The shining sun and warm breezes are a sure sign that summer is on its way. Along with recipes and tips for the grill, we're sharing a batch of recipes easy enough for your kids or grandkids to get involved with—let them try out being Head Chef for the day. Keep them busy when the cooking is done with our list of fun, kid-friendly outdoor activities. It's going to be a great summer!
Tips for great-tasting marinades and rubs
- Not only do marinades add delicious flavor to meats, they can also act as meat tenderizers, depending on what ingredients you use. Any acidic ingredient—such as lemon juice, vinegar, yogurt, wine or salsa—will help to create a succulent and tasty dish. Enzymes found in fresh pineapple, papaya and gingerroot function as natural tenderizers as well.
- There are numerous marinades you can buy from grocery stores, but if you have the time, consider whipping up your own batch. This gives you complete control over the ingredients and allows you to customize fat and sodium levels to fit your needs. It’s simpler than you think! Combine…
- Olive or canola oil, lemon or lime juice and herbs for a basic marinade that’s suitable for meat, poultry, fish or vegetables.
- Olive or canola oil with reduced-sodium soy sauce, grated gingerroot, garlic, green onions and honey for an Asian accent.
- Lend Southwestern flavor by tossing together oil, lime juice, cumin, chilies and cilantro.
- Plan on using about 1/3 to 1/2 cup of marinade for each pound of meat.
- To avoid over-tenderized or mushy meat, do not marinate it for more than 24 hours. Seafood and fish usually need to be marinated for only 15 minutes.
- Marinate meat in containers made from a nonreactive material—such as ceramic, glass, plastic or stainless steel. Never marinate meats in an aluminum container. Any acidic ingredient will react with the metal, creating an off-putting flavor. Marinating in a resealable plastic bag keeps the meat coated and makes cleanup easy. Turn the sealed bag several times during chilling to redistribute the marinade.
- Rubs are combinations of herbs, peppers, spices or seasonings blended together and used to coat the surfaces of meats. Some include olive or canola oil, crushed garlic or other perishable ingredients for more of a paste than a dry rub.
- Applying rubs several hours before cooking will provide more flavor, but they don’t have to be applied in advance. Your meat will still pick up the rubs’ flavors if it is sprinkled on just before grilling or roasting.
- Place your rubbed food in the refrigerator until ready to use.
- Most dry rubs will keep in a tightly closed container for several months.
Here's a basic rub that's great for pork and chicken:
Mix equal parts ground cumin, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, chili powder, salt and pepper. Then add two parts brown sugar. Mix it all together, shake on to suit your taste, cover your food with plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator overnight.
Try this Asian-flavored rub with pork:
Mix to your liking: ground black pepper, salt, ground ginger, ground cinnamon, crushed aniseeds and ground cloves. Rub the mixture evenly over the pork. Cover and refrigerate for 20 minutes. Cook as desired.
Activities that get the kids outside!
- Bring out the chalk and let them express their creativity on the driveway and sidewalk. Draw them a tic-tac-toe board or teach them to play hopscotch.
- A bucket of water and an old paintbrush let your kids be painters without any of the mess. They can try to write messages faster than the sun can dry them up!
- Warm, sunny days are the perfect time for bubble blowing! Here’s a tip: Dry surfaces pop bubbles, so make sure your bubble wand, your hands and anything your bubbles may touch are wet!
- Set the tent up in the backyard and let the kids be outdoor explorers for the day. Don’t have a tent? Throw an old sheet over a few lawn chairs instead.
- Set up a simple scavenger hunt in the yard by hiding safe, common household items, like empty plastic bottles, in tree branches and bushes and on windowsills. Make sure everything’s within reaching distance or stay nearby to lend a hand.