Labor Day Menu

picture of table setting of vegetables, chocolate squash cake, vegetarian chili, been and bean chile verde, and tortilla chips

Celebrate the last days of summer with this menu that's perfect for a cookout or potluck.

Download the Labor Day Cookbook in English (PDF|1.19MB) or Spanish (PDF|1.29MB)

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Labor Day Menu
Baked Tortilla Chips
Beef and Bean Chile Verde  OR  Vegetarian Chilivegetarian icon
Grilled Vegetable Packets
Grilled Fruit
Fresh Fruit with Cinnamon Yogurt Dip
Aunt Barbara's Chocolate Squash Cake

= Vegetarian Option

See More Healthy Thrifty Holiday Menus

Baked Tortilla Chips

Use this recipe to make your own whole wheat flour or corn flour tortilla chips.

Makes 6 servings.

plate of tortilla chips with green and red salsa Ingredients

3 flour tortillas (10-inch, whole wheat)
cooking oil spray
salt (dash, optional)


1) Preheat oven or toaster oven to 400°F.
2) Lightly grease a baking sheet with the cooking spray.
3) Cut tortillas into 8 sections (as if you were cutting a pizza) and place on baking sheet.
4) Spray tops of tortilla sections with cooking spray and lightly salt, if desired.
5) Bake for 10 minutes, until crisp and light brown, watching closely so the chips don't burn.

For nutrition information visit Baked Tortilla Chips at What's Cooking? USDA Mixing Bowl.

Beef and Bean Chile Verde

This recipe blends flavors and packs a nutritional punch as a source of iron, vitamin C, and fiber. Bell pepper, onion, and tomatoes bring color to the dish.

Makes 6 servings.

chile served in a bowl with tortilla chips on a platter with a napkin and a spoon Ingredients

2/3 pound ground beef (90% lean)
1 bell pepper, large (chopped)
1 onion, large (chopped)
6 garlic cloves (chopped)
1 tablespoon chili powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 can diced tomatoes, low-sodium (14.5 ounces)
1 3/4 cups green salsa (or enchilada sauce, 1-16 ounce jar)
1 can pinto or kidney beans (rinsed and drained, 15 ounces)


1. Place meat, bell pepper, tomatoes, and onion in large sauce pan, . Heat on medium 8-10 minutes, stirring frequently until the meat is browned; drain fat.
2. Add garlic, chili powder and cumin, cook until fragrant (15 seconds).
3. Stir in salsa and bring to a boil.
4. Reduce heat and simmer; cover and cook 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
5. Add beans and cook until heated.

For nutrition information visit Beef and Bean Chile Verde at What's Cooking? USDA Mixing Bowl.

Vegetarian Chili

Makes 4 servings.

bowl of vegetarian chili served on a straw placemat Ingredients

2 onions (large, cut into 1/4 inch pieces)
1 green bell peppers (cut into 1/4 inch pieces)
3 garlic clove
2 jalapeno chilis (fresh, diced)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon cumin (ground)
2 cans whole tomatoes, low sodium (28 ounces total - cut into 1/4 inch pieces or 8 medium fresh tomatoes)
2 zucchini (medium - cut into 1/4 inch pieces)
2 summer squash (medium - cut in to 1/4 inch pieces)
1 can kidney beans (16 ounce, rinsed)
1 cup cilantro (or coriander) (chopped, fresh)
salt and pepper (to taste, optional)


1. In a large pot saute onions, bell pepper, garlic, and jalapeno in oil over medium high heat for about 5 minutes - stirring often.
2. Add chili powder, cumin, half of the chopped cilantro, salt and pepper, and continue cooking for another 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.
3. Add the tomatoes, zucchini, squash, and bring mixture to a simmer.
4. Simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
5. Add beans, and continue to simmer for another 5 minutes.
6. Serve the mixture hot. Put remaining cilantro on top.

For nutrition information visit Vegetarian Chili at What's Cooking? USDA Mixing Bowl.

