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Simple Servings

Grilling up the good life

Sharon Racine

(5/2016) The smell of summer manifests itself in the form of smoke from a charcoal grill. From May Ďtil September, I find myself inhaling the distinctly delicious aroma of charcoal smoke somewhere nearby at least once a day before the sun goes down. Then I invariably find myself getting jealous of those mystery grillers, picturing a spacious deck somewhere nearby filled with plates of burgers, coolers of beer, and a folding-chair circle of best friends.

The characters in my envious daydream donít have an exact reason for their festivities, but I know from experience that as long as a grill is involved, you usually donít need a reason to party. These charcoal- (or propane-) powered contraptions are essentially a party in a box, both a reason to celebrate and a celebration unto themselves.

Looking back now, itís safe to say that most of my favorite college memories were formed around grills. When there was nothing else to do we grilled, and that activity in itself was reason enough to start a party. When we had an actual reason to celebrate, such as a football game or a gorgeous day or, eventually, graduation, we always went straight for the grill. Grilling with friends was (and still is) the ultimate source of good food, bad decisions, and great friends. It is one of the truest testaments to the good life.

For the early-morning champions: Happy fruit kabobs

Are you a professional early-morning tailgater, seasoned almost as well as the steaks that you grill? Then this recipe is for you: the perfect light side dish for that mostly-champagne AM mimosa.


  • 8 12-inch wooden skewers
  • 1/2 cup apple jelly
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 of a medium fresh pineapple, peeled and cored (about 9 ounces)
  • 2 cups large fresh strawberries
  • 1 nectarine, seeded and cut into wedges
  • 1/2 of a 10-ounce loaf frozen pound cake, cut into 1-1/2-inch cubes
  • 8 small firm kiwi fruit, peeled and cut in half crosswise


  1. Soak wooden skewers in water for 1 hour. In grill with cover, arrange preheated coals around drip pan for indirect grilling.
  2. For sauce, combine apple jelly, lemon juice, and cinnamon in a saucepan. Cook over low heat, stirring occasionally until smooth and bubbly. Remove from heat and set aside.
  3. Cut pineapple into 1Ĺ -inch pieces. Thread pineapple, strawberries, nectarine wedges, and cake cubes alternately onto skewers, placing kiwi halves on each end. Leave a little space (about ľ inch) between each piece so that all pieces cook evenly. Transfer kabobs to a baking sheet or tray for easy transport to the grill.
  4. Place kabobs on grill rack over drip pan.
  5. Cover grill and cook kabobs for 2 minutes. After 2 minutes, carefully turn skewers over.
  6. Use a long-handled brush to sweep a portion of the sauce over the kabobs. Grill for an additional 1 to 2 minutes until heated through. Turn kabobs again and brush with sauce.
  7. Remove kabobs from grill and serve on skewers. Makes 8 servings.

Recipe courtesy of Better Homes and Gardens.

For the mid-morning light eater: Pizza on the grill

Fact: pizza is just as good the morning after as it was the night before. For those of you who canít rise and shine to join the veterans and their fruit kabobs, try grilling a pizza as a simple and enjoyable 11AM appetizer in preparation for the dayís festivities.


  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, or as needed
  • 1 envelope pizza crust yeast
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 1/3 cups very warm water (120 degrees to 130 degrees F)*
  • 1/3 cup oil
  • additional flour for rolling
  • Additional oil for grilling
  • Pizza sauce
  • Other toppings as desired
  • Shredded mozzarella cheese


  1. Start charcoal fire or preheat gas grill to medium-high heat.
  2. Combine 2 cups flour, undissolved yeast, sugar and salt in a large bowl. Add very warm water and oil; mix until well blended, about 1 minute. Gradually add enough flour to make a soft dough. Dough should form a ball and will be slightly sticky. Knead on a floured surface, adding additional flour if necessary, until smooth and elastic but not sticky, about 5 minutes.
  3. Divide dough into 8 portions. Pat or roll dough on a well-floured counter into approximately 8-inch circles.
  4. Brush both sides of crust with additional oil. Using hands, lift each crust carefully and place on grill. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes until bottom is lightly browned and top looks set. Using long handled tongs, remove crust from grill, grilled side up, to a platter or baking sheet.
  5. Lightly add sauce and top the grilled side of each pizza crust (note: excess sauce or toppings makes the pizza hard to handle). Repeat with remaining pizzas.
  6. Carefully slide each pizza onto the grill. Cook an additional 3 to 4 minutes until bottom of crust is browned and cheese is melted. Remove from grill and serve immediately.

Recipe courtesy of, by Fleischmanís Yeast.

For the white-meat traditionalist: Spicy turkey burgers

Okay burger ambassador, itís your time to shine. You might not get out to the tailgate field until itís almost game time, but cook up these turkey burgers and your grill will be the most popular in no time. Better make extras!


  • 1 lb ground turkey
  • 1 Tbsp dark soy sauce
  • 1-2 Tbsp sweet chili sauce
  • Zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 spring onions, finely chopped


  1. Mix the ground turkey, dark soy sauce, sweet chili sauce, spring onions, lemon zest and juice with plenty of salt and fresh pepper until the ingredients are well-combined
  2. Divide the mixture into four equal portions and shape into burgers
  3. Cook on a preheated hot grill for 8 minutes on each side until cooked through. If cooking on a charcoal grill, cook burgers away from the direct heat of the coals for 6-8 minutes, turning frequently until just beginning to char. Makes 4 servings.

Recipe courtesy of 101 Low-Fat Feasts by Good Food Magazine.


For the post-tailgate deck party: Grilled oysters

Envious of the other guyís amazing turkey burgers that made him the most popular individual at the tailgate? One-up his efforts with this unique offering of grilled shellfish. Remember: the guy who throws a party after the tailgate will always be the most popular.


  • 10 tablespoons softened unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 2 tablespoons minced parsley leaves
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh chives
  • 1/2 teaspoon hot sauce, optional
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 24 shucked oysters, half of each shell reserved and washed


  1. In a mixing bowl, combine all ingredients except the oysters and mix thoroughly to combine. Transfer butter mixture to a piece of plastic wrap. Roll up to form a tight log and freeze until firm.
  2. Preheat grill on high.
  3. Place the washed oyster shells on a baking sheet and top each shell with 1 oyster. Remove the butter mixture from the freezer and unwrap. Slice the butter into 24 rounds and place 1 round on top of each oyster.
  4. Place the oysters on the preheated grill and cook through until they are curled around the edges and the butter is melted and bubbly, about 4 to 6 minutes.
  5. Serve immediately.

Read other articles by Sharon Racine