These Picnic Food Recipes Just Changed Outdoor Eating Forever

If you don’t like picnics or a good ol’ outdoor party then I’m pretty sure you’re a robot. Fresh air, great food, and those fun baskets with the classic red and white checkered lining are what makes spring worth living! Yes there can be bugs, whatever, big whoop, I’m like a thousand times bigger than they are. However, there is a weakness in my picnic game, I am traditionally just a sandwich and chips kind of girl. I decided to ditch the basics and upgrade my picnic menu to some items that are a bit more daring and way more delectable. All of these picnic food recipes are pretty simple, so much so that even a sandwich traditionalist like me can get on board!

Walking Tacos

To be quite honest I could probably survive on these for quite some time. Incredibly convenient, what is better than a taco that you can walk with? I am left with so many questions like “why isn’t this the standard?” Traditional tacos are not conducive to walking and eating, what do I do if I need to eat my taco while I walk to go get more tacos? That said, you can see how happy I was to find this recipe. With a lot of flexibility, you can honestly add any taco ingredients you wish. Frito or Doritos bags work best.

I also enjoy this recipe because it is easy to have plenty of extra if individual bags are bought in bulk. This recipe also does not include beans but if properly drained I think would make them even more spectacular than they already are. You can also bring all the toppings in their own container that way guests can choose what ingredients they want to add to their walking taco.

Slow Cooker Barbecue Ribs


Ribs should be required at every picnic. Seriously, a bill needs to be signed and passed into law. Now smoked ribs are great but not all of us have one of those fancy smokers or a fully outfitted smokehouse. This picnic recipe takes a little prep and you may have to wake up a little early so they are done in time for the picnic festivities but for what it takes up in time, it will give back to your taste buds when it makes them explode with flavor. The prep itself is incredibly easy and all you have to do is give a good rub down with spices and then drown it in barbecue sauce, in a few hours you’ll have fall off the bone barbecue-y goodness.




Bacon Sriracha Potato Salad


I dare you to think of two things better than bacon and sriracha. The only thing I can think of is both of them combined into a creamy potato salad. I know you might have to pick up the pieces of your mind as it has been blown, and that’s okay. Once you have it back together again immediately gather the ingredients necessary for this delicious dish and have the best damn picnic imaginable. To add an even more awesome element to this dish you can substitute the red potatoes with sweet potatoes. Yes, please!

You can also adjust this recipe depending on the time you have before your picnic adventure. If you are the spontaneous type and are in a pinch, use store bought potato salad and add the additional toppings. Don’t have bacon on hand? Opt for some bacon bits. When everyone raves about this awesome picnic recipe there is no need for you to tell them it wasn’t completely from scratch. You own that potato salad.


Lasagna Cupcakes


Another one for the picnic history books, let me introduce Lasagna Cups. If you haven’t noticed I am all about functionality and convenience at a picnic. Lasagna, for one, is awesome, but the thought of awkwardly trying to eat it outside with plastic utensils does not sound like my idea of a good time. Instead of pasta noodles, wonton wrappers are used to make these perfectly sized cupcakes. You could also make a pizza or mac and cheese version if you wanted to add some variety.  These little cakes are super easy to grab and munch on, making them perfect finger food for your picnic menu.

Vodka Lemonade Juice Pouch


You know we had to involve liquor in this post, we are HomeWetBar after all. What I basically look at as adult juice boxes is a must have at your next picnic. Disclaimer: If kiddos are present keep a lookout that there is no confusion. Also these look so tasty I wouldn’t blame a kid for getting angry that he couldn’t have one. With only a few ingredients they are super easy to prep and even easier to drink. Tip: These perfectly juice sized plastic bags can be found super cheap at your local craft store.

You can also add a lot variety with this idea. I think Long Island Iced teas would be a great addition or replacement for the pouches. I also have a weird obsession with grapefruit juice that I think would work great as well. Basically you can substitute any of your favorite cocktail recipes into this awesome picnic idea.

Individual Seven Layer Dips


Another single serving recipe, I love this as a snack before or after the real eating begins. These would work well at any party really. Again featuring simple ingredients, these cups are quick to make and are super delicious. Since everyone gets their own personal serving there will be no fighting over a big bowl of the stuff. I also feel that these smaller cups completely diminish the bug to dip ratio.

What I love about this recipe is the ability to have plenty extra depending on your party size. I am guilty of making a lot more and storing them for a quick snack after the outdoor party. Also depending on how hungry you and your guests are you can adjust the plastic cup size to accommodate the desired amount of dip.


