Grilled Chicken Tequila Burgers

grilled-chicken-tequila-burgers-sl-xThis “dad-approved” sandwich has a nice little kick. Picture a juicy chicken burger, nestled under tender bell peppers and onions, dressed with cool Cilantro-Lime Mayonnaise — it will become your new favorite summer dish. (Yield: 5 servings)

Heat up the grill, break out the tequila, and get ready for some mouth-tingling yumminess. Consider pairing it with a Mexican beer, margarita or a refreshing watermelon cocktail.

CILANTRO-LIME MAYO INGREDIENTS:

  • 3/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tsp chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 tsp chopped fresh chives
  • 1 tsp lime zest
  • 1 tsp fresh lime juice

Preparation:

Stir all ingredients together and refrigerate.

.

BURGER INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 lb ground chicken breast
  • 3 Tbs chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 chopped garlic cloves
  • 1 seeded and chopped jalapeño pepper
  • 1/2 cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
  • 2 Tbs tequila
  • 1 tsp lime zest
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp soy sauce
  • sliced bell peppers
  • sliced onions
  • your favorite buns

preparation

  1. Preheat grill to medium-high heat (350-400°)
  2. Pulse ground chicken, cilantro, garlic and jalapeño pepper in a food processor 3 or 4 times until combined
  3. Add panko, tequila, lime zest, salt, pepper and soy sauce; pulse until combined
  4. Shape into patties
  5. Grill, covered with grill lid 4 to 5 minutes on each side or until a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest portion registers 165°
  6. Remove from grill and keep warm
  7. Reduce grill temperature to medium heat (300-350°)
  8. Grill sliced bell peppers and onions 4 minutes on each side or unit tender
  9. Serve burgers, bell peppers and onions on buns with Cilantro-Lime Mayonnaise

rECIPE BY CARA LYONS, COURTESY SOUTHERN LIVING MAGAZINE AND TIME, INC. PHOTO: bECKY lUIGART-sTAYNER; styling: bUFFY hARGETT

Trends in Outdoor Tech

Folks today expect all of the same modern conveniences in their outdoor rooms they have come to rely upon inside of the home. It’s no surprise that a recent national survey of landscape architects revealed wireless connectivity and outdoor stereo systems in the “must have” list for outdoor living designs this year. And it’s also no surprise that outdoor-rated tech is beginning to flood the market. Here are some of our favorites:

speakersRockustics Speakers

With unidirectional speakers, omni-directional speakers, and subwoofers in a variety of styles that look like rocks, planters, and even stone or brick walls, these outdoor speakers can create the perfect sound while seamlessly blending in with your outdoor living design. By placing speakers and dimmer switches throughout your outdoor living area, you can create a balanced level of sound that won’t result in late night phone calls from the neighbors. And, your guests will be entertained just trying to figure out where the music is coming fun. Rockustic also has a couple of lines of traditional mounted speakers, but what fun is that?

waterproof-remoteCrestron Waterproof Remote

Compatible with a variety of home automation system gateways and IR-receivers, this rechargeable “remote on a rope” comes with a charging station and is even safe to use in the hot tub. With several weeks of wireless use per charge, you can control lighting, music, TV and more with ease…and without worrying about wet hands or the battery corrosion that can happen when you leave a remote outdoors.

projectoscreenVisual Apex Screen and LG Wireless Projector

Only 28 pounds, washable, mildew-resistant, flame-retardant, and easy to hang or setup on a stand, the 120″ Visual Apex ProjectoScreen HD is portable and can instantly convert your backyard into an outdoor movie theater. The LG MiniBeam PH550 720p projector holds a charge for up to 2.5 hours and wirelessly connects to Apple or Android devices. Throw some pizzas on the grill, and you’re ready for an unforgettable move night.

wifi-repeater2Ubiquiti Outdoor Wi-Fi Repeater

Unfortunately, kids these days can’t go 32 seconds without an internet connection. If you want to keep them from burning through your monthly data this summer, better get one of these bad boys. Able to withstand wind, rain and snow, simply plug the Ubiquiti UniFi Wireless-N Outdoor Access Point into an external outlet, connect it via your computer to your indoor wi-fi router, and extend your network up to 600 feet. Problem solved.

Grill Gadgets for the Aspiring Grill Master

Let’s face it, every dad is either a Grill Master or aspires to become one. Whenever two or more dads are gathered together, you can be assured that at some point, the conversation will take a turn towards the realm of the grill. There will be debates over rub recipes, gas versus charcoal, green eggs versus barrel smokers, and which type of wood creates the best flavor profile. But what is a Grill Master without his favorite grill gadget? Odds are he keeps one in his car, just in case there’s a grill emergency away from home. With Father’s Day around the corner, now is the time to equip the dads in your life with the tools he needs to work his way up the grill proficiency scale, until at last he can bask in the glory that can only be felt by a true master of the grill. With that in mind, here are some fun gadgets to consider.

