Heartwarming Fireside Memories and Mouthwatering S’mores Recipes

Fire Pit S'mores Recipes

Last month, we reached out to our readers for submissions of their favorite fireside memories and s’mores recipes during our annual National S’mores Day Fire Pit Giveaway. We were thrilled to receive over 5,800 submissions! As part of our celebration, a random name was chosen to receive a Belgard fire pit for making treasured fireside memories and yummy s’mores in their own backyard. Congratulations to this year’s winner:

TAMRA C. – Fresno, CA

We enjoyed reading through the wonderful stories and recipes that were submitted. Here are a few of our favorites for you to enjoy.

Everything’s Better Around the Fire

Recently we were flooded from our home and were homeless. We went up to my parent’s place back in the country and to cheer my kids up, my grandmother had sent s’mores makings to my mom’s house. We all sat around a fire and had s’mores and had a great time helping to forget the bad things happening to us that night. — B. Bluey / Latrobe, PA

Whenever daddy was deployed and the kids were so sad, I broke out the s’mores stuff. It was amazing. They perked up, and we were able to laugh and talk, and for a moment, even if it was only for that moment, the kids were happy. — K. Backowski / Olathe, KS

Under the towering pines of Colorado, we sat outside around the fire pit…my children’s faces lit up with joy, and starlight…downing s’mores. They each called out how they wanted their own marshmallows …either gooey or crunchy-crusted. We sang and told stories while the fire died down. Chocolate still on their cheeks, they nodded off, grinning, and had to be carried in to bed. — D. Patton / Dallas, TX

First time I ever had a s’more, I didn’t realize it was ok to blacken the marshmallow, so I kept throwing them away. Next thing I knew I used up the entire bag trying to make the perfect s’more. We had to run to the nearest store to buy more marshmallows so everyone else could have a s’more. — O. Chansombat / Oklahoma City, OK

Roasting marshmallows for my s’more at age 11, it caught fire. I shook it instead of blowing it to put it out. It flung off the stick across the fire and landed all melty on my aunt’s lip. Good times. — T. Locke / Jasper, AL

I remember as a teen, my sisters and I would write our wishes on slips of paper. We would toss them into the fire thinking as they burned, our wishes went to our guardian angels. — M. Scott / Joplin, MO

Some of my favorite fireside memories are of fixing lemonade and watching the grandchildren play and run with water guns and bubbles. Just listening to their screams of excitement as they played. We laughed because they did! — J. Burney / Kennesaw, GA

The first time I ever had s’mores was at Girl Scout Camp with my lifelong best friend, Lisa. A few months later, my family and I moved 2,000 miles away. Every summer for the next 4 years I came back and we had s’mores at the lake. We grew up, got married, had kids, lost touch. 20 years later, I made a visit back “home” with my family and showed up at Lisa’s door with a bag of marshmallows, a box of graham crackers and some chocolate bars. It was like we’d never been away from each other. — Anon / Denton, TX

New Versions of Everyone’s Favorite Fireside Treat

We got lots of submission that suggested switching out the standard milk chocolate bar for a favorite candy bar. Some yummy suggestions included using an Almond Joy, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup or Ghirardelli Squares. Those ideas all sound pretty darn awesome! Here are some other intriguing recipes submitted by our readers:

Graham crackers, pumpkin flavored marshmallows, Hersey bars and a smear of peanut butter. — R. Walker Conrad / Kingbury, TX

Drizzle caramel sauce over toasted marshmallows before putting chocolate on and sandwich between peanut butter cookies. — Anon / Reno, NV

Adult S’mores: Strain the juice out of a jar of cherries and soak the cherries in rum overnight. Push the cherry into the center of the melty marshmallow before assembling the s’more. — Anon / Eeau Claire, WI

Graham crackers, Nutella, chocolate squares, sliced fruit. Always went to campgrounds every weekend with my whole family. My grandparents always made them like this. We still all get together and have camping nights with s’mores. — C. Black / Marion, OH

Mexican S’mores: Tortilla, chocolate, and marshmallow — deep fried and covered in cinnamon and sugar. — Anon / Gomez, CA

I live for sliced strawberries in between my s’mores. I also recently fell in love with chocolate and toasted marshmallow in between an open Oreo cookie. The more burnt, the better! — A. Church / Rockledge, FL

Key Lime Pie S’mores: Honey graham crackers, key lime marshmallows and white chocolate. We topped them with a little bit of lime zest and voila! The perfect tropical s’more. — R. Dutton / Ashville, NC

Vanilla wafers and starbursts. Soften the starbursts over a fire, then place on top of a vanilla wafer. — M. Fullmer / Logan, UT

Hosting the Ultimate Backyard Tailgate Party

For many people across the nation, the season of Fall is synonymous with football season. And although we don’t always agree on which team to cheer for, we can typically agree that gathering with friends and family is one of the best aspects of the football-watching experience. Whether your next backyard tailgating party is in preparation for a family high school game, or whether it’s a viewing party for your local college or pro team, take your tailgating game to the next level with these backyard tailgating tips.

