National Grilling Month Giveaway

National Grilling Month Giveaway
Grilling is not just a way to cook. It’s a lifestyle. That’s why Belgard will be celebrating National Grilling Month throughout the month of July by giving away fabulous 3-piece Grill Master BBQ tool sets to several lucky winners.

CLICK HERE TO ENTER FOR YOUR CHANCE TO WIN

Recipes for Grilling Success

Over the years, we have featured multiple blogs on grilling tips. In honor of National Grilling Month, here are a few of our favorites:

Pizza Grilling Ideas BelgardIt’s Pizza Grilling Time!

Once you’ve tasted that smokey grilled pizza flavor, you’ll never want to cook pizza indoors again. Get helpful tips and recipe ideas for cooking pizzas on your grill.

>>Read our pizza blog

BBQ Ribs Grilling Ideas BelgardThe Secret to Perfect BBQ RIBS

Many people have a tough time grilling ribs correctly (tough being the operative word). Learn the secret to making tender, juicy, fall-off-the-bone BBQ ribs.

>>Read our ribs blog

Sliders Grilling Ideas BelgardYummy Summer Slider Bar

A slider bar is a fun way to feed large groups during summer gatherings. Get great ideas for ingredients and toppings that are sure to make your slider bar a hit!

>>Read our slider blog

Fun Facts about Grilling

  • Barbecuing ranked in the top three on homeowners’ summer to-do list, along with socializing and spending time outdoors. National Grilling Month in July might be the perfect reason to channel your inner grill master and fire up the barbecue with friends and family.
  • 48% of grill owners use their grills year-round.
  • 68% of grill owners use their grills 2-5 times a week during peak grilling months.
  • 71% of grillers use gas grills grills, while 41% prefer charcoal or wood. Some surveyed use both methods.
  • 10% of grill owners also have a full outdoor kitchen. L-shaped grilling stations give grill masters everything they need within arm’s reach, making cooking and clean-up a breeze.
  • 87% of Americans grill out on the 4th of July.

Sources: CNN.com; Allrecipies; Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association;  Super Market News; and Grilling with Rich.

Extending Your Patio Season Year Round

By guest blogger Katie Kuchta

Katie Kuchta

Katie Kuchta is a gardening guru, outdoor living expert, and self-proclaimed foodie. She can often be found cooking in the kitchen or on the hunt for the best tacos, follow her on Instagram @atxtacoqueen.

Homeowners who have recently hardscaped with a newly built patio space will want to use it year round. Adding hardscaping to your outdoor space can help to lengthen your enjoyment outdoors all year long. Depending on your location, being able to use your outdoor patio can vary depending on weather conditions and seasons in your area. However, there are many different ways that you can get full use of your beautiful new patio with these easy tips:

Use The Grill

Outdoor Patio Grill Pavers Hardscapes

Seasons in some regions allow homeowners to use their patio space well into the winter compared to other areas of the country. Areas like Kansas City, Tucson, Atlanta and parts of Texas have been reported to be ranked in the top metro areas for backyard grilling so take advantage of the extended warmer climate by choosing to grill dinner out on the patio. Making this a habit will not only help keep the house cooler by not using the oven, but will also encourage you to spend time out on the patio with family and friends.

Shield from the Elements

Outdoor Patio Paver Wind Shield

Using your patio means being outside but that doesn’t mean that you have to bear all of the elements that outdoor living can bring. Consider adding a pergola or sun shade above your patio to help lengthen the amount of time that you can comfortably use the area. Shielding yourself from the hot summer sun will help to keep you comfortable and enjoy your outdoor space. If you live in a particularly windy area, consider adding side curtains or awnings that can help to protect you from gusts of wind as well.

Add a Drink Station

Outdoor Brick Kitchen Cooler

For warm days out on the patio, consider adding a drink station that is stocked with your favorite staples such as bottled water, soda, or spirits. Many products are now available that include well-hidden coolers that will add beauty to your outdoor area without the eyesore of a cooler. Another great idea is to have a large amount of ice cold tea or lemonade in easy to use carafes. Making it easy for visitors to grab a drink will cut down on time going indoors and extend the use of your patio area.

