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27 Cookout Recipes

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‘Tis the season for outdoor BBQs, cookouts, and potlucks. I have put together 27 of my favorite summertime recipes for you to try. You will find everything from drinks to desserts. Now get outside and have some fun with friends and some fabulous food. Enjoy!

REFRESHING BEVERAGES

1. Fresh Squeezed Lemonade
2. Blended Mango Margaritas
3. Summertime White Sangria

APPEALING APPETIZERS

Summertime Appetizers

1. Bacon Jalapeño Cheese Ball
2. Off the Chain Cheddar Crackers
3. Creamy Chicken Enchilada Roll Ups
4. Garlic Parmesan Wings
5. Queso Fundido
6. Creamy Smoked Salmon Dip

MUST HAVE SIDE DISHES

Summertime Side Dishes

1. Broccoli Salad
2. Classic Macaroni Salad
3. Crunchy Pea Salad
4. Italian Pasta Salad
5. Chili (The Classic Kind)
6. Potato Salad

THE MAIN DISH

1. Crock-Pot Pale Ale BBQ Chicken Sandos
2. BBQ Bacon Wrapped Pork Chop with Grilled Onions
3. Chicken and Cheese Stuffed Sammy
4. Mexican Grilled Salmon with Avocado Salsa
5. Classic Chicken Salad Sandwich
6. Rio Grande Spice Rub Steak with Grilled Red Onions

SWEET TREATS

1. Banana Split Pie
2. Funfetti Cake Batter Cookie Dip
3. Individual Blueberry Cheesecakes in Mason Jars
4. Triple Chocolate Parfait
5. Strawberry Pie
6. Personal Pineapple Upside Down Cakes

Salads, Side Dishes

Recipe—Broccoli Salad

Broccoli SAlad

Over the past several months I have been on a total broccoli salad kick. Whenever we go to the store I can’t resist getting some at the deli counter. I figured I might as well learn to make my own, and so I did. And it was the bomb diggity! This broccoli salad is the perfect balance of crunchy and creamy, and sweet and salty. I could seriously eat this as a meal all on it’s own, okay I did eat this as a meal all on it’s own. I ate it by the bowlful! It is the perfect summer salad. It’s super light and refreshing. I don’t care if you are a fan of broccoli or not, you will love this recipe. I will make broccoli lovers out of all of you yet!

INGREDIENTS
3 heads of broccoli, chopped into small pieces
1 lb bacon, cooked and crumbled
1/2 red onion, chopped
1 c craisins
1/2 c salted sunflower seeds
1 c mayonnaise
1 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp white vinegar

STEPS

  • In a large bowl combine the broccoli, bacon, red onion, craisins, and sunflower seeds.
  • In a small bowl whisk together the mayonnaise, sugar, and vinegar.
  • Drizzle the dressing over the broccoli salad and toss to coat.
  • Cover the salad and place in the refrigerator for several hours or overnight.
  • Stir right before serving.
Sweet Treats

Recipe—Individual Blueberry Cheesecakes

Individual Blueberry Cheesecakes

Last weekend we went to another summer BBQ. This one was about two hours away and would be a long windy drive. I needed a dessert that would transport well. Pies seem to always end up squished and most of my Pyrex dishes wont fit in my ice chest. I have seen individual desserts in mason jars trending on Pinterest and I thought to myself, “I bet something like that would transport wonderfully.” And they did! Now what to put in them? Hmm…

If you have been following my blog for a while now then you may know that I love my cheesecake. I am not picky about my desserts but if it has the word “cheesecake” in the name I will lack all self control. So I knew I wanted some sort of cheesecake in a jar. (I know, pretty self-serving right?) Blueberries were on sale at the grocery store and so my decision was made. I would be taking individual blueberry cheesecakes in mason jars. They made a great presentation, were out of this world good, could not have been easier to serve, and they were fun to eat. In other words, they were amazing!

