Posts Tagged ‘bbq’

Tips for a Great July 4th BBQ!

Tuesday, June 25th, 2013

US-flag-Florida-BridgeCan you believe that Independence Day is just around the corner?  That’s right, July 4th is almost here! Naturally, we’re getting ready for a big family barbecue with all the trimmings, from Red and Blue placemats to all-American apple pies to an incredible spread of food laid out on our eco-friendly Acaciaware serving dishes.  They come in a huge range of shapes and sizes ,  from baguette trays to bread boards to chip and dip

Acaciaware

Acaciaware® Salad Bowl

trays and they’re  perfect for serving a crowd. They’re durable and don’t shatter when dropped.

If you want to get in on the Acaciaware action this summer, enter code FIREWORKS at checkout! You’ll receive a FREE salad serving set with every 10” or larger salad bowl. After all, no one wants to serve a fruit salad with their hands.

We’ve actually already published a couple of recipes on this blog that would be absolutely great for your Fourth of July gathering.  Check out our National Burger Month post for a perfect, foolproof burger recipe. If you’re a ribs lover (and how could you not love ribs?) check out our Father’s Day dry rub recipe. Of course, one cannot live on meat alone – unless you’re a shark or lion – so today we’re going to feature a great vegetarian recipe to help you balance out your barbecue.

Before we get to that recipe, we’ve got our top five entertaining tips to share with you. We want to make sure that you can throw America a great birthday bash and still enjoy time with friends and family, instead of manning the grill all night.

Tip 1: Make as much of possible ahead of time. This seems like absolutely common sense, but it’s easy to forget. If I’m making burgers, I slice my tomatoes and onions the night before the party and put them in a sectioned serving tray like the Acaciaware tray featured below.   I also make all my salads and sides ahead of time and put them in the refrigerator in their serving bowls, so on the day of the party I can just pull them out, stick some serving spoons in them, and be done.  To keep salads fresh, I don’t add the dressing until the last minute – I make it separately and store it in jars, but beyond that, ¾ of my party foods are made ahead so I’m not running around like a chicken with its head cut off as guests start to arrive.

     Acacia Wood Deep Bowl, 12" x 12" x 6" Kilner Preserve Jar, 1.0 Liter/34 fl ozAcacia Wood Fork & Spoon Serving Set, 12"

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Tip 2: Keep it simple.  I’ve thrown parties where I’ve overdone it on the food and forgotten to enjoy the guests. You’re throwing a Fourth of July bash. Burgers, a simple salad and a dessert , like our strawberry shortcake should be plenty. By making no more than one entrée, 2 sides, and a dessert, you’ll spend less time fussing and more time having fun.

Tip 3: Get help. There’s no rule that says that you have to make everything just because you’re hosting. Buy something (or a few things) pre-made at the store.  Most grocery stores have great vegetable trays, cookies, chips and dips, and so much more. If you want a consistent look, put them on your own dishes. Your guests won’t know the difference! We’ve got Acaciware serving solutions that are perfect for veggies and dips, chips and dips, and even big platters for appetizers and desserts.

Tip 4: Don’t try too many new recipes at once.  Maybe make a new entrée, or a new side dish, but don’t overwhelm yourself with new recipes unless you’re 100% sure they’ll work out.  You’ll be stressed by the time the food is served.  Adventurous eating is awesome, but it’s always good to have at least one dish you can make in your sleep, whether it’s burgers,  pulled pork, or guacamole.  You’ll know it’s good without trying it, your guests will love it, and it’s one thing you won’t need to worry about.

Tip 5: Fire extinguisher. It’s the Fourth of July, which means that there’s a grill going, fireworks, and children running around with sparklers. We’re not saying there’s going to be a fire, but it’s better for your peace of mind to have an extinguisher handy. Like my mother always says, “better safe than sorry.”

And now, on to the recipe:  Mom’s Black Bean and Mango Salad. With the protein from the beans and the sweet tang of mangoes, this salad is hearty enough that it can be a meal on its own. It’s also a great side that everyone seems to love, and it’s amazing on tacos. It can be made up to 4 days ahead, which is great: July 4 is on a Thursday this year, but you can get the prep out of the way on the weekend. Just add the avocado at the last minute or it’ll get brown and mushy.

 

This colorful salad looks particularly beautiful in an Acaciaware salad bowl. The natural wood tones really make colors pop! I l especially love the way it looks in a flared bowl.

