Summer without barbecues is like Bert without Ernie, like Sunny without Cher, just not complete.
Well, if you haven’t broken out the grill and invited your friends over for a cookout yet, it’s time to get going! There is still time left in the season, and you only need a few things to make your summer barbecue one to remember (and look back on during those cold months of winter).
Gas grills may be easier to heat up and use to cook things uniformly, but if you have a little extra time and skill at the grill, charcoal is where it’s at. There’s nothing like a little smoky char on that meat to kick things up in the flavor department. If you need a primer, check out How to Use a Charcoal Grill.
The official first day of summer has already come and gone, which means that it will just get darker earlier and earlier. Well, break out the cool twinkle lights. You can just get a few strings of white Christmas lights and string them above your table for a nice effect, or up your cool factor and get two or three of these large solar powered lights and hang them around your backyard.
Yes, it goes without saying that any barbecue is not complete without the meat (or some Portobello that you can throw on the grill for the vegetarians in the house). Stocking up on meat is easier than ever these days with all those companies that will ship you some choice cuts after ordering online. Be a little adventurous and try some out-of-the-ordinary animals – replace those regular hamburgers with ostrich or Buffalo Buffalo Burgers to get your guests talking.
What’s the easiest and most crowd-pleasing barbecue dish to make? Kebabs! They have plenty of fun stuff on them (you can basically cut anything into cubes and throw it on the grill) and are very easy to cook. But, you don’t want to get everything all cut up and realize that you forgot the most important part- the skewers. Makes sure to pick some up at the grocery store when you buy those ingredients. While your there, also pick up the fixin’s for one of these kickin’ kebab recipes:
- Grilled Chicken Caesar Kebab Salad
- Ginger-Orange Pork Skewers
- Grilled Barbecued Bacon-Chicken
- Shrimp and Vegetable Skewers
- Grilled Spicy Mini Pork Kebabs
You’ll want sides that are light and can sit outside in the heat for a while if people are going to be snacking throughout the day. Pasta salad is always a good option, and this Sunny Broccoli Pasta Salad recipe is an easy to make, zesty mix and perfect for your next picnic. Or try one of these:
- Rainbow Slaw Salad
- Easy Grilled Vegetables
- Asian Coleslaw
- Spicy Bean and Cucumber Salad
- Green Beans with Colored Peppers
A whaticle? A Corkicle! This awesome device is basically like an ice cube that you put into you wine bottle to keep things cold. Not only will it keep that Sauvignon Blanc chilled without leaving a big bucket of melted ice left over, it will be a conversation piece when people ask “what the heck is that in the wine bottle.”
Some Cool Cocktails
Once you get that meat cooked up, you’ll want to have a drink to pair with it. White wines and beer are great for alfresco drinking season, but they don’t really pair well with all that meat. Get one of these smoky drinks instead – from bold red wines to some mezcal cocktails, these libations will step up your barbecue’s liquid game.
Desserts to Cool You Down
Who wants ice pops? If you’re at a summer barbecue, the answer is pretty much everyone. Instead of getting those same old pops at the grocery store, why not make our own. You can use a recipe like this one for red-white-and-blue ice pops, and check out this awesome frozen pops collection for more cool inspiration.
And what are you going to do to keep yourself entertained once the plates are cleared? Whip out the games! The fun thing to play this summer is ladder toss. It’s not as hard (or dangerous) as horse shoes, and people of any age can take part. Throwing beanbags around a rod might not sound interesting…until you’re addicted.
This one seems obvious, but once your barbecue is in full swing, make sure to take some pictures! You’ll want something to remember your summer dining success once the cold season hits!