Rachael Ray Collection

Rachael Ray Collection

4th of July is upon us which means BBQ season is in full swing! Make your backyard stand out among the rest with a stellar set-up and fun DIY tricks… The Set-Up || Turn up the cozy by creating a lounge complete with an outdoor sectional, poufs, and a fire pit so your guests can relax between games and enjoy s’mores around the fire at the end of the night. Need more seating? Lay down a rug (an indoor rug can work as long as you bring it in at the end of the night) and throw down some oversized pillows. Pump the Jams || Curate a playlist of tunes that range from laid-back summer jams to fun throwback beats that will evoke nostalgia and get people to dance! Kiss the Cook || Think outside the box with your BBQ cuisine – maple bourbon burgers anyone? You don’t have to get crazy (it is still a BBQ after all), but offering those BBQ basics with a twist will certainly make your backyard bash the one to remember. Game On || Life-size Jenga is a fun DIY yard game that is always a crowd pleaser. Simply buy 3 8ft long 2x4 wide wood planks and using a power saw cut them into 8.5 inch blocks. Each plank should make about 11 blocks then you stack and play! If you want to get even craftier you can paint them with glow-in-the-dark paint to keep the party going well into the night. Buzz Off || Keep unwanted guests away with DIY citronella candles that will double as decorative accents! Using however many mason jars you feel is necessary, fill each ¾ of the way with hot water and 10 drops of citronella, eucalyptus, and peppermint essential oils. Add a thick slice of fresh lemon and a couple sprigs of fresh rosemary and lavender and top off with a floating votive candle. Another way to keep the insects at bay is adding sage to your fire pit!
Flip the script this summer. Instead of hosting the typical daytime barbeque, go for the golden hour – that magical time of day when the sun dips into the horizon and illuminates the sky in a warm, colorful glow. Enhance the ambiance with these essentials… Set the Stage || While your outdoor dining set can comfortably fit your family, it probably isn’t large enough to host an entire dinner party. Instead of setting up extra seating and separating everyone, make your own picnic-style banquet table! Forgo chairs and amp up the cozy by laying down a few outdoor area rugs topped with oversized toss pillows to serve as “chairs.” Next, take 3-4 wooden planks (depending on their width) and nail them together to create a sturdy table. Place the DIY table on top of cinderblocks to achieve the perfect height for your pillow chairs and top with a nice linen tablecloth! Scatter a few vases of flowers and some votive candles and your table is set. Perfectly Placed || Save the paper goods for your next daytime party. Elevate this dining experience by utilizing melamine dinnerware. Not only is this a green approach to entertaining, but many melamine utensils, serving ware, and place settings come in fun prints and colors that scream summer! You’ll have them for years to come too since they’re nearly unbreakable. Tech it Outside || If you don’t already have an outdoor speaker system, invest in a portable Bluetooth speaker so you can dine to the soft sound of your favorite musical artists. Allow your guests to help you curate the perfect playlist by having them pick a song or two when they RSVP to the dinner! Let it Glow || Surround your table with large citronella candles in hurricane vases to keep those pesky bugs away. Add even more intimacy and magic to the setting by stringing twinkly lights. If trees are scarce or non-existent in your backyard, make a string light fence instead! Surround your table with wooden stakes and adhere the lights to the stakes to section off your little picnic area. Chilly night? Finish off the look with a portable fire pit. Don’t forget the s’mores!
