5 Recipes for a Last-Minute Labor Day Barbecue

posted: 09/03/15
by: Blythe Copeland
Barbecue with family in the garden

In the chaos of getting ready for the first day of school, Labor Day can sneak up on you -- until suddenly you find yourself with an unexpected free day, a last burst of summer weather, and a reason to have all your friends over for a barbecue. These fast and easy recipes make it simple to throw together a last-minute, crowd-pleasing meal with a minimum of effort, so you can focus on enjoying one more get-together before fall makes its official arrival.

1. Barbecue ranch chicken wings

You'll need about three hours of cooking time for these crockpot chicken wings, but they are so simple, hands-off, and inexpensive that you can let them cook while putting the rest of your party prep together. With only three ingredients --chicken, barbecue sauce, and ranch dressing seasoning mix -- these wings are a quick and tasty appetizer (or increase the quantities to serve them as a main course).

2. Tortellini pasta salad

Buy fresh, refrigerated tortellini to cut down on prep time -- many cook in just five or six minutes, about half the time of dried pasta noodles -- and while the pasta cools, chop vegetables and herbs to create a filling side salad. Add in cold chicken, pepperoni, or ham, or make it vegetarian with cherry tomatoes, artichokes, olives, broccoli, or roasted or raw peppers. Then top with homemade or bottled dressing or pesto -- depending on how much time you have.

3. Roasted baby carrots

Making a quick and simple vegetable side dish is all about limiting the choices: Instead of chopping tons of different vegetables for kebabs, or slicing tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots, peppers, and more for a fresh salad, stick with these roasted ranch baby carrots. The seasoning mix is easy to DIY with common spices -- dill, onion powder, garlic powder, parsley, salt, and pepper -- and the instructions are simple: Toss baby carrots with seasonings and olive oil and roast for about 20 minutes. The best part: No chopping required. http://damndelicious.net/2015/04/03/easy-ranch-baby-carrots/

4. Spangled sandwich pops

Dress up store-bought mini ice cream sandwiches with a jar of patriotic red, white, and blue sprinkles: Just pour the sprinkles onto a plate or wax paper and press each side of the unwrapped sandwich into them, coating the exposed ice cream with cheerful colors. You can also insert a popsicle stick to make them easier for little hands to hold while eating. If you're prepping ahead of time, rewrap them in freezer paper or plastic wrap until it's time for dessert.

5. Grilled peaches

Peaches are at their best during late summer, which makes them an essential addition to your Labor Day menu. And when grilled, you can use them in a variety of ways: Top with ice cream or marscapone cheese as a sweet dessert, or pair with more savory foods as a sweet and salty side (try them wrapped in bacon; drizzled with balsamic glaze and rosemary; or on top of an arugula-and-feta salad). The fruits take only about ten minutes to grill, so you can do it as guests arrive or just before serving to keep them warm.