5 Grilling Tips For Your 4th of July Barbecue

Grilling

With most parades and firework shows canceled across the country, 4th of July is going to look a little different this year.  Fortunately, we are still able to celebrate with our families at home. If you are planning to barbecue with your family for Independence Day, check out some of our favorite grilling tips.

PREPARE YOUR MENU AND SUPPLIES IN ADVANCE

Don’t wait until you are about to get the grill fired up to make sure you have everything you need. Stores are generally packed and out-of-stock on classic 4th of July foods and supplies, so make sure you get stocked up beforehand. Check your propane tank or charcoal supply in advance as well. Plan your menu and do your shopping a few days before.  If you plan to marinate your meat, get that ready the night before. It is also important to take the time to make sure your grill and all the grates are clean and ready to go.

KEEP IT SIMPLE

Try to not overwhelm yourself with a complex menu. The more variety that you have, the more you will have to keep up with. It can be hard to cook multiple types of meat and veggies at once if they require different temperatures and cooking times.

HAVE EVERYTHING YOU NEED ACCESSIBLE

You should have all your tools and supplies that you are going to need nearby and accessible—clean pans to put the food in once cooked, a meat thermometer, spatula and tongs, aluminum foil, and a spray bottle in case of flare-ups.

JUST LET IT COOK (NO SQUEEZING)

Once you get your meat cooking, you want to leave it alone as much as possible. One common mistake is pressing down on the meat and squeezing out the fat, which will drip down causing flare-ups. The goal is to keep the fat in the meat, so don’t press down on it! Try to keep your flipping to a minimum as well.

REST YOUR MEAT

Once your meat has reached the appropriate temperature, allow it 5-10 minutes to rest. This will allow the juices to redistribute throughout the meat, keeping it nice and moist. We know it is tempting to jump right in once the food is done, but trust us, this extra time will make a difference.

ENJOY!

Grilling out is a favorite pastime for a lot of us, especially on celebratory days. We hope these tips are helpful to you as you prepare to celebrate the 4th of July. If you have any other grilling master tips, we’d love to hear them! Stop by our Facebook page and share with us and the rest of our Zippy Shell community.

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5 Common Fire Hazards in Your Home

Family plays with cardboard box while unpacking

Home fires are dangerous and can result in devastating property damage and even loss of life. You may consider your home fire-safe, but you should always prepare for the unexpected. Having a fire-safety checklist with you when you are evaluating potential new properties or when updating/remodeling is a great way to help you spot potential hazards that might not be so obvious.

There are several common fire hazards, though, that you can easily identify. Taking steps now to remedy any of these hazards could save a life in the future.

  • Electrical Cords – The first step to reducing fire hazards caused by electrical cords is to make sure all major appliances are plugged directly into a wall receptacle outlet and not an extension cord. This includes refrigerators, dryers, washers, stoves, air conditioners, microwave ovens, and other large appliances. Keep in mind, too, that a surge suppressor is not made for heavy loads. Also, make sure all electrical cords are in good working condition and not broken, cut or frayed. Even old extension cords that look as if they are in good working condition may need to be replace from time to time.
  • Heating – To prevent fires, have heating equipment and chimneys cleaned and inspected each year. If you are purchasing a new home, be sure to ask about the last time these items were completed. Keep anything that can burn at least three feet away from all heating equipment. This includes furnaces, fireplaces, wood stoves, and portable space heaters. Always use a fire screen or fireplace doors to contain sparks from your fireplace. While asleep or when you leave home always extinguish all fires and candles and unplug all heating appliances. Never assume that the fire will “burn down” or that the flame is contained.
  • Clothes Dryer – Fires involving clothes dryers are usually caused by accumulated lint, which is highly flammable. Lint can build up in both the lint trap and the venting system. The best way to prevent this fire hazard is to clean the lint trap on your clothes dryer with each and every load. It is also recommended to have your dryer vents professionally cleaned every 12 to 24 months.
  • Cooking – Unattended cooking is involved in the majority of kitchen fires. The best way to prevent these fires is to closely supervise your cooking. Also, remove clutter from your cooking area and keep anything that can burn at least three feet away from the stove top area.

