May 15, 2009

'Tis the Season to BBQ

There's a few long summer weekends coming up: Memorial Day, July 4th and Labor Day. Sounds like it's time for a BBQ!

A BBQ is just an outdoor party waiting to happen…and it can happen anywhere. If you don’t have a house, town home or apartment with grassy space think beyond the backyard and host your BBQ at:
Your Building’s Rooftop
Your Apartment Balcony (use an electric grill & check your building’s rules!)
Community Pool
Local Park, Beach or Campground


Keep it all indoors, open a window & use a grill pan!

Bug Repellent Candles and Spray
Blankets or Folding Chairs
Paper & Plastic Plates, Cups, Napkins, Utensils
Big Trash bags
Essentials Bag with Paper Towels, Bottle Opener, Tongs and Sharp Knife

These dishes are full of fruits and vegetables, so hit your local farm stand to get the freshest produce you can. Everything can be prepped the day before, cooked on the grill or served at room temperature. Pick one or two of the side salads – they’re all mayonnaise-free which is a plus if the temperatures start soaring! Everything serves 6-8. If no quantities are listed get as many pieces of chicken, vegetables, peaches, etc. as you have people…

Lemon Bourbon Punch

Grilled Tomato Bruschetta

Spice Rub Chicken
Veggie Kabobs

Mediterranean Couscous Salad
Three Bean Salad
Pickled Cucumber Salad

Grilled Peaches with Ice Cream
Peanut Butter Banana S’mores

Lemon Bourbon Punch
1 dozen lemons
1 pound sugar
5th of bourbon (Jim Beam is good)
2 cups club soda
2 cups ginger ale

Squeeze lemons. Put all of the lemon juice, sugar, bourbon and half of the lemon peels in a large container. Let it sit for 24 hours. Stir to make sure all the sugar has dissolved. Add club soda and ginger ale, stir to combine and serve over ice.

Grilled Brushetta
1 French baguette, sliced 1/2 inch thick
1 clove fresh garlic, cut in half
Olive oil
1 container goat cheese (plain or herbed)

12-15 plum tomatoes, seeded & chopped
10-12 fresh basil leaves, chiffonade-cut
1/2 half red onion, finely chopped
1 TB garlic, minced (approx. 3 cloves)
1/4 cup olive oil
3 TB balsamic vinegar
Salt & pepper to taste

Mix all topping ingredients in a large bowl, toss & let sit covered until you’re ready to serve. If preparing the topping mixture the night before, omit the basil and leave the mixture in the fridge overnight and bring back to room temperature and add basil before serving.

Rub each slice of bread with cut side of garlic clove and brush lightly with olive oil. Place on hot grill for 1-2 mins. per side. Watch it closely to make sure it doesn’t burn!
Top the toasted bread with a smear of goat cheese and one rounded tablespoon of topping. Serve immediately,

NOTE: Bread slices can be toasted in the oven ahead of time and stored in an airtight plastic bag.

If it’s not tomato season, try these other delicious flavor combinations...

Using the same bread & goat cheese base, add:
-Fig or apricot jam, fresh arugula & cracked black pepper
-Sautéed button mushrooms with red pepper flakes
-Roasted red peppers & jarred artichokes

Stack the basil leaves, roll lengthwise into a tube and make small slices. The result will be long, delicate strings of basil. Once cut, basil will blacken pretty quickly if left out so make sure you add it to the olive oil mixture right away and serve immediately.

Spice Rub Chicken
When it comes to convenience and quick cooking it’s hard to beat a boneless, skinless chicken breast. They’re not always the most flavorful choice though. The spice rub gives them a great flavor boost but, if you have the time, brined bone-in chicken pieces would be even better.

3 TB paprika
1 TB brown sugar
1 TB finely ground coffee
1 TB dried oregano
2 TB salt
1 TB ground black pepper

Combine the spices in a small bowl. Rub a small amount of olive oil on chicken and coat in spice rub. For extra flavor, rub spices into chicken a few hours before cooking and refrigerate it, covered, until you’re ready to cook. Cook over direct heat, about 5-6 minutes per side for boneless breasts.

Veggie Kabobs
Pick your favorite veggies, thread them on skewers & throw them on the grill!

NOTE: If using wooden skewers, be sure to completely submerge them in water and soak for at least 30 minutes before you place them over the fire so they don’t get scorched.

