Inexpensive Labor Day Party Ideas
My husband and I recently bought a house, and both our families are pressuring us to throw a labor day cook out so they can see said house. I don't mind throwing a party, despite the lack of seats and tables, but we don't have a grill or the money to go buy one. So I'm looking for inexpensive, non grilled ideas for about 15 people. I do have to have an option for pescatarians/vegetarians.
Green salads, potato, tuna,
You could fry the chicken or I have a balsamic/honey baked chicken recipe that is really good served room temp I could post if you're interested.
Costco has salmon very reasonably priced that you could poach or bake and also serve at room temp with a mayo or sour cream sauce/dill sauce.
All could be done ahead, a real plus.
3 pounds chicken pieces, your choice, I use thighs
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup olive oil
2 T. chopped fresh rosemary
1 tsp salt
2 cloves garlic, pressed
Mix all ingredients together.
Add chick pieces to mixture and coat well
Pour into baking dish and bake at 350 covered for 1 hour.
Turn once during the baking and uncover for the last 20 mins
If I serve it room temp., I remove it from the liquid and cover tightly with foil to keep moist.
I make a cold salad of cheese tortellini with halved grape or cherry tomatoes, kalamata olives, and olive oil, salt and pepper. If you know folks like it, add feta. Two or three bags of tortellini make a really big salad.
Maybe a made ahead pan of sausage and peppers (saute first, always great reheated) and some Caesar or other green salad.
I love to make salad of small fresh mozzarella balls (or cube the less exensive blocks of mozzarella) with halved grape tomatoes, fresh basil, EVOO, salt and pepper.
Since you referred to a cook-out, are you planning on having the gathering outdoors? If so, you can use a large frying pan with a little bit of oil in it to get a delicious sear on hot dogs, both the meat and vegetarian varieties. These can be done way ahead, kept in the fridge, and reheated in the oven. They'll taste just-cooked. Accompany with a variety of topping options and salads. You can toast the buns in the oven on an upper rack while reheating the franks on a lower rack.
Fish sticks or breaded fish fillets (Gorton's are pretty good)
could be an additional option, also on the hot dog buns.
If you have or can borrow an electric frying pan or Foreman grill-type thing, you could do grilled cheese. Get an assortment of cheeses, breads, and mustards, and make some compound butters (e.g. curry powder butter).
I make Fauxtato Salad, a protein option for non-carnivores that tastes identical to potato salad. Use your preferred recipe for the latter, but instead of spuds, soak large dried lima beans (these are white and their canned version is butter beans) and cook them in salted water until some of the skins are breaking. Blindfolded, you'd think you were eating regular potato salad.
Lima Bean Salad
2 boxes frozen lima beans
Black pepper, freshly ground
6 strips bacon, crumbled
3 hard-boiled eggs, chopped roughly
Parsley, chives or green onions
Make a vinaigrette dressing, adding anchovy paste to taste.
Cook limas according to package directions. Rinse & allow to cool & drain on paper towels.
Chop Parsley, Chives or green onions finely.
Lay beans in bowl or platter. Sprinkle bacon, then eggs & top with parsley, chives or green onions.
Just before serving, drizzle dressing over salad and top with a sprinkling of Parmesan.
Of course, you could adjust ingredients to suit your group.
Your families want to see your house and celebrate with you rather than cost you an arm and a leg. Mention you have no grill and ask everyone to bring something for pot luck. Someone is likely to bring a grill but even if not, you won't spend a ton of money and everyone will have a good time getting together and warming your new home.
Slow cook a whole fresh ham. Add BBQ sauce and liquid smoke after you have pulled it apart. Serve on the cheapest white bread from Sav-a-Lot.
Shredded coleslaw with a vinagrette dressing. Elbow macaroni salad with a mayo dressing.
Vegetable lasagna in the largest disposable pan your oven will take. Based on experience, the nonvegetarians will take the largest pieces.
Everything can be prepared Friday and improve with age until consumed on Monday. If you want nibbles, get carrots and celery and make a cream cheese dip.
And tell them they can either have Walmart cola from 2 liter bottles, sweetened ice tea, or they can bring their own.
And since they are directing your entertainment calendar, tell them that a great house warming gift would be a grill.
I would consider a assorted flat-breads with toppings (or worse comes to worse: pizza bagels), perhaps a 'taco-bar' and assorted pasta salads.
But I agree with it being a potluck. I would probably be so irked about being pressured into it, that I would throw my hands-up and just buy it all if there are a lot of people (because I hate mass amounts of people in small spaces).
Since most people are saying do a potluck, what does everyone think of making some kind of chicken and a pasta dish for the non meat eaters and having everyone else bring side dishes and beverages and dessert? I have a freezer that makes ice now, so I can provide ice.
do your vegetarians eat chicken? a cheesy, veg-filled pasta bake would be fine. or one chicken and one simply veg.
do you have access to chafing dishes? you can make a pan of chicken and rice and one of beans and rice, then put out soft tortillas, lettuce, shredded cheese, salsa, etc. for burrito making. let other people bring guac, etc.
yes, have everybody else pitch in. buying ice is cheap. don't stuff your freezer with bags of it, let the beverage-bringers bring some.
re: Uncle Bob
2 - 8 lb pork butts. Shrinkage will vary from butt to butt and cooking process. I figure 50% shrinkage...fat & moisture loss, bone etc. So an 8 lb butt will yield about 4 pounds of usable meat after pulling. 4 lbs. = 64 ozs which will make 16 4oz sandwiches. which is a generous portion. Some will eat less on the sandwich..some more. Some of the men folk will eat two sandwiches too! ~~ So two butts will ensure you have enough....with some left over...which is not a bad thing. It freezes well....
You can marinate & broil portobello mushrooms for the vegs and make a burger bar for everyone else.
If burgers are a pain for ~15, make a large pan of taco filling, and set up a taco bar. Potatoes and roasted poblanos make a nice taco filling for vegs.
A couple of veg quiches and a large green salad
Orzo or farro salad
I also really like the chili idea, of a meat and a veggie chili, you can supplement with cornbread, breadsticks, baked potatoes
And I also like the sausage & pepper idea, can supplement with some cooked pasta, garlic bread, salad. Vegs can make a hoagie with the bread, sautéed vegs and cheese, then broil.