Setting the Scene

To efficiently host gatherings throughout football season, some upfront planning and organization will go a long way. Set aside a “party box” where you can keep all of your tailgating supplies in one place. That way, you’re not recreating the wheel each week. And since you’ll be getting a lot of use out of everything, splurge on higher quality decorations and color-coordinated serving bowls, trays and utensils. You’ll end up saving money in the long run versus buying throw-away items for each event. Also, go ahead and string festive lighting around the yard that will work just as well for holiday gatherings as it will for tailgating, and you’ll be ahead of the game come December.

Feeding the Masses

Tailgate parties have a tendency to grow…after all, the more the merrier. The best meal plan is one that incorporates a lot of small bites that go a long way. Light the pit, and prepare to keep it going. Brats, of course, are always a good choice. You can also grill a variety of sausages and serve them sliced on a platter with an assortment of dipping sauces. Gilled pizza and sliders are also typical tailgating hits. Consider setting up a  make-your-own slider bar, which can add to the festive atmosphere. To feed large groups, racks of BBQ ribs or smoked brisket work really well and can be partially cooked ahead of time to shorten game-day grill time. (Design tip: 5 Fiery Ideas for Building Your Outdoor Cooking Station.)

Game-Day Drinks

Let’s face it, beer is the standard beverage of choice in most tailgating scenarios but to take your tailgating up a notch, have a little fun with your selections. For example, have everyone bring their favorite six-pack of micro-brewed beer and setup a tasting table. And since game day is all about competition, get a contest going that allows everyone to vote on their favorite. For the non-beer drinkers, Southern Living offers some fun game-day cocktail recipes in quantities that will keep your guests sipping through all four quarters.

Pre-Game Activities

The best tailgate parties include lots of entertaining backyard activities like cornhole and washer pitching games, giant jenga, or a good old-fashioned game of horseshoes. If you have an outdoor fireplace or a fire pit, set up a s’mores bar where everyone can roast marshmallows and make fun and interesting s’mores with ingredients like cookies, ginger snaps, Nutella, peanut butter cups and, of course, graham crackers and chocolate.

Seating Arrangements

 It’s always a great idea to have multiple conversation zones for the pre-game time period. For larger parties, when it comes time for viewing, you may want to consider investing in an outdoor projection screen. Or, you can setup up multiple viewing areas with the help of multiple TVs and a cable splitter or portable streaming device like a Roku stick.  One way to create more viewing space around a single TV or screen is to arrange stadium-style seating by placing chairs in rows according to chair height, with bar stools in the rear row. An additional row can be created in the front by placing pillows on the ground for the kids.

Gourmet S’mores Recipes

Belgard will be giving away an Ashland Fire Pit Kit as part of our annual upcoming National S’mores Day celebration, which begins on August 10. Last year’s fire pit winner, Elaine Pitenis, just so happens to be a chef! So, we asked her to help us prepare for this year’s celebration with some new gourmet s’mores recipes. She was excited to oblige us and gave us some super yummy new gourmet s’mores recipes with varying levels of difficulty. Try them yourself!

Phyllo S’mores

Phyllo Dough S'mores Recipes Gourmet
Photo/styling: Cameron Gonzales

Thanks to her Greek heritage, Chef Elaine specializes in Greek cuisine. As a result, her family often makes s’mores with phyllo dough using the following recipe:

  • Take 10 sheets of phyllo and layer with melted butter.
  • Cut into 3” squares and bake at 350º F for 7-10 min.
  • When cool, place 4 squares of Hershey’s chocolate and one roasted marshmallow on top of a square of baked phyllo, and top with another layer of baked phyllo.
  • Allow the chocolate to melt, and eat!
  • To make indoors, simply use un-toasted marshmallows and place back in the oven until melty.

Chocolate Chip Cookie S’mores

Chocolate Chip Cookie S'mores Recipes
Photo/styling: Cameron Gonzales

Who doesn’t love a good chocolate chip cookie? Plus, this recipe is easy enough for kids to make by themselves (with adult supervision, of course…especially near the fire). For this recipe, you’ll need Pepperidge Farm® Farmhouse™ Thin & Crispy Milk Chocolate Chip Cookies or large homemade chocolate chip cookies.

