The secret here is that you can grill the veggies in advance and with little effort assemble the dish while the main course is sitting on the grill. What a great plan!
Chips and Dip Day celebrates all things crunchy, gooey, dippable, shareable, snackable, and delectable! Get inspired with my best party dip recipes, whether it’s for one, two, or a whole crowd.
From appetizers to party take-along to afternoon snacks, the versatile chips and dip dish strikes a satisfying balance of keeping us just the right amount of full before a big meal (or in-between them)!
Chips and dip are a staple in my household, and maybe yours, as well! But I know you must be wondering…
Are chips and dip healthy?
I have made both potato chips and veggie chips in my oven with great results and prefer this extra step over store-bought when making chips and dip fresh for my family and friends.
Roasted Red Pepper Cheese Spread
1 Cup Dip
2 tablespoons per serving size
1 (3-ounce) package reduced-fat cream cheese
2 tablespoons reduced-fat mayonnaise
2 tablespoons chopped roasted red pepper
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
4 ounces reduced-fat grated cheddar cheese (about 1 cup)
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Jorj’s Kale Chips
12 – 18 minutes
1 pound fresh kale
1 tablespoon Extra Virgin olive oil
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
Red pepper flakes (optional)
Line a cookie sheet with a Silpat liner or parchment paper. Prepare the kale for baking by using a sharp knife to remove the leaves from the thick stems; tear the leaves into bite-sized pieces.
Wash and pat dry the kale. Drizzle with the olive oil and sprinkle generously with the salt and pepper. Add a few sprinkles of red pepper flakes.
Bake until the edges brown but are not burnt, between 12 to 18 minutes.
It’s “Read An eBook Week” and my recipes and read are available for immediate download! Host a Southern-style book club supper with “Almost Sisters” by Joshilyn Jackson and my “Sunday Best Dishes” menu.
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Last year I discovered author Joshilyn Jackson and devoured every book she’s written in record time.
For me, her characters, strong Southern women, strike a chord with so many attributes I aspire to. Her heroines face challenges that we can identify with, although hopefully in not such a dramatic manner!
For this book club, I’ve chosen the book “The Almost Sisters”.
This is not her most recent book, but I find it to be very current given our present political climate. And although this book is in no way political, it does deal with issues in the headlines.
Here is a summary from Amazon:
“With empathy, grace, humor, and piercing insight, the author of gods in Alabama pens a powerful, emotionally resonant novel of the South that confronts the truth about privilege, family, and the distinctions between perception and reality—the stories we tell ourselves about our origins and who we really are.
Superheroes have always been Leia Birch Briggs’ weakness. One tequila-soaked night at a comics convention, the usually level-headed graphic novelist is swept off her barstool by a handsome and anonymous Batman.
It turns out the caped crusader has left her with more than just a nice, fuzzy memory. She’s having a baby boy—an unexpected but not unhappy development in the thirty-eight-year-old’s life. But before Leia can break the news of her impending single-motherhood (including the fact that her baby is biracial) to her conventional, Southern family, her step-sister Rachel’s marriage implodes.
Worse, she learns her beloved ninety-year-old grandmother, Birchie, is losing her mind, and she’s been hiding her dementia with the help of Wattie, her best friend since girlhood.
Leia returns to Alabama to put her grandmother’s affairs in order, clean out the big Victorian that has been in the Birch family for generations, and tell her family that she’s pregnant. Yet just when Leia thinks she’s got it all under control, she learns that illness is not the only thing Birchie’s been hiding.
Tucked in the attic is a dangerous secret with roots that reach all the way back to the Civil War. Its exposure threatens the family’s freedom and future, and it will change everything about how Leia sees herself and her sister, her son and his missing father, and the world she thinks she knows.”
There’s a pivotal scene in the book that serves as the catalyst for bringing Leia home to Alabama and her grandmother. Birchie and her caretaker, Wattie attend a potluck supper after Sunday church. It’s Birchie’s out-of-character outburst in front of the parishioners that sends a distress call to Leia.
Sunday after church potluck suppers are a tradition in the South. I must have been on the same wavelength with Ms. Jackson when I wrote an entire chapter of the potluck recipes in my book, “Sunday Best Dishes.”
This book is the perfect one for recipes for your book club menus. Buy one and share it with all of your book club members!
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Here’s a menu that will work perfectly for your book discussion of “The Almost Sisters”:
Here are a couple of book club discussion questions to get you started:
- There are multiple relationships in the novel that fit the title The Almost Sisters description. How did the title take on new meaning to you as the story developed?
- Despite her worsening dementia, Birchie is still a strong character throughout the book. How would you describe her lifelong friendship with Wattie? Did your impressions change throughout the novel? Why do you think Birchie chose to keep their true relationship a secret even as times changed?
- Leia makes the decision to hide her pregnancy early on and keeps her secret throughout much of the story. Do you think Leia made the right decision? Were you surprised by the characters’ reactions when her pregnancy was revealed?
If you’re looking for a dish that’s perfect to prepare it in the morning and heat up as family gets in, look no further! This soup/stew has just enough spice to keep things interesting. The roux makes the dish… it’s rich, luscious and full of flavor!
