Stepping Out

Flavors of the season

Gather up family and friends for a tasty summer bash

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Whether firing up the grill for a pool party, barbecue or even just a weeknight meal, one thing’s for sure — summertime means grilling season. Grilling takes many forms and flavors from casual favorites like burgers and hot dogs to flame-kissed vegetables and the artistry of a perfectly done steak. However, the possibilities don’t end there.

By mixing and matching traditional grilled classics with options that have a variety of textures and flavors, you can shake up your at-home menu and add new favorites to your routine this grilling season.

It’s easy to go from casual to elegant in a snap. The traditional faves always have their place, but if you’re looking for a different type of barbecue, add some finesse to your menu with other ideas; by re-imagining favorites off the grill, in a flatbread version, for example.

So get that grill sizzling and add some zest to your guest’s palates with these ideas to take your summer soiree to the next level.

Steak and Blue Cheese Flatbread

1 flatbread, any variety

3 tablespoons hummus

1/2 cup fresh arugula, rinsed and dried

4 ounces thinly sliced, cooked flank steak

1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese

Thinly sliced red onion (optional)

Salt and pepper, to taste

Heat grill to 450 F; bake flatbread 3-5 minutes until it begins to crisp.

Spread hummus onto flatbread. Layer arugula (reserving 3-4 leaves to garnish), steak and crumbled blue cheese. Top with onion, if desired.

Place on grill, close lid and cook 3-5 minutes.

Add salt and pepper, to taste, before serving.

Garden Flatbread

1 flatbread, any variety

2 tablespoons basil pesto (prepared or homemade)

2 tablespoons hummus

3-4 white button mushrooms

2 tablespoons corn (fresh or frozen)

3 spears asparagus, cooked until just tender

1/4 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded

Olive oil

Red pepper flakes (optional)

Salt and pepper, to taste

Heat grill to 450 F; bake flatbread 3-5 minutes until it begins to crisp.

Spread pesto, followed by hummus, over flatbread then layer mushrooms, corn and asparagus. Top with shredded mozzarella cheese.

Place on grill, close lid and cook 3-5 minutes.

Drizzle with olive oil; sprinkle with red pepper flakes, if desired. Add salt and pepper, to taste, before serving.

Spicy Mustard Chicken Kebabs

1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon spicy brown mustard

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1 tablespoon white wine vinegar

1 pound raw boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into 1-inch cubes

1/4 teaspoon each of salt and black pepper

1 medium red onion, cut into 1-inch chunks

To make sauce, place 3 tablespoons mustard in medium bowl. Add oil and garlic powder, and whisk until uniform. Cover and refrigerate.

To make marinade, in small bowl, combine vinegar with remaining 2 tablespoons mustard. Stir until uniform.

Season chicken with salt and pepper. Place chicken and marinade in large sealable plastic bag. Remove as much air as possible and seal. Gently knead marinade into chicken through bag. Refrigerate for 1 hour.

Meanwhile, if using wooden skewers, soak 4 in water for 20 minutes to prevent burning.

Alternately thread marinated chicken and onion chunks onto 4 skewers. Bring grill to medium-high heat.

Brush both sides of kebabs with sauce. Grill kebabs for 5 minutes with grill cover down.

Flip kebabs and grill for 6 to 8 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through. Enjoy.

Grilled Pineapple with Lime Dip

1 pineapple

¼ cup brown sugar

2 tablespoons lime juice

3 tablespoons honey

Lime Dip:

8 ounces cream cheese, softened

1/2cup plain yogurt

3 tablespoons honey

2 tablespoons brown sugar

2 tablespoons lime juice

2 teaspoons lime zest

Peel pineapple; cut into wedges.

In resealable plastic bag, combine brown sugar, lime juice and honey. Add pineapple wedges, seal bag and turn to coat. Refrigerate 1 hour.

To make dip: In small bowl, beat cream cheese until smooth. Beat in yogurt, honey, brown sugar, lime juice and lime zest. Cover and refrigerate.

Heat grill to medium heat.

Remove pineapple wedges from plastic bag; discard marinade. Grill pineapple wedges, covered, 3-4 minutes on each side, or until golden brown.

Serve with dip.