Cheesecake in a Jar


Let’s face it most things are better in jars. If your whole picnic could be in a jar, that would probably best. Takeaway, you need to invest in a lot of jars. If not for the rest of these recipes, definitely this one. Cheesecake is personally one of my favorite desserts. If it was socially acceptable I would skip the entrees and go straight for the cake. Who am I kidding, I do it anyways. Not only are these cheesecake jars delicious but they look great. You can swap out the berries for any other toppings you may desire, I love tangerines on mine!

These little canning jars can normally be found pretty cheap at your local craft store, but you can really use anything you have on hand to serve up these bad boys such as teacups!


Looking to improve your picnic to epic proportions? Check out some outdoor party ideas and gifts. Everything from hidden flasks for when you run out of vodka pouches, and grilling accessories, to music blaring coolers.

Mason Jar Condiment Dispenser

Mason Jar Condiment Dispenser

Lawn Drink Holders

Lawn Drink Holders

Picnic Reusable Melamine Plate

Picnic Reusable Melamine Plate

Picnic Food Ideas: Whiskey & Blue Cheese Potato Salad Recipe

This unique potato salad recipe offers rich flavors that will make a splash at your next cookout. Dressed with ingredients like red wine vinegar, barbecue sauce, and blue cheese, the potatoes are actually cooked in whiskey, infusing every bite with the sweet, smoky flavors from your favorite bottle.

Whiskey & Blue Cheese Potato Salad

  • 3 lbs Yukon Gold potatoes
  • 1 cup whiskey
  • 1 cup cooked wheat berries
  • 2 tbsp spicy mustard
  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 cup whiskey barbecue sauce
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 4 oz crumbled blue cheese
  • 1 bunch green onions, chopped
  • salt & pepper

Cut your potatoes into bite sized pieces, as close as you can to 1/2 inch cubes. Add them to a large pot or saucepan, and sprinkle 2 tablespoons of salt over the top. Pour in one cup of your favorite whiskey, then cover with water. Bring the liquid to a boil, then lower heat and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes. They should be slightly tender and easy to pierce with a fork. Drain the liquid, then cover and let the potatoes rest for at least 20 minutes. They will become more tender as they cool.

In a separate bowl, combine one cup of chilled, cooked wheat berries with the spicy mustard, red wine vinegar, olive oil, and barbecue sauce. Stir these ingredients until well blended. Spoon in the honey and stir until smooth.

Once the potatoes have cooled, add the dressing mixture and stir until thoroughly coated. Sprinkle in the blue cheese and green onions, and gently stir. Add salt and pepper to taste. Chill completely before serving.


13 Hot Dog Toppings that Will Blow Your Mind

Hot dogs are a summer favorite throughout the country. Whether grilling out by the pool, camping, or spending the weekend at the beach, nothing hits the spot quite like homemade hot dogs. At the same time, cooking hot dogs is sometimes frowned upon as uninteresting, or food for kids. That’s where fancy hot dogs come to the rescue. Even though the classic combination of ketchup, mustard, and relish has withstood the test of time, here’s a hot dog toppings list that will turn even the most mundane picnic spread into a summer feast. Add these hot dog toppings to your shopping list, and everyone around will go crazy for more.

Thai Peppers

Thai Peppers Hot Dog Topping

The Thai pepper, also known as the bird’s eye chili, is a small, exceedingly hot pepper. Even though they pack a super spicy punch, they are balanced with fruity sweetness, which makes them perfect in hot dog recipes. These peppers turn red when fully ripe, but are commonly eaten while still green. Finely chopped and sprinkled over hot dogs with mustard and onion relish, these spicy soldiers are a natural flavor booster. If you want to go really crazy, sprinkle on some coconut as well.

Fancy Cheese

Fancy Cheese Hot Dog Topping

Among outdoor summer food, hamburgers have always been stingy with the cheese. Although we’re still talking about meat tucked inside bread, party goers frequently forget about adding cheese to their hot dogs. Picnic spreads are known for their sizable stacks of American cheese slices, but for fancy hot dogs, you need fancy cheese. Soft cheeses, like Gouda and Havarti are excellent choices, and fit well with other more traditional hot dog toppings. Stronger flavors, like Danish blue cheese and Stilton, are even better, and should be paired with a steak or barbecue sauce. Keep these cheeses in the cooler, though, because the hot summer heat will make these these gourmet hot dogs extra potent.

