Summer BBQ Recipes 2017

If you’re new to this space, welcome to the post where I share/link all the things we barbecued this summer.  I like it for inspiration the next year and also because it’s fun to look back and see what we were into during a particular summer and how much our BBQ game has grown since I started posting these.  And this year, Summer 2017, we barbecued to our little hearts’ desire!

From low key weeknight dinners, to celebratory holiday feasts to BBQs with all our friends and family, we did it all this summer!  It made me feel happy and hot (why doesn’t anyone talk about how sweaty you get standing at the grill??) and adventurous (we even grilled lamb chops!) and I’m grateful for every meal and dish and person I got to share it all with this summer ♥

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Drinks:

Cherry-Peach Sangria // People are now referring to this sangria as “Lauren’s Drink,” so I think it’s safe to say I’ve A) made this A LOT and B) drank A LOT of this.  Definitely double it (and maybe even triple it if you have a big group) but you can keep the fruit amounts the same because I always have leftovers of that stuff at the end of the night and why waste a good stone fruit?

Strawberry Summer Water // When I saw this recipe on the internet I immediately showed it to Joey like “someone literally wrote a recipe for water with fruit in it!”  Followed seconds later by “I’m gonna make it…”  Continued irony when everyone at our summer BBQ claimed it to be VERY GOOD.  

Bonus Non-Recipe // We made a good handful of margaritas this summer and I feel very good about it.  Make a simple syrup by boiling equal parts water and sugar, then combine 1.5 oz. tequila, 1 oz. triple sec, juice of one lime and 1.5 oz. of the (COOLED) simple syrup and shake over ice.  So simple!

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Apps/Sides:

BA’s Best Guacamole // It’s called BA’s Best for a reason.  Also, no tomatoes and I’m so very down with that!

Maple Baked Beans // I’ve made these a few times and they always turn out great!  Plus you just dump it all in the crock pot, set the timer for 4 hours and forget it.  Couldn’t be easier!

Cranberry-Almond Broccoli Salad // I LOVE this broccoli salad because: bacon.  BUT I’m also here to tell you that I made it WITHOUT bacon OR almonds (because I love my vegetarian and nut-allergic friends) and somehow it was still so dang good!  That creamy dressing holds up all on its own.  Plus it’s really really easy to make and tastes even better than the Whole Foods version.  This is my go-to BBQ side dish!

 Ultimate Red Skinned Potato Salad // I usually leave the potato salad to my mom (because she makes the best!) but turns out she’s not at every BBQ I’m at so I tried my own hand at it and this mayo-free version blew me away.  Honey mustard dressing is where it’s at!  And for the record, I didn’t even add more dressing after the initial 1/3 cup because I thought it tasted perfect right then!

Easy Cornbread // Okay, that recipe title does not do this cornbread justice.  Officially re-naming it THE VERY BEST CORNBREAD TO EVER EXIST, AS CONFIRMED BY EVERYONE I’VE EVER FED IT TO.  Too long?  

Greek Farmers’ Salad // Told my mom I made this for Father’s Day and she was all “oh, I’ve never made it” and then I told her I got the recipe from her.  She’s a goofy one!  This salad is my easiest potluck side and I think I’ve made it about 300 times.  

Grilled Corn and Bell Pepper Salad // Do not underestimate the power of a simple grilled veggie salad, especially when summer produce is at its peak.  Joey grilled all these veggies and when he came back inside he said “well, do you wanna be mad at me now or later, because I charred the hell out of the bell peppers,” but then he actually grilled them to perfection and I tossed them in the dressing and was delighted at how good and fresh it all tasted.

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Main Dish:

Honey Garlic Chicken Thighs // If you, like Joey and I, are a bit intimidated by bone-in skin-on chicken thighs, this works perfectly fine with boneless skinless thighs too!  The marinade makes for the most beautiful grill marks, to boot.

Grilled Chicken Wings with Shishito Peppers and Herbs // Does it count as a BBQ if there’s only two people in attendance?  It does if it’s a holiday!  Or so I say.  This dinner was a monumental win for me because A) it was the inaugural meal on my new grill and B) it turned out incredibly well.  For the record, I thought I burnt some of the wings but those ones ended up tasting the best so don’t fear a little char!  

