Plan on Serving Plenty of Good Food for Labor Day Weekend

Pesto and Sun Dried Tomato Bruschetta can be assembled ahead of time and quickly baked to melt the Parmesan cheese. Look over the recipes and assemble delectable menus to serve Labor Day weekend. Photo by ANN CIPPERLY

By Ann Cipperly

With children back in school, Labor Day traditionally signals the end of summer. For our area, it also heralds in an exciting football season with the Auburn Tigers’ first game this weekend. Whether you are celebrating at home or at the lake, prepare plenty of tasty dishes to serve over the weekend while relaxing before the busy fall season begins.

Labor Day is observed the first Monday in September. The holiday was created by the labor movement in the late 19th century and became a federal holiday in 1894. Labor Day is a time set aside to pay tribute to American workers.

A couple of months ago, life began to look more normal, but now with the Delta variant widespread in our area, we are once again being more careful and social distancing. Planning to serve a meal outdoors is ideal.

Prepare an assortment of appetizers, entrees grilled or cooked in a crock-pot, salads and an easy dessert to have more time outdoors instead of in the kitchen. Assemble menus from the following recipes that feature pork tenderloin, chicken and pork shoulder.

Pork tenderloin is one of our favorite meats to serve. It is low in fat and cooks quickly. Janine Simmons’ recipe for Island Pork Tenderloin has a spice rub and glaze, while Martha Hicks’ recipe is marinated and served with an apricot mustard sauce. Both of these recipes are excellent. Martha shared this recipe many years ago when she was catering.

Cook extra of the marinated pork tenderloin to serve as sliders for lunch the next day. The sliders can be made using Hawaiian rolls, small dinner buns or yeast rolls. Slice the rolls, warm them and then spread apricot mustard sauce on each side. Top with a slice or two of warmed pork. These are always popular and will go fast.

If you are smoking chicken, be sure to check Bill New’s recipes. Whether you have smoked or grilled chicken, his white sauce recipe will enhance the flavor of either one. The white sauce is also good on baked or roasted chicken.

If you are not grilling, cooking meat in the crock-pot is easy and will create tender, flavorful chicken or pork.

For dessert, prepare an easy and quick Fudge Pie or Toll House Pie, a yummy baked chocolate chip cookie. Both of these pies are even better topped with ice cream. The Toffee Ice Cream Pie is also easy and can be made ahead and stored in the freezer until ready to serve. Let children help make these simple pies.

Pesto and Sun Dried Tomato Bruschetta is an easy appetizers to arrange ahead and then bake just before serving. Pimento Cheese Spread can stored in the refrigerator until ready to serve with crackers and fruit. Meri’s Miniature Tomato Pies are tasty little versions of a summer favorite that can be made with fresh or canned tomatoes.

If you serve lots of iced tea over the weekend, try a different tea along with classic black tea. Green tea with lemongrass or ginger offers a refreshing iced beverage. We keep a variety of teas on hand. A couple of other favorites are acai green tea and green tea with turmeric and sweet passion fruit. The green teas offer more health benefits than the black teas, as well as a change of flavors. Garnish tall glasses with lemon slices and fresh mint sprigs.

Combining equal amounts of black tea and lemonade makes a tasty beverage. This combination is known as the Arnold Palmer and received that name in the late 1960s when the famous golfer was designing a course in Palm Springs. He asked the server for a mixture of iced tea and lemonade. Others overheard and asked for “that Arnold Palmer drink.” In 2001, Arnold Palmer Enterprises began bottling the beverage in cans.

To create a festive look for the table, use colorful mats and napkins. Pick up a bunch of fresh flowers while at the grocery store to arrange as a centerpiece.

Whatever is on the menu this weekend, enjoy a wonderful time with your family. Plan to savor time around the table talking about the upcoming school year and other fall events that hopefully we can safely attend.

Cipperly can be reached at

Pesto and Sun Dried Tomato Bruschetta

Pepe Cope


Olive oil

Basil pesto, freshly made or from jar

Sun dried tomatoes

Parmesan cheese

Thinly slice half of baguette; brush lightly with olive oil. Bake until just crispy at 400 degrees for five minutes.

Spoon pesto on each slice. Top with chopped tomatoes. Sprinkle with cheese. Bake until cheese melts.