Chipotle Peppers

Chipotle Peppers Hot Dog Topping

A staple ingredient in the Southwest, chipotle peppers are really just smoked, dried jalapeños, but add a super sweet smoky flavor. This is one of the best hot dog topping ideas for camping, because you can buy chipotle peppers dried, and keep them in a small, easy to seal plastic bag. To prepare, soak the dried peppers in water for a few minutes, and scrape the seeds out before you chop them up. You can also opt for chipotle peppers in adobo, which doesn’t require soaking or chopping. Chipotles in adobo make an awesome hot dog chili sauce, and make the perfect pair with our next topping…

Fried Eggs

Fried Egg Hot Dog Topping

Meat and fried eggs can be found in every roadside diner, and fried eggs will turn your hot dogs into top-notch comfort food. Easy to make and available anywhere, eggs also look great heaped on top of all your other favorite hot dog toppings. Fried eggs even make it okay to eat hot dogs for breakfast, as if permission was needed.

Chili Spiced Dried Mango

Chili Mango Hot Dog Topping

Another great sweet and spicy recipe for hot dogs comes courtesy of the bulk foods section of the supermarket. These slices of dried mango come seasoned with paprika, salt, chili powder, and a hint of cayenne. The sweet mango flavor is perfect with a grilled hot dog, and the chili spices give it an extra kick. Try a squirt of fresh lime juice on top as a finishing touch.

Maple Syrup

Maple Syrup Hot Dog Topping

Another breakfast inspired hot dog topping, maple syrup offers an earthy, unmistakable sweetness that soaks right into the bun. Best poured on while the hot dog is still piping hot from the grill, this is the perfect condiment for bacon wrapped hot dogs, or even sausage links. Keep it to a light drizzle, though, to avoid soggy buns.

Fresh Herbs

Fresh Herbs Hot Dog Topping

Nothing packs a whollup of bright flavor like fresh herbs. Cilantro, chives, basil, and tarragon all go well with dressings like mustard or mayonnaise, and even give your hot dogs a nice crunch. Chopped green onions can be a good alternative to the white, diced variety. Avoid heartier herbs like rosemary or fennel, because then can be too overwhelming when eaten raw.


Radishes Hot Dog Topping

A staple in the salad bowl, radishes will add a peppery crunch to your hot dog recipes. They are easy to chop ahead of time, and firm enough to withstand travel to the beach or tailgating site. The fresh flavor of radishes works well with ranch dressing, and give you picnic spread a little extra color, as well.

Pineapple Salsa

Pineapple Salsa Hot Dog Topping

Fruit salsas can be a great addition to any dish, and pineapple salsa is one of the best hot dog topping ideas. Pineapple salsa has a tropical citrus flavor, but typically features other great tastes, like cumin and garlic. Available in most grocery stores and ready for spooning, it’s a beautiful shortcut to getting the best hot dogs around.

Salt & Vinegar Chips

Salt and Vinegar Chips Hot Dog Topping

Elementary school kids know that the best way to eat a brown bag lunch is to slide the potato chips right between the ham and white bread. Take this lunchtime recipe a step further, and crumble salt and vinegar chips onto your hot dog. The tangy saltiness and fried crunch are perfect for poolside dining, and will make you feel like a kid at recess. Except being a grown-up kid means you get to wash it down with a nice cold beer.

Pickled Garlic

Pickled Garlic Hot Dog Topping

Garlic can be added to just about anything, and hot dogs are no exception. Pickled garlic is great because it’s milder than fresh garlic, but still offers bold flavor. If you’re taking it with you to the campsite, mince the garlic before you leave home, and add it back to the pickling juices. This is a great hot dog topping idea for more traditional folks, and combines perfectly with spicy peppers or sweet relish.


Capers Hot Dog Topping

A secret ingredient in Italian and French kitchens for generations, capers have recently seen a surge in popularity. They are actually pickled flower buds, and will give your hot dogs a salty, tangy zing. Pair capers with feta cheese and tzatziki sauce for a Mediterranean-inspired delight.


Ravioli Hot Dog Topping

If you are a fan of food stuffed food, such as calzones and chicken cordon bleu, then this will be one of your go-to hot dog ideas. Ravioli are kind of like little sandwiches themselves, so it makes sense. Just tuck as many pieces of cooked ravioli as you can into your next hot dog. If you’re feeling messy, top the whole thing off with marinara sauce, and sprinkle with parmesan cheese. Eat it fast, or use a toasted bun to avoid getting most of it in your lap instead of your mouth. That would be a shame.

5 Pro Tips – Grilling The Perfect Steak

What Do You Know About Grilling the Perfect Steak?

First of all, you probably want to know who I am and why you should listen to me.  My name is Keith Winter, and I am the founder of  Born in the Midwest and growing up in a family of cattle ranchers and auctioneers, well… lets just say I know I little bit about what makes a great steak. We grew up eating steak three days a week, every week. Over the years I’ve honed my crafted and come up with the perfect recipe for grilling the perfect steak every time. I make my own seasoning and rubs, and always buy my steaks from the butchers counter. I know steak, and in the next 5 minutes I’m going to teach you how to grill a perfect steak every time. Grilling the perfect steak – the kind your neighbors wish they could – is all about basics. As you’ll soon see, “less is more” really applies to your summer grill.

