July 4th weekend is now behind us and I'm hoping everyone had a chance to fire up the BBQ grill at least once.  The smell of BBQ cooking on the grill is of the best things about summertime and here are a couple of tips to help make your barbecues a bit better this season.

Try serving less meat, quit buying those burgers or steaks in bulk - instead buy the more expensive stuff.  Getting grass-fed beef, dry-aged steaks, and wild seafood for the grill will be sure to impress your guests.  Anybody can grill a hundred burgers for 20 people. But you'll make people remember your party if your backyard offering is on gourmet level.

Don't just remember the vegetables, try making them the focus of your grilled feast.  Instead of putting out chips and salsa or just potato chips, try serving up some charred vegetables with dipping sauces.  Or if you've got the time you might try grilling vegetables and then puree them into fresh sauces for your steaks or other offerings.

Instead of buying BBQ spices or rubs try making your own.  For a quick dry rub, throw some paprika and chili powder together and mix in some brown sugar, oregano, salt, and garlic. If you want some extra heat in your rub add a dash of cayenne pepper.

Once you are ready to start the grill, try using a high - medium - and then low - heat approach to prepare your food.  Put a high-heat flame on the left side of the grill to help you get your sear marks.  Then cook the meat in the middle on a medium heat, and once its almost at temperature move it to low heat to finish cooking and keep it warm.

For a better BBQ, be sure to keep track of cooking temperatures.  Food poisoning will wreck a party for everybody.  Be sure to cook everything to 140 degrees or above, and smoked food should be cooked to between 180 and 220 degrees.

As a sweet finishing touch try serving fruit for dessert.  If you think about it, nobody saves room for brownies and ice cream. So why not grill up some slices of pineapple, peaches, or mango.  You can also serve them with a piece of angel food cake, toasted right on the grill then top with whipped cream.

Now lets fire up the grill and enjoy the rest of summer.

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