Eats, Entertain, Featured, Lifestyle

Memorial Day party | planning ideas + recipes

May 19, 2016

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What’s on tap for Memorial Day weekend, y’all? Memorial Day has always been one of my favorite holidays. I love the simplicity of this long weekend. At least in our family, it’s a no frills affair, typically spent in the backyard barbecuing with friends. And today on L. Avenue I’m thrilled to collaborate with my dear friend Margaret to bring you a fun, festive backyard shindig. Margaret, a successful catering and cooking extraordinaire, is sharing some of her favorite recipes for a southern backyard dinner that friends and family will get excited about year after year. On the menu: classic fried chicken, fried green tomato, two healthy seasonal salads and blueberry beignets for dessert. So let’s be honest, this menu is slightly more involved than hot dogs on the grill with a side of potato chips. Not to worry, we’ll map out how to prep in advance so you’ll be able to kick back and enjoy your party, margarita in hand.

Invite | Obviously if you’re just throwing something together last minute with friends, an invite might not be in the cards. However, even with small groups it’s such a nice touch to put together a little something special in advance and who doesn’t love to get an invitation in the mail?!
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The table | Margaret found these wood pieces online to use for chargers. Genius and cost efficient. They are a rustic, chic layer to the table setting adding a nice element of height too. This flower napkin ring in a bold yellow is also very eye appealing. You could also do a fresh flower tucked inside of the napkin as an alternative. For flowers, something as simple as white hydrangeas in small vases or mason jars looks pretty and classic. To add a pop of color, red tulips and yellow sunflowers scream summertime.
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Menu | A friend of ours always prints menus when he cooks for us and I’ve always loved this special touch. I’ve never been organized enough to do so for events at my house {baby steps over here}, but love the menu that Margaret made for the dinner.
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Appetizer | fried green tomato BLT with mixed green salad
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Entree | fried chicken + balsamic asparagus and tomato salad + summer farro salad
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Dessert | blueberry beignets + mini strawberry pies
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Recipes | While all of the recipes below come together for a truly fabulous dinner party, I’ve loved cooking many of them on their own for weeknight sides and dinner. Both the faro salad and asparagus salads are simple, healthy, seasonal summertime dishes for everyday.

Fried Green Tomato BLT’s with Mixed Green Salad

Homemade Baguette, recipe below

Fried Green Tomato, recipe below

Bacon Mousse, recipe below

Mustard Glaze, recipe below

Crumbled Bourbon Maple Bacon, recipe above


Heirloom Tomatoes

Champagne Vinaigrette, recipe below

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Slice baguette into ¼ thick slices and place on backing sheet and toast for 10 minutes, turn and toast for 10 more minutes. Let toast cool. To assemble BLT’s, spread 2 tbsp. of bacon mousse onto toast and top with fried green tomato slices. Drizzle mustard glaze on top of tomatoes and top with crumbled bacon. In a bowl combine arugula, tomatoes and vinaigrette. To plate, place mixed greens in center of plate and top with BLT.

*Baguette can be made and frozen up to a month in advance.

*Fried green tomatoes, bacon mousse, mustard glaze and champagne vinaigrette can be made 2 days in advance. To reheat tomatoes, place on wire rack and heat at 350 for 12 minutes, turning half way through.


1 ½ cups of warm water

1 ½ tbsp. dry yeast

3 tsp. sugar

3 ¼ cups flour

2 tsp. salt

In a small bowl combine the yeast and warm water. Let stand until foamy on top, about 5 minutes. In a large mixing bowl, combine all other ingredients. Gradually add the yeast mixture and mix on medium speed with dough hook for 5 minutes. Place dough in a greased bowl and let rise for 30 minutes. Shape dough into 2 baguettes and place on a greased baguette pan. Let rise for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 450 degrees and bake baguettes for 12 minutes.

Fried Green Tomatoes

4 green tomatoes cut into ¼ inch thick slices

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 tsp. salt

1 tbsp. garlic powder

3 eggs

1 tbsp. milk

2 cups panko bread crumbs

Preheat oil in deep fryer to 350 degrees. Season tomato slices with salt and pepper. Combine flour, salt and garlic powder in a small dish. In another dish, beat eggs with milk. In another dish, place panko crumbs. Dredge tomatoes in flour, then eggs and in the bread crumbs. Lay on baking sheet until you finish all tomatoes. Fry 3 tomatoes at a time for 2 minutes.

Bacon Mousse

1 lb. apple wood smoked bacon

8 oz. cream cheese, softened

1 cup of caramelized onions

Cook bacon and reserve 2 tbsp. of bacon grease. Combine bacon, cream cheese, bacon grease and onions in a blender and blend until smooth.

Mustard Balsamic Glaze

¼ cup of honey

¼ cup whole grain mustard

3 tbsp. balsamic vinegar

1 tsp. garlic salt

½ tsp. black pepper

Combine all ingredients and let chill at least an hour before serving.

