The change in the weather from winter to spring to summer is a transition that is welcomed by virtually all of us. It means that we can put away our winter jackets, store our ice skates and skis, and get outside and make the most of the long sunny days. After all, who doesn't love being in the great outdoors with family and friends?

Spring and summer also mean that we can start enjoying our meals outside, and nowhere does this speak louder to a man than when he's firing up the barbecue on a warm summer day. While many guys secretly enjoy cooking meals for our families, there is a special allure to cooking with fire, with the sizzling crackle of the grill and the delicious charbroiled flavor that the coals impart on the food. It's satisfying enough to inspire a man to don an apron and wear a cooking mitten, and how often does that happen?

At our house, we are big fans of grilling, and cooking on the grill is often a family affair where everyone gets involved, whether it's getting the fire started to preparing the food. While most of us think of barbecuing a nice steak or grilling burgers or dogs to perfection, we also enjoy grilling other foods, especially vegetables, marinated chicken, and even pizza. The grilling adds a nice flavor to these foods and lets you make a balanced meal with lots of vegetables and a little less focus on red meat.

The key to grilling vegetables and pizza is to wait until the fire is hot, and remember to leave the vegetables as big pieces so they won't fall through the grill. You can cut them into smaller pieces after they have cooked. And keep it simple, the grilling will do the rest.

The recipes are designed to feed a family of four. You can scale up accordingly.

Korean Style Kalbi Chicken

Ingredients

  • 3 split skinless chicken breasts, cut in half
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/8 cup flavorless cooking oil (canola, corn or safflower is fine)
  • 1/8 cup sesame oil

Method

Add soy sauce, sugar, and oil in a bowl and whisk until sugar is dissolved. Add garlic. Place chicken in a container and add marinade, making sure all the meat gets coated. Cover the container and put in fridge for at least 2 hours, better overnight.

Cook chicken on a hot grill, basting the meat regularly by brushing the leftover marinade or using a spoon to pour it over. Let cool 15 minutes before serving.

Grilled Vegetables

Ingredients

Choose an assortment of vegetables that taste good cooked over fire and will not fall through the grill. We usually cook onions, red peppers, zucchini, eggplant, and sweet potatoes. Add olive oil with a brush.

Method

Cut onions, eggplant, and sweet potatoes into cross-sectional slices and add olive oil and salt to both sides.

Cut the pepper in half, remove seeds/core, and cut once more into quarters. Add olive oil and salt to both sides.

Cut the zucchini lengthwise and add olive oil and salt to both sides.

Using tongs, cook the vegetables until both sides are lightly charred. Let cool before cutting into smaller pieces, then serve.

Grilled Pita Bread Pizza

Ingredients

  • 1 package of pita breads (usually 6)
  • 1 jar of spaghetti sauce
  • 3 cups grated mozzarella cheese (more if you like lots of cheese)
  • Assorted toppings — pepperoni, peppers, onions, olives

Method

Wait until the coals are nice and red-hot. Clean off grill with a coarse metal brush.

Grill pita bread on one side until it is lightly browned. Remove bread and place with grilled side up. Spread sauce (2-3 T) in a thin even layer over the bread, leaving about 1/4 inch boarder on the edge. Add cheese (about 1/3 cup) and toppings evenly spaced across the cheese. Do not layer too thick.

Place pizzas on grill (if you can fit more than one, do so), and cover the grill. Let pizzas cook for 2-3 minutes, checking to see if the cheese has melted. When it is melted and bubbly in the center, it is ready.

Take pizzas off the grill, slice and enjoy.

Note: you can use regular pizza dough if you prefer, just form the dough into manageable pieces.

From all of us at Parenting Squad, we wish you a happy, safe, nutritious, and enjoyable grilling season.