Grilling Tips For Mastering Your Outdoor Kitchen

December 7, 2022 Outdoor Cooking

No outdoor appliance has more versatility than the grill. But with so many types of grills to choose from, it’s possible that you’re experienced in one type but have no experience with another. While we’ve previously covered each grill’s pros and cons, here are some tips and tricks that’ll get you ready to cook in no time.

Charcoal Grills

  1. Avoid Lighter Fluid

While charcoal brings its own great flavor, lighter fluid brings a much less desirable taste. If you’re looking for a different way to light your charcoal grill, electric charcoal or chimney starters are great ways to heat up your coals before grilling. Or, if you’re in a pinch, traditional firestarters for kindling like paper and cardboard work well.

  1. Be Patient

It’s easy to throw food on the grill before the temperature is hot enough, but you’ll have a much easier time cooking when you let your grill surface get hot. Less experienced grillers may also flip their foods too early, preventing their food from cooking all the way through. Patience, patience, patience.

  1. Let Your Meat Rest

Although you’re hungry and ready to go, give your meat a few minutes before slicing. This allows the meat to absorb all the juices possible, giving you the perfect bite of steak paired with the perfect red wine.

Gas Grills

  1. Leave Some Room

Although it makes sense to save time and throw everything on the grill, it might lead to uneven cooking. When you give your meats a chance to breathe, you have a much better chance of evenly grilling your food all the way through.

  1. Here to Sear

For the perfect seared meat, get your grill as hot as possible. Put the meat on the grill, then wait a minute or two. Then flip, repeat, and turn the heat down as you allow the meat to continue cooking. This helps caramelize the outside of the meat for that great seared taste.

  1. Grill Indirectly

If your gas grill has multiple burners, take advantage of the heat by grilling smaller items like veggies on the side, or allow your seared meats to continue to roast. This allows you to multitask and finish whole meals in one fell swoop.

Flat-Top Grills

  1. Oil Your Surface

Like a painter with their tools, ensure you’re taking proper care of your grill, and the grill will treat you well in return. Oiling your flat-top grill with canola, avocado, or olive oil gives you a non-stick surface to work your magic.

  1. Add Some Pans

Take advantage of the flat surface and throw some pots, pans, or skillets on the grill. This keeps you from having to go back and forth from the indoor stovetop to the outdoor grill.

  1. Trap Your Grease

You’re going to start accumulating grease while you’re cooking, which is totally normal. Just make sure you’re cleaning while cooking, taking time to scrape the grease off the griddle with a scraper into a disposable drip pan. This saves you time and effort when your food’s good to go, and you’re ready to eat.

Smokers

  1. Fuel Wisely

When it comes to wood smokers, less wood can mean more when cooking. Putting too much wood in your smoker can cause too much smoke, turning your perfect steak into beef jerky. Even though a lot of smoke can make you look like you know what you’re doing, it can turn south really quickly.

  1. Keep A Good Airflow

Most smokers have vents at the top for a reason. For maximum taste and even cooking, it’s best to allow your smoker to ventilate the entire time if possible. 

  1. Low And Slow

This tried-and-true method has been treating grillmasters and hungry families well for decades. Cooking at around 225-250 degrees over a longer period of time gives the meats a better opportunity to retain and absorb their juices, making for the perfect, tender bite.

No matter which you’re using, you’ll be ready for your next gathering in no time.

Outdoor Kitchens Add More Than Just Value

November 22, 2022 Outdoor Cooking

Building an outdoor kitchen is the perfect option for anyone looking to take their backyard to the next level. Check out the great possibilities that only an outdoor kitchen can bring.

Home Value

An outdoor kitchen is a great way to increase your home’s overall value. With outdoor living spaces in high demand and great patio weather year-round, adding a kitchen can help your home drive a higher price in the future.

Great for Convenience and Entertaining

Nothing brings people together like good food. Having an outdoor kitchen gives you the perfect destination for parties and get-togethers, especially if you have your grill of choice by your side to feed everyone. A new favorite grill for many has been the flat-top, providing great options for large gatherings with their easy-to-clean surface.

