Warm weather usually brings two things to mind: sunshine and cookouts. If you are a cookout aficionado, you know that nothing beats the smoky flavor that grilling brings to meats and vegetables. You probably already have a list of favorite cookout items, too. It's important to remember food safety when grilling. You should always keep raw foods and cooked foods separated and make sure to cook foods to the proper temperatures.
Chicken is one of the most available and cost-effective items you can grill. Purchasing a mixture of pieces ensures that each guest will find something they like.
The aromatics from a grill are what bring out some of the best flavor in a steak. Whether it is t-bone or ribeye, cooking a steak on the grill can breathe new life into it. Because meat preferences can vary, you also can cook steak at varying levels of doneness.
It's hard to go wrong with the classics and hot dogs, sausages and kielbasas are staples at cookouts. They can be cooked in a matter of minutes. Think of them as a first course of sorts to hold guests over for the rest of the meal.
Cooking fish on a grill may be intimidating but you will find that fish absorbs the smoky flavor very well. Using cooking spray or olive oil will prevent the fish from sticking. Monitoring it regularly will help you to remove the fish when it is done so that it is flaky with adequate moisture. Experiment with your favorite varieties; no fish is off limits.
If you enjoy ribs at your favorite restaurant, you can enjoy them at home. Slow cooking is what makes ribs enjoyable and tender. Baby back ribs are a common choice. For guests who don't eat pork, you can make beef ribs or rib tips.
Burgers are a universal favorite and are best enjoyed when grilled. There are a variety of ground meats to choose from, including beef, chicken, lamb, bison and even salmon. Offer a variety of types of burgers as well as toppings to meet all of your guests' tastes.
If you are vegetarian or if you have vegetarian guests, don't forget about them. Extra-firm tofu can be cooked on a grill, in a similar fashion to meat with adequate seasoning. Be sure to use a grill pan and do not cook the tofu on or near where meat is being cooked if you are cooking a variety of things.
Although meat may be the main attraction, don't forget about the vegetables. Corn, peppers, zucchini, squash, onions and potatoes are all good choices.
Add cubes of meat or tofu with chunks of vegetables to a wooden skewer and grill kabobs. Soak the skewers in water for at least 45 minutes before adding ingredients and cooking them to prevent the skewers from burning on the grill.
You can even grill up a little dessert. It's probably not the first thing to come to mind, but fruit can easily be cooked on a grill. Pineapple, apple or pear slices work well. Serve with some ice cream or caramel or chocolate sauce for a treat.
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Shemiah Williams has been writing for various websites since 2009 and also writes for "Parle Magazine." She holds a bachelor's degree in business and technology and a master's degree in clinical psychology. Williams serves as a subject matter expert in many areas of health, relationships and professional development.