  • Safety Tools – While there are things you can do to minimize fire risk in your home, be sure you have the tools on hand in case something happens. First and foremost is a working smoke detector. Test your smoke detector and ensure it works. Maintain it according to manufacturer directions and never, ever take the smoke detector down or disable it. Another key safety tool is a fire extinguisher. Every home should have at least one.

A fire can easily occur in your home, regardless of your home’s age, location, or condition. Take the time to reduce and eliminate as many fire hazards as possible before the holidays! 

8 Kitchen Gadgets You Didn’t Know You Needed

Young woman making food in her kitchen

Holiday gift-giving season is upon us and whether you are purchasing for yourself or others, we’ve got a fresh list of kitchen gadget goodness that will amaze and astound you and your recipients. Feel free to go to any of your favorite online (or sticks and bricks) shopping destinations and pop these items in search to find all of the top brands.

Veggie Spiralizer or Noodle Maker: Paleo, keto and gluten-free are popular diet movements at the moment, which means limited or no pasta in the diet, but you can craft pasta out of sweet potatoes, zucchini or squash. The pre-made squash or zucchini noodles in the market area of your store can be very expensive and they might not necessarily be that fresh, so if you are craving a past-like experience minus the carbs, this may be the gadget for you.

Sparkling Water Maker: Interested in ensuring that your sparkling water is fresh and free of additives? Make your own! There are several CO2 infusers on the market. Grab some recipes off the Internet and create your own flavored sparkling water.

Ice Ball Makers: What, you didn’t know that ice balls were a thing? Cubes melt quickly, diluting those expensive beverages. Ice balls not only look really cool, but they take much longer to melt, thus keeping your beverage cooler longer.

Insta Pot: We’ve been told by Insta Pot addicts that it can replace up to 8 of your other small kitchen gadgets. There are a variety of these pressure cookers on the market, but these aren’t the pressure cookers your mom had. Oh, no. These new cookers take only 20 minutes to do what once took an hour and wash only a pot and lid, as opposed to multiple pots and pans. Some even come with pre-programmed recipes!

Griddle: Yes, we know that griddles aren’t a new thing, but these aren’t the griddles of the past. Today’s griddles are streamlined and loaded with features that make them indispensable on those days you don’t want to stand outside in the rain or cold to grill or use the expensive outdoor cooker. The newer countertop griddles boast a ridged side for a grilled look and snap in, non-stick plates. You could easily make an entire meal in one swoop.

Air Fryer: Air fryers are relatively new and most on your gift list won’t even know they needed one – until you give it. These gadgets use very hot air to “fry” your favorite foods, eliminating fatty oils. Most require no preheating, saving you time, too. Reviews are varied on this kitchen gadget, but for those trying to eliminate traditional frying and fatty oils, an air fryer may just be the ticket.

Electric Jar Opener: It’s ok to admit it – sometimes we have difficulty opening that pickle jar, no matter how many times we hit it with a fork! Fortunately, someone thought of that and an electric jar opener may be a great, inexpensive stocking stuffer for anyone. It’s simple to operate, too: position it, push a button, watch it rotate. Voila, that pesky jar has been opened!

Color-Coded Cutting Boards: Thinking about that cutting board soaking up the chicken while trying to slice a cucumber on it is no fun. Today’s cutting boards are hygienic, color-coded and do not transmit bacteria. They are nonporous and easy to store, too. Many come in their own carrier. They don’t crack and are long lasting. Even better these boards are colored according to the food: meat, cooked, veggies, seafood and more.

New and innovative kitchen gadgets are hitting the market every day. When you move into that new space, toss out the old and consider some new kitchen gadgets to save you time and money.