If you’re already spending time on the patio, an outdoor kitchen can also help you save the time you’d spend going in and out of the house. Instead of going back inside to grab a drink, a backyard refrigerator lets you keep the essentials at arms reach. Not to mention, no more lugging pots and pans around because everything you need is already outside. Having an outdoor kitchen can also help keep your houses stay cool in the summer because you won’t heat up your indoor kitchen with the oven on.

Open Space

In situations where you’re cooking for a large number of people, a cramped indoor kitchen can make things even more difficult. With an open backyard, everyone has space to mingle while you have space to cook. Added appliances like an outdoor dishwasher can also reduce the clutter that would normally fill your indoor kitchen, and icemakers help cut down on time spent going to a store for ice to fill your outdoor cooler.

Healthy Options

Not only are you getting the mental and physical health benefits of being in the great outdoors, but grilling outside can also help your waistline. Fat dripping off meats allows for leaner, healthier meals with fresh ingredients and even lower calorie options than something you’d find at an outdoor restaurant.

If you’re looking for a new way to upgrade your outdoor living space, a kitchen is a perfect addition. Of the hundreds of outdoor kitchens TCP has installed, we’ve yet to hear anyone regret it, and we don’t think you will either.

Choosing the Best Grill for Your Patio

October 4, 2022 Outdoor Cooking

No matter what time of year, grilling season is always in full swing. There are plenty of grills that fit your outdoor style as well as fuel preferences.

Traditional Propane

The trusty gas grill has taken many forms over the years, but today’s propane-powered grill is more high-tech than ever. For example, many gas grills now use infrared heat to grill food more precisely, retain more juices, and save energy.

Plenty of food can be cooked on a propane grill, including meats, fruits, and vegetables. Another advantage of the gas grill is the ability to cook using direct or indirect heat, which allows even more control over what you’re grilling. 

Where these grills fall short (in the eyes of some) is the lack of a smoky taste that some expect when grilling. However, this could also be viewed as a pro because it lets the food retain its natural flavor. 

We recommend RCS or Fire Magic brand gas grills 

Charcoal Grill

Nothing says backyard barbecue like the tried and true charcoal grill. When many think of grilling or throwing barbecues, this is what first comes to mind. Charcoal grill designs vary dramatically, but this says more about the grill’s versatility than its quality.

The biggest advantage (or disadvantage, depending on your palette) is the smoky taste that comes from the charcoal. For anyone who enjoys the taste, it’s almost impossible to replicate it on any other type of grill. Charcoal grills can also be very portable in size, especially when you don’t have to carry around a propane tank.

Because of the easy, low-tech setup (charcoal, fire, food), charcoal grills can be found at a low price, sometimes going as low as $20. So if you’ve been out of the grilling game for a while and want to brush up your skills before going all-in, or you’ve never grilled before, a charcoal grill can be the perfect start.

Smoker

For an adventurous griller, the smoker might be the way to go. The smoky taste is similar to the charcoal grill, but because it’s cooked in indirect heat, it’s able to retain most of the meat’s juices. The fuel source varies depending on the user, but many use wood pellets or logs to maximize flavor. Some popular types of wood to use when smoking meat are oak, pecan or mesquite.

For the meat to keep its juices, it usually has to be cooked at a lower heat than standard grills, which unfortunately means it’ll be a longer wait. This just means you won’t be able to start smoking a chicken for your patio guests on a whim. But good things come to those who wait, and the taste can’t be found anywhere else.

Smokers vary in size and price, meaning you’re almost guaranteed to find one that fits your dream patio.

Griddle (Flat Top Grill)

If breakfast is truly the most important meal of the day, then the griddle might be the most important part of your patio. The large surface area allows plenty of foods to be evenly cooked at once, which can be great for large families or outdoor events. 

While most people immediately think of breakfast foods like pancakes, eggs, or hashbrowns, griddles are also great for meats and vegetables. Higher-end griddles sold by Blackstone are usually more expensive than the average propane or charcoal grill. Still, the convenience and easy-to-clean surface will pay for itself over time.

