How many times have you grilled outside this summer? How many times have your kids helped you grill? It’s hard enough to take the heat standing in front of a grill but it’s a family tradition so that means there is always a way for a child to participate. Like any good party or meal success comes from good planning so set the ground rules first then get grilling.
What’s on the Grill?
Take advantage of the warm summer months and the bounty of fresh vegetables from the Farmers Market. Talk to your kids about trying new veggies or old veggies a new way. While your proteins take the heat so don’t overdo it – veggies are more forgiving.
Will you slice and listen to the sizzle or place directly on the grill then scoop out the inside and make a dip? Have your kids be part of the decision – just by asking questions of your child at your side you are engaging them in the process of making a meal.
Give Them a Grill Tutorial
1. Stop Drop and Roll: Show kids the standard procedure if their clothing was to catch on fire. Stopping, dropping to the ground, and rolling is the tried and true technique, and could save their life one day should fire get out of control.Embrace children’s natural curiosity about cooking! While still turned off, show them the BBQ and explain how it works. A short tutorial will go a long way in curbing curiosity once the actual cooking has begun. Show them:
2. Heating: Demonstrate how to turn on a gas barbeque and how to adjust the flame. Let kids help arrange charcoal briquettes in a charcoal BBQ, like building with blocks.
3. Food Prep: Food must undergo a fair amount of prep before it can be grilled away on the barbeque. Show your children the steps, marinating meat, skewering kabobs, wrapping potatoes or corn in aluminum foil. Showing children these steps involves them in barbequing and enhances their knowledge about cooking.
Avoiding Sharp Edges
Surprisingly, a large portion of barbeque related injuries come from being cut or scratched by the BBQ itself. Tissue wounds are the second most common injury for children, after burns. Barbeques are bulky machines mostly made of metal. Also, spatulas, metal brushes, skewers, tongs, and other barbequing tools are sharp and can cause scrapes. Be aware of jagged edges, pointy protrusions, and anything that a child-size person could bump their head on. It might even be worth it to “baby-proof” any part of the BBQ grill that seems particularly sharp with a piece of masking tape. Place metal grilling tools out of reach, preferably on a solid surface.
Safety Zone with Chalk
To be completely safe, kids shouldn’t be anywhere near the barbeque once it’s turned on. Beforehand, why not have your kids draw a border on the pavement with chalk around the BBQ area? They can draw in a safety zone, which no one should enter while the adults are grilling. Making it into a creative game will make the experience fun!
Grilling Safety Tips
• Always supervise children around outdoor grills.
• Never leave the grill unattended! A single spark can light a fire.
• Position the grill well away from siding, deck railings, out from under eaves and overhanging branches and a safe distance from lawn games, play areas, and foot traffic.
• Do not wear loose clothing while cooking at a grill.
• When cooking food, use long-handled grilling tools to give plenty of clearance from heat and flames.
• Periodically remove grease or fat buildup in trays below grill so it cannot be ignited by a hot grill.
• Be careful when using lighter fluid. Do not add fluid to an already lit fire because the flames can flashback up into the container and explode.
• Grill only outdoors! If used indoors, or in any enclosed spaces, such as garages or tents, barbecue grills pose both a fire hazard and the risk of exposing occupants to carbon monoxide.
• Keep all matches and lighters away from children. Teach your children to report any loose matches or lighters to an adult immediately.
• Always supervise children around outdoor grills.
Fun Kid Friendly Foods
Nothing takes you back to your childhood like a grilled cheese sandwich. Well, maybe PB&J, but grilled cheese is a close second. Plus it’s an easy recipe you can make in minutes with only a couple ingredients! Grilling a grilled cheese sandwich on the grill actually makes the bread extra crispy crunchy – gourmet style. After all, if you’re going to call it “grilled” cheese, what better place to cook it than on the grill.
1. Prepare a medium direct heat grill.
2. Place 2 slices of your favorite bread on a cutting board and a bit of butter on top side of each; this is key to a golden, delectable crunch.
3. Place slices of bread, butter side down, on your grill and top with a few slices American cheese or cheddar. Lay the sandwiches on the grill and cook until brown.
4. When cheese starts to melt, place on slice on top of the other to make a sandwich. Press down on sandwich with spatula to encourage even browning and to help melt cheese—be gentle, don’t smash it. You might need to move around a bit, as hot spots tend to cause the grilled cheese to cook faster in some areas than others.
