Thank you Cameron Hughes for sponsoring this post. Wine and dine your way into summer and raise a toast to everyone’s favorite season!
We love summer for the obvious reason – warm sunny days, sun tans, pool parties and mimosas, everything green and blooming… the list is long! However, more than all of those things, I anxiously await summer to get out on the back deck, wine glass in hand, and grill to my heart’s content! There’s nothing better than the smell of a well-seasoned steak searing over hot coals alongside a myriad of fresh veggies from your local farmer’s market! I could quite possibly grill every night, continuing well into the evening surrounded by family and friends as we sip on delicious wines, enjoy a fabulous meal, and share stories; laughing uncontrollably into the late hours. That marks a perfect day for me!
The other night we decided to do just that; taking advantage of our apartment’s breathtaking entertainment room that looks out over our entire town – including views of downtown Minneapolis! The night, and weather, could not have been more perfect, especially since we had plenty of outstanding wine to enjoy from a new favorite, Cameron Hughes Wine.
I will be honest, I was a little hesitant to serve the bottles at our family dinner, simply because of the price. There’s no way someone can sell quality wine at a such a low cost without it tasting… well, like the box wine. No offense to box wine, because I’ve been known to drink box wine on plenty of occasions. However, on special nights with my family, I prefer to serve the good stuff! That being said, as the night progressed, and each bottle was uncorked, we were blown away by how delicious and enjoyable Cameron Hughes wines were! How can an Old Vine Zinfandel that costs $13 taste closer to a $40 Zin? It doesn’t seem possible, but the reason for that is Cameron Hughes Wine is all about what’s inside the bottle, no fancy label, simple website… just high quality wine at affordable prices.
Summer grilling wouldn’t be complete without some REALLY GOOD and easy recipes to whip up whenever the occasion arises. Apart from grilling steak and chicken, we love to soak a few hand-cut cedar planks overnight and grill huge fillets of steel head trout seasoned with dill, sesame seed oil, garlic, lime and a Japanese spice called Ichimi Togarashi (similar to cayenne pepper.) We serve it alongside Parmesan grilled baby zucchini and a roasted red pepper sauce. It is so incredibly good, fresh, and most important, healthy!
Having all of the essential tools to make sure your season of grilling and outdoor entertaining kicks off without a hitch, is probably the most important thing in preparing for summer… at least in my opinion! Well, other than prepping my gardens, of course! That being said, we’ve rounded up a few of our favorite grilling essentials so that you can insure plenty of incredible evenings like that above, all summer long!
.01 TWO-PIECE GRILLING SET I like to keep my utensils pretty simple. A thongs and a spatula are really the only thing I find I use the most. I’ve been using the OXO brand for years; the rubber grip being my favorite part of these grilling utensils.
.02 GRILLING GRID SET There’s nothing I hate more than having veggies or smaller cuts of meat fall through the grates. These grilling grids keep your food above the flames and make transferring food from the grill to the table seamless and easy.
.03 CAMERON HUGHES WINES You are likely going to be doing a lot of entertaining this summer! If you are like me, you want to impress your guests without having to break the bank and Cameron Hughes Wines completely understands that! They are one of the few Direct-To-Consumer online (DTC) wine brands out there that have done away with the traditional wholesale method (which increases the cost of that bottle each time it passes through a distributor) and sells directly to us, the customer. This is how they are able to sell e.g. an $80 Napa Valley Cab for $30. An essential to your summer grilling. For a limited time, Cameron Hughes Wine is offering free shipping when you purchase 3 bottles of wine! Use code INEEDWINE18 to stock up for all of your summer entertaining coming up this summer!
.04 CHARCOAL CHIMNEY STARTER If you own a charcoal grill, then this is a must! This upright metal tube allows you to start your coals quickly and efficiently, sans lighter fluid.
.05 GRILL BRUSH A clean grill is a happy grill! I recently purchased a different grill brush and wished I would have taken the advice of over 1,200 reviewers that say this brush is the best! So don’t make my mistake, friends!
.06 DIGITAL THERMOMETER If you are grilling meats then you need, need, need a thermometer! It’s the best way to accurately know what’s going on inside that delicious slab of meat you woke up at the break of dawn to start marinating!
.07 FRANKLIN BARBECUE COOKBOOK Aaron and Stacy Franklin are the real deal when it comes to BBQ! Their insanely popular restaurant in Austin and winner of just about every barbecue award out there, is proof of that!
.08 SILICONE BASTING BRUSH Those delicious sauces don’t magically find their way onto your perfectly grilled meats, you’ve got to slather them on without melting your brush in the process! The silicon bristles are heat resistant up to 600 degrees F!
.09 CHEF’S APRON There’s nothing worse than getting splattered with meat juices or BBQ sauce. No matter how hard I’ve tried, those stains do not come out! I love this apron because it’s durable, and has a ton of pockets for holding your utensils.
.10 IRON SERVING PLATTER I am so in love with the look of this platter! A beautiful way to serve your grilled veggies, kabobs, or grilled meats. It makes the perfect platter for serving wood-fired pizzas as well!
.11 STAINLESS STEEL SKEWERS Kabobs are a grilling standard. I love that these skewers are sleek, modern, and not expensive! It makes buying them a no-brainer.
.12 FISH SPATULA A fish spatula may not seem like a common grilling tool, but I find it works best for flipping burgers, steaks and fish. The thin, flexible blade works well with more delicate meats.
.14 SHATTERPROOF OUTDOOR CABERNET GLASSES Broken glass outside it not ideal, but it’s hard to find quality wine glasses that don’t have a thick lip to them. These are a bit more expensive, but I like their look and the “lip-less rim”.
.15 LARGE CEDAR GRILLING PLANKS Grilling meats, fish or veggies on a cedar plank is LIFE CHANGING! You cannot go through this grilling season without making it happen! I prefer a larger sized plank to fit large fillets of fish or multiple steaks at one time.
.16 ULTRA-DURABLE PITCHER Don’t let your guests get dehydrated! I love the design of this pitcher; the sleek lines and minimalist look. The fact that it’s durable (though not shatterproof) is a win, win for me! This pitcher need a good sangria in it!
I was selected for this opportunity as a member of CLEVER and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.