Celebrate Memorial Day with the Flavors of Utah

Today we celebrate Memorial Day (the last Monday in May – and this year it’s about as late as it can get) and the 45th state to join the Union, Utah. Memorial Day is so much more than just an excuse for a three-day weekend and the start of the Backyard Barbecue Season.

Memorial Day began as Decoration Day, and evidence points to newly freed slaves in Charleston, South Carolina to be the first to recognize the importance of establishing a Memorial Day. Three weeks after the Confederate surrender, an unusual procession entered a former prisoner of war camp where more than 260 Union soldiers had died from disease and exposure. Their bodies were hastily buried in a mass grave behind the grandstands of the Washington Race Course and Jockey Club. On May 1, 1865, more than 1,000 formally enslaved people, accompanied by regiments of the U.S. Colored Troops (including the Massachusetts 54th Infantry) and a handful of white Charlestonians, gathered in the camp to consecrate a new, proper burial site for the Union dead. But the custom of decorating the graves of fallen soldiers actually began before the end of the Civil War. The earlier Southern Decoration Day were private, somber occasions and not public gatherings. Women would visit the graves for their husbands, fathers or brothers, and place wildflowers, easily had in the late spring. In May 1868, three years after the first public demonstration of Memorial Day, General John A. Logan issued a proclamation calling for Decoration Day to be observed annually throughout the country. Surprisingly enough, Memorial Day did not become a Federal Holiday until 1971, when it was moved from May 30 to the last Monday in May.

Today we take our inspiration from the breathtaking state of Utah. Without a doubt, Utah has one of the most diverse landscapes in the country. From the salt flats to the rugged mountains, adventure and awe struck beauty awaits. Soak in the natural wonders and enjoy a few popular dishes from Utah this Memorial Day.

Memorial Day Utah Favorites
Pastrami Burgers
Grilled Hot Dogs
Funeral Potato Casserole
In an Instant Cob Corn

Lemon Lime Poke Cake with Lemon Lime Cream Cheese Frosting

Pastrami Burger
2 Garlic Cloves
1 White Onion
2 Heirloom Tomatoes
8 Lettuce Leaves
1/4 cup Butter
Kosher Salt to taste
Fresh Black Pepper to taste
1/4 cup Canola Oil
12 oz good-quality Pastrami
2 lbs Ground Beef
8 slices Muenster Cheese
4 Sesame Seed Hamburger Buns
Dill Hamburger Pickle Chips as desired

Mince garlic, set aside. Thinly slice onion, set aside. Thinly slice tomatoes, set aside. Rinse lettuce leaves, pat dry and set aside.

Divide ground beef into 4 equal balls. Squeeze balls so the meat is tightly packed. Set meat balls aside.

Place the butter and garlic in a large cast-iron skillet and set on the stovetop over medium heat. As the butter melts, the garlic will infuse the butter and become fragrant. Stir well and season with salt and pepper; transfer the garlic butter to a small bowl and set aside to cool.

Place the same skillet back over medium heat to warm up. Add enough canola oil to coat the skillet, about 2 tablespoons, then add the onion. Cook over medium heat, stirring, until the onion caramelizes, 10 to 15 minutes. Season with salt and cook until soft and evenly brown, about 3 more minutes. Transfer the onion to a plate and set aside.

Raise the heat level under the skillet to medium high Add enough canola oil to coat the skillet, about 2 tablespoons. Add the pastrami and cook, turning a few times, until crisp, 7 to 8 minutes. Remove the pastrami and set aside, leaving any accumulated juices in the skillet.

Place the hamburger balls in the skillet and sear 30 to 40 seconds, then use a strong flat metal spatula to flatten them. Continue to press with the spatula and cook until the burgers develop a crust on the bottom, about 2 minutes or so. Flip and cook to develop a crust on the second side, 1 minute. Use a spoon to baste the burgers with the pastrami fat in the pan.

Top each burger with 2 slices cheese. Pour 1 tablespoon water into the skillet and cover with a lid, and let steam melt the cheese, about 30 seconds. When the burgers have reached the desired point of doneness and the cheese is melted, top each with a pile of crispy pastrami, then set the burgers aside.

Brush the cut sides of the buns lightly with the garlic butter. Toast the buns on a hot griddles until golden and crisp around the edges, 15 to 20 seconds. Flip and lightly toast the outside of the buns, another 15 seconds.

Assemble each burger by layering the bottom half of each bun with caramelized onions, two lettuce leaves and a couple of slices of tomato. Top with Pastrami Burgers and a few pickles as desired.

All American Grilled Hot Dogs
1 small White Onion
8 All-Beef Hot Dogs
8 Hot Dog Buns
Ketchup as desired
Mustard as desired
Hot Dog Relish as desired

Peel and dice onion, set aside until ready to use.

