Category Archives: Outdoor Entertaining

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Fire Pit Cook Top Recipes!

An easy and fun way to cook on your  fire pit cook top is to use the “foil pack” method. You can prepare them at home, freeze them for transportation, and then keep them in the cooler until you’re ready to cook. Try this easy foil pack recipe via AllRecipes.com:

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast meat – cubed
  • 2 onions, diced
  • 1 (8 ounce) package sliced fresh mushrooms
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and sliced into strips
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and sliced into strips
  • 4 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 4 small potatoes, cubed
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 lemon, juiced

DIRECTIONS:

1. In a large bowl, or a large zip-top bag, combine the chicken, onion, mushrooms, yellow pepper, red pepper, garlic, and potatoes. Pour in the olive oil and lemon juice, then mix well.
2. Evenly divide the mixture between 4 large sheets of aluminum foil. Top each with another sheet of foil, and roll up the edges tightly. Wrap each packet again, securely in another sheet of foil to double wrap.
3. Cook in the hot coals of a CobraCo™ Fire Pit until the chicken is opaque and the potatoes are tender, around 40 minutes.

Breakfast lovers will appreciate this simple donut recipe via ThoreausDaughter.com!

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 can of buttermilk biscuits
  • vegetable oil for frying pan
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 1-2 tablespoons cinnamon

Directions:

  1. Heat about two inches of oil in a large pot.  Separate the biscuits on a cutting board and cut a hole from the center of each.
  2. Fry the dough in about two inches of oil.
  3. Flip with tongs after a minute or two.
  4. Place the cooked donuts in a paper bag with cinnamon and toss for a tasty and sweet covering
  5. Serve with coffee

Campfire Crescent Dogs are a quick way to satisfy your kids hunger while dining in the great outdoors! This recipe from Tablespoon is simple and easy!

Ingredients:

  1. One tube Pillsbury Crescent Rolls
  2. 8 hot dogs
  3. Ketchup & mustard

Directions

  1. On a flat surface, open the tube of crescent rolls and unroll dough. Separate into triangles along perforations.
  2. Place the hot dog on the edge of the crescent roll and begin rolling so the majority of hot dog is covered by the crescent dough. Make sure the crescent dough overlaps at the end, otherwise it will fall apart.
  3. Skewer your crescent dog on a CobraCo® S’mores Fork and roast it over the fire until golden brown. (Tip: Roasting away from the flames, but in a spot that is still quite hot, gives a nice even roasting.)
  4. Serve immediately with ketchup and mustard as desired.
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Cast Iron Skillet Campfire Cooking

Go “old-school” and use a cast iron skillet to cook on your outdoor fire this summer! There are a few basics to know for better cast iron skillet cooking and they are cleaning and seasoning.

Seasoning your cast iron skillet forms its nonstick surface. Coat the skillet with cooking oil and bake it in a 350 degree oven for an hour. After removing the skillet, dry it with paper towels. Season your cast iron skillet as often as you’d like to reinforce its nonstick surface.

To keep your skillet performing for years you’ll need to employ the proper cleaning techniques. Immediately after cooking you should rinse your skillet with hot water. To remove stuck-on food, grease, etc., use a non-abrasive treatment like course salt and a non-metal brush. Sparingly use a few drops of mild dishwashing soap.  Before storing, dry thoroughly with paper towels, apply a light coating of cooking oil, and cover with a paper towel to protect from dust.

With all this work to maintain a cast iron skillet you may wonder why we suggest using one. Cast iron skillets, although they take longer to heat up, retain heat very well and disperse it very evenly, which is ideal in an uneven cooking surface like live fires. Food’s iron content is increased when cooking with a cast iron skillet.

Next time you’re cooking outdoors, stretch your capabilities by bringing along a cast iron skillet and the ingredients needed for this easy recipe!

Campfire Breakfast Potatoes:

INGREDIENTS

  • 5 lbs (about 6) russet potatoes, cubed
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons butter or margarine
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 bell peppers, chopped
  • 1 jalapeno, sliced
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon seasoned salt
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • salt and pepper, to taste

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Coat the bottom of the pan with a thin layer of olive oil, about 2 tablespoons, and place the pan over the coals of your campfire, on a grate.
  2. Add the onion and cook until just tender, about 2 minutes.
  3. Add the potatoes, peppers, and another 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Stir to coat.
  4. Stir occasionally for about 10 minutes, until potatoes start to brown.
  5. Add a few tablespoons of water, and cover with foil to steam for about 5 minutes.
  6. Add seasonings, continue to stir occasionally until fully browned, crispy, and tender in the middle.
  7. Serve alongside your favorite other breakfast items.
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Outdoor Food Safety Tips to Avoid Foodborne Illness

Protecting your family from food-borne illness is crucial when cooking outdoors. Warmer temperatures and limited chilling resources create obstacles for cooking outside, although the right steps and precautions can make these situations manageable.

