Memorial Day Munching

What goes best with ribs? Barbeque Baked Beans and Chopped Slaw!

It began, unofficially, in 1868 as a time for the nation to decorate the graves of fallen soldiers with flowers. The first large observance was held at Arlington National Cemetery. Major General John A. Logan organized the ceremony. His order read: “Let pleasant paths invite the coming and going of reverent visitors and fond mourners. Let no neglect, no ravages of time, testify to the present or to the coming generations that we have forgotten as a people the cost of a free and undivided republic.”

He went on to order his posts to decorate the graves with “the choicest flowers of springtime”.

By the end of the 19th Century, Memorial Day ceremonies were being held across the nation, usually on or around May 30. The ceremonies involved townspeople gathering in cemeteries to strew flowers, sing hymns and pray over their fallen heroes. After World War I the day was expanded to honor those who have died in all American wars and in 1971, Memorial Day was declared a national holiday by an act of Congress.

These days, Memorial Day is the unofficial start of summer and as such, we like to celebrate as we remember. And we all know the best way to kick off summer is a Memorial Day Picnic.

I’ve been making these beans for 20 years and this is the first time I’ve actually taken the time to write down an official recipe. I hope you enjoy it as much as I have.

Barbeque Beans

Yield: 6 servings

1 pound of Jimmy Dean Hot Sausage

1 cup of chopped onion

½ cup of chopped bell pepper

2 cloves of garlic, minced or put through the garlic press

1 (28 ounce) can of Bush’s Original Baked Beans

1 ½ cups of Sticky Fingers Memphis Original Barbeque Sauce

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray a 9×13″ baking pan with non-stick spray. Set aside.

Set a large skillet over medium high heat; add the sausage, and cook, breaking it up into crumbles, until the sausages is no longer pink. Add the onion and bell pepper and continue to cook until the onion is translucent and the bell pepper begins to soften, about 3-5 minutes. Turn the heat off, and add the garlic, stirring until the garlic is fragrant. Set the mixture aside.

Drain the beans and reserve the liquid you should have about ½ cup. Remove the bit of bacon from the beans. In a large mixing bowl, stir together the drained beans and sausage mixture. Add 1 cup of barbeque sauce and stir to combine. Taste and if you want a stronger barbeque flavor add the remaining ½ cup of sauce and ¼ cup of the reserved bean juice. If you want a milder barbeque flavor, then add all the reserved bean juice.

Transfer the beans to the prepared pan, cover with foil and cook for 30-40 minutes or until the beans are bubbly. Remove the foil and cook for 10 more minutes.

Beans and slaw go hand in hand and while it’s easy to pick up a container of premade slaw from the grocery deli, this recipe is easy and tastes better made the day before. I always dress slaw lightly and add more dressing right before serving if needed.

Chopped Slaw

Yield: 6 servings

2 ½ pound green cabbage, cored and chopped fine

1 medium onion, finely chopped

1 large green bell pepper, finely chopped

Salt and freshly ground pepper

1 ¼ cups Duke’s Mayonnaise

1/3 cup cider vinegar

2 teaspoons of sugar

In a large bowl with a tight fitting lid, toss all the vegetables with 1 teaspoon each of salt and freshly ground pepper.

In a small bowl whisk together the mayonnaise, cider vinegar and sugar; toss the dressing with the vegetables. Remember to dress slaw lightly coleslaw gets over-dressed easily.

Cover the slaw and chill for at least an hour or up to 1 day.

Of all the fruits, berries seem to be the most patriotic. Perhaps it’s because they are mostly red and blue and when paired with white whipped cream create the perfect patriotic dessert. At any rate, this one would be superb even if it weren’t red, white and blue.

Very Berry Trifle

Yield: 6 servings

4 cups of frozen mixed berries, partially thawed

¾ cup granulated sugar

2 Tablespoons of cornstarch

1 ½ teaspoons Sure-Jell, low sugar (pink box)

2 Tablespoons of Strawberry Jell-O

Pinch of salt

1 Tablespoon of lemon juice

1 (6 serving sized box) of vanilla cook and serve pudding

1 (1 pound) pound cake, cut into 1″ cubes

Whipped cream

Place 2 cups of the berries in the jar of a blender and blend on high speed until pureed.

Whisk the sugar, cornstarch, Sure-Jell, Jell-O and salt in a medium saucepan. Stir in the berry puree. Cook over medium high heat, stirring constantly, and bring to a boil. Boil, scraping down the bottom and sides of the pan constantly to prevent scorching for about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat. Stir in the lemon juice and set aside.

Prepare the pudding mixture according to the package directions. Remove from the heat and start assembling the trifle while the pudding is still hot.

To assemble:

Place the pound cake cubes in the bottom of a large trifle dish or glass bowl. Top with warm pudding. With the back of a spoon, press the pound cake cubes into the pudding so each cube is saturated with pudding. Top with the berry mixture and repeat the layers making sure the top layer is a layer of berries. The number of layers you will need will vary with the width of the trifle bowl; more narrow bowls will use fewer layers. My bowl made 2 layers so I divided the ingredients between the two layers; your bowl may require you to divide the ingredients in thirds.

Chill overnight for best results. Serve with whipped cream.

 

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