Dining al Fresco
Dining al Fresco

Eating outdoors is one of the greatest pleasures of the summer season, but does require careful attention to ensure the best dining experience. Use the following tips to make dining outside efficient, enjoyable and stress-free.

Grill Veggies Like a Pro
While grilled veggies exhibit tender-crisp textures and deliciously smoky flavors, they require a few tips and tricks to cook just right. Choose varieties that can stand up to the heat of the grill such as zucchini, potatoes, asparagus, broccoli and cauliflower. Brush veggies with olive oil or marinate before grilling to add flavor and prevent sticking. Vegetables also vary in how long they take to cook on the grill. Try searing over high heat, then placing away from the heat source to finish cooking.

Serve Condiments in Muffin Tins
To enjoy condiments during picnics or barbeques without carting individual bottles, pour different sauces and toppings into individual muffin compartments. Set a serving spoon in each vessel, and cover with plastic wrap or aluminum foil between uses.

Prep in Advance
If hosting an outdoor cookout, prep as much as you can in advance. Wash and cut fresh fruits and vegetables, marinate beef and poultry, and cook whole grains a day or two ahead of time.

Serve Safe Food
Keep food at the proper temperature to prevent the growth of food-borne bacteria. The key is to never let food remain in the “danger zone,” between 40°F and 140°F, for more than two hours, or one hour if outdoor temperatures are above 90°F. Always remember to thoroughly clean and sanitize hands, surfaces and utensils, too.

Make Creative, Dual-Purpose Ice Packs
Instead of adding extra components to your already-packed cooler, freeze a few water bottles ahead of time, and use them as ice packs to keep your food cold. Remove paper labels on bottles and be sure lids are tightly secured before freezing. When the bottles melt back into water, enjoy an ice-cold beverage to cool off.