Grilled Steak Tacos with Cilantro Chimichurri Sauce // Honestly, this recipe was A LOT of work.  I’m all for making stuff from scratch but a sauce, a salsa, pickled veggies, marinade, grilled onions and steak is a lot to handle in one day.  VERY delicious but also maybe very exhausting.    

The BA Burger Deluxe // For when you just need that classic cheeseburger, ya know?

Spinach Goat Cheese Turkey Burgers // I love love love these burgers because they are way juicy and because there are few things as delightful as biting into a goat cheese pocket.  I just throw in a handful of chopped fresh spinach in place of the frozen and just FYI, these can easily be made gluten free by just leaving out the panko.

BBQ Chicken Burgers // You can make these with any cheese but you should make them with sharp cheddar because it can hold its own against the BBQ sauce, making for one flavor-packed and supremely tender burger.  Please be forewarned that the patties are kinda wet but all’s well that ends well and these end SO well!

Grilled Lamb Rib Chops // We used a combination of this recipe (for the marinade, which we let sit for ~5 hours) and this guide (for the grilling method) and while I shouldn’t take any credit because I never even stepped foot near the grill while Joey made these, I want to take credit because I bought the chops, prepped them for marinating, semi-researched the grilling method and made all the sauces and flatbread that we ate with it.  TL;DR: THIS MEAL WAS SUPER DELICIOUS.

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Desserts:

Giant Chocolate Chip Skillet Cookie // All hail the cast-iron skillet!  And the giant cookie!  And this recipe for being so easy and made of all pantry ingredients, aka you could probably whip it up right now if you wanted to!  Joey squeezed my arm SO hard when he took his first bite of this cookie because he was THAT excited about how good it was.  Do it — you won’t be disappointed.

Easy One-Bowl Upside-Down Cake // Fail-proof!  I made it once with cherries and lime and another time with blueberries and lemon and both turned out so incredibly good!  If you’re the type of person who considers batter to be beautiful, this one is GORGEOUS.  Don’t skip/be scared by the whipped sour cream because it totally takes this cake to another level of deliciousness.  

Blackberry-Cherry Cobbler with Honey Whipped Cream // I’m a huge believer in cobbler.  So much easier than a pie or even a galette!  This biscuit dough comes together so easily and the entire recipe take minimal effort so it’s a real win for us cobbler lovers.   

Gluten-Free Chocolate-Tahini Brownies // Usually, the words gluten-free make me run for the hills, but sometimes I do attempt to be accommodating and these had me at tahini.  Turns out they were fan-freaking-tastic and I bet, if you didn’t tell anyone, they wouldn’t even know these didn’t have flour in them.  If you’re not into that sweet-salty thing, maybe half the salt, but I’m a salt freak so I loved em’ as they were.  

Bonus Non-Recipe: Need to tell you that recently, I discovered the pure bliss of a grilled peach topped with yogurt, honey and maybe even some toasted almonds and making this little dessert for myself was the best form of self-care ever.  Do it!

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Looks burnt but tastes good!

Thank you, Summer 17 for all the happy and delicious times and for never letting us run out of propane mid-BBQ 🙂

Weekend Things: Labor Day 2017

I just looked back at the titles of Labor Day Weekends past and I had called them all “Labor Day Weekend Things.”  Every.Single.One.  But, I’m changing it up this year and that’s pretty much the theme of my LDW in general.  Joey was out of town till Sunday night and at first I was sad that I’d have to spend a holiday weekend without him, but then I saw my bestie (and felt the baby!!!), had a sister date, cooked myself dinner and watched a movie, maybe openly cried during said movie and walked to Sunday breakfast with my parents.  Then Joey came home and we got to spend a perfect actual Labor Day together.

