Thrill of the Grill


Cooking out. Grilling. BBQ. Whatever you call it, a meal prepared outside over an open fire is a wonderful thing and a welcome sign of summer.

Introduce your children to the delights of outdoor cooking by inviting them into the kitchen for some quick prep. (Some things are more easily done inside.) This is a full-scale menu which serves six and includes a kid-friendly beverage, appetizer, side dishes, and, of course, the meat of choice to throw on the grill. There’s a fun frozen dessert to prepare as well.

Each of the following recipes allows little hands the opportunity to help. Young children can measure, stir and mix. Older children may participate in chopping with adult supervision. Once the inside work is done, head outside with a tray of cool drinks, fire up the grill and enjoy a relaxing evening of summertime fare.

Soy-Ginger Marinade
This marinade works equally well on beef, pork or chicken. Prepare it the night before or in the morning, so that the meat has time to tenderize and soak up the flavors. As always, use caution when children are near the grill. Teach them about fire safety and define a safe boundary away from the grill. The actual cooking should be done by an adult, but kids can enjoy the prep and watch the fire from the sidelines.

1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/4 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon crushed garlic
Your choice of meat or poultry, such as tri-tip, flank steak, pork chops, or boneless, skinless chicken breast

Combine all ingredients in a small mixing bowl. Rinse meat and place in gallon size zip-top bag. Pour in marinade. Seal bag shut. Allow child to massage bag to disburse marinade. Place bag in a small dish to catch any leaks. Refrigerate until cooking time. Cook meat or chicken over hot grill, turning frequently, until desired doneness.

Ranch Dip
Serve this delicious dip with a selection of fresh vegetables, such as baby carrots, celery sticks, cucumber slices, cherry tomatoes, broccoli flowerets and sliced red pepper.

1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 Tablespoon dried parsley
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
pinch cayenne pepper

Combine all ingredients in a small mixing bowl until smooth. Cover and refrigerate for several hours to allow flavors to blend.

Cheesy Taters
2 cans cream of chicken soup
1 cup sour cream
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
1/4 cup minced onion
Salt and pepper
32 ounces frozen hash brown potatoes
1 cup cornflakes, crushed
3 tablespoons melted butter

Grease 9-by-13-inch baking dish. In large mixing bowl, combine cream of chicken soup, sour cream, cheddar cheese and onion. Mix well. Season this mixture with salt and pepper. Stir in potatoes. Spoon mixture into the prepared baking dish. In small mixing bowl, combine crushed cornflakes and melted butter. Sprinkle over the potato mixture. Bake for two hours at 325°F.

Fruit Sparkly Coolers
2 liters club soda
1 can juice or lemonade concentrate

Prepare juice or lemonade concentrate, using club soda instead of water indicated on package directions. Serve chilled over ice.

Garlic Bread
1 long loaf French bread, unsliced
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon dried parsley

Cut loaf in half lengthwise. In small mixing bowl, combine butter, garlic and parsley. Spread butter mixture in an even layer over cut side of each half of bread. Put two halves back together. Wrap tightly in aluminum foil. Cook over the hot grill while the meat cooks until warmed through.

Ice Cream Sandwiches
12 large packaged chocolate chip cookies
1 pint vanilla or chocolate ice cream, slightly softened

On a small tray arrange six cookies. Place one scoop ice cream on each cookie. Top each scoop of ice cream with another cookie. Press down lightly. Place tray in freezer until ice cream is firm again. If not serving within a few hours, wrap each cookie with plastic wrap and store in freezer until serving time.


Helpful Tips for Cooking with Kids:
* Make sure everyone washes his hands before touching any food.
* Tie back loose hair.
* Have each child wear an apron or smock of some kind. It’s much easier to wipe messy hands on yourself than to hunt down a paper towel.
* Consider prepping the chopped ingredients beforehand or have an older child help with this process. Little ones don’t need to do everything in order to feel like they are participating.
* Remember that a messy kitchen is all a part of the process. Instruct children to clean as they go. Teach good habits now and you will reap the benefits for years to come.

Jessica Fisher is a wife, mother of five and freelance writer.

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