Barbecue season is here, but when you’re busy having fun in the sun, it can be hard to plan ahead. Whether you’re throwing a last-minute soiree or forgot about your friend’s cookout, these last-minute meal ideas are just the thing to liven up a barbecue.
1. Great garlic bread
Garlic bread is a simple side dish if you’ll already be using the grill. Get a loaf of French bread at the store. Slice it open, and spread with butter, sprinkle with garlic powder and paprika, and add some fresh or dried parsley. Close it back up, and wrap the whole loaf in foil, then cook it on the grill until the outside is toasted and the butter has melted. Just keep an eye on it so it doesn’t burn.
2. A perfect pitcher of iced tea
Pick up a few jugs of unsweetened or lightly sweetened iced tea at the store along with a bottle of peach nectar and a package of fresh mint. Add the tea to a pitcher along with fresh mint leaves and peach nectar, to taste, for a refreshing, nonalcoholic beverage.
3. Compound butter and cornbread
Jazz up store- or bakery-bought cornbread with an easy compound butter. Go savory by mixing softened butter with fresh herbs and garlic, or put a sweet spin on it with citrus zest and honey. The savory compound butter can also be used to make corn on the cob and grilled steaks taste extra delicious.
4. Baller baked beans
Didn’t have time to make homemade baked beans? Not to worry. Cook up a couple of slices of thick bacon or ham, then cut it into bite-size pieces, and add it to a saucepan along with a few cans of baked beans. Warm them, adding some extra molasses, brown sugar and a hint of hot sauce for a homemade flavor. It shouldn’t take more than 20 minutes, but once you pour them into a casserole dish, it’ll feel like you made the real thing.
5. Easy sangria
You don’t have to be a mixologist to whip up a tasty batch of sangria. Buy a couple of bottles of red or white wine, then add them to a pitcher along with prepared chopped fruit from the grocery store, some lemon-lime soda or sparkling water and a shot or two of triple sec, white rum (for white sangria) or brandy (for red). It’s like summer in a glass.
6. Marinated cheese
Marinated cheeses, like feta or mozzarella, go perfectly with grilled veggies, meats and pita bread. Just get a block of feta (cut it into cubes) or container of mini mozzarella balls, and then put them in a pretty dish. Drizzle generously with olive oil, then add fresh or dried herbs, pepper, lemon zest and a splash of vinegar. It tastes delicious, adds elegance to your spread and takes just a few minutes to put together.
7. Easy antipasto platter
If your grocery store has an olive bar, it’s super easy to put together an antipasto platter people can snack on while they wait for their food to come off the grill. Choose a selection of olives, roasted red peppers and artichoke hearts, then get some ham, salami and provolone cheese from the deli. Arrange it all on a platter for an eye-catching appetizer that takes no time at all.
8. Pie à la mode
Pick up a pie from the store or a bakery that features some summery fruit, like peaches or blackberries. Pair it with some classic vanilla bean ice cream for a decadent dessert that tastes homemade.
9. Dessert kebabs
Go with the grill theme, and make dessert kebabs. Alternate fresh berries and cubes of store-bought pound cake on wooden skewers, then serve with whipped topping or an easy dip made by mixing a package of cream cheese with a jar of marshmallow cream.
10. Root beer floats
If you’re in charge of dessert, go nostalgic by making root beer floats. All you need to get is a bottle or two of root beer and a container of vanilla ice cream. Scoop the ice cream into cups, pour in some root beer, and voilà — you have dessert. You can use orange soda instead of root beer for creamsicles too.
11. Strawberry shortcake
This fun dessert is super easy to bring together. All you need is store-bought shortbread, pound cake, angel food cake or biscuits, some strawberries that you slice up and sprinkle with sugar about 15 minutes before serving dessert and the whipped cream of your choice — homemade, from a can or whipped topping from a tub. Spoon the macerated strawberries on top of the biscuits, then add a dollop of whipped cream, and you’re in business.
With all the time you’ll save with these quick recipes, you can spend more time doing what’s important — hanging out with your family and friends.
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