Labor Day Summer’s End

Before it was a Federal Holiday, Labor Day was celebrated by individual states throughout America. While New York was the first state to introduce a bill for the establishment of Labor Day, it was not the first to pass such legislation.

On February 21, 1887 Oregon became the first to pass a law recognizing Labor Day. That same year, four more states, Colorado, Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York, passed laws of their own creating a Labor Day Holiday. By the beginning of 1894, 23 more states had adopted the holiday. And so it was that on June 28, 1894, Congress passed an act of its own declaring the first Monday in September to be a legal holiday.

There is some dispute as to who first came up with the idea of Labor Day. There are records crediting Peter J. McGuire, general secretary of the Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners and a co-founder of the American Federation of Labor as the founder of Labor Day. McGuire had suggested setting aside a day for “a general holiday for the laboring classes” to honor those “who from rude nature have delved and carved all the grandeur we behold.” His place does not go without challenge. There are those that believe Matthew Maguire founded the holiday.

Mr. Maguire, secretary of Local 344 of the International Association of Machinists in Paterson, New Jersey, had proposed the holiday in 1882, while then serving as secretary of the Central Labor Union in New York. It seems a legitimate claim since New York was the first state to draft such a law.

The outlines first proposed to observe Labor Day called for a street parade to exhibit “the strength and esprit de corps of the trade and labor organizations” of the community, followed by a festival for the recreation and amusement of the workers and their families. Unlike the Labor Day celebrations of today, Labor Day of the past was a community event. Cooks volunteers to grill up a spread for the whole town, and people stood in line to participate in a community meal. Such celebrations gave people a sense of belonging and pride.

It wasn’t until later that speeches of prominent people with an emphasis place upon economic and civic significance was woven into the observations of the day. And after the politicians came the big sales campaigns. Malls and department stores all across the country promote Labor Day Specials.

This year for Labor Day I thought we’d enjoy all the traditional flair, only better – elevated to the next level to create a memorable celebration. Burger? Check, only this time with a blend of Buffalo Meat for good measure. Watermelon? Why not, but as a Caprese Appetizer. Barbecued Chicken? You bet, with a Smokey Orange Sauce. You get the idea. Whatever your traditions might be, try a new twist on an old favorite. Above all else remember to have fun!

Labor Day Farewell to Summer
Appetizers –
Watermelon Caprese Skewers
All-American Deviled Eggs

From the Grill –
All-American Buffalo Beef Sliders
Beer Bratwursts
Spice Rubbed Chicken with Smokey Orange Sauce

On the Side –
Layered Bacon Potato Salad
Instant Pot Corn on the Cob

For Dessert –
Pineapple Upside-Down Cupcakes
Childhood Memories Strawberry Pie

Watermelon Caprese Appetizers
Handful large Basil Leaves
1 (8 oz) package fresh Mozzarella Balls
1 small Watermelon
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
Pinch Kosher Salt
Fresh Black Pepper to taste

Remove stems from basil. Trim leaves into small circles about 1 inch in diameter. Set aside.

Cut Mozzarella Balls into small pieces, set aside.

Cut watermelon in half, remove the fruit from the rind with a melon baller.

Thread watermelon, a basil leaf and mozzarella cheese on cocktail skewers. Arrange on a serving plate.

Drizzle olive oil and balsamic vinegar over skewers. Sprinkle salt and black pepper on top.

All-American Deviled Eggs
Deviled Eggs
14 Hard Boiled Eggs
3/4 cup Mayonnaise
2 teaspoons Mustard (any kind you like)
2 Tablespoons Red Wine Vinegar
Onion Powder to taste
Salt to taste
Black Pepper to taste

Tip: Boil 2 eggs more than required to fill serving tray. The extra eggs give more yolk filling, the extra whites allow for tasting and adjusting seasonings if necessary.

To Boil eggs, place eggs in a pan and cover with cold water. Bring to a full boil. Remove from heat, cover and let rest for 12-14 minutes. Drain, then plunge eggs into ice-cold water to cease the cooking process. The results will be a perfectly cooked egg with a sunny yellow yolk.

