Celebrate Labor Day 2021 With These Backyard Party Recipes

Celebrate Labor Day 2021 With These Backyard Party Recipes

Can you believe that it’s Labor Day 2021 already? Whether you’re cooking for one or many, there’s never been a better time to let your creativity shine with these tried-and-true backyard recipes!

Labor Day 2021 has long signaled that Summer is winding down to a close and Fall will soon be ushered in. 

We’re not letting our tasty backyard celebrations slip by just yet. What better way to celebrate than with these Labor Day recipes?

Check out these delicious party ideas that are perfect for any outdoor celebration! 

All of these recipes can be made in under an hour and most have ingredients you may already have in your fridge.

Whether you’re cooking for one or many, there’s never been a better time to let your creativity shine with these tried-and-true backyard favorites.

Street Corn Caesar Salad

Hand salads open the doors to your creativity. Yes, this is salad you can eat with your hands. Think lettuce cups and endive spears filled with salad ingredients.

Steak Fajitas

Cook flanks steaks on an outdoor grill and serve all the fixin’s on the side for your Labor Day guests to savor!

Poblano Pepper Short Ribs

Social-distance Summer just got hotter with pecks of peppers, two ways! Add fresh air and “bubble friends” for this backyard feast!

Watermelon Margarita

I concocted a cocktail that turned out to be a BIG hit at a backyard BBQ!

You might want to serve this easy and tasty festive, summer drink at your Labor Day picnic.

We use our fruit-flavored tequila to make this “Watermelon Margarita”:

 

Watermelon Margarita Fruit Cocktail for Labor Day

The Recipe:

Prepare the base for the cocktail by emulsifying the inside of a seedless watermelon.

We mushed up (this is a highly technical culinary term – not used by Julia in any of her 700 pages) two large watermelons for our outdoor party.

Add two or more large cans of lime concentrate to the watermelon slush. You can prepare this base in advance. Pour it into a large container and refrigerate.

For Watermelon Margaritas, take a lime wedge and run it around the rim of a margarita glass.

Combine margarita salt with a bit of granulated sugar and place onto a small plate or into a shallow bowl.

Dip the rim of the glass into the salt/sugar combo.

Pour the slush mixture into the glass. Top with a drizzle of Triple Sec Liqueur and a generous splash of fruit flavored tequila. Top with a fresh, pitted cherry.

Celebrity Bartender….Who, Me? Craft Cocktail Recipes

Celebrity Bartender….Who, Me? Craft Cocktail Recipes

Create your own custom craft cocktails with these easy seasonal infused simple syrups, suitable for happy hours of one or more.  Click to skip to the recipe

easy simple syrup infusion recipe for cocktails

My BFF and I were asked to be “celebrity bartenders” at a meet and greet for pals and neighbors. We were invited to create our favorite cocktail.

This was a bit daunting, as we both prefer wine. However, we rose to the occasion. BFF infused vodka with fresh pineapple and cherries. A shot of this topped with club soda and garnished with the vodka soaked fruit turn out to be a quite the “Ridge Refresher”!

I decided to take a page from the Golden Age of Cocktails (the period between 1860 and Prohibition when most cocktails were invented) and update a few of the classics.

To do this, I focused on simple syrup. Simple syrup is the traditional sweetener in cocktails. You can buy simple syrup in a bottle and keep it in the fridge, or you can make it yourself by combining equal parts sugar and water and boiling until the sugar dissolves. Voila! Simple Syrup!!

The star of my cocktails was my Old Fashion made with a really, really good bourbon, a dash or two of bitters, and a splash of blood orange and sage-infused simple syrup.

Everything was placed into an ice-filled cocktail shaker, and then mixed for several seconds. The liquid was strained into a rocks glass over a huge cube of ice. The drink was garnished with bourbon-marinated fresh cherries and strips of candied blood orange. Yup, it was good!

Here are a few other ideas for simple syrups and their use. Bottoms Up!!

Easy Infused Simple Syrups

Makes: 1 cup of simple syrup

Time: 5 minutes to assemble and several hours to infuse

Ingredients

Blood Orange-Sage Simple Syrup:

1 cup granulated sugar

Juice from 4 blood oranges

1 bunch sage leaves

1 cinnamon stick

Blueberry-Thyme Simple Syrup:

1 cup granulated sugar

1 pint blueberries

1 bunch thyme leaves

Meyer Lemon-Lavender Simple Syrup:

1 cup granulated sugar

Juice from 4 Meyer lemons

1 bunch lavender

Lime-Lime Spearmint Simple Syrup:

1 cup granulated sugar

Juice from 4 limes

1 bunch lime spearmint leaves

Veal Sinatra
Veal Sinatra
Veal Sinatra
Veal Sinatra

For each syrup, place 1 cup sugar into a deep pot with a lid. Pour in 1 cup water. Add the fruit (and in the case of the juices, add in a couple of the squeezed peels) and the herbs and spices. Bring the mixture to a boil to let the sugar dissolve. Put the lid on the pot and reduce the heat to let the syrup simmer for 20 minutes. Turn off the heat and let the syrup sit on top of the stove for several hours. 

