Back to the Kitchen: Easy and festive recipes for Labor Day

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Labor Day is the first Monday of September and is a time to acknowledge those in the workforce by having a traditional last blowout of the summer. Since you don’t want to work too hard on this holiday, I’ve got some recipes that are both festive and easy. Many can be prepared in advance so you  can be a guest at your own party!

Norman Rockwell's portrait of honored Labor Day. Rosie the Rivertor on a lunch break — Saturday Evening Post on May 29, 1943.

The long weekend means that you should do your planning and shopping before Saturday, so you can relax and enjoy the holiday. Even the dessert can be easy by baking the shortbread and brownies ahead of time and letting guests assemble their own plate. Make sure to have lots of fresh whipped cream on hand! These easy and delicious recipes and menus will help you make the most of your time off and still feed your family and friends wonderful food! Have a great weekend!

Basic Steps to Grill a Chicken

1. Buy chicken parts or cut up a whole chicken. Remove skin and fat, if desired, then rinse chicken and pat dry with paper towels.

2. Prepare a bed of medium-hot coals in a charcoal grill, or heat a gas grill to medium-hot. Coat the grill rack with oil or nonstick spray for easier cleanup later.

3. Prepare the chicken as per the recipe. Place chicken parts on grill rack.

4. Cook chicken for about 30 to 45

Minutes. Turn chicken every 10 minutes for even cooking.

6. Check for doneness by cutting into the middle of a piece of chicken. The juices should run clear when you cut into the thickest part of the piece.

7. Serve immediately or cool, chill and serve cold. Brush on one of the following amazing sauces!

Slicks BBQ Sauce

3/4 cup white wine vinegar

1/2-cup dark brown sugar

4 Shakes Worchester

4 shakes Tabasco

1 clove garlic minced

1-tablespoon black pepper

1-teaspoon celery salt

1 heaping teaspoon chili powder

4 tablespoons French’s mustard

1 cup Heinz ketchup

Mix all ingredients in an empty and clean 1/2-gallon milk jug. It is best to make a couple of days a head. Shake vigorously at least twice a day.

Joshua Jenkins Maple Garlic Sauce

1 stick butter

2 cups real maple syrup (not a Mrs. Butterworth’s)

½ head garlic

Melt butter in a pan. Pour in syrup. Smash up garlic. Cook over a low flame, in fact I’ll do a double stack on my burner covers and put the flame as low as it can. Let it cook for at least an hour, so the garlic flavor seeps into the syrup. Stirring often to keep things from burning. If the syrup cooks down to much add some room temperature water to keep it from becoming a soft boil candy. Add 1/2 cup at a time, stir or whisk well when you do this to incorporate everything. Spread on your favorite grill item and let the heat do its thing. I’ve used this on everything from Portobello Mushrooms to steaks, lamb, chicken, and even shrimp. It’s all-good. The garlic and butter cut the sweet sugar of the syrup, and you end up with a nice contrast.

Peach Barbeque Sauce

1-pound fresh peaches

3/4 cup chopped sweet onion such as Vidalia

1 jalapeño, chopped

1/4-cup cider vinegar

1/4-cup bourbon

3 tablespoons mild honey

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

1-teaspoon brown sugar

1-teaspoon chili powder

4 cloves garlic, minced

1-teaspoon cinnamon

1-teaspoon black pepper

1/2-teaspoon ground ginger

Puree peaches in a blender. Combine all ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a low boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent burning. Allow cooling and using on chicken, beef.

Rinse the chicken and dry with paper towels. Rub the chicken with the garlic and salt; place in a heavy plastic bag. Combine the remaining ingredients and add to the chicken. Marinate in a cool place for at least one hour or refrigerate for up to two days. Prepare the grill. When the coals are medium hot, drain the chicken and cook over the coals, turning after 10 minutes and basting them frequently with the marinade, for a total of 30 minutes, or until they are golden brown. If the chicken is browning too quickly, move to a cooler part of the grill. Serve hot or at room temperature.

Pesto Planked Salmon

1 18″ cedar plank, soaked in water 2 hours

1 – 2 1/2 to 3lb Salmon Fillet rinsed and patted dry.

1-cup fresh pesto

Juice of one lemon.

Spread pesto on fillet. Sprinkle generously with ground black pepper and lemon juice.

On a hot gas grill or very hot charcoal briquettes heat the plank for 5 minutes each side. Place fish on plank and return to the grill. And cover. Close vents 1/2 way and don’t open for 15 minutes. Check for doneness in middle of fillet…pink and flaky. Serve immediately.