Note: I was able to fill six 8 ounce mason jars. You can get also get 4 ounce jars for smaller servings.

BLUEBERRY FILLING INGREDIENTS
2 tbsp butter
4 c blueberries, fresh or frozen
1/2 c sugar
1/2 tsp lemon juice
2 tbsp cornstarch
4 tbsp water

CHEESECAKE INGREDIENTS
1 c graham cracker crumbs
1/3 c butter, melted
1 1/4 c sugar, divided
8 oz cream cheese, softened
1/3 c milk
8 oz tub of Cool Whip
mason jars (see note above regarding sizes)

BLUEBERRY FILLING STEPS

  • Melt the 2 tbsp of butter in a saucepan over medium heat.
  • Add in the blueberries, sugar, and lemon juice.
  • Whisk together the cornstarch and water in a small bowl and pour into the pot.
  • Lightly mash the blueberries with a hand held masher making sure to leave about half of the berries in tact.
  • Bring the blueberry filling to a boil and then reduce the heat to low.
  • Cook the filling for 6–8 minutes stirring frequently.
  • Remove from heat.

CHEESECAKE STEPS

  • While the blueberry filling is cooling, stir together the graham cracker crumbs, melted butter, and 1/4 c of the sugar.
  • Distribute the graham cracker crumb mixture into the bottom of each jar saving a couple of spoonfuls for garnish.
  • Using a hand held mixer, beat together the cream cheese and remaining cup of sugar until well combined. Gradually add in the milk until it is nice and creamy.
  • Distribute the cream cheese filling among the jars. (I transferred my filling into a Ziploc bag, cut of the corner, and piped it into each jar.)
  • Add a layer of the blueberry filling to each jar.
  • Fill the rest of the jar with Cool Whip and sprinkle with remaining graham cracker crumbs.
  • Add lids if you will be transporting your dessert.
  • Chill for at least one hour before serving.
  • Enjoy!
Salads, Side Dishes

Recipe—Crunchy Pea Salad

Crunchy Pea Salad

Whenever you go to a BBQ there is typically the classic macaroni and potato salad. Don’t get me wrong I LOVE both of those dishes but with back-to-back BBQs throughout the summer I sometimes am looking for a way to mix things up a bit. This pea salad was a welcome addition to a BBQ I went to last weekend. It was very refreshing and light. There is a nice sweet flavor to this salad similar to a coleslaw. If you are looking for a tasty summer salad for lunch or dinner give this a try. You can have the whole thing thrown together in 5 minutes. You will find the hard part is just waiting for it to chill. The unique combination of flavors go together incredibly well. This is one of those salads that you may not quite be sure of, but once you give it a try you and your guests will keep going back for more of it.

Note: I made this a day ahead of time and it was awesome! Feel free to make it a day in advance if you need to.

INGREDIENTS
12 oz bag frozen sweet peas, thawed
1 c peanuts
1/4 c green onions, chopped
1 lb bacon, cooked and crumbled
1 c craisins
1/2 c mayonnaise
1 1/2 tbsp vinegar
1 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp soy sauce
1/4 tsp Worcestershire sauce
salt and pepper

STEPS

  • In a large mixing bowl combine sweet peas, peanuts, green onions, bacon pieces, and craisins.
  • In a small bowl whisk together the mayonnaise, vinegar, sugar, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, salt, and pepper.
  • Pour the dressing over the salad ingredients and toss to combine.
  • Cover and refrigerate for at least one hour before serving.

Recipe adapted from Sugar n’ Spice Gals.

