Let’s face it, we want to make cooking tasty and fuss-free while the days are long and the warm temps get us outdoors. ‘Tis the season for the heart of the home to move onto the back porch, where the grill is the go-to to keep the house cool and the cleanup easy.
I’m going to share just a few quick tips to make hot weather grilling prep a breeze, as well as my recipes for the perfect outdoor meal.
A Little Planning Goes a Long Way
Have a rub or barbecue sauce on hand to add extra flavor to grilled meats and vegetables. Herbed butters are also uncomplicated to prepare and add a rich flavor to roasted beef and vegetables.
Keep costs down by buying meats at a discount to use now or freeze for later. Prepare your menu with leftovers in mind. If you bought meat on sale, double what you cook. The T-bone can be sliced and used for sandwiches, and citrus yogurt chicken can be stretched into a grain/bean salad enjoyed alone or as a salad topper. Grilled vegetables are amazing on day two when atop of a bed of greens with cheese and a balsamic dressing.
Which reminds me: Open your grilling horizons to vegetables. Pound for pound they are cost effective, they keep vegetarians happy, and they are lovely as leftovers.
Basic Rub for Meats and Vegetables
- 1 tablespoon paprika
- 1 tablespoon ancho chili powder
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon lemon or lime zest or lemon pepper seasoning
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon ground pepper
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon dry mustard
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- 1 teaspoon cayenne
Combine and save in a mason jar for summer grilling season. Make a double batch and gift one to a special friend.
Grilled Pork Spare Ribs
- 5 pounds pork spare ribs
- 32 ounces apple cider vinegar
- 1 cup lemon juice
I got a few tips from my meat-monger for cooking ribs. He suggested wrapping in foil and slow cooking in the oven at a low temp to get them started, then finishing on the grill. He also mentioned the smoking method (below).
Prepare the ribs by removing the thin membrane off one side and trim the excess fat from the other side. Removing the membrane will prevent the meat from becoming too tough to eat.
Marinate 2-3 hours in cider and lemon juice liquid.
Drain the liquid, pat dry, and rub with the dry spice blend.
Marinate in the fridge for up to 2 hours.
Preheat the oven to 250˚ and slow cook for 2 hours.
Turn grill on high, place the ribs on the grill, cover, reduce heat to low, and cook for 1 -1 1/2 hours. With 15 minutes remaining, brush with bbq sauce. (145˚ internal cooking temp)
Wood chips for smoking are available at most grocery stores. Soak chips for 30 minutes and drain. Create an aluminum foil pouch and pierce for smoke to escape; place on top of grates.
- 1 1/4 pound T-bone
Season with a dry rub, salt and pepper, or consider a rub of dry mustard.The T-bone is one of the tastiest steaks to come off the grill. There is the rich flavor in the strip and the tenderness in the tenderloin (smaller side of the bone).
Heat the grill to high. When you are ready to cook the steak, brush the grill grates with olive oil. Place the steak on the grill at a 45-degree angle to the grates. Grill each side for 4-6 minutes; 3 minutes in, rotate the next 45 degrees (to create crosshatch grill marks). Flip and repeat.
Citrus Yogurt Chicken Kabobs
- 1 1/4 pound chicken breast cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes
- 8 ounces honey yogurt
- 1 tablespoon rosemary citrus sea salt or lemon pepper seasoning
- 2 peppers, cut into 1-inch cubes
- 6-8, 8-inch bamboo skewers, soaked in water for 1 hour
Marinate chicken in yogurt and seasoning for at least 2 hours or overnight. Thread chicken and red pepper alternatively on the soaked bamboo skewers. Discard marinade.
Lightly oil grill grates. Grill kabobs on medium heat for 8-10 minutes until center is no longer pink and juices run clear.
Roasted Ketchup BBQ sauce
- 1 cup ketchup
- 1 cup roasted ketchup (add 4 tablespoons salsa if you can’t locate roasted ketchup)
- 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
- 2 tablespoons prepared grain mustard
- 1/4 cup agave or honey
- 1 tablespoon your favorite dry herb blend
In a small sauce pan, bring all ingredients to a boil, stirring; reduce to simmer and cover. Simmer for 15 minutes, stirring frequently. Cool, place in mason jar, and keep in the refrigerator for the grilling season.
- 12 ounces onion, tomato, eggplant, or portabella mushroom caps, cut into discs 1/2 inch thick
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons of your favorite herb rub
- balsamic vinegar, to taste
Spray or brush the grate with oil.
Heat to medium-high. Grill vegetables for 4-8 minutes on each side. If any start to burn, just move them to the cool corner of the grill. Drizzle with balsamic.
Top your burgers or portabella with a slice of grilled onion or serve on the side of grilled meats or add to your salad.
Potato and Veggie Grill Pack
- 12-14 ounces new potatoes, unpeeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
- 10-12 ounces fresh asparagus, chopped in 1- or 2-inch spears
- 10-12 ounces kolrabi, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped
- 2 teaspoons rosemary garlic blend
- 1 tablespoon olive oil or 2 tablespoons herbed butter
Prepare 18-inch by 16-inch piece of aluminum foil with olive oil or cooking spray, large enough to comfortably create a packet that can be sealed on the edges. Place ingredients in foil and seal to create a packet.
Cook directly on coals when camping, approximately 10 minutes. Grill over gas or charcoal, seam side up, 4-6 inches above heat for 45 – 60 minutes.
Chicken and Wild Rice Salad in a Jar
serves 4- 6
- 4-6 wide mouth canning jars
- 2 cups prepared wild rice blend
- 2 cups diced chicken (leftovers from kabobs)
- 1 cup shredded carrots
- 2 green onions, chopped
- 2 ounces feta
- 1 tomato, chopped
- 4 ounces arugula
- dressing: splash of olive oil, squeeze of lemon juice, pinch of salt, and a dash of pepper
Mix the rice, chicken, carrots, onions, feta, and tomato (and any other seasonal veggies) with the dressing. Begin the layering with arugula, mixed salad, and arugula. Cap and store in the fridge until you are ready to grab-and-go.
PB & J Cookies (gluten free and vegan)
- 2 cups buckwheat flour
- 2 cups gluten free rolled oats
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 3/4 cup coconut oil
- 3/4 cup peanut butter
- 1 cup organic sugar
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 cup vanilla soy milk
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 4 tablespoons of your favorite jam
Preheat oven to 350 F and prepare baking sheets by lightly greasing or using parchment paper.
Whisk the dry ingredients. Mix the wet ingredients with sugar until smooth. Combine the wet and dry ingredients. Dough will be firm but moist.
For HUGE cookies use a large cookie scoop, 1/3 cup; otherwise, scoop dough using 2 tablespoon cookie scoop. Flatten the ball just enough to take the dome off the top; these will not flatten as they bake. Do not flatten dough past 1/2 inch.
Using your finger, put a small indent in the center of the cookie and dollop with a bit of jam.
Bake for 8-10 minute for small cookies or 12-15 minutes for huge cookies. They will puff a bit. Let them rest for 5 minutes when pulled from oven, then remove from tray to cooling rack.
All photos are courtesy of the author.