Memorial Day Grilling Tips & Ideas

The first thing that comes to mind when planning a Memorial Day get-together is the age-old query, “what are we going to eat?” Typical Memorial Day fare includes hamburgers and hot dogs fresh off the grill. This year, feel free to break tradition and grill up something new with some of these ideas:

Kebabs

Kebabs are a staple of grilling events, but have you tried any unconventional combinations of foods on your skewers? Here are some that are sure to deliver on flavor:

  • Peaches, pork, pineapple and sweet Vidalia onion
  • Pineapple, red bell pepper, chicken, and shredded coconut
  • Curry-marinated beef, zucchini, cherry tomato and potato
  • Eggplant, lemongrass tofu, yellow squash and cherry tomato

To make the most of your meats and vegetarian equivalents, you’ll need a good seasoning or rub to anchor the flavor so you don’t end up with a bunch of tasteless food sticks. For a good chicken and pork rub, try Rufus Teague’s Meat Rub. For any and everything, try Konriko’s Greek seasoning. There’s a world of flavor out there and there’s likely to be someone local with an online spice apothecary – and being able to buy local is always a plus.

kebabs

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Burgers

There’s a world of possibility out there when it comes to burgers. Entire restaurants have been dedicated to serving up dozens of types of burgers with a wide array of flavor infusions. To create something memorable this year, fold in a little bit of brown sugar to create a sweet and rich flavor. For a richer flavor, fold in minced garlic. Don’t go buck wild loading your burger with a lot of junk unless you want meatloaf.

Whatever you do, season your burger liberally and don’t add salt until the patties are formed. And once they’re on the grill, flip them as often as you’d like. It helps them cook faster and distribute flavor evenly. And once they’re done, be sure to have plenty of toppings set out so everyone can deck out their burger.

burgers

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Grilling Tips

You can use gas or charcoal to grill. Gas burns cleaner, but some people prefer the smoky flavor you get from grilling with charcoal. If you’re trying to stay environmentally friendly while entertaining, go with gas. If you want to be kind to the earth and still get that smoky flavor, you can just use additive-free lump charcoal (AKA charred wood), and don’t use lighter fluid.

Preheat your grill 15 to 25 minutes before you start cooking to make sure it reaches the right temperature (and to kill any lingering bacteria). If your grill is heated properly, it will sear foods on contact without drying it up or causing it to stick to the grill. Searing may not seal in the juices of whatever you put on the grill, but it causes them to caramelize, making the flavor rich and decadent. To reduce sticking, oil the grill rack when it’s hot with a vegetable oil-soaked paper towel.

Now for the fun part: cooking the marinated the meat. Marinades will drop some serious flavor bombs into your food. You need to make sure that the marinades are soaked in before you toss the meat on the grill or else you’ll get some fiery Pompeii-esque backsplash. Once they start to look done, use an instant-read thermometer to check the internal temperature to make sure the meat is ready. If you are making kebabs and are worried about some of the pieces falling off the skewers and into the grill, put a grill basket below the grill rack to catch any runaway foods.

sauces

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For safety, keep a squirt bottle of water nearby to douse the flames of any flare-ups, since flare-ups resulting from dripping fats can compromise the flavor of the meats and also be a general nuisance.

When the meat is ready, let it sit on a platter for about ten minutes so the juice can distribute evenly and so you don’t burn your palette!

Party Time!

Now you’re ready to grill. Be sure to share some of your favorite foods to grill and let us know how your grilling adventures turn out!

Top Picks on Pinterest

Pinterest is a great place to find and collect ideas for your outdoor spaces. The Belgard Hardscapes Pinterest page has a wealth of beautiful photography organized by the different ways pavers can be used to help you design your perfect outdoor living space. This week, we’re counting down our top picks on Pinterest as decided by your repins and likes. Enjoy!

#10 – Mountain Retreat with Amenities

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This gorgeous mountain retreat garnered 67 repins and 15 likes making it our #10 top pin.

#9 – A Poolside Evening

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This evening poolside shot received 80 repins and 35 likes making it the #9 top pick on Pinterest.

#8 – Adirondacks by the Fire Pit

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Belgard Pinterest followers gave this Mega Arbel patio and fire pit 86 repins and 16 likes putting it at #8 in our countdown.

#7 – The Outdoor Room

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This transitional space blurs the lines between indoors and out, placing at the #7 spot with 91 repins and 23 likes.

#6 – Greek Spinach Dip

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Our fans can’t get enough of this Greek Spinach Dip recipe originally posted on the Belgard blog, where we regularly post recipes for outdoor entertaining. With 92 repins and 12 likes it’s our #6 top pin.

#5 – All About the Details

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The combination of Mega Arbel and Old World pavers was a hit receiving 93 repins and 20 likes and landing in the #5 spot.

#4 – Dining Outdoors

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Belgard Pinterest fans love cooking outdoors and with 113 repins and 11 likes this outdoor kitchen is at the top of their wish list and #4 in our countdown.

#3 – Fireplace with Built-In Seating

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This patio featuring a fireplace and built-in seating wall is our #3 top pick on Pinterest with 126 repins and 22 likes.

#2 – A Space for Entertaining

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The #2 spot in our countdown goes to this outdoor space made for entertaining. With 144 repins and 35 likes, Pinterest users wish their backyard looked like this.