Salads, Side Dishes

Recipe—Orzo Pesto Pasta

In my office we all have a habit of bringing in various treats to share with each other throughout the year. (I know rough environment to be working in right?) Several years back we had an awesome (student assistant named Sarah. One day Sarah brought in this incredible orzo pesto pasta salad. I was in love! (With both Sarah and her pasta. Sarah was awesome.) She made her own pesto from scratch and I will not lie, I was impressed. This is the perfect summer salad. You have the seasonally fresh tomatoes and zucchini mixed with tangy vinegar and pesto giving it a wonderfully light and refreshing flavor. I make it several times of year and whenever I am generous enough to share with my friends I am asked for the recipe. It is definitely a favorite in our household. My son was even eating it by the bowlful when he was 1 1/2 years old. If you are looking for a tasty recipe for any summer cookouts or BBQs then search no further. This is perfect. While that little box of orzo may not look like much, it expands a great deal so this makes a very decent sized bowl of the tasty pasta salad.

Note: I save a couple of tablespoons of the feta and pine nuts to garnish the top of the salad with.

INGREDIENTS
1 lb box of orzo pasta, uncooked
1 tbsp olive oil
2 medium zucchini, cut into quarters lengthwise and then sliced
salt and pepper
4 oz feta cheese crumbles (see above note)
2 c pesto (make your own or get some from the market to save time)
3/4 c white vinegar
2 c cherry tomatoes, cut in half
1/2 c pine nuts

STEPS

  • Cook orzo pasta per package instructions.
  • While the orzo is cooking, heat olive oil in a small skillet over medium high heat.
  • Add zucchini and season with salt and pepper.
  • Cook the zucchini for 3–4 minutes just slightly cooking it and then remove from heat.
  • Drain the orzo and place in a large mixing bowl.
  • Add the feta and pesto stirring to combine.
  • Drizzle the vinegar while stirring.
  • Stir in the cooked zucchini, tomatoes, and pine nuts.
  • Transfer to a serving bowl and garnish with extra feta and pine nuts if you saved any.
  • Refrigerate for at least 2–3 hours before serving.
Beverages

Recipe—Summertime White Sangria

So I have this incredible friend named Brandy. We have many things in common. One of which is our fabulous taste in refreshing adult beverages. A few weeks back I was at her home for a summer birthday party, and she made this white wine sangria. It was incredible! I would define it as being the perfect summer drink. I have had red sangria before but found it to be a bit heavy for a warm summer day. (I’m more of a white wine gal anyways.) This could not be further from the traditional sangria. It is light and super refreshing. I decided to make Brandy’s recipe for 4th of July for my aunt who says she doesn’t like sangria. (She had a bad experience.) Well guess what, my aunt could not get enough. Who am I kidding? No one could get enough! We had the pitcher wiped out within an hour. It could have been the 100º+ day that had us drinking glasses hand over fist, but either way every drop was enjoyed. This is the perfect drink for a summer party or just a lazy day by the pool. And don’t forget to eat the fruit. That is one of the best parts! Gotta get in your vitamins.

Note: For the white wine I used Pomelo’s sauvignon blanc (one of my favorite summer wines). It has a nice refreshing grapefruit flavor. Anything with citrus notes will give you wonderful results. I recommend using a pinot grigio or sauvignon blanc. I actually bought two bottles and made ice cubes with one of them. This way rather than get watered down as the ice melted, the sangria just got better. 😉

INGREDIENTS
750 ml bottle of sweet white wine (see above note)
2/3 c peach schnapps
1 peach, sliced
1 mango, sliced
1 orange, sliced
1 lime, sliced
1 1/2 c raspberries
2 c ginger ale

STEPS

  • In a large pitcher combine together the wine, peach schnapps, and all the fruit.
  • Place the pitcher in the fridge and allow it to set overnight. (This step is not necessarily but it is highly recommended. Sitting overnight will allow the fruit to soak up some of the boozy goodness and allow the fruit flavors to infuse into the wine.)
  • Add the ginger ale to the pitcher right before serving.
  • Top off the pitcher with ice.
  • Pour. Relax. Enjoy.
Dinners

Recipe—Mexican Grilled Salmon with Avocado Salsa

The 110º day in Sacramento a couple of weeks ago was a brutal reminder that the summer heat is in full swing! During the hot days I avoid using the oven whenever I can. I’d much rather send the hubby outside to operate the grill allowing me to enjoy a lazy evening. This is a quick and easy, flavor packed, and super refreshing salmon recipe, perfect for these warm summer nights. The salmon is seasoned with some of my favorite Mexican spices giving it a nice little oomph and the avocado salsa is cool and refreshing making this a perfectly balanced dish. It is light in calories and carbs, perfect for anyone looking for a great tasting and healthy meal.

