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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.

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  1. Chicken, salmon
    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.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Gail

      That chicken sounds good, I'd appreciate the recipe.

      1. re: zitronenmadchen

        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.

    2. 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.

      1 Reply
      1. re: mcf

        Tortellini salad sounds like a good option for the veggies, thanks!

      2. 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.

        2 Replies
        1. re: greygarious

          I was planning on having the gathering outside, weather permitting, I like the lima bean idea, my family loves lima beans.

          1. re: zitronenmadchen

            Lima Bean Salad

            2 boxes frozen lima beans
            Olive oil
            Wine vinegar
            Salt
            Black pepper, freshly ground
            6 strips bacon, crumbled
            3 hard-boiled eggs, chopped roughly
            Parsley, chives or green onions
            Anchovy paste
            Parmesan

            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.

        2. 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.

          1. 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.

            1 Reply
            1. re: INDIANRIVERFL

              Ha. They're already going to be bringing chairs if they want to sit outside. I figured a big thing of unsweetened iced tea would be a cheap beverage, byob if they would like some other libations.