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Monday, September 3, 2012

Labor Day Party Food Ideas

Happy Labor Day! Today marks the winding down of outdoor parties, beach days and driving with the windows down. I adore summer and am always sad to see it go, but this unofficial end of summer does bring plenty of opportunities to get outside and really enjoy the gorgeous weather before winter rolls in.

If you’re planning to attend a Labor Day barbeque, check out these great ideas for appetizers and dessert. I’m not going to pretend to know anything about grilling, but dessert and appetizers I do know! Here are some of my favorites that are pretty quick to whip up:

Homemade Chips and Fruit Salsa
This takes a bit of prep time, but it’s delicious, totally worth and really easy to do.

Start by picking four or five different fruits. My favorite combination for this recipe is pineapple, blueberries, strawberries, mango and kiwi. Dice the fruits into small pieces and combine them in a bowl. Before adding the really juicy fruits, like pineapple, you may want to press a paper towel on them before mixing otherwise the juice from that one fruit can dominate. Squeeze either some lemon or orange over the top, add a bit of sugar and fold everything together. Cover and refrigerate.

In a small mixing bowl, combine ½ cup white sugar and a tablespoon of cinnamon. You’ll have to eyeball this a bit – if you are a fan of cinnamon, you can add more. Set this aside. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Open a package of 7-inch flour tortillas. Lay one on a cutting board. In a small mixing bowl, melt a few tablespoons of butter so that it is a completely liquid consistency. As soon as you’ve heated the butter, dip a basting brush into the butter and brush it over one side of the tortilla. Immediately take a few pinches of the sugar/cinnamon and sprinkle it over the butter. Make sure you spread it evenly over the tortilla. Using a pizza cutter, cut the tortilla so that you’ve made eight triangular pieces. Immediately transfer these to a baking sheet. Repeat this process until you’ve made enough triangles to fill one baking sheet. When you’ve done that, bake the tortillas for about seven minutes. You’ll need to watch – you are looking for the chips to be light golden brown. Try to do this process quickly and make all the chips you need – the chips are much better when they are a few minutes out of the oven.

Bruschetta couldn’t be simpler to put together and it’s something that usually impresses. 

Bruschetta with Tomato and Basil

Dice several Roma tomatoes and make sure to remove the seeds. Mince some garlic and basil and mix it in with the tomatoes. Add a little salt, pepper and balsamic vinegar to taste. Refrigerate the mixture for at least one hour. When you are ready to serve, slice some store-bought French bread diagonally so each piece is approximately ¾ inch thick. Lay the slices on a baking sheet and scoop some of the tomato mixture on top of each slice. You could go one step further and add some Parmesan cheese or shredded mozzarella on top. Bake in the oven at 350 degrees until the bread crisps and/or the cheese on top melts. Another option is just to crisp up the bread in the oven and scoop the tomato mixture on afterward.


There are plenty of recipes out there for cupcakes and lots of store-bought mix options, so I’ll just share one quick tip on making the cupcakes for your party a little healthier. If you go with a store-bought mix, instead of adding the oil, eggs, water and any other wet ingredients the mix calls for, just add one can of pumpkin. I know how strange this sounds, but trust me. Once you mix that in, bake as directed. The cupcakes won’t come out as smooth on top, but they’ll be a little better for you! 

Have a happy and fun-filled Labor Day! 

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