Heat It Up

Outdoor Fireplace Brick Pavers

When in a colder area with cooler fall and winter temperatures, consider adding an outdoor heating element that will help to extend your time outdoors. Both small and large heaters can offer instant warmth to a cooler outdoor space. Incorporating a fire pit into your patio space is also a great way to add heat along with the ambience and welcoming scent of a crackling fire.

Consider the Brighton Fireplace Series from Belgard that features an impressive fireplace that is flanked by beautiful stone. Sources of heat are a great way to lengthen your time outdoors to enjoy the sights and sounds of the changing seasons.

Provide Extra Seating

Outdoor Patio Pavers Seating

You’ll want to share your new patio space with family and friends after finishing a patio project. Be sure to provide adequate seating for all of your guests by purchasing different pieces of outdoor furniture. Start with a main focal piece of furniture and then add in other easy types of seating like extra chairs or footstools that double as seats. Adding cut slabs of a fallen tree is another great way to add extra outdoor seating while also using natural elements.

Using a retaining wall as extra seating is also a great way to easily add room for everyone. Having easy to use pieces of extra seating in an outdoor space will encourage gatherings and more time spent outdoors.

There is absolutely no reason why beautiful patio spaces shouldn’t be used year round. Consider adding extra seating and heating elements to help encourage friends and neighbors to join you outdoors. Cover your patio space from the elements and provide an easy to use drink station to enjoy your outdoor space. Follow these tips to creating a patio area that will be well used all year long.

Paver Sealant: To Seal or Not to Seal

Sealant is an important maintenance tool to keep paver patios, walkways, driveways and pool decks looking as beautiful as they day they were installed.  However, “too much of a good thing” can come into play, and you should be wary of over-applying paver sealant by reapplying too often, which could create a haze. This week’s blog offers tips for knowing when it’s time to seal and how to best achieve the desired look.

Should all concrete pavers be sealed?

Yes. Concrete is porous and will absorb stains if not sealed. Sealants can also protect paver color from fading.

Do all sealant brands offer the same basic protection?

There are definitely some poor products on the market. Don’t trust the fact that you bought it at a big box store or that it’s a high-profile brand. Just because a brand is good at one product category (like paint) doesn’t mean they are the best in another. Belgard recommends Techniseal® sealants. Techniseal® is a pioneer in the industry has a robust R&D department, resulting in effective and durable products specifically created for paver installation and maintenance.

Is any one sealant finish more protective than another?

There are basically two types of paver sealants: film-forming (gloss or semi-gloss finish) and non-film-forming (matte finish). Film-forming sealants, Wet Look and Clear Look, offer the ultimate protection because they create a physical barrier on the paver surface. However non-film-forming sealants, Natural Look and Color Boost, still offer excellent protection and last a bit longer.

Techniseal Concrete Paver Sealer

How long should new pavers cure before they are sealed for the first time?

If using a non-film-forming paver sealant, wait one week before sealing. If using a film-forming sealant, wait 30 days to avoid trapping moisture under the protective barrier.

Is there a prep process before applying sealant?

Even new pavers should be cleaned with Techniseal® Paver Prep prior to sealing. Not only will it clean the pavers, but it will open the pores on the surface to allow better penetration of the sealant. Older pavers will also benefit, as Paver Prep will remove any efflorescence (or whitish salt buildup) that has accumulated. Any stains should be removed prior to applying Paver Prep, using the specific stain remover for the type of stain. For more information, read last week’s blog on paver stain removal.

How long should pavers dry after being cleaned and prepped?

The answer depends on your climate. In warm, sunny climates, the pavers will be dry and ready to seal in a few hours. In cooler climates or shady areas, it’s best to wait about 24 hours.

What are the ideal weather conditions for sealing?

