Saturday, September 5, 2015

My Favorite Dishes for a Delicious Labor Day! #LaborDay2015 #SummerEats

Can you believe that it's already September? I hope you're enjoying a well-deserved three-day weekend to celebrate Labor Day! We've had a very busy Summer...and our Fall/Holiday calendar is quickly filling up. We're going to spend this long weekend chilling at home. We'll mix in a movie and a dinner out, but our plan is to mostly relax and enjoy three mornings without the early sound of the alarm clock to interrupt our sleep! Like most food lovers, I'll be cooking for Labor Day. My menu includes grilled salmon and end-of-season corn on the cob. If you're looking for ideas for your Labor Day menu, here's some of my favorite warm-weather food that's perfect for entertaining. I'm sharing my favorite appetizer, cocktail, main dish, and dessert ideas with you! 

Appetizer: Tequila-Shrimp Confetti Guacamole: I kicked off Summer with this fun and flavorful appetizer in May, so it's only fitting that I end Summer with it as well! This adults-only guacamole has so much going for it: it's full of fun flavors, it's easily doubled to feed a crowd, and it looks gorgeous layered in a large margarita glass. It's perfect for those who love guacamole and shrimp cocktail -- now you can have both flavors in one great dip! You can omit the tequila if you prefer -- but it really adds a nice background flavor to all three layers. Simply add some sturdy tortilla chips and a festive cocktail, and your Labor Day festivities will be off to a great start. Margaritas are a natural pairing for this appetizer, but sangria works great too.
Cocktail: Wild Watermelon Sangria: Sangria is my favorite cocktail to make when entertaining a group. It's a party in a pitcher, and it's so versatile! Chop up some fruit -- add it to a pitcher, the add some fruit juice and wine. Best of all, it can be made ahead...and guests can serve themselves. This Wild Watermelon Sangria packs a sour watermelon flavor thanks to my secret ingredient: a simple syrup made with watermelon hard candies. Everyone goes wild for this sangria, so you may want to make a double batch if you have more than 4-5 guests at your celebration. 
My favorite hint to keep your sangria chilled if the weather outside is hot? I like to freeze my chopped fruit before adding to the bottom of my pitcher. It keeps the sangria chilled without diluting it with melted ice.

Entree: Cabernet-Shallot Mushroom Cheeseburger. Every Summer party needs a great burger, and this one is amazing! This Cabernet-Shallot Mushroom Cheeseburger is bursting with flavor. Red wine flavors both the mushrooms and the burger patties, and the foccacia buns are slathered with a garlic-herb compound butter before being toasted. To take these burgers outdoors, simply prepare the shallot-red wine reduction and sauteed mushrooms at home -- you can even do it the day before and store in the fridge. Then, grill the burgers outside and assemble. This is one of the best burgers I've ever created, so do yourself a favor and make this one soon! 
Dessert: Too-Good-to-Be-Lowfat Chocolate Eclair Icebox Dessert. Every time I make this make-ahead dessert, it gets rave reviews...and no one ever believes it's low in fat to boot! This icebox version of eclair pastries is perfect for parties, because it needs to be made the day before so the graham crackers can soften as it rests in the fridge. That means less work for YOU on party day! This dessert features layers of graham crackers that are softened by a creamy vanilla layer -- and it's topped with an easy homemade ganache. To make it special for a holiday celebration, it's nice to add a bowl of sliced organic strawberries on the side so guests can spoon some on top of their slice if they want -- it adds a nice pop of color and flavor!
There you have picks for the best dishes to celebrate Labor Day on Monday! I hope you'll give them a try and share the love with your family and friends. I'd also love to know what's on your Labor Day menu for this year...leave me a comment below to share your menu with me. 

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