Ready to get started? Then roll up your sleeves – things are about to heat up.

Step #1 Choose the Right Meat

This is by far the most important step. Grilling the perfect steak starts with the right Beef. Even the greatest chefs can’t turn dog food into delicacy. When choosing your steak, use the USDA ratings:

  • Select: The lowest quality found in supermarkets. Select is better used for roasts than grilled steaks.
  • Choice: A quality cut with tenderness and marbling. A perfectly acceptable (and popular) grade of meat for grilling.
  • Prime: The highest quality possible. Only 2% of beef meets this USDA grade. Prime steaks have the most marbling, texture and flavor.

If you’re looking to grill the perfect steak, nothing less than Prime grade beef will do.

Of course, there are different cuts of meat, too.

  • Filet: The most tender cut. Due to less marbling, it doesn’t have the flavor as other cuts, but it’s still regarded as a quality cut.
  • Ribeye: The most flavorful cut. However, all that marbling puts the ribeye on the fatty side.
  • NY Strip: Is a compromise between a filet and ribeye. It’s more flavorful than a filet and more tender than a ribeye. A firm meat with good flavor
  • T-Bone / Porterhouse: The bone adds flavor while the tenderness of the filet can be found on the smaller side and the robust flavor of the Strip steak can be found on the other side of the bone.  The main difference between a T-Bone and Porterhouse is the Porterhouse is thicker (at least 1.25″) according to the USDA.

PRO TIP: If you’re unsure Filets are always a crowd pleaser. However my favorite is Ribeye for the flavor.

 And don’t forget aging…

One thing that pros know that the average consumer may not, is that aged beef not only is more tender, it’s also more flavorful.  There are basically two types: Wet Aged and Dry Aged

  • Wet aged: The beef is aged in it’s on juices inside of a bag. You see this a lot at fine dining restaurants because it’s generally cheaper due to the beef not lose as much mass as it does during dry aging. That being said, a prime wet aged steak will knock the socks off a non-aged prime steak any day of the week. Additionally some steaks like flat iron or skirt lack the mass to dry age so they must be wet aged or you’ll end up with something similar to a dried out stick of beef jerky when you go to cook it.
  • Dry aged: The choice of kings! This aging method allows the meat to breathe while it slowly loses water and breaks down the beef increasing it’s “beefiness” since there is now less water and it’s tenderness is increased. A true delight to eat.

PRO TIP: Make sure to get it cut around 1.25″ thick, any thinner than 1″ your steak won’t be juicy, thicker than 1.5″ is really hard to cook, 1.25″ thick is the sweet spot for most cooks.

PRO TIP: You will almost always get the best quality steaks at a butcher’s shop instead of a supermarket. Go aged Prime grade if you can, or choice if prime is not an option for you.


Steak seasoningStep #2: Seasoning the Steak

You only need four items to season: salt, pepper, olive oil and butter. That’s it. Don’t over-think this: you want the natural flavor of the meat to stand out.

Rock salt or flavored gourmet sea salt  should be combined with coarse ground pepper and mixed together. Apply to both sides of the meat and allowed to rest for at least 30 minutes prior to cooking. This brings the steak  up to room temperature so it cooks evenly and allows it to absorb some of the flavor from the salt.  Trust me, my family raises cattle for a living, I know what I’m talking about here, flavorful salts and pepper is all seasoning you need for great flavor. If you have a good piece of beef you’re starting with and you cook it right you should be golden if you follow this method.

PRO TIP: Season the steak and let it rest for 30 minutes prior to cooking. This helps it absorbs some of the flavor from the salt (also helps with searing) and cook more evenly.

Step #3: Sear the Steak

Grilling the perfect steak becomes much easier once you learn to sear your steak. Professional steakhouses have insanely hot broilers – some burn up to 1,700 degrees Farenheit – in order to sear the outside of the steak.

Cooking steaks at home you probably don’t have that luxury even if you do have an infrared burner on your grill, however you can put a nice sear on it using the right technique, which will lock in the flavors and the juiciness of the steak. Within reason – you really cannot add too much salt to steak – it creates a delicious outside crust and helps the steak retain its natural juices.

You’ve really got two options when searing a steak

Option #1: If you have a good infrared grill, searing steaks on the grill should be no problem.

