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Everything you need for your Memorial Day celebration

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The unofficial start of summer is almost here and even though it's stull technically spring, it's time to pull out the grills, uncover the pools and enjoy the beautiful weather. Memorial Day is coming up and what better way to kick off summer than with the ultimate Memorial Day celebration?

If you're a last minute planner, online invitations are your best friend. Not sure where to begin? Evite.com has some great Memorial Day evites as well as Celebrations.com where they also offer some free options. If you happen to be creatively inclined and have a photo program you can easily create your own Memorial Day evite. Need some inspiration to create your own? Just click here, here or here for some Memorial Day templates that you can customize.

Decorations should be summery and no fuss to save time. Consider fresh spring/summer flowers as basic decorations. Look for bright colorful flowers like peonies, Gerbera daisies and sunflowers. All of them are in season for May so they're also relatively inexpensive versus other flowers. Cut the stems short and place in small vases or even mason jars on your tables. For a more patriotic décor, use red and white Gerbera daisies or peonies, tie with a blue ribbon and place inside a tin can. You can either paint the tin can or use washi/decorative crafting tape. Decorate with streamers, tissue pompoms in either bright colors or red, white and blue and hanging mason jar lanterns for the evening.

If the weather is great (and it sure looks like it'll be here in Evansville!) it's time to dust off the grill and head outdoors. Traditional BBQ fare is of course obligatory like hot dogs and hamburgers but spice it up a bit. There's not a whole lot you can do with hot dogs so instead spice up your condiments. Make your own Five Spice Ketchup for an added kick and top of with Roasted Garlic Mustard. If you and your guests love relish finish dressing your hot dogs with a Red Onion Marmalade or Bacon Onion Relish. (Recipes can be found in the slide show or by clicking here).

Ditch the traditional hamburgers also and give your guests one of the juiciest burgers they'll ever taste by making Juicy Spicy Butter Burgers. If you must have traditional hamburgers spice up your burger condiments with Hoisin BBQ Sauce or Cajun BBQ Sauce, Chili Cheese Mayo and Avocado Chile Spread.

Ready for dessert? There's no better time to get the popsicles out! Fresh Fruit and Yogurt Pops make for a sweet yet healthy treat. Speaking of fruit, how about serving up your guests some super easy to make Crescent Roll Cherry Tarts topped off with whipped cream? Speaking of fruits, make your guests a Mixed Berry and Cassis Sundae or a Mango Blueberry 'Fool' that's almost like a milkshake that you eat!

Don't forget your drinks? Traditional BBQ drinks consist of lemonade and iced tea but twist it up with Peach Lemonade for the kids. For iced tea lovers try a Red Strawberry Tea. For the adults who want and extra kick substitute the peach nectar in the lemonade with Cruzan Peach Rum or add to the iced tea for a fruity delight.

Now that you have the essentials all laid out for you, it's time for the recipes! Just click through the list to get all the above recipes or you can click on the link to take you directly to the sites. Don't forget at 3 pm on Memorial Day to take time out of the day and remember the fallen soldiers for whom Memorial Day is dedicated to.

Your comments are greatly appreciated! Leave one below or email me at chrism.photography@ymail.com. Please be aware that I suffer from Lupus Nephritis and can not always respond immediately. Lupus is a very unpredictable and debilitating disease that often times leaves me incapacitated and unable to respond immediately.

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Juicy Butter Burgers
Juicy Butter Burgers http://www.emeraldcoastprovisions.com/

Juicy Butter Burgers

Juicy Butter Burgers

Serves: 8

Cooking Time: 8 min
Ingredients
2 pounds ground beef (good quality)
2 cloves garlic, crushed and minced
3 to 4 fresh green chili peppers, chopped (see note) OR 1 small can chopped green chiles
 salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
8 tablespoons butter
Instructions
1. Put the meat in a mixing bowl. 
 