If you are lucky enough to be at an open-air market or a specialty store you can find amazing varieties of fresh basil. Play with all of them!

5 large garlic cloves

1-cup pine nuts (or Walnuts work as well)

5 cups packed fresh basil

1-cup fresh parsley

1 cup fresh Parmigiano, coarsely grated

1 1/2 cup olive oil

In a blender or food processor mix garlic, nuts, basil, parsley and cheese and process

Cucumber, Tomato and Feta Salad

2 large cucumbers – halved lengthwise,

seeded and sliced

1/3 cup red wine vinegar

1-teaspoon salt

3 large tomatoes, seeded and coarsely chopped

2/3 cup coarsely chopped red onion

1/2 cup chopped fresh mint leaves

3 tablespoons olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

In a large bowl, toss together the cucumbers, vinegar, and salt. Let stand at room temperature for an hour, stirring occasionally. Add tomatoes, onion, mint and oil to cucumbers and toss to blend. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Sprinkle feta on top

Grilled Vegetable Salad with Buttermilk Balsamic

1 bunch asparagus

1 zucchini

2 yellow squash

1 eggplant

1 red pepper, seeded

2 ears corn

1 small jicama, chopped

10 cherry tomatoes, halved

1 bunch arugula

1 head romaine

Salt and pepper

Lightly coat asparagus, zucchini, squash, eggplant, pepper and corn with olive oil.. Heat cast iron grill pan over high heat. Grill vegetables until tender. Toss arugula and romaine leaves with jicama and Tomatoes. With buttermilk balsamic dressing e in a bowl. Arrange on platter and top with grilled vegetables. You can top with ground pepper, shaved Parmesan or crumbled goat cheese.

Buttermilk Balsamic Dressing

3 garlic cloves, minced

4 teaspoons Dijon mustard

1-cup well-shaken low-fat buttermilk

1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 cup Balsamic

1-cup olive oil

Whisk together all ingredients until well mixed. Let Stand for one hour.

Minty Roasted Potatoes

I love all of the different types of potatoes! I mix up fingerling, purple white and even sweet and yams!

16 New Potatoes

1/2 cup Olive Oil

Kosher salt, to taste

Freshly ground black pepper

8 garlic cloves finely chopped

1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh mint leaves

Pre-heat oven to 350

Prick the potatoes with the tines of a fork and arrange them on a baking sheet. Bake for 1 1/2 hours. Cut the potatoes into quarters and place them in a serving bowl. While they are still hot, toss them with the oil, salt, pepper and garlic. Gently toss in the mint. This twist on a potato salad can be served warm or at room temperature.

Mixed Berry Short Cake

2 cups flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

3 tablespoons sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 stick butter. cut into tiny pieces

3/4 cup heavy cream

1quart fresh berries

1/4 cup sugar

splash orange juice

Fresh whipped cream

Spray a cookie sheet with bakers joy. Pre heat oven to 450. In a bowl whisk together flour, baking powder salt and sugar. Cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Lightly stir in cream until the dough is just blended. Drop 12 3-inch (or smaller if doing minis) rounds of batter from a spoon Bake for about 12 minutes until golden. Meanwhile, in a large bowl gently e mix berries, sugar and orange juice. When ready to serve whip the cream. Split biscuits in half lengthwise. Cover with berries and fresh cream. Serve immediately.


1 and 1/2 sticks butter

1 1/4 cups sugar

1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (natural or Dutch-process)

1/4-teaspoon salt

1/2-teaspoon vanilla

2 eggs

1/2-cup flour

2/3 cup walnut or pecan pieces

3/4-cup mini chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 325°F. Spray an 8 inch pan with Bakers Joy.

Combine the butter, sugar, cocoa, and salt in a medium heatproof bowl and set the bowl in a wide skillet of barely simmering water. Stir from time to time until the butter is melted and the mixture is smooth and hot. Remove the bowl from the skillet and set aside briefly until the mixture is only warm, not hot. Stir in the vanilla with a wooden spoon. Add the eggs one at a time, stirring vigorously after each one. When the batter looks thick, shiny, and well blended, add the flour and beat vigorously for one minute with the wooden spoon. Stir in the nuts and chocolate chips. Spread evenly in the pan. Bake until a toothpick plunged into the center emerges slightly moist with batter, 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool completely on a rack. Move to a cutting board. Cut into 16 or 25 squares.

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About Karen Young

Karen Young is the founder of My Daily Find.

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