August 20, 2009 by Katie
There is nothing better than a BBQ on a warm summer day…. cold beers, burgers, hot dogs, chips, fresh fruit…
BBQ’s can get expensive, but they don’t have to be. Limiting the options for food helps cut down on cost big time. Just offer burgers & hot dogs and skip the chicken & ribs. Making your own dips is often less expensive than buying pre-made ones. Also, use summer’s tasty fruits & vegetable to your advantage; corn, green beans, Lima beans, zucchini, cucumbers, tomatoes, watermelon, blueberries, cherries, peaches, plums, grapes, cantaloupe & honeydew are all in season locally, so their prices are down.
BBQ’s are a great event to have some of your guests help out. Ask one person to bring salad, another to bring chips and dip, and another to bring a dessert. This makes it easy for you as the host or hostess as well since you don’t want to spend the whole party cooking- you want to be outside enjoying it with everyone else.
I recently had a BBQ at my parents house (fellow urban dwellers, you know summer is a good time to get yourself out of the city, and grilling is reason #1). To make it simple, I stuck to burgers, dogs, & veggie burgers (my sister & best friend are both meat free earthlings). Normally I insist on making my own burgers, but the grocery store had a great sale on their own pre-made patties, so I caved. Hot dogs, I had to insist on top quality. I like Ballpark pork franks. There is nothing worse than a bad hot dog, so don’t skimp here. I don’t pretend to know a thing about veggie burgers, so I let the vegetarians pick those out themselves. Keeping it to 2 types of mean kept buns simple- hamburger & hot dog.
On to sides. Tomatoes! Deliciously red, juicy, ripe tomatoes are in abundance this time of year so I scooped up a whole lot of these. Tomatoes for slicing to garnish burgers & tomatoes to slice for tomato salad. Lettuce & white onions are easy for burger toppers as well, and chives are perfect chopped and tossed on tomato salad.
For super easy veggies, I take onions, peppers, eggplant, zucchini, squash, and anything else that looks good, chop them into big pieces, and grill them. You can make veggie kabobs, which are always fun, or, if you’re trying to save space on the grill, cook them in a tin foil package. For kabobs, make sure to soak the skewers ahead of time. You don’t want them to catch on fire. I used to mix and match meat & veggies on mine, but as I learned from watching Alton Brown, it is best to keep kabobs to their own kind. It makes sense, since these things cook at different speeds. So skewer up the veggies, spray (or brush) some oil on, sprinkle with a little salt & pepper, and pop them on the grill on a low to medium heat. To cook the veggies in foil, lay out a large piece of foil, pile on the veggies, top with salt, pepper, oil, & balsamic vinegar (or use a vinaigrette dressing), mix the veggies all around to make sure they are coated, top with another piece of foil, & fold it up into a little package. Make sure you roll the edges in tightly so it doesn’t leak. Toss it on the grill and let it do its thing. They should be nice & perfectly cooked after 30 minutes or so. (I usually flip it over halfway through.)
Burgers- check. Hot dogs- check. Veggies- check. Tomato salad- check. That leaves snacks, drinks, & desserts.
Dessert was easy-lots of cut up fresh fruit (watermelon is a must at a BBQ) and I made vanilla & chocolate cupcakes with chocolate or hot pink buttercream icing & coconut cupcakes with coconut icing! Snacks were easy too since I asked my sister to make guacamole & salsa. ( I will get those recipes posted soon- they were delicious!) And for drinks, a tub of ice & beer is always easy and my Dad made his special iced tea-lemonade, which I can’t ever make as good as he does no matter how many times I try. He learned to make this combo from his mother, and one of the special things about it is that the lemonade has pulp, making it thinker and with a little extra tartness. It is so refreshing, I could drink it by the pitcher.
So that’s all the food & drink (plus some ketchup & mustard). And for the final touch, lots of citronella candles on the tables & patio. Craft stores are a great place to find inexpensive citronella candles in different sizes. Just pop them into glass jars, glasses, & vases and they keep the bugs away while looking beautiful when the sun goes down.