Tips for Peeling Hard-Boiled Eggs: Once eggs are cool enough to handle, roll gently on counter to crack shells. Place into cold water, refrigerate for 30 minutes to 1 hour. Remove from water and peel. Water will work its way into shell, the result is an easily peeled egg.

Peel eggs and cut in half lengthwise. Remove egg yolks and place yolks in food processor with mixing/chopping blade. Set whites aside until ready to color.

Place yolks in a food processor fitted with a blade. Mix/chop yolks until fluffy. Add mayonnaise and mustard and mix until creamy. Mix in red wine vinegar one tablespoon at a time and season as desired to taste. Chill until ready to fill.

Patriotic Shells
2 cups Hot Water, divided
1 teaspoon Royal Blue Food Coloring
1 teaspoon Red Food Coloring
2 tablespoons White Vinegar, divided

In a glass bowl, mix 1 cup hot water, distilled white vinegar and 1 teaspoon Royal Blue Food Coloring. Mix well and add more coloring if desired.

In another glass bowl, mix remaining cup of hot water, distilled white vinegar and 1 teaspoon Red Food Coloring. Mix well, and add more coloring if desired.

Divide egg white halves into three groups. One group is to remain uncolored, the remaining two are colored red and blue. Place half of the “colored” whites into blue coloring, the other half into the red coloring.  Allow white to soak about 3 minutes or until desired color is reached. Place white up-side-down (cut side down) on a paper towel to drain.

To assemble Deviled Eggs
Place 24 empty egg white shells on serving platters, alternating colors red, white and blue. Select best of the halves.

Spoon filling mixture into a piping bag fitted with desired tip such as a large star, then pipe filling into egg white halves.

Tent with plastic wrap and chill well until ready to serve.

All American Buffalo Beef Sliders
1 lb. Ground Beef
1 lb. Ground Bison
Hamburger Seasoning Blend, to taste
1 dozen Slider Buns
1 Yellow Onion, sliced
2 Tomatoes, sliced
1 head Green Leaf Lettuce
12 slices Bacon
6 slices American Cheese
Barbecue Sauce

Mix together ground beef and bison. Form into 12 small patties, 2 ounces each. Season with Hamburger Seasoning Blend. Stack burgers (3 per stack), with wax paper between patties. Place in the freezer for 20 minutes to firm and help patties hold their shape.

Meanwhile, slice onion in half from root to tip. Peel halves, slice into half-moon rings. Arrange on a serving platter. Slice tomatoes in half from stem to tip, then slice into half-moon slices, Fan out on the serving platter with the onions. Break apart lettuce leaves, rinse and pat dry. Arrange on the same platter. Place pickle chips in a small ramekin or bowl, place on the platter. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Fry bacon crisp. Drain on paper towels, break in half and set aside.

Grill sliders 4 or 5 minutes per side or to desired temperature. Unwrap cheese slices, cut each slice in half and drape over the grilled burgers. Keep warm until ready to assemble and serve.

Garnish bottom buns with lettuce, tomatoes and sliced onions as desired. Transfer the meat patties to slider buns. Top with bacon and drizzle with barbecue sauce. Place top bun into place, secure with a cocktail skewer, arrange on a platter and serve.

Beer Bratwursts
2 packages Johnsonville Bratwurst
2 Onion, sliced
2 (20 oz) cans Beer
2 packages Steak or Bratwurst Rolls
Ketchup as desired
Spicy Brown Mustard as desired

Pierce Bratwurst to allow fat to drain out and beer to soak into meat. (A thin fork, cocktail pick or cake-tester works fine – remember, you want the fat to seep out, the beer to soak in and the bratwurst to retain its flavorful juiciness).

Place Bratwurst in a large pot. Cover with beer and let Bratwurst soak in beer for about 45 minutes.

While bratwurst are soaking, thinly slice onions. If desired, place a few sliced onions into the pot with the bratwurst, reserving the majority of the onion for “grilling” in a pan.

Sauté onions with a little butter over medium-low heat until golden, about 20-30 minutes.

Heat a gas grill for about 10 minutes or so to get it good and hot. Turn heat on under pot of soaking bratwurst to low and let simmer while grill heats.

