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Casual Grilling

Ronda Whitaker
Ronda Whitaker has been Casual Living's graphic designer since 2007. In her new home, she loves to cook and enjoys grandiose thoughts of gourmet entertaining in her back yard. Ronda’s backyard is a long way from being an entertainment mecca, but with this blog she's looking forward to trying new recipes while improving her novice grilling skills.
  • Queue, The Kabob – 3 Ways to increase grill and add-on sales

    So I’m reading an article about the popularity of kabobs in American Way magazine (courtesy of our thoughtful and talented editor-in-chief) and my frontal cortex lights up like the 4th of July. And not just from Googling recipes to make my taste buds happy, but with ideas on how to marry kabobs with a griller's desire to go gourmet that can produce grill sales for you.     The writer notes that restaurants are introducing more creative and exotic ideas to the simple skewer. For example, one California chef uses non-run-of-the-mill foods such as roasted sturgeon belly and foie gras ... Read More
  • 10 Cool Summer Add-ons

    It is sweltering hot this summer, especially here in the South. As I write it is 98 degrees outside with a heat index of 104. But Southern gals do not sweat in the sultry, summer heat. We glisten--even when we grill during the dog days of summer. When it’s this hot out childhood memories of our tiny, pre-air conditioning 70’s era house bring back visions of my mama cooking in a hot kitchen that rivaled any sauna. She would stand there over the stove clad in a tank top and shorts, one hand wiping back her wet hair ... Read More
  • 3 Steps to a Pizza-tasting Event on the 4th

    Grilling hot dogs and hamburgers is as American as apple pie – and it’s easy. So buyers sometimes need nudging to try something different on their grills. Retailers who plan special on-site events to offer up know-how and advice can instill trust and loyalty in their patrons. Even better, these fun events attract new traffic as well. So why not host a pizza- tasting party during the 4th of July holiday? Say “slice to meet you,” put some tunes on the speakers, and then grill anything from traditional to gourmet pizza this – the turnout just might surprise you.   1. First ... Read More
  • Not so Super Bowl Grilling: Putting the Char in Grill

    Don’t feel bad Panthers; my wings didn’t even make it to the Super Bowl. My brother hosts our family super bowl party, and my responsibility this year was to bring the cake. Being a decent baker and cake decorator, not to mention a show-off, I loved doing it. The cake was going to be, I was told, the hit of the party. But I wanted to grill, too, and I wanted to try wings for the first time. After all, I have that beautiful infrared grill in my back yard and, by golly, I want to use it ... Read More
  • Barbecue: Event or Food Style?

    This past weekend, a friend of mine and I went to Cook Out (a Southern fast food chain with burgers, dogs, chicken, BBQ, etc.) for one of their famous milkshakes. While we were there, I said aloud, “This place is aptly named; people, a grill, some food and the backyard…that’s cooking out.” Here in the South, when we have a smattering of friends in the backyard, food and a heat source, we are cooking out. Elsewhere in the country, it seems people call that having a barbecue. Similarly, oftentimes the two phrases "barbecuing" and "grilling" are mistakenly used ... Read More
  • Be resolved

    It's that time again. Many New Year's resolutions typically revolve around losing weight. In a few short months that resolution is kaput. Kerplewy. Gone. Color me guilty. But for the avid griller, resolving to eat healthier meals can be an easy resolution to keep since grilled food is delicious, not to mention fun. Healthy grilling recipes are practically endless. Why not get aboard the New Year's bandwagon and promote grill sales while doing so? Offering some of these healthy tidbits can simultaneously fuel your customers' enthusiasm for both their 2016 goals and for cooking on the grill ... Read More
  • All I Want For Christmas

      Dear Santa, I have been a very good (fairly good) girl this year. Okay. I tried. I really tried. I meet some of my blog deadlines. I get to work on time … most days. I try not to honk my horn at people who are texting on their phones when the light turns green. I’ve not caught my grill or my dogs on fire. Oh, who am I kidding? No more Miss Nice Girl. I have Sparky, and here is what I want, Big Guy:         1. The Dragon Smoker: Forging meets function. Who doesn’t want their own fire ... Read More
  • Speed Matters

      Zig Ziglar once said something to the effect of, “Optimism is going after Moby Dick with a pocket knife in one hand and tartar sauce in the other.” That was the casual grilling frame of mind going into this month’s blog. Extreme optimism. Our annual family beach vacation was rapidly approaching, and grilling a meal or two is always on our agenda. While planning our weekly meals it dawned on me: The house has one of those permanent iron charcoal grills, battered and rusty by the salty air and who knows what burnt, gross, fish gunk left behind by ... Read More
  • Up in Smoke

    Those three words sum up this weekend’s massive meatloaf grilling experiment for the most part. The menu: smoked meatloaf (two actually), Four Cheese Smoked Mac and Cheese and Smoked Skillet Apple-Bourbon Crisp. There was no way to resist bobbing my head and belting “Out of the frying pan and into the fire” while preparing the menu for this blog. It was more appropriate than I realized at the time. I was burned, metaphorically speaking. I split the six pounds of ground beef for the one meatloaf recipe and decided to try two different styles; and, boy, these were still ... Read More
  • I shed my scarlet letter

      Well, more like a dull, brown B. As in over-cooked beef.  Yes, I was previously a meat murderer. I committed beef blasphemy. This weekend all that ended, and I earned my temporary girl grill card.Rewind: I have gone without a grill for quite some time and decided when spring rolled around I was going to purchase a new one.  So I strolled into a local store one day and found a beautiful stainless steel, commercial, infrared grill. Ooooooh. It was love at first sight.Then fear set in. How does this work? I only know it claims to cook ... Read More
  • That's a (bacon) wrap

    A couple of weeks ago I stumbled upon a tailgate photo contest with Traeger Wood Pellet Grills. Each week was a different theme where contestants tweeted photos of what they cooked and the winner received a Traeger tailgate grill package. Hot dawg! How fun that would be and it motivated me after a seriously long hiatus from the backyard cooking experience. If nothing else, I love a challenge.That particular week the theme was bacon wrapped tailgate food. I quickly found and tried a fabulous recipe from the BBQ Pit Boys that will make your mouth water. You and your ... Read More
  • It's all about the onion

    You probably know May is National BBQ Month. It turns out May also is National Vidalia Onion Month so I thought I'd pay homage to the onion in my very first Casual Grilling blog.  Who doesn't love onions? Shrek thinks they are worthy and I do, too. So I searched high and low for onion recipes and finally found one online that I wanted to tackle. Eureka! Grilled onion rings. Fun and yum, not to mention healthier than deep frying. Oh! And let's make it ALL about onions. Burgers stuffed with onions, mushrooms, and cheese topped with ... Read More