FISH INGREDIENTS
2 lbs salmon filets
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt
1 tsp coriander
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp black pepper

AVOCADO SALSA INGREDIENTS
3 tbsp olive oil
2 limes
1 tsp salt
1 avocado, peeled, deseeded, and sliced
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
1 jalapeño, deseeded, deveined, and chopped
1/4 red bell pepper, deseeded, deveined, and chopped
1/4 yellow bell pepper, deseeded, deveined, and chopped
2 tbsp cilantro, chopped

STEPS

  • Pat the salmon dry and rub the meat side of the fish with the olive oil.
  • In a small bowl, mix together the salt, coriander, cumin, paprika, onion powder, and pepper.
  • Season the meat side of the filet with seasoning mix and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
  • While the salmon is chilling make the avocado salsa by whisking together 3 tablespoons of olive oil, juice from 2 limes, and salt in a small bowl
  • Combine the avocado, red onion, peppers, and cilantro in a medium bowl and pour the juice mixture over the salsa and gently stir to combine.
  • Refrigerate avocado salsa until ready to serve.
  • Preheat the grill to 325º.
  • Grill the salmon for about 4–6 minutes per side or until desired doneness.
  • Transfer the salmon to a cutting board and allow it to sit for 5 minutes before serving.
  • Place the salmon steaks on plates and top with the avocado salsa.

Recipe adapted from Laylita’s Recipes. 

Appetizers

Recipe—Bacon Jalapeño Cheese Ball

I have always loved the idea of cheese balls, but have been turned off by the fake processed taste of the premade ones you get at the store. Well cheese balls seem to be redeeming themselves with all the creative gourmet versions popping up all over the place. I recently threw my husband a little birthday bbq and wanted an appetizer that could be prepared ahead of time and then just set out once the party started. When I saw this recipe on Pinterest I knew it was exactly what I was looking for! My husband loves bacon, and of course loves the spice of jalapeños. (Don’t all men? Okay I guess vegetarians may be repulsed by the bacon but there are substitutes for that.) Once I had the bacon cooked and the jalapeños chopped this recipe came together in about 5 minutes. It was super quick and easy. A perfect recipe for any social events you may have coming up. By the end of the night I had several people asking for the recipe, which, in my mind, is a very good sign.

Note: This can be made a day ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

INGREDIENTS
8 oz cream cheese
3/4 c cheddar cheese, shredded
2 tbsp green onions, chopped
1 tsp garlic, minced
1/4 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp salt
dash cayenne pepper
1 tsp lime juice
1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
2 jalapeños, deseeded, deveined, and finely chopped, divided
6 slices of bacon, cooked and crumbled, divided
1/4 c pecans, chopped

STEPS

  • In a medium mixing bowl stir together the cream cheese, cheddar cheese, green onions, garlic, cumin, salt, cayenne pepper, lime juice, and Worcestershire sauce.
  • Fold in half of the chopped jalapeños and half of the crumbled bacon until well blended.
  • On a large plate combine the remaining jalapeños, remaining bacon, and the pecans and mix together.
  • Using your hands shape the cream cheese mixture into a large even ball.
  • Once you have formed the ball roll it in the pecan mixture until it is evenly coated.
  • Place the finished cheese ball on a plate and refrigerate for at least an hour before serving.
  • Serve with your favorite crackers.

Recipe adapted from Tracey’s Culinary Adventures.