Top Father’s Day Gift Ideas

father and son on pier

If you have the dad who already has everything he “needs,” use some of these gift ideas to give dad a present he will love for his special day.

Yeti™ cup

For all of his travel drink necessities, yeti cups serve all purposes. They easily fit in all car cup holders, as well as are capable of holding hot or cold drinks at their preferred temperature.

Baseball tickets

If Dad’s favorite team is playing on Father’s Day, consider buying some tickets and go!  If there isn’t a professional game available, going to a minor league game is always a good alternative.

Grilling equipment

Whether it’s time to replace your old grill, or acquire some new grilling utensils, buy some for the dad who loves to grill.

Lawn games

While enjoying a fun BBQ or family gathering, lawn games are always a hit.

Tile mate™

Attach a tile mate to dad’s keys or something else he frequently loses to help him quickly find it by summoning it from his phone.

Gravity blanket

This weighted blanket will encompass dad in a big, comfy bear hug to help him get a great sleep at night.

Kindle Paperwhite™

This latest edition of kindle allows for access to thousands of books in a waterproof material. Provide dad with his favorite classics that he can read by the water.

Digital picture frame

Give dad not one, not two, but multiple pictures in one frame! A digital picture frame allows you to display various images in a slide show all on the same frame. This is perfect for dad’s desk or any cozy countertop at home too.

Fitbit™

Give dad some subtle help to assist him in losing a few pounds with this fitness watch.

Winter Activities for the Whole Family

Whether you are trying to stay warm inside or enjoy the snow outdoors, here are just a few activities your family can partake in this winter.

Go snow tubing
Visit your local ski resort to go snow tubing. The whole family can enjoy this thrilling snow activity without the risk or skill required for snowboarding or skiing.

Play board games
If it is too cold and windy outdoors, have a family game night indoors with your favorite board games!

Go bowling
Enjoy a day or evening at the bowling alley as a fun way to enjoy a cold winter day.

Go ice skating
Enjoy a fun winter activity that doesn’t require the weather to be a nice winter day at the ice rink!

Sledding
Once the snow falls, go enjoy a day of sledding outside. Make sure to stay safe and have fun!

Bake cookies
In order to stay warm from the cold outdoors, bake your favorite treats during this holiday season. Cookies, brownies, cupcakes, and more! You can even try making some homemade hot chocolate.

Arts and crafts
Enjoy some time inside by making snowflakes, snowmen, and other winter characters out of paper or cardboard.

Happy Holidays!

Thanksgiving Recipes

Spice up Thanksgiving with some new recipes to enjoy all the holiday foods you love with a twist.

Brie bites

Get your serving of cranberry sauce served up with some extra flavor.  Using pre-made biscuit dough, place a cube of brie into the middle of your biscuit.  Then top the brie with a spoonful of cranberry sauce.  Finally, bake them in the oven with the directed time and temperature  for the dough.

Mashed sweet potatoes

Change up your ordinary mashed potatoes for mashed sweet potatoes! This dish can be made with butter and seasonings to go with dinner or add some brown sugar and cinnamon for dessert!

Apple pie salsa and chips

Create a dish of apple pie filling and put it in a small bowl.  Serve it with a plate of cinnamon flavored chips or crisps to have apple salsa!

Stuffing muffins

Make your usual stuffing recipe, but do not transfer it into your turkey.  Place it into a bowl and shape little circles together to fit into your muffin dish.  Use an egg or butter to get the stuffing to hold together in a ball.  Bake until golden brown.

Seasoned sprouts

Brown your brussels sprouts in olive oil and season with salt to taste.  Add butter, chicken stock, and shallots to accentuate the flavor of the brussels sprouts and cook until soft and tender.

Oreo turkeys

Using candy eyes and candy corn, create a face and a tail of feathers on an Oreo using frosting as glue to stick the pieces on.

Pumpkin spice chocolate chip cookies

Make a batch of your favorite chocolate chip cookies and mix pumpkin puree into the batter!