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9 Unexpected Things to Toss on the Grill This Summer

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So, you’ve mastered all the usual stuff when it comes to grilling—burgers, steaks, hot dogs, and every variety of teriyaki kabobs. Ready to try something new? Here’s a list of ideas from soup to nuts (literally), just waiting to be fired up.

1. SOUP

Steven Raichlen, author of The Barbecue Bible and numerous other books on grilling, believes that soup is “utterly transformed” by the addition of grilled vegetables. He recommends charring some tomatoes, peppers, and onions or some corn in the husk to add depth and smokiness to your gazpacho or corn chowder. You already know that caramelizing onions on the grill takes the flavor to a new level, but add butter, sherry, and broth to the mix and you’ve got the makings for an unparalleled onion soup.

2. CAKE

Grill homemade or store bought pound cake and you’ve created the base for a multitude of simple-but-elegant desserts. Preheat your grill to high; while you wait for things to heat up, brush each slice with butter on both sides. Grill each slice for about a minute, then rotate each slice a quarter turn to create a crosshatch pattern. Grill for another minute, or until toasted, then top with whatever seasonal produce you can find at your local market or farmstand, adding a dollop of fresh whipped cream or your favorite ice cream. For a booze-infused dessert, add some peaches with a whiskey and caramel sauce.

3. DOUGHNUTS

Creating fresh doughnuts is as easy as one, two, three: Just mix some cinnamon and sugar, cream some butter and brown sugar, and use a cookie cutter to cut the center out of some pre-made buttermilk biscuits. For an even easier take, purchase fresh glazed doughnuts and grill over medium high heat to achieve a delightful crispiness on the outside and light fluffiness on the inside.

4. COOKIES

Here’s another way to satisfy your sweet tooth grill-style. Take just about any basic cookie dough recipe and a baking sheet, and you can achieve the same home-baked results that you accomplish in the kitchen. Try these classic chocolate chip cookies or bring a little fruity, nutty, chocolatey goodness to the milk and cookie platter with this chunky, chewy, chocolate cookie recipe.

5. EGGS

The possibilities for the incredible edible are endless. Start your day with grilled peppers stuffed with egg and cheese. Or, if you’re feeling a bit more adventurous, go global and give some grilled eggs with Vietnamese seasonings a roll.

6. LEMONS

Grilling lemons brings out the tangy juices and imparts a subtle, smoky flavor—so when life gives you lemons, make some grown-up lemonade with a splash of bourbon or give your dip a Middle Eastern twist with a grilled lemon tzatziki.

7. BANANAS

You can create authentic New Orleans-style Bananas Foster. It takes just five minutes to create a sauce on the stovetop with butter, brown sugar, and spices. Once your sauce is done, simply split bananas lengthwise, skin on, brush with butter, and grill both sides. Voila! Grill up another American Classic with this banana split recipe that uses foil “boats” to transport your dessert to gooey, chocolatey, creamy deliciousness.

8. HEARTS OF PALM

Hearts of palm, usually served cold in a salad, are the edible, tender center parts from the stem of the cabbage palm tree. Their delicate flavor, similar to artichokes, translates beautifully to grilling. For a healthy and delicious side dish, try hearts of palm and parmesan. Or, add a vegan-friendly, south of the border vibe to your grilling repertoire with these marinated heart of palm tacos with spicy cabbage slaw by J. Kenji Lopez-Alt, chef and author of Serious Eats's James Beard Award-nominated column The Food Lab.

9. NUTS

Forget buying store-bought roasted nuts, which can include excess ingredients and unhealthy oils. Instead, grab a foil pan and one of your favorite sweet and spicy recipes, like the famously addictive Union Square Cafe Bar Nuts and place the pan over low, indirect heat for about 30 minutes, watching to prevent any charring. For a more rustic take, try this cowboy trail mix, which you can create with any combination of your favorite dried fruits, pretzels, cereal, or chocolate chips.

All images courtesy of iStock.

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Voodoo Doughnut Is Coming to the East Coast (Finally!)
Universal Orlando Resort
Universal Orlando Resort

Voodoo Doughnut, the beloved Portland purveyor of creative pastries, is finally coming to the East Coast. The company is opening a shop at the Universal Orlando Resort in Florida, according to Travel + Leisure.

The original Voodoo Doughnut opened in Portland, Oregon in 2003. An early adopter of the maple-bacon dessert trend, it became famous for its Maple Bacon Bar and has since added doughnuts that incorporate other quirky flavors like bubble gum dust, Tang, and Fruit Loops. (At one point, the company sold doughnuts glazed with NyQuil, as well as one called a Vanilla Pepto Crushed Tums doughnut, but both of those have been discontinued by order of the health department.) Several of its unique flavors have also been turned into beers by the Oregon-based Rogue Ale.

A chocolate doughnut with a candy skull inside the hole.
A Dia de los Muertos-themed doughnut
Mathieu Thouvenin, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

The popular Portland location usually features a line out the door and down the block, and the company now has outposts in Eugene, Oregon, Denver, Austin, and Los Angeles. It has such a cult following that the stores will not just provide doughnuts for your wedding, they will host the ceremony. Now, East Coast doughnut lovers will be able to get in on the action, too.