Remove bratwurst from liquid. Grill to sear outside, turning as needed, about 5 to 6 minutes per side.

Spread favorite condiments onto bun. Top with bratwurst and onion.

Spice-Rubbed Grilled Chicken with a Smokey Orange Sauce
6 Chicken Legs
6 Chicken Thighs, bone-in

Rinse chicken well and pat dry. Set chicken aside on a wire rack to “air dry” while the rub is made.

Spice Rub
2 tablespoons Onion Powder
4 teaspoons Salt
1 tablespoon Paprika
2 teaspoons Garlic Powder
1-1/2 teaspoons Chili Powder
1-1/2 teaspoons Black Pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground Turmeric
Pinch Cayenne Pepper

In a small bowl, mix spice rub ingredients; reserve 1 tablespoon spice rub for sauce.

Rub the chicken with the rub both under and over the skin. Allow the rub to really flavor the meat of the chicken.

Gently pull skin back on legs and work rub directly onto meat. Pull skin back over legs, rub skin. Place the rubbed chicken back onto the rack and let rest, soaking in the rub. While the chicken is resting, prepare a charcoal grill.

Fill a chimney with charcoal. Stuff newspaper or a torn brown paper bag into the holes at the bottom of the chimney. Light and let flames get the coals started.

Once the coals have begun heating in the chimney, make the Smokey Orange Sauce.

Smokey Orange Sauce
2 cups Ketchup
3 tablespoons Brown Sugar
2 tablespoons dried Minced Onion
2 tablespoons Orange Juice Concentrate, thawed
1/2 teaspoon Liquid Smoke

In a bowl, combine all the ingredients for the sauce. Stir in the reserved spice rub; taste and adjust as needed.

Set sauce aside until ready to baste.

To Grill Chicken:
Spread hot coals out on the bottom grate. Clean top grate, wipe with oil to prevent chicken from sticking. Grill chicken skin-side-down both covered and uncovered over medium heat in intervals of 5 minutes for a combined cooking time of about 20 minutes.

Note: By opening and closing lid, it allows smoke to build up in the grill while keeping fire flare-ups under control.

After chicken has been grilling about 20 minutes, turn chicken over; baste with sauce. Continue to grill chicken both covered and uncovered for about 30 minutes longer, basting frequently with the sauce. Grill chicken until the juices run clear when pierced.

Turn chicken one final time, baste with sauce and grill for about 10 minutes more for the finale slather of sauce to caramelize. Remove chicken from grill. Transfer chicken to serving platter, tent and let rest about 5 minutes for juices to settle.

Serve and enjoy.

Layered Bacon Potato Salad
3 Celery Ribs
2 Green Onions
4 hard-boiled Eggs
2 lb Red Potatoes
1/2 cup Mayonnaise
1/2 cup Sour Cream
1/2 teaspoon Garlic Powder
1/4 teaspoon Salt
1/4 teaspoon Black Pepper
1/2 cup Cheddar Cheese, shredded
1/4 cup Real Bacon Bits

Dice celery, set aside. Slice green onions, set aside.

Place eggs in a saucepot, cover with cold water. Bring water to a full rolling boil, remove from heat, cover and let steep for 15 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to remove eggs from hot water. Crack shell at ends, plunge into a bowl of ice water. Let steep for 20 minutes. Peel eggs, chop and set aside.

Meanwhile, scrub potatoes. Quarter and place in a pot with just enough water to cover potatoes. Bring to a boil over high heat and cook 15 to 20 minutes, or until potatoes are fork-tender; drain and let cool. Place in a large mixing bowl.

In a small bowl, combine combine mayonnaise, sour cream, garlic powder, salt, and pepper; mix well. Add half the dressing to the potatoes and toss gently. Transfer potatoes to a large glass bowl. Spread smooth. Layer potatoes with eggs, celery, cheese, scallions, and bacon bits. Pour remaining dressing over salad. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Instant Pot Corn on the Cob
8 Ears Corn
1/2 cup Water
1/2 cup Milk
Butter for serving
Salt as desired

For Fresh Corn:
Remove husks and silk from corn. Trim ends to allow ears to fit on the grivet inside the Instant Pot insert.

