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  • Kara Kimbrough

Leave the grill outdoors' not the best Labor Day hack; I have better ones

By Kara Kimbrough

There's not a cooler, more delicious hot-weather dessert than a slice of Shoney's-Style Strawberry Pie.

The internet is full of tips and tricks to create an enjoyable Labor Day weekend barbecue. Most that I read made sense, but this took the cake for nonsensical advice, especially here in the Deep South where we practically invented outdoor grilling. “Never grill indoors – always leave the grill outside your house.” Really? Like we don’t already know that an open flame from a grill (if you could even drag it inside) is a recipe for disaster inside an enclosed space? Yes, it’s unreasonably hot, but die-hard grillers know to start early before the heat gets too intense…or better yet, wait until the sun goes down.

Nonsensical advice aside, it’s time to think seriously about the long holiday weekend coming up and plan menus accordingly. In my opinion, nothing’s better than a juicy burger fresh from the grill topped with crisp lettuce, freshly-sliced tomatoes and doused with a homemade burger sauce. Add a couple of slices of bacon and it's even better. But I realize Labor Day meals need new more additions, so below are a few to get you started.

Here's to a relaxing, enjoyable Labor Day and to the beginning of the end of a long, hot summer!

Spaghetti Salad

1 pound spaghetti, broken in half

1 16-ounce bottle Italian dressing (I like Newman’s Own)

1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese

2 teaspoons seasoned salt

1 teaspoon garlic powder

½ teaspoon ground black pepper

1 medium red onion, diced

1 medium cucumber, diced

2 medium tomatoes, diced

Cook spaghetti according to package directions. Drain, raised with cold water and drain well. Transfer to large bowl.

In medium bowl, whisk together salad dressing, cheese and seasonings until well blended. Stir in cucumber and onion. Pour over spaghetti and toss lightly to coat. Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours or up to 24 hours. Garnish with chopped tomatoes.

Pita Bites

1 (10 ounce) package pita bread, cut in half

3 tablespoons butter

1 teaspoon crushed garlic

1 teaspoon dried Italian-style seasoning

2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

Jar of prepared salsa, hummus or your favorite dip

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Open pita bread halves and roughly cut into approximately 2 inch pieces. Arrange on a medium baking sheet. In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt butter and mix in garlic and dried Italian-style seasoning. Pour the mixture over pita bread pieces.

Sprinkle bread with Parmesan cheese, adjusting the amount as desired. Bake in the preheated oven 10 minutes, or until lightly browned. Top each half with a spoonful of salsa, hummus or favorite dip.

Mexican Street Corn on the Cob

(For grill or air fryer)

6 ears corn, shucked, rinsed (fresh is best, but if you can’t find it, prepare frozen ears according to package directions

Vegetable oil if using air fryer

1/4 cup mayonnaise

1/4 cup sour cream

1/3 cup Mexican Style Blend cheese

3 teaspoons chili powder

Chopped fresh cilantro and lime wedges, for serving

For grill: Prepare a grill for medium-high heat; heat 5 minutes (or preheat a grill pan over medium-high heat). Grill corn, turning often, until slightly charred all over, about 10 minutes.

In a small bowl, mix mayonnaise and sour cream. Transfer corn to a platter. Brush with mayonnaise mixture. Top with cheese, chili powder and cilantro. Serve warm or at room temperature with lime wedges.

For air fryer:

Cut corn to fit in air-fryer basket (you may need to cut cobs in half). Brush corn all over with oil. In batches, arrange corn in basket and cook at 400 degrees, turning halfway through, until tender, 10 to 12 minutes.

While corn is frying, in a small bowl, mix mayonnaise and sour cream. Transfer corn to a platter. Brush with mayonnaise mixture. Top with cheese, chili powder and cilantro. Serve warm or at room temperature with lime wedges.

Shoney’s-Style Fresh Strawberry Pies

For glaze:

4 cups water

3 cups sugar

1 3-ounce package strawberry-flavored Jell-O

1-1/2 cups cornstarch

2 tablespoons red food color


4 pints strawberries

2 baked 9-inch pie shells

To make glaze, in medium saucepan, combine 3 cups of the water, sugar and gelatin. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.

In small bowl, gradually mix remaining 1 cup water into cornstarch until smooth. Add to saucepan, stirring constantly, with wire whisk. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, about 5 minutes or until mixture is thick and fairly clear. Stir in red food color.

Remove from heat and let stand at room temperature until cool. Do not over-refrigerate.

For pies, spread ¼ cup of the glaze onto bottom of each pie shell. In large bowl, combine strawberries and 2 cups of glaze. Mix gently to coat evenly. Spoon half the mixture into each pie shell, arranging berries to create a pretty design.

Spoon the remaining glaze over each pie, smoothing and sealing glaze to edge of crust with spoon. Refrigerate at least 2 hours.

Kara Kimbrough is a food and travel writer and travel agent from Mississippi. Email her at



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