BBQ Menu Ideas

With nice weather fast approaching, and spring in the air, I always get into the mood for a good bar-b-que about this time of year. So this time, my article will be about bar-b-queing, and picnic recipes.
Heres a selection of my favourite BBQ recipes and picnic ideas:

Click on the recipe name to go directly to that recipe
Italian Chicken
Fresh Fruit Salad
Pretzel Delight
Kali's Favourite Potatoes


A favorite around here for summertime bar-b-ques is always a good steak. Now I have personally tired several different cuts of meat trying to find the one that turns out great every time. I have found that for me that would be Delmonico's. Its a more expensive cut of meat, but the quality and taste of the steak is much better than some of the other steaks that you can get. Ok, heres the trick to having a perfectly tender steak each and every time.

First, choose fresh meat, I generally buy my steaks no earlier than the day before I'm going to cook them, but I prefer to purchase them the very day, as the quality is better that way.

Second, this is a trick I learned from a friend in college whose family originates from Germany ( thanks Inez), soak the steaks in beer for about an hour. The beer starts to tenderize the meat and also keeps it moist, no matter how well done you like your meat. [Please note that this beer trick works for all meats not just steak. I also use the beer trick when cooking Thanksgiving Day turkey too, as it keeps it very moist and tender.] After soaking the steak in the beer, remove it from the pan and use a meat mallet, to pound the meat. This also helps to make the meat tender as well as helping it to cook faster.

Third, I always purchase meat, especially steak, with some fat on it. I have tried steak that has very little or no fat on it, as it is healthier to eat, but have found that the meat is less tender, and less tasteful when there is no or little fat on it during cooking of any sort, including grilling or roasting.

Fourth, and final trick, is to only turn the steaks over once while cooking them. You may rotate the position of the steaks on the grill in order to achieve the score marks, but only turn them over once. Any more than that, and you are recooking the same layer of the meat more than once, and this causes it to become tough. Please note: you want your grill to be very hot. The faster you can cook the steaks the more tender they will be.

Another great idea for grilling, if your not a steak person, or just prefer to have something other than red meat, is Italian Chicken.

Italian Chicken-Serves 4

4 whole boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 medium size bottle of Italian Dressing

The night before you intend upon cooking the Italian Chicken, place the breasts in a shallow baking dish, such as a lasagna pan, in a single layer, and pour the Italian dressing over the top of them. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

Right before cooking them, remove them from the baking dish, and drain off the excess dressing and place it in a small bowl to use as a basting while grilling the chicken. Make sure that your grill is nice and hot, as you want the chicken to cook quickly and all the way through. As the chicken is grilling, using a pastry brush, brush them with the dressing that you placed into the bowl. Please note that after your done using the dressing as a basting to discard it. It is not safe to be saved and used again for another batch of chicken. Cook till the meat is no longer pink and the juice that comes out of them is clear.

Heres a trick to remember, You may want to keep a water bottle handy while grilling the chicken, as the dressing tends to catch fire which can cause your chicken to burn, to avoid this the water bottle is a necessity. As soon as you see flame, lightly sprits with water to put out the flame.

One of my all time favorites at bar-b-ques is always the fruit salad. I make mine using a combination of fresh fruits and a little bit of canned fruit, as this way you have the juice from the canned fruit to help flavor the salad.

Fruit Salad

1 medium size can of chunked pineapple
2 medium size cans of mandarin oranges
1 jar of marichino cherries
2 Empire apples or whatever your favorite apple is
2 fresh peaches or nectarines
2 oranges
1 honeydew melon
1 cantaloupe melon
1 small watermelon
1 pint of fresh strawberries
3 bananas
grapes, red and white

Clean and wash all the fruits with a vegetable and fruit wash, or luke warm water, to rinse off all traces of dirt and pesticides. On a cutting board, cut all fresh fruits into small bite size chunks. I use a melon baller for the melons. You can cut a lid out of the top of the watermelon and use it as a bowl for serving the fruit. For the canned fruits, open all cans and drain the juices into a bowl and reserve the juice, for now. Combine all the fruits, with the exception of the strawberries and banana, canned and fresh in a big mixing bowl, and mix gently, but well. (Right before serving add the strawberries and bananas.) Now that you have all the fruits combined, take the juice that you reserved, from the canned fruit, and pour some over the top of the fruit. You wont need all the juice, but just enough to keep the fruit moist. Remember the fruit will produce natural juice on its own, so you may have to drain some off before serving.I like to serve this with Cool Whip or other whipped topping.

This is just an example of the fruit that can be used for this recipe, you can add or delete as your tastes desire. This recipe makes a pretty large quantity of fruit salad, so if your only making it for a few people, you may want to use smaller cans and smaller quantities of fresh fruit. Most of the local grocery stores here sell cantaloupe , honeydew and watermelon, in smaller pieces so you can still have those without the excess of purchasing the whole fruit.

Any leftovers from this recipe should be promptly refrigerated and can be stored for a few days, but not longer than 2 or 3 as the strawberries and banana's tend to spoil fast.

A favorite amongst kids and adults alike is Pretzel Delight. Now coming from me, a person who doesn't like pretzels or cream cheese, this recipe is wonderful, and you'd never know that it has both ingredients in it. Give it a try, it really is tasty.

Pretzel Delight

First Layer:
2 cups of crushed pretzels..... not too finely crushed though
3/4 cup of melted butter
3 tablespoons of sugar

Mix in a 13"x9" pan. Bake for 15 minutes at 350 degrees F. Don't overcook.
Make sure this layer is completely COLD before proceeding to the next step.

Second Layer:
1 8 ounce package of cream cheese ..... at room temperature
2 cups of miniature marshmallows
2 cups of confectioners sugar (also called 10x or confectionery sugar)
1 8 ounce container of Cool Whip (or other whipped topping)

Beat confectioners sugar into the cream cheese. Fold the Cool Whip into the cream cheese mixture. Fold in marshmallows. Spread this mixture over the top of the first layer. Make sure that you have spread this mixture evenly and completely over the first layer. You want no gaps where the next layer can leak through.

Top Layer:
1 large box of strawberry jello
2 cups of boiling water
2 10 ounce packages of frozen strawberries, including the juice
Dissolve the jello into the boiling water. Add frozen strawberries, juice included. Let set until it begins to jell. Pour over the cream cheese mixture. Refrigerate until jello is completely jelled. Serve with whipped topping or Cool Whip on top.

This is another recipe that you want to promptly refrigerate any left overs on.

Recipe for Kali's Favorite Potatoes-Serves 4

4 all purpose potatoes
2 green peppers
2 onions
clove garlic
salt and pepper

Cut the potatoes into bite size chunks. Slice the green pepper and onion into julienne strips, and slice the garlic into small pieces.

On a sheet of tin foil, or aluminum foil, place a handful of potatoes, some of the green pepper, onion and garlic, add a small chunk of butter, and a bit of salt and pepper. Fold the sides of the foil up and make into a packet. Repeat this process until all ingredients are packaged.

This recipe can be either grilled or baked. If your going to grill them, make sure you have a hot grill and start the potatoes before the rest of you meal as they take awhile to cook. You can also pre-bake them before grilling to give them a head start on cooking. If you choose to bake them in your oven, set the temperature at 375 Degrees F, and allow the oven to preheat for a few minutes. Then bake your potatoes for about an hour or until the potatoes are tender and the slightly browned.

So there ya go, a handful of my favourite recipes for summertime bar-b-queing!!