  • Cover one of the cookies with Hershey’s chocolate pieces to fit your cookie.
  • Carefully toast marshmallows in fire pit
  • Take one toasted marshmallow that is still on the skewer and place on top of the Hershey’s chocolate.
  • Take another cookie and cover the hot marshmallow by pressing down firmly enough to pull out the skewer.
  • Allow the heat from the hot marshmallow to melt the chocolate. 
  • Wait until s’mores cools before eating. 

Baklava Truffle S’mores

Baklava Truffle S'mores Recipes

This gourmet s’mores recipe is the most difficult, but also the most delicious. Baklava is a rich Greek dessert of layered phyllo dough filled with chopped nuts and held together with syrup on honey. You can make it from scratch or purchase pre-made baklava in many local grocery stores and bakeries. To make the Baklava Truffles, you will need the following ingredients:

  • 8 ounces of semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate (high quality or Ghirardelli 62% cacao)
  • 1/2 cup of heavy whipping cream
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract (optional)
  • Cocoa powder
  • 8 servings of Baklava, crumbled

TRUFFLE PREPARATION: (Yield: 30 Baklava truffles)

  • In a small, heavy saucepan bring the heavy whipping cream to a simmer (stir and scrape down the sides with a spatula every few minutes).
  • Place the chocolate pieces in a separate bowl. Pour the scalding cream carefully over the chocolate, add the vanilla and allow to stand for about 10 minutes, then stir until smooth. (This chocolate base is called ganache.)
  • Allow to cool, then place in the refrigerator for two hours. Remove and use a teaspoon to roll out balls of the ganache. Roll in your hands quickly (as it will melt from the heat of your hands) and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Place in the refrigerator overnight.
  • Roll balls in cocoa powder first, then roll in broken baklava and serve in small baking papers, or place in the refrigerator until needed. Baklava Truffles can be frozen in a sealed container for up to 3 months.

NOW, FOR THE S’MORES: To use a truffle to make a Baklava Truffle S’more, roast a marshmallow on a long skewer. Take one truffle and one roasted marshmallow (still on the skewer) and place between two graham crackers. Remove the hot marshmallow by pressing down firmly enough to pull out the skewer, which will also press the truffle to get it warm and melty.

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Gourmet Greek Grilling Ideas to Inspire Your Inner Outdoor Chef

Happy National Grilling Month! Last August, we sponsored a contest to win a Belgard fire pit. Selected completely by random, we were pleasantly surprised to learn that the winner (Elaine Pitenis) is a working chef specializing in Greek Cuisine! To help us celebrate our National Grilling Month Giveaway, we asked Chef Elaine to share some of her favorite grill recipes. Celebrate with us by enjoying these recipes and enter for your chance to win our Grilling Month prize package of a Belgard Weston Grill Island Kit, Omaha Steaks® for a year, plus grilling accessories!

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GRILLED OCTOPUS

The most popular appetizer in Greece during the summer is grilled octopus. Octopus can be purchased fresh or frozen and is tenderized before grilling with olive oil, lemon juice and Greek seasonings, then grilled to perfection in under 10 minutes. In Greece, it’s usually served with a cool glass of ouzo on ice.

GRILLED OCTOPUS RECIPE IDEAS
(Food photography credit: Nikki Ross)

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 large octopus (about 3 pounds)
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon Greek oregeno
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced

 DIRECTIONS

  1. Wash and clean the exterior of the octopus by peeling any outer skin.
  2. Place the octopus in a large pot and cover, simmering over low heat with no liquid in the pot, for about an hour, until the octopus is tender and bright pink. The octopus will exude its own juices while cooking. 
  3. Remove octopus from the pot and drain. Allow to cool.
  4. Cut the octopus into smaller pieces by its tentacles. Combine marinade ingredients and allow the octopus to marinate 4-5 hours, or overnight.
  5. Grill octopus over medium heat, brushing it occasionally with the marinade, until it is slightly charred and crisp, approximately 3-4 minutes on each side.  
  6. Serve immediately.

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PAITHAKIA (Grilled Lamb Chops)

One of the favorite dishes in Greece is lamb, and Grilled Lamb Chops are simply the best and quickest way to enjoy lamb. The most tender lamb chops come from baby lamb. These juicy, tender and delicate lamb chops are prepared with plenty of olive oil and Greek seasonings to bring out all the glorious flavors.

