Food for Thought

Pete and I recently purchased a Weber charcoal grill, which he was eyeing up for a few months. Rather than hosting a huge backyard bash out of our budget, we’ll be having an intimate barbecue with immediate family this year. We figure it will be good practice for next year, when we’ll likely have a bigger summer shindig.

I’m really looking forward to having our families over and have been browsing foodgawker for recipe inspiration. What are your must-have items on a menu for a backyard barbecue? So far, I’m hoping we can make burgers (black bean and meat), hot dogs, some shrimp skewers, grilled vegetables, guacamole & chips, berry bowls, potato salad (hopefully commissioned by Pete’s parents), deviled eggs (thanks to my mom), cucumber salad (my grandma’s contribution!) and hummus with naan/pita chips.

Pete and I made Teriyaki shrimp with mango, corn on the cob and grilled asparagus for our first grilled feast together. It was really nice eating outside with Betty and enjoying the last hour of sunlight together.

Betty White is looking forward to schmoozing at the barbecue, although she is in desperate need of a haircut if she’s going to be hanging outside with us all day (that mustache doesn’t groom itself).

I’ve been gathering some simple, DIY decor ideas from Pinterest to help dress up our party a bit. I love the idea of taking a plaid, plastic tablecloth and using it to embellish everything. I have a feeling I’ll be making a trip to the Dollar Tree or Party City to get some obnoxiously bright tablewares!

{Photos courtesy of Hostess With the Mostess}

Do you have any tips for hosting our first family barbecue, apart from wearing lots of sunscreen?

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Everyday Food: Grocery Bag

Top (L-R): Spicy Black Bean Soup, Parmesan Chicken With Mushrooms and Brussel Sprouts, Sesame Beef

Bottom (L-R): Turnip and Sweet Potato Gratin, Chicken Cutlets With Mustard Greens and Roasted Squash, Pasta e Fagioli (recipes by Everyday Food)

*Thanks to Pete for snapping these photos with his iPhone before meals

Every month, Martha Stewart’s Everyday Food has a weekly dinner planner, which Pete and I have been taking advantage of for the past few months. We add the “shopping list” of ingredients they provide to our normal grocery list and plan a week’s worth of meals alongside the magazine’s Monday-Friday schedule. I enjoy cooking dinner with Pete this way because it steps us outside of our comfort zone of eating chicken nuggets and personal pizzas and forces us to ask questions like “What do mustard greens look like?” or “How do you chop an acorn squash?”

Everyday Food makes scheduling a week’s worth of meals simple and enjoyable and gives us time to work together after a stressful day at the office. Plus it makes our taste buds happy to try something new and exciting every month. Sometimes there are recipes that we’ve mentally marked as “never again,” but for the most part, we finish our dinners with a smile.

What are some of your favorite cooking blogs or magazines that give you inspiration?