Now that "June-uary" is over, the Pacific Northwest is gearing up for the most beautiful season of the year: Summer BBQ Season! The days are long and warm, and the usual Seattle rain showers become scarce. That makes your back yard the perfect setting for a super summer soiree! And throwing a summer BBQ doesn't have to be a complicated undertaking. In fact, just a few simple preparations can ensure that your summer barbecues are as spectacular as Seattle summer sunsets. Don't worry, you've got this!
1. Prepare the perfect party place: Pre-Party Pest Control.
A great BBQ doesn't take a lot of effort. Just a few quick preparations are all you need. Get ready for your guests by tidying up the back yard and show off your landscaping.
If you have furry family members (especially dogs), it would be wise to do a "Poop Patrol" check around the yard just before your event. Check your deck, chairs and tables to ensure they are well-maintained and safe to use. You can ask friends to bring extra chairs so there will be plenty of places to sit and relax with heaping plates of food.
WARNING, SHAMELESS PLUG:
Lastly, and most importantly, pre-party pest control is a great way to ensure that your guests are not bothered by summer pests like ants, wasps and hornets, fleas, ticks, flies, mosquitoes and spiders. Don't let unwanted pests bother your guests. Hiring a professional pest control company like Eastside Exterminators will make this the easiest task on your list, and it will make sure your guests aren't "bugged" during your sweet summer celebrations.
2. Gas up the grill.
Have you ever marinated the steaks, prepared the sides, and waited until just the perfect moment to fire up the grill only to find that you've run out of gas? Or worse still, you're halfway through crafting the ultimate rack of ribs and the flames die out because you didn't check the propane. Don't let this happen to you! Make a quick check to ensure that you have plenty of propane (or charcoal) the day before your party and you can avoid a dinner disaster! This is also a great time to clean your grill and prep it for cooking. Give it a test run: turn it on, light it up, and let it burn for a few minutes, making sure that all the burners are working and there are no leaks.
3. Make it a potluck party.
For the lowest-stress BBQ, take a little of the heat off of yourself and invite your friends to bring goodies to the party. Promise them grilled meats and cold drinks, and have them bring their favorite side dishes and other beverages to share. There is no shame in asking for help, and people generally like to participate, even if they just bring a six pack and a back of chips.
4. Find easy, classic recipes with a new twist.
It's tempting to overdo the menu for your first summer barbecue, making a huge, 100+ item grocery list and slaving for hours cooking all the dishes. But if you want to actually enjoy your friends' company, try to limit your shopping list to five cornerstone recipes. Dishes that you can make ahead of time will give you the chance to relax a little with your friends and enjoy the BBQ yourself.
Google is your friend during BBQ season! You can even find grilling techniques and secrets on YouTube. Dig up your favorite recipes or create new traditions with the endless possibilities in online cooking forums. Here are a few fun, simple recipes that can spice up your barbecue:
- Grilled Corn on the Cob with Jalapeno-Lime Aioli and Parmesan Cheese: Who doesn’t love grilled corn on the cob? We’ll be kicking it up a notch with this delicious, slightly spicy recipe that includes two of my favorite things: jalapenos and plenty of cheese. [From Brazil to You]
- Tomato and Mozzerella Skewers with Basil Oil: These are basically caprese salads on a stick. Need I say more? (Can you tell I’m a cheese fanatic?) [The Kitchn]
- Prize-Winning Baby Back Ribs: Make sure you have a grill master, because the most important part of the meal is the meat! This recipe for baby back ribs has only six ingredients - simple and spectacular! You can mix it up with your own ideas, add a secret ingredient, or whatever you like. (Don’t forget the homemade BBQ sauce! There is a great homemade bbq sauce recipe in from The Joy of Cooking that is a classic favorite.) [All Recipes]
- Watermelon Salad with Feta and Mint: This is like pure summer in a bowl. This recipe created by the legendary Jacques Pépin is a sure win, though you may try skipping the olives and adding toasted pecans. [Food & Wine]
- Apple & Poppy Seed Coleslaw: No BBQ ribs should go without coleslaw, and this recipe won me over with the addition of fresh, tangy Granny Smith apples. It tastes great , so it’s secretly a bit healthier … that way I won’t feel bad when I finish off the whole batch. [Damn Delicious]
5. Pour from the Pitcher.
If you dare stray away from the cliche, try serving something besides beer with your BBQ. It can be fun to craft a signature cocktail to share with your friends. So in addition to stocking the coolers with ice and brews, whip up a pitcher (or three...or five) of southern-style traditional Red Sangria. It's a refreshing change and easy to prepare ahead of time.
6. Master the Music.
Have a little fun with your kids and create a summer playlist. A great set of summertime favorites will keep your party guests in a great mood all afternoon. The safe bet is an eclectic mix of classic rock, Southern soul, 90's hip hop, and upbeat pop classics. Throw in some Jimmy Buffett for good measure. You can always find great summertime favorite tunes with a little online research. If creating your own playlist isn't your cup of sangria, maybe try something new by letting Pandora be your disk jockey. You get to set the mood for your party, and your guests will love it.
7. Break out the backyard games.
Remember when you used to play outside? Kids of all ages will be thrilled that you have set up a game of horseshoes, corn hole, bocce ball, badminton, or croquet in the yard. But not all games take that much equipment to set up and play. You can make an awesome outdoor Twister board with only 4 cans of spray paint and a little square of lawn! Leave out a bucket full of sidewalk chalk or a couple of squirt guns and you'll see everyone's inner child emerge. Another fun DIY yard game is lawn bowling - fill 10 empty plastic soda bottles with colored water (for a little pizzazz), grab a ball and go for a strike!
8. Delight them with dessert.
Satisfy every sweet tooth with a little dessert. If you don't feel like heating up the kitchen by baking brownies or cookies, you can provide ice cream or popsicles for your guests. Or you can explore grilled dessert options like the amazing Grilled S'more Banana Boats. They're like s'mores-stuffed bananas, all packaged up and cooked right on the grill. There's little or no clean-up or mess, and everyone will oooh and aahhh over the sweet, melty, marshmallowy, chocolate treats! These work great on the campfire, too!
9. Stay Simple, Silly!
There's no need to overdo it with decorations at a barbecue. Mother nature does a great job all by herself. Maybe string up some white Christmas lights around your patio for a festive feel. Put a few picnic blankets out on the lawn to encourage lounging and handle the over-spill from chairs and tables. Yet another simple addition to your party atmosphere could be little tea lights in mason jars - bring them out after dark for a romantic glow on your table tops. Super easy, super simple, super fun.
With these nine tips, your BBQ will be simply wonderful. You'll impress your guests without stress. You are now well equipped to throw the ultimate backyard BBQ party. Oh, and the last but most important tip of all: HAVE FUN!
Want to protect your party guests?
Give Eastside Exterminators a call at (452) 482-2100 and relax.