Transport your food properly. Until you begin cooking you’ll want to place cold foods on ice or frozen gel packs to be chilled at 40 degrees or below. Meat can be transported frozen so it thaws over time and stays colder longer. Keep meats wrapped separately and make sure their juices don’t leak to other foods. Cross-contamination is one of the quickest ways to spread food-borne illness.

If you’re marinating your food for grilling, make sure to do so in a refrigerated environment. Do not reuse marinade for flavoring cooked foods. Reserve a portion of the marinade before adding to the meat and use the separated amount later in cooking.

Cooking temperatures and thorough cooking greatly reduce the risk of food-borne illness. Keep a food thermometer on hand to make sure grilled foods reach their proper temperatures. The FDA suggests the following temperatures for your foods:

Food Temperature
Steaks and roasts 145°F
Fish 145°F
Pork 145°F
Ground beef 160°F
Egg dishes 160°F
Chicken breasts 165°F
Whole poultry 165°F
Shrimp, lobster, and crabs cook until pearly and opaque
Clams, oysters, and mussels cook until the shells are open

When it comes to serving your food your focus should be maintaining the proper temperature. The FDA urges that “the key is to never let your picnic food remain in the “Danger Zone” – between 40° F and 140° F – for more than 2 hours, or 1 hour if outdoor temperatures are above 90° F. This is when bacteria in food can multiply rapidly, and lead to foodborne illness.”

Using these FDA appointed guidelines will help you to have an enjoyable and fun outdoor dining experience without the side effects associated with poor food preparation.

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Turn Your Fire Pit into a Cook Top

Take your fire pit experience to the next level by using it as a cooking station! Follow these simple steps to create a cook top for your fire pit!

  1. Take accurate measurements of your CobraCo™ Fire Pit and head to your local hardware store.
  2. Purchase steel mesh with about a quarter to a half-inch fabrication to allow enough heat access to cook your food. Typically this is sold in sheets, so you may have to purchase more than one to fully cover your fire pit.
  3. Lay the sheets over your fire pit and trace the fire pit’s circumference. You’ll want the mesh to extend about an inch outside the fire pit. Using wire cutters and gloves, carefully cut the mesh.
  4. If you need to use two pieces to expand the width of the fire pit you can overlap the two pieces by a half inch. Using steel wire you’ll wrap the two pieces together for the length of the overlap.
  5. When cooking, you’ll want to place two steel rods across the cook top and then place the mesh over. This will support the center of the cook top when food has been placed on it.

Just like that, you’ve got an open flame cook top where you and your family can grill up a ton of delicious meals and create a ton of fantastic memories!

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Holiday Tablescapes!

Add flair and zest to your holiday meal by creating an environment that embraces the season! Your dining room, with the right holiday tablescape, can become a winter wonderland that will be enjoyed by guests while eating and socializing.

Using textured table linens and items from around your home, a table can become a visual centerpiece. Place a cloth on your table that will be the base of your décor. In the center use candles, greens, and holiday themed knick-knacks such as ornaments, crystals, or plants to adorn the table.

Stack dishes for each person to save space and place cutlery and glasses in their respective positions. Fun place cards can be made using our seed paper ornament recipe, or place a pinecone ornament labeled with each guest’s name on their plate.

For an added wonderland feel, look beyond the table. Place motorized wind spinners above your table to create a feeling of sitting below a falling snow. Guests will marvel in the scene as they enjoy their holiday meal!

Enjoy this holiday season by filling your home with a festive and seasonal vibe. Using the ideas above and your own personal touches you’ll be creating a holiday space ready to entertain in no time!