For reference I have a $300 Kenmore grill with infrared on one side and a regular gas grill on the other (I prefer a regular/infrared combo vs all infrared). I’m telling you this so you realize that you don’t need a hugely expensive grill to cook a great steak. Any grill that gets hot and puts out consistent temperatures will work. I tweaked the gas intake a bit (don’t do this at home) so mine gets up to about 450 degrees on the regular grill side and about 750-800 degrees on the infrared side. It’s actually so hot I forgot one cold day to pull it away from the window and it cracked the window pane, now that’s hot! As long as you can get above 600 or so on your infrared you should be able to give those steaks a good sear. Go get a heat gun and point it at the grill if you’re unsure and want to know the exact temperature in there.

Turn the infrared up all the way up and make sure it’s all warmed up before doing anything. When it’s ready toss the steaks on there for 30 seconds a side, leaving the top open while searing the steaks. Leave them in just long enough that they are brown with some nice grill marks. Then allow them to sit while you sear the rest of your steaks.

Option #2: If you have a charcoal or standard grill. You need to pan sear the steaks ahead of time.

In order to get a good sear you need a good pan. Get your pan really hot. Coat the steaks with olive oil and sear them 45-60 seconds a side and then set each to the side to rest while you cook the other steaks, then move to Step 4. (be sure to let excess oil drip off; too much will cause flare-ups on the grill)


Steak on the Grill

Step #4: Grilling the Perfect Steak

Make sure the grill is good and hot, and immediately turn it down when you add the steaks, just a bit. When grilling the perfect steak, I like to run my grill around 360 degrees with the lid closed, I know some other great chefs that cook ata higher temperature but with the grill open. What it really comes down to is how hot your grill gets and personal preference. One other thing I like to do is if I’m cooking a smaller portion I shut off one burner and turn my other two burners to max. Then I put my steaks on the portion without the flame. It’s unconventional, but my steaks are always grilled to perfection and I rarely have flare ups. Even with one burner off I can still maintain about 380-400 with the lid closed and only 2 of the 3 burners on, something to tyif you have multiple burners on the grill.

PRO TIP: If you have a gas grill and multiple burners, try turning down the burners on the portion where the steaks are, and up the burners on the other side. It will lead to less flare-ups.

Great steaks should be cooked, not overcooked. Rare to medium is acceptable; anything beyond that is a sin against steak. Pros check temperature by feel – if the steak feels like the skin between your index finger and thumb, it’s a nice medium rare and ready to come off. No joke, my brother-in-law taught me this, it really works. Of course, meat thermometers are the easiest way to tell (125 – 135 degrees Farenheit is ideal).

And of course…


How to Grill Steak Let it RestStep #5: Let the Steak Rest

Do not skip this step! Many backyard BBQs have been ruined by over-eager grillers. When your steak is on the grill, the proteins constrict and squeeze the juice out. By letting your steak rest for five minutes – either on a plate or cutting board – it allows the juices to be reabsorbed by the meat (which makes it taste a whole lot better, too!) Finish with thin slice of butter melted on top for a savory steak that will make your mouth water.

As you can see, grilling the perfect steak is quite easy to do once you know how to do it. All you need to do is follow these tips and make sure you have the right tools for the job. I hope this has been helpful, now go out into the world and grill great steaks! And now… I will shamelessly plug our large selection of grilling accessories available at Get one of the grill seasoning sets if you get nothing else, the grilling salts are extremely flavorful and the best I’ve found anywhere, that’s why we import them. I use them every single time I cook steak. Of course you don’t have to have them, but they sure make grilling the perfect steak a lot easier! What tips do you have for cooking steak? Let us know in the comments below!


7 best steak sauces to make at home

Basket of SaucesSteak is the gold standard of dinner party fare. Chicken breast is passable, shrimp is nice too, but nothing says, “This is an awesome dinner,” quite like a juicy slab of grilled beef. Everyone has their own secret steps for cooking a great steak, from proper seasoning to knowing that exact moment when glistening cut of meat is ready to be removed from the flame. Equally important, though, is how the steak is served at the table. Side dishes are important, but let’s not lose our focus. Nobody leaves a dinner party and updates their Facebook status to say, “Awesome party! The green beans were rockin’!”

Buying a quality cut of beef is a good start, but flavor has to be considered from start to finish. Nothing ruins a beautiful platter of grilled perfection faster than a cold bottle of ketchup pulled from the refrigerator door and squirted all over the place. Some people consider steak sauce to be a cop out; a lazy person’s attempt to add flavor, and if you are a terrible cook, that’s true. So we searched for the best steak sauces to make at home. A great mixture of fresh, tasty ingredients adds a finishing touch that makes meat truly memorable. If you don’t know how to make steak sauce, you’re in luck. Here’s list of great steak sauce recipes, suitable for all cuts of meat. You’ll probably want to spoon a little onto the green beans, too.

