This Memorial Day, take advantage of the time off, and spend some time at home with family and friends.


For those who wish to hold dinner parties or just cook at home, shops like Ryan’s Downtown Market & Deli on Laurens Street often offer discounts.


Ryan’s is currently preparing for customers to come in all weekend.


“It’s a big weekend for the restaurant,” said Cutter Mitchell, store owner.


He mentioned that customers enjoy the specialty items the store offers, like the jams and cob-smoked bacon, and that the market is the primary spot customers stop by to prep for the long weekend.


“They want to get that special cut of steak,” he said, to give an example.


Ryan’s is a first stop, and steak is one choice.


There are several other options to flavor up your holiday.


Appetizers

Appetizers jump-start the appetite or can even make up a meal.


Ranging from dips to cut fruit, it doesn’t matter how many you set out for your guests. A couple of dips to try are the bear’s picnic veggie dip and the roasted tomatillo salsa.


The veggie dip requires items such as spinach, water chestnuts, vegetable soup mix and sour cream, while the salsa needs diced mango, jalapenos and lime juice.


Wings are often just dipped in sauce and served. But a couple of ideas you might have not have thought of are mixing them with peaches and peach jam to create grilled peach BBQ chicken wings or with cola and soy sauce to make cola hot wings.


Deviled eggs are usually mixed with mayonnaise, mustard or relish. But what about having sweet-sour deviled eggs with sugar or “secret-ingredient stuffed eggs” with pecans, celery and goat cheese?


Other possibilities can include fresh fruit or vegetable trays.


Entrees

Cookouts are a popular go-to for the holiday, and cookouts often involve hot dogs and hamburgers. Popular toppings for hot dogs include chili, condiments and relish, but, some other toppings can be peppers, onion rings or Fritos.


The makeup for these items can alternate from beef to turkey to tofu. But a twist, for hamburgers namely, is mozzarella-stuffed turkey burgers.


Chicken is a Southern favorite. It can be baked or fried, or it can even be made with a lemon zest in the form of crunchy lemonade drumsticks.


Fajitas and seafood can be grilled, too.


Side items round off the meal, and salads are just one of those items. To change things up, try mixing up ingredients such as pasta, broccoli heads and bell pepper in an homemade herb dressing for a broccoli, ham and pasta salad or throwing together food such as red potatoes, corn and lemons for a potato, tomato, corn and basil salad.



Desserts

You have gathered around and eaten up the main attraction. If you have that extra bit of room, there are some patriotic desserts to try.


Bake a cake, and slab some white icing on top. Then place strawberries and blueberries on top for a flag cake.


Put together a cheesecake or cheesecake tart, and sprinkle raspberries and blueberries on top.


Alternate strawberries and blueberries with angel food cake for a patriotic berry trifle or create vanilla ice cream with honey.


For more information on Ryan’s, call 803-226-0634.


For more recipes or to find recipes for these dishes, visit the Food Network, Eating Well and Taste of Home websites.


Stephanie Turner has a hand on all areas of production for the Aiken Standard, where she reports, edits and layout pages. She graduated in July 2012 with a journalism degree from Valdosta State University and lives with her family in Evans, Ga.