Friday, May 23, 2014

Memorial Day Picnic

For me, Memorial Day is the first official summer weekend. It is hopefully sunny and warm, you have time off to be with friends and family, swim in some type of body of water, eat foods from the grill, and take some time to relax. I am mostly looking forward to the sun part and especially the food part. I know every year around this same time I work out more and watch what I eat to get myself feeling semi-ready to put on a bathing suit for the first time since last summer. I run a few extra miles, try to eat less cheese, and drink as much water as possible. 

Usually I am comfortable enough to take off my cover-up for a quick dip in the pool, but then I find myself rewarding my good efforts with an extra veggie hot dog or a few handfuls of chips (and when I say "handfuls", that means the whole bag) and before I know it, in three days I'm back to where I was a month ago, feeling annoyed and on the plus side a little more tan. So this time I'm going to give myself a break from this summer cycle and try taking a new route.

I have been working out all winter and spring with breaks and treats along the way. I have been working out as usual this week and will ease into the weekend with my normal diet and maybe an extra cocktail or piece of cheese (I know, I'm wild and crazy!) But to keep the weekend balanced between more sit ups and less sleep, I planned a cook out that curbs my craving for heavier grilled foods and sides and still keeps me satisfied and not feeling like I missed out! 

And while we are all so lucky to be enjoying this cook out meal, it is important to take a few moments to remember why we are able to be present on this day. I personally do not have a direct relation to someone to send my thoughts and prayers to (so they got out to all), but I do know many of us are feeling contemplative and reflective on this day, honoring and thanking all of our armed forces who sacrificed their lives to keep war at bay and peace in our homes. In the grand scheme of this 24 hour day that will be over so quickly, we should all allow the gratitude for this day to carry us through spending a summer in a country that celebrates all of the men and women who give to us with such selflessness, sacrifice, and bravery. 

Red, White, and Blue Sangria

Serves 4-6

~1 bottle of dry white wine (I used Skinnygirl California White Wine)
~3 oz. St. Germain 
~1 cup of each black berries or blueberries, white raspberries, and red raspberries

1. Add white wine and St. Germain to a pitcher and then add berries
2. Allow to sit for 2-3 hours or overnight and pour over ice when ready to serve

Watermelon salad

Serves 6-8

~1/2 large watermelon, cut and cubed into desired size
~1/2 cup feta cheese
~8-10 mint leaves
~Balsamic vinegar to taste

1. Combine watermelon, feta, and mint leaves in a large serving bowl
2. My guests did not want balsamic vinegar, but if desired drizzle over top and add to taste
3. Serve fresh and enjoy

Old Bay Corn on the Cob

~8 pieces of corn (or how ever many people you are serving)
~1 tbsp of butter
~1/4 cup of parmesan cheese
~Old Bay to season

1. Take a piece of tin foil and place corn on top-make sure tin foil piece is large enough to wrap around whole piece of corn
2. Take a slice of butter and place on top of corn, sprinkle the parmesan cheese and old bay and wrap corn pieces individually (amount of butter and parmesan may vary depending on how many pieces of corn you choose or how much you like butter and parmesan)
3. Place corn on the grill and cook on medium heat for 20 minutes, rotating every 5 minutes
4. Remove from foil and allow to cool for a few minutes, and then dig in!

Shrimp and Pineapple Skewers

Serves 6

~40 pieces of shrimp (4 pieces of shrimp per skewer)
~1 pineapple cut into cubes (I cheated and bought the pre-cut and chopped pineapple pieces)
~Marinade ingredients:
~1 spicy pepper (you can add more if you need more hot spice!)
~2 tbsp of garlic, chopped
~2 tbsp thyme 
~2 tbsp all spice
~1 tsp. nutmeg 
~2 tsp. cinnamon
~2 tsp. red pepper flakes
~2 tbsp brown sugar
~2 tbsp sesame oil or olive oil
~2 tbsp white vinegar
~4 tbsp soy sauce
~2 tbsp rum
~1/2 cup orange juice
~2 limes juiced

1. Mix all of marinade ingredients in blender 
2. Use marinade in a large bowl with shrimp to marinate for a few hours or overnight if possible
3. Make sure to wet your skewers to prevent burning on the grill (my husband taught me this!)
4. Alternate adding shrimp and pineapple to your skewer or however your heart desires
5. Grill on medium heat for 2-3 minutes on each side

Happy Memorial Day!


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