John’s birthday is May 31st so it falls on Memorial Day frequently, or that ends up being the weekend we can celebrate. This is a good and bad thing. Good, because he sometimes has off on his birthday. Bad, because most people have long standing traditions for Memorial Day and we can’t often have large gatherings for him. Also, John’s childhood was not filled with over the top fun filled friend laden birthdays, so I do everything I can to make it special each year for him. Since I’m now in my ninth month of pregnancy, though, it had to be small this year, and pretty much just immediately family.
By small, did you think I wasn’t cooking a lot? Hahaha – fooled you! While I did (am) make(ing) quite a bit of food, it really is less than I would normally prepare.
Here’s the menu:
Sausage & Peppers
Burgers (Beef & Turkey)
Black Bean Salad
Chocolate Caramel Cupcakes with Salted Caramel Buttercream
Are you surprised that the dessert menu is almost as long as the dinner menu? You shouldn’t be! It doesn’t matter if John is cooking or not, (and he didn’t for his birthday) we can’t help trying out different recipes.
The sausage and peppers recipe is one my sister and I have cultivated and perfected, and I’m not quite willing to share that. Also, there really isn’t a recipe so much as a feeling, so without you standing next to me, I’m not sure I could explain it!
The Baked Potato Salad was inspired by the recipe from Wegmans, but of course, I made changes. I combined the new recipe with the way that I usually make potato salad. The things I kept from the new recipe: roasting the spuds, bacon and sour cream. What I didn’t use: Cheese. John and I thought cheese would make the salad be full of weird in the end. What I added: Celery, Lovage, and Parsley for color, that classic potato salad flavor and crunch.
The black bean salad is something I threw together one day when I didn’t know what to make as a side dish. I took inspiration from a bunch of different recipes and adapted them to what I had.
Black Bean Salad
2 cans black beans
2 ears of corn (or one larger can if its not in season)
1-2 tomatoes, depending on the size and how much you like tomatoes
1/2 red onion or 3 scallions
Juice of 1 lime
Cilantro (if you like it; we don’t, so I don’t put it in)
Salt and Pepper to taste
If using fresh corn, cut it from the cob and roast it in a hot pan for a few minutes to bring the flavor out.
Chop tomatoes and avocado into bite sized pieces.
Combine all ingredients except the lime, avocado and oil.
If serving right away, add the avocado. If making ahead, reserve the avocado until just before serving.
Toss with about 1/4 cup olive oil and the lime juice. Serve right away if avocado is involved. Can be made a day ahead without it.
A note on the M&M cookies – we didn’t make them XXL size. We made them regular, and they were awesome. We like chewy cookies and this recipe achieved it perfectly, when the cookies are just hardly brown on the bottom. As for the banana pudding, if you like banana pudding, just make this recipe and your life will change. That’s all there is to it.
And the piece de resistance – Salted Caramel Buttercream
It’s as easy as – Start with your favorite buttercream recipe, cutting back on the sugar. Add about 1/2 cup caramel sauce and 1 tsp salt. When you frost your cupcakes, top with a little fleur de sel. And it might change your life again.
Due to all the excitement of the day, I forgot to take photos of some of the food, but I will share with you what I’ve got: