May 12, 2009 -- Summer might not officially start till next month, but with Memorial Day right around the corner, the barbecue season is practically underway. Think about it, though -- barbecues can be expensive with the snacks, the drinks and all that food. So how can you fire up the grill this year and not burn through all of your cash?
Here are "The Supermarket Guru" Phil Lempert's Memorial Day recipes that will help you keep one eye on your pocketbook and one eye on satisfying your friends and family.
Here's my recipe for homemade guacamole that you can make in under five minutes and will cost you about a third of what the already prepared ones cost, and there is nothing better-tasting than homemade!
2 large ripe avocados, peeled and pitted
1 10 oz. can of Rotel brand Mexican diced tomatoes, drained (I like Rotel best because of the spices they add)
1/4 cup finely chopped green onions
1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon fresh squeezed lime juice
1/4 teaspoon garlic salt
Put all the ingredients in a large bowl, mix well, then slice up the avocados, add to the bowl and start mashing. It's a simple recipe that your guests will beg you for.
Back in 1942, the corn dog was invented for the Texas State Fair and now it's a special treat that can make your Memorial Day barbecue the hit of the neighborhood. For this recipe you won't have to use your grill. Here's how you can make your own Texas Corn Dogs -- it is easy and fun!
2 1/2 cups cornmeal
1 1/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
1 cup water
Having grown up in New York, my favorite hot dog is still Hebrew National, and for this recipe, these seem to work the best because of their casing, which also has just the right "snap" when you bite into them. Next step is to skewer the hot dogs with a wooden stick -- the long flat popsicle-type ones work the best.
Then dip your skewered frank in the batter, and then deep fry (I prefer either a mild olive oil or canola oil) until golden brown. By making your own corn dogs instead of buying them, you'll also save at least $8 a dozen, and the taste is far better. And if you are looking for something a little lower in fat, there are many low-fat options for your franks, including Hebrew Nationals, that offers a dog 97 percent fat free.
My last tip won't save you any money, unless you were planning to hire a DJ for your party, but has always made my barbecues a success. Ask your friends to each put six of their favorite summer songs that remind them of their childhood on their iPods and bring to the party. This way, not only have you taken the pressure off yourself, but you are guaranteed to have everyone smiling and rockin'. My favorites? Of course it's got to be the Beach Boys, but I start every barbecue off with the B52s and Rock Lobster.