Champagne Vinaigrette

1 farm fresh egg

2 tsp. Dijon mustard

1 small shallot – peeled and diced

1 clove of minced garlic

2 tbsp. champagne vinegar

2 tbsp. honey

½ cup of extra virgin olive oil

Combine all ingredients, except oil, in a blender and blend until combined. On low speed, drizzle in oil and blend until emulsified.

Fried Chicken

3 lb. fried chicken, cut into pieces with ribs removed from breast

3 cups buttermilk

1 tbsp. creole seasoning

5 cups flour

2 ½ tbsp. salt

1 ½ tbsp. black pepper

4 tbsp. garlic powder

4 tbsp. onion powder

3 tsp. paprika

3 tsp. cayenne pepper

Place chicken in a large bowl and sprinkle with creole seasoning. Pour buttermilk over chicken and marinate for 24 hours. Heat oil in deep fryer to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, combine flour with the next 6 ingredients. Dredge chicken in flour mixture and fry for 3 to 4 minutes, or until it is light golden brown. Place chicken on baking rack on a lined sheet pan and bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes.

*Chicken can be made a day ahead. Reheat at 350 degrees. Place chicken on baking sheet for 12 minutes, turning half way through.

Asparagus & Tomato Salad

1 lb. green asparagus

8 oz. cherry tomatoes

¼ cup balsamic vinegar

3 tbsp. olive oil

2 tbsp. honey

¼ tsp. salt

¼ tsp. pepper

Cut asparagus into one inch pieces and boil for 2 minutes, then drain and place in bowl of ice water. Cut tomatoes in half and combine with cooled asparagus. Mix remaining ingredients together and pour over asparagus. Chill for 4 hours.

*Can be made night before party.

Farro Salad

10 ounces Farro

1 cup diced red bell pepper

1 cup diced yellow pepper

½ cup diced scallions

1 cup diced dried strawberries

¼ cup balsamic vinegar

3 tbsp. olive oil

2 tbsp. honey

¼ tsp. salt

¼ tsp. pepper

Prepare farro according to directions on package, adding 2 tsp. salt to the water. Combine cooked farro with next 4 ingredients. Make dressing using remaining ingredients and stir into farro mixture. Let cool for 4 hours. Can be served warm or cold.

*Can be made night before party.

Blueberry Fritters

Yeast Roll Dough

½ cup sugar

3 tbsp. butter, melted

6 oz. fresh blueberries

Vegetable oil, for frying

Glaze, recipe below

Prepare your favorite yeast roll dough. Roll dough into a rectangle that is ¼ inch think. Spread melted better on dough and sprinkle with sugar. Sprinkle blueberries on one side of dough. Fold other side of dough over blueberries and seal the edges. Cut dough into 2 inch squares, sealing the edge of each square. Place on sheet pan and let rise for 90 minutes. Heat vegetable oil to 350 degrees and fry each fritter for 2-3 minutes. While they are still warm, dunk fritters in glaze and place on baking rack for 20-30 minutes.


2 cups powdered sugar

1/3 cup butter, melted

1 tsp. vanilla bean paste

4 tbsp. hot water

Place powered sugar in large bowl and whisk in additional ingredients until you have a smooth glaze.

*Fritters can be made up to a month in advance and frozen. Let thaw before serving and warm in microwave.

Cocktail | Williams Sonoma Margaritas

Party Prep Timeline | 1 week game plan

7 Days Before Party
-Make Yeast Roll Dough – you can put the dough in the fridge overnight

6 Days Before Party
-Make Homemade Baguette and Blueberry Beignets – once cooled, place both in freezer.

5 Days Before Party
-Make Bacon Mousse

4 Days Before Party
-Make Mini Strawberry Pies – once cooled, place pies in freezer

2 Days Before Party
-Make Balsamic and Champagne Vinaigrettes and Farro Salad

1 Day Before Party
-Make Fried Chicken, Fried Green Tomatoes – store in fridge
-Get Fresh Flowers

Day of Party –
5 hours ahead
-Layout Beignets and Pies to come to room temp.

4 hours ahead
-Make Asparagus and Tomato Salad

3 hours ahead
-Set Table and Package Pie Favors

2 hours ahead
-Get Dressed

1 hour ahead
– Layout Chicken on Baking Sheet.

Fix a cocktail and get ready to enjoy your guests!

p.s. Margaret is going to be an ongoing contributor to L. Avenue and I’m pinching myself to have someone as talented as she is on our team. Here’s a little more about her…

Margaret is a mom who loves to cook and entertain! She owned Cater Tots, a catering company focused on healthy kid-friendly meals and parties, but decided to stay home and spend more time with her family. She now occasionally sales cinnamon rolls, donating all proceeds from the rolls to Boys and Girls Country of Houston. Margaret has a passion for cooking and throwing parties. She’s very excited about the opportunity to share her love of all things yummy and fun with you guys! You can follow Margaret’s daily cooking inspiration on Instagram here.

sources | floral napkin rings | napkins | stemless wine glasses | plateswood chargers | deviled egg platter | invitations/menu cards by HH Design House | blue striped button down dress

photos by Traci Ling

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