As summer winds down (sigh) and those cool mornings and nights slowly close in on the day that can only mean one thing (okay maybe two): FOOTBALL season is here! You’ve been cheating on your comfy sectional all summer with your outdoor furniture – now it’s time to take that party inside! Invite your friends & family over for the game and whip up that comfort food like a DIY mac & cheese bar! The Noodles || Start with your basic mac & cheese… Ingredients: Makes 6-8 servings, double as necessary 2 cups milk 2 tablespoons butter 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour 1/2 teaspoon salt 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 1 (10-oz.) block extra sharp Cheddar cheese, shredded 1/2 (16-oz.) package elbow macaroni, cooked Directions: 3 easy steps! 1. Preheat oven to 400° -- microwave milk at HIGH for 1 1/2 minutes. Melt butter in a large skillet over medium-low heat; whisk in flour until smooth. Cook, whisking constantly, for 1 minute. 2. Gradually whisk in warm milk, and cook, whisking constantly, 5 minutes or until thickened. 3. Whisk in salt, black pepper, 1 cup shredded cheese, and, if desired, red pepper until smooth; stir in pasta. Spoon pasta mixture into a lightly greased 2-qt. baking dish; top with remaining cheese. Bake at 400° for 20 minutes or until golden and bubbly. The Toppings || Then add your favorite meats! BBQ Pulled Pork || Sweet & southern inspired. Ingredients: Makes 6-8 servings, double as necessary 1 teaspoon vegetable oil 1 (4 pound) pork shoulder roast 1 cup barbecue sauce 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar 1/2 cup chicken broth 1/4 cup light brown sugar 1 tablespoon yellow mustard 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce 1 tablespoon chili powder 1 extra large onion, chopped 2 large cloves garlic, crushed Directions: 3 easy steps! 1. Pour the vegetable oil into the bottom of a slow cooker. Place the pork roast into the slow cooker; pour in the barbecue sauce, apple cider vinegar, and chicken broth. Stir in the brown sugar, yellow mustard, Worcestershire sauce, chili powder, onion, and garlic. Cover and cook on high until the roast shreds easily with a fork, 5 to 6 hours. 2. Remove the roast from the slow cooker, and shred the meat using two forks. Return the shredded pork to the slow cooker, and stir the meat into the juices. 3. Serve it up in your favorite dish with a spoon so guests can easily scoop and top their mac & cheese! Buffalo Chicken || Savory with a kick! Ingredients: Makes 6-8 servings, double as necessary 6 boneless skinless chicken breasts 1 (12 oz.) bottle buffalo wing sauce 2 tablespoons ranch mix seasoning 2 tablespoons butter Directions: 3 easy steps! 1. In medium bowl, combine the buffalo wing sauce, butter, and ranch seasoning. 2. Place chicken breasts in lightly greased slow cooker. Pour hot sauce mixture over chicken and cook on low for 6-8 hours. 3. Shred chicken breasts in the slow cooker and serve! Lobster || New England classic! Ingredients: Makes 6-8 servings, double as necessary 6-8 1lb lobsters Salt Directions: 3 easy steps! 1. In a pot large enough to comfortably hold the lobster, fill the water 2 inches from the top adding 2 tbsp of salt for each qt of water. 2. Bring water to a rolling boil & steam each lobster individually for 7 minutes. 3. Shuck & serve in small pieces so it can be easily folded into the mac & cheese!
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Celebrate the opening of America’s favorite pastime with America’s favorite BBQ food: hot dogs. Spice up your hot dog game by setting up a buffet station by your outdoor dining set and dedicate it to delicious toppings that range from classic to eclectic. The options are endless, but here are a few to get you started… Dogs & Buns || Offer a mix of all-beef and veggies dogs so guests with dietary restrictions can join in on the fun too. Bratwursts and sausages are also great options to add in the mix! Since there will be many toppings to choose from it will be good to have a variety of bun styles too. Hoagie rolls will be great for those that really want to make a monster dog while traditional rolls are perfect for a few toppings. Satisfy those carb-cutters by also offering large leaves of lettuce as a breadless option! Tasty Toppings || The options here are truly endless, but to streamline the process for both you and your guests print a couple specific recipes and leave the cards at the station as a guide. Below are a few crowd-pleasers: The All-American: beef dog topped with mac & cheese, bacon bits, and crushed potato chips. Bonus: add BBQ pulled pork. Mexican Street Dog: beef dog topped with seasoned ground beef, chargrilled corn, scallions, lime mayo, and Cotija cheese. Classic Reuben: sausage, sauerkraut, Swiss cheese, and Thousand Island dressing (mayo, ketchup, and sweet relish). Hawaiian Dog: veggie dog topped with diced pineapple, jalapeño, red onion, cilantro, and teriyaki mayo (mayo, teriyaki sauce, and lime juice).   Creative Condiments || Be sure to include all specialty condiments necessary for the recipes you choose such as the mayo mixes, but also include the classics. Offer a catalog of mustards that range from spicy Dijon to sweet honey to traditional yellow. BBQ, Buffalo, and Sriracha are also fan favorites. Just don’t forget the relish and ketchup!