Pimento Cheese Spread with Crackers and Fresh Fruit

Carole Harrison

Two 8 oz. blocks sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (or use finely shredded bags)

4 oz. jar diced pimientos, undrained

1 cup mayonnaise

¾ cup chopped toasted pecans

1/8 tsp. salt

¼ tsp. hot sauce

Combine ingredients; cover and chill two hours. Serve with crackers and sliced fruit. Great with Keebler Cornbread crackers.

Meri’s Miniature Tomato Pies

1 rolled pie crust from pkg. refrigerated piecrusts

14.5-oz. can petite diced tomatoes (can use chopped fresh tomatoes)

1 Tbsp. chopped fresh basil or 1 tsp. dried basil

⅔ cup mayonnaise

½ cup grated Parmesan cheese

½ cup or more shredded cheddar or mozzarella cheese or a combination of both

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Unroll piecrust on a lightly floured surface; roll into a 12-inch circle. Cut into 24 rounds using a two-inch scalloped-edge round cutter. Press rounds into ungreased miniature muffin cups. Use a fork to prick bottom of dough.

Bake at 425 degrees for five minutes or until set. Cool on a wire rack 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees.

Drain tomatoes well, patting dry with paper towels. Combine tomatoes and basil in a small bowl; season with salt and pepper.

In a small bowl, combine mayonnaise, Parmesan cheese and grated cheddar or mozzarella.

Divide tomato mixture among pastry shells and top with mayonnaise cheese mixture.

Bake at 350 degrees for 15 to 18 minutes.

Note: To make ahead, bake and cool pastry shells. Store in an airtight container. When ready to bake, place shells back in muffin tins, fill and bake.

Bill’s Smoked Chicken

Bill New

Serve with White Sauce.

One 6 to 7 lb. whole chicken

1 cup Italian dressing

Cavender’s All-Purpose Greek Seasoning

3 cloves garlic, crushed

1 medium onion, cut in quarters

1 lemon, cut in half

Place chicken in zip lock bag with Italian dressing for 4 hours, rotating several times. Preheat smoker to 250 degrees.

Stuff chicken with garlic, onion and lemon. Coat chicken heavily with Greek seasoning.

Soak woodchips (either applewood or mesquite) in water for one hour with three drops of dish detergent (helps wood soak up more moisture). Place woodchips around edge of coals.

Place chicken on grill and cook until temperature is 165 to 170 degrees (approximately four hours, depending on smoker). Serve with White Sauce (see recipe.)

White Sauce for Smoked or Grilled Chicken

Bill New

This recipe is from the Decatur Junior Service League, Inc. cookbook and was devised in an attempt to duplicate one from a famous local barbecue establishment that says, “has the best chicken anybody has ever eaten.” We never eat smoked chicken without it!

1-1/2 cups mayonnaise

2 cups white vinegar

¼ cup black pepper (or to taste)

Sugar to taste

Shake (or whisk) ingredients together and pour over chicken or use as a dip for chicken. Sauce will keep for at least two weeks in the refrigerator. (The ¼ cup black pepper is the correct amount.)

Island Pork Tenderloin

Janine Simmons

For spice rub:

2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. pepper

1 tsp. cumin

1 tsp. chili powder

1 tsp. cinnamon

2 pork tenderloins (2 ¼ to 2 ½ lbs. total) trimmed

2 Tbsp. olive oil

For Glaze:

3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar

2 Tbsp. finely chopped garlic

1 Tbsp. Tabasco

Stir the spice rub ingredients together in a small bowl and rub all over the pork. Heat oil in ovenproof 12-inch heavy skillet over medium high heat. Brown pork, turning occasionally, about four to five minutes total. Remove from heat but leave pork in skillet.

Stir together brown sugar, garlic, and Tabasco in a small bowl.

Put in a 350 degree oven for 20 minutes. You can do the Tabasco to taste, but I like it with the hot. I cooked it in a black iron skillet

Marinated Pork Tenderloin or Pork Loin with Apricot Mustard Sauce

Martha Hicks

1 cup red wine

¼ cup soy sauce

¼ cup canola oil

Chopped garlic

Chopped Fresh Rosemary

Black pepper

Combine ingredients. For pork tenderloin, marinate for three or four hours and for a pork loin, marinate over night or all day.

Grill pork tenderloin on medium heat, turning for about 20 to 30 minutes.

For a pork loin, place on grill to brown and then finish tightly covered in a slow oven at 325 degrees covered until desired doneness.