Veggies to Grill:
Bell Peppers
Quartered Onions or Pearl Onions
Eggplant Slices
Yellow Squash & Zucchini (Use the baby bite-size ones if you can find them)
Mushroom Caps
Asparagus Spears
Fennel Bulb
Corn Cobs (Break/Cut into halves or thirds)


Vegetable: How to Prep: Cook Time: Done When:

Bell Pepper: Stem, seed, quarter, brush with olive oil, sprinkle with salt & pepper: 6 to 10 minutes, turn once : Skin is blistered & a little charred

Yellow Squash & Zucchini: Trim ends, cut ½ inch thick lengthwise, brush with olive oil, sprinkle with salt & pepper: 5 to 6 minutes, turn once: Inside is tender with good grill marks, skin is slightly charred

Eggplant: Trim ends, slice ½ inch thick, brush with olive oil, sprinkle with salt & pepper: 5 to 6 minutes, turn once: Inside is tender with good grill marks, skin is slightly charred

Corn: Remove husk, brush with olive oil, sprinkle with salt & pepper: 15 minutes, turn 3-4 times to get entire surface in contact with grill: Kernels are tender with light brown grill marks

Onion: Peel off papery skin, slice ½ thick or quarter, brush with olive oil, sprinkle with salt & pepper: 15 minutes, turn once: Slightly charred and translucent

Mushroom (Portabella Caps): Trim stems, brush with olive oil, sprinkle with salt & pepper: 15 minutes, turn once: Meat is tender

Asparagus: Trim stems, brush with olive oil, sprinkle with salt & pepper: 10 minutes, turn once: Spears are limp with grill marks

Fennel: Trims fronds, slice bulb ½ thick, brush with olive oil, sprinkle with salt & pepper: 15 minutes, turn once: Tender, slightly charred and translucent

Three Bean Salad
1 15oz. can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained

1 15oz. can kidney beans, rinsed and drained

1 15oz. can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained

2 celery stalks, chopped 

1/2 red onion, chopped
1 cup flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped 

1 TB fresh rosemary, finely chopped
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar

1/3 cup granulated sugar

1/4 cup olive oil

1 1/2 tea salt

1/4 tea ground black pepper

In a large bowl, mix the beans, celery, onion, parsley and rosemary. In a separate small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, sugar, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Add the dressing to the bean mixture and toss to coat. Chill salad in the refrigerator for several hours, to allow the beans to soak up the flavor of the dressing.

Mediterranean Couscous Salad
1 14oz. can chicken stock
1 cup quick cooking couscous
10-12 cherry tomatoes, halved
½ red onion, finely chopped
3 oz. feta cheese, crumbled
5 TB olive oil
3 TB fresh lemon juice
Salt & freshly ground pepper, to taste
Green or black olives, pits removed and sliced in half
Toasted pine nuts (optional)

Bring stock to boil in small pan. Mix in couscous, cover and remove from heat. Let stand 5 minutes. Fluff with fork. Turn into medium bowl. Cool to room temperature. Mix tomato, onion and feta into couscous. Whisk together oil, lemon, salt and lots of pepper. Mix into salad. Top with olives and pine nuts.

Pickled Cucumber Salad
3 large cucumbers, peeled, thinly sliced
1 large white onion, thinly sliced
1 cup white vinegar
3/4 cup water
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper

Combine all ingredients except cucumbers and onion; heat until sugar melts. Pour warm mixture over cucumbers and onion. Store covered in refrigerator.

Grilled Peaches with Ice Cream
This is best if you have a good cooler or are going to be close to home. I find it’s easier to let your ice cream (any flavor) soften a little the night before, scoop it out on a baking sheet & re-freeze it. That way you have ready-made scoops of ice cream when it’s time to dish out dessert.

Pick slightly under-ripe peaches, slice them in half vertically & remove the pits. Squeeze a little lemon juice over the cut sides and place them over indirect heat on the grill. Flip after a few minutes, you should have very faint grill marks. Once the peaches are heated through and slightly softened, pull them from the grill and serve with ice cream. Garnish with a sprig of mint if you’re being fancy…

Peanut Butter Banana S’mores
If you don’t want to mess with ice cream, try a summer camp classic. You know the drill – graham crackers, marshmallows, chocolate bars. These have a little twist – a smear of peanut butter and a few banana slices. Just lay out the ingredients and let everyone assemble their own! Bring long wooden skewers so everyone can spear a marshmallow and roast it over the grill. And don’t forget paper towels or wet wipes to clean up sticky hands and faces when it’s over!


Lisa said...

Wow--lots of great ideas here! I've got to try your punch.

Mademoiselle Frou-Frou said...

such yummy ideas - we single gals need pictures with this post! everything here sounds like it looks amazing!!! ;-)