Ideal conditions would be 75 degrees and sunny; however, anywhere between 50-90 degrees is generally fine. Take note that solvent-based sealants evaporate faster, so lower temperatures are better for application.

How often should sealant be reapplied?

The basic rule of thumb is every 3-5 years. For film-forming sealants, you will be able to notice when the physical barrier is showing signs of wear. For non-film-forming sealants, you will begin to see a significant color change of pavers during a rain when the sealant is wearing thin. Keep in mind that in cases of a really heavy rain, even well-sealed pavers may darken for a couple of days until the water fully evaporates, which is not an indication of sealant failure.

PAVER SEALANT APPLICATION TIPS:

  • Like with painting, it’s best to keep a wet edge on a continuous area. In other words, don’t let a section dry before you finish. Once you start working, keep working.
  • An application sprayer (available at any hardware store) makes it easier to work faster.
  • Apply paver sealant to saturation. Get the pavers good and wet to make sure all crevices are covered. Then use a dry roller to soak up the excess to avoid lines and drip marks.
  • Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Visit Techniseal’s website for more DIY paver sealant application tips. When in doubt, hire a professional. To find qualified contractors in your area, visit the Belgard contractor locator.

Not All Paver Stains Are Equal

When properly maintained, Belgard pavers are guaranteed to last the life of your home. However, even if your concrete pavers were sealed when they were originally installed, sealants will wear over time, leaving your pavers vulnerable to stains from spills, dirt, grease and other elements. Pavers that have never been sealed are particularly vulnerable. However, before sealing or resealing pavers, it’s important to remove existing stains, and even more important to note that not all stains are equal. Thankfully, the experts at Techniseal® developed a full line of paver cleaning products, each specifically formulated to combat a particular type of concrete stain. Their products can be found through various dealers, including Ace Hardware stores.

Techniseal Pre-Seal Paver CleanerPre-Seal Cleaner

If you’re simply dealing with ground-in dirt or efflorescence, this general cleaner will do the trick, as well as prep your pavers to be sealed. Efflorescence refers to the whitish salt deposits that can develop on paver surfaces and make pavers look dull and lifeless. Techniseal® Pre-Seal Cleaner will gently remove efflorescence, scuff marks and dirt, and brighten paver color.

 Techniseal Rust Remover for PaversRust Remover

If you’ve ever moved a planter and discovered a rusty ring beneath it, you’ll be happy to know that Techniseal® Rust Remover for Pavers effectively dissolves stains caused by dripping rusted water, rusted metal furniture or objects, steel streaks, and fertilizer granules. Since it contains no muratic acid, Rust Remover for Pavers won’t damage the paver material. To remove fertilizer stains from a large surface, however, it’s recommended to use Techniseal® Pre-Seal Cleaner.

 Techniseal Dirt & Grease Cleaner for PaversDirt & Grease Cleaner

When you’re looking to remove motor oil stains from your paver driveway or barbecue stains from your outdoor kitchen or patio, Techniseal® Dirt & Grease Cleaner for Pavers is the ideal choice. Recommended for sealed surfaces and fresh stains, it dissolves, dislodges and encapsulates grease, thoroughly cleaning without leaving any oily film after rinsing.

Techniseal Oil & Grease RemoverProfessional Grade Oil & Grease Remover

So, how about grease stains that have been there a while? Ideal for older, penetrated petroleum-based stains, Techniseal® Professional Grade Oil & Grease Remover is an industrial strength cleaner that lifts and absorbs embedded oil stains as it dries from a liquid to a powder. Formulated to work with pavers, concrete slabs, walls and natural stone, this product works without damaging or discoloring the material and requires no scrubbing or rinsing (yes, you read that correctly).

 Techniseal Organic Stain RemoverOrganic Stain Remover

For those of us who are a bit clumsy in the outdoor kitchen, have no fear, there’s a cleaner for that. Red wine, blood, non-greasy food stains…they’ve got you covered. Techniseal® Organic Stain Remover will also effectively remove stains from moss, mildew and dead leaves from either bare or sealed surfaces with minimum scrubbing.

