Birds singing. Meat sizzling on the grill. Dog playing in the backyard. Friends and family chatting on lawn chairs. There’s no better way to enjoy the final nights of summer than with a picture-perfect barbecue.
The best summer meals are made when cooking out in the open air. It’s these al fresco dinner memories that keep us warm during those cold winter months, so take advantage of every last one. Include these five essentials to make your next cookout not only memorable, but magical.
Perfect Meat for Grilling
Marbled steaks and chops are best for the barbecue and have more flavor. Quality meats work and taste the best. When choosing cuts, choose a cut that is thick. The thin cuts tend to dry out quickly. Don’t forget to add your favorite dry rub or marinade to highlight your creation.
Delicious Side Dish (or Two)
For an easy, healthy (and tasty) option, throw some vegetables on the grill, such as corn on the cob, portobello mushrooms, peppers or asparagus. Grilled meat with a gluten-free recipe dry rub with some grilled vegetables is an easy way to avoid gluten and is naturally delicious.
Speaking of grilling side dishes, be bold and try grilling fruits for desserts! Grilling fruits caramelizes the sugars and gives them a unique flavor. Try pineapple alone or bananas with Nutella. Grill a peach with some cinnamon and a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top. Don’t be afraid to be creative.
Dessert kabobs are also a fun and unique dessert choice and are also easy to eat outside in a chair or on a blanket. Shortcake and strawberries covered in a white chocolate drizzle or strawberries and brownie bites are perfect.
This one’s easy. Any of your favorite beverages work wonderfully at a barbecue as long as they are cold. Keep them cold in a cooler or large bowl of ice. You can use a cozy to keep your canned or bottled beverages cooler longer. If using glasses or cups and don’t want your drink getting watered-down, use pre-chilled whiskey stones to keep your drink cool.
To give any drink a barbecue summer twist, make it sparkling by adding carbonated water, club soda or Sprite/7Up, add strawberry, lemon or lime, or add coconut flavor in some form.
Games keep the fun going and are so easy to put together. Usually it just takes an instigator to start things off (that’s you). Make large dice to play backyard Yahtzee or Jumbo Jenga. To make Jumbo Jenga, just cut 2x4 pieces 10.5 inches long. You will need 54 pieces total. You could also play corn hole, darts or just toss a Frisbee.
Friends, family or both. Invite a new acquaintance, old friends or family members. With social media, texting and increasing work hours, we rarely get opportunities for face time with real people. Barbecues are a perfect event for making human connections, and it’s been said that human connections lead to greater happiness. Whomever you invite, just remember that a great conversation starts with asking questions.