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The Best Backyard BBQ

How to throw a stress-free backyard BBQ this summer.

By
Amanda Thomas,

Last week, I decided that I wanted to have some of our “old school” friends over for a belated birthday dinner. Over the years, my friends have seen me go completely overboard when hosting dinner parties, and I would like to think that they love me because I’m not afraid to show them my completely frazzled self. Most past dinner parties, I have been 3 glasses of wine into the night before anyone arrives because I’ve been stressing about the food for the entire day. I’d like to say that I handle hosting parties with grace and style, but more often, people arrive to find me in a kitchen surrounded by piles of dishes, potato peels on the floor, my apron still on, and my husband hiding in another room because I snap at him if he enters the kitchen.

I decided this time was going to be different. I wanted to make this dinner party as easy on myself as I possibly could.

I started by only inviting 2 couples. Now, both of those couples have 2 kids, so this was really inviting 8 people, but this was still smaller than my last dinner party, when I invited about 35 peopole, and hosted 24. Have I mentioned that I tend to jump into things and think about them later? That’s a whole side issue …

The next thing I did to make this easy was to name it a Backyard BBQ and asked everyone to bring their own meat and drinks, and we would provide the sides and desserts. Not only was this a budget friendly way to host a party, but it also ensured that every person had exactly the entrée and beverage they wanted.

Before everyone arrived, I spent about 2 hours prepping sides and desserts. Now, I realize that this sounds like a lot of time, but it’s not uncommon for me to spend a full 8 hours prepping and cooking a meal for a dinner party. Two hours of husking corn on the cob, trimming asparagus, cutting potatoes and peaches, and making a from-scratch chocolate mousse was nothing compared to the frazzle I’m normally in when hosting. As a side note, if you want an amazing recipe for chocolate mousse, here's the one I use to wow my friends. It's amazing!

By the time our friends arrived, everything was ready to throw on the grill. For the first time in 12 years, I was able to actually talk with our friends when they arrived at our home. No joke.

Once everyone arrived, we started casually cooking the veggies. How casually? I started boiling the sliced potatoes and Mr. DCeo threw the corn and asparagus on the grill. After a few minutes, I gave him the potatoes to grill for a few minutes. When all the veggies were done, they got handed back to me to keep warm in the oven while the husbands put all the meat on the grill.

And about 10 minutes later, we were all sitting around the table eating a fabulous grilled dinner. As I watched one couple chowing on pollo asada and tortillas, the other couple and I on steak, and my husband gnawing on a massive pork chop, I was happy knowing that everyone had exactly what they wanted to be eating.

The kids ran around venturing over to the grown up table to eat a few bites off their parents’ plates, and the adults sat and had a relaxed backyard BBQ dinner night. In other words, it was a perfect night with some of our best friends.

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