PAITHAKIA (Grilled Lamb Chops) Recipe Ideas
(Food photography credit: Nikki Ross)

INGREDIENTS

  • 5 lamb chops
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons Greek oregano
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

 DIRECTIONS

  1. Brush lamb chops with olive oil and season lightly with oregano, salt and pepper.
  2. Grill on medium-hot grill for 3 minutes on each side.
  3. Mix olive oil, lemon juice, oregano, salt, pepper in bowl and pour over grilled lamb chops, and serve.

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CHICKEN SOUVLAKI

A summer treat in every Greek home is Chicken Souvlaki. Delicately prepared with free range chicken, the breast meat is cubed, skewered, and then marinaded for several hours to intensify the flavor.

CHICKEN SOUVLAKI Recipe Ideas
(Food photography credit: Nikki Ross)

INGREDIENTS / MATERIALS

  • 3-4 pounds boneless, skinless, free-range chicken breast, cubed
  • 12 wooden skewers
  • large plastic container

MARINADE

  • 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 3/4 cup lemon juice
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 teaspoon Greek oregano

 DIRECTIONS

  1. Skewer cubed chicken. Place in a plastic food container and add marinade.  Cover container and refrigerate at least 4 hours.
  2. On medium heat, grill for 10 minutes on each side until meat has a nice char and all pink is gone.
  3. Serve with rice pilaf or on warm pita bread with a dollop of tzatziki sauce.

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MELITZANOSALATA (Greek Eggplant Dip)

There is no more delicious appetizer for entertaining guests than Greek-style Eggplant Dip. Grilling the eggplant is easy and gives it a delicate and smoky flavor. Eggplant is a low-fat food that’s high in potassium, and when combined with olive oil and garlic, it’s a heart-healthy way to boost your nutrition.

MELITZANOSALATA (Greek Eggplant Dip) Recipe Ideas
(Food photography credit: Nikki Ross)

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 large eggplant
  • 1 red onion
  • 1/2 cupc olive oil
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Garnish: kalamata olive and lemon slices

 DIRECTIONS

  1. Grill whole eggplant on medium heat for 30-45 minutes, depending in the size of the eggplant. Turn eggplant on the grill every 10 minutes using long tongs. Grill until the eggplant is slightly charred and has collapsed. Allow to cool before peeling the skin.
  2. In a food processor, combine the eggplant flesh with the chopped onion, garlic, and lemon juice, pulsing while adding the olive oil gradually. For a more textured consistency, use a fork instead of food processor to combine all the ingredients.
  3. Chill in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour, allowing the all the flavors to mingle.
  4. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve with pita bread.

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Elaine Pitenis Greek Chef

About Elaine Pitenis and My Big, Fat, Greek Cooking Class!

Elaine Pitenis grew up in Cambridge, Massachusetts and did her graduate work in Microbiology at Harvard University. She worked in the fields of Microbiology and Cancer Research before marrying and having four beautiful children. The family moved to Greece and lived in Athens for a short time before relocating to Daytona Beach, FL in 1999 and opening her Greek Cooking School. While in Greece, Elaine learned cooking techniques from several acclaimed Greek chefs from Corinth, Kastoria, and the islands of Samos and Salamina. Elaine began teaching Greek Cooking in 2004 at The Casements in Ormond Beach, FL and has used the acquired techniques from Greece in addition to her prior knowledge of the culinary arts through her mother Connie Spinos, who was an exceptional Home Economics teacher before she retired. My Big, Fat, Greek Cooking Classes elicit a fusion of both “old world” traditional cooking techniques blended with her own flavorful and innovative methods to offer her students a unique, hands-on cooking class that creates delicious, heart-healthy Grecian delicacies.                         

How to Grill the Perfect Steak

Grilling season is here. It’s time for backyard barbecues, summer picnics, delicious food, sunshine and summer vibes. Become the grill master at the next party with Omaha Steaks’ secrets to grilling the perfect steak in your outdoor kitchen.

