Through the Kitchen Window

Recently we’ve experienced some of the best summer weather I can remember in a long time. We’ve had temperatures consistently in the upper 20’s and low 30’s. Sunshiney, beautiful, glorious days!!!

Of course, days like that lend themselves well to backyard BBQs and gathering friends and family to celebrate. Celebrate a birthday. Celebrate friendships. Celebrate a beautiful day. Whatever you choose to celebrate, the backyard grill is the best place to centre your festivities. We do it regularly. A member of the group decides to open up their backyard and fire up the grill. A menu is loosely planned, phone calls are made, or emails sent and assignments given. Then we arrive, claim a lawn chair or a spot on the grass and watch the good times unfold.

Usually whoever hosts our bashes provides the burgers, sausages or other grilling choices. The rest of the crowd will provide portable appetizers, salads and desserts. There’s even someone responsible for buns, one for condiments and another for disposable plates cups and other necessities. We get a wide assortment, and there’s always a new dish we haven’t tried before and there are the old standbys that you just couldn’t have a BBQ without. Most importantly, we make it easy and fun because the bottom line is to have fun with it, to relax and enjoy the day.

Here are some recipe suggestions to try at your next backyard pot luck:

Cheese & Bean Dip

  • 1 can chick peas, drained
  • ½ cup each of shredded old cheddar, mozzarella and Swiss (or any three of your choice)
  • 4 oz. pkg. cream cheese, softened
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • ½ tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 2 chopped green onions
  • ½ cup seeded, chopped tomato

Preheat the oven to 350F.

Put the remaining ingredients, except for the onions, tomatoes and ½ cup of the cheese mixture, in a food processor and process until smooth. Stir in the chopped green onion. Spread in a 9-inch pie plate and bake 20 minutes. Top with tomato and remaining cheese. Serve with crackers or pita chips.

  • Yields: 6-10 servings
  • Preparation Time: 30 minutes

Greek Peasant Salad

  • 6 large tomatoes, cut in bite size chunks
  • 2 seedless cucumbers, peeled and chunked
  • I cup radishes, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup (use more or less to taste) crumbled feta
  • ½ to ¾ cup dressing (recipe follows)
  • 1 cup kalamata olives
  • 1 medium red onion, sliced into rings

In a large salad bowl, place the cucumber, tomatoes and radishes and combine gently to mix evenly. Top with the olives, feta cheese and onion slices, cover and transport to the event. When you’re ready to serve, pour the dressing over all in the bowl and mix well.

Dressing: use equal parts fresh squeezed lemon juice and olive oil. When I make it, for every ½ cup of dressing I’m making, I add one generous tablespoon of white wine vinegar. Then, based again on how much dressing I’m making, I add, for every ½ cup of dressing, 1 tsp salt, ½ tsp black pepper and ½ tsp rubbed oregano. Any excess dressing will keep well refrigerated; just remember to remove it from the refrigerator at least a half hour before you want it, since the olive oil will solidify in the cold.

  • Yields: 6-10 servings
  • Preparation Time: 15 minutes

Easy Chocolate Bar Trifle

This is a recipe I’m constantly asked to make and bring. Last time, I made a double batch for my friend Mary’s pool party and we had barely put it on the table before it was demolished. I recommend a stashed batch so the BBQ chef doesn’t end up without like ours did.
  • 1 single layer chocolate fudge cake (or if you want to be really decadent, you can make a tray of brownies and use them) cut into ½ inch squares
  • 1 pkg. cooked chocolate pudding that you have allowed to partially cool, then stirred in ½ cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips and allow it to completely cool
  • 1 large and 1 small tub Cool Whip, thawed
  • Seven chopped up chocolate bars (originally, the recipe called for Skor bars, but I’ve made it with Caramilk and Crispy Crunch with great success as well. In fact the hands on favourite is Crispy Crunch bars)

The rest is easy. In a glass trifle bowl, you make layers. Start with pudding, cool whip, cake and chocolate bar bits (be generous with these), then repeat and keep repeating until your bowl is full or you run out of ingredients. Make sure that your final layer is cool whip (you may not need all of the topping) and that you’ve left enough chocolate bar bits to lightly sprinkle over the top.

Keep refrigerated until you’re ready to serve. Then just stand back and watch it disappear!!!

  • Yields: 6-10 servings
  • Preparation Time: 30 minutes

That’s it for another month. I look forward to hearing all about your backyard adventures. I’d love to hear from readers about your most successful BBQ potluck recipe. Email me at . We may publish a compilation of Readers’ Best next month in time for sharing for late summer festivities.

Until next month, TTFN!!