Ingredients

  • 4 cups cooked black beans (Canned and drained or cooked and drained)
  • 3 cups corn (canned and drained, frozen and thawed, fresh and lightly steamed)
  • 2 red peppers, diced
  • 1 green pepper, diced
  • 1 jalapeno, minced
  • 3 ripe mangoes, diced
  • 3 avocados, diced right before serving
  • 1/2 cup minced cilantro
  • ¼ cup minced mint
  • 1/3 cup fresh lime juice (more to taste)
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  • Combine all ingredients except avocados in a large serving bowl.
  • Toss to combine.
  • Taste and season with salt and pepper
  • Add avocado right before serving.
  • Serve on own, as a topping for tacos, or as a side salad.

We hope that this simple recipe and our helpful hints keep your Fourth of July barbecue as fun and stress free as possible. And remember, no one wants to serve that delicious salad with their hands, so enter FIREWORKS at checkout to get a set of free salad servers with any bowl 10 inches or larger.

Happy 4th, everybody!

May is National Burger Month!

Friday, May 3rd, 2013

Did you know that May is National Burger Month? That’s right; you’ve got a whole month to celebrate delicious, juicy burgers. And why not? It’s America’s favorite food after all. Here at Pacific Merchants, we’re celebrating burger month by throwing a burger party. 270125_238766996140933_8032478_n

Now, the first step to any great burger party location. We suggest sprucing up your patio and grilling and partying outside.  In need of a spring style fix? Just set your table with designer placemats from Pacific Merchants. They’re weatherproof, water proof, and they come in bright cheerful colors. Plus, they complement our Acaciaware ® trays, bowls, and serving pieces. Pick a bright cheerful color like orange, yellow, or green to really make your table pop like spring has sprung. Bonus: Colors like orange and yellow actually make people hungry (it’s why they use them in restaurants a lot.) So you’ll really whet their appetites just by setting the table. Who knew it could be so easy?

21192_504466239619938_1692162355_nAlong with setting the table, you need to decide on what else you’re serving. Now, burgers are definitely the main attraction here, but consider a nice green salad, some fruit, and maybe even a whole grain side dish. That way, even if you’ve got people who can’t eat burgers, you’ve got something for everyone. Also consider putting out a spread of veggies and dip. We suggest serving up sides in some of our Acaciaware ® chip and dip trays. I mean, look how great food looks in them! We’ve got plates, serving bowls and even sectioned pineapple trays, so no matter what sides you’re serving, we’ve got you covered.

Now for the meat of the meal: that burger we’re celebrating all month! Think about your audience. Do they eat meat? Do they avoid red meat? Are they vegetarian? We’ve got a killer hamburger recipe below, but if  you need a great turkey burger recipe, we suggest this one from our friends at Real Simple. It’s the juiciest turkey burger ever. If you’re desperate for a delicious veggie burger, head on over to The Kitchn.  But if you’re like us and you want an all American beef

Juicy Beef Burgers ( Makes 4)thick-burger-mld108880_vert

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ lbs ground chuck (80% lean, 20% fat)
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 1 tbsp pepper
  • Canola oil

Instructions

  • Preheat grill to Medium High
  • Brush grates with oil
  • Gently form beef into 4 patties, about 4 inches in diameter. Be careful to only pack your beef loosely
  • Generously season each side with salt and pepper, forming a crust.
  • With your thumb, make a dent in the middle of each burger patty. This will keep the burger from shrinking too much while cooking
  • Grill for 3 minutes
  • Flip (top with cheese if you want) and grill for another 4 minutes to medium rare. Cook longer if you want a more well done burger
  • Serve with your favorite toppings.

So what do you do about toppings? Do a survey among your guests ahead of time or just pick your favorite 8. Include the basics like lettuce, tomatoes and onions, but also include some more unusual ones like grilled pineapple, fried eggs, caramelized onions, and guacamole. And don’t forget the condiments. Consider ketchup, mustard, ranch, and barbecue sauce are the basics, but what about bacon, blue cheese, or roasted garlic sauce?  Set them out buffet style and let your guests assemble their own dream burgers. It’s fun, it’ll get people talking, and having all those toppings spread out buffet style is like having really delicious table décor. Here are some of our favorite serving trays for toppings and condiments

 

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From Left to right we have our acacia plate, great for burgers, our baguette tray and bowls, great for guacamole, salsa, and caramelized onions , and our condiment set is great for sauces like ketchup and mustard. Our pineapple tray is great for stuff like grilled pineapple, tomato slices, lettuce, and onions!

Oh, one other thing! Don’t forget hamburger buns. I speak from experience.

We hope that everyone out there has a great time celebrating National Burger Month this May. Let us know what you did to celebrate America’s favorite food! We’re sure you’ll inspire us to throw another burger party later this month. But don’t worry, the whole month of May isn’t going to be unhealthy for us. It’s also National Salad Month!

Are you as psyched about burger month as we are? If so, send your favorite bbq sauce recipe to kate@pacificmerchants.com! The winner will receive a $25 gift certificate to our website. Since Burger Month is the whole month of May, you have until May 31 to enter.