 Techniseal Paint, Tar and Rubber Remover for PaversPaint, Tar And Rubber Remover

If the neighbor’s kid spits his gum out on your paver pool deck, there’s a cleaner for that, too. Techniseal® Paint, Tar and Rubber Remover for Pavers effectively dissolves paint, tar or bitumen, rubber, or chewing gum on pavers, concrete slabs and masonry.

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NEXT WEEK: To seal or not to seal, that is the question. Come back to the Outdoor Living by Belgard next week for tips on knowing when it’s time to reseal your pavers and how to get the best results.

Gift Ideas for the Outdoor Chef

With the number of outdoor kitchens continuing to rise, more and more people are cooking outdoors on a regular basis. Gone are the days when this pastime was limited to barbecued chicken or the occasional grilled steak. Self-proclaimed outdoor chefs are now cooking everything from pizza to pineapple in their outdoor living spaces. With this in mind, here are our favorite gift ideas for the outdoor cooking enthusiast in your life.

CERAMIC GRILLS & ACCESSORIES

Basically, anyone who has ever owned a Big Green Egg is now an official “EGGhead” for life. While these ceramic grills can be a bit of an investment, this blogger has never had anything cooked in a Big Green Egg that was not moist and delicious with the perfect amount of smokey flavor. Big Green Eggs also offer the flexibility to grill, roast, smoke or bake a variety of delicious recipes. To find a dealer near you, click here. Or, if you already have an EGGhead in your life, there are no shortages of EGGccesories to add to their EGGhead collection.

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BRICK OVENS

They’re not just for pizza anymore! From cedar-plank redfish to French onion soup, basically anything that can be cooked in a regular oven or on a grill can be cooked in a wood-fired brick oven. Chicago Brick Oven offers tons of interesting brick oven recipes on their website. Of course, if you’re into pizza, there’s no better way to cook it than with that wood-fired smokey flavor and crisp crust. A brick oven also looks amazing and makes a stunning addition to any outdoor kitchen. Whether you’re interested in a countertop version, a mobile unit, or a built-in oven, contact your local Belgard Authorized Contractor or Dealer for more information.

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PIZZA PEELS

No self-respecting outdoor chef would be caught without one of these vital accessories, especially when there’s grilled pizza at stake. Although you can try to balance a hot pizza on a couple of spatulas, odds are you’ll end up cleaning it up with the “barkuum” (a.k.a. the family dog). If your outdoor chef uses a deep brick oven, you may want to choose a peel with a longer handle, otherwise any of these choices from Bed, Bath & Beyond will do the trick for grills or smaller brick ovens.

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BBQ GRIDDLES

One of these grilltop accessories will instantly convert any grill into a griddle, allowing your outdoor chef to exponential increase their outdoor cooking repertoire to include breakfast items, fajitas, goat cheese crepes and more. For a plethora of cast iron and stainless steel griddle options in a variety of shapes and sizes to fit nearly every possible grill scenario, visit the BBQ Guys web store.

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STEAK WEIGHTS & GRILL PRESSES

Outdoor chefs are typically serious about their steaks. Although this cast-iron bad boy is too heavy to stuff in a stocking, it’s a fun inexpensive gift that will quickly become your outdoor chef’s favorite way to get those perfect grill marks. It can also be used to keep bacon from curling when cooked on a griddle. For a variety of steak weights, bacon presses and grill presses, check out the selection from Webstaurant.

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IS THAT REALLY A THING?

If you want a really unique outdoor chef accessory, you need to visit the Grilling Cookware section of the Sur La Table web store. From Himalayan salt blocks to specialty scallop pans to grill-safe Moroccan tagines, they have a wide selection of reasonably priced specialty cookware items that will bring a smile to the face of any outdoor chef. They also have a section for Tailgating Tools & Supplies for outdoor chefs who like to take their skills on the road.

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NEXT WEEK:  Get ready to snuggle up in your outdoor living room with these outdoor fireplace design tips.