Apricot Mustard Sauce

1 small jar apricot preserves or orange marmalade

¼ cup grainy mustard

¼ stick butter

Lemon juice

Heat all together until butter is melted. Serve with pork.

Tortellini Salad with Artichoke Hearts, Tomatoes and Olives

Laurie Gilbert

1 bag frozen tortellini (I use tri-color when I can find it)

Follow pkg. directions for cooking, being sure not to overcook. Cool under cold water.

Marinated artichoke hearts to taste

Sundried tomatoes in olive oil, chopped

I small can sliced black olives, drained

A good Italian dressing added to taste

Parmesan cheese to taste

Freshly ground black pepper and salt to taste if needed.

Combine all ingredients. Store in refrigerator until ready to serve. May need to add more Italian dressings before serving. Serves 6 to 8.

Slow Cooker Shredded Barbecue Chicken

Dr. Ellen Royal

1½ lb. skinned and boned chicken thighs

1 Tbsp. olive oil

1 cup ketchup

1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce

1 Tbsp. cider vinegar

1 Tbsp. yellow mustard

1 tsp. ground red pepper

½ tsp. minced garlic

Brown chicken on each side in oil in skillet on medium-high heat. Place in 4-qt. slow cooker.

Combine remaining ingredients; pour over chicken. Cover and cook on high for 1 hour. Reduce heat and cook five to six hours.

Remove chicken; shred. Return chicken to sauce.

Spoon chicken and sauce onto buns and top with dill pickle slices, if desired. Makes six servings.

Nevilles’ Crock-Pot Pork Barbecue

3 to 5 lb. pork shoulder roast (I always brown it on the grill before I put it in the pot, but it can be browned in a pan on the stove or not browned at all.)

¼ cup water

1¾ cup barbecue sauce of your choice, divided

1 Tbsp. dehydrated onions or fresh chopped onion, optional

Place meat, water, ¾ cup barbecue sauce and onions in crock-pot; cover and heat on high for one hour. Then, turn pot to low and cook all night.

Remove from crock-pot onto a large board. Pull meat from bones with a fork and then shred all the rest of the meat with a fork. Pour out most of the juice in the pot and place meat back in the pot.

Add remaining one cup barbecue sauce and mix well. Cook on low for 45 minutes. Always serve sauce with meat.

The meat keeps well in the freezer. You can use homemade or store bought sauce.

Easy Fudge Pie

Connie Montgomery

This is the easiest dessert as long as you have the ingredients on hand. It’s delicious served with a dollop of ice cream or whipped cream. Prep time is about five minutes.

1 cup sugar

1 stick butter, melted

2 eggs

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

Dash of salt

3 Tbsp. cocoa

1 tsp. vanilla

1/2 cup chopped pecans, optional

Whipped cream or ice cream for topping

Mix sugar and melted butter. Beat until creamy. Add eggs, flour, salt, cocoa and vanilla. Beat well. Stir in pecans. Bake in a greased 8″ pie pan for 30 minutes at 300 degrees. Test until a toothpick comes out clean. Don’t over bake. It’s better under baked than over baked. It’s like a soft brownie cut into pie slices.

Toll House Pie

Margaret Whittelsey

2 eggs

½ cup all-purpose flour

½ cup sugar

½ cup firmly packed brown sugar

1 cup butter, melted

6 oz. pkg. chocolate chips

1 cup walnuts, or pecans chopped, optional

9-inch unbaked deep-dish pie shell

Whipped cream or ice cream, optional

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. In large bowl, beat eggs until foamy; add flour, sugar and brown sugar. Beat until well blended. Blend in melted butter. Stir in chocolate chips and walnuts. Pour into pie shell.

Bake for one hour. Serve with whipped cream or ice cream, if desired.

Toffee Ice Cream Pie

2 Tbsp. instant coffee

1 Tbsp. boiling water

1 quart vanilla ice cream, softened

1 pkg. heath brickle or 6 crumbed Heath bars, divided

9-inch graham cracker piecrust

1/2 cup whipped cream

Dissolve coffee in boiling water (can be done in microwave in glass cup); stir into softened ice cream along with 2/3 cup of the brickle. Pile into piecrust.

Whip cream until stiff. Spread on top of ice cream filling. Top with remaining brickle. Freeze until ready to serve. Take out of the freezer a few minutes before serving. Serves eight.


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