Even people who love to cook often suggest dining out during the summer, simply to avoid heating up the kitchen. Not only does the chef get warm while the stove and oven are working hard, but the rest of the house heats up too, requiring the air conditioner to work overtime. This summer, take advantage of your outdoor grill to save energy, money and your comfort level. Try these recipes that go beyond throwing a few burgers on the grill.

Grilled pizza

There are two secrets to making pizza on the grill. One, don't make your pie too big – personal size is easiest to flip. Two, add toppings to the pizza after it's on the grill. You'll have to experiment with how thick to roll your crust depending on your preferences and your grill.

Ingredients:

Pizza dough

Sauce and toppings

Olive oil

 

Instructions:

  1. Heat your grill to high. Prepare all your toppings.
  2. Roll out your dough so you have 8-10 inch round pizzas. Brush olive oil on the top and bottom and place directly on the grill. Cook for about 3-4 minutes with the lid open.
  3. Turn your dough over with tongs or a spatula. It shouldn’t stick to the grill.
  4. Quickly dress your pizza. Don't overload with ingredients – otherwise the bottom will burn before the pizza is done.
  5. Cook with the lid down for about 5 minutes, or until the cheese is melted.

Kebabs

Food on a stick is another easy way to make dinner on the grill. The secret here is to make sure all ingredients on the same skewer are about the same size so they will cook in the same amount of time. Remember to first soak wooden skewers for at least 20 minutes so they don't burn.

Some combinations to try:

  1. Chicken, bell peppers and lemons: Grilling lemons softens their tartness.
  2. Meatballs and pineapple: Precooked meatballs make for a fast meal. When done, top with a sweat and sour sauce.
  3. Tri-tip, onions, mushrooms and potatoes: Partially cook the potatoes beforehand in the microwave. Marinate the beef in olive oil and soy sauce.
  4. Pork and squash: Cube pork and alternate with whatever garden-fresh squash you can find – zucchini works well. Marinate in olive oil, lemon juice, garlic and fresh herbs.

Grilled corn

Foods that come in their own containers are great on the grill. Corn on the cob is the perfect example.

Instructions:

  1. Soak the whole cobs in water for about 15 minutes.
  2. Peel back the husks (but don't remove them!) and remove the silk. Coat corn with butter, herbs and spices, if desired.
  3. Rewrap the husks around the cob and grill for about 15-20 minutes with the lid down, turning every few minutes until done.

 

These recipes are just the beginning to a summer filled with outdoor dining possibilities. By using your grill, you can keep the heat out of the kitchen and get back to enjoying summer dinners at home.

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