Back to the Kitchen: Honoring Labor Day with Home Cooking

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Observed on the first Monday in September, Labor Day pays tribute to the contributions and achievements of American workers. It was created by the labor movement in the late 19th century and became a federal holiday in 1894. Labor Day also symbolizes the end of summer for many Americans, and is celebrated with BBQ parties, parades and athletic events.

Being that I am a chef, I usually labor on Labor Day, but I am so lucky to love what I get to do every day! Honor all of your hard work with these simple yet delicious rib, burger and chicken treats! Have an awesome last weekend of summer celebration!

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

Asian Ribs

1 1⁄4 cups light brown sugar

1 cup soy sauce

1 tablespoon sesame oil

1⁄2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

4 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 inch ginger, finely chopped

3 pounds baby back ribs

3 scallions, thinly sliced

Whisk together brown sugar, soy sauce, sesame oil, red pepper flakes, garlic, ginger, and 1/4-cup water in a large bowl. Add the ribs and toss to coat. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let marinate for at least 1 hour at room temperature, or refrigerate overnight, turning occasionally to coat. Heat oven to 450°. Remove ribs from marinade and arrange, curved side up, on a rack set over a rimmed foil-lined baking sheet. Roast for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, heat the marinade in a 2-qt. saucepan over medium-high heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until thick and syrupy, about 20 minutes. Using tongs, flip ribs and cook, basting frequently with the reduced marinade, until the ribs are browned, glazed, and tender, 15–20 minutes. Transfer ribs to a platter and garnish with scallions.

Fall Off the Bone Baby Backs with Slicks Sauce

3 slabs pork loin back ribs

Salt and Pepper

4 lemons, sliced

Slicks Sauce (or other good quality BBQ Sauce)

Cut the ribs between the bones and place in a roasting dish. Salt and pepper them generously. Place n the oven and cook ribs at 225 for 4 hours, stirring occasionally. Toss with the sauce and place lemon slices over the top then increase the temp to 325 and cook an additional hour until they fall off the bone!

Slicks BBQ Sauce

3/4 cup white wine vinegar

1/2-cup dark brown sugar

1 shake 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. Brush over grilled chicken, fish, steak or veggies. Anything you would use a traditional BBQ sauce.

Spicy Black Bean Burger Patties

2 15-ounce cans black beans, rinsed and drained

2 teaspoon, olive oil

Juice and zest of half a lemon

1 tablespoon fresh cilantro, chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 onion, minced

2 teaspoon old bay seasoning

½ teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/4-cup breadcrumbs

Salt and pepper, to taste

Dash hot sauce, to taste

In a food processor or blender, process the all ingredients until smooth. Or, mash together with a large fork or potato masher until beans are well mashed. Refrigerate mixture for at least 2 hours or overnight. Fire up the grill and barbecue your black bean veggie burger patties. Serve over lettuce.

Turkey Burger

2-pounds ground turkey

4 scallions, thinly chopped

1cup-dried cranberries, finely chopped

4 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 inch ginger, finely chopped

1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper

Splash soy sauce

8 burger buns or rolls

2 cups Asian lettuce mix

In a medium bowl mix the turkey, scallions, cranberries, garlic. Ginger, red pepper and soy sauce. Divide into 4 patties. Over medium coals place on BBQ (or skillet or stovetop grill) cover and cook for 10 minutes and flip and cook 5-10 minutes longer. Serve on a bun with 1/4-cup Asian lettuce, Chinese style mustard and wasabi mustard. (In a small bowl whisk together 1/4-cup Chinese mustard and 1 tablespoon wasabi paste.)

Salmon Burgers with Ginger Lime Aioli

Juice and zest of 1 lime

1 teaspoon Asian hot chili sauce

2 1/2 pounds skinless salmon fillets, chopped finely

4 scallions, thinly sliced

5 tablespoons chopped fresh mint leaves

1-cup fresh breadcrumbs

2 eggs

2 tablespoons of reserved aioli

Splash soy sauce

Fresh mint leaves

8 sesame buns, split and toasted

1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and very thinly sliced

Combine 2 tablespoons of reserved aioli with egg, limejuice, zest and chili sauce; whisk to blend well. Add salmon, onion, mint, breadcrumbs and soy sauce. Handling salmon as little as possible to avoid compacting it mix well and form 8 patties. Brush grill rack with vegetable oil. Place patties on rack; cook about 3 minutes on each side. Top each bun bottom with cucumber strips, mint leaves, burger and aioli. Add bun tops and serve.

Ginger-Lime Aioli

1-cup mayonnaise

4 tablespoons sour cream

5 cloves garlic, minced

4 teaspoons ginger, minced

Juice and zest of 1 lime

Pinch Kosher salt

Combine aioli ingredients; mix well. Reserve 2 tablespoons for patties; cover and refrigerate remainder until serving.

Lentil Burgers with Ajvar

1 cup dry lentils

2 1/2 cups water

1 bay leaf

1 small red onion, finely diced

2 carrots, grated

2 celery stalks, diced

Garlic to taste (I like lots)

1-bunch scallions

1-teaspoon kosher salt

2-teaspoon black pepper

2-teaspoon cayenne pepper

2-teaspoon red pepper flakes

4 tablespoons olive oil

Juice of 1 lemon

1 1/2 cups rolled or steel oats

8 whole grain buns

In a medium saucepan simmer the lentils in water with the bay leaf until the lentil skins split easily, about 45 minutes. Meanwhile in a heavy saucepan heat up olive oil. When hot add the onions and garlic. Sautee for 3 minutes and add the rest of the vegetables and cook until tender. Add spices and let cool for 10 minutes. Process the oats in a blender or food processor until finely ground. Combine the vegetables with the lentils. Add lemon juice and oats. Shape the mixture into 8 patties. You can bake in a 400-degree oven for 15 minutes or grill over medium heat for 8 minutes per side. Serve on a whole-wheat bun with a generous spoonful of ajvar.