Fire Ring Beach

Fire Pit Safety & Regulation

Keep your fire pit experience safe and fun with the following safety tips:

  • Place the fire pit in an open area on a solid surface, but never on a wooden deck, grass, or any other flammable surface.
  • Never place a fire pit in an enclosed area or indoors.
  • Know your city or county’s regulations regarding the use of a fire pit.
  • Always keep a fire extinguisher, a garden hose or large bucket of sand nearby to smother the fire if necessary. Your fire extinguisher should be handy, in good working condition, and not close to its expiration date.
  • Use common sense and exercise courtesy as well as caution. Don’t build a fire on a windy day. You don’t want smoke blowing into neighbor’s homes and backyards.
  • Start your fire small. Use recommended fire starters. Never use an accelerant or gasoline to start a fire. Suggested burning materials include wood, fire logs, and charcoal.
  • Do not allow children or someone with little experience to light the fire.
  • Never leave the fire unattended. Fire pits are HOT when in use and should be adult-supervised at all times. Extreme caution should be exercised when children are nearby.
  • As a precaution, the fire should be no larger than 3 feet in diameter and 2 feet high. Don’t pile wood too high.
  • Use the wire mesh cover when the fire is lit to control flying sparks.
  • The screen handle is HOT when in use.
  • Use a heatproof barbeque mitt or poker tool to grasp the handle.
  • It is best to extinguish the fire completely once you have finished using it. Use a fire extinguisher, or enough water to douse the fire.

Local government regulates the use of fire pits so it is important to check with your local office to see which ordinances are in place. A few regulations commonly in order are the size of the fire, the distance from the fire to structures, the use of fires outdoors during periods of drought or extreme heat, and whether proper extinguishing is available.

Check with your local government office to see which rules are in effect for your area. Safety is the key element to making sure your fire pit experience is a fun and enjoyable one.

source: averagebetty.com

S’mores Recipes

S’mores. We’ve all had ‘em. We all love ‘em. Gathering around a campfire and spending time roasting marshmallows is a childhood favorite that doesn’t disappear as we “grow up.” Next time you’re hosting a party outback and have the fire pit lit be sure to provide your guests with s’mores making essentials, plus a few fun twists!

The Essentials:

You’ll want to create a station fully stocked with the following:

  1. Graham Crackers
  2. Marshmallows
  3. Chocolate Bars

The “I Have to Try This” Items:

Be the talk of the town with these bonus s’mores ingredients:

  1. Peanut Butter Cups – swap out a chocolate bar for a peanut butter cup for a rich creamy s’more
  2. Peeps – add color to the typical neutral shades of a s’mores with a Peep
  3. Peanut Butter – wiped on to a graham cracker is a tasty surprise
  4. Ice Cream – use in conjunction with the marshmallow, or without
  5. Cookies – substitute cookies for graham crackers

The Avant Garden Décor Favorite:

Peanut Butter S’more Recipe

Ingredients

• Large Marshmallows
• Graham Crackers
• Large Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups (or a jar of creamy peanut butter and milk chocolate bars)

Preparation

  • Gently roast a large marshmallow on a long fire-safe fork over a fire. When the marshmallow is sufficiently warm and golden-brown, place the marshmallow on a graham cracker. Stack a large peanut butter cup on top of the marshmallow followed by another graham cracker and enjoy!
  • A spoonful of creamy peanut butter and bar of milk chocolate can also be used in lieu of the peanut butter cup.
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Firewood Options for Your Backyard Fires

Using your fire pit is a great way to create an ambiance outdoors. Sitting around the fire is enjoyable most of the year and allows you to extend your outdoor season by keeping you warm. Burning different woods in your fire pit can impact your fire experience, so let’s explore which woods are best for your next fire!

  • Ash Wood – Ash burns very hot
  • Fir – Favorably smelling and easy to burn, fir is a smoky and sparky wood
  • Oak – Although harder to get burning, oak burns hot and produces little smoke
  • Maple – the hard-to-light maple produces little smoke and odor
  • Pine – Plentiful in nature, pine burns easy and has an enjoyable smell
  • Spruce – Smoky and sparky, spruce is not a high-heat producer 

When finding and using your own wood it is important to remain cognizant of woods overgrown with poison ivy, poison oak, and poison sumac. If you come in contact with this wood when gathering it, you will develop a very itchy and unpleasant rash. Burning these woods will cause the irritants to enter your lungs through inhaling the smoke. Generally this is followed with a painful respiratory infection.

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Great Holiday Gifts from AvantGardenDecor.com

Do you have an outdoor entertainer or gardener on your holiday shopping list? With the holiday season moving quickly we thought we’d give you a hand and tip you off to ten great gift options. Check ‘em out!

