Grilling season is finally here, which calls for a celebration!
Backyard barbecues are all about smoky-sweet flavors, fresh ingredients, and good company. Our favorite traditions and gatherings are centered around food, and now is the perfect time to make new memories in the great outdoors with the friends and family you care about.
Here are some recipes, tips, and ideas for inspiration!
Healthy & Fun Grill Recipes
This year, forget boring burgers and hot dogs and swap out old standards for healthy recipes that are easy and fun to make. These grill recipes are definite crowd-pleasers and won’t break the bank or your diet.
Grilled Chicken Sliders
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 4 kiwi fruit, peeled and chopped
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 6 whole wheat cocktail buns, split
- 3 tablespoons honey mustard
- 12 red apple slices
- Cut chicken breasts into 6 pieces. Season with salt and pepper. Grill for 10 to 12 minutes or until no longer pink in the center, turning once.
- Mix kiwi, mint, honey, and more salt and pepper. Spread bottom buns with honey mustard and add 2 apple slices, chicken, kiwi chutney, and bun tops.
(Recipe Courtesy of Parents)
Mango Barbecue Fish Tacos
- 1 fresh mango, seeded, peeled and diced
- 1/2 cup barbecue sauce
- 1/4 cup light mayonnaise
- 1 teaspoon lime zest
- 3 cups packaged coleslaw mix (optional)
- 4 green onions, thinly sliced
- 12 ounces fresh or frozen skinless red snapper, sea bass or cod
- 8 6-inch corn tortillas
- 1/2 cup purchased guacamole (optional)
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
- Place half the diced mango in a blender or food processor. Add barbecue sauce; puree until smooth.
- In a large bowl combine 2/3 cup of the barbecue sauce mixture, the light mayonnaise and lime zest. (Reserve the remaining 1/3 cup of the barbecue sauce mixture.) Add remaining diced mango, the coleslaw mix and green onions. Toss to coat. Cover and chill until ready to serve.
- Grill fish on the greased rack of a covered charcoal or gas grill directly over medium heat for 4 to 6 minutes per 1/2-inch thickness or until fish flakes when tested with a fork, brushing generously with the reserved 1/3 cup barbecue sauce mixture during the last 2 minutes of grilling. Wrap tortillas in foil and place on grill rack over heat while fish is grilling to warm, turning once halfway through warming.
- To serve, fill warm tortillas with coarsely flaked fish, coleslaw, guacamole and cilantro. If you like, squeeze with lime juice.
(Recipe courtesy of Midwest Living)
Grilled Eggplant Salad
- 1 Italian eggplant, cut into 1-inch thick slices
- 1 large red onion, cut into rounds
- Canola oil
- 1 avocado, halved, pitted and flesh chopped
- 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon Dijon Mustard
- 1 tablespoon coarsely chopped oregano leaves
- Olive oil
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 lemon, zested
- Parsley sprigs, for garnish
- Brush the eggplant and red onions with canola oil and arrange on the grill. Cook the eggplant until soft and grill the onions until they have a slight char. Remove from the grill to a cutting board and let cool slightly. Once cool, roughly chop and add them to a serving bowl along with the avocado.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the red wine vinegar, the Dijon, and oregano. Add honey and olive oil, to taste, and blend until emulsified. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
- Add the dressing to the eggplant mixture and toss. Garnish with lemon zest and parsley sprigs and serve.
(Recipe courtesy of Food Network)
Grill Cleaning Tips
Over time and with regular use, barbecue grills become downright disgusting. Not only is a dirty grill an eye-sore, but it can also subject your friends and family to contamination and unpleasant flavors.
Here are some easy grill cleaning tips to remember this spring and summer.
- Scrub off residue after each use
- Clean your grill right after food is removed and grill is still warm
- Don’t’ forget to scrub under the hood, the inside walls, the grates, and the exterior
- Cover your cleaned grill and store it in a sheltered space
Festive Backyard Firepit Recipes
However, grills certainly aren’t the only way to cook out in your backyard, so don’t forget about backyard firepits! Outdoor firepits are perfect for adding flavor and fun to your backyard, and they aren’t just for s’mores anymore. And if you enjoy camping, portable firepits that are lightweight and easy to transport might be the way to go!
Here are three festive firepit recipes to try this season.
Campfire Toasted Burritos
- 1 pound taco meat
- 1 cup cooked white rice
- ½ cup shredded cheese
- ¼ cup salsa verde
- 4 burrito-sized flour tortillas (10”)
- ½ cup pico de gallo
- 4 foil sheets
- Fill each flour tortilla with ¼ of the taco meat, rice, cheese and salsa. Roll halfway, fold over ends and continue rolling into burrito. Wrap the burrito in foil.
- Cook the burrito over smoldering coals farther from the main flame for 3 minutes, flip and continue cooking for 3 additional minutes. Remove from heat. Allow to cool slightly and serve with pico de gallo.
(Recipe courtesy of Simple Bites)
Firepit Fruit Skewers
- Fresh strawberries
- Pineapple chunks
- Wood skewers
- Balsamic vinegar
- Soak wood skewers in water overnight
- Put fresh strawberries and fresh pineapple on skewers
- Drizzle fruit with balsamic vinegar
- Move firepit grill away from the flame
- Put skewers on the firepit grill
- Just a couple of minutes per side, when you see grill marks, they are done
- Remove from grill and enjoy
(Recipe courtesy of The California Firepit)
Hot & Smoky Popcorn
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1/4 cup popcorn kernels
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon coriander
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- In a small Ziploc bag or Tupperware container, combine the spices and seal tightly until ready to use.
- Combine the vegetable oil and popcorn kernels in a disposable pie pan. Seal the pan using aluminum foil, making a dome shape on top so there is plenty of room for the popcorn to pop. Using a set of tongs, gently shake the pan until the popping stops. Let cool for a few moments, then open carefully and season with salt.
- After the popcorn cools, sprinkle on the seasoning mixture, and toss to coat.
(Recipe courtesy of Juggling Act Mama)
Decorating the Perfect Patio
You can’t throw the perfect backyard barbeque without comfy outdoor furniture that makes your guests want to kick back and relax. You can decorate your patio as simple or elaborate as you like, and these days, patio furniture has never been more stylish or affordable.
These are some of the essential outdoor furniture pieces that make a perfect backyard patio, all of which you can shop for at Connecticut’s specialist in home furnishings, The Furniture Barn!
- Outdoor dining sets to serve your favorite meals
- Outdoor barstools to enjoy alfresco cocktails
- Outdoor sofas to relax and unwind
- Outdoor loveseats for romantic evenings with someone special
- Outdoor umbrellas to provide shade and sun protection
Whether your backyard is equipped with a grill, a firepit, or one of each, make this the season that you spend as much time outdoors as possible while eating healthy and loving life!