2. Crush or grate garlic very finely, chop the chili peppers. 
 
3. Add garlic and peppers to the meat along with salt and pepper. 
 
4. Mix well with hands, being sure that the chili and garlic are well distributed. 
 
5. Shape into eight patties. 
 
6. Grill or broil to desired degree of doneness, top each with a pat of butter and serve hot with toasted buns.
Notes
This mixture is also very good made into cocktail-size balls.
 
If using fresh green chili peppers, be sure to roast them first, then remove the skins and remove the seeds before chopping.

Recipe from Recipelion

 

Condiments
Condiments http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/articles/50-condiments.html

Condiments

Condiments

Recipes are from top to bottom and left to right:

Hoisin BBQ Sauce Cook 2 minced garlic cloves in a saucepan with olive oil, 1 minute. Stir in 1/2 cup hoisin sauce, 2 tablespoons each rice vinegar and dry sherry, 1 tablespoon each soy sauce and ketchup and 1/3 cup water. Simmer until thick, stirring 20 minutes. Let cool, then add 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil and 1 chopped scallion.

Roasted Garlic Mustard Wrap 8 cloves garlic in foil; roast 30 minutes at 400 degrees F. Squeeze the garlic out of its skin and puree with 1/2 cup Dijon mustard, 1/3 cup maple syrup, and salt and pepper.

Five-Spice Ketchup Mix 1 cup ketchup, the juice of 1 lime and 2 teaspoons five-spice powder. Season with salt and pepper.

Red Onion Marmalade Cook 2 thinly sliced large red onions in a skillet with 1/4 cup olive oil over low heat, covered, until golden, 30 minutes. Stir in 3 tablespoons cider vinegar, 2 tablespoons brown sugar and 1 teaspoon grated peeled ginger; season with salt. Cook until thick, about 20 more minutes.

Bacon-Onion Relish Cook 3 slices diced bacon until crisp; remove and reserve. Add 2 sliced onions to the pan. Season with salt and pepper and cook over low heat, covered, 10 minutes. Uncover and cook until golden, 30 more minutes. Stir in 2 tablespoons chopped parsley and the bacon.

Cajun BBQ Sauce Combine 1 cup barbecue sauce, 1/4 cup bourbon and 2 teaspoons Cajun seasoning in a saucepan. Simmer until slightly thick, stirring occasionally, 20 minutes.

Avocado-Chile Spread Puree 1 avocado, 1/2 cup sour cream or crema, 1/4 cup canned chopped green chiles, the juice of 1 lime and 1/2 clove garlic until smooth. Season with salt.

Chile-Cheese Mayo Mix 1/4 cup each mayonnaise, grated cheddar, canned chopped green chiles and chopped scallions.

Crescent Roll Cherry Tarts
Crescent Roll Cherry Tarts http://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/easy-crescent-roll-cherry-tarts

Crescent Roll Cherry Tarts

Crescent Roll Cherry Tarts

Ingredients

1 tube (8 ounces) refrigerated crescent rolls
1 package (3 ounces) cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup confectioners' sugar
1 cup canned cherry pie filling
1/4 teaspoon almond extract

Directions
Place crescent dough on a lightly floured surface; seal seams and perforations. Cut into 24 pieces; press onto the bottoms and up the sides of greased miniature muffin cups. In a small bowl, beat cream cheese and confectioners' sugar until smooth. Place about 1/2 teaspoon in each cup. Combine pie filling and extract; place about 2 teaspoons in each cup. Bake at 375° for 12-14 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Remove to wire racks to cool. Refrigerate until serving.

Yield: 2 dozen.

DIY Pom Poms
DIY Pom Poms http://www.boho-weddings.com/2012/12/04/diy-tissue-paper-pom-poms/

DIY Pom Poms

DIY Pom Poms

For each pom pom:

8 sheets of tissue paper
Strong twine, string or wool
Sturdy scissors
Invisible tape

Step 1) Start by placing the eight sheets of tissue paper on top of each other. If you’re using different colours place them in the order you’d like them to appear.