Add water and milk to the instant pot. Place trivet inside pot. Stand corn on ends.

Place lid on pot, lock into place. Pressure cook on high for 2 minutes. Once cooking cycle is complete, use quick release.

Transfer to serving platter, serve with creamy butter and salt as desired.

For Frozen Corn.
Add water and milk to the instant pot. Place trivet inside the pot. Stand frozen corn on ends.

Place lid on pot, lock into place. Pressure Cook on High for 4 minutes. Once cooking cycle is complete, use quick release.

Transfer to serving platter, serve with creamy butter and salt as desired.

Pineapple Upside-Down Cupcakes
Upside Down Topping
12 slices Pineapple, drained
12 Maraschino Cherries, well drained
6 tablespoons Butter, cubed
1 cup packed Brown Sugar
2 tablespoons Light Corn Syrup

Heat oven to 350-degrees. Line the bottom of 12 greased jumbo muffin cups with waxed paper; grease the paper and set aside.

Drain pineapple rings, reserve juice for the cake. Drain Maraschino Cherries well, set aside.

Cube butter. In a small saucepan, melt butter over low heat; stir in brown sugar and corn syrup. Cook and stir over medium heat until sugar is dissolved. Remove from the heat. Spoon 1 tablespoon into each muffin cup; top each with a pineapple slice and a cherry.

Pineapple Cupcakes
3 large Eggs, room temperature
1/2 Cup of Oil
1 box Pineapple Cake Mix
Reserved Pineapple Juice
Water as needed

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle, beat eggs with oil until frothy. Add water to reserved pineapple juice to measure 1 cup. Add to the egg mixture. Add cake mix, blend on low speed for 30 seconds, then increase to medium-high for 2 minutes.

Fill muffin cups two-thirds full. Bake in heated oven until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, about 28 minutes. Cool for 5 minutes before inverting onto wire racks to cool completely.

Arrange cupcakes on a serving platter or cake plates until ready to serve.

Childhood Memories Strawberry Pie
1 refrigerated Pie Crust, Pillsbury
1 large basket Fresh Strawberries, organic
1 container Strawberry Glaze
1 can Extra Creamy Whipped Cream

Remove one pie crust from package. DO NOT unroll. Let the crust stand at room temperature for 15 minutes. Heat oven to 375 degrees.

Carefully unroll pie dough. If needed, roll out to remove any creases. Drape pie dough over a rolling-pin and position over pie pan. Lay dough into pan, pressing into place. Mend any cracks or imperfections by wetting your fingers with COLD water and pinching cracks together. To keep the crust from pulling away from the pan during baking, press it firmly against the sides and bottom of the pan. Be careful not to stretch the crust.

To prevent bubbles in an unfilled crust, generously prick the sides and bottom of the crust with a fork before baking. (Also known as “docking” the shell). Another option would be to use pie weights. This will prevent the empty shell from rising up and floating out of the pan. (Okay, so the shell really won’t float away, but it will puff-up. When filled, the crust will crumble if allowed to rise).

Place empty shell in the oven and bake until golden and flaky – about 12 to 15 minutes. Be sure to peek at 12 minutes and go from there.

Remove from oven and place on a cooling rack. If pie weights have been used, remove as soon as possible without burning your fingers or fracturing the crust.

Let pie cool completely before filling.

While shell is cooling, wash berries. Trim green portions from berries and hull. Let berries dry on a paper towel. In a very large bowl, combine berries with glaze. Chill until ready to use.

When it comes time to fill the pie shell, you have one of two options. The first is to spoon all the berries into the shell in a big pile. The second is to fill the shell one berry at a time, beginning at the outer edge and working in a tight spiral to the center. Repeat if possible with a second or even third spiral, each one ring closer to the center.

Chill until ready to serve. When ready to serve, pipe a nice ring of whipped cream all around the outer circle, leaving the inner circle exposed to show off all those lovely berries.

Author: Rosemarie's Kitchen

I'm a wife, mother, grandmother and avid home cook.I believe in eating healthy whenever possible, while still managing to indulge in life's pleasures.

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