Great Reasons for an Outdoor Cookout

You never need an excuse to grill -- but if you're looking for reasons, look no further.

Firing up the grill need not always be reserved for a special occasion. Here are five scenarios that'll make that bold, smoky flavor a part of your everyday life.

  1. Perfect Weather
  2. Picture this: The sun has finally made an appearance after a hateful winter and mild spring. Your legs are badly in need of a tan. Crack open the bottle of sunscreen, slap on an apron ("Kiss the Cook") and have the kids form patties with the ground beef you broke out of your freezer. Forgot the hamburger buns? Top the patty with a slice of American or Swiss cheese, sandwich it between two slices of toasted, sliced bread, and call it a patty melt.

    We recommend: Fake a Tan Year-Round, Sunscreen Smarts, Sun Safety for Babies

  3. Make a Mess
  4. We all have our bad days -- those days when even the thought of washing another dish might just make us scream with frustration. These are the days plastic flatware and paper plates were made for. We admit, we've done this for bonafide sit-down dinners, too, but eating outside somehow makes it more acceptable. Let the dog handle the cleanup.

    We recommend: Indoor Craft Fun With Paper Plates, Make a Picnic Game Table

  5. Smoke and Fire
  6. Sometimes cooking outside is just a necessity. With deep-fried turkeys, for example, it's always recommended that your vat of boiling oil be stationed outside, away from the structure of your home, lest it accidentally catch fire. Be sure to take all proper safety precautions during the process, like keeping little ones away from the fryer. We always cook food outside when we know its smoke will leave a lasting stench on our kitchen walls -- fried fish, for example, or a garlic-heavy stir-fry.

    We recommend: Beef and Broccoli Stir Fry, Crispy Calamari, Dave's Low Country Boil

  7. A Day at the Park
  8. Your children beg daily to be taken to the beach, the regional park, or the playground across the street. Instead of making a chore of it, make it a family outing. A cooler on wheels will become your best friend for this task. Don't be daunted by the lack of propane gas tanks; getting a nice fire going on the typical, boxy public grills is easy with a bag of charcoal and a little lighter fluid. While the kids tire themselves out, get the coals red-hot and start the foil-wrapped vegetables on the cooler side of the grill. Slap on the chicken and hamburger patties while the kids are washing their hands; they cook more quickly.

    We recommend: Outdoor Games for Toddlers, 10 Fun Outdoor Games for Kids

  9. The Only Way to Petit Filet
  10. Busy moms and dads deserve a treat every once in awhile, don't they? The prices at your local gourmet steakhouse will likely boggle the mind, so take our advice and have a date night in. Grab a couple of thick, high-quality cuts from your butcher's counter, rub them down with freshly ground pepper or your favorite seasonings, and let the meat sit for 30 minutes. Give the filets a quick sear on both sides, salt them, and grill on low heat with the cover on. Use a meat thermometer to check for optimal doneness; USDA recommends steaks be cooked to at least 145 degrees. Sautee some mushrooms, mash some potatoes, crack open a bottle of red wine, and you've got your fancy dinner for a quarter of the price.

    We recommend: Tasty Marinades and Grilling Steak on a Budget, Seared Sirloin Steak With Garlic Butter

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