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  • Writer's pictureM. Mabie

3 Romance Inspired Recipes Perfect for Memorial Day Barbecues

I don't know about you, but I love when I'm reading a novel and stumble across a food or beverage that is perfect for the scene. It adds to the authenticity and setting for me—a self-proclaimed foodie with hundreds of recipes pinned to endless boards on Pinterest. Plus, there have been many times when a personal favorite food or drink has snuck its way into one of my novels. More than that really. Did I mention I love food?

As I skimmed my books, I found many, many references to food. Maybe I have a problem. Lol Regardless, here are three recipes for food or drinks that I found mentioned within my stories. What's even cooler is they're all excellent for a Memorial Day barbecue. An appetizer-style cocktail. The perfect pork chop. And a yummy pasta salad.

Let's do this.

Rhett's Favorite Bloody Mary... Chapin Carpenter

Now we all know how much I love beer. If you follow me on social media, it's no secret that I'm a beer girl. It's my go-to drink when I'm socializing with friends and family.

However, sometimes I like to mix things up. One of my all-time favorite mixed drinks is a big ol' Bloody Mary. Honestly, I think it's because of the crudité and add-ons. This girl likes some veggies, and this drink not only packs a saucy punch, but also a lunch. Hahaha. That makes it perfect for an afternoon cocktail starter.

Please be advised, I use a BIG glass and a lot of ice, and that's how this drink starts for me.

Combine into your ice:

1 1/2 oz —your favorite Vodka. I like New Amsterdam or Titos

2 oz —dill pick juice

1 or 2 big splashes —Worcestershire sauce

2 dashes —celery seed or salt

Fill the remaining room in the glass with your favorite Bloody Mary mix. We like Zing-Zang best.

Pour back and forth into an extra glass to mix well.

If you're hosting, it's likely that everyone will want to make and doctor their drinks to their specific tastes. In my experience, everyone likes something different when it comes to this drink and that is perfectly fine. I'd suggest creating a Bloody Mary Bar, allowing them to make their own. Provide mix, vodka, condiments, spices, pickle juice, clam juice (which I don't love, but many do) and ice.

These are some of the items I usually serve with mine. When hosting, provide skewers for these fun garnishes.

Olives, black and green



Pickle Spears and sweet gherkins

Cocktail shrimp

Various cheese cubes

Green onions


Lemon wedges

That's the fun part about this drink. And each can be tailored to everyone there, plus it almost counts as an appetizer!

Aaron's Perfectly Grilled Pork Chops

This works with any cut of pork chop or pork steak, but our favorite is the 3/4" thick bone-in porterhouse cut pork chop. Feel free to use whatever you like best. Also note, in Smoke and Mirrors, Aaron uses a gas grill, but grilling them over charcoal adds even more flavor. Cook times will vary depending on your grill.

In a 1 gallon plastic bag:

4 - 6— 3/4" porterhouse porkchops

Combine in a bowl:

1— a bottle of your favorite beer (Aaron use's Miller High Life, but we often use a dark beer like Shinerbock.)

3 tbsp— Soy sauce

2 tbsp— Worcestershire sauce

1 tbsp—Steak Sauce

1/2 tbsp—garlic powder

1/2 tbsp—onion powder

1/2 tbsp—pepper

Mix it up. (Also, make sure you don't use garlic salt because, um, soy sauce. Also, adjust any of those to taste. This is just what we like.)

Pour contents into the plastic bag with your pork chops. Close securely, otherwise you'll have a nice mess to clean up in your refrigerator. No fun. Give them a good smoosh around.

We like to have them marinate in the fridge over night, but even an hour or two can make a big difference.


Get your grill hot. We wait until ours is around 350-400 degrees. Throw those babies on there. Don't poke them. We want all that juice. Flip when you want. Danny and I have different flipping-philosophy, as I'm sure you do too. You do you.

According to it is recommended that you cook your pork chops until they have an internal temperature of 145 degrees, measured with a reliable meat thermometer. (We do this.)


When your porkchops are finished, place them in a dish or on a plate and cover with tinfoil and allow them to rest for 3-5 minutes. This makes them juicy AF!

Blake's Caprese Pasta Salad

As with the pork chops, you do you. Substitute anything you want. Shit. You're the one eating it. With cold pasta recipes like this, I prefer using the spiral or cork-screw pasta because I'm convinced it holds the dressing best. Also, I think they're cute.

Admittedly, I'm really bad at making too much food, and I use a whole box of pasta. So you may want to scale this back if you're only making enough for a few people.

This is an easy recipe, and I'm not a chef. I'm sure if Blake from my Wake series were making it, it would be much more fancy. So… yeah. Lol But since it can tolerate being room temperature for longer than a creamy pasta salad, it's great for barbecues.

Cook a full box of pasta of your choice, which should be about 4 cups, uncooked. Don't overcook, al dente is best. Drain and let it cool completely.

While your pasta is cookin, you got some other stuff to do.

1 container (10.5 oz) —Cherry Tomatoes, red or yellow You can use any tomatoes you like, but these are good because they stay together the best. Cut these in half and set aside. It'll make a little over 2 cups-ish.

16 oz —FRESH mozzarella cheese. I like the mozzarella pearls because they are already a great size, but if you get a solid piece then cube them up to about the same size as the halved cherry tomatoes. I like it when everything is the same size.

2/3 cup—Balsamic Vinaigrette salad dressing. We like Newman's Own, but any will work. I think it's easier and more flavorful to use prepared dressing in the case, but you can find many great dressing recipes online if you'd like to make your own.

1/2 cup— finely cut fresh Basil. If you like more basil, you can use a full cup. I prefer cutting finely because then it spreads out and you don't get a mouthful of basil. But, again, you do you.


Cold pasta, then the dressing. Stir. Add in the cheese, tomatoes, and basil. Stir again. Salt and pepper to taste.


You can also add halved black olives or chopped red onion, if you like.

Additionally, I've seen a recipe similar to this one that called for roasting the tomatoes for 15-20 minutes, and then letting them cool before combining with the rest of the ingredients. I think I'll try that sometime.

I hope you try these recipes and make them your own. Most importantly, I hope you celebrate Memorial Day with those you love and pay tribute to the brave men and women who have given their lives for our freedom and for liberty around the world. To any service men or women reading this, from me and my family, thank you.

*Disclaimer: I'M NOT A CHEF OR A COOK OR ANYTHING EVEN CLOSE. These recipes are just a few things I've whipped up and coincidentally have used or mentioned in my books. Cook and try at your own risk. lol and BE CAREFUL!

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