Pour the syrup through a fine-mesh colander and into a jar with a seal. Refrigerate for up to several weeks.

Things to Note:

These syrups are perfect for cocktails and mocktails. Use the blood orange-sage syrup to create a super Old Fashion or Manhattan cocktail. Blueberry-thyme updates a traditional Gin Fizz. And lime-lime spearmint takes your next Margarita to new heights!

You can also use simple syrups to sweeten cold drinks like lemonade and iced tea. The Meyer-Lemon Simple syrup is terrific in pink lemonade! 

Another Thing to Note:

You can also use these syrups to sweeten cakes. Poke holes into a pound cake, douse in syrup, and see what comes out!! You can also mix them into your sorbet or ice cream recipes.

Make it My Way:

Anything and everything go into your simple syrup. Don’t stop with these combinations. Create your own!!

Last Thing to Note:

If you want to add a garnish to your drink, try candying the citrus peel. Before you squeeze, use a vegetable peeler to cut thin strips from the peel. Take these strips, place them in a pot and cover them with water. Bring to a boil and cook for 5 minutes. Drain and repeat this boiling procedure two more times. You are doing this to soften the peel while retaining the color. Next, place the strips into the pot and add 1 cup sugar and two cups water. Bring this mixture to a boil and reduce for about 30 minutes.

There will be some liquid left in the pan, but not much. Cool to room temperature. Transfer the strips from the pot to a wire rack placed over a piece of parchment paper. Let the strips dry overnight, the longer the better!

At this point, you can douse the strips in sugar again if you like and eat them like candy. But I use them as they are to garnish the drink. Sooooo good!!

Off To The Races: Kentucky Derby Party Plans

Off To The Races: Kentucky Derby Party Plans

Kentucky Derby Menu Ideas Party

The Kentucky Derby is this weekend and it’s time to prepare your party provisions!  Share these on Saturday in a small backyard soiree or savor them television side with the hubby.

We all know and love the term, “Spring is in the air,” but imagine, too, the divine way it smells, beckoning us to our backyards with the promise of barbeque with the fixin’s….And with Kentucky Derby right around the corner, we can really pull out the Southern stops for a safe and delicious outdoor gathering.

Whether you’re setting an elegant table or wearing a Kentucky Derby hat as you graze an outdoor buffet, consider these your go-to Kentucky Derby party plans:

Southern Style Charcuterie with This Cocktail Pairing…
Mint Julep Recipe Photo by <a href="https://unsplash.com/@gustavocastilho?utm_source=unsplash&utm_medium=referral&utm_content=creditCopyText">Gustavo de Camargo</a> on <a href="https://unsplash.com/s/photos/mint-julep?utm_source=unsplash&utm_medium=referral&utm_content=creditCopyText">Unsplash</a>

The Kentucky Derby doesn’t have to be a marathon if you play host this weekend. A simple charcuterie board elevated with Southern-style taste and ingredients will come to the rescue! This board’s arranged with deviled eggs, spiced crackers, pimento spread, pickled okra, millionaire’s bacon, my special cilantro shrimp recipe, and an assortment of turkey and ham roll-ups. Serve with Kentucky Derby’s infamous Mint Juleps and you’ll have yourself a party:

The Savoy Cocktail Book, Harry Craddock, 1930

4 sprigs fresh mint

½ tbls powdered sugar

1 glass bourbon, rye, or Canadian whisky

 

Use a long tumbler and crush mint leaves and dissolved sugar lightly together. Add spirits and fill glass with cracked ice. Stir gently until glass is frosted. Decorate on top with 3 sprigs of mint.

Read On

Breakfast Skillet with Glazed Eggs

From family to family, here in the South, there is debate about how to make a traditional hand pie. But one thing is for sure: This recipe makes for a delicious peach pie!  This recipe yields a pie that looks like a puffy, jelly doughnut and is over-the-top delicious. Top with confectioners’ sugar and cinnamon and serve with vanilla ice cream for a delicious Southern treat.

