Summertime Grilling

There is absolutely nothing I look forward to more in the summer than grilling. I am a self-professed BBQ addict, known to be out there through rain, sun, and even snow. Over the years I’ve accumulated some must have’s and make’s for grilling season, and I’d love to share them with you.

1First up is a clean grill. There is absolutely nothing worse than lifting up a lid and seeing all the food still stuck on there from the last time you cooked. I’ve cycled through just about every kind of grill brush and stone out there, but my hands down favorite is this style:

 

It does a really good job of getting in between all of the grates, and deep into the corners of the BBQ. A brush isn’t something that you keep season after season though, I usually go through at least two a year. As soon as the stainless steel bristles start looking a little rough (really bent, gunky, or falling off), it’s time to get a new one. What happens if you’re about to cook though and you realize it’s time for a new brush? Just crumple up a good sized piece of aluminum foil and use your BBQ tongs to brush it around the grill, it’ll do just as good a job cleaning it up for you!

Speaking of BBQ tongs, I am a big lover of tools and gadgets (my poor husband, he’s such a trooper). I’m going to break down my favourites into to two lists: must haves, and love having.

BBQ Tool Must Haves:

1. Long handled tongs
2. Long handled turner
3. Long handled basting brush
4. Instant read thermometer

These tools aren’t the same ones you use in your kitchen (unless you enjoy searing the hair off of your arms). You want some that are made for the grill, with a nice long reach so that you can get to the back with the tool, and not your hand. An instant read thermometer is my best friend both in the kitchen and at the grill. Cooking on the BBQ goes a lot faster than the oven in most cases, so it’s important to keep an eye on where your food is at so you don’t accidently overcook it.

BBQ Tools I Love Having:

1. Pizza Stone
2. Rib Rack
3. Smoker Box
4. Metal Skewers
5. Cast Iron Griddle
6. Metal Basket
7. Foil Pans

2I know, a heck of a list. A pizza stone is a must for me. I pretty much exclusively grill my pizzas. I can get the stone a lot hotter in the BBQ than I can in the oven, and that slightly smoky flavour makes me feel like I’m eating a wood fired pizza. Click the picture above to check out my BBQ jerk chicken pizza with Tre Stelle Mozzarella cheese all done on the grill (you can make this with or without a stone).

3A rib rack is just a great way to cook ribs – standing them up makes for all around heat circulation, and tender juicy ribs every time. A smoker box goes hand in hand with ribs for me. All you do is add some wet wood chips, and put the box on the opposite side as your vents (or at the front if you can when the grill vents are at the back). You want the smoke to be pulled back over your meat on its way out.

Metal skewers are such a great, versatile tool. You can do the obvious shish kabobs, but I LOVE doing tornado sausages on them: just stick a skewer through the center of a sausage, and use your knife to cut a swirl all the way around the sausage (basically turning it into a slinky). The finished sausage has lots of amazing crispy bits, and really pulls in your toppings for every bite. Or do dessert; make a grilled strawberry shortcake, alternating strawberries and pound cake, then top with whipped cream once they come off the BBQ.

4If you have the room, adding a cast iron griddle on one side of you grill can be a great way to cook up some amazing toppings at the same time. Making burgers? Why not fry up some onions and jalapenos on the griddle at the same time. Really want to be a show off? Crack an egg on there at the last second to add to your burger. AMAZING!

Metal baskets and foil pans are a great way to grill sides, like veggies and potatoes. When I’m BBQ’ing, the last thing I want to do is run back and forth, inside and out, to cook the whole meal. I love grilling my sides as well.

Alright, we’ve got the tools out of the way, now it’s time for the fun stuff: FOOD! Nothing is more important to a BBQ than the food you’re cooking on it. Everyone knows the staples: burgers, sausages, steaks, and anything pork. I’m not going to hit you with what you already know. It’s the ingredients that you may not be thinking of for the BBQ, that to me, are absolute musts.

I love using fruit with my grilled dishes, and everyone always thinks it’s so unexpected. Making some quick pork chops? Chop up some pineapple and red onion to throw on top. Make your own BBQ sauce with peaches and bourbon to brush over ribs (add some jalapenos for a surprising kick). Be bold and experiment, and your meals will never be boring.