Red Wine Steak Sauce

Sauced ChefRed wine is a classic companion for beef dishes, and steak is no exception. Red wine steak sauce is extremely easy to make, especially if you’re grilling on the stovetop. After you’ve finished cooking your steaks, remove them from your skillet or grill pan, and place them on a platter to rest. Using the drippings that are still in the pan, slowly pour in about half a glass of red wine. If you’ve been using an outdoor grill, simply melt a little butter and olive oil in the pan, since you won’t have any drippings. Stir the mixture frequently over medium heat until it gets just a little thicker, then add half a cup of beef broth. Continue to heat for a few more minutes while the sauce gets slightly thicker. For an added touch, use wine from the bottle you plan to serve with dinner so that the flavors will blend perfectly.

Balsamic Butter Sauce

By Andrea Levers (Flickr) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (], via Wikimedia CommonsAnother easy steak sauce to make is balsamic butter, and the recipe is almost as simple as the name. Heat 2 tablespoons of butter, along with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, over medium high heat. Once the melted butter starts to brown, remove from the heat and add three quarters of a cup of balsamic vinegar. Stir in a few pinches of salt and pepper, and you’re done! If you’ve got minced garlic, or fresh herbs, these can be added for a little extra flavor, but the combination of butter and balsamic vinegar is hard to beat.

Habanero Peanut Sauce

Best steak saucePeanut sauce is a long time favorite in chicken dishes, but spice it up a little and it’s perfect on steak. Start with a cup of all natural peanut butter. Avoid the kind that has lots of added preservatives, because it won’t blend easily. To your peanut butter, add 2 tablespoons of soy sauce, 2 tablespoons of sugar or honey, and 5 or 6 dashes of your favorite hot sauce. Habanero hot sauce pairs wonderfully with the peanut butter, but any pepper sauce will work. Keep stirring until all ingredients are well blended. Minced garlic is a nice addition, as well.

Mushroom Bourbon Steak Sauce

Bourbon Sweet, smoky bourbon is great for bringing out the natural flavors in a good steak. For this mushroom steak sauce, start by heating 2 tablespoons of butter in a pan, then add a quarter cup of chopped onions, and one clove of minced garlic. Chop four, medium sized fresh mushrooms as finely as possible, and add to your pan once the onions have started to turn transparent. After cooking for another 5 minutes, remove from the heat, and add half a cup of your favorite bourbon and 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar. Stir the sauce for about 1 minute, then add nutmeg and freshly ground pepper. After another minute of stirring, add one cup of heavy cream to the mixture. Truly one of the best steak sauces to make at home, this creamy delight is awesome with pork chops, too.

Triple C Sauce – Creamy Chipotle Cilantro

Dial a SteakIt took me a long time to perfect the Triple C Sauce, but it’s one of my favorites. This creamy sauce has a smoky flavor that makes even hamburger steak taste like a blue ribbon dish. In a mixing bowl, blend a small can of chopped chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, with one cup of plain greek yogurt. If your local market has fresh chipotle peppers, even better, but don’t forget to clean out all of the seeds. After stirring for a couple of minutes, add 2 cloves of minced garlic and just a pinch of dried cumin. Squeeze in the juice of one fresh lime, and stir until completely mixed. Sometimes, I add 2 or 3 dashes of Cholula chipotle lime hot sauce as well. Fold in one quarter cup of fresh chopped cilantro, and chill for about 30 minutes before serving. A little goes a long way with this homemade steak sauce.

Brandy, Tomato & Peppercorn Steak Sauce

Turkey with sauceA great twist on commercially available products, this brandy peppercorn steak sauce is perfect to make in advance and bring along for camping and tailgating. Mix together one quarter cup of each of the following: raspberry jam, brandy, tomato sauce, and white wine vinegar. Add 2 tablespoons of worcestershire sauce, and 5 drops of sriracha. Finally, stir in one and a half teaspoons of freshly ground black or green peppercorns, and a pinch of salt. This sauce will last for up to 2 weeks in the refrigerator, but we recommend serving it at room temperature.


Juniper Gin Sauce

SteakThis is the most unusual steak sauce on our list, but it’s absolutely worth a try. Start by heating 1 cup of chicken broth over medium heat. If you’ve cooked your steaks in a skillet, add the drippings to the broth or use the same pan. Add one teaspoon of ground allspice, and one teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper. Once you’re starting to see a few bubbles coming up from the bottom of the pan, add a quarter cup of gin. If you can find dried juniper berries, grind a few in a spice mill and add them to the mixture, up to 4 teaspoons worth. After simmering for 5 minutes, remove from the heat and allow to cool for another 5 minutes. Carefully mix in three quarters of a cup of heavy whipping cream, and stir until completely blended. This creamy steak sauce has a surprising flavor that varies greatly, depending on the gin you use. It makes a better story, though, when you tell your guests you used Beefeater.