Read On

Collard Greens With Slow Roasted Pork Belly

This Southern recipe was made from my Farmer’s Market opening day bounty and pulls together a few of my favorite farmer’s market finds: Tender collard greens, paired with rich pork belly. This dish is perfect if you’ve just had a stash of your greens in your drawer that you’ve been looking to work into a dish or perhaps bought a bushel too much from your local farmer’s market trip. This dish makes for a lovely first course or a wonderful side dish.

 

Read On

Chilled Strawberry Soup for Hot Days

My chilled soup adds farm-fresh sweet strawberries for a cool and refreshing treat.This recipe features both ways of making a gazpacho – you have the option to seed the tomatoes or you don’t. Either way, you’ll still have a great batch of gazpacho!

Read On

Fried Pickles and Comeback Sauce: Your How to Guide

Like pickles? You’ll love this recipe, and you’ll be delighted to discover that there are so many ways to create a delicious batter for your fried pickles. I personally like the combination of seasoned flour and buttermilk for a tangy topping. You can fry them whole or sliced, fried in vegetable or peanut oil – Whatever floats your boat! The comeback sauce featured in this recipe is definitely to die for.

Read On

My Recipe for Hushpuppies is Too Good for Your Dog!

I’ve always considered that my recipe for hush puppies is TOO GOOD…Try it and you be the judge. This recipe is my own version of that South Carolina fisherman’s special recipe. The great thing about it is that you don’t have to follow it precisely to get a tasty result. If you’re looking for a recipe that you can get creative with, this is it! Pick and choose your add-ins and sauces.

Read On

Countdown to Christmas: Holiday Cookies & Cocktails

Countdown to Christmas: Holiday Cookies & Cocktails

 

The holidays are here, and cookies and cocktails are the name of the game as we countdown to Christmas Day!  Check out my favorite recipes with a healthy dose of Yuletide cheer.

Our cookies give new meaning to “tree trimming”, and sparkle with Fancy Sprinkles.  Read On

I came up with a holiday punch idea for my next party: a coconut margarita punch that had me saying Mele Kalikimaka! Read On

These cookies are perfect when you’re looking for just a little something, as Doreen would say.  Pair with a spiked hot chocolate, vodka martini, or a big red wine like a spicy zin.  Read On

Moscow Mules aren’t just for summertime!  Try cranberries and rosemary for a holiday twist.  Read On

These ginger cookies are perfect to stack and pack and safely share.  Read On

Once you make these lovelies, just about any candy or specialty chips work in a batch!  Read On

Moscow Mules are a Marvelous Summer Cocktail!

Moscow Mules are a Marvelous Summer Cocktail!

There’s nothing like nursing a Moscow mule on a really hot day. You don’t need a copper mug – it just makes it extra tasty if you do happen to have a set of these glasses on hand. I’ve seen them for sale everywhere – at cooking stores and kitchen gadget places in the mail. The idea is, a copper cup keeps the drink extra cool.

When my youngest son, now a college professor, mixes one for me (it’s Jon Morgan’s favorite drink), the ice is chipped finely – but this drink tastes good over a quartet of fat ice cubes too. You can add a twist of any citrus fruit to make it better – from key limes to naval oranges. I got something extra special, considering it’s only July…BLOOD ORANGES!

While they’re not supposed to be in season yet, I keep seeing sacks of ‘em at the grocery store and that’s what I used this cocktail hour. Sooooo good!

So where does the Moscow Mule come from? If you’re thinking Russia, you’d be wrong. In 1941, bartenders at the Chatham Hotel in New York City concocted the drink. Jack Morgan (no relation), had a ginger beer product he decided to bring in by train from Los Angeles.  It was called Jack Morgan’s Cock ‘n’ Bull ginger beer. He also owned the Cock n’ Bull Restaurant in Hollywood.

Anywho…Jack and his friends met up at the Chatham bar one day, with the President of Smirnoff Vodka and dreamed up the Moscow Mule. As Jack Morgan tells it:

“We were quaffing a slug, nibbling an hors d’oeuvre and shoving toward inventive genius.”

A week or so after their experiment of mixing a two-ounce shot of Vodka with Morgan’s ginger beer, and squeeze of a lemon, the drink was christened the Moscow mule. Bottom’s up, my friends!

Blood Orange Mule

2 ounces Vodka

½ ounce blood orange juice, freshly squeezed

– 4 ounces ginger beer

– Mint and blood orange wheel for garnish

Mixing instructions:

Pour vodka and blood ornate juice into a copper mug. Add ice cubes and ginger beer. Stir to combine. Drop a lime wedge and mint leaf into the mug for a garnish.