Grilled Vegetable Packets

Veggies are wrapped in foil and cooked on the grill for an easy side dish to your cookout. Don't have a grill? This recipe can also be made in the oven.

Makes 5 servings.

grilled onions, red bell peppers, zucchini, yellow squash in a aluminum foil packet Ingredients

2 zucchini, small (sliced)
2 yellow squash, small (sliced)
4 red potatoes, small (scrubbed well and sliced)
1/2 red onion (sliced)
1/2 bell peppers (red or green, seeded and sliced)
1/4 cup Italian salad dressing, light
salt and pepper (optional, to taste)


1. Heat grill to medium heat or 350 degrees.
2. Wash vegetables and slice.
3. Toss in a large bowl. Add dressing and toss until all vegetables are coated.
4. Tear 2 large squares of aluminum foil and place half of the vegetable mixture on each piece. Place an equal piece of foil over the top of vegetable mixture and fold bottom piece with top sheet to form a packet.
5. Place on heated grill for 20-30 minutes or until the potatoes are tender. If you don't have a grill bake Veggie Packets in the oven at 400 degrees for 20-30 minutes.
6. Before you open the packets, poke holes in the foil with a fork. Be very careful opening the foil as the steam will be very hot and could burn you!
7. Empty vegetables onto serving plate or serve from foil packets.
Try different vegetables- Tomatoes, green beans, sweet potatoes, mushrooms, broccoli, carrots, corn or your favorites.

For nutrition information visit Grilled Vegetable Packets at What's Cooking? USDA Mixing Bowl.

Grilled Fruit

Fruit kabobs cooked on the grill make a tasty and healthy dessert.

Makes 3 servings.

bananas, peaches, and pineapple on skewers served on a colorful plate Ingredients

1 cup pineapple chunks
1 peach (cubed)
1 banana (sliced)


1. Place fruit chunks on a skewer to make kabobs.
2. Grill or broil on low heat until the fruit is hot and slightly golden.
If using wooden skewers, thoroughly soak skewers in water prior to using to prevent burning (approximately 30 minutes).

For nutrition information visit Grilled Fruit at What's Cooking? USDA Mixing Bowl.

Fresh Fruit with Cinnamon Yogurt Dip

Vanilla yogurt with cinnamon makes and delicious dip for your favorite fruits. Use low-fat yogurt for an even healthier option.

Makes 4 servings.

plate of fruit with yogurt dip Ingredients

1 apple
1 orange
1/4 cup orange juice
1 cup vanilla yogurt (low-fat)
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon


1. Core and slice the apple.
2. Slice banana into thin circles.
3. Peel the orange and break it into sections.
4. Pour the orange juice into a small bowl.
5. Dip the fruit pieces into the orange juice to prevent browning.
6. Arrange on a plate.
7. Mix the yogurt and cinnamon in a small bowl.
8. Put the bowl of yogurt and cinnamon next to the fruit. Use it as a dip for the fruit.
Try making this with other favorite fruits.

For nutrition information visit Fresh Fruit with Cinnamon Yogurt Dip at What's Cooking? USDA Mixing Bowl.

Aunt Barbara's Chocolate Squash Cake

Incorporating squash into a chocolate cake adds flavor plus fiber, vitamin K, phosphorus, and folate.

Makes 12 servings.

overview picture of chocolate cake with a piece cut out and served on a plate Ingredients

1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 package cake mix, dark chocolate
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 eggs
1 1/4 cups water
1 cup squash (shredded or finely chopped)
chopped walnuts (1/4 cup, optional)


1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour a 10" tube or bundt pan.
2. In a large bowl, combine cake mix and cinnamon.
3. Add eggs, water, and oil. Blend until combined, then beat with an electric mixer for 2 minutes on medium speed.
4. Fold in squash. Add nuts if you like.
5. Pour into prepared pan. Bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour, until cake springs back when lightly touched.

For nutrition information visit Aunt Barbara's Chocolate Squash Cake at What's Cooking? USDA Mixing Bowl.