Vegetarian Grilling Techniques

Here’s a summertime grilling secret for you: vegetarians and vegans love grilling out just as much as meat lovers! The number of people choosing to lead a vegetarian lifestyle is increasing year after year. As a vegetarian myself, I’d like to share some of my most favorite recipes and ideas with you!

Grilled Veggie Kabobs

Veggie kabobs can be made with any type of vegetable that looks good sliced in 1/4 inch slices or one-inch chunks. You can never go wrong with kabobs. They look beautiful and are enjoyed by everyone, not just your vegetarian guests!

Don’t grill them with the meat; that takes away from the vegetable taste, and it also defeats the purpose of providing your vegetarian friends with something special. Remember, they don’t eat meat. (That means they don’t want their grilled vegetables to taste like meat fat.)

I have a variety of skewers for different occasions. When I’m grilling at home for the family, I stick with the straight skewers. I also have circle skewers, some that look like swords, spears and other odd shapes. They add fun and conversation to every barbeque.

Here’s one of my favorite veggie kabob recipes:

4 Medium Red Onions
2 Medium Zucchini
2 Medium Yellow Summer Squash
12 Cremini Mushrooms
1 Red Bell Pepper
1 Green Bell Pepper
1 Medium Eggplant

Cut all vegetables into one-inch cubes or slices depending on how you plan to skewer them. Marinate them for 4 hours in 1/2 cup of olive oil, 3tbsp lemon juice, 2 tsp salt, 1tsp pepper, 1 1/2 tsp dried oregano and 2 cloves of garlic. Stir occasionally to cover thoroughly and evenly. When it’s time to grill them, choose your favorite skewers and thread them alternating colors and tastes. Leave a small amount of room between each vegetable for air and heat circulation. Grill about 25 minutes or until all are golden and tender.

Alternatively you can add firm chunked tofu to the marinating mixture for the last 2 hours. Thread using 2 pieces of vegetables to one piece of tofu when threading everything onto kabob rods or skewers. Add any other vegetable you like to the mix. Ask your guests if they have a favorite vegetable.


Tofu Pieces

Tofu sticks to grills, so use a good cooking spray or oil. Extra-firm tofu is best but firm works too. Tofu absorbs the flavor of the foods you cook it with. To get the maximum effect, freeze and thaw the tofu before marinating it. Freezing will remove a lot of the natural moisture from it. After it thaws, cut it into 1 inch pieces and marinate it for at least 30 minutes before grilling.

Any barbeque marinade will suffice. You can even use your favorite salad dressing, barbeque sauce, vinaigrette or soy sauce. A sauce that contains sugar is best. The sugar will caramelize and make a crunchy outer layer. Honey, sugar and even maple syrup will cause a caramelized or glazed affect.

You can skewer your tofu like a kabob or lay it directly onto the grill. Tofu is very soft and sticks to the grilling surface. Use a quality cooking spray or oil and brush occasionally with extra marinade. Grill for 7 to 10 minutes on each side for a one inch square.

Grilled Potatoes

Like all other vegetables, there are several ways to enjoy grilled potatoes and sweet potatoes. Wrap whole potatoes in aluminum foil with butter and salt to enjoy baked potatoes from the grill. Cut potatoes into wedges and marinate with your favorite sauce or simply use salt and pepper. Other recipes include batter-dipped potatoes, spicy grilled fries and even mashed potatoes from the grill.

Black Bean Burgers

Black bean burgers are a great addition to any barbeque. They’re tasty, healthy and a great treat for your vegetarian guests. In a medium bowl, mash a can of black beans. You can also use refried black beans. Mix in finely chopped bell peppers, onions and garlic. Combine one egg, 1tbsp of chili powder, 1tbsp cumin and 1tsp of chili sauce or hot sauce in a small bowl. Add this mixture to your black beans along with 1/2 cup of bread crumbs.

For best results, use aluminum foil and grill for 8 to 10 minutes on each side. Grilling sauces and other spices may be brushed on at any time. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Grilled Fruits and Veggies

Asparagus: Marinate asparagus in balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper. Grill about 10 minutes. Don’t overdo it, they’ll be too dry.

Broccoli: Marinate in olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Coat with grated parmesan cheese or top with a cheese of your choice after grilling is complete. Grill for 8 to 10 minutes.

