I'm trying not to be sad, but with the arrival of Labor Day comes the inevitable end of Summer. To keep my spirits up, I'm crafting the ultimate Labor Day party menu. It's full of Summer's best ingredients. To start, I recommend a surf-inspired decadent and gooey seafood dip. For the main course, burgers, specifically double cheeseburgers seasoned with smoky cheddar, fruity chutney, and peppery arugula. On the side? Classic sour cream potato salad that's full of green onions and crisp bacon and a fun take on the regular caprese salad: roasted tomato and mozzarella "burgers." Doesn't this sound like an amazing meal?! Get the recipes after the break.

Seafood Dip

Seafood Dip

Seafood Dip Recipe

Ingredients

2 tablespoons butter
1 medium green bell pepper, diced
1 medium onion, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
1/2 of a 10 3/4-ounce can cream of shrimp soup (discard top half and use bottom part of soup)
1 cup mayonnaise
1/2 pound freshly grated Parmesan
1 (6-ounce) can crabmeat, picked free of any broken shells, drained
6 ounces shrimp, fresh or canned, drained
1/2 teaspoon white pepper

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
  2. Melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add the bell pepper, onion, and celery and saute for 2 minutes.
  3. In a bowl, combine the soup, mayonnaise, Parmesan, crabmeat, shrimp, and pepper.
  4. Stir the sauteed vegetables into the seafood mixture and spoon this mixture into a lightly greased 8 by 11-inch casserole dish. Bake for 30 minutes. Serve with toast points or crackers.

Makes 4 cups.

Smoky Double Cheeseburger

Smoky Double Cheeseburger

Smoky Double Cheeseburger Recipe

Ingredients

1 egg, lightly beaten
1/2 cup soft bread crumbs
3 oz. smoked cheddar cheese or cheddar cheese, finely shredded (3/4 cup)
3 green onions, chopped
2 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbsp. Dijon-style mustard
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
1-1/4 lb. ground beef round or ground sirloin
4 1/4- to 1/2-inch-thick onion slices (optional)
4 hamburger buns, split and toasted
1/4 cup mango chutney or cranberry relish
1/2 cup arugula leaves or watercress
1 to 2 oz. Asiago or Parmesan cheese, shaved

Directions

  1. In a large bowl combine egg, bread crumbs, smoked cheddar, green onions, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, and pepper. Add ground beef and mix gently. Firmly shape into four 1/2-inch-thick patties; set aside.
  2. Heat a nonstick or well-seasoned grill pan on stovetop over medium-high heat until hot. Reduce heat to medium; add onion slices, if using, to grill pan. Grill for 6 to 8 minutes or until tender and lightly browned, turning once. Remove from pan. For tabletop grill: Preheat grill according to manufacturers directions. Add onions, if using, to grill. If using a covered grill, close lid. Grill until onions are lightly browned. For covered grill, allow 5 to 7 minutes. For open grill, allow about 10 minutes. Remove onions. Add patties to grill. If using a covered grill, close lid. Grill until meat is done (160 degrees F). For a covered grill, allow 4 to 6 minutes. For open grill, allow about 7 to 8 minutes per side.
  3. Add patties to pan. Cook for 9 to 12 minutes or until meat is done (160 degrees F), turning once.
  4. Spread bottoms of hamburger buns with chutney or relish; top with arugula or watercress, patties, onion slices, if using, shaved cheese, and bun top.

Serves 4.

Potato Salad With Sour Cream and Scallions

Potato Salad With Sour Cream and Scallions

Potato Salad With Sour Cream and Scallions Recipe

Ingredients

2 pounds white new potatoes, quartered and cut into 3/4-inch chunks
Coarse salt and ground pepper
3/4 cup reduced-fat sour cream
1/4 cup light mayonnaise
1/2 cup thinly sliced scallions, plus more for garnish (optional)
4 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled, for garnish (optional)

Directions

  1. In a large pot, cover potatoes with salted water. Bring to a boil; reduce heat. Simmer until potatoes are tender when pierced with the tip of a sharp paring knife, 12 to 15 minutes. Drain well.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk together sour cream and mayonnaise; add warm potatoes, and gently fold to combine. Season with salt and pepper. Cover; refrigerate at least 1 hour and up to 1 day.
  3. To serve, season salad again with salt and pepper, if needed; fold in scallions. Garnish with bacon and more scallions, if desired.

Serves 4.

Tomato and Mozzarella Burger

Tomato and Mozzarella Burger

Tomato and Mozzarella Burger Recipe

Ingredients

6 large ripe tomatoes (about 2 1/2 pounds)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 large clove garlic, thinly sliced
8 ounces fresh unsalted mozzarella
2 sprigs fresh basil, leaves picked

Directions

  1. Heat oven to 450° F. Slice a thin piece from the rounded bottom of each tomato so they sit upright. Slice each tomato in half horizontally. Arrange the tomato halves, cut-side up, on a shallow roasting pan or rimmed baking sheet lined with foil. Drizzle with the oil, then sprinkle on the salt and pepper. Scatter the garlic over the tomatoes. Roast until they're softened and warmed through, about 15 minutes. (Underripe tomatoes may take 5 to 15 minutes longer.)
  2. Meanwhile, cut the mozzarella into six 1/2-inch-thick slices. Using a spatula, sandwich each cheese slice between 2 hot tomato halves. The heat of the tomatoes will melt the cheese slightly.
  3. Drizzle with any juices that collected in the roasting pan and garnish with the basil.

Serves 6.