2 eggplants

6 red bell peppers

3 cloves garlic

Juice of one lemon

1/2-cup olive oil,

Parsley for garnish

Preheat oven to 350. Bake eggplants and peppers until tender when pierced with a fork. Peel skin from hot vegetables and place in a food processor.

Season to taste with salt and pepper and add the garlic and lemon juice. And olive oil and pulse. You want it to be pureed, but coarsely. Chill or serve warm sprinkled with parsley!

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.

5. 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.

6. Serve immediately or cool, chill and serve cold.

Grilled Key Lime Chicken With Black Bean Sauce

3 pounds chicken breasts, skinless, boneless

1-cup key limejuice

1-tablespoon honey

3/4-cup water

1/2-teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

1 bunch cilantro

2-tablespoon olive oil

1inch ginger, peeled and minced

2 cloves garlic, minced

Combine all ingredients except chicken in blender or food processor. Process until combined well. Pour over chicken. Cover and let marinate in the refrigerator overnight. Grill over hot coals, turning once, until done. Garnish with cilantro and lime slices.

Black Bean Sauce Ingredients:

1 (15 oz.) can black beans, drained, rinsed

1 quart chicken stock

4 cloves garlic minced

One bunch of cilantro, chopped

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Pinch cayenne pepper

Prepare Black Bean Sauce while chicken is marinating. Place beans in a large saucepan or soup pan, and add all remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil, and then reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, for about 1 1/2 hours.

Grilled Ginger Chicken

5 pounds chicken legs

2 cloves garlic, minced

1-teaspoon salt

Juice of 3 oranges

4 tablespoons Dijon Mustard

2 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1-tablespoon brown sugar

1-1/2 inch ginger, peeled and minced

1/4-cup canola oil

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.

Basil Grilled Chicken

4 chicken breast halves

1/3-cup butter melted

1/4 cup fresh basil — chopped

1-tablespoon Parmesan cheese — grated

3 cloves garlic

Pinch Salt and pepper

Basil; sprigs for garnish

Sprinkle salt and pepper onto meaty sides of chicken breast halves. Combine softened butter, the basil, Parmesan cheese, and garlic. Brush on chicken. Grill chicken over med coals 8 – 10 min on each side, basting frequently w/ marinade.

Caribbean Chicken with Avocado Relish

5 pounds chicken
(12 small pieces or 6 large

3 cloves garlic, minced

Juice of 3 oranges

1 cup peanut oil

1 7-ounce can chipotle peppers in
 Adobo sauce

1-cup cilantro leaves

Peel the garlic and put in food processor work bowl. Squeeze in 1 cup orange juice and remaining marinade ingredients; process until pureed; transfer to a Heavy Bag rinse chicken, pat dry and add to marinade insuring chicken is covered completely; cover and refrigerate 12 hours or up to 2 days. Remove chicken from marinade and let drain; grill turning once during cooking until juices run clear when chicken is pierced with a skewer, about ten minutes. Transfer chicken to serving plate; spoon 1/4 cup relish along side chicken.

Avocado Relish

1large tomato, diced

2 avocados; peeled, pitted and diced

1 red onion- diced

2 cloves garlic – minced

3 scallions – thinly sliced

1 jalapeno seeded and minced

1 lime

1 orange

1/2 bunch cilantro, minced

Splash red-pepper sauce

Splash Worcestershire sauce

Salt & freshly ground black
 pepper to taste

Put tomato and avocado in medium bowl; squeeze lime and 2 orange juices; add remaining ingredients; mix well and set aside.
(May be covered and refrigerated up to 2 hours)

Grilled Chicken, Plantain and Pineapple Skewers

8 chicken breasts, boneless and skinless, cut into 1 1/2 inch chunks

1/2 pineapple, peeled, cored and cut into 1 1/2 inch chunks

2 plantains, ripe, peeled and cut into 1 1/2 inch chunks

1/2-cup pineapple juice

1/2-cup limejuice

2 tablespoons chopped oregano

2 garlic cloves, minced

1/2-cup canola oil

Pineapple Dipping Sauce (recipe follows)

On eight 10-inch skewers, thread chicken, pineapple and plantains, alternating ingredients. Set skewers on a tray with sides or in a glass-baking dish. In small bowl, stir together pineapple juice, limejuice, oregano and garlic cloves. Pour pineapple juice mixture over skewers, turning to coat all sides thoroughly. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, and up to 24 hours, turning skewers occasionally. Before cooking chicken, prepare pineapple sauce. Prepare grill. When coals are hot, lift skewers out of marinade and brush lightly with canola oil. Grill over medium-hot coals for about 20 minutes, turning often. Stir remaining marinade into sauce. Boil sauce over hot stove, stirring often, for 4 minutes. Serve skewers hot, passing Pineapple Dipping Sauce separately.

Pineapple Dipping Sauce

In medium bowl, stir together 2 teaspoons vegetable oil; 1 large onion, minced; 1 (10-ounce) jar of pineapple fruit spread and remaining marinade. Boil as instructed before serving.

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About Karen Young

Karen Young is the founder of My Daily Find.

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