Corn on the Cob: Wrap in aluminum foil and smother in butter. Grill until heated through. Remember that vegans don’t eat dairy products; this includes butter. Spray with olive oil instead.

Pineapple: Chunks of pineapple add amazing flavor and decoration to every barbeque. Vegetarians and meat eaters alike can enjoy grilled pineapple rounds or chunks. Grilled pineapple rounds are great on a black bean burger or other garden burger.

Veggie Stacks

Veggie stacks look amazing. They’re a great side dish for meat eaters and an impressive main dish for vegetarians. Grill portabella, eggplant, zucchini, red onion, red peppers, green peppers or any other vegetables that look good sliced in 1/4 inch slices. Stack layers of vegetables and include any cheese of choice after every second layer. Serve with pasta and sauce or a cheese sauce. Any sauce of choice goes very well with a veggie stack.

Branded Personalized Veggies

Food branding irons are fun and entertaining. Brands may be used on anything you grill, providing the iron correctly fits on the item you’d like to brand. Black bean burgers are the same size as a meat burger and are perfect for branding. Look for brands that fit your party theme or even spell out individual names of your guests. Be creative with branding tools and make your barbeque the talk of the summer. Find the right BBQ tools for your cookout, regardless of if it is vegetarian or not, with’s BBQ accessories collection.

15 Tips For A Perfect Backyard Burger

Credit: vvvracer
Credit: vvvracer

Honestly, is there anything more profoundly American than a burger grilled to perfection in your backyard?

We think not.

But contrary to popular belief, crafting a “perfect” burger takes more finesse than simply slapping two buns and a (gasp!) pre-shaped patty onto a grill. Read on to learn 15 simple tips for making a delicious burger.

1. Custom grind the meat

Ask your local butcher custom grind the meat for you: preferably a rib eye steak with 75 – 25 meat-to-fat ratio. Remember: fat is your friend. Don’t pick the leanest meat, as there’s no flavor left after grilling.

2. Chill the meat

Once you’re home, let the beef sit in the fridge for at least thirty minutes before cooking.

Why? Because as you form it into the patties, heat from your hands melts the fat, which reduces the flavor. Chilling the meat first helps prevent melting and the burger retains its full flavor.

3. Form the patties quickly

Many people roll the meat into balls before pounding them into patties. Doing so only melts the fat and results in a tougher burger. Remember: less is more.

4. Aim for ¾ inch thickness.

Use one hand to gently push the meat down while shaping its perimeter with the other.

5. Leave a divot in the center of the burger.

When patties cook, they tend to contract. This leaves you with an uneven burger with a bump in the middle. To avoid this, push down the center of the patty (gently!) leaving a small “gravy boat”. As it cooks, this will fill up and leave you with a flat, perfectly cooked burger.

But don’t cook it just yet. Instead…

6. Put the patties back in the fridge for another 45 minutes.

The same logic applies here as before. Let the patties harden in the fridge, so the fat only melts while cooking.

7. Get the grill hot. Really hot.

Seriously, the hotter the better. Higher temperatures means you’ll sear the meat better and impart the flavors from the grill.

8. Add copious amounts of salt and pepper.

You can mix pepper in with the meat beforehand if you want, but don’t add salt until the last minute; otherwise, it can dry out the burger.

9. Leave that burger alone!

Let the burger sear nicely on one side before touching it. If the burger sticks, you moved too soon. When you do flip the burger, aim for a clean spot on the grill to perfectly sear the other side. Alternatively, use this slider cooker to bang out burgers in record time.

And speaking of cooking…

10. Do not EVER press down on the meat!

The single most common mistake, pushing down on a cooking burger squeezes out all the juices. Ideally, you should only touch the burger three or four times while on the grill.. and that’s only to flip it.

11. Get a crisscross pattern.

To be honest, this in no way affects the taste, but it does look mighty fine. Here’s how to do it: After the first sear, rotate the patty one quarter of the way (on the same side); then flip it, sear the other side and give it another quarter turn as well.

12. Choose the right sized buns.

The bun is just as important as the burger itself. Four inch buns are perfect as they let you taste each ingredient in one bite.

13. Melt the cheese on the burger.

For the last minute or so, place a slice of cheese on the burger so it begins to melt. Think beyond American cheese: Swiss, Havarti, Bleu and Brie all make excellent cheeseburgers.

14. Let the burger rest.

Once you take the burger off the grill, let it sit undisturbed for two or three minutes. This allows the burger time to absorb the juices and retains its flavor.

15. Offer different toppings.

Sure, pack along the usual suspects – lettuce, tomato, onion, pickles, etc. – but mix things up a bit with jalapeno peppers, thinly sliced ham, sautéed mushrooms or even roasted garlic.


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