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Celebrate Summer With One Last Hurrah

Marinated & Grilled Rib Eyes

How is Labor Day almost here? Not sure about you, but I feel like we were just celebrating Memorial Day. My summer has definitely flown by.

Now, it’s almost the unofficial end to summer. While sad, I’m looking forward to fall (can you say pumpkin spice lattes?). But I’m not going to let the summer end without one last backyard barbecue. I’m in the last stages of working on my menu and here’s what I’m currently thinking about serving.

While I try to prep as much as I can, there’s always last minute running around to do. That’s why I like to have easy appetizers out for guests as they arrive. It gives me a few more minutes and allows everyone to begin the party.

Two appetizers I love are Jeanne Benavides’s (Odessa, TX) Avocado-Stuffed Tomatoes and Jodie Scales (Spokane, WA) Roasted Garlic Cilantro Jalapeno Hummus.

Jeanne’s Avocado Stuffed Tomatoes are cute as a button and tasty too. “I have made [these] several times and everyone seems to really enjoy the little morsels of coolness,” explains Jeanne.

Cream cheese and avocados are blended with spices and piped into adorable hollowed-out cherry tomatoes. I like to double the filling to make sure there’s plenty for each little ‘mater. They’re simple and easy!

Once you make hummus at home, you will never buy the store-bought stuff again. And, when you make it yourself, you can really customize the flavors. Just like Jodie did with her amazing hummus recipe. It’s definitely not traditional and it’s fabulous.

I especially love the roasted garlic and cilantro combination. The flavors pack a punch and make you want to go back for more, and more and more… Serve on slices of toasted bread, with pita chips or with flatbread as Jodie suggests. It’s delish.

Since I’m firing up the grill for one last weekend, I’ll be grilling some chicken with Amy Jajliardo’s (Buxton, ME) sweet Apricot Barbecue Sauce for Grilling. Alongside the chicken will be Ashley Muller’s (Chandler, AZ) delicious Hog Chops.

“My aunt and uncle are Harley riders and I love my aunt’s marinade,” says Ashley. “I took it, tweaked it and now I make it all the time.” I love when someone takes a favorite from a family member and makes it their own. I’m not sure exactly what Ashley changed, but she came up with one great marinade.

The ginger really packs great flavor without being too overpowering. Soy sauce adds some salt, while brown sugar adds a bit of sweetness. The black pepper gives a slight bit of heat. Not only are these pork chops delicious, they are also super easy to prepare.

Everyone loves a nice, juicy steak at their cookout and Dene Mitzel has a simple, yet delicious, rib eye recipe.

“This [marinade] is the one I always use when we have steak in my family,” shares Dene. “One night several years ago I messed up and decided to try a store bought marinade – the family was disappointed.” Once you bite into Dene’s Marinated & Grilled Rib Eyes, you’ll understand why her family loves this recipe so much.

I let the steaks marinate for 6 hours and the rib eyes tasted wonderful. They grilled up perfectly with so much flavor… no steak sauce is needed for this steak. It’s so good!

Baked beans are always a must and Rose Rauhauser’s Four Baked Beans with Ground Beef are always a fave with my friends. “This is a daily favorite even though it takes time, it’s worth it,” thinks Rose. “It’s hearty and great on hot dogs and burgers too.”

Packed with ground beef and bacon, the beans are practically a meal in itself! And, as Rose mentions, these freeze wonderfully if you happen to have leftovers.

No cookout is complete without dessert and a crisp is a perfect way to use whatever fresh fruit you find at the market. When I initially taste-tested Debbie Lachance’s (Biddeford, ME) Fruit Crisp I used a frozen mixture of raspberries, strawberries, peaches and pineapple and it was delicious. But once fresh fruit came into season, I made it with some peaches. Yum!

“This is a fast and easy dessert,” states Debbie. “Everyone thinks I spent all day putting it together, little do they know how easy it is and of course I will never tell.” Debbie has used apples too which is always delicious. But shop your local market and see what you can find. I honestly don’t think you can go wrong with this recipe.

As Labor Day arrives, I hope everyone has one last summer hurrah, soaks up some sunshine and enjoy’s good food with great friends. Do you have a dish that’s always requested at a cookout? Make sure to share it … maybe I’ll add something to the menu. Happy Pinching!