5. Flip and cook until your other side is brown and crispy, then remove from the grill. Eat immediately, preferably with Campbell’s Tomato Soup!
Nothing says summertime like some grilled corn and this herbed butter spread will have everyone licking their fingers! Serves 8 in 15 min.
• ½ cup (1 Stick) unsalted Butter at room temperature
• 2 tablespoons finely chopped herbs (cilantro, chives, parsley)
• 1 ½ teaspoon salt
• ½ teaspoon ground pepper
• 8 ears of corn, shucked (great task for little helping hands!)
• 1 tablespoon vegetable oil OR butter
1. Prepare grill for medium-high heat. Mix butter, herbs, salt, pepper, and a pinch of cayenne pepper in a small bowl. Set herb butter aside.
2. Brush corn with oil (or butter) and grill, turning often, until it is tender and charred in spots, 5-8 minutes
3. Transfer corn to a large platter or bowl and spread with reserved herb butter, dividing evenly. Enjoy!
The humble potato, given a little something extra, always elicits oohs and aahs. This is especially true when it’s tossed with an herb-infused oil and cooked on the grill. Serves 4 in 25 min.
• 2 pounds large Yukon Gold potatoes
• ¼ cup chopped herbs (parsley, chives, rosemary, oregano)
• 2 garlic cloves, smashed
• 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
• 1 lemon wedge plus additional for serving
1. Prepare a gas grill for direct-heat cooking over medium-high heat.
2. Cut potatoes into 1/2-inch-thick slices and cook in a large pot of well-salted boiling water 10 minutes (potatoes will not be cooked through)
3. Meanwhile, stir together herbs, garlic, oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a large shallow dish.
4. Drain potatoes well and transfer to herb oil, tossing gently to coat.
5. Transfer potatoes to grill, letting excess oil drip into dish (reserve oil in dish).
6. Grill potatoes, covered, turning once or twice, until tender, about 5 minutes total.
7. Return potatoes to dish and toss again with herb oil. Squeeze lemon wedge over potatoes. Season with salt and serve with additional lemon wedges. Enjoy!
Get your kiddos excited about their veggies with this delicious recipe! Start their healthy eating habits early and let them pick out veggies at the market. Serves 4.
• 2 garlic cloves, crushed with a garlic press
• 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
• 1/3 cup olive oil
• 1/4 teaspoon salt
• 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
• 1 large red onion, peeled and root end trimmed slightly, leaving end intact
• 1 1/2-pound eggplant, halved crosswise, then cut lengthwise into 1″-thick strips
• 1 large bell pepper
• 2 1/2 pound mixed green and yellow zucchini (about 5)
• 2 plum tomatoes, halved lengthwise
• 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh parsley
• 3 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh basil
• Four 12″ skewers, soaked in water for 30 minutes if wooden
1. Prepare grill for direct-heat cooking over hot charcoal (medium-high heat or gas).
2. Whisk together garlic, vinegar, oil, salt, and pepper in a large bowl, then set aside 2/3 of vinaigrette for brushing.
3. Halve onion lengthwise and cut halves lengthwise into 1/2″-wide wedges. Thread 1/2″ apart onto skewers (to hold layers together). Brush onion and eggplant with some reserved vinaigrette.
4. Oil grill rack, then grill pepper with onion and eggplant, covered only if using a gas grill, turning occasionally with tongs, until onion and eggplant are very tender, 6-10 minutes; transfer to a large rimmed baking sheet. Continue to grill pepper, turning it until skin is blackened, 1-2 minutes longer. Put pepper in a deep bowl and cover with a plate, then let stand while grilling remaining vegetables.
5. Quarter zucchini lengthwise; brush them and tomatoes with reserved vinaigrette. Grill, covered only if using a gas grill, turning tomatoes less frequently than zucchini, until tomatoes are just blistered, about 3 minutes; transfer to baking sheet. Continue to grill zucchini, turning, until just tender, 1-3 minutes longer.
6. Peel pepper and thinly slice flesh. Cut tomatoes into wedges and chop remaining vegetables. Add to bowl of vinaigrette along with herbs and salt to taste, tossing to coat.
Note: If you aren’t able to grill outdoors, vegetables can be cooked on an oiled 2-burner grill pan over medium-high heat. Vegetables can be made 1 day ahead and chilled. Rewarm before serving.
What are your favorite grill recipes? Share with Chipper in the comments below!