#1 – The Perfect Patio

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Belgard Pinterest followers’ #1 top pick is this perfect patio receiving 160 repins and 34 likes. With a seating area, fireplace and grill station, we couldn’t agree more – it’s perfect for outdoor entertaining!

Our Favorite Picks for Outdoor Kitchens

With the grilling season on the horizon, we gathered some of our favorite products for outdoor kitchens to share with you.
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Nothing quite makes an outdoor kitchen like a beautiful brick oven (1) perfect for making pizzas with that wood-fired taste. Of course, we can’t list our favorite picks for outdoor kitchens without a grill! The Big Green Egg (2) takes the cake when it comes to grilling up some mouthwatering favorites like steaks, hot dogs and veggies. Wash that food down with a delicious beverage from these acrylic wine and beer glasses (3). Don’t worry, they can take a tumble outside and won’t break! In the mood for seafood? Infuse your Atlantic salmon with the delectable flavor of these cedar grilling planks (4) or add a kick with roasted garlic sea salt (5). Plus, this adorable picnic table condiment set keeps popular add-ons within easy reach. (6) Lastly, what outdoor kitchen is complete without a spot for entertaining and mixing drinks? We love this pre-built, modular island bar from our Elements Collection (7).

1. Belgard Elements Collection Chicago Brick Oven
2. Large Big Green Egg
3. Crate & Barrel Laela Acrylic Wine Glass and Acrylic Beer Glass
4. Target Camerons Cedar Grilling Planks
5. DEAN & DELUCA Roasted Garlic Sea Salt
6. Target Mr. Bar-B-Q Picnic Table Condiment Set
7. Belgard Elements Collection Island Bar

Spring Forward

As we prepare for the start of Daylight Saving Time and set our clocks one hour forward next weekend, the evenings will become darker earlier and spring’s temperatures will be calling you outdoors.

Get more out of that outdoor time with a fire feature that adds an attractive light source and warmth during the unpredictable temperatures of March. Here are some options for incorporating a fire feature in your outdoor space:

Fire pit
A fire pit is one of the most versatile fire features available because it can accommodate both an intimate evening for two and also a large gathering of friends and family. Varying sizes ensure there’s an option to fit every backyard.

Fireplace
A fireplace is a great choice for homeowners looking to create a statement centerpiece to their outdoor living space. With options to create a custom-designed fireplace or choose from a variety of pre-built modular choices from the Belgard Elements Collection, you’re sure to find just the right fit for your home’s style.

Fire table
A fire table is a lesser known option in fire features, but it certainly creates a contemporary and cool atmosphere to light up the night. Fire tables create visual interest and are often a topic of conversation when gathering outdoors with friends. When not in use, a cover over the fire element creates additional table-top space.

Outdoor kitchen
Bring on the heat with an outdoor kitchen that not only provides light and warmth, but does triple duty in cooking a delicious meal you can enjoy in your outdoor living space. Outdoor kitchens range from modest to gourmet and the choice is yours!

What fire feature would you most like to add to your patio?

Did you know?
Most areas of the United States currently observe daylight saving time, the exceptions being Arizona, Hawaii, and the overseas territories of Puerto Rico, American Samoa, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, and the United States Virgin Islands.

Wood-Fired Brick Ovens: For More Than Just Pizza

Wood-fired brick ovens are often referred to as wood-fired brick pizza ovens. While we all love a good pizza, your wood-fired brick oven can do so much more than just cook pizza.

Wood-fired brick ovens heat quickly and create high, intense heat that is the secret to the great wood-fired taste – perfect for veggies, meats and a variety of other dishes.


Everything from pizzas to seafood, vegetables and even dessert, Belgard partner Chicago Brick Oven offers this handy recipe guide; check it out and see all the possibilities for cooking in your wood-fired brick oven.

Belgard Wraps Up House Beautiful Kitchen of the Year

We loved being part of the House Beautiful fifth annual Kitchen of the Year last week in New York City’s Rockefeller Plaza. Belgard laid the groundwork with donations of pavers, wall products and fire features that added style and function to the outdoor cooking and living space.

Designed by one of the very best kitchen designers in the industry Mick De Giulio, the outdoor kitchen and living areas featured oversized Medina Slab that provides increased area coverage with fewer pieces, giving spaces grand appearances for a sleek, contemporary style with modern durability and design innovation. The Medina Slab is a new, limited availability product and we plan to expand production in 2013.

Weston Stone, which features a natural stone appearance, was used in the garden walls of the outdoor space. In the kitchen area were two custom-made Belgard Elements Bristol fire tables in Cotswold Mist with Brookstone Slate accents; the fire tables showed visitors how they can extend their outdoor living season with warmth and ambiance. The Belgard Elements custom-made kitchen cabinets and bar were made from Weston Stone in Cotswold Mist to complement the garden walls; the kitchen cabinetry and bar featured Urbana Stone banding in Brookstone Slate and a natural bluestone thermal-finish countertop.

Finally, the House Beautiful Kitchen of the Year outdoor kitchen included an Etna Grande brick oven from Chicago Brick Oven, with an insulating design that creates a heating envelope so the oven heats fast to high temperatures and remains cool on the outside for year-round enjoyment.

If you didn’t get a chance to visit this year’s Kitchen of the Year, check out the photos below:

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