So I guess what I’m trying to say is, this Labor Day Weekend may have been different, but in a good, refreshing, totally satisfying way that meant I got to spend time with lots of people I love, doing lots of things I enjoy and it all felt really amazing.  Except that part when I was in bed alone and a spider ran across my comforter…

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I met Hannah for happy hour on Friday and not only was she smart enough to suggest meeting away from Denver and (worse than normal) Denver traffic, but she suggested a restaurant I’d been wanting to try because: PUFFY TACOS!  It was all too good to be true.  But as good as the tacos, smoky salsa and vibrant pink drinks were, time with that beautiful mamma-to-be was still the best part.  P.S. She and Josh got me that perfect taco dishtowel and I can’t get over how funny it is!

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Saturday morning, I took a solo bike ride to the Farmers’ Market and made a bee line for the peach tent because I am loving so hard on those stone fruit beauties this year and I had a serious fear that they’d be out, or worse, done for the year.  I was relieved to find them there and in ample supply.  Phew!  Also spotted some cutesy baby melons and headed back home with shishitos, corn, aforementioned peaches and a loaf of Challah bread that I was seriously excited about.

Maybe it was the iced coffee I’d had with breakfast or my bag of peaches, but I felt so dang happy that morning that I almost skipped back to my bike.  Dug around in our tomato plants when I got home and found all these goodies!

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I had plans to take my sister to the MCA for some sophisticated art viewing and lunch on the rooftop but when I pulled up the museum website I was greeted with a lovely message announcing they were closed.  THE HORROR!  But oh well because we still biked downtown and had lunch at Mercantile (scored some salt while we were there) then walked through Union Station and maybe also through the fountains that all the kids were playing in.  That night, I grilled a brat and some corn and made a quick potato salad for myself.  I ate it outside in the backyard and decided solo dinners are underrated.

I watched Corrina, Corrina afterwards and look, I used to do this thing in high school where I’d put a movie (VHS!) on repeat while I slept so if I woke up I’d catch a few minutes and I’d do that every night with the same movie for MONTHS at a time, so those movies — the lines, the soundtrack, the wardrobe — are seared into my brain and this was one of those movies.  I hadn’t watched it in years but I’m happy to report it was as good (and heartbreaking) as I remembered it being.  Grilled a peach, then filled it with honey and yogurt for dessert and I need to do that way more often!

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I woke up Sunday and ran six miles for race training and now my legs are REALLY FREAKING SORE!  I’m scared!  But other than that, it all felt really good and afterwards I got to walk to breakfast at Sunny’s with my parents ♥  Isn’t it nice when you have a solid breakfast joint in your own neighborhood, no car ride required?  My mom gifted me that collapsible cup because she recently told my sister and I that my grandma used to ALWAYS have one (and a rain bonnet) in her purse and we’d never even seen/heard of such a thing.  How funny but heartwarming is that??  Food prepped us some lunch for the week and sauces for our Labor Day dinner afterwards, then JOEY CAME HOME!!!

We had dinner together then headed over to his aunt and uncle’s to see his cousin who was in town from Houston.  He did have to evacuate to Austin last week but luckily there was no water in his apartment.  P.S. I ate the best homemade Oreo cheesecake ice cream while were there, omg!

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Monday, we woke up and put that Challah to good use with French toast (topped with a miso-date butter that I ADORE) then relaxed until game time.  I just want to point out that Monday was the only Rockies game I attended and also the only game we won all weekend.  So the key to our success isn’t the offense or the pitching, IT’S ME!  You’re welcome, Rockies.  But the highlight of our Labor Day was definitely definitely dinner.  I hit up the butcher on Sunday and though what I was actually trying to buy was something more like lamb spare ribs, I ended up with rib chops and maybe it was a blessing in disguise because these turned out SO GOOD!

We marinated them all day in salt, pepper, olive oil, garlic and rosemary then Joey did the grilling outside while I cooked up some flatbread inside and then we put it (plus the sauces I made the day before, some grilled shishitos and an amber ale) all together and were in dinner nirvana.  I was so impressed with the flavor and with ourselves.  It was the perfect way to end a holiday weekend and to toast the end of UNOFFICIAL summer with (though I’m still living a summer lifestyle until OFFICIAL summer ends on the 22nd).

HOW WAS YOUR LABOR DAY WEEKEND??!!