general information and events

you’re invited: memorial day, part one.

cilantro lime peanut shrimp.

It’s a good thing I consider Memorial Day to be a weekend event and not a one-day-only event, or we’d be in trouble. At this moment, it’s pouring down rain, with thunder and lightning so loud it woke me the Wee One up from her nap, so at least for right now, there will be no outside cooking. Thankfully on summer holidays at my house, we start picnic-fooding on Saturday, so we’ve had two days of pretty excellent weather with food to go alongside.

I firmly believe parties should always have some sort of theme. I don’t mean picking a color scheme and painstakingly fashioning tulle poofs for the occasion, although that happens around here. What I mean extends far beyond complementary colors and decor: your theme can be anything, but your gathering – however small – needs something to give it a flow. I didn’t decorate for this weekend; I’m deep in the midst of planning the Wee One’s third birthday (which should explain the tulle poof reference), and I’m saving myself for that. My theme this weekend was about the food: every recipe stayed true to the idea of a classic picnic by being simple to make, yet polished enough for a special occasion.

Casual food is at its best when it’s kept to a few outstanding ingredients, prepared and seasoned simply. You don’t want to fuss about over them; fancy savouries and labor-intensive desserts look out of place at backyard barbeques anyway, so why do it? I didn’t pore over cookbooks for my recipes this year; I hit up Pinterest, because it can be a valuable brainstorming tool when you’re pulling a party together and you don’t want to spend a ton of time overthinking it.

Some of my favorite Pinterest resources for parties big and small are:

The TomKat Studio for party ideas and some really cute DIY favors and themes

Martha Stewart for food inspiration

Elsie Larson | A Beautiful Mess for general inspiration, both with food and with decor

Southern Livingย for recipes, and because southern food is everything, but really shines during the summer months

Jordan Ferney | Oh Happy Day for the way I want to live my life, but also for some adorable party and DIY ideas.

I follow all of these wonderfully-curated boards on my own Pinterest, and you will see them pop up quite a bit on my own boards, especially when I’m gearing up for an event.

After some feverish board-scouring, a few notes, and a trip to the grocery store, here’s what we made:

tomato, corn, + avocado simple salad.

A perennial favorite (although this one is slightly simpler than ones I’ve done in the past), the corn, tomato, + avocado salad. there’s something truly irresistible about throwing this all together and squeezing a lime over top. Which is basically all this is, and it is fabulous.

cucumber salad.

This cucumber + dill salad also exists in several forms at my house; this creamy version is my favorite, because a little sauce goes a long way and doesn’t cover up the brightness of the cucumbers.

slow cooker baked beans.

I’ve never made slow-cooker baked beans before, and it was a great first attempt. I have exactly zero experience with dried beans, and I feel like perhaps I didn’t do something correctly. The flavors in the sauce were exceptional, but the texture was off; I’m going to work on the recipe and get back to you on this one, because I want it to be perfect and the beans are the only thing getting in the way.

cilantro lime peanut shrimp.

The show-stopper of the party, these asian-inspired cilantro lime + peanut grilled shrimp were incredible, and take no time at all to prepare. You chop a few things, prepare a wee sauce, and then it’s a matter of throwing shrimp on the barbeque for a few minutes and subsequently plunging them into flavor. Eat, repeat.

individual strawberry galettes.

Because I am quite the sucker for a pie, but don’t always want to mess with a pie or pie-slicing, I made individual galettes: fresh peach and fresh strawberry. I think they’re actually more picnic-friendly than pies because they’re completely portable and self-contained, and they require almost nothing to make. I made a double-batch of this crust in the food processor, sliced some fruit, added some sugar and a little cornstarch, and into the oven they went.

individual peach galettes.

They were perfection, but I doubt I needed to tell you that, because you can see that with your eyes. Each whole dough makes four individual galettes, which makes for a very generous single serving or two servings, if you really want to part with half of it. Your favorite vanilla bean ice cream only adds to their glory.

We also made turkey burgers (teriyaki + grilled pineapple, goat cheese + honey lemon mustard), which are difficult to take photos of, as they are created, grilled, and get eaten…fast. I only let my annoying food blogger photo tendencies get in the way to a point, so no photos of those.

This time, I kept track of how I made each of these dishes, which was simple enough as the dishes themselves are very free-form and easy to remember; you could make them in your sleep. So I’ll give you the recipes for everything you see above (except for the beans, because they are a work in progress) tomorrow in a Memorial Day: The Recipes post.

Hope all of you are celebrating where you are today. If it’s raining where you are like it is here, I hope you’re not letting that deter you from great food and a relaxing day. See you tomorrow with recipes.




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  • Reply Jen @JuanitasCocina May 27, 2013 at 4:46 pm

    Those shrimp should be called, “Jen’s shrimp”. I think you should rename them in my honor.

    • Reply shannon May 29, 2013 at 5:40 am

      i KNEW you would love the shrimp.

