Shrimp

Memorial Day Cookout: 6 Grill Ideas That Blow the Burger Out of the Water

Thanks to the great climate in Florida, we have the luxury of keeping our grills out all year round here at the Villages of Citrus Hills. But there is just something about Memorial Day Weekend that gives all of us the itch to break out the tongs and fire up the charcoal.

Most backyard cookouts feature some combination of hamburgers and hot dogs. If you are looking for a new idea to set your big holiday party apart from all of the others, we’ve got five grill ideas that will blow those burgers and hot dogs right out of the water. Let's fire up the grill!

Baby Back Ribs

Hamburgers and hot dogs are the most popular cookout foods because they are among the easiest things to throw together in a hurry. But when you really want to impress your guests, pork ribs are the way to do it.

The key to making the best ribs in town is to take your time and cook them low and slow. If you can get your grill down below 225 degrees, you can cook them right there for five or six hours.

Alternatively, you can cook them in the oven for the first five hours and then move them out to the grill for the finishing touches.  One of the most important things to remember when prepping your ribs is that you always want to make sure to remove the thin membrane on the bone side of the meat. This will allow all of the flavor from the rub, sauce, and smoke to work its way right into the meat.

Steaks

Throwing a nice Ribeye or T-bone steak on the grill is always going to be looked at as an upgrade from your basic hamburger, but many people are intimidated by the different levels of doneness that each of their guests might prefer.

Understanding the subtle differences between medium rare, medium, and medium well can be a challenge, but you can pick up the ultimate cheat sheet for that challenge in the form of a meat thermometer for just a few dollars.   Many newer thermometers have the regions for different levels of doneness marked right on them.

 

So, with your new thermometer in hand, you can feel confident that you are serving steaks to your guests exactly how they like them!

Bacon-Wrapped Stuffed Jalapeños

You can also get creative on the grill with appetizers.  One popular idea is to take halved jalapeños that have been stemmed and seeded and stuff them with a mixture of cream cheese and shredded cheddar cheese. Wrap the peppers with par-cooked bacon and throw them on the grill until that bacon gets nice and crispy. Your guests will beg you for this simple recipe.

 

Stuffed Turkey Burgers

If you are expecting your guests to be a little more health conscious, you might want to go with turkey burgers instead of hamburgers. You can instantly jazz up this healthy alternative by mixing in any combination of diced vegetables and garlic that you prefer.

Just chop up some peppers, onions, and garlic and mix them in with the ground turkey before you make your patties. If you really want to wow the crowd, add a little BBQ sauce into that mixture too!

BBQ Chicken Thighs

Another food that would be a lot more popular at cookouts if people weren't so intimidated by it is chicken thighs. Where chicken breasts tend to dry out on the grill, the dark meat that you get with a thigh will stay moist for much longer.

Once again, the thermometer is your best friend here. Make sure that you are getting your chicken up to 165 degrees before serving it, but don't go too much further than that!

Chicken thighs are extremely versatile. You can combine all kinds of flavors through different rubs and sauces. So, put out a few different options to give your guests some variety, and they'll still be talking about your chicken at the Fourth of July party.

Shrimp Skewers

And last but not least, seafood.  A very easy addition to the menu and always a crowd pleaser.  Put a few shrimp on a skewer, add a few vegetables if you like, and in a few minutes, they’re ready to eat.  Brush on a little marinade or have dipping sauces out on the table and you’re all set.

 

No matter what you are making, a Memorial Day Barbeque is always a good time with family and friends.  But it’s always fun to try something a little different and to go the extra mile. 

These 6 suggestions just might do the trick!

Fish Fridays: 5 Local Seafood Restaurants to Visit During Lent

No matter what your religious affiliation, almost everyone can appreciate a good fish fry. And while many religions require a meatless diet on Fridays during forty days between Ash Wednesday and Easter, just as many non-religious people participate in the tradition simply because seafood is delicious.

The restaurants within the Villages of Citrus Hills have great seafood entrees available every Friday. There are also many great restaurants in Citrus County serving a great fish Friday, so we’ve pulled together a list of five seafood restaurants for you to try.  

There are so many in our area we’ll probably have to do a listing every month.

Seafood Seller & Cafe

The Seafood Seller & Cafe has a casual atmosphere and is located inside the Crystal River Mall, where they anchor the food court. They stay one of the most popular seafood restaurants in all of Citrus County.

If you’ve never visited before, you will not believe the quality of the food that can be found at the mall! One of the signature items to try is the Blue Crab Balls, but everything on the menu is fantastic. Other popular selections include the Blackened Mahi Mahi Tacos, Blackened Grouper Dinner, Oyster Po Boy Sandwiches, and Crawfish!

Peck’s Old Port Cove

If you like your seafood to come with a view, Peck’s Old Port Cove at the end of the scenic Ozello Trail is the perfect destination. Here you can pull up a chair overlooking the water of Crystal Bay right in the heart of Crystal River Preserve State Park.

Soft Shell Blue crabs are one of the specialties here, and Peck’s does an appreciable job of sautéing them in plenty of butter. They also serve a delicious fried seafood platter.

Stumpknockers on the River

Another renowned fish spot in Citrus County is Stumpknockers on the River. This locally owned restaurant sits right on the Withlacoochee River, and their most popular specialty is the Fried Catfish Dinner. There are many Lent-friendly entrees on their menu, like the Peel & Eat Shrimp, Stuffed Flounder, and the Fab 4, which features shrimp, scallops, mussels, and crab legs.

Dan’s Clam Stand

Many people make the mistake of assuming that fried fish is all that there is to eat on Fridays during Lent, but that definitely isn’t the case. At Dan’s Clam Stand, shellfish is their passion. Here you will find amazing deep fried shrimp and clams and wonderful conch fritters.

Katch Twenty-Two

Another common misconception about the Lent season is that the seafood has to be fried and served in an ultra-casual environment. If you are looking to buck that trend and go for something a bit elegant, Katch Twenty-Two is one of Citrus County’s premier seafood restaurants. There is a wide range of options on Chef Richard’s constantly evolving menu, but amazing seafood dishes are always a feature that takes advantage of our location along the Gulf Coast.

The Lenten season stretches out for a total of seven Fridays during the months of March and April this year, but it doesn’t even have to be a Friday during Lent for you to enjoy one of these excellent local seafood restaurants. No matter when you plan to visit, make sure you are hungry when you do