A nip in the air, falling leaves and shorter days are all tale tell signs of fall, the perfect time to plan family meals outdoors! The best outdoor meals are those that require simple preparation, are easy to cook, and quick to clean up. When it comes to an outdoor repast, think tailgating, backyard barbecues and one-pot suppers over an open campfire.
Fire up the grill for tasty tailgating! Fall brings lots of football games and fun with family and friends. Keep it simple with grilled hot dogs and burgers but add some extra special condiments that put a zing in casual fare. Grated jalapeño or pepper jack cheeses, salsa made from charred beefsteak tomatoes, grilled corn, and red onions; or cucumber dill salad add just the right touch. Instead of using hamburger buns you could try grilling pita bread. A wholesome pita is a handy way to keep burgers and condiments together and capture all those delicious juices.
A campground chili can warm the heart and home. Nothing says Fall like a glowing campfire! Make it magical by toasting marshmallows or fudge-striped S’mores and serving a hearty pot of homemade chili using your favorite recipe. Prep, assemble and cook all your ingredients in the kitchen and bring the chili outdoors to simmer when the flames die down. Spread the picnic table with heaping bowls of cheese, crackers, onions, assorted peppers, and sour cream and let guests dress their chili just the way they like it.
Bring your appetite for a backyard barbecue! Summer’s gone, but don’t put away the charcoal. A backyard barbecue makes the perfect ending to the season. Set up picnic tables with fall decorations and tableware and fire up the barbecue! Start with a hearty meat entree—brisket, spareribs, turkey drumsticks, chicken wings, or pork chops. Then add some side dishes like a baked ziti casserole, a selection of grilled autumn squash, or baked sweet potatoes. Everything can be prepared or baked on the grill for and extra depth of charcoal flavor and the ultimate Fall feast.
Savor the sea with a “low country” boil. Why not go back to the beach one more time for a seafood boil with freshly caught or frozen lobster, crab, shrimp, sausage, fresh corn and red potatoes? With a feast this sumptuous, the only sides you’ll need are the beverages. Mulled hot apple cider spiked with cinnamon sticks, mugs of Matcha green tea and honey or even hot cocoa with pumpkin-flavored cream are great non-alcoholic selections.
Plan a pumpkin patch picnic! Fall is a fabulous time of year to visit a local pumpkin patch and plan a harvest themed picnic. Bring along a make ahead menu of salami Provolone burgers or grilled Bratwurst to feed a hungry crew. Set up a few bales of hay for seating and a small campfire. Skewer some fresh slices of pumpkin alternated with marshmallows for a tasty alternative to S’mores. Don’t forget to save the pumpkin seeds to toast in a pan over the fire before the embers die out.
Feature fall’s bounty at a post-parade party. After a Harvest Festival parade, feed everybody from float builders and drivers to marching bands and majorettes with a feast in the parking lot. Lay out a buffet full of seasonal delights like barbecued link sausage, baked beans, Nacho chips, soft pretzels, and grilled skirt steak sliders. Bring along the charcoal for grilled pizzas and Focaccia with specialty toppings, a real crowd pleaser that will stretch your budget.
No matter what the occasion this fall, there’s bound to be a bounty of recipes for memorable meals online. No matter how you cook up your gathering, decorations can turn an ordinary lunch or dinner into a themed event. Make sure you bring bags for the clean-up and have fire safety on your mind whenever you plan to harness the power of the flame outdoors. That’s the case if you’re on the road or even in your backyard!