Step 2) Next, you need to fold them all together in a concertina style (like those homemade fans we all used to make out of paper when we were kids), in widths of about 5cm. Keep folding back and forth until you then have one long strip.

Step 3) Take a length of your string, twine or wool (you can use whichever – it just needs to not break easily) and tie it around the middle of the strip of folded sheets of paper, and tie securely. Don’t squash the paper, just tie around them to essentially keep them together. Tie string, wool or twine around the middle of the folded sheet of paper

Step 4) Next, cut each of the ends of this bulk of paper in a curve, as per the photo below. You can either do it in one long curve to a corner, or create a whole petal shape by cutting a semicircle to the middle of the top and then down again. It’s up to you – both look good and just create a slightly different effect to the pompoms. Experiment! You’ll need to use fairly strong scissors to be able to cut through all of the paper together and keep it all in line at the same time.

Step 5) Then fan out your two ends (with the string still keeping everything together in the middle). Spread them out as far as they will go.

Step 6) Next, take each sheet of paper and very carefully separate it from the one underneath. Be very careful not to tear them! (Although if you do it’s not the end of the world as it’s hardly noticeable!). You need to separate it and sort of puff it up. It's best by doing the four top sheets to create the first half of the pompom, and then turn it upside down to do the other four. Fluff them up and spread the petals out so you get a nice, even puffed up pompom!

Step 7) And then you’re done! To get a really lovely effect tie invisible thread to that string/wool/twine loop in the centre of the pompom and hang them from here, there, and everywhere! They look really lovely in cascading groups of various colours.

Peach Lemonade
Peach Lemonade http://www.melissas-cuisine.com/2013/07/peach-lemonade.html

Peach Lemonade

Peach Lemonade

Serves 6-8

Ingredients:
1 quart lemonade
1 cup peach nectar

Combine the lemonade and peach nectar.  Chill before serving. For alcoholic version, omit the peach nectar and substitute Cruzan Peach Rum instead.

Mango Blueberry Fool
Mango Blueberry Fool http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Mango-Blueberry-Fool-242586

Mango Blueberry Fool

Mango Blueberry Fool

Ingredients:

1 (1-pound) ripe mango, pitted, peeled, and cut into chunks

1/4 cup sugar, or to taste

2 tablespoon fresh lime juice, or to taste

1 cup chilled heavy cream

1 1/2 cups blueberries (1/2 pound)

Grated lime zest to taste

Preparation

Purée mango, sugar, lime juice, and a pinch of salt in a blender until very smooth. Add cream and blend until very thick. Blend in additional lime juice and sugar to taste.

Transfer to a bowl and fold in most of blueberries, then divide among 6 glasses. Top with remaining blueberries and zest. If desired, chill, loosely covered, 30 minutes.

DIY Hanging Mason Jars
DIY Hanging Mason Jars http://offbeatbride.com/2011/07/hanging-mason-jar-tea-light-holders

DIY Hanging Mason Jars

DIY Hanging Mason Jars

What you will need:

Jars: vintage Mason, modern or ball Mason, or simply Classico pasta sauce jars

Heavy floral wire: I bought two rolls.

Wire cutters

Tealights

Ribbon (optional)

A long-handled lighter or matches to eventually light them

Step 1: Peel labels off jars (if they have labels) and wash them.

Step 2: Wrap floral wire loosely around the bottom of the jar to get an idea of the length you'll need. Leaving it 1-3 inches longer, cut the wire. (This will go around the mouth of the jar.) Make it into a circle, but don't close the circle off.

Step 3: Cut two more pieces of wire, about 3-4 inches long each. (These will be handles for the wire hanger or ribbons.) Position the shorter pieces in loops on opposing sides of the circle wire. bend then so that it attaches in a loop around the center circular wire, like handles. You'll want them both placed under and then bent up over the wire so that they don't risk coming undone. Fasten them closed around the circular wire by bending tightly or even twisting, then clipping off loose ends with wire cutters.