Whether it’s gas, charcoal, a smoker, or a griddle, there’s truly a grill for everyone. So when celebrating your first gathering on your new patio, make sure you’re ready to grill.

How to Make Your Outdoor Space Ready for Entertaining

August 17, 2022 Outdoor Cooking

So you like having people over but your backyard isn’t quite ready for outdoor entertaining. Not to worry, there are many ways you can make your outdoor space perfect for company.

Start with simple changes. Then, over time, bigger improvements can give you the entertaining space of your dreams.

A simple setup for outdoor entertaining

The first easy change you can make is to add patio furniture and decor to make your guests feel welcome. This could be as basic as a few chairs so everyone is comfortable or adding an outdoor dining set. Even loungers give family and friends a place to relax with a beverage and some good conversation. Add some potted plants for a bit of nature, and sprinkle in some pillows and throws to make the space more inviting.

Add some shade

Now that your guests have places to sit, it’s time to make them even more comfortable by adding shade. This way your outdoor space is usable all year and you don’t have to fear the summer heat. Retractable screens do a great job of blocking east and west light at different times of the day. (Note: we can only add retractable screens to patios we have custom-built).

For full shade, go with a patio cover to make sure everyone is cool and covered at all times. You could even add outdoor fans for extra comfort.

Lighten up the place

A little lighting can go a long way. It doesn’t just help your guests see at night, it can also set a relaxing mood. There are different kinds of lighting that can step up the look and usability of your patio.
Decorative lights– string lights, candles, torches, lanterns, and table lights are a quick, DIY way to bring in some brightness
Landscape lighting– sconces, well lights, solar lights, and permanent lighting around your yard, house, and fence make sure your outdoor space is always ready for company
Security lighting– make sure your guests are safe when they walk around with path and step lighting so they don’t trip on anything

Fire pit with Adirondack chairs around it

Gather around the fire for outdoor entertaining

Fireplaces and firepits are both fun for people to sit around and warm up on a chilly night.

Fire pits can become the epicenter of your outdoor gathering space and be used to make smores in the summer. They can be built in a specific spot or there are portable pits that you can move around the yard.

Another option is to build a permanent outdoor fireplace. This can be a traditional wood-burning fireplace or a gas powered option that turns on with a remote. Both will help make the patio usable year round and they are great focal points to ground your outdoor space.

Outdoor kitchen with grill and stainless steel mini-fridge

Bring the kitchen outside

Dinner parties are the cornerstone of great entertaining. Every get-together needs good food and drinks and there’s no better way to serve your guests than to prepare the meal right outside. Building an outdoor kitchen makes it even easier. You can serve the meal hot and fresh from a built-in gas or charcoal grill or even a pizza oven. Plus, everyone can help themselves to a cold drink or a glass of wine right from the fridge. No going in and out of the house and missing all the fun.

Make a big splash with a pool

The ultimate in outdoor entertaining is a swimming pool. It makes your house the number one destination in the summer, keeping guests cool and kids entertained.

If you don’t currently have a pool, we can discuss options for a water feature to your outdoor space. And if you already have one, we can build you a cabana or even a pool house to take your space to the next level.

When you’re ready for outdoor entertaining, give one of our outdoor living specialists a call at 281-265-1994 in Houston or 972-915-2727 in Dallas/Fort Worth.

Recipes of the Month: One Last Hoorah

December 27, 2021 Outdoor Cooking

Before 2022 hits and you vow to be healthy for at least 17 days… celebrate with these tried and true delicious recipes! Ring in the new year with something salty, yet sweet and a little cheese, please! Indulgence at its finest…

Swiss Cheese Bread

Waffle-Iron Pizzas

Mom’s Mac ‘n Cheese

Spicy Cajun Sausage and Rice Skillet

Croissant Baked French Toast

Garlic Bread Pasta Torte

Loaded Spaghetti Bake

Mac & Cheese Pork Sliders

Grilled Cheese Tomato Bake Soup

Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Monkey Bread

S’mores Stuffed French Toast

Banana Bread Pudding

Recipes of the Month: Holiday Brunch

November 27, 2021 Outdoor Celebrations, Outdoor Cooking

‘Tis the season to eat and be merry, so for this month’s featured recipes we have some brunch items to make your belly sing fa-la-la-la-la, la-la-la-la! Oooey gooey casseroles, sweetie treaties, savory bites and of course some sips to wash it down! Cheers!

