Summer entertaining made easy
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May 21, 2013 | 24520 views | 0 0 comments | 273 273 recommendations | email to a friend | print
(BPT) - The weather is warming up and summer is right around the corner. From holiday celebrations to road trips, family vacations to block parties, it’s the time of year for cookouts. Make all of your summer cuisine extraordinary no matter what the occasion with these five simple tips:

* Kick seasoning up a notch – Spice up your main dish and sides by adding bold flavors through marinades and dips. Pair grilled shrimp with a homemade barbecue sauce or create a delicious horseradish sour cream for seasoned waffle fries.

* Create cutting-edge comfort food – When menu planning for summer get-togethers, add a twist to a classic recipe. It doesn’t have to be a large departure from a family favorite; try swapping out a regular hamburger bun with artisanal bread or include sweet potato fries as a side dish rather than traditional french fries.

* Add some color to your meal – Never underestimate the importance of an aesthetically pleasing meal. For an easy summertime side, try Alexia Sauté Reds – a delicious combination of roasted red potatoes, baby portabella mushrooms, whole green beans and onions bathed in thyme-infused 100 percent olive oil. This tasty side is made on the stovetop in less than 12 minutes.

* Incorporate the flavors of the season into your cocktails – Use seasonally fresh fruits and vegetables as more than a garnish to create memorable cocktails. Start with your spirit of choice and try the following refreshing flavor combinations: basil and grapefruit, apple and sage or rosemary and lime.

* Fill the grill – Simplify cooking - and clean-up - by doing as much cooking as possible in your outdoor kitchen. Sides such as Alexia Waffle Fries or Panko Breaded Onion Rings make summer entertaining a breeze when prepared on the grill and are delectable complements to a variety of grill-friendly fare, from steaks and sweet corn to barbecue chicken and asparagus (and beyond). To prepare, simply create a foil grilling tray using two pieces of aluminum foil by crumpling the top piece, creating an edge around the bottom smooth piece to make a tray, and grilling on medium for about 20 minutes.

Sophisticated summer menus are easy to create with help from Alexia Foods, a line of premium, all-natural frozen potatoes, breads and side dishes. For delicious seasonal recipes, visit www.alexiafoods.com.

Grilled Shrimp with Homemade Barbecue Sauce

Cook Time: 40 minutes

Yield: 4 servings

Grilled Shrimp Ingredients:
16 large jumbo shrimp

1/2 cup olive oil

Kosher salt

Fresh ground pepper

Homemade Barbecue Sauce Ingredients:
1 slice bacon

1 bunch fresh thyme

Extra-virgin olive oil

2 garlic cloves, chopped

2 cups ketchup

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup molasses

2 tablespoons red or white wine vinegar

1 tablespoon dry mustard

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon paprika (or smoked paprika if available)

Shrimp Directions:

Use a pair of scissors or paring knife to slit the backs of the shrimp and remove the vein. Combine the shrimp and olive oil in a bowl and toss evenly to coat. Cover and keep refrigerated until ready to grill. Prepare homemade barbecue sauce (directions below).

Prior to heating, spray grates of a large outdoor grill using PAM® Grilling, specially formulated for no-stick performance at higher temperatures. Next, heat the grill to medium-hot. Season shrimp with salt and pepper and place on the grill. Baste with the homemade barbecue sauce and grill for 3 to 4 minutes on each side. Brush with more sauce just before serving.

Homemade Barbecue Sauce Directions:

Wrap the bacon slice around the bunch of thyme and tie with kitchen twine so you have a nice bundle. Heat about 2 tablespoons of oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the bacon-wrapped thyme and cook slowly for 3 to 4 minutes to render the bacon fat and give the sauce a nice smoky taste. Add the remaining ingredients, give the sauce a stir and turn the heat down to low. Cook for 20 minutes to meld the flavors. Once the sauce is done cooking, remove the thyme bundle and discard. Take about 1 1/2 cups of the sauce and reserve for serving alongside the shrimp. Pair with Alexia Sweet Potato Puffs or try grilling Alexia Waffle Cut Sweet Potato Seasoned Fries.

Grilling Directions for Alexia Waffle Fries:

Preheat gas grill to medium (400-450 F.). Next, create a foil grilling tray using two sheets of heavy duty aluminum foil - crumple one sheet of foil and place it top of the second piece of smooth foil, folding up the edges of the bottom smooth piece to create a tray. Arrange waffle fries in a single layer on the grilling tray, place on grill and close the lid. Cook to desired color and texture, turning once or twice during the cook time, approximately 20 to 25 minutes.

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