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Friday, June 6, 2014

Perfect Backyard Barbecue


Perfect Backyard Barbecue (photo by LivligaHome)
The great thing about revving up the grill in the summer is that you can do so much of your cooking outside and avoid a hot kitchen and air conditioning on over drive because of it. It is also a pleasant excuse to hang outside as the evening cools, the sun sets and the night critters start their songs. I have found the best conversations have happened at that time of day when everyone is relaxed, sipping a cool drink, and the pressures of the day have receded.

When our children were little and we lived in a house with a big backyard, my husband hung a wooden swing from an old oak tree we had there. Adults and children alike loved swinging on that swing. With a few helpful pushes you could swing high, up and over the fence. The rhythm of swinging as you arced back and forth was exhilarating and comforting all at the same time. So much better than spending the evening inside watching TV.

The grill is an easy focal point for the backyard. The glow and smells draw people to it. The main thing is to keep it simple most of the time so you can enjoy the time grilling instead of stressing over it. The easiest is to grill your whole meal outside. The key is timing. Sometimes everything can go on at once but often the meat needs to go on first and then you add the vegetables for the last few minutes.

One of our family's favorites is grilling marinated chicken legs. Since you can eat them with your fingers they are fun to eat outside and can be enjoyed by all ages. Another fun backyard barbecue side dish is asparagus vinaigrette. These too can be picked up and eaten with your fingers. They can also be made ahead of time and served cool on a hot night. Finally, I love grilling sweet peppers, in all colors, in a basket on the grill. You can add any other vegetable to them and they can be spiced up or cooled down depending on what you want to eat. They add great color to any meal.

Here are the recipes for the Perfect Backyard Barbecue:

Grilled Chicken Legs
These chicken legs were marinated first in a wet marinade, then grilled with occasional basting.

Marinate for at least 20 minutes (check out my marinade choices on previous blogs like Summer Grilling Marinade for Chicken with Lemon Pulp. Place the chicken legs on a hot grill, grilling 4 sides for at least 4 minutes each side, or until cooked. Serve 1 -2 chicken legs per person (kids will most likely want one).

Asparagus Vinaigrette
Clean and snap the ends off a bunch of asparagus. You can grill it ahead of time before the barbecue begins to keep all cooking outside and to add a smoky flavor to the asparagus. If you grill, spray them with olive oil cooking spray first, turn regularly and don't over cook them. Should take 5 to 10 minutes depending on how hot your grill is.

If you prefer, you can steam them inside on the stove top by bringing the water to a boil in a steamer. Steam the asparagus 5 - 6 minutes. Let it cool.

Add 2 tablespoons of the light lemony vinaigrette. This can be made ahead of time, even the day before, refrigerated and then served when needed.

Grilled Sweet Peppers
Buy enough peppers so there is enough for one per person. Get them in all colors-- red, yellow, orange and green (I skip the green because I don't like the "bite" it has) . Wash the peppers, slice them in half to remove the seeds. Then cut them in half again to make large cubes, easy for grilling.  Spray with olive oil cooking spray, sprinkle with garlic powder and herbe de Provence. Place in a grilling basket then grill until nicely charred and tender, about 5 to 10 minutes. 

Yummm...I can smell the food on the grill...and hear the happy voices of friends and family enjoying a perfect summertime backyard barbecue!

Enjoy! And Live Vibrant!