Ah, barbecue season. It is both a blessing and a curse. On the one hand, you get to have a lot of fun with friends and neighbors while you eat great food and sip delicious drinks. On the other hand, it can be a lot of work to put on a fabulous party for everyone attending. The good news is that you can make it a lot simpler without having to skimp on the sumptuous food you want to make. With these easy recipes, you get an amazing amount of “yum!” without a ton of time.
Nothing says “summer” like pineapple, and few things have a better place at a barbecue than bacon. Bacon-wrapped pineapple becomes a marriage of two great ideas in one tempting appetizer. It is insanely simple to make. Wrap the pineapple pieces with thick-cut bacon and bake it. If you plan to take it to a friend’s house, just pop it in the toaster oven for a few minutes when you get there to warm it up. Add some Hawaiian barbecue sauce for a convenient dip to this unforgettable combination.
Slow-Cooker Pulled Pork
Big entrées used to be the enemy of the busy hostess, until the slow cooker came to the rescue. Now, you can have a meaty, delicious plate of pulled pork with virtually no work at all. Start with pork loin or pork shoulder, a few aromatics like onion and garlic, some spices, barbecue sauce and water. It should take you about five minutes to put together. Toss all of it in the slow cooker and the pork is ready within eight hours. Served on nachos, buns or tortillas, this pulled pork is perfect. And you can start this recipe in the morning, so you can enjoy a little rest time as you prepare other dishes.
Grilled Portabella Caps with Spinach and Cheese
Summer barbecues tend to favor omnivores, but vegetarians (and those participating in Meatless Monday) can still get a filling meal with these cheesy grilled portabella caps. You don’t even have to sacrifice valuable real estate on the grill to make it happen, if you would rather use your oven. Clean out the mushrooms and top them with the cheese and spinach filling. The result is ooey-gooey and takes only about 10 minutes on heat.
Hawaiian Chicken Kebabs
Making kebabs requires a bit more investment of time, but it has a wonderful payoff. Also, it’s always a big plus when you can grill your meat and produce together in one dish. These Hawaiian chicken kebabs are bright, colorful and an absolute delight. You can make the recipe for the barbecue sauce, or go with a store-bought variety if you are really short on time. Cut the raw chicken, pineapple, green bell pepper and red onion into slices. Enlist your older kids to help you build the skewers and put them in the fridge until you’re ready to grill them. The kebabs only need about 10 minutes on the grill, so you can even serve them as appetizers while people are waiting for steak or burgers.
Honey Garlic Baked Cauliflower
Once you try this honey garlic baked cauliflower, you will never look at chicken nuggets in the same way again. These little breaded florets look so much like popcorn chicken, yet they are baked and so much healthier. It is so simple. Just cut the cauliflower, dip it in the breading and bake for 15-20 minutes. If you want, you can bake them earlier in the day and just freshen them up in the toaster oven right before you serve. Top with the sauce, and your guests will be beating down your door for the recipe.
Watermelon, Feta and Mint Salad
Sometimes, you just want a salad that isn’t too heavy on the green. Watermelon is great to offer the bulk without necessarily taking away room for the entrée. This watermelon, feta and mint salad is so fun to create that you will wonder why you did not pick it up years ago. It is the perfect juxtaposition of sweet, salty and slightly bitter. Look for a good sheep’s milk feta cheese, and add it to fresh, ripe watermelon chunks. In about five minutes, you have a bright salad that works as a perfect palate-cleanser before dessert.
Spring Fruit Tart
You may envy that neighbor or friend who always seems to bring the best desserts to the block party. Now you can too, without having to break the bank or slave for hours around a hot oven. With a delightful spring fruit tart and a few workarounds, you will be the belle of the barbecue. Start with some store-bought sugar cookie dough. Make a tart crust out of the dough and bake it. Add the cream cheese filling and top it with the best fresh fruit you can find. It will keep in your fridge until you are ready to serve, making it the perfect dessert to prepare the day before.
S’mores Bars Cookie
The idea of making s’mores around the campfire or fire pit conjures up fond family memories. Watching your kids like a hawk around the fire is a completely different experience as an adult, though. These s’mores bars cookies give the best of both worlds with much less effort. Make cookie dough and layer chocolate bars and marshmallow fluff in the middle. The bars have all the gooeyness of summer, without risking anyone’s safety or making anyone stand around a smoky, hot campfire.
In the heat of summer, you will do almost anything to stay cool. This bright summer beverage will cool off all of your guests in a combination that costs you hardly anything and provides nearly endless refreshment. Cherry limeade is so straightforward, your kids can make it themselves. A little Sprite, limeade, maraschino cherries and ice are all you need. Stir it up and let the cherry color and flavor disseminate throughout the drink. Slice some fresh lime and serve, to create an instant summer classic for your family.
OK, you might be thinking that kid-friendly beverages are nice, but it is also good to have something for the grownups. Lucky for you, it is easy to step out from the cocktails with blended drinks like Moscato slush. Start with a light, fresh-tasting chilled wine of your choice. Moscato is a great option. Blend it with some ice and bam, frozen drink. Anyone with a pulse can make this taste great. So, if you have friends who want to help out but are not really confident in the kitchen, this is a great job for them to do. You get a refreshing drink and you do not even have to slice fruit or open a can.
Enjoy the Flavors of Summer
The flavors of summer are timeless, and they are yours for the picking. It turns out that you can easily participate in a wonderful summer barbecue without spending all of your day in the kitchen. Just take note of these fabulous summer recipes, and you can make gorgeous dishes that taste even better than they look.