 

Southern Style Charcuterie with This Cocktail Pairing…

Southern Style Charcuterie with This Cocktail Pairing…

Visitors come and go in the summer – and maybe they’re too hot and bothered for a full-on meal. For those instances, where just a pit stop is needed (not a pit BBQ!), this southern style charcuterie board comes to the rescue. I’ve arranged mine with deviled eggs, spiced crackers, pimento spread, pickled okra, millionaire’s bacon, my special cilantro shrimp recipe, and assortment of turkey and ham roll-ups. To wash it down, I toast ya’ll with a prickly pear inspired tequila drink I dreamed up, strolling through last week’s farmer’s market.

But first, here’s how to put together Jorj’s Southern Style Charcuterie Board

Turkey Roll Ups:

1 pound deli roasted turkey breast medium sliced

8 ounces goat cheese

¼ cup red pepper jelly

Ham Roll Ups:

1 pound deli ham medium sliced

8 ounces cream cheese

½ cup spicy dill pickles, drained and finely chopped

Deviled Eggs:

6 hard-boiled eggs, sliced in half

2 tablespoons mayonnaise

2 teaspoon Dijon-Style mustard

1 teaspoon chopped fresh dill

1 teaspoon kosher salt

½ teaspoon coarse black pepper

Millionaire’s Bacon

1 pound center cut bacon

1 cup brown sugar

Seasoned Crackers:

1 sleeve soda crackers

½ cup butter, 1 stick melted

½ packet ranch dressing

Pimento Cheese:

3 ounces cream cheese

4 ounces grated sharp cheddar cheese, about 1 cup

4 ounces grated Monterey Jack cheese, about 1 cup

½ cup homemade or prepared mayonnaise

1 (4-ounce) jar pimentos, drained

2 to 3 green onions, sliced, about 2 tablespoons

¼ teaspoon garlic powder

¼ teaspoon paprika

Cilantro Shrimp:

1 pound cooked shrimp

⅓ cup olive oil

Juice of 1 lime, about 2 tablespoons

2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

½ teaspoon onion powder

½ teaspoon garlic powder

½ teaspoon chili powder

For Turkey Roll Ups: Combine the goat cheese and jelly. Spread about 1 tablespoon over a slice of turkey. Roll up and cut into ¼-inch slices.

For Ham Roll Ups: Combine the cream cheese and chopped pickles. Spread about 1 tablespoon over a slice of ham. Roll up and cut into ¼-inch slices.

For Deviled Eggs: Place the yolks of the eggs into a bowl. Use a fork to mash. Add the mayonnaise, mustard and dill. Season with some of the salt and pepper. Toss to combine. Place a spoonful of the filling into each of the egg whites.

For Millionaire’s Bacon: Preheat the oven to 350°. Dredge one slice of bacon through the brown sugar coating both sides. Place onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake until the bacon is cooked through, about 20 to 30 minutes. Cool on the baking sheet.

For Seasoned Crackers: Preheat the oven to 350°. Combine the ranch dressing and butter. Place the crackers onto a baking sheet. Brush the top side of the crackers with butter. Bake until golden brown, about 5 to 8 minutes.

For Pimento Cheese: Combine the cream cheese, cheeses, and mayonnaise in a bowl. Stir until the mixture is creamy. Add the pimentos, onions and spices and season with some of the salt and pepper. Stir to mix thoroughly.

Cilantro Shrimp: Stir together the olive oil, lime juice, cilantro, onion powder, garlic powder and chili powder in a large bowl. Add the shrimp. Season with some of the salt and pepper. Stir to coat.

And now to drink!!!

Here’s The Prickled Pink Cocktail – everything you need to mix one up for a friend. Isn’t it gorgeous? I honestly can’t believe that bright fuchsia color. The flavor is more subtle than you might think, and may need a bit of sweetening up. I suggest a teaspoon of honey. For garnish and extra flavor, whole cinnamon sticks make for a nice stirrer and look good in the glass.

Just do a yourself a favor and mind the outside of this cocktail fruit as you cut into it. They don’t call it a prickly pear for nothin’! Oh, and if at all possible, ask the guys at the farmer’s market to strip the cactus fruit of its serious spears before you buy it. I did and I still got pricked, but I’m glad I added it to my Saturday haul.

Cheers, everybody! It’s gonna be a long summer….

THE PRICKLED PINK

1 shot tequila
2 tablespoons grenadine
Juice of 4 prickly pears (blended to get rid of seeds)
Twist of lime
1 teaspoon agave nectar or honey

Top off with pineapple juice and mix with a cinnamon stick stirrer. Sugar around the rim optional