Tuesday, September 4, 2012

The Ultimate Cookout Menu

This weekend we threw our first big party in ages - a Labor Day BBQ. Since the weather is finally about to cool down, I think it's actually just the start of Atlanta grilling season. 

Interested in a relatively low on effort, high on taste cookout menu?

Burgers and Sausages
Publix offers a 75/25 mix of ground beef made from steak trimmings in large packs. I went with this because more fat is a good thing in my book. Just add salt and pepper and make sure you don't over handle the meat. Put a little thumb print in the top to make sure they don't get too rounded during grilling. I topped with American cheese because it's the perfect melting cheese.

Ketchup and mustard were of course on offer, but so was special sauce, a homemade variation on thousand island dressing. I just now realized I forgot to put out the iceberg lettuce (darn!), but there were fresh tomatoes on hand, too.

We also picked up frankfurters, bratwurst and kielbasa from Pine Street Market. If you haven't been, you must go - this Avondale Estates butcher shop has awesome locally made products and a super helpful staff. We snagged some sauerkraut from the Hil, Phickles Pickles, and spectacular applewood smoked bacon while we were there, too.

Creamy Cilantro Lime Slaw
I love a good slaw to balance out the richness of the burgers and sausage. I opted for a creamy cilantro lime slaw. It can be made in advance and tastes great. It would also be delish paired with fish tacos.

Semi-Homemade Baked Beans
With some much to prep, I didn't have it in me to try to make the beans totally from scratch. So I went the Sandra Lee route and combined bacon, ketchup, honey, brown sugar and hot sauce with canned baked beans. Cheating, yes, but they turned out so rich and sweet, and made for great beanie weenie leftovers last night when I was too tired to cook dinner.

Spinach and Artichoke Dip
To give everyone something to munch on while the grill was firing up, I whipped up a spinach and artichoke dip and served it with tortilla chips. Everyone loves a good dip, right? I'm not sure this melted quite the way I wanted it to, even after 10 minutes extra cooking, but it was still imminently scarfable, so it turned out aok.

We had to have one healthy option, so we threw in a fruit salad. For the non-meat eaters, I headed inside to cook up a Pesto Grilled Cheese with fresh pesto I made the night before from our herb garden. Tonight the Mr. threw that pesto and some cheese and tomatoes over chicken and pasta and blew my mind. Damn, why don't I eat more pesto?

Peach Lemonade
For a cocktail, I combined peach nectar with fresh lemon juice and a healthy splash of rum, garnished with fresh peach slices. Those boozy peach slices made for a tasty treat after the party, too! Works well as a mocktail for the non-drinkers, too.

For dessert, my sister and brother brought boozy Old Fashioned brownies (with bourbon, cherry and orange) and for the kiddos a Peppermint Patty brownie. They were oh so good, but alas I don't have the recipes. Want to make something similar, here's one option for bourbon brownies.

It certainly wasn't easy getting this all ready, but in the end, with some prep the night before, I was able to serve nearly 20 people by 2 pm without too much craziness. A special big thanks to the Mr., griller extraordinaire and to all my friends who made it such a fun afternoon!

Be sure to follow my cookout board on Pinterest!
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