The Universal Orlando CityWalk store has opened already, but it’s still in preview mode, meaning the hours can vary, and there's no guarantee it will be open every day. When it officially opens later this spring, it will be serving up more than 50 types of doughnut seven days a week from 7 a.m. to midnight, and until 1 a.m. on weekends.

[h/t Travel + Leisure]

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11 Things You Might Not Have Known About Garlic
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National Garlic Day may be a holiday best celebrated alone—or with a hefty box of breath mints and a very charitable loved one—but few foods are as deserving of their very own day of recognition as the amazing, edible bulbous plant (okay, “bulbous plant” might not sound super appetizing, but it’s certainly accurate). Celebrate National Garlic Day on April 19 with your favorite garlic-laced meal and a few fun facts about this delicious, flavor-packed add-in that can do almost anything, from reducing your cholesterol to keeping vampires at bay.

1. YOU CAN EAT MORE THAN JUST THE STANDARD GARLIC CLOVE.

When you think “garlic,” you inevitably picture garlic cloves, but despite the ubiquity of that particular image of the plant, it’s not the only part you can eat. Hard-neck varieties of garlic produce “scapes,” green shoots that can be especially delicious and tender when they’re young. Think of them as garlic-flavored scallions. They also make a wonderful addition to pestos, soups, and butters.

2. CHINA PRODUCES THE MOST GARLIC.

Garlic is native to central Asia and has long popped up in European and African cooking, too. But it's China that currently holds the record for most garlic grown. Per a 2012 study, China grows a staggering two-thirds of the world’s garlic, believed to be around 46 billion pounds per year.

3. AVERAGE CONSUMPTION OF GARLIC IS BELIEVED TO WEIGH IN AT AROUND TWO POUNDS PER PERSON.

Even with just two pounds, that means eating roughly 302 cloves per person per year, as each clove typically weighs about three grams.

4. GARLIC'S HEALTH BENEFITS ARE MYRIAD, INCLUDING AN ABILITY TO REDUCE CHOLESTEROL.

The best way to release the health-happy power of garlic is to cut it, which then turns garlic’s thio-sulfinite compounds into allicin, an antibiotic and antifungal that is believed to reduce “bad” cholesterol, as it inhibits enzymes from growing in liver cells.

5. ALLICIN IS ALSO GOOD AT COMBATING HEART DISEASE.

Allicin helps nitric oxide release in the blood vessels, relaxing them and thus bringing about a drop in blood pressure. Keeping blood vessels relaxed and lowering blood pressure is good for the heart and the rest of the vascular system (and it’s tasty).

6. GARLIC CONTAINS TONS OF VITAMINS, MINERALS, AND ANTIOXIDANTS THAT ARE GOOD FOR YOU, TOO.

The bulbs are packed with potassium, iron, calcium, magnesium, manganese, zinc, selenium, beta-carotene, zeaxanthin, and Vitamin C.

7. GARLIC'S USE AS A HEALTH AID DATES BACK TO ANCIENT HISTORY.

It’s believed that Egyptian pharaohs plied their pyramid-builders with garlic for strength, and an ancient Egyptian medical document—the Ebers Papyrus—counts a stunning 22 different medicinal uses for the plant. Garlic also pops up in texts from Virgil, Pliny the Elder, Chaucer, and Galen, all of which detail its various uses and share lore about the magic plant.

8. DESPITE ITS ASIAN ORIGINS, ITS NAME IS DERIVED FROM ANGLO-SAXON SPEECH.

A combination of two Anglo-Saxon words—“gar” (spear) and “lac” (plant)—is believed to be the source of the plant’s name, specifically in reference to the shape of its leaves.

9. GARLIC'S REAL HEALTH BENEFITS ARE PROBABLY THE REASON FOR ONE OF ITS MOST PREVALENT MYTHS.

Garlic had long been recognized as a wonderful health aid before writer Bram Stoker introduced the concept of the vampire—a beast repelled by garlic—to the public with his 1897 novel Dracula. In the book, Van Helsing uses garlic as a protective agent, and it’s believed that Stoker lifted that idea from garlic’s many medicinal purposes, particularly as a mosquito repellent (think of the blood-sucking).

10. YOU CAN USE GARLIC TO MAKE GLUE.

The sticky juice that’s in garlic cloves is often used as an adhesive, especially for delicate projects that involve fragile items like glass. You just need to crush the cloves to get to the sticky stuff which, despite its smell, works surprisingly well as a bonding agent for smaller jobs.

11. GARLIC CAN CLEAR UP SKIN TROUBLES.

You can battle both acne and cold sores with garlic, simply by slicing cloves in half and applying them directly to the skin. Hold for a bit—as long as you can stand!—and while the smell might not be the best, the antibacterial properties of the miracle plant will speed along the healing process.

All images courtesy of iStock.

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