Low-Labor Ideas for Labor Day Weekend

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Labor Day weekend is here, signaling the end of one heck of a brutal summer. It's also a chance for one last summer party -- including sipping beers on the patio, grilling hot dogs or burgers, and listening to groovy tunes (might I suggest some reggae for this occasion?). But the holiday is called "Labor Day" for a reason: You're supposed to relax, not work hard. So if you are looking to entertain, here are a few easy ways to do it without running yourself ragged.

Let someone else do the cooking: Order food for your Labor Day party from casual, local restaurants so you can spend more time working on that music playlist. A lot of barbecue places will do big orders for parties -- you could also go the Caribbean route and grab roti, jerk chicken, or fish fry from local joints. Last but not least, prepared-foods markets and delis are great places to furnish a more eclectic spread. In any case, the best bet is to call a day or two in advance to check for availability or place your order. Here are a few places to try:

Rock 'N' Roll Ribs
Art's BBQ
Bar-B-Que Jack's
Sheila's Famous BBQ, Conch, & More
Lovey's Roti
Pa D' Gennaro's
Fernanda's International Market
C'est Si Bon
Carmine's Gourmet Market
 
KISS: Yep, the old acronym applies here. Keep it simple, silly. Don't try to plan an extravagant feast that will have you slaving in the kitchen all day. Stick to simple dishes that require few steps to prepare. Or better yet, something you can prepare the day before and just warm or cook before your party. Finally, plan your meals around one theme so that shopping for ingredients is easier. (Say, Greek or Mexican.) Here are a few examples:

Deviled eggs: This version from Alton Brown looks fab. 
Summertime Orzo Pasta: These Greek-inspired flavors are simple and clean and can be prepped days beforehand.
Ceviche: It seems daunting, but it's so easy. Lime juice. Onion. Fish. Pepper. Anyone can do it, and it tastes great with a beer.
Grilled chicken, burgers, or steak [Part 1] [Part 2]: Follow these grilling tips for an easy time in the backyard.
Guacamole: Everyone loves guac, and it's a perfect food to put out and let guests help themselves.

Kegs are your friend: Sure, you haven't held a kegger since your early twenties. But grabbing a keg for a Labor Day bash doesn't mean you're setting up for a collegiate romp. Kegs are cheaper than beer by the 12-pack or case if you have a lot of people showing up (or a few people who can drink). You also don't have to deal with clean up of bottles or cans, and the self-serve aspect is brilliant. Besides, you can get some great beer in keg form now. BX Beer Depot can fill your keg with brews from all over depending on what they've got. And if a keg is too big for you, then go with a growler. These gallon-size beer vessels are cheap and fun. BX also fills them up, and so does the Lodge in Boca.

Relax: Most important, take it easy. You don't have to have a huge party to have a good time. Just invite some friends over and put your iPod on shuffle. Pull out the beach chairs and park them on your porch and just enjoy the final days of summer. 


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