Fire-Starter Tools

chimney-of-insanity2Anyone who cooks with charcoal knows that it takes a while until the coals are ready to start the cooking process. Once they’ve reached that “perfect” level of heat, however, the aspiring Grill Master will want to start defrosting everything in the freezer, even after everyone has been fed. After all, the coals are perfect, and it took so long to get to this point. Well, not anymore. With the BBQ Dragon fire-starter fan and the accompanying Chimney of Insanity, the coals will be ready in merely minutes, without lighter fluid.

Bluetooth Temperature Gauge

Now that the coals are perfect, it’s time to start grilling. A true Grill Master knows that entertaining the guests is just as important as manning the grill. In order to tend to both without neglected one over the other, a Bluetooth-enabled temperature gauge is a must! Simply pair the Brookstone Grill Alert gauge with his phone and insert the needle into the meat. If he steps away from the grill, he’ll receive an alert when the internal temperature hits the right level. He’ll never serve hockey puck steaks again.

3-in-1 Tongs

Presenting the Quirky Grill Wrangler. Yes, that’s actually the official name of the product. Is it a pair of tongs, a spatula or a fork? The answer: yes. This 3-in-1 tool can grip chicken wings, flip a burger and spear a hot dog. It’s made of sturdy stainless steel with an easy-grip plastic handle. Hold it closed to use as a spatula, open as tongs, or use the sliding release button to slide out the fork attachment. Voila!

Grill Light

grill-lightIt’s a little tough to get that perfect sear if you can’t see what you’re doing. This nifty battery-operated LED Handle-Mount Grill Light has a pivoting head and an adjustable clamp that allows it to fit onto just about any grill lid. So, you now have a reason to get him to toss that ridiculous head lamp he insists on wearing every time he grills at night. If he’s not ready to toss it, that piece of equipment can go back in the closet with the rest of the camping gear that never gets used.

Robotic Grill Cleaner

grillbot2One of the worst parts about grilling is cleaning the nasty gunk off of the grates afterwards. Some aspiring Grill Masters will try to tell you that the build-up adds flavor, which probably just means he lacked the desire or the elbow grease to clean it correctly. Well, fear no more, there’s a robot for that. The Grillbot is basically the barbecue pit version of a Roomba. Simply place it on a dirty grill, turn it on, and three electric motors will propel it and its mighty brushes around the grill. A chip inside controls movement and speed, and an alarm will sound when the job is done.

DIY Project:
How to Build a Block Column

TOOL LIST:

  • Hand tamper
  • Level
  • Rubber mallet
  • Tape measure
  • Caulk gun
  • Spade shovel
  • Stiff metal rake (for leveling gravel)
  • Yard stick or 2×4 board (for screeding sand)

MATERIALS LIST:

  • Wall blocks (quantity depends on height, will need 4 rectangular blocks per layer)
  • 20″ wall cap (if desired) or 6 additional wall blocks for cap
  • Crushed gravel
  • Bedding sand
  • Masonry adhesive

STEP 1: Prepare Base

  • Remove 6 inches of top soil (approximately 2’x2′ section)
  • Fill with 5 inches gravel, level with a rake and compact with a hand tamper
  • Top with 1 inch of sand, screed to level

STEP 2: Column Construction

  • Lay base blocks
  • Apply a layer of adhesive
  • Lay next layer of blocks and adjust placement with a rubber mallet, as needed
  • Apply a layer of adhesive
  • NOTE: Use a staggered pattern to increase column strength (see video)

STEP 3: Add Layers

  • Repeat STEP 2 until you reach desired height (maximum height 42 inches)
  • Add final layer of adhesive to the top of the stack

STEP 4: Column Cap

  • Option1: Position 6 blocks horizontally as a cap
  • Option 2: Top with a single 20″ square wall cap

Spring Paver Maintenance Tips

Mother Nature can be cruel. If you have chosen Belgard for your hardscape projects, you’ve already taken measures to increase resistance against weathering and corrosion. Still, seasonal hardscape maintenance is encouraged to preserve the beauty and integrity of your installation. Here are a few Spring paver care tips.

General maintenance

  • Clean your pavers each Spring with a coarse-bristle “stable” broom and a routine maintenance paver cleaner to keep them looking like new.
  • Some weeds, if left unaddressed, can shift pavers apart over time. Be sure to periodically apply a granular weed preventative between joints as a part of your paver maintenance routine.
  • Be careful when cleaning your Belgard pavers with power washers as they can remove the paver finish and expose the aggregate on the paver’s surface.