Holiday Toddies

If you’re planning an outdoor gathering during the cooler months, it’s always a good idea to have some hot toddy recipes on hand. With the holiday season ahead, we’ve pulled together some special toddy recipes that will not only help keep your guests warm, but will add to the festive atmosphere.

SPIKED PEPPERMINT HOT CHOCOLATE

Photo: Christopher Testani, Prop styling: Kaitlyn Duross, Food Styling: Chris Lanier

Think of this as more of a dessert than a beverage, but with a little peppermint schnapps to add some holiday cheer. Coconut milk adds an extra splurge of indulgence that pairs nicely with the chocolate and mint.

Ingredients
  • 2 (13.5 oz.) cans light coconut milk
  • 2 cups 2% reduced-fat milk
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon instant espresso powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • dash of kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup peppermint schnapps
  • Optional garnish: peppermint sticks and miniature marshmallows
Preparation
  1. Whisk together the first 7 ingredients in a large saucepan. Heat over medium until very warm.
  2. Remove from heat; stir in schnapps.
  3. Garnish with peppermint sticks and marshmallows, if desired.

APPLE-CRANBERRY WASSAIL

Photo: Jennifer Causey, Styling: Missie Neville Crawford, Claire Spollen

For those who like to go a-wassailing, this festive holiday beverage calls for dark rum but works equally well with bourbon. Or, omit the alcohol altogether for a kid-friendly version that can be enjoyed by the whole family.

Ingredients
  • 2 quarts apple cider
  • 1 quart cranberry juice cocktail
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 18 whole allspice
  • 8 whole cloves
  • 4 (4-inch) cinnamon sticks
  • 1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
  • 3 (1-inch wide) strips orange rind
  • 3 (1-inch wide) strips lemon rind
  • 1 1/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons dark rum
PREPARATION
  1. Combine cider, cranberry juice and honey in a 6-quart electric slow cooker.
  2. Place allspice, cloves and cinnamon sticks on a double layer of cheesecloth. Gather edges of cheesecloth together, tie securely, and place in the slow cooker.
  3. Add vanilla bean and citrus rinds; cover and cook on LOW for 5 hours.
  4. Remove sachet, vanilla bean and citrus rinds from the slow cooker; discard. Pour in rum and reduce temperature to WARM. Cover and serve directly from the slow cooker.

LEMON-PEAR TODDY

Photo: Greg Dupree. Styling: Ginny Branch Stelling.

This hot toddy is on the lighter side and comes together in a flash, thanks to the microwave. A little fresh lemon juice adds a bright top note and balances the sweet pear flavor by adding a light tang.

Ingredients
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3/4 cup pear vodka
  • 1/4 cup brandy or cognac
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Optional garnish: thinly sliced pear
Preparation
  1. Combine water, sugar and salt in a small microwave-safe bowl; microwave on HIGH for 2 minutes or until boiling. Stir to dissolve sugar and water completely.
  2. Stir in vodka, brandy, juice and vanilla. Garnish glasses with pear slices, if desired. Serve warm.

SMUGGLER’S COFFEE

Photo: Fredrika Stjarne

Or, maybe it should be called Snuggler’s Coffee, since this double-rum beverage is perfect for snuggling by the fire pit. But the addition of cinnamon and orange zest also adds that holiday twist that makes it work equally well for holiday gatherings.

Ingredients (single serving)
  • 1/2 cup hot coffee, strong
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 once gold rum
  • 1 once dark rum
  • 1 small cinnamon stick
  • 1 long strip of orange zest
  • Optional garnish: finely grated orange zest, canned sweetened whipped cream, grated Mexican chocolate
preparation
  1. In a heatproof glass, stir the coffee and sugar until the sugar dissolves.
  2. Stir in both rums, and add the cinnamon stick and strip of orange zest.
  3. If desired, garnish with whipped cream, grated Mexican chocolate and grated orange zest.

Images courtesy of Time, Inc.