Grill hot dogs over an open flame, turning as needed to blister skins and get nice grill marks. When ready, pull dogs from grill, place is hot dog buns.

Garnish hot dogs as desired with condiments, diced onions and relish. Serve and enjoy.

Funeral Potato Casserole
8 tablespoons Butter, divided
1 (32 oz) bag frozen Shredded Hash Brown Potatoes
1 medium White Onion
2 cups kettle-cooked Potato Chips 
1/4 cup grated Parmesan Cheese
1/4 cup Flour 
1 cup Milk 
2 cups Chicken Stock
Kosher Salt to taste
Fresh Black Pepper to taste
1-1/2 cups grated Monterey Jack cheese 
1 cup Sour Cream 
1/2 cup grated sharp Cheddar Cheese

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with 1 tablespoon of butter. Take the potatoes out of the freezer to begin thawing.

Peel and finely dice the onion, set aside. Place potato chips into a small bowl with Parmesan Cheese. Crush chips, set aside.

Heat a large, deep skillet over medium-high heat. , Melt 6 tablespoons of the butter the skillet once heated. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions start to soften, 3 to 4 minutes. Sprinkle flour over the onions and stir to incorporate. Cook for a minute or 2 to cook out the raw flour without letting mixture color. Whisk in the milk, removing any lumps that may form.

Add chicken stock and whisk again until smooth. Bring the mixture to a simmer, allow it to thicken, about 3 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Remove from heat, stir in the Monterey Jack, sour cream and Cheddar. Add the hash brown potatoes and mix everything together. Transfer the mixture to the prepared baking dish.

Melt the remaining 1 tablespoon butter in a small pan. Pour melted butter over the crusted potato chops. Sprinkle crumbs over the top of the casserole.

Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes, then remove the foil and continue baking until golden brown on top and bubbling around the edges, about 15 minutes more. Let rest for 15 minutes before serving.

In an Instant Cob Corn
4 Ears Corn
1-1/2 cups Water
4 tablespoons Butter
Salt to taste

Cut the ends of the ears, shuck and clean well.

Place the trivet in the Instant Pot, add 1-1/2 cups water (2 cups if 8-quart pot). Stack the ears of corn on the trivet. Close the lid and make sure the valve reseal is closed

Press the Pressure Cook – High – 3 Minutes. Press start. When the cooking cycle is finished, release pressure.

When the valve drops down, open the lid and carefully remove the corn. Slather with butter and sprinkle with salt, and enjoy!

Lemon Lime Poke Cake with Lemon Lime Cream Cheese Frosting
Poke Cake
3 teaspoons Lemon Zest, divided
1 box White Cake Mix
1 cup Water
3 Eggs
1/3 cup Vegetable Oil
1 cup boiling Water
1 box (4-serving size) Lime Gelatin

Heat oven to 350-degrees (325 for dark or nonstick pan). Spray bottom only of 13-by 9-inch pan with cooking spray. Set aside. Zest lemon, reserve 1 teaspoon for the frosting, set aside.

Mix water, eggs and vegetable oil in the bowl of a stand mixer. Add cake mix and 2 teaspoons of lemon peel, blend about 30 seconds to moisten batter, then beat for 2 minutes on medium speed.

Bake cake according to directions on the box. Cool cake in the pan on a cooling rack for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, in small bowl, pour boiling water over gelatin; stir until gelatin is dissolved. Poke cake every inch with handle of wooden spoon. Pour gelatin slowly over cake to fill holes. Cool completely, about 1 hour longer.

While the cake cools, make the frosting.

Lemon Lime Cream Cheese Frosting
1 teaspoon Lime Zest
3 cups Powdered Sugar
1/2 cup Butter
8 oz Cream Cheese
1 teaspoon Vanilla
1/4 cup coarse light Green Sugar Crystals

Zest lime, set aside. Sift powdered sugar, set aside.

In large bowl, beat softened butter and cream cheese with electric mixer on medium speed 2 to 3 minutes, scraping bowl occasionally, until smooth and creamy.

Stir in vanilla, lime zest and reserved teaspoon of lemon zest. Beat in powdered sugar, about 1/2 cup at a time, blend between additions. Add more powdered sugar as needed until frosting is a thick spreadable consistency.

Frost cake with cream cheese frosting. Sprinkle with sugar crystals.

When ready to serve, slice and enjoy.

“Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.”
– John 15:13

Author: Rosemarie's Kitchen

I'm a wife, mother, grandmother and avid home cook.I believe in eating healthy whenever possible, while still managing to indulge in life's pleasures.

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