Salads

Recipe—Potato Salad

The weather is warming up which means one thing—BBQs! No BBQ is complete without a big bowl of potato salad. It’s just un-American! Whenever we have a BBQ and my friend Casey asks what she can bring I say potato salad.  I don’t know what it is that she does, but it is amazing! By far the best ever! While I don’t have her recipe I have tried endlessly to recreate it. I think this batch is my closest ever! It turned out so good. I ended up using equal parts sour cream and mayonnaise and it was just the right balance of creaminess, not overly oily like some of the store bought ones. And I added bacon. Bacon makes everything good. Next time you are looking for a classic American side dish give this recipe a try.

Note: This salad can be made 24 hours in advance and kept in the fridge until ready to serve. 

INGREDIENTS
5–6 large potatoes, peeled and diced into 1/2” pieces (I like to leave the skin on a couple of potatoes)
3/4 c mayonnaise
3/4 c sour cream
2 tbsp mustard
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp celery seed
4 hardboiled eggs, chopped
red bell pepper, chopped
3 stalks of celery, chopped
3 green onions, chopped
6 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
2.25 oz can sliced black olives
paprika

STEPS

  • Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil.
  • Add the diced potatoes and cook for 7–10 minutes or until fork tender.
  • While the potatoes are boiling mix together the mayonnaise, sour cream, mustard, salt, pepper, and celery seed.
  • When the potatoes are done cooking drain them in a colander and transfer to a large bowl.
  • Add the hardboiled eggs, bell pepper, celery, green onions, bacon, and olives. (I like to save some of the green onions, bacon, and olives to add to the top of the salad for garnish.)
  • Pour the dressing over the veggies and toss to coat.
  • Sprinkle with some paprika and garnish with the green onions, bacon, and olives if you saved any.
  • Cover with a lid or saran wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.
Side Dishes

Recipe—Mexican Grilled Corn on the Cob

When planning out dinner menus I find it challenging to come up with Mexican side dishes beyond the typical beans and rice. And besides, when I am watching my carbs beans and rice just don’t work for me. I stumbled upon a recipe for Mexican grilled corn on Pinterest a few months back and have been meaning to try it. Boy am I happy I did! It was delicious! And by delicious I mean, the best corn on the cob I have ever eaten. While I normally just cover my ear of corn with butter and salt this was a welcomed change. The sour cream gave the corn a nice creaminess and the flavors of the smoky chili powder and zest of lime really fired up my taste buds. Sour cream has less than a third of the calories that butter does, so this corn not only tasted awesome, but it is also way healthy! Low calorie, low carb, and tastes amazing! Win, win, and win!

Note: If you want to try this recipe but don’t feel like firing up the grill, you can boil the corn. To boil corn, place the shucked corncobs in a large pot of boiling water and cover it. Cook for 4–6 minutes. Remove the corn from the water with tongs and continue seasoning by following the last 3 steps.

INGREDIENTS
4 ears of corn
1/2 c sour cream
chili powder
salt
pepper
4 lime wedges

STEPS

  • Cut of both ends of the corn so that the cob is exposed on one end and most of the stalk cut gone from the other, leaving the husk on.
  • Fill your sink or a large pot with water.
  • Soak the corn in the water for 15 minutes. (This allows some water to get inside so that the corn steams while on the hot grill, and also makes the husks wet so that they don’t catch fire.)
  • While the corn is soaking, preheat the grille to 350º.
  • Remove the corn from the water and shake off most of the moisture.
  • Cook the corn over direct heat for 15–20 minutes, making sure to turn every 5 minutes.
  • Remove the corn from the grille.
  • Carefully shuck the corn, remove all of the husks and corn silk. (I use an oven mitt to grasp one end to keep from burning my hands.)
  • Using your fingers or a butter knife spread a thin layer of sour cream all over the entire cob.
  • Sprinkle the corncob with the chili powder, salt, and pepper.
  • Spritz with fresh squeezed limejuice.
  • Devour!

Recipe adapted from Ezra Pound Cake.