Jonathan Willard December 13, 2021


Backyard stone fire pit and landscaping

We know people will be enjoying their outdoor living spaces by grilling up some delicious food this Labor Day weekend. We wanted to take this opportunity to share with you some of our favorite grilling ideas and recipes.

First up…an easy, healthy appetizer.

This is an easy, flavorful way to prepare shrimp on the grill. You can skewer the shrimp, or you may have another outdoor grilling contraption, such as a fish basket or grill basket that would work. We like shrimp for a party appetizer because it cooks quickly, it’s easy to gauge when it’s done (it turns translucent and white/pinkish), and it’s good even at room temperature. (Remember, don’t let food sit too long at room temperature and observe safe food practices.)

Grilled Balsamic Shrimp

1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
5 cloves minced garlic
1/4 cup minced onion
1 teaspoon dried basil
salt and pepper to taste
1 1/2 pounds large shrimp, peeled and deveined (Hint: To save time, buy them already skewered!)
Skewers – wooden or metal. (If using wooden skewers, be sure to soak the skewers in water for at least 30 minutes before threading shrimp on them.)

In a large bowl, mix the vinegar, oil, garlic, basil, salt, pepper and onion. Place the shrimp in the marinade, and let sit at least 20 minutes in the refrigerator. Thread shrimp onto skewers. Grill over a hot grill 2 to 3 minutes per side, until shrimp is opaque. If you’re fancy, garnish with fresh basil leaves.

Now, for the main dish.

Being from Kansas City, we LOVE this Kansas City Steak Kabob recipe shared with us by our friends at Original Juan. Kabobs are perfect for barbecues since they’re easy to serve, and the exposed surface area of the meat gets all the extra flavor of grillin’ goodness.

Kansas City Steak Kabobs

2½ lb. top sirloin steak cut into 1-½ inch cubes
1 fresh pineapple, peeled, cored, and cut into 2 inch pieces
1 large bell pepper, cored and cut into 2 inch pieces
1 medium onion, quartered
Cherry tomatoes (2 for each kabob)
Salt and Pepper
1 cup Cowtown Original BBQ Sauce
6 – 8 kabob skewers-soaked in water at least two hours prior to grilling.

Prepare a hot fire on your charcoal or gas grill. To prepare the kabobs, start with a piece of steak and alternate pieces of bell pepper, pineapple, onion, and cherry tomatoes between the cubes of sirloin. Your finished steak kabob will consist of 3 cubes of top sirloin (both ends and the middle of skewer). Alternate pieces of bell pepper, pineapple, onion, and cherry tomatoes between the cubes of sirloin. Place on grill 6-8 minutes, turn, and grill an additional 6-8 minutes to desired doneness. During the last two minutes of cooking, slather on Cowtown Original BBQ Sauce. Serve immediately.

Take the S’Mess out of S’Mores

And finally, if you’re serving up some s’mores for dessert, we applaud your decision to do so! Nothing says campfire like a stick with a sticky, gooey marshmallow flaming at the end of a stick. But they’re not necessarily the easiest things to eat – they can get messy! We don’t want you to deprive your guests of the opportunity to roast their own marshmallow, but if you want to offer some easier options and minimize sticky fingers, you might try these ideas, as well as some variations on s’mores:

  • Spread your graham crackers with chocolate frosting before sandwiching in your gooey marshmallow instead of using chocolate bars that melt unevenly.
  • Stack your s’more before roasting, then wrap in tin foil. Place the tinfoil near (not directly in or over) the fire, and let it melt to gooey perfection. This is perfect grill-top, and it keeps your grill clean. Just set the packets to the side. Remember, the tinfoil will burn if it gets too hot in direct heat.
  • Plan ahead by providing wet wipes for your guests to clean up.

Gourmet S’More Variations

Prepare a build-your-own gourmet s’mores bar including:

  • A variety of graham cracker flavors, such as cinnamon, chocolate and original.
  • Provide different marshmallow flavors, including toasted coconut, chocolate, and plain.
  • Mix up the chocolate options, and offer milk, chocolate mint candies, white and dark chocolates.
  • Set out some sliced fruit such as pineapple, strawberries, and sliced apples. (Piña colada s’mores, anyone?)
  • Offer peanut butter or Nutella to smoosh in there. Or some nuts – sliced almonds or pecans would add a tasty little crunch.
  • Get creative. How about a couple slices of crisp bacon? WHAAA? We know, it sounds crazy, but we bet someone tries it – and thinks you’re a genius.

Enjoy your barbecue and have a happy holiday!

From your friends at Stonebridge Outdoor – the outdoor living space experts.