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My summer has officially started! My last day of school was Friday and I have 11 weeks off this summer. Now I'm ready for food, friends, and fun! We just had our first summer cookout and I tried several new recipes, all of which were a huge hit!
When I throw a party I like to go all out. That means I have a signature drink, delicious grilled food, cool summer salads, and decadent desserts. But having a big cookout doesn't mean I have to spend a ton of time prepping or cooking to get ready for it. I made a list of everything I would need and headed out to my local Giant Eagle store. I love shopping at Giant Eagle because it's my one stop shop for everything I need during grilling season.
The first thing I decided to try was my signature drink. I often go back and forth on whether or not to have an alcoholic signature drink or a non-alcoholic one and this time I made a refreshing non-alcoholic drink. This one isn't for the faint of heart. It's a Sweet and Spicy Arnold Palmer. Now the traditional Arnold Palmer is simply a combination of iced tea and lemonade. My idea was to spice it up a bit for summer but still have the sweetness.
I started by boiling water with a chopped jalapeno. Then I added some Lipton tea bags and a little bit of sugar to make the spicy iced tea. I always buy the Lipton 100 count tea bags so that I have them to use all summer long. I combined that with Lemon Lemon Sparkling Lemonade and that was it! The resulting beverage was lightly sweetened, bubbly, refreshing, and had just a touch of heat after swallowing. It's really an awesome beverage and perfect for sipping on during a cookout.
I went to my side dishes next because whenever you make summer salads it's good to let them refrigerate over night so they absorb all the flavors in the sauce. I made a tasty Broccoli Salad with walnuts and cranberries and then a Loaded Macaroni Salad with vegetables, bacon, and cheese. Both of them looked so good that I wanted to eat them right then and there!
Finally I came to the entree. I always go to Giant Eagle to shop for Certified Angus Beef. It's high quality beef and we often eat their steaks and make burgers from their ground beef. I hadn't realized that they have already made burger patties but this makes grilling for a crowd even easier! I chose the Certified Angus Beef Bacon Cheddar Burger patties to serve for our cookout.
While these burgers are totally delicious on their own when cooked on the grill I wanted to make a special BBQ Sauce to compliment them. I've been on a roll with homemade BBQ sauces lately. This time I made a Bacon BBQ Sauce using bacon, onions, garlic, and the usual BBQ sauce ingredients. It turned out amazing.
The Bacon BBQ Sauce was smoky, slightly sweet, and had a deep BBQ flavor. I made it ahead of time so I didn't have to worry about being in the kitchen once our guests arrived. It's easy to make and then store in a mason jar in the refrigerator for up to a week. Then once the Certified Angus Beef Bacon Cheddar Burgers were ready I simply put out the sauce next to the buns and everyone ate it up.
After polishing off dinner and drinks it's time for dessert. Let me be honest here. After cooking for a crowd I don't really want to make a big deal dessert. Usually people are full and don't want anything too big. Plus it's usually hot so it's best to keep it cool and simple. That's why I like to serve ice cream sundaes.
In this case, I made Chocolate Chip Cookie Sundaes! All I had to do was grab a container of Breyer's French Vanilla Ice Cream and have one of my friends scoop it into bowls. Then I stuck one or two Pepperidge Farm Farmhouse Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies into each one. Then I let my guests decide if they wanted to eat it like that or if they wanted to top it off with chocolate syrup, whipped cream, and a cherry. I had mine with all the fixings.
All in all we had an amazing start to summer with a fun cookout with good friends. The food was awesome and it didn't take very long to prepare. It was easy to run to Giant Eagle and grab everything I needed in one market run. At the end of the night everyone was full and satisfied and I was a happy host.
For the Bacon BBQ Sauce:
- 3 slices bacon
- ½ c. onion, minced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- ½ c. ketchup
- ½ c. tomato sauce
- 1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 2 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- 2 Tablespoons vinegar
- 1 Tablespoon molasses
- ¼ c. brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
For the Burgers:
- 8 Certified Angus Beef Bacon Cheddar Burger Patties
- 8 hamburger Buns
- Bacon BBQ Sauce
- Chop the bacon into small pieces and place them in a medium saucepan over medium high heat. Cook for 5-6 minutes or until the bacon is crispy. Remove from pan and set on a paper towel lined plate.
- Add the onions to the saucepan with the bacon grease. Saute for 3 minutes.
- Add in the garlic cloves and saute for 1 minute.
- Add the ketchup, tomato sauce, Dijon mustard, Worcestershire sauce, vinegar, molasses, brown sugar, salt, and black pepper. Mix well to combine. Add the bacon back in and stir.
- Bring the mixture to a boil over medium high heat then reduce to a simmer.
- Simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until the sauce has thickened.
- Remove from heat. Pour into a mason jar and refrigerate until ready to use.
- To make the burgers heat a gas grill to medium high heat.
- Add the beef patties and cook for 4-5 minutes per side or until they are cooked through.
- Add the buns to the grill at the last minute to lightly toast.
- Remove from grill.
- Serve the burgers on the buns along with the Bacon BBQ Sauce.
A Hezzi-D original recipe
Do you have summer grilling plans? What's your favorite foods to buy for a summer cookout at Giant Eagle?