How To Choose The Perfect BBQ Grill: The Girl’s Guide To Grill Shopping, From The Grates To The Shape

The weather’s warming up and the scent of grilling burgers and chicken is in the air. It doesn’t matter if it’s a first-timer looking for a new high-tech grill, or a steak-charring veteran looking to replace his rickety rusty grill. Either way, it is important to understand what certain grills offer, the different cooking methods, and a price range.

Whether it’s a juicy surf n’ turf like chorizo and and shrimp skewers or plain vegetables, grilling is a relaxing, rewarding activity that requires being informed about the equipment.

Charcoal or ?

Last year, almost 70% of Americans who purchased a grill chose gas. Why? A gas grill is easy to start and heats twice as fast as charcoal (ten minutes compared to 20-25). Gas grills can run on natural gas or propane, but propane is the most popular option because it is easy to set up and is drier than natural gas, providing a better sear on meats. The upside of natural gas is that is is a lot cheaper and cleaner than propane. Gas grills run anywhere from $100 to almost $10,000.

Most grill buffs choose charcoal because they don’t mind spending more time and effort for a better BBQ flavor, integrating smoky, rich, woody flavors into meat. Charcoal grills also tend to be smaller and are usually much less expensive than gas grills. These run as low as $30 to over $6,000.

When it comes to size, it is best to buy a grill that is larger then you need so you can grow into it. Plus, they are great for entertaining large groups of people at holiday BBQ’s.

Understand the Grates on Your BBQ

Grill grates can be replaced for as cheap as six dollars, and the material it is made of is up to you. For nice sears, go for stainless steel and grates that are at least 1/4 inch thick. For the least chance of meat sticking, choose porcelain-enameled cast iron. For longevity, go with bare cast iron.

Choosing Materials

One of the most popular materials for grills is stainless steel, not only for durability but also for appearance. Other safe bets include cast aluminum and porcelain-enameled steel. Keep in mind though that with porcelain, small chips can encourage rust to set in easily.

For The Gas Grill Enthusiast…

  • Decide what features are most important on a grill. Some include a rotisserie to turn meat for a crispy evenly cooked crust, or a smoker box to add wood chips to add a rich smoke flavor to meat. Many inexpensive grills currently offer side burners to cook side dishes, heat sauces or keep other items warm. On the other hand, side burners take up valuable work space on a grill side.
  • Avoid grills with an H-shaped burner or flat bars made of sheet metal, since these can burn through when grease drips and become ruined.
  • Make sure the grease pan is about one inch deep at least.

For the Charcoal Aficionado…

  • Make sure the grill has at least two grates on the bottom and top, so the air circulation isn’t blocked. Vents should be on the top and bottom, or left and right , to move the smoke around the food.
  • Look for a grill with a tight-fitting lid to keep heat in. Also, the firebox (the area where the fire is) should be almost ten inches deep at least so the flames have room to be separate from the food.
  • Choose a shape. Charcoal grills range from circular designs (more even heating), and oblong shapes (ability to separate the coals from the food at a

Quick Salmon and Salad Recipe: Healthy, Fast, Easy Summer Supper

Warmer summer weather signals, in many people, a desire for lighter meals, quicker preparation and easy clean up to make more time for outdoor activites. This salmon recipe is easy to prepare and a great way to incorporate additional Omega3 oils, those important health essentials, into the family diet.

It takes about 30 minutes to prepare this delicious summer salad, from start to finish, including cooking time for the fish. Surprisingly, cooks experienced in campfire cooking can even prepare this simple, elegant, healthy meal at the campsite. The salmon can also be grilled, as an option. This serves about four people.

Ingredients

  • One package of prewashed and cut field greens, baby lettuces, or any dark, leafy greens
  • One large, ripe, plump tomato, sliced or wedged (a variety like Beefsteak is perfect)
  • One cucumber, peeled and seeded and cut in thin rounds
  • One red onion, sliced thin
  • 2-3 three- or four-ounce fresh or frozen salmon filets
  • 1/4 c or more parmigiano Regiano or Pecorino romano cheese, shaved tissue thin, not grated or ground

Dressing:

  • 1/4 c extra-virgin olive oil plus enough extra to coat the bottom of a medium fry or saute pan.
  • 1/8 c apple cider or balsamic vinegar
  • 1/8 c cold water
  • 2 cloves fresh garlic, pasted (see below)
  • Fresh or dried oregano, basil, dill and or thyme to taste. Salt and pepper.