Step 4: Loop the main circle piece around the mouth of the jar, under the lowest lip, with the handles intact and flipped up. Twist the ends of the circular wire to tighten it around the mouth of the jar,, as tight as you can, then cut off the excess. (If you twist it tightly and then cut, rather than just cutting it to size in the first place, there are less pokey ends to deal with.)

Step 5: Loop one final long piece of wire around the two "handles," or thread long yarn, rattan, or ribbon through the handles, making a large loop, and tie in bows. It's up to you — I did wire. Just make sure it's far enough away from the mouth of the jar so it won't like, catch on fire. Hang them alone, color them with watercolor paint or glaze for a colored effect, or group them together for a chandelier-like effect. You can even hang them with ribbon instead of a wire handle. Enjoy!

Mixed Berries and Cassis Sundaes
Mixed Berries and Cassis Sundaes http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Mixed-Berry-and-Cassis-Sundaes-243213

Mixed Berries and Cassis Sundaes

Mixed Berries and Cassis Sundaes

Ingredients:

1/2 cup crème de cassis (black-currant liqueur)
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar, divided
2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice, or to taste
4 cups mixed berries (1 1/4 pounds), halved or quartered if large
3/4 cup chilled heavy cream
1 pint vanilla ice cream
1 pint raspberry sorbet

Preparation

Bring crème de cassis and 1/4 cup sugar to a simmer, stirring until sugar has dissolved (if alcohol flames, momentarily cover with lid to extinguish). Stir in lemon juice.
Pour syrup over berries, stirring gently to coat. Let stand 10 minutes.
Beat cream with remaining tablespoon sugar using an electric mixer until it just holds stiff peaks.
Divide ice cream and sorbet among glasses. Top with berries and syrup, then with whipped cream.

Fruit and Yogurt Popsicles
Fruit and Yogurt Popsicles http://allrecipes.com/recipe/fresh-fruit-and-yogurt-ice-pops/

Fruit and Yogurt Popsicles

Fruit and Yogurt Popsicles

Ingredients:

2 cups fresh blueberries, raspberries, strawberries and sliced bananas, mixed
2 cups plain or vanilla yogurt
1/4 cup white sugar
8 small paper cups
8 popsicle sticks

Directions

1. Place the mixed blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, sliced bananas, yogurt, and sugar into a blender. Cover, and blend until fruit is chunky or smooth, as desired.

2. Fill paper cups 3/4 full with fruit mixture. Cover the top of each cup with a strip of aluminum foil. Poke a popsicle stick through the center of the foil on each cup.

3. Place the cups in the freezer for at least 5 hours. To serve, remove foil and peel off the paper cup.

Red Strawberry Tea
Red Strawberry Tea http://www.countryliving.com/recipefinder/red-strawberry-tea-recipe-ghk0710

Red Strawberry Tea

Red Strawberry Tea

Ingredients:

14 cup(s) water

10 bag(s) red tea

1 pound(s) strawberries, hulled and quartered1/4 cup(s) sugar

2 cup(s) pomegranate-cranberry juice blend

12 blueberry-topped skewers, for garnish

Directions:

In 6-quart covered saucepot, heat water on high until almost boiling. Add tea bags; remove from heat and cover. Let tea steep 10 minutes. Remove tea bags and discard. Let cool slightly, then ladle some tea into 1 ice cube tray. Freeze, uncovered, until solid. Pour remaining tea into large punch bowl or pitcher. Refrigerate until very cold (up to three days).

One hour before serving, in large bowl, combine strawberries and sugar. Let stand, uncovered, 30 minutes. Stir in juice blend, strawberries with accumulated juices, and tea ice cubes to tea mixture. Serve cold; garnish with skewers.

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