Fourth of July marks the high point of summer and is often celebrated with an outdoor barbecue. Don’t limit yourself to the good ole American menu of hamburgers and hotdogs. There’s lots more to grilling than that. The first task is deciding on a menu that offers something for everyone. If yours is going to be a family affair then take the kids’ preferences into consideration.
Mini burritos are easy and quick. Fill a small flour tortilla with a tablespoon of cooked hamburger, shredded chicken, or sliced steak. Add a slice of tomato, a tablespoon of shredded cheese and roll up burrito fashion tucking in the ends so you end up with a nice little package. Grill for a minute or two on each side to heat up the meat and melt the cheese and there you have it. Serve with an interesting salsa of chopped grapefruit, cilantro, onions, jalapeno peppers, and jicama for the adults to munch on as appetizers until the main course is ready. If you don’t like grapefruit substitute seedless watermelon.
Most kids love fish sticks so why not serve fish tacos? Brush mild boneless fish fillets like halibut or tilapia with a marinade of lemon juice, minced garlic, minced onion, and a touch of cumin. Grill until the fish is cooked through but not over cooked. About 5 minutes per inch of thickness of the fillet. Cut the fillets into about 4 inch by 2 inch servings. Cover with foil and set on the back of the grill to keep warm, in a warming drawer, or in a 200 hundred degree oven. Set up a taco bar with corn and flour tortillas, toppings of tomatoes, sliced onions, cheese, shredded cabbage, sliced jalapenos, salsa in both mild and hot varieties, cucumbers, chopped cilantro, sweet red peppers, cooked corn, black beans, and pinto beans. Consider putting a sign with a flame and the word HOT in front of any topping that you feel might be too spicy for children.
Your guests including the little ones will have a great time building their fish tacos. If you’re not sure everyone will like fish, grill some boneless chicken breasts as an alternative.
Serve a grilled and raw veggie platter with several dips. Try some new vegetables you might not have thought about grilling such as carrots, endive spears, cherry tomatoes, broccoli spear slices, or summer squash slices. Toss the vegetables with a marinade of olive oil, citrus juice, garlic, and herbs for at least an hour before grilling. Use bottled Italian salad dressing if you’re in a hurry.
Echo the marinade flavors in the dips you offer. Mix some Italian salad dressing in a cup of cottage cheese add 1/4 cup of parmesan cheese, extra chopped fresh basil and whirl in the blender until smooth.
A quick citrus dip is simply sour cream with lemon, lime, and orange juice. Add a teaspoon of grated citrus peel to boost the flavor with some freshly grated pepper.
Grilled fruit kabobs make a great dessert for both children and adults. Cut peaches, plums, pineapple, in one inch chunks, add seedless grapes and halved apricots. Thread fruit on a short wood skewer and brush with lime juice. You can do all this ahead. The lime juice will keep the peaches from turning brown. Grill over a low fire until grill marks are barely visible. Remove from the grill and brush with a glaze made from equal parts honey and lime juice.
Your little guests will be happy and satisfied until the fireworks start.
More grilling tips, techniques, recipes, and menus. Dee Power is the author of several nonfiction books and loves to come up with party ideas for kids. She also uses the herbs from her garden in her marinades.