CobraCo® Embossed Leaf Copper Hose Holder – The CobraCo® Embossed Leaf Hose Holder with Copper Finish decoratively holds a garden hose up to 150 feet in length. Drain holes are situated at the base of the holder to prevent leftover water from making a mess. Embossed leaf design and powder-coated copper finish.

CobraCo® Canterbury Basket Plant Stand - The CobraCo® Canterbury Basket Plant Stand has three curved legs to give it sturdy support.  It comes in an all-metal textured black finish and includes a coco liner.

CobraCo® Diamond Mesh Fire Pit and Bench Set – This all-inclusive set features a sturdy CobraCo® fire pit with a 39” black, steel-meshed bowl with an attractive diamond pattern. This fire pit has a convenient 5” wide table edge, and is seated on pit base with integrated air flow risers that maximize airflow to your fire.

CobraCo® Plant Sitter® Water System - The CobraCo® Plant Sitter® Water System is an automatic watering system that provides a healthy well-balanced diet of water & fertilizer for your plants. The CobraCo® Plant Sitter® provides drip irrigation for a houseplant up to 3 weeks, so it’s ideal for when you are away from home on vacation.

Gardener’s Blue Ribbon® Rolling Plant Caddy - Gardener’s Blue Ribbon® Rolling Plant Caddies are sturdy, durable and so easy to use! With four heavy-duty castors, they give strong support when you move heavy potted and container garden plants, while they protect your carpet, rugs, and floors.

Stocking Stuffers:

CobraCo® Ceramic Watering Sensors – The CobraCo® Ceramic Watering Sensors provides automatic watering of house plants.  The sensors come in a 3-pack and will work with any container of waters.  The drip time is approximately 6 to 10 hours per water sensor.  Keep your plants at the proper moisture level with these ceramic water sensors.

Gardener’s Blue Ribbon® 12″ Cork Mats – Twin Pack – Gardener’s Blue Ribbon® Cork Mats prevent surface stains and scratches on your furniture, counters, and floors. These tough, durable cork mats have so many uses in your home.

Safer® Brand Sticky Whitefly Trap – The Safer® Brand Sticky Whitefly Trap is ideal for use in the home or garden. This trap offers an economical and convenient solution to the annoyances of whiteflies, aphids, thrips, leaf miners, gnats and fruit flies.  This natural pest control product is fully disposable.

Gardener’s Blue Ribbon® Sturdy Vine Supports – Twin Pack – Gardener’s Blue Ribbon®sturdy vine supports are perfect for training and supporting all of your climbing vines. The kit contains 25 6” plastic-coated wire twists, 16 plastic discs and a tube of adhesive.

CobraCo® Fire Pit Chef’s Kit - Make cooking dinner a fun, family activity on your CobraCo® Fire Pit with the CobraCo® Fire Pit Chef’s Kit. This kit includes two 36” galvanized steel CobraCo® S’Mores Forks, that will allow you and your family to easily cook food on your Fire Pit from a comfortable distance.

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Backyard Entertaining for Labor Day Weekend

Labor Day weekend is right around the corner… the perfect end-of-summer, beginning-of-fall weather for campfires!  Perhaps you have been traveling all summer long and are ready for an extended weekend at home without any travel plans!  Here are a few tips and ideas for getting the most use out of your backyard this weekend:

1.  Incorporate a Fire Pit in your Backyard

Relatively inexpensive and easy to move around, a fire pit or fire ring can bring an extra element of excitement to your backyard, bringing friends and family together without all of the technology and toys you may be used to throughout the day.
Shop Fire Pits

2.  Use your Backyard for Family Camping

Family camping can be one of the best ways for families to bond while having fun in the backyard. Pitch a tent, light a fire in a fire pit or campfire ring, and enjoy some treats under the stars before bed.
More Camping Ideas
Expert Camping Tips
Backyard Camping FAQs

3.  Have Dinner (and Dessert!) in your Backyard

Instead of the typical family dinner indoors, take your meal time outside!  Try a new recipe on the grill, and get the kids involved with dessert by making S’mores!
Grilling Out FAQs
Expert Tips on How to Make S’mores

Still need some more inspiration?

Check out these two blog posts from blogger GOODeness Gracious who recently used an Avant Garden Decor Fire Pit for some family fun!

GOODeness Gracious: Ring of Fire
GOODeness Gracious: The Great Marshmallow Debate

What are your plans for this Labor Day weekend?
Will you be spending time outdoors around a campfire, perhaps?