How to Grill the Perfect Steak

SELECTING YOUR IDEAL STEAK CUT

Every steak cut has a unique flavor profile and tenderness. The key to perfect grilling is starting with a great steak! Select an aged steak for increased tenderness and intense flavors -– all Omaha Steaks steak cuts are aged at least 21 days. Here’s a guide to finding your perfect steak cut:

  • Filet Mignon – The most tender steak with a mild, elegant flavor. The filet mignon is an ideal companion for rich toppings, wine-based sauces, blue cheese butters and mushroom sauteés.
  • Ribeye – The most marbled steak cut with a rich butter and bold flavor. This versatile steak cut features a tender texture and intense flavor. Top a ribeye with this smoky bacon butter for a truly decadent steak experience.
  • New York Strip – A well-marbled steak with a firmer texture. Bone-in or boneless, the New York strip delivers an unmistakably bold beef flavor.
  • Top Sirloin – This naturally lean cut of steak is bursting with bold, full-bodied beef flavor and a firm texture.
  • T-Bone – This iconic steak is actually two steaks in one — a filet mignon and a New York strip — giving it two distinct flavor profiles. This large steak is perfect for sharing (or not, we won’t tell.)
Grilling the Perfect Steak Tips

STEAK SEASONING TIPS

Thaw your steak completely and season both sides liberally with sea salt and cracked pepper or a coarse steak rub. Our chefs recommend seasoning your steak about 30 minutes before cooking to allow the salt to work its way into the beef and create more flavor. You can also rub a little bit of olive oil on your steaks before seasoning to help seasonings stick. 

GRILL PREP TIPS

Whether you use a charcoal or gas grill, it’s the heat that matters. Before grilling, clean your grates and preheat your gas grill to high or start your charcoal 10-15 minutes before you grill. You want your grill to be hot before adding your steak. We recommend brushing your clean grill grates with oil before adding any food.

STEAK COOKING TEMPERATURES

Once the grill is hot and oiled, carefully place your steaks directly over the heat source. Now… let the heat do the work. Flip your steak only once, and don’t poke, press or prod it. We use the 60/40 rule when steak cooking: flip the steak once, at about 60% of the total cooking time for an even cook. Use the chart below or the Omaha Steaks app cooking timer for juicy grilled steaks every time.

Steak Thickness Temperature Chart for Grilling the Perfect Steak

The “doneness” of a steak is best determined by the internal temperature of the beef. Every person has a preference, but if you ask our experts … medium rare is best. Use a high-quality meat thermometer to measure the temperature of your steak for your perfect doneness.

Rare 120-130F
Medium-Rare 130-140F
Medium 140-150F
Medium-Well 150-160F
Well-Done 160F+

RESTING YOUR STEAKS

Grilling a great steak is easy when you select a great steak, follow our grilling steps and use the cooking chart. But, the real secret to a juicy steak is to let your steak rest!

Rest your cooked steak at least 5 minutes after removing from the grill to allow the steak juices to redistribute. A foil tent can help regulate temperature during the resting period.

We’ve shared our steak cooking secrets. Now, grab a drink, head outdoors and enjoy the best steak you’ve ever made!

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Guest post and images by Omaha Steaks , America’s Original Butcher, delivering the best steaks in the world.

Recipes and Tips from Omaha Steaks®

Ah, summertime. Family time. Pool time. And best of all…steak time. Before you light the grill in your outdoor kitchen this evening, take a look at these tips and recipes from the steak experts at Omaha Steaks®.

GRILLED FILET MIGNON WITH ROASTED LEEKS AND FENNEL

Impeccable steak flavor collides with the sweet, nutritious taste of roasted leeks and fennel in this wholesome savory recipe. With only 15 minutes of prep time, you can spend less time cooking and more time enjoying.

GET THE RECIPE

RIBEYE CAP ROAST + SMOKY BACON, CHIVE AND SHALLOT BUTTER

RIBEYE CAP ROAST + SMOKY BACON, CHIVE AND SHALLOT BUTTER RECIPE

The Private Reserve® ribeye cap roast, an Omaha Steaks exclusive, is carved from the most prized part of the ribeye and makes the perfect centerpiece for family gatherings. Get tips for cooking this amazing cut of meat via slow roast, quick roast, gas grill and charcoal grill.

READ THE BLOG

CARNITAS-STYLE GRILLED BEEF TACOS

CARNITAS-STYLE GRILLED BEEF TACOS RECIPE

Healthy, hearty tacos are always a hit at any gathering. Omaha Steaks Flat Iron Steaks, marinated in sauce bursting with zesty flavor, are topped with fresh cilantro and lime wedges for to-die-for freshness. Tomatillo and avocado salsa combine to make the perfect garnish for this crowd-pleasing dish.

GET THE RECIPE


COMING SOON: July is National Grilling Month, and Belgard and Omaha Steaks will be joining forces to give away a fabulous grill master prize package that will include a Weston Stone® Grill Island Kit and Omaha Steaks for a year! Stay tuned for our contest kickoff.

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Recipes and photos courtesy of Omaha Steaks.

Win a Weston Grill Island Kit