My hands down, number one thing you need to be grilling with though? Cheese! Hand to my heart, I have yet to find a meal that isn’t made better when Cheese is added to it. I’d love to share a few of my favourite Cheesy recipes with you:

My citrus ginger chicken with three melon salsa is one of the most flavourful pieces of chicken you’ll ever eat. It is made 1,000 times better by adding some crumbles of Tre Stelle Feta cheese on top just before serving.

These bruschetta style BBQ pork chops are great topped with some Tre Stelle Mozzarella Cheese. I love switching it up sometimes though, and swap out that Mozzarella for Arla Smoked Havarti.

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These Cajun stuffed BBQ chicken breasts are bursting with flavour (literally!). That melty, gooey, Tre Stelle Mozzarella Cheese is exactly what this chicken needed to make it anything but a typical BBQ’d breast. Don’t be shy with Cheeses either. I love a bacon wrapped pork tenderloin that’s stuffed with Ricotta and sautéed onion. Throw it on the rotisserie, and you have a delicious, hands-free dinner.

Have fun with your food! Experimenting with different flavours and styles is what makes cooking fun. See you at the grill!

Long Weekend Family Fun

Long Weekend Living

Three days. No work. Just play. Long weekends are definitely something to look forward to.

But sometime around Thursday night I always find my brain racing – how should I spend the weekend? Should I have planned something elaborate? Usually, the answer is no. What I’ve learned from those last-minute panic attacks is that long weekend family fun doesn’t need days of advance planning. Really! From my idea list to yours, here’s a few family activities that won’t empty your wallet or make you scramble to find tickets to a busy tourist attraction. Have fun in, and around, your own home while staying active and healthy.

TreStelle_May_ldamelio_02Pack a picnic

Enjoy a meal together, in a new location. Packing a picnic is an old favourite but it doesn’t have to be predictable – add a theme! For example, only pack goodies that are round. Get the kids to help you shop for ingredients and pick out fruits and veggies at the farmer’s market that match your theme. Cherry tomatoes, blueberries and Tre Stelle® Bocconcini are perfect finger foods or skewer builders. Round sliced cheese, like provolone, in rollups or buns keeps the theme going. The great thing about picnics: they are an activity for outside or inside. If you find rain ruins your weekend, lay out a blanket in the family room to unpack your whimsical lunch.

 Forest scavenger hunt

Taking a walk in the park or a nearby woodlot may seem like an easy idea to spend some time outside with a loved one or the kids. But take it a step further to keep everyone interested and bring a little competition to the weekend. Make a list of things to see along the way and have a scavenger hunt race. Who can spot a mushroom growing on a tree first? A caterpillar? The first one to finish their scavenger hunt list gets a treat!

Photo shoot fun

A few good photos are the best way to remember what might otherwise have been an unmemorable weekend. Whether walking in the neighborhood, or making silly faces in the mirror, take turns being the photographer and the scout, who stays on the lookout for photo-worthy moments and objects. Kids are great at finding hidden photo opportunities. With one hour or one day photo printing, you can also spend an evening creating a photo collage of the day’s fun.

Movie afternoon

The temptation to keep yourself busy can make for a pretty exhausting weekend. Plan too much and you’ll find the family cranky by Sunday. So dedicate one day for just lounging to recharge everyone’s energy. Pick two family favourite movies – or new releases you haven’t seen yet – and set up for an afternoon movie marathon. Make it special with personalized snacks like mini pizzas or gourmet popcorn in individual paper bags: grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese and balsamic vinegar for the adults, shredded cheddar cheese and butter for the kids.

Refresh a room (or two!)

Who doesn’t like a makeover? If the weather gets rainy, it’s a perfect day to take a look around the house for a way to make it new, without spending any money. Put on a timer for two minutes and have everyone pick out two or three items in the house that they love. Now, find a way to work them into that person’s bedroom so they can enjoy them. You might need to remove old items you don’t love any more (pack them up for charity), or even rearrange the furniture to fit a favourite chair in a new place. Refresh the house and if secretly your goal might be to get the kids to clean up their room a bit and that’s ok too!