Memorial Day may still be a few days away, but I’m already dreaming of the weekend. I don’t have any big plans, but most often, this weekend each year is filled with lots of relaxation, bike rides and dog walks, Detroit Tigers baseball, some house/yard work (if I get around to it), and lots of good food (most often including barbecue ribs and homemade ice cream).

In case you’re headed to or hosting a friends or family get-together (or just want some good food to munch on anyway), here’s a roundup of Memorial Day recipe ideas.

Steak-Quinoa Salad with Avocado-Lime Ranch Dressing |

Steak-Quinoa Salad with Avocado-Lime Ranch Dressing – This salad balances my desire to eat steak with the thought that I should really eat a salad. This salad couldn’t be easier, and the recipe includes a method for the most perfect quinoa I’ve ever tasted. The recipe uses a basic marinade that lends a bit of flavor to the meat without overpowering it. I chose to make an avocado-lime ranch dressing for this, but this salad would also be good with a basic balsamic vinaigrette (you could just slice the avocado and include it in the salad, or just omit the avocado altogether). I love all of the different textures in this salad, and it’s a complete meal – you get your vegetables, meat, dairy and grains all in one bowl!

  Gazpacho Chopped Salad - tastes like the classic cold summer soup, but it's an easy-to-make salad! |

Gazpacho Chopped Salad with Bacon-Balsamic Strudel – If it’s anywhere near as hot where you are as it has been here in Michigan the last few days, you’re going to need some cold food (seriously, I’m melting). I love this salad because you can make a big batch of it and eat it all weekend. It gets BETTER the longer it sits in the fridge! The strudel is totally optional, but does require using the oven – so if it’s hot, skip that part and just make the salad.

Appetizing & Wonderful (A & W) ROOT BEER Ribs |

Appetizing & Wonderful (A & W) Root Beer Ribs – I know I just posted this recipe a few days ago, but seriously – when I think of Memorial Day weekend, I think of RIBS. These are sweet and tangy, and fall-off-the-bone tender. The cool thing about this recipe is that people can’t really tell you used root beer – it’s not a flavor you can pick out and identify in the finished product. All they know is that the ribs are amazing, and there’s a secret ingredient.

Pickle Coleslaw - the perfect side dish or sandwich topping, all summer long! |

Pickle Coleslaw – Whether you’re having steak, ribs, or something else, you’re going to need a side dish. I love coleslaw, but mayonnaise-based coleslaw just won’t hold up if you’re going to an outdoor get together in the summer. Try this crunchy and pleasantly sour pickle coleslaw – it’s the best I’ve ever made at home.  I used two kinds of cabbage (although just 1 type would be totally fine), red onion, jalapeño and some bread-and-butter pickles. The coolest thing? The only “dressing” used for this coleslaw is pickle juice.

Guacamole Rice - all of the ingredients from guacamole, smashed into rice for a unique side dish! Serve warm or cold. |

Guacamole Rice –  This isn’t a side dish for just Mexican food – it works just as well with burgers or grilled chicken. I had a crazy idea to just mash guacamole ingredients into rice, and it turned out really awesome. I used white rice here, but it would work equally as well with brown rice, quinoa, Israeli couscous, barley, or any other type of grain you would like to use. The instructions are three short sentences – it’s SO simple. It is also easily doubled or tripled for a large batch to take to a party, and can be served warm, room temperature, or cold.

The perfect summer cupcake! Fresh Strawberry Cupcakes with Swiss Meringue Buttercream. |

Strawberry Cupcakes – Other than ribs, nothing says Memorial Day weekend to me like strawberries. Fresh strawberries, strawberry pie, strawberry ice cream, strawberry cupcakes, strawberry anything else. No surprise here – these are from Martha Stewart’s Cupcakes book. Martha doesn’t have her recipe online, but a copy of it can be found at Brown Eyed Baker. Pink zebra cupcake liners optional.