Baked Gingerbread French Toast Casserole

Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls

Mediterranean Scramble

Cranberry Sauce Oat Bars

Easy Fruit Salad with Honey Lemon Dressing

Best Old Fashioned Pancakes

15-Minute Caprese Frittata

Cranberry Pistachio Biscotti

Spinach and Feta Quiche with Cauliflower Crust

Chewy Peanut Butter Granola Bars

Gingerbread Bundt Cake with Maple Cinnamon Glaze

Easy Homemade Apple Hand Pies

Holiday Mai Tai

Eggnog Cocktail

Candy Candy Christmas Mocktail

Recipe of the Month: Tricks to Halloween Treats

October 27, 2021 Outdoor Celebrations, Outdoor Cooking

Halloween snuck up on this year, how in the world is it almost November, right? If you have a petrifying party to attend and you need something tasty to offer, don’t be scared… we have some spooky sweets and terrifying treats to try!

Halloween Veggie Tray

Halloween Mummy Jalapeno Poppers

Low Carb Witch Finger Breadsticks

Halloween Mummy Pizzas

Halloween Deviled Eggs

Spider Web Taco Dip

Tangerine Pumpkins

Spooky Halloween Popcorn Balls

Spider Infested Cookies

Tombstone Cookies

Chocolate Monster Cookies

Peanut Butter Cup Martini

Caramel Apple Sangria

Snickertini

Candy Corn Jell-o Shots

Smoking Halloween Mocktails

Recipes of the Month: Tasty Touchdowns

September 28, 2021 Outdoor Cooking

Score big this football season with some tasty treats sure to have everyone screaming, TOUCHDOWN! Tailgate or patiogate… either way, give these recipes a go and someone’s tastebuds will win!

Pull-Apart Pretzel Skillet with Beer Cheese Dip

Candied Sriracha Bacon-Wrapped Onion Rings

Sweet Potato Chips and Blue Cheese

Chicken and Waffle Skewers

Mini Buffalo Chicken Pies

Mini Chili Cheese Dogs

Southern Cheese Fries

Focaccia Pizza

“Walking Taco” Burger Sliders

Touchdown Brownies

Football Cookie Dough Dip

Grapefruit Beergarita

Vanilla-Rosemary Lemonade

Recipes of the Month: PHAT FOODS

August 30, 2021 Outdoor Cooking

This month we are featuring “PHAT FOODS” – Pretty Hot And Tempting bites of deliciousness! A little spice is always nice, so let’s finish out the summer with something we are all used to in Texas… HEAT!

Nashville Hot Whole-Roasted Cauliflower

Jalapeno Pimento Cheese

Brie with Spiced Nuts and Caramel

Spicy Corn Kabobs

Spicy Cajun Potato Salad

Buffalo Chicken Meatballs

Chicken Pepper Sliders

Spicy Touchdown Chili

Firecracker Chicken

Chocolate Chili Dipped Sriracha Peanut Butter Cookies

Hibiscus Vodka Cocktail with Mint and Jalapeno

Recipes of the Month: Summer Lovin’

July 29, 2021 Outdoor Celebrations, Outdoor Cooking

When the sun’s OUT and sizzlin’, these recipes are IN! Enjoy what’s left of summer with these tired and true seasonal favs!

Summer Tomato and Burrata Salad

Cucumber and Hummus Boats

Rustic Tomato Pie

Mint-Cucumber Tomato Sandwiches

California Roll Wraps

Grilled Chicken and Mango Skewers

Key Lime Pound Cake

Sweet Cherry and Cream Parfait

Fizzy Peach Shake

Watermelon and Blackberry Sangria

Rosemary Strawberry Daiquiri

Margarita Floats

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