Labor Day Recipes for a Crowd

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This summer, Food Network’s Grilling Central is packed with recipes for the entire family’s taste buds, boasting the best in burgers, dogs, chicken and more all season long. But with so many recipes, where do you start? Each Saturday, FN Dish is giving you a complete menu that is stress-free, and this weekend’s spread is guaranteed to feed a crowd.

If this Labor Day weekend suddenly finds you cooking for a houseful of guests, fear not. We have everything you need to pull off an effortless, enjoyable backyard bash that’s brimming with top-notch dishes. Best of all, our no-fail recipes are a cinch to make, so you can be sure that you, the host, will have as much fun at your party as your guests.

Perhaps the most important part of any summertime soiree is the cocktails, and when it comes to entertaining a crowd, simplicity is key. Now isn’t the time to show off your mixology skills with made-to-order specialty drinks. Instead reach for big-batch cocktails that lend themselves to easy pouring, like Food Network Magazine's  Red Sangria or Bobby’s White Peach Cocktail. If your guest list includes kids, prepare a pitcher of alcohol-free Mint Limeade, so that they can enjoy frosty glasses, too. Check out Food Network’s roundup of Pitcher-Friendly Drinks for more simple drink ideas.

Lucky 7 Layer Dip: Rachael Ray

Photo by: Tara Donne ©Tara Donne

Tara Donne, Tara Donne

Next to casual summertime sippers, easy-to-eat appetizers are a must, since they’ll hold over your guests until the main dish is ready. Similar to cocktails, pre-dinner munchies should welcome family-style eating, so look for recipes to which everyone can help themselves, like Rachael’s 7-Layer Dip (pictured left). Her 15-minute appetizer is a simple meatless dish that’s piled high with classic Mexican ingredients just waiting to be scooped up with crispy chips.

Corn Casserole; Paula Deen

Photo by: Tara Donne

Tara Donne

When it comes to selecting which main dish to serve, take into account how much other food there will be. If you’re offering just a few items, look to a single feature recipe that will feed plenty, like this Texas Oven-Roasted Beef Brisket that serves 10 people. If you’re planning on preparing a larger spread, however, it’s okay to serve a smaller main dish, since you’ll have other plates to support it. The Neelys, for example, note that their Kansas City Style Pork Ribs (pictured above) will feed eight small portions, which should be enough if you’re also enjoying potato salads, vegetables and casseroles. Use Food Network’s Barbecue Party Calculator to help you determine how much food to cook.

Appetizer: 7-Layer Dip
Side Dish: Corn Casserole
Cocktail: Red Sangria

Planning on making one of these dishes? Snap a photo and post it on Food Network’s Facebook wall.

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