NORTHWOODS COOKS: Celebrate the last blast of summer

A homemade Philly cheesesteak sandwich with onions and peppers and served with french fries can be a fun way to kick off Labor Day weekend. Adobe stock.
Brent Hofacker/Brent Hofacker -

While the first day of fall isn’t until Sept. 22, Labor Day weekend is traditionally the end of summer before kids head back to school. Here are some recipes from to try over the long weekend.

Grilled Tequila-Lime Shrimp

2 tablespoons lime juice

2 tablespoons tequila


1/4 cup olive oil

1 pinch garlic salt

1 pinch ground cumin

1 pinch ground black pepper to taste

1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined

6 (10-inch) wooden skewers

1 large lime, quartered

Whisk together the lime juice, tequila, olive oil, garlic salt, cumin, and black pepper in a bowl until well blended. Pour into a large resealable plastic bag. Add the shrimp, seal bag and turn to coat evenly. Refrigerate 1 to 4 hours before grilling.


Soak skewers at least 30 minutes in water to prevent burning.

Preheat outdoor grill for medium-high heat. Lightly oil grill grate, and place about 4 inches from the heat source.

Drain and discard marinade from shrimp. Thread shrimp onto prepared skewers, 5 to 6 per skewer. Cook uncovered on a preheated grill until shrimp turn pink, turning once, for 5 to 7 minutes. Serve with lime wedges for garnish.

Slow Cooker Philly Cheese Steak Sandwich

1/2 large onion, sliced

3 cloves garlic, chopped

1 pound beef sirloin, cut into 2-inch strips, or more to taste


1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon chili powder

1/2 teaspoon onion powder

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon paprika

1/4 teaspoon dried thyme

1/4 teaspoon dried marjoram


1/4 teaspoon dried basil

2 tablespoons bourbon whiskey

1 teaspoon soy sauce

1 teaspoon prepared mustard

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

1/2 teaspoon hot sauce

12 fluid ounce can or bottle beer

2 cubes beef bouillon


Spread onion and garlic into the bottom of a slow cooker. Layer beef over onion and garlic. Sprinkle cumin, black pepper, chili powder, onion powder, garlic powder, paprika, thyme, marjoram and basil over beef. Top with bourbon, soy sauce, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, and hot sauce. Pour beer over beef mixture and add beef bouillon cubes.

Cook on low, stirring every hour or so, for 8 hours (or high for 4 hours). This recipe makes its own au jus if you like to dip. To serve, sautee a sliced onion and sliced green pepper in a skillet. Put meat on a sub bun and top with onion and green pepper and Swiss or provolone cheese on top of that. Leave open-faced and broil until the cheese just starts to brown. The top of the bun will brown fast, so don't broil that until the cheese has completely melted and just starts to show color.

Mom’s Good Old-fashioned Potato Salad

5 pounds potatoes, peeled and chopped

10 large eggs

1 large onion, chopped

24-ounce jar sweet pickles, drained and chopped


2 cups mayonnaise

Place the potatoes in a large pan of water and boil over medium-low heat until tender, about 12 minutes. Drain the potatoes and place in the refrigerator to cool.

Place the eggs in a saucepan of cold water over medium heat, and bring to a full boil. Turn off the heat, cover the pan, and allow the eggs to sit in the hot water for about 15 minutes. Cool the eggs thoroughly under cold running water and shell them. Chop the cooled eggs and place them in a large salad bowl.

Stir the onion, sweet pickles, and mayonnaise into the eggs, and let the mixture chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes to blend the flavors. Mix in the chilled chopped potatoes, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes more. Serve cold.

Rich Chocolate Truffle Pie

12 ounces semisweet chocolate chips

1-1/2 cups heavy whipping cream

1/4 cup sifted confectioners' sugar

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

9-inch prepared chocolate cookie crumb crust

In a microwave-safe dish combine chocolate chips and half of the cream. Cook on high for 1 to 2 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds until smooth. Cool to room temperature. Stir in sugar & vanilla. Set aside.

In a small bowl, beat the rest of the cream until soft peaks form. Beat in chocolate mixture on high speed 1/3 at a time. Mix well and spoon into crust.

Refrigerate at least 8 hours before serving.

Readers are invited to submit four to five of their favorite recipes to enjoy, along with a note about what makes them special. Send recipes to or by mail to the Park Rapids Enterprise, 203 Henrietta Ave. North, Park Rapids, MN 56470 and they may appear in a future issue.

Lorie Skarpness has lived in the Park Rapids area since 1997 and has been writing for the Park Rapids Enterprise since 2017. She enjoys writing features about the people and wildlife who call the north woods home.
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