  • Reply sara May 27, 2013 at 6:11 pm

    A fantastic meal, yum!! ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Reply shannon May 29, 2013 at 5:40 am

      thanks, sara! it was really fun; more fun, perhaps, because i wasn’t frisking about in the kitchen all day, which is fun, but it’s nice to have a break once in awhile. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Reply natalie @ wee eats May 27, 2013 at 7:12 pm

    Wish i was actually invited! Individual galettes really are the best, aren’t they? i stumbled across one i forgot i posted when I was rounding up some of my strawberry posts last thursday.

    As dumb as it sounds I really miss thunder storms – we get a few now and then but they aren’t the same as the ones back east. it’s usually a far away rolling thunder, and there aren’t those bright lightning strikes or loud thunder claps. I hate being out in the storm but I do miss being able to observe them from indoors.

    That being said, it’s hard to appreciate even the best of thunderstorms when you had planned to cook out – and I definitely love your simple theme – and I follow most of those boards/blogs already, but it looks like i’ve got at least one or two to add ๐Ÿ˜‰

    • Reply shannon May 29, 2013 at 5:44 am

      you are always actually invited; we just need to figure out some sort of free airline ticket setup or something. i don’t know why AZ has to be so faaaaaarr. ugh.
      i made your strawberry galette i think last year? LOVE, girl…LOVE. it’s the lazy girl’s way to pie, i think. *high five*
      i never knew that my thunder storms were a regional thing; although i will say that storms in, say, florida are very different from the ones up here, given their lack of “stormy” and emphasis on “shower rain”, so i can see that. i don’t like being out in it either, but i’m great if i’m home, for sure.
      i should thank you for the TomKat studio rec months ago…because i am IN LOVE WITH THEM. they just did a camping theme party for kids…it’s adorable and i want someone to throw that party for me. b/c i don’t like camping but i love kitschy camping theme parties, for sure.

  • Reply movita beaucoup May 28, 2013 at 5:25 am

    Okay, this post makes the spaghetti I chowed down on last night look positively pathetic.

    I’d start with the galettes and then move backwards from there, ending with the shrimp. Always start and finish on a high note!

    • Reply shannon May 29, 2013 at 5:48 am

      there is absolutely nothing wrong with chowing down on spaghetti. never forget that.
      i wanted to start with the galettes. no one would let me. jerks. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Reply Wendy May 28, 2013 at 10:41 am

    Inside or outside this meal would be a magnificent picnic! All the flavors and colors and textures make for an amazing meal. I love planning summer get togethers with a grilled protein paired with make ahead salads and sides. (A bottle of chilled white wine and your are set!) Cucumber salads are my favorite. Your recipe looks delicious. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Reply shannon May 29, 2013 at 6:04 am

      summer is great for the make-ahead sides, right? it’s like the weather knows you want to just hang out versus messing around in a hot kitchen. ๐Ÿ™‚ I love summer cookouts for just exactly that reason – and you’re right; a bottle of chilled wine never hurts.

  • Reply Ashley May 28, 2013 at 12:58 pm

    What a feast! I’d devour it all and come back for more. I’m totally with you on having a general food theme, whether it’s regional or type of food or whatever you can imagine! It’s a mini-challenge before even entering the kitchen…plus it means more cookbook research!

    • Reply shannon May 29, 2013 at 6:13 am

      i think you hit the nail on the head in that it’s research: don’t we both just love the research! ๐Ÿ™‚ you should see the diagrams i come up with when planning an event. CRAZY. It’s like i am researching the life cycle of a mulberry tree or something.

  • Reply Emma May 29, 2013 at 3:48 am

    Natalie’s comment is funny, because I was going to say the same exact thing about missing storms, but how out East they just aren’t the same as they are in the Midwest. I miss those creepy darkening skies, and thunder that lasts longer than one clap. Without it, endless rain just seems kind of boring (last week, I’m looking at you!).

    • Reply shannon May 29, 2013 at 6:19 am

      so the east coast is the same way, huh? interesting…that sounds like the florida rain we get in the summer…very showerlike and endless, but without the big (i guess midwestern) dramatic thunder and lightning jazz hands. never boring, for sure. yesterday it alternated between huge thunder and then inexplicable sun, and right when you thought maybe it was safe to go outside? plunged into darkness once again. even when we took our evening walk last night, it looked bright, but turn the right way? creepy sky.

      • Reply Emma May 29, 2013 at 7:44 pm

        I love creepy sky!

        • Reply shannon June 1, 2013 at 4:54 am

          word. i need to take a picture of it next time and send it to you.

  • Reply Jennie @themessybakerblog May 29, 2013 at 6:13 am

    I’ll take one of each, please. I love cucumber-dill salad; we make it every summer. Oh, and that corn and avocado salad is calling my name. Shrimp… Yes, please! I love getting a glimpse of your parties. I even imagine myself there, chatting and plucking various appetizers from plates.

    You have inspired me to make my own pennant banner for my graduation party. It looks super cute. I can’t wait to show you. Thanks for all of the party inspiration.

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