Sherrie Norris Lovin’ Spoonful Cooking Column: Labor Day — Grillin’ and Chillin’ with Family and Friends

Published Wednesday, August 29, 2018 at 9:41 am

By Sherrie Norris

Labor Day weekend is upon us and was once considered to be the last “official” weekend of the season to gather with friends and family for cookouts and picnics. Of course, that’s before tail-gaiting took on a life of its own and extended the grilling long into autumn.

Always falling on the first Monday of September, Labor Day actually began in 1882, when Peter J. McGuire, founder of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters, suggested it as a time to honor the country’s working people.

Labor Day became a legal holiday in the United States in 1894 under the presidency of Grover Cleveland.

Whether you’re packing up the cooler, gathering the family and heading for the lake or a nearby park, or enjoying the peacefulness of your own backyard this weekend, there are plenty of ways to prepare for your special time without a lot of fuss.

Cooking meat and veggies over an open flame is always a big hit, especially when accompanied by a smorgasbord of sides and desserts.

Savor the food and the fellowship — and if you are fortunate enough to have a job, hopefully you will also enjoy the day off from work and combine the grillin’ with a little chillin’.


Pineapple Grilled Pork Chops or Chicken Breasts

1 (8 oz.) can pineapple rings, juice drained and reserved

¼ cup brown sugar

¼ cup soy sauce

¼ tsp. garlic powder

4 pork chops or chicken breasts

1 pinch ground black pepper

Mix together drained pineapple juice, brown sugar, soy sauce, and garlic powder in a large plastic zipper bag; “massage” the bag a few times to mix the marinade and dissolve the sugar. Place pork chops or chicken into marinade, squeeze out any air in the bag, seal it, and refrigerate overnight. Reserve the pineapple rings.

Preheat grill for medium heat, and lightly oil the grate. Remove meat from marinade, shaking off excess, and grill until browned and longer pink inside, five to eight minutes per side. Brush several times with marinade and let the marinade cook onto the surface of the meat. Discard excess marinade. While meat is grilling, place four pineapple rings onto grill, and allow to cook until hot and slices show grill marks; serve chops topped with grilled pineapple rings.


Foil-Grilled Potatoes

6-8 large potatoes

2 large onions

Garlic salt



Aluminum foil

Tear enough foil to hold your potatoes and onions. Thinly slice each potato (leave skin on) onto the foil. Slice enough onion to lightly cover the potato. Add garlic salt and pepper to taste; spray or margarine generously.

Seal each pouch, leaving a little room for steam and flavors to mix. Place potatoes on top rack of grill, if meats are cooking, or directly onto the main rack, after meat is done. Watch closely to prevent burning. Process should take about 30 minutes.


Grilled Veggies

3 medium red and/or green bell peppers, halved

Large mushrooms

6 squash, patty pan or zucchini, sliced or chunked

1 large onion, chunked

1 (8-oz.) bottle Italian salad dressing

Place vegetables and dressing in large re-sealable plastic bag, turning to coat all sides. Marinate at least one hour, turning frequently. Heat grill. Drain vegetables, reserving marinade. Place vegetables on grill (on foil, special rack, or on skewer) over medium heat; cook 10-15 minutes, or until crisp tender, turning occasionally and brushing frequently with marinade.


Grilled Corn on the Cob

Choose enough corn to serve your crowd; remove husks and silk (or leave in husks and follow directions below.)Generously spread with butter/margarine, salt and pepper. Wrap in heavy aluminum foil. Place on grill about six inches from medium heat. Grill 15-20 minutes, turning often.

Cooked in the husk

Carefully fold husk back and remove all the silk. Cover ear with margarine or butter, salt and pepper. Fold husks back in place and tie with heavy string that has been soaked in water. Place over medium heat on grill, about six inches from heat. Cook 20-25 minutes, turning often. Corn is done when no milky juice leaks when kernel is cut or pricked.


Grilled Portobello Sandwiches

1/3 cup balsamic vinegar

¼ cup olive oil

1Tbs. minced garlic

6 Portobello mushroom caps

½ cup low-fat or regular mayonnaise

1Tbs. Dijon mustard

1 tsp. lemon juice

2 Tbs. chopped fresh basil

6 Kaiser or hamburger rolls, split and toasted

1 Tbs. butter

6 leaves lettuce

6 tomato slices

Preheat grill; lightly oil grate. Whisk together balsamic vinegar, olive oil, and garlic in a small bowl.

Arrange mushrooms on a baking sheet, brush with some of the vinegar mixture and marinate for three-five minutes.

Place marinated mushrooms on preheated grill, grilling until tender, brushing both sides of mushrooms with remaining marinade, about four minutes on each side.

Mix mayonnaise, mustard, lemon juice, and basil in a small bowl. Butter toasted rolls, then spread with mayonnaise mixture. Divide mushrooms, lettuce and tomato slices evenly to make six sandwiches.



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