Directions

  1. On three to four attractive plates, carefully arrange all of the salad vegetables, in the order they are listed above.
  2. Divide the cheese evenly and lay on top the veggies.
  3. Coat the bottom of a medium skillet, fry pan or saute pan with olive oil and cook the salted, peppered filets over medium high heat until the centers are opaque and the edges begin to caramelize.
  4. While they are still hot, cut the filets in strips (can be done in the pan) and divide them evenly between the salads, laying them on top and drizzling any remaining oil from the pan over the cheese. The hot fish will soften the cheese, releasing flavor.
  5. Whisk together vinegar and water, slowly add in 1/4 c. olive oil and whisk until well blended.
  6. Peel garlic cloves, chop them fine on a cutting board, cover them with a generous pinch of salt. With the flat of a chef knife, press cloves against the board, pulling the knife against them until they smash into a paste, no chunks left. Scrape the garlic paste up, add it to the dressing, whisk until incorporated.
  7. Pour the dressing over the salads and sprinkle the herbs over the tops.
  8. Serve with salt and pepper on the side and an accompaniment of warm, crusty bread or good crackers. Store leftovers safely.

A full-bodied red wine or chilled herbal tea are the perfect beverages to go with this meal. Fresh fruit, chilled melon, sherbet or sorbet is just the right finish.…

Mom's Meaty Lasagna

Lasagna is a classic Italian pasta casserole dish consisting of alternating layers of pasta, cheese, meat or vegetables, and a variety of other ingredients. Mom was never much of a cook, but she did Lasagna justice. This recipe is easy and fun to make. It is a great dinner entree when hosting a dinner party or even just as an every night family meal. It is delicious and flavorful. It's sure to be a favorite among many.

Mom’s Meaty Lasagna recipe:

Prep Time: 30 minutes to prep, 3 hours to bake

Serves: Six to Eight

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound of ground beef
  • 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil
  • ½ cup of chopped onion
  • ½ cup of chopped green pepper
  • 1 14oz. can of tomato paste
  • 1 cup of water
  • 1 tablespoon of white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1½ teaspoons of Italian seasoning
  • ¼ teaspoon of pepper
  • ½ package OR 8oz. of Lasagna noodles
  • 2 cups of cottage cheese
  • 1 cup of grated mozzarella cheese

Cooking Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 275°.
  2. In a large pot, pour in the vegetable oil, and add the ground beef. Cook the ground beef on medium heat until brown.
  3. Add the onions and green pepper to the ground beef. Cook on medium heat until the onion is transparent.
  4. Once the ground beef and the vegetables are cooked, drain out the fat from the pot.
  5. After the fat has been drained, add the tomato paste, water, sugar, salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning to the ground beef and vegetables mixture.
  6. Reduce the heat, and allow it to simmer for 15 minutes.
  7. In a second large pot, bring a pot of water to a boil.
  8. Place the Lasagna noodles into the boiling water, and cook for 15 minutes, or until tender.
  9. After the noodles are cooked, rinse with cold water.
  10. In a medium dish, combined the cottage cheese and mozzarella cheese and blend them together.
  11. In a large 10” x 6” x 2” pan or dish, arrange enough of the lasagna noodles on the bottom to cover.
  12. Spread a layer of the cheese mixture on top of the noodles to cover.
  13. Spread a layer of the meat sauce mixture on top of the cheese mixture to cover.
  14. Repeat the layering of noodles, cheese, and meat sauce until the pan or dish is filled to the top.
  15. Cover the pan or dish with tin foil and place in the oven for 3 hours to bake.

This recipe can also be baked at 350° for 20-30 minutes.

Alternative Recipe Suggestion

For those that prefer a vegetarian alternative, the ground beef can be replaced with extra vegetables. Delicious vegetables to add could be mushrooms, red and yellow peppers, eggplant, tomatoes, and/or squash.

Cooking steps would follow the recipe above. Step 2 and 3 would combine to make one step:

  • In a large pot, pour in the vegetable oil, and all of the vegetables. Cook on medium heat until the onions are transparent.

Happy baking!…

Welsh Cawl: A Traditional Welsh Broth or Soup to Warm Even on the Coldest Days.

It is surprising how thinking of food can bring back so many memories and evoke a time long past when food preparation was slow and eating was a delayed gratification.

A strong childhood memory is trudging home from school in the depths of a dark British winter, snow on the ground, with red nose and ears and frozen to the bone. But on those days the thought of a warm and comforting bowl of traditional Welsh broth or ‘cawl’ (pronounced ‘cowl’) was happily warming.

