Between packing up sandy beach chairs, getting little ones ready for school and gearing up for the busy month ahead, putting a satisfying dish on the dinner table can seem overwhelming on this unofficial last day of summer. But as you look ahead to fall, think about soups for bringing plenty of comfort to supper without a hassle.
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With Labor Day weekend in full swing, you’re likely heading outdoors to grill up an alfresco dinner. For dessert, look no further than the grill yet again — well, kind of. This week’s Most Popular Pin of the Week is a cake that looks just like a grill, but features sweet-treat toppings and a chocolate cake base. Hot dogs made from taffy, kebabs made from candy fruits, and corn made from sponge cake and jelly beans — it’s all here. The base of the cake is made using a simple boxed chocolate cake mix, and charred marshmallows and red candies are layered upon the cake to create the “coals.” Place a round cooling rack over the coals as a grate, and top it with the “grilled foods” to complete the scene.
For more crowd-pleasing recipe inspiration, check out Food Network’s Let’s Entertain board on Pinterest.
Get the Recipe: Get-Your-Grill-On Cake
September is practically synonymous with packed schedules, and busy calendars can quickly result in one too many takeout dinners. But no worries — we’ve got a plan for you. Choose a couple of these ingenious (read: giant and easy) recipes, spend a Sunday cooking and freezing, and get ready to shower yourself with gratitude next time you need a dinner idea faster than fast.
Big-Batch Andouille Gumbo (above)
With just a little extra chopping, you can make a double batch of this hearty soup that’s chock-full of peppers, okra, onions, sausage and more. Make it an even more satisfying meal by serving it over rice.\
Chefs’ Picks tracks down what the pros are eating and cooking from coast to coast.
Chefs spend all day feeding other people, but they rarely make meals for themselves. Many larger restaurants have instituted a pre-shift spread, often called the “family meal,” which has turned into a tradition of sorts. In addition to providing nourishment for the staff, this meal can serve as a way for the cooks to play in the kitchen by testing new recipes or finding creative uses for leftover ingredients. Chefs have even been known to share their own family traditions by using recipes that have been handed down to them from previous generations. Here, the pros share their best dishes for breaking bread together before the shift begins.
Bright, light and full of bold flavor, traditional pesto is a hallmark of the summer season, mainly thanks to the vibrant fresh basil that gives the sauce its famed green hue. But believe it or not, pesto doesn’t have to be all about the basil. In fact, you can make this standard puree with nearly any greens you happen to have on hand.
On this morning’s all-new episode of The Kitchen, the co-hosts checked off items from their summer bucket list and introduced simple ways to savor the tastes of the season, including a five-minute Non-Basil Pesto recipe. It’s easily customizable to whatever greens are available, and it yields craveable results every time. Geoffrey Zakarian starts with a flavorful blend of bold garlic and walnuts for subtle crunch then looks to the greens. He chooses a mix of arugula, kale and mint, but he also suggests fresh herbs and spinach, among other picks. Whirl them in the food processor with the garlic and nuts, then boost the richness by adding Parmesan and a hefty glug of olive oil for smoothness. Perhaps best of all is that this mixture keeps well in the fridge or freezer, so you can hang onto it for later.
Labor Day has a way of sneaking up. One day it’s the 4th of July, and then, all of a sudden, it’s Labor Day weekend and you’re faced with prepping for the last cookout of the summer. Thanks to Rachael Ray’s 30-minute meals, it’s incredibly easy to whip up a crowd-pleasing spread at the last minute, just in time for this weekend’s get-togethers and backyard bashes. Break out the grill one last time and celebrate the unofficial end of summer with these top-rated appetizers, mains and sweet bites.
Southwest Turkey Burgers (pictured above)
With over 200 fan reviews and a 5-star rating, these turkey burgers surely give the usual beef burgers a run for the spotlight. Rachael mixes bell peppers, spicy serranos and hot pepper sauce into the ground turkey meat for bold flavor in each bite.
Gear up for a weekend of parties and intense competition on Food Network. It all starts with a joint birthday bash on The Pioneer Woman: Ree Drummond’s cooking up festive eats, including Spicy Pulled Pork Sliders and a three-layer confetti cake. Next, Trisha Yearwood is inviting her friends over for a girls-only barbecue. She’s whipping up barbecue pork ribs, her creamy Potato Salad and Butterscotch Pie for dessert. After, Valerie Bertinelli’s throwing one final summer soiree with an all-grilled menu that includes salmon burgers, sweet potato wedges, and even grilled pound cake with peaches. On Smollett Eats, brothers Jake and Jojo and sisters Jurnee and Jazz are going head-to-head when they take over rival food trucks to see who can draw a bigger crowd.
Then on Sunday, Giada De Laurentiis is taking a boat trip with family, and she’s packed a light picnic spread complete with kale salsa verde bruschetta and a white bean and bitter greens salad. Next, Bobby Flay is transforming his barbecue leftovers into brunch with simple takes on pulled pork corn chip pie and smoky home fries with burnt ends. Later, tune in for the second installment of Guy’s Superstar Grocery Games, in which the seven remaining chefs will have to make a gourmet dish using ingredients selected from the Food Pyramid. After that, The Great Food Truck Race is taking the contestants to a local strawberry farm, where the families will have to make both sweet and savory dishes incorporating the berries. Finish off the evening with Cooks vs. Cons. Each professional and amateur will have to impress the judges with a dish that incorporates salad dressing.
If you’ve ever decked yourself out in an all-white outfit in October in a defiant act of who-ever-decided-I-couldn’t-anyway, then you aren’t alone. Though fashion worshipers may call wearing white after Labor Day an extreme and unforgivable faux pas (because how dare you), it’s one of those rules that either you follow or you don’t. Around here, we have our own issues when it comes to accepting that (sigh) summer is over and we have to move on with our lives. Though foods don’t necessarily fade out of style, they do fall out of season. There are a slew of foods that are on the summer-only list, though no food police is ever going to come after you if you eat them in another season. These are the dishes you should cook outdoors before Labor Day comes and goes (and they look mighty fine next to a pair of white jeans, might we add).
Once you put your rickety charcoal grill into storage, your chances of chowing down on a hot dog nosedive. That’s because hot dogs just taste better when they’re all juicy and char-marked — especially when you toast the buns on the grill too. Fire up the grill one last time for Bobby Flay’s Grilled Link Hot Dogs with Homemade Pickle Relish (pictured above) before you put your hot-dog-eating pursuits on hold until next year.
Some of our favorite summer desserts are red, white and blue. They’re the perfect combination of patriotism and seasonality: We usher in the season on Memorial Day, with fresh strawberries, raspberries and blueberries shining in flag cakes, cobblers and crisps, then pull out all the stops with patriotic treats come the 4th of July. Give the red, white and blue dessert palette a last hurrah this Labor Day weekend with these festive, simple sweets. They’ll send summer off with a proper salute. Read more
Addicted to coffee? Unable to raise even one eyelid in the a.m. — let alone lift your head off the pillow (mmmm … nice, soft pillow) — without a few sips from your mug, or to get through your afternoon meetings without a quick hit of espresso? Don’t blame yourself. Blame your genes.