Za'atar Potatoes,

Seems like Memorial Day has always, always been a getaway time for me. That getaway being, always, Up North in Michigan. It’s the kick-off, with complete excitement, for all that is summer in Michigan. If you live here, or you’ve been here, no further explanation is needed.

But if you came to northern Michigan just for that kick-off weekend at the end of May and not again in summer, you would indeed need further explanation. A lot of it. Because Michigan does not care one bit that its citizens are ready for full-on barbeque/boating/sunning/anything-to-do-with-outside at this point in the year. She, our Great Lakes State, is still waking from her hibernation, and she won’t be rushed.

Avocado Tomato Salad with Feta,

Quinoa Tabbouleh,

That means, in short, that Memorial Day in these parts is often—and I’ll go ahead and say it: typically—rainy. Cloudy. And to add insult to injury…bone-chilling cold. We’ve tried to ignore it over the years and go ahead and take the freshly launched boat out for a cruise in the bay, bundled as though for winter, with Gurney’s sandwiches in tow. But we don’t last so long.

There were plenty of years when my dad, dejected by damp and chill, would alert my mom that we’d be leaving in 30 minutes (she high-tailed it to clear out the fridge), pile the five kids back in the station wagon and head back downstate where at least we could scatter to the winds in the basement or friends’ houses.

Lamb Kofta Burgers,

Strawberry Rose Cheesecake,

This year, the weekend won’t have much to do with getaway for me. The road’s been well-traveled lately with stops to share fresh and classic Lebanese cuisine, and often, the story of how a girl goes from a 9-to-5 desk to cooking school to blog to book (it’s a you-can-do-it-too mantra).

Instead, I’m kicking my feet up in the best way I know: by pulling out my favorite recipes and heading to the kitchen and the grill, because come rain or shine, there’s just no better way to relax and look forward to the summer ahead.

Recipes to relax with this Memorial Day Weekend

Roasted Red Bell Pepper Dip with pita chips and veggies

Tomato Cucumber Salad with Avocado and Feta

Quinoa Tabbouleh

Za’atar Roasted Potatoes

Lamb Kofta Burgers

Strawberry-Rose Cheesecake, with Labneh

And just because: Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies
(Make an ice cream sandwich out of them . . . and swoon)

P.S. I’ll be back in Chicagoland on JUNE 7th! Join me at Printer’s Row Book Fest at 4 p.m., and for a cooking demo at Marcel’s in Glen Ellyn at noon (to reserve, click here).

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