Cleaning

  • Before applying any paver cleaning solution to your hardscape, test a small inconspicuous area first to be sure you get the desired results.
  • Be sure to read and follow the directions printed on container labels for cleaning solution use, application, precautions and first aid. Always rinse the solution off thoroughly after use.
  • For tough stains, use a specialized cleaner to treat the specific stain. Techniseal offers specialty cleaners for organic stains (moss, mildew, dead leaves, blood, wine); greasy stains (motor oil, barbecue, oily foods); rust (caused by steel, rusty objects or fertilizer); and paint, tar or rubber (including gum). Each of these products are specifically formulated to clean pavers and masonry and should not affect the color or tone of your hardscapes. However, it is always a good idea to test a small area area first.

Protecting

  • The joints between paving stones are the most vulnerable areas of any installation. Keep these joints topped off with jointing sand to prevent the sand-bedding layer below from deteriorating, causing the pavers to shift.
  • Every three years, apply a sealer to keep your pavers looking their best. Depending upon your preference, sealer options can offer a natural matte finish, a color-boosted matte finish, a clear semi-gloss look, or a wet-look gloss finish. Sealers should not be applied more than once in three years. Too many applications will create a film on the surface which may discolor in sunlight. You can easily test whether your pavers are ready to resealed by dripping some water on your pavers. If the water initially beads, your pavers are still protected. If the water immediately soaks in, it’s probably time.
  • For older pavers that have suffered from weathering and neglect, bring back the original shade of pavers or give them new color with NuLook Tinted Sealant, which is a semi-transparent semi-gloss sealer designed to rejuvenate faded pavers. NuLook comes in four different shades to bring new life to pavers or create interesting designs. Watch the amazing transformation in the video below.

Tips for Choosing a Hardscape Contractor

In many areas of the country, spring has already sprung. Even those still battling icy conditions can tell that it’s just around the corner. Time to get your outdoor living spaces ready for company! If you’re considering an outdoor living makeover, there are a number of factors to consider in choosing the right contractor. Get some tips on making the right choice for your project.

WHAT’S THE ADVANTAGE TO CHOOSING A BELGARD AUTHORIZED CONTRACTOR?

We take the Belgard name very seriously and hold contractors to rigorous standards. When you choose a Belgard Authorized Contractor, you can trust that the contractor is an experienced professional who is certified in hardscape installation techniques and is properly licensed and insured. By visiting our locator web page at www.Belgard.com/locator, you can find Belgard Authorized Contractors and Dealers near your zip code location and can even narrow your search by distance or by types of services offered. If your contractor is not Belgard Authorized, be sure to ask which certifications your contractor carries and whether he or she is a member of their local landscape association. This will at least be a good sign that they are committed to education and are up on the latest trends.

SHOULD I ASK TO SEE REFERENCES OR EXAMPLES OF PAST PROJECTS?

Absolutely! Ask to see photos of past projects both for design ideas and to get a sense of the contractor’s level of creativity and expertise. Even better, you may want to get an address or two and check out the workmanship up close. You will, of course, need the property owner’s permission first. But don’t be afraid to call the contractor’s references and ask tough questions about work ethic and accountability. At the very least, be sure to check out the contractor’s website for testimonials and project photos. In this day and age, there is no excuse to not have a good website that represents your business.  If the website is dated, that’s a good indication that the contractor is not overly focused on the details of running a great business.

design-studio WHAT SHOULD I KNOW ABOUT THE DESIGN PROCESS?

The more complex the project, the more important the design process. While it might not be necessary to see a design rendering on a simple patio, an outdoor kitchen or multi-level terrace is a different story. A design sketch or rendering will ensure that you and your contractor are both on the same page, reducing the chance of miscommunication. Belgard Authorized Contractors have access to 3-D renderings with fly-through animation through the Belgard Design Studio, which will give you a realistic vision of your future space, including furniture placement and how hardscaped areas will look with your existing home, exterior structures and landscaping. Be sure to ask if your contractor charges a fee for design and consultation. Depending on the size of the job, some contractors do charge a fee; however, this should be perceived as a good sign and indicates they have the experience and reputation to justify this expense. These fees are almost always deducted from the final cost of the job, but be sure and clarify that upfront.

 WHAT ELSE SHOULD I ASK A POTENTIAL CONTRACTOR?

  • Will their team manage aspects like landscaping, plumbing, irrigation and lighting – or will you be expected to handle this separately?
  • What’s the estimated start date and turn-around time?
  • What are the payment terms and options? Belgard Authorized Contractors also have access to the Belgard Preferred Payment same-as-cash financing program, which could help you build sooner or expand the scope of your project without overtaxing your financial resources.