Put a Fresh Spin on Your Labor Day BBQ Menu


Labor Day is the last hurrah before summer officially ends.  But after Memorial Day and the Fourth of July, not to mention all the other summer parties, how can you make your Labor Day barbeque something memorable and unique?

Instead of the usual burgers and hot dogs, try a few of our favorite family recipes.  They’re sure to wow your guests and send them back-to-school with great memories of summer.  Note: each recipe serves six, so halve, double, or triple the recipe as you need.

Santa Maria Tri-Tip Barbeque

My dad always told me that this was what the poor missileers  at Vandenberg AFB in California would make when they didn’t want to spend a lot of money, but they wanted to feed a lot of people some really good food.


  • 2 to 2 ½ lb beef tri-tip roast
  • 1 Tbsp ground black pepper
  • 2 tsp salt
  • ½ Tbsp paprika
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp dried rosemary
  • ¼ tsp cayenne pepper
  • ½ tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1/3 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 4 medium-sized cloves of crushed garlic


Mix black pepper, salt, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, rosemary, and cayenne together to create a rub.  Massage it into all surfaces of the beef.  Cover and refrigerate for 3 hours, then remove from the fridge and let it sit for half an hour at room temperature.

Blend together the Dijon, vinegar, oil, and crushed garlic until emulsified.

Lay the meat on the grill and brush with the basting mixture.  Turn the roast every 3-4 minutes.  With each turn, brush more of the oil and vinegar mixture on.  After about 25-30 minutes, check the internal temperature.  It should be at 135 degrees for a medium-rare roast.  The outside will have a flavorful char that is the signature characteristic of Santa Maria Tri-Tip.

Take the tri-tip off of the grill and let it rest for 15 minutes.  This keeps all the juices from gushing out (you’ll have a dry roast if that happens).  Cut into ¼ inch strips going across the grain.  This is enough to serve 6 people.  Serve with tortillas and fresh salsa.  Don’t have the recipe for that… oh look!

Fresh Garden Salsa

This fresh salsa has lots of flavor with a little kick to enhance your Tri-Tip!


  • 8 oz of diced tomatoes, divided
  • 1 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 diced Anaheim pepper
  • minced jalapeno, to taste
  • ½ cup diced red onion
  • a handful of chopped fresh cilantro
  • salt, to taste


Blend half of the tomatoes with the garlic until they form a liquid.  Just a quick pulse or two will do it.

In a serving bowl, mix together the Anaheim pepper, jalapeno, red onion, cilantro, and the rest of the tomatoes.  Pour the liquid mixture over the top and toss it together.  Add salt as desired.   If you want a less potent onion flavor, try sweating the onion in a small sauté pan until they are translucent.  Then refrigerate until cool.  Serve over Santa Maria Tri-Tip.

Tasty Margaritas

This recipe is a “secret family recipe,” so I have to leave out our secret ingredient or else Grandma will come get me.  Trust me though, even without, these are the best margaritas you’ll ever have.


  • 1 can of frozen limeade
  • 1/3 can of DeKuyper’s Triple Sec
  • 2/3 can of Jose Cuervo Tequila
  • 1 packet of Splenda
  • Ice


Empty a frozen limeade can into your blender.  If it’s hard as a rock, run warm water along the sides to loosen it up.  Using the can, eyeball 1/3 of the can of Triple Sec.  Fill the can the rest of the way up with tequila.  Empty that into the blender as well.  Sprinkle in one packet of Splenda.  Begin blending.  Remove the center of the blender lid, and drop in ice cubes until your margaritas are the perfect consistency.  Salted rim on your glass is optional.

Happy Labor Day!



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