Cawl has a long history first mentioned for its king-making qualities in an 11th century.

Tumbling through the front door and welcomed by the blast of an open coal fire and the aroma of cawl simmering on the hob was a delight just as great as eating the stew with bread and dripping as an accompaniment.

So what is Traditional Welsh Cawl?

Cawl can be considered a workingman’s food and may have been served as a compliment to the main meal of the day, in Wales it was called supper not dinner.

Cawl is a soup-cum-broth/stew made from root vegetables, leeks, onions, a little parsley and perhaps a touch of wild garlic. The meat is cheap cuts of either mutton or lamb. A brimming bowl of cawl is warming from the top of your head to the tips of your toes as well as the cockles of your heart.

There is even a cawl making competition held in Saundersfoot, west Wales.

To make this hearty broth is easiness itself just a few pieces of mutton or lamb on the bone – get the cheapest cuts.

Cawl is best prepared the day before eating this is to allow the fat to separate and so that the flavours can mingle.

Vegetables

Four large potatoes, four or five carrots and either a small suede, parsnips or turnips, three to four large leeks, one onion, salt and pepper to taste. You will also need four pints of water.

Method

Trim excess fat off the mutton or cheap piece of lamb cover with the water and bring to the boil afterwards simmer for slowly for an hour. Leave to get cold and skim of the fat.

Add the vegetables except the leeks and potatoes and simmer for another hour, adding the halved potatoes continue simmering for 20 minutes after which add the leeks and a sprinkling of parsley and cook for a maximum of five minutes longer.

Serving

Serve either as a stew complete with meat and vegetables in the liquid or strain the liquid from the vegetables and eat that as a first course with the vegetables and meat to follow.

Some insist that cawl is best left to cool overnight and re-boiled the next day as this brings out the strength of the flavours.

Welsh cawl is a real winter warmer and good old-fashioned comfort food guaranteed to give you a glow as clear as the winter’s sun.…

How to Prepare Asian Curry Mee: An Exotic Recipe that is both Healthy and Simple to Prepare

Curry mee with an extoic eastern Asian flavour is an extremely easy meal to prepare and one that will be appreciated by adventurous house guests. It is also a healthy way to appreciate an interesting meal with flexibility in choosing ingredients.

Below is the basic recipe and cooking instructions for a fast, simple yet nutritous meal with plenty of flavours.

Ingredients for Curry Mee

  • 1 sachet of curry powder
  • 1 mug of full cream milk
  • 1 coarsely chopped large potato
  • 1 coarsely chopped large carrot
  • 1 cup of chopped up cauliflower
  • 1 cup of coarsely chopped up long beans
  • 1 cup of firm tofu, diced
  • Half a cup of sliced fish cake
  • Half a cup of diced fish balls
  • 1 – 1.5 organic chicken, chopped in pieces
  • 1 large onion, finely sliced
  • 2 small shallots, finely sliced
  • 1 table spoon of minced garlic
  • 1 table spoon of finely choppped / minged ginger
  • Olive oil
  • 1-2 packets of spaghetti noodles
  • Salt and pepper
  • Water

Preparing the Curry Mee

 

Stir-fry the onions, shallots garlic and ginger in the olive oil in a pot until the aroma rises. Add the sachet of curry powder and stir it in. Once a paste forms, add the mug of milk.

Add the organic chicken pieces and stir into the dilute paste. Once the chicken and curry start to bubble, add 1-2 cups of water, depending on the size of your pot. It is not necessary to fill the cooking pot to the brim.

Add the fish cake and fish balls followed by the vegetables except for the tofu, as the tofu will absorb all the liquid. Add salt and pepper for taste. Continue to add water to dilute the curry as it should result in a soupy texture.

Leave the curry mee to simmer. At the same time, boil the spaghetti noodles separately. Once they have been fully cooked, drain them in a coliander and stir in a small tea spoon of olive oil and add salt and pepper. Stir well.

Lastly add the tofu dices into the curry and let it come to a boil.

Presenting the Curry Mee

 

Serve the curry mee and noodles separately. If you mix them, the noodles will absorb all of the curry. Remind your guests to "flood in" the noodles with curry – since that is how it is normally enjoyed.

