By Guest Blogger Jenny Stauffer

It’s that time of year again!  Time to heat up our grills, enjoy the outdoors, and let our kids chase lightning bugs and stay up to enjoy the warm weather!    These recipes are perfect for nights like these and are ideal for either entertaining a crowd or for feeding a family.   I tried to find alternatives to the regular hamburger and hot dogs, and these recipes are fun for both the adults and kids aIike.  I have tasted and tested each of these recipes and my whole family gave them a thumb’s up!  Happy summer!

Marinated Steak Kabobs

This marinade was so delicious!  I usually don’t eat steak, but this recipe enticed me to try these kabobs.  We loved them!  If I were having company, I would skewer a few of these and a few chicken or shrimp kabobs and let people pick and choose!

Makes 4 generous kabobs but can be easily doubled


2 pounds of lean beef, such as tri-tip, London Broil, top sirloin, or top loin.  (I went to the market, bought a nice sirloin steak, and had the butcher chop it for me!!)

2T beef stock or red wine
2 T balsamic vinegar
1 T Worcestershire sauce
¼ cup olive oil
½ tsp onion powder
½ tsp garlic powder
1 tsp steak seasoning
½ tsp dried thyme
½ tsp dried oregano
Black pepper to taste
2 bay leaves


Trim the beef of all visible fat (or let your butcher help you!) and cut into 2” cubes.
Stir together the marinade ingredients in a ziplock bag and add the steak cubes.
Marinate at least 4-6 hours in the refrigerator (or up to all night long)
When ready to cook, preheat grill to med-high.  Put meat tightly on skewers and let come to room temperature while the grill heats.
Grill to desired doneness.  Allow approximately 8-10 minutes for rare, and 12-15 for medium.
Let kabobs rest for 5 minutes before serving.

BBQ Chicken Drumsticks

Source:  Katie Brown’s Outdoor Entertaining

While I was at my local TJ Maxx, I found this lovely gem of a cookbook!  It is full of easy, delicious recipes that we have enjoyed testing out.  We recently made these drumsticks.  Again, like steak, I don‘t usually eat dark meat, but how fun it is to eat a drumstick!  It reminded me of being a kid again!  My husband ate these like chicken wings and loved them.  They were fabulous!  If we had friends over, I think this would be a great alternative to hamburgers or grilled chicken.

At our local grocery, drumsticks come in huge value packs, so choose that for company.  Otherwise, there is an organic line of chicken that contains about 6-8 drumsticks per package, which was perfect for our family of four.  Just decrease the marinade by half!

serves 10-12, Halve this for a family of 4


2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup minced onion
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 bottle barbeque sauce (I used Sweet Baby Ray’s Original)
2 teaspoons yellow mustard
1 tablespoon molasses (I used pancake syrup-ha !!!)
1/4 cup bourbon (I did include, since it is cooked off)
24 chicken drumsticks
Salt & pepper


1. In a saucepan, heat the olive oil over high heat. Add the onion and garlic and sauté until cooked through, about 4-5 minutes.
2. Add the barbeque sauce, mustard, molasses and bourbon to the onion mixture. Bring to a simmer and let simmer until sauce thickens, about 10 – 15 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
3. Season the chicken drumsticks liberally with salt and pepper. Set aside.
4. Prepare grill for medium heat. Grill drumsticks until skin is crisp and juices run clear, turning to cook on all sides, about 20 – 30 minutes.
5. Transfer about 1/2 of bbq sauce to a bowl and reserve. Brush drumsticks with remaining sauce and cook until glaze forms, about another 3-4 minutes longer.
6. Remove from grill and serve immediately or at room temperature along with the reserved sauce.

Corn and Tomatoes, tossed with Blue Cheese

Loved this!  Fresh all around and the blue cheese was a unique flavor change that we loved.  You could substitute feta or leave it out, if desired.  The fresh thyme, though not essential, gave a wonderful fresh taste that I would not leave out !  I made this ahead and served cold. I picked out the corn only for my picky eater.   It was also delicious the next day!

Serves 10-12-  Halve this for 4 people


6 ears of fresh corn, shucked
1 lemon, cut in half
2 tablespoons sugar
1 pint grape tomatoes, cut in half
1 green pepper, chopped
1 small red onion, chopped
3/4 cup crumbled blue cheese
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
Salt & pepper


1. Add the lemon and sugar to a large pot of water and bring to a boil. Cook the corn until just done, about 3-4 minutes. Remove from boiling water and cool in the ice bath to stop the cooking process. Remove from ice bath. Cut the corn from the ears and place in a large mixing bowl.
2. When cool, add the grape tomatoes, green pepper, and red onion to the corn. Add the blue cheese, fresh thyme, olive oil and red wine. Toss to combine and season to taste.
3. Serve immediately or refrigerate until ready to serve.

Italian Pasta Salad

Our favorite pasta salad is one that comes from our local specialty market.  I often think when I buy prepacked or purchased salads, “Now, I could make a pound of pasta and turn it into a pasta salad that would cost so much less!  And feed us all week!”  Rocket science, I know.  Well, I have recently set out to do just that.  And really, it takes so little time and money, it is worth it.  The key is, I have found, to keep everything homemade and fresh .

So I experimented with a homemade Italian Seasoning blend, that makes a lot, so you have plenty to use again, but I use one recipe-worth and ta-da!  I have my own, homemade Italian dressing.  It takes five minutes to make enough powder for about three recipes for the dressing.  I can make the dressing in a minute.  That is the key to this pasta salad.  Add in your own fresh ingredients.  Add some cubed cheese or feta.  Yum! Yum! Yum!

Homemade Italian Dressing Mix
Make this first.  It will make enough for several Italian Dressing recipes:

1 ½ teaspoons garlic powder
1 T onion powder
2 T oregano
1 T dried parsley
2 T salt or salt substitute
1 T black pepper
¼ tsp  dried thyme
Mix all ingredients in an air-tight container.
Italian Dressing :
Mix 2 T of this mix with ¼ cup vinegar (I use white), 2 T water, and ½ to 2/3 cup of olive or canola oil (I use canola).
Shake before using.
Add the prepared dressing to your cooked, rinsed, and drained noodles.  Mix in your preference of cheese and/or veggies.

*I add some Lawery’s Seasoning Salt to cooked pasta and maybe some additional seasoning.

*I always add halved grape tomatoes and diced cucumber and red onion.  I like it with cubed Gouda or cheddar.

*I use one pound of pasta for this one recipe.  I like angel hair pasta.  It soaks up the dressing,

****RINSE YOUR NOODLES WITH COLD WATER AND DRAIN VERY WELL!!!!!  If you are to serve a cold pasta salad, rinse your noodles.  If you are to serve a hot pasta, do not rinse.  Starches are great for hot pasta, not so much for a cold pasta!

Happy Cooking!