Even though Susan and Edward McMenamin originally built their shingle-style house in East Hampton, NY, as a summer residence, they designed a large, state-of-the-art kitchen. But the couple -- now living full-time in their Long Island home with daughters Samantha, 9, Sabrina, 4, and Savannah, 2 -- prefer to cook most of the family's meals not in the kitchen but on one of the backyard deck's two Ducane gas grills. "I absolutely love grilling all year long," says Susan, who usually mans the barbie. "In the winter after a snowstorm, I ask Ed to shovel a path from the kitchen door to the grill."
All across America, grilling is hot -- even when the weather is not. A recent Weber Grill survey revealed that nearly 40% of Americans and 25% of northeasterners cook out year-round. "Barbecuing has become a national phenomenon," says Steven Raichlen, author of The Barbecue Bible and How to Grill, "and it's not hard to see why that's the case. Cooking out makes any meal a lot more exciting for the whole family."
The McMenamins' fondness for outdoor grilling is part traditional, part practical. "My husband and I grew up in families that cooked out a lot, so it's a natural part of our lives," says Susan. "Plus, with grilling there are no pots and pans to clean, and the food is nutritious for the kids."
Of course, just about any meat is healthier when grilled because the fat drips off. But the McMenamins' favorite dishes feature especially vitamin-rich ingredients. Susan buys salmon, sea bass, or tuna in a teriyaki-style sauce from The Seafood Shoppe in Wainscott, NY, or marinates skinless chicken breasts in Italian dressing. She pairs fish or poultry with grilled vegetables and couscous for a balanced meal. "The girls like it all," says Susan. "I decided a long time ago that I wasn't going to make special meals for them, and I think that helped expand their tastes." In fact, the couple serves hamburgers and hot dogs only when friends' children visit.
Between the relaxed atmosphere and great food, there's virtually no downside to barbecuing. The only regret the McMenamins have is that they grill so frequently -- at least three times a week -- that they often run out of new recipes. "I'm always flipping through tons of cookbooks, looking for healthy, grilled dishes the family will love," explains Susan.
Say no more. Child created a nutritious summertime meal featuring can't-miss kid favorites like Sunny Day Chicken, Jungle Burgers, Honey Bee Salad, and even a Tutti-Frutti Sundae that includes grilled fruit. The McMenamin girls liked it so much, they set up their own private picnic in a shady spot near the front door of their home, nestled in a four-acre wooded property.Recipes
- Sunny Day Chicken
- Goody-Goody Gobblers
- Jungle Burgers
- Green Thumb Pasta
- Honey Bee Salad
- Tutti-Frutti Sundaes
- Baked Beans