Additional Ingredients

  • Beansprouts – Beansprouts is a popular "outisde" ingredient for curry mee. Scour raw beanspouts with hot water, drain them, and serve them as an additional platter.
  • Hard-boiled eggs – Hard-boiled eggs taste great with curry mee. Boil them separately and slice them into quarters. Serve them on a separate dish. If you unsure as to how many you should prepare, use a rule of thumb that one guest would enjoy half and egg. There may or may not be left overs.
  • Mint leaves – Mint leaves add a zesty taste to the curry. These can be popular for guests who are not big fans of hot and spicy food. Though it subdues the spiciness, it adds its own unique flavour to the dish. Also serve them on a separate plate.

Delicious Shepherd’s Pie Recipe

Shepherd’s pie hails from northern Britain, but it has found a place in the modern American cooking lexicon as well. This rich lamb stew blanketed by a mashed potato crust is a dish that sticks to ribs on one side of the Atlantic as well as on the other side. This recipe shows us how to make simple but delicious shepherd’s pie from scratch.

– Ingredients

  • 3 lbs (1350g) ground lamb
  • 2 medium onions, minced
  • salt
  • 4 medium garlic cloves, pressed through garlic press (about 4 tsp)
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1/3 cup (80g) all purpose flour
  • 3 cups (700ml) chicken broth
  • 3/4 cup (180ml) dry red wine
  • 2 tsp minced fresh thyme leaves or 1/2 tsp dried
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp minced fresh rosemary leaves or 1/4 tsp dried
  • 1 lb (450g) frozen peas and carrots (do not thaw)
  • ground black pepper
  • 3 lbs potatoes (about 6 medium), peeled and diced
  • 1 1/2 cups (350ml) heavy cream, warmed
  • 4 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
  • minced parsley leaves (optional)

Shepherd’s Pie – Cooking

  1. Cook lamb in large pan over medium-high heat, breaking the meant into small pieces with wooden spoon, until meat is no longer pink and fat has rendered. It all takes about 5 minutes. Drain lamb in fine strainer, reserving drippings.
  2. Return 2 tablespoons of reserved dripping to pot and heat over medium-low heat until shimmering. Add onions and 1 teaspoon salt and cook until softened and lightly browned, 5-8 minutes. Stir in garlic and tomato paste and cook for about 30 seconds to 1 minute. Stir in flour and cook, whisking constantly, until incorporated, about 1 – 2 minutes. Whisk in broth and red wine. Stir in drained lamb, thyme, Worcestershire sauce, and rosemary and cook until mixture begins to thicken, 2 – 4 minutes. Off the heat, Stir in peas and carrots and season with salt and pepper to taste. Transfer mixture to baking dish (13in by 9in or 36cm by 23cm), set aside.
  3. Meanwhile, place potatoes in large pot and cover by water. Lightly season with salt. Brign to boil over high heat, then reduce to simmer and cook until potatoes are tender, about 20 – 25 minutes. Drain potatoes, return to pot set over low heat, mash to smooth consistency. Stir in cream, then add butter. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  4. With large spoon, dollop mashed potatoes over lamb filling. Using rubber spatula, smooth potatoes out into even layer and push the edges of the baking tray.
  5. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit (200 degrees Celsius). Bake until sauce is bubbling and top is browned, about 1 hour.

Shepherd’s Pie – Storing

To store shepherd’s pie wrap baking dish tightly with plastic wrap, then with tin foil. Refrigerate up to 2 days or freeze up to 1 month. If frozen, thaw casserole in refrigerator at least 24 hours before baking.

 

Shepherd’s Pie – Optional

  • To add little colour, sprinkle the top of the finished dish with chopped parsley leaves before serving.
  • Ground beef or even ground turkey can be substituted for the ground lamb. For a turkey or beef version, use 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil instead of reserved lamb drippings. Bake the pie as directed above in the recipe, reducing the baking time to 35 minutes.

Based on recipe by Megan Wycoff and Matthew Card.…

Smoky Beef Kabobs: Grilled Peppery Summer Sticks

Summer is the time for grilling and barbequing. If the temperatures have started to rise in your area, take the heat of cooking outside. Is it really hot? Try cooking small pieces of meat for speed. You won't have to leave the air conditioning for long when cooking kabobs.

Marinate your beef in a unique marinade and grill it over charcoal. These kabobs come together very quickly and the end result is strikingly flavorful. Add peppers and onions to the skewers for more color, or serve alongside grilled corn on the cob and a fruit salad for an equally pretty effect.

