With Memorial Day weekend here I am excited to do some grilling. When I think of an old fashioned American BBQ I am thinking of cheeseburgers, hot dogs, corn on the cob, potato salad and possibly adult beverages! Nothing too fancy, just a relaxing afternoon at the grill. The kind of meal where even with loads of family over, you still have extra food an hour later and you convince yourself to eat another hot dog because you can’t let it go to waste.
That is what a BBQ should be, in my opinion. Easy food, friends and family, and regretting how much you ate hours later. You have to splurge sometime. So for our Memorial Day American BBQ special we are making some easy dishes for our family to come over and enjoy.
First up we will tackle a few things that can be made ahead. Potato Salad and Norah’s Garden Salad. The potato salad is simple requiring just baby potatoes, bacon, hard boiled eggs, mayo, salt and pepper. I cook the potatoes, eggs, and bacon and then cool them. Mix them with mayo, salt, and pepper and we are done. I add garden herbs from my garden to give it a little extra flavor or some fresh chopped chives on top is nice. This will rest in the refrigerator for a few hours until the BBQ starts. You can see the recipe for this on our Purple Potato Salad post. I made it with yellow potatoes this time.
While I am making Potato Salad I put Norah to work on her Garden Salad. She has become quite a good salad maker and it is actually a big help on our average rushed for dinner weeknight. I like giving her control over the salad because like myself she loves cucumbers so I know the salad will be about 90% cucumber by weight.
She takes her Garden Salad responsibility seriously and loves to get compliments on it at dinner time! A normal salad for her is mixed greens, 1 large cucumber, 1 large carrot grated, half an onion sliced as thin as she can, a few sliced radishes, and a handful of halved cherry tomatoes.
These ingredients she “harvested” from the refrigerator. Next up, teaching her how to harvest them from the garden and make her salad!
Now onto tackling corn on the cob. I plan to grill the corn in the husks with some butter and spices rubbed inside it. In order to do this I have to peel husk back and remove the silks and soak the husks in water so they don’t burn to much on the grill. Around this time Em was cleaning the house and informed me husking corn was an “outside” job. So I took a large tub of water and the corn to the porch and got to work. I peeled back each husk and removed silks. Then returned the husk over the corn and tossed it into the tub of water. I let them soak a couple hours until it was time to grill.
At grilling time I peeled back the husks again and spread a mixture of butter, garlic powder, salt, and pepper on the corn. Then pull the husk back up around it and it would go on the grill like this to cook.
I was grilling 14 corn cobs so I used 2 sticks of butter, 1 teaspoon garlic powder, and 1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Who can resist hot, buttery corn on the cob.
Now it is time to tackle some veggie skewers. I quickly filed this project under my “wishful thinking” tab. Like my maniacs would bother wasting tummy space on grilled veggies when burgers and dogs were on their plates! Still I like to try to offset the lack of nutrition in an average BBQ and at least the grown ups would try them.
Cabbage chunks, onion wedges, red pepper slices, and asparagus. Easy to grill and taste great charred.
To baste over the veggies while grilling a simple mix of lemon zest, lemon juice, grated ginger, and honey.
American BBQ time is drawing near and time to ready the burgers and dogs. Into 2.5 lbs of ground beef I mix 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese, 1 teaspoon garlic powder, and a half teaspoon each salt and pepper. I will then sprinkle additional salt and pepper on the outside of the formed patties to help make a crust once it hits the grill. I love cheese on burgers so I really like mixing a little extra into the patties themselves. Once the patties are formed I make a thumb sized indentation in the center to try to keep them from puffing up on the grill.
The only prep hot dogs get cutting little slits into them to prevent them from blowing up on the grill. I shredded some extra cabbage and mixed with salt and pepper for a topping for the hot dogs. Every bit of green helps!
I am partial to red hot dogs or “red snappers”. I do not want to know why Maine is about the only place that has them. Maybe it is because they are insanely nutritious. Another file for the “wishful thinking” draw. Em prefers the regular beef hot dogs so when we are grilling we usually have both.
We are now ready to get outside and do some grilling.
I prefer the super technical method of grilling know as “Throw everything on the grill at once and proceed to panic and shuffle stuff around so it doesn’t burn or get done before the rest of the food.” Can you believe I didn’t even go to cooking school!
My real goal is only flip everything once. Let the burgers cook on one side until they have a nice crust and flip. Then melt the cheese on the second side once it is cooked through. The veggies take no time at all over high so I baste them quickly. The corn takes a little longer and needs to be flipped and shuffled so as not to burn. The dogs will only take a few minutes on high heat and then get moved up to the cooler rack to stay warm. I do like a slightly burnt hot dog.
Warm buttery grilled corn of the cob ready to eaten
Cheeseburgers will be the star of the American BBQ. I love seeing an table outside full of kids chowing down on freshly grilled cheeseburgers.
Grilling outside with kids running around, climbing trees, and riding bikes (like our honorary maniac- our niece Abby) brings me back to my childhood. My sister and I did the same thing with our family- on the same lawn, in the same tree, and on the same street.
Our oldest maniac niece Juliana enjoying a cheeseburger and hamming it up
Feasting time was here and like I predicted there was more then enough food to eat a second plate and hour later.
It is a pretty good BBQ when you have to eat half the hot dog in the food line to fit extra food on your plate!
Memorial Day week “before” picture of the garden. Hopefully next weekend I can share with you a much different looking photo of a fully planted garden. I am not filing that statement under “wishful thinking” yet. So far we have Beans, Peas, Zucchini, Cherry Tomatoes, and some containers planted. A lot left to do.
We hope everyone has a great holiday and thanks for reading!
- 2.5 lbs ground beef
- 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
- 1/2 teaspoon salt + extra for sprinkling
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper + extra for sprinkling
- 10 slices cheddar cheese
- 10 buns
- Preheat grill to high heat.
- Mix ground beef, shredded cheddar, salt, and pepper.
- Form into patties and sprinkle extra salt and pepper on the outside of patties.
- Grill on high 4-5 minutes on one side and flip.
- Cook until done melting cheddar for the last minute,
- Serve on buns with favorite condiments!