Break out the patio furniture and fire up the grill — Memorial Day weekend has arrived.
Take time in the coming days to remember the true reason behind the holiday — honoring those who gave their lives for the country — whether it’s through online events or in-person remembrances. And then get out there and enjoy that country for which they fought so valiantly.
We’ve rounded up some ideas to help you make the most of it — from finding the right grill and recipes for your gathering to activities to share with one another.
Find the best grill for you
For many people, a grill becomes a second kitchen. For others, it’s their primary way of cooking all year long.
There are many types of grills, different sizes and varying price points, so it’s difficult to know which is right for your needs. The experts at the Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association share some important things to keep in mind:
Types of grills to consider
- If you want convenience: Just like your kitchen stove, a gas grill can be ready to cook in 10 minutes, and it’s easy to regulate cooking temps.
- If you love being hands-on with the nuances of outdoor grilling: Some say charcoal provides the best flavor experience. It’s also good for low and slow cooking and high-heat searing.
- If you want the most flavor: Wood pellet grills are among the most energy efficient and burn clean. Pellets come in varieties such as hickory, mesquite and oak, providing a truly flavorful cooking experience.
- If you love simplicity: Electric grills are designed to produce constant heat and operate without an open flame. They’re ideal for apartment or condo dwellers since they don’t require charcoal or propane.
- If you love cooking all styles and seasons: Kamado grills’ excellent insulation is ideal for both grilling and smoking. They can use wood and charcoal and are perfect for roasting and baking.
Questions to ask before buying
- What do you love to cook? Many grills come with extra features ideal for certain foods, like rotisseries if you love a roasted chicken, side burners if you love soups and stews, or ample space for pizza stones if you frequently crave a pie.
How much time will you have to cook? If you’re hard pressed for free cooking time, consider the convenience of gas or electric grills. If you love to pass the time cooking, though, a charcoal, smoker or kamado grill may be best for you.
- How much space do you have? If you have a big backyard, consider a larger grill perhaps with a kitchen island to create a focal point for relaxation and entertaining. Premium portable or more compact grills are ideal for condos and apartments.
Set the scene
Create an inviting atmosphere by stringing lights and updating patio furniture with decorative pillows and cushions, suggests StatePoint Media. Decorate the space with patriotic red, white and blue banners; American flags in flowerpots; and festive tablecloths.
And give guests the right picnic essentials. Stock up on sunscreen, blankets, napkins, plates, cups and tableware. Set up umbrellas around the yard to make shady spots. When the sun begins to set, burn citronella candles to ward off mosquitos. And don’t forget the tunes. Hook up a Bluetooth speaker to listen to a favorite summer playlist.
Keep the fun going with these activities:
- Try interactive games: When you’re not sure what to play, ask Alexa. The smart device is your gateway to countless great games like Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?, Deal or No Deal, Escape the Room and classics like Pac-Man, The Floor is Lava, Clue, Twister, Simon Says and Mads Libs if you’re feeling nostalgic. Try something new you’ve never played before.
- Have a dance party: Play some tunes and show off your best moves with a family dance party for smiles all around. You can even have a multi-room dance party when you play music across multiple smart devices.
Set up a backyard obstacle course: Toys you have on hand such as hula hoops, Frisbees and bean bags can be used to create different components of the course, suggests StatePoint Media.
- Chalk it up: With just a colorful set of washable, toddler-safe chalk, children can create their own artwork on any sidewalk or patio. Or, draw a hopscotch or four square court for active playtime that builds coordination.
- Cool off: Kids can find endless fun and outdoor adventures with inflatables, water toys or lawn water slides. If you don’t have a pool, invest in a sprinkler or inflatable pool.
At long last, loved ones can spend time with others outside their “bubble,” so make the most of it. Celebrate this new era with recipes perfect for your next picnic, and visit thetimes-tribune.com for more ideas from the Local Flavor: Recipes We Love archives.
Grilled Corn on the Cob
- 4 (10-inch) squares of aluminum foil
- 4 medium ears corn, shucked
- 1 tablespoon butter
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Place each ear of corn on a piece of foil. Spread butter over corn. Wrap foil around corn. Place on grill for 10 minutes, turning over after 5 minutes.
- Open foil and place 2 corn on each dinner plate. Sprinkle corn with salt and pepper to taste.
— Linda Gassenheimer/Tribune News Service
Serves: 6 to 8
- 1 cup strawberries, halved
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
- Assorted fruit, for serving
- In blender, puree strawberries until smooth. Set aside.
- In mixing bowl, whip heavy cream and powdered sugar until fluffy.
In separate mixing bowl, beat cream cheese until smooth. Add strawberry puree to cream cheese and mix until combined. Add whipped cream and stir until combined.
- Serve in bowl with fruit.
— Family Features
Serves: 8 to 10
- 3 ripe avocados, halved and pitted
- 1/2 cup finely chopped Vidalia onion
- 1/2 cup snipped fresh cilantro
- 1 lime, juice only
- Bottled hot pepper sauce, to taste
- 1 Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored and finely chopped
- Kosher salt, to taste
- Tortilla chips
- In bowl, use fork to mash avocados, onion, cilantro, lime juice and hot pepper sauce to desired consistency. Stir in apple and season with salt, to taste.
- Serve with tortilla chips.
— Family Features, adapted from the Meredith Corp.
Grilled Pineapple Burgers with Honey Garlic Barbecue Sauce
Total time: 30 minutes
- 2 rings freshly cored pineapple
- 2 Lightlife Plant-Based Burger patties
- Salt, to taste
- Pepper, to taste
- 2 sesame seed burger buns, lightly toasted
- 1 cup baby arugula
- 1/4 cup crispy fried onions
- 2 tablespoons honey garlic barbecue sauce
- Heat grill to medium. Grill pineapple slices 4 to 5 minutes per side until grill-marked and slightly caramelized. Cut slices in half and set aside. Wipe down grill.
- Season burger patties with salt and pepper, to taste. To grill burgers from refrigerator, grill 4 to 5 minutes per side until evenly browned with internal temperature of 165 F.
- To assemble burgers, layer toasted bottom buns with arugula then top each with burger patty and two slices grilled pineapple. Sprinkle with crispy fried onions and drizzle with barbecue sauce. Top each with top bun.
— Family Features
Avocado Toast Dogs
- 2 medium avocados
- 1/2 lemon, juice only
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 4 Lightlife Smart Dogs
- 4 hot dog buns
- 1/2 teaspoon everything bagel seasoning
- Lightly coat grill grates with oil and preheat to medium heat.
- In small bowl, mash avocados, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Cover and rest in refrigerator.
- Grill dogs 6 to 7 minutes, turning frequently.
- While dogs are grilling, lightly toast buns.
- Spread avocado mixture on one side of toasted buns. Sprinkle each with everything bagel seasoning. Add dogs and drizzle with sriracha.
— Family Features
Watermelon Berry Frozen Pops
- 6 cups watermelon
- 1 cup blueberries, divided
- 1 cup raspberries, divided
- 3 tablespoons honey
- In blender, blend watermelon, 1/2 cup blueberries, 1/2 cup raspberries and honey until smooth. Press through fine mesh strainer to remove pulp and seeds.
- Fill ice pop molds 3/4 full with liquid. Add remaining whole blueberries and raspberries to molds. Insert sticks and freeze at least 4 hours, or until completely frozen.
— Family Features