With summer officially on its way, we’re already dreaming about our ideal menu for that first meal out on the porch. We’ve partnered with Jessica Merchant, founder of How Sweet It Is, to plan a meal of classic dishes with a sweet summertime twist.
With warmer weather and BBQ season right around the bend, I wanted to share a few of simple and delicious staples. Perhaps even more than just the food, I’m wildly excited about being able to dine al fresco again. I’m telling you, eating dinner outside after a long weekday? Yes.
It’s just so lovely. It can turn the entire day around. Fresh air, a spring breeze, maybe a cocktail… it’s perfect.
So what’s on my list to make as soon as we can start setting up our patio table?
First up, ribs! Okay, so I was never a rib person until I made my own at home. I rarely order them out because, let’s be honest, it’s a lot of mess for your meat, regardless of how delicious it is. It wasn’t until the last few years when I made my own that a full-blown obsession with baby back ribs happened.
We are talking like – I could make a rack every weekend in the summer. And in the winter! I’ll grill them whenever, no shame from me.
So this is my go-to method: I make a spice rub, usually just throwing together the spices that I can find in my pantry, and cover the meat. I wrap it in a double layer of foil and bake it low and slow for a few hours. At this point, the meat is starting to fall off the bone, but I still love that good old char and smoky flavor that a grill gives. So, I’ll throw them on the grill for a few minutes (and very carefully since they are super tender!) until they develop the signature grill char.
While the ribs are on the grill, that’s when I go to town with the cola glaze. I brush it on both sides the entire time while grilling (Well, okay, ALMOST the entire time. Let’s go with every few minutes.) to enhance the flavor even more. Sweet and smoky is the name of the game.
I love to serve them with extra glaze and BBQ sauce of course. What’s a rib without sauce?!
Next up, a great cornbread that is super cheesy and cut into squares for easy grabbing. I’m always on the fence about what I prefer to eat with ribs: cornbread or creamy, cheesy polenta? In this case, with the temperatures warming up, I like to go with the grab-and-go option of cornbread.
These ones are also laced with diced green chilis which lend the most wonderful authentic flavor, a slight kick and just something extra. And also, cheese. Lots of white cheddar! No complaints from me.
To keep things on the lighter side, I love to serve these with a mixed greens salad, and when I say mixed greens, I’m talking lots of greens! We’re going with a mix of spinach, kale and spring greens, served with lots of avocado. Sometimes I’ll toss in some sliced scallions. Even a few herbs. I love to call this my “all greens” salad, because obviously it’s all green.
Makes me feel better about the copious number of ribs I consume. Plus, it adds a nice, refreshing contrast to the caramelly, crunchy top of the ribs. I drizzle it with olive oil, salt and pepper and squeeze in a bit of lime juice. Mouth watering deliciousness is all I can say.
Finally, a super simple dessert! Homemade cherry cola popsicles – classic soda mixed with cherry syrup and maraschinos, then dunked in a float. We love to use a cane sugar soda with some unbleached cherries and if you’re feeling it, you can even add in a few shots of booze! Into the popsicle or… into the float. Do it, do it.
I can hardly wait until my weekends are full of wonderful BBQ recipe ideas like these. What is your go-to BBQ recipe? What do you always take to picnics? I want to add a few extras to my list.
Want more summer entertaining ideas perfect for the grill? Check out these tailgating recipes.