Transform from an Amateur Griller into a BBQ Pro

Friday, August 5th, 2011

The sun’s shining, temperatures are heating up, and friends and families are regularly gathering outdoors around the grill to enjoy some summertime R&R and a savory meal.

Besides maybe swimming, nothing is more synonymous with summer than barbequing. And although barbeque season is already in full swing, it’s never too late to up your game and learn a few new tricks of the trade. After all, the Labor Day holiday is just around the corner and is the perfect time for aspiring BBQ chefs everywhere to show off their skills.

Charcoal versus Gas

A debate worthy to rival plastic or paper, choosing the right barbeque is simply a matter of preference. Both types churn out delicious eats, and have their strong suits and not-so-strong suits.

Charcoal grills are known for adding that signature, smoky flavor to food, lend themselves to adding wood chips for an added layer of flavor and often retail at lower prices than their counterpart. Gas grills produce a lot less smoke, eliminate the fuss of dealing with briquettes and lighter fluid, and cut down on cooking times.

Whichever type of grill you prefer, practice makes perfect. So fire up the grill and give these sizzling grilling tips a whirl, and before long you’ll be the Bobby Flay of your neighborhood.

Start with a Clean Grill

Put some muscle into it and scrub that grill ’till it sparkles. You don’t want yesterday’s lunch of hamburgers and hotdogs to taint the taste of dinner’s succulent salmon. A clean grill improves the taste and quality of your food. Charcoal users will also want to get rid of old ashes to promote better air circulation.

Be Prepared

To keep your grilling endeavors running smoothly, keep supplies like utensils, paper towels, antibacterial wipes and serving dishes within arm’s reach. It’s important to continually wash your hands after handling raw meat, and use separate plates and utensils for cooked and raw meat to eliminate any bacterial cross-contamination. You don’t want to be running inside for supplies while your meat starts to overcook on the grill.

Make things even more convenient, and bring your Cutting Edge Flex Mat from Pacific Merchants outside by the barbeque so that you can chop and prep vegetables and more while you grill.

Preheat the Grill

It’s important that your barbeque reach the optimum cooking temperature before placing food on the grill to avoid burning or drying it out. Preheat the grill 15 to 30 minutes before you begin cooking. If you’re cooking on a charcoal grill, eyeball your briquettes. Once they take on a grayish hue, it’s time to put the food on.

To increase the heat, you can push the coals together or lower the cooking grate. To decrease the temperature, sprinkle the coals with a little water or raise the cooking grate. Opening and closing the barbeque lid is another tool to help you control the temperature. Open the lid for thinly cut foods that cook quickly or require supervision. Close the lid for thicker cuts of meat and controlling flare ups.

Cooking Tips

  1. To keep food from sticking to the grill and ease cleanup, always coat the cooking grate with cooking spray or brush with cooking oil. There is one exception to this rule, however. If your marinade or sauce contains oil, don’t grease the grill to avoid flare-ups.
  2. Undercooking and overcooking is probably the biggest occupational hazard for a bbq chef. Take the guesswork out of grilling by using a meat thermometer to ensure that all meats are cooked through.
  3. Tongs beat spatula when it comes to barbequing. Invest in a good pair of tongs to flip meat and vegetables with ease. Tongs offer a better grip than a spatula and you don’t run as much risk of dropping your food or accidently pushing it through the gaps in your cooking grate.
  4. Don’t puncture or press on the meat with a spatula to “flatten.” This technique squeezes out the natural, tantalizing juices and dries meat out.
  5. Give meat a chance to cook. Constantly turning meat or opening up the grill takes away from the cooking process. Meat only needs to be flipped about once per side.
  6. When grilling vegetables, season and then loosely wrap them in a foil “packet” before placing on the grill.

Marinate, Marinate, Marinate

A good marinade is the hallmark of sensational, flavorful BBQ. As a rule of thumb, the longer you marinate the better with one exception. Tomato-based or sugary glazes and BBQ sauces should be applied close to the end of cooking time to prevent burning.

Do You Have Your Own Mouth-Watering Marinade or BBQ Sauce?

Enter our Pacific Merchants BBQ Sauce Recipe Contest 2011 today by going to the Pacific Merchants facebook fan page. Contest ends August 27, 2011. Winners will be announced on September 2, 2011, just in time for Labor Day weekend!

Share your recipes with us for a chance to win the Grand Prize of a beautiful Eco-Friendly Acacia Wood Salad Bowl and Salad Serving Set. Second Prize is an Acacia Wood Serving Platter from Pacific Merchants. Acacia Wood Serving Trays and Bowls are both durable and beautiful, making them the perfect serving ware for your next backyard barbeque.