As I write this column on yet another cold, rainy day, I can’t help but wonder what weather is in store for Memorial Day weekend. Will it be warm enough to grill or should I serve yet another oven meal?

I decided on foil packets because these lovely pouches full of deliciousness can be cooked inside or out at a moment’s notice, so there’s no need to worry; a holiday dinner will happen. Just chop and wrap all the fixings ahead of time and play the rest of the weekend by ear.

I’ve included a recipe for steak and potatoes, but consider the number of ingredients you can combine in hundreds of different ways to create your own signature foil packet recipes. You can have them on repeat throughout the year using your backyard grill, wilderness campfire, and yes, even the oven.

When filling those packets use a double layer of 18-by-12-inch foil for each serving and apply cooking spray before placing the food in the middle. Be sure the packets are tightly sealed, but allow space for heat circulation and expansion.

Also take extra care when turning the packets with a long-handled spatula. I use a gas grill with the temperature set to about 400 degrees, but these can be set right into white-hot coals. Just turn them more often and adjust your cooking time. You’ll want to be very mindful of escaping steam when opening your cooked packets, too.

To go alongside, this simple salad is crispy, crunchy and a real crowd pleaser. (Did you know Olive Garden restaurant salad dressing can be found at Hannaford and Walmart?)

No matter what, because this weekend is the gateway to summer, we must have s’mores, even if we have to cobble some together for the oven. I know you’ll miss the taste and texture of the blackened marshmallows and/or ash, but (fingers crossed) by the Fourth of July you will have had that experience. For now, here’s hoping for at least a dollop of sun this weekend.

Steak with Potatoes & Carrots

2 lbs. boneless ribeye steak, trimmed of fat and cut into 3-inch cubes

1 lb. potatoes, cut into 1-inch pieces

1 lb. tiny baby carrots

4 tbsps. melted butter

1 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

4 garlic cloves, minced

1/3 cup onion, chopped

1 tsp. parsley

1 tsp. thyme

In a large bowl, combine steak and potatoes with butter, salt and pepper, garlic, and seasonings. Divide steak, potatoes and carrots between four foil squares and seal. Grill over medium heat for about 7-8 minutes on each side or until steak and potatoes are cooked through.

To bake in the oven, place packets on baking sheet and bake at 425 degrees for 20 minutes until steak is cooked through to desired doneness. Open the packets and set under the broiler towards the end of the cooking time if you want to brown up the ingredients a bit more. Yield: 4 servings

Italian Tossed Salad

1 large head romaine, torn

1/2 cup red onion, thinly sliced

1 cup black olives, sliced

1 cup jarred pepperoncini, sliced

1 cup cherry tomatoes, cut in half

1 tsp. oregano

Grated Parmesan cheese

Olive Garden brand salad dressing

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and toss. Yield: 4 servings

S’More Brownies

2 cups chocolate chips

1 cup butter

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 1/2 cups sugar

4 large eggs, room temperature, lightly beaten

2 tsp. vanilla

2 1/2 cups flour


2 cups graham cracker crumbs

1/4 cup sugar

6 Tbsp. butter, melted

8 oz. Marshmallow Fluff

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9×9-inch baking pan with foil, ensuring that edges of foil hang over sides of pan so it’s easier to take the brownies out when they are done cooling. Spray foil with cooking spray.

Combine crust ingredients in a bowl with a fork. Press mixture into the lined pan. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove from oven to wire rack.

Melt chocolate chips and butter in a double boiler over medium heat until smooth. This can also be melted in the microwave in 20-second intervals, stirring until smooth. Cool for 5-7 minutes.

Add brown sugar, sugar, eggs and vanilla, mixing until smooth. Carefully fold in flour. Do not over-mix. Spoon mixture on crust. Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes. Remove from oven and place on wire rack to cool slightly.

Microwave Fluff for a few seconds to make it easier to spread over brownies while they are still slightly warm.

Place brownies under broiler for one minute or until lightly browned, watching carefully. Allow the brownies to cool for an hour before lifting from pan and cutting into squares. Yield: 9 servings

Karen Schneider cooks and writes in the village of Cundy’s Harbor. You can reach her at [email protected]

Steak with Potatoes & Carrots helps to free up your Memorial Day weekend.

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