My 30 minute Labor Day Menu

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Labor Day is a holiday that gives me mixed emotions. First of all, I’m happy the family is home and the kids are off of school, so that’s good. However,
it signals the end of summer and means that winter is right around the corner- snow and cold=yuck! Another good thing is that corn and tomatoes are plentiful right now and throwing something on the grill is an easy endeavor so hours aren’t spent in the kitchen preparing for this holiday meal- Thanksgiving is another story entirely!

This year my brood is spread out for the Labor Day weekend. 2 family weddings in 2 different states, sorority rush for my college students, and out of town travel means that we will likely be eating on the fly somewhere. So I made us an early Labor Day meal before we left home and I’d like to share it with you so you can see how easy it is to throw something together that is tasty and your family will enjoy. It won’t take you hours in the kitchen slaving away over a stove either. My estimate is 30 minutes tops for this meal. Here it is!

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The first thing I do is marinate the meat for the grill. The longer your protein can sit in this marinade the better but I usually am rushing around so 5-10 minutes is all I can do. You can use any kind of protein you like, steak, pork chops, chicken, etc. In this case I had a T-bone steak and two smaller sirloins. I marinate the meat using a combination of wet and dry rubs. I start with the dry ingredients and after a minute or so I add the wet ones. As you can see from the picture I used red pepper flakes, black pepper, Italian seasoning, shoops seasoning (contains salt, pepper, and garlic), garlic powder, and awake-a-steak (contains coffee granules, along with other seasonings) for my dry ingredients. My wet ingredients were garlic, Dale’s steak seasoning (kind of a pumped up soy sauce that I’ve used for a million years. It’s my favorite go to for flavoring meat and I use it on everything!), and extra virgin olive oil. I just coat the steaks with the dry seasonings using more than I think I need to really flavor the protein. I use about a half cup of Dale’s poured over all the meat, and a tablespoon of garlic and a teaspoon of olive oil per protein. Let that sit for a few minutes while lighting the grill and waiting for it to heat up.

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While you are waiting for your grill to heat up, start on your corn. My brother told me about this YouTube video that showed an easy way to make corn in the microwave and at first I was highly skeptical but I tried it and you wouldn’t believe how well it works! This is the procedure I will describe to you now.

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You take one ear of corn and put it in the microwave on high for 4 minutes. Don’t shuck it just leave it completely intact.

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When the cooking time is complete take it carefully out of the microwave using a pot holder and cut the bottom end of it off using a fairly sharp knife. Again, use a pot holder to hold the ear of corn because it’s hot.

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After cutting the bottom off, grasp the top of the corn and shake it, and the corn slides out of the husk leaving the silks inside. No muss no fuss and the corn tastes exactly the same as if you’d boiled it. No shucking is a very good thing and a huge time saver if you ask me! Now of course you can only make one ear at a time but I put the finished ones on a plate and cover it while I’m making the rest to keep them warm.

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While all of that is going on I make the caprese salad. It’s really easy. I use tubes of mozzarella, tomatoes, green and purple basil from my garden, extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper. I slice the mozzarella into 1/3 inch slices and place those on the plate. Then I cut the tomato into slices of about the same thickness. Next, I rip the basil with my hands into little pieces and sprinkle on the tomatoes. I drizzle a little EVOO on each, add salt and pepper to taste and that’s done!

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While all of this is going on I got out the salsa I made the other day and some chips and we chowed down on my delicious salsa for our appetizer during the grilling process. As you can see there’s not much left. We were hungry!

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Next on to the grilling, we put the big T-bone on the grill first because it took the longest to cook. Now I don’t know about all of you out there, but in my house the grilling is done by the man of the house and he’s very territorial about his grill. It’s like his outdoor man cave and he likes to do it all by himself. I have to say though that his grilling is perfection so I let him have his outdoor cooking domain while I handle what goes on in the kitchen. It works for us!!

A thick cut of meat needs to grill longer than thinner cuts so it would be easier to have all of your meat approximately the same size and thickness to standardize the cooking time. However, with different types and thicknesses of meat you’ve got to be prepared for different grilling times. First, do a quick sear of the meat on each side on high heat for about a minute per side then turn the grill down to medium and grill a thin cut for about two minutes per side, a medium cut for about 4 minutes per side and a thick cut for 5 minutes per side. This will give you a medium rare piece of meat so adjust it up or down if you like rare or well done meat. Also, REMEMBER TO LET YOUR PROTEIN REST BEFORE CUTTING INTO IT! This is the toughest thing to do for most people because they want to see if the meat is done. Chefs say to let the meat rest for a half hour but I don’t usually have that much time to spare so I rest it for 10 minutes before cutting it. Another thing to remember is to USE A MEAT THERMOMETER TO DETERMINE THE DONENESS OF YOUR PROTEIN. That way you will ensure it’s cooked properly without cutting into it.

This is my simple shortcut grilling menu. If I have more time I would make my Mama’s delicious baked beans (to die for!), or my potato salad. I’d also make my man’s favorite dessert, my berry crumble, but if I want to make a decent grilling meal in 30 minutes this is my go-to meal.

If you try to make any part of my 30 minute Labor Day meal let me know how it turned out, or if you’d like to share your own 30 minute menus I’d love to hear about them. I hope you enjoy Labor Day with your family without spending hours in the kitchen and that you live a life of vitality- like Valerie!

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