The dish of many cultures, gumbo is a melting pot for flavors. National Gumbo Day is a day to enjoy the bold, savory signature stew from Louisiana.
This multifaceted dish reflects its origins as an adaptation of many different cultures’ recipes blended together into one delicious dish that we know today.
According to SouthernFoodWays.com, gumbo was first served at a gubernatorial reception in New Orleans in 1803.
There’s no certainly no better way to celebrate than enjoying a hot, savory dish of gumbo. Give this recipe a try!
Shrimp Gumbo with Andouille Sausage
40 Minutes Until You’re Ready
- 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 cup butter, 2 sticks
- 1 red pepper, deveined and diced into ¼” pieces
- 1 green pepper, deveined and diced into ¼” pieces
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large onion, peeled and diced into ¼-inch pieces
- 4 stalks celery, trimmed and thinly sliced
- 4 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
- 1 Tablespoon Cajun seasoning
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon coarse black pepper
- 1 cup white wine
- 2 cups homemade chicken broth, or
- prepared low sodium chicken broth
- 2 (8 ounce) bottles clam juice
- 1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes
- 1 cup tomato paste
- 4 to 6 drops hot pepper sauce
- 14 ounces andouille sausage, sliced and cut in half
- 2 pounds uncooked jumbo shrimp (21 to 25 count), peeled, deveined with tails removed
- 1 (10 ounce) package frozen sliced okra, thawed
- 2 to 3 cups cooked white rice
Shrimp Gumbo with Andouille Sausage Recipe
Spread the flour onto a baking sheet. Toast the flour in the oven for 10 minutes.
Melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat. Whisk in the toasted flour. Stir in the diced peppers. Cook the roux until it is amber brown, about 10 to 15 minutes.
Serve the gumbo by placing a scoop of rice in the middle of a bowl. Surround the rice with gumbo. Serve additional hot pepper sauce on the side!
Nana Network Tip
Use thawed, frozen shrimp and frozen okra in this recipe. It’s perfect and way less expensive!
Tried it? Tag it!
I would love to see what you did with this recipe. Share your creation by tagging #inthekitchenwithjorj and with Scrumptious Possibilities With Jorj, my free private home cooking group.
The Kentucky Derby is this weekend and it’s time to prepare your party provisions! Share these on Saturday in a small backyard soiree or savor them television side with the hubby.
We all know and love the term, “Spring is in the air,” but imagine, too, the divine way it smells, beckoning us to our backyards with the promise of barbeque with the fixin’s….And with Kentucky Derby right around the corner, we can really pull out the Southern stops for a safe and delicious outdoor gathering.
Whether you’re setting an elegant table or wearing a Kentucky Derby hat as you graze an outdoor buffet, consider these your go-to Kentucky Derby party plans:
The Kentucky Derby doesn’t have to be a marathon if you play host this weekend. A simple charcuterie board elevated with Southern-style taste and ingredients will come to the rescue! This board’s arranged with deviled eggs, spiced crackers, pimento spread, pickled okra, millionaire’s bacon, my special cilantro shrimp recipe, and an assortment of turkey and ham roll-ups. Serve with Kentucky Derby’s infamous Mint Juleps and you’ll have yourself a party:
The Savoy Cocktail Book, Harry Craddock, 1930
4 sprigs fresh mint
½ tbls powdered sugar
1 glass bourbon, rye, or Canadian whisky
Use a long tumbler and crush mint leaves and dissolved sugar lightly together. Add spirits and fill glass with cracked ice. Stir gently until glass is frosted. Decorate on top with 3 sprigs of mint.
From family to family, here in the South, there is debate about how to make a traditional hand pie. But one thing is for sure: This recipe makes for a delicious peach pie! This recipe yields a pie that looks like a puffy, jelly doughnut and is over-the-top delicious. Top with confectioners’ sugar and cinnamon and serve with vanilla ice cream for a delicious Southern treat.
This Southern recipe was made from my Farmer’s Market opening day bounty and pulls together a few of my favorite farmer’s market finds: Tender collard greens, paired with rich pork belly. This dish is perfect if you’ve just had a stash of your greens in your drawer that you’ve been looking to work into a dish or perhaps bought a bushel too much from your local farmer’s market trip. This dish makes for a lovely first course or a wonderful side dish.
My chilled soup adds farm-fresh sweet strawberries for a cool and refreshing treat.This recipe features both ways of making a gazpacho – you have the option to seed the tomatoes or you don’t. Either way, you’ll still have a great batch of gazpacho!
Like pickles? You’ll love this recipe, and you’ll be delighted to discover that there are so many ways to create a delicious batter for your fried pickles. I personally like the combination of seasoned flour and buttermilk for a tangy topping. You can fry them whole or sliced, fried in vegetable or peanut oil – Whatever floats your boat! The comeback sauce featured in this recipe is definitely to die for.
I’ve always considered that my recipe for hush puppies is TOO GOOD…Try it and you be the judge. This recipe is my own version of that South Carolina fisherman’s special recipe. The great thing about it is that you don’t have to follow it precisely to get a tasty result. If you’re looking for a recipe that you can get creative with, this is it! Pick and choose your add-ins and sauces.