Smoky Beef Kabobs (Serves 4)

Prep time: 30 min Cook time: 20 min

Ingredients:

  • 2 lb Chuck steak trimmed and cubed (1 inch)
  • 1/4 C BBQ sauce
  • 2 T Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 T yellow mustard
  • 1/4 C sweet white wine
  • 1 T sugar
  • 1 T cooking oil
  • kosher salt
  • assorted peppercorns, ground
  • assorted chunked peppers and onions (optional)

Instructions:

  1. Light charcoals in the grill and allow them to reach medium high heat.
  2. Meanwhile, place cubed meat in a medium, shallow dish.
  3. Add BBQ sauce, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, wine, sugar and oil. Mix marinade and make sure meat is coated. Marinades are used to flavor meats intensely as well as to break down some of the meat structure so that the meat will be more tender. This particular marinade is potent enough to do its work in a relatively short time as compared to overnight or 4 hour marinades.
  4. Let the meat set in marinade at room temperature for twenty minutes.
  5. Skewer meat on wooden or metal skewers. If your grill tends to cook hot, use metal skewers. Wooden ones can catch fire.
  6. Season the meat with salt and ground pepper.
  7. Grill for approximately twenty minutes. Turn the skewers occasionally to ensure even and thorough cooking. Small pieces of meat may cook very quickly if your charcoal temperature is high, so watch carefully.
  8. When the meat pieces have an even dark crust on them, take the kabobs from the grill and serve.

Some guests may appreciate BBQ sauce on the side, but these beef kabobs are very flavorful on their own. The flavor is reminiscent of a smoked jerky, but the meat is tender and moist. If you plan on grilling corn for a side dish, you will need to start a little earlier. Corn on the cob can take up to 45 minutes to cook thoroughly on the grill. Use your waiting time to prepare other side dishes such as baked beans, fruit salad or even a cool creamy dessert.…

Memorial Day Picnic Basket Staples: Prepare Homemade Fried Chicken and Coleslaw

Whether you're spending Memorial Day weekend on the road or at home, pack your picnic basket with some of these delicious picnic staples: coleslaw, fresh corn and fried chicken.

Homemade Coleslaw Recipe

SERVES 6

Ingredients:

  • 8 ounces (1-1/2 cups) finely grated cabbage
  • 1 cup finely grated carrots
  • 1 cup peeled, cored, and thinly sliced Granny Smith apples
  • 1 cup Coleslaw Dressing (recipe follows)

Directions:

  1. Combine the cabbage, carrots, and apples in a large mixing bowl.
  2. Toss together the vegetables with 1 cup of the Coleslaw Dressing. Chill in the refrigerator overnight or until ready to serve.

Coleslaw Dressing Recipe

MAKES 2-1/2 CUPS

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons white vinegar (or to taste)
  • 2 tablespoons commercially prepared horseradish (or to taste)
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
  • 2 teaspoons prepared yellow mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon celery seed
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

Directions:

In a medium-sized mixing bowl, blend together the mayonnaise, sugar, white vinegar, horseradish, salt, pepper, yellow mustard, celery seed and ground cinnamon. Taste the dressing; adjust seasoning if necessary. Reserve 1 cup of the dressing for the coleslaw (recipe above). Store any remaining dressing (up to 1 week) in the refrigerator.

Boiled Corn Recipe

Boiling corn in milk brings out the corn's naturally sweet flavor. 

SERVES 6

Ingredients:

  • 2 quarts milk
  • 2 quarts water
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 6 ears shucked corn

Directions:

In a large stockpot, bring milk, water, and sugar to a boil. Add corn; cook 5 to 10 minutes, or until corn reaches desired doneness.

Fried Chicken Breasts Recipe

The quintessential picnic fare, this chicken is absolutely delicious. 

SERVES 6

Ingredients:

  • 1-1/2 cups whole milk
  • 3/4-pound boneless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 cup (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter
  • 4 tablespoons bacon drippings (optional)

Directions:

  1. Add milk to a large bowl. Add chicken pieces, turning to coat in the milk. Cover with plastic wrap; refrigerate at least 4 hours.
  2. Combine flour, black pepper and paprika in a shallow dish. One at a time, place chicken pieces in dredging mixture, and press chicken firmly into dredging mixture to coat. Place coated chicken pieces on a parchment-lined baking tray. Heat unsalted butter and bacon drippings, if using, in a cast-iron skillet over medium-low heat until butter begins to bubble in the skillet.
  3. Use tongs to place chicken pieces into skillet. Fry until coating is golden brown on one side, 14 to 17 minutes. Turn the chicken pieces over with the tongs; fry on the other side until coating is golden brown, 14 to 17 minutes. Adjust heat to prevent the chicken from burning.
  4. Transfer the cooked chicken pieces to a serving platter.