If Summer Had One Defining Scent, It’d Be the Smell of Barbecue: Family Fun BBQ Ideas

Everybody knows the aroma of cooking meat on an open grill. It quickly reminds you of summers gone by here. But have you wondered about the other side of barbecuing? Today at Kathey Jo’s Kitchen, we’re talking about food safety and how to incorporate it in your next barbecue. It’s something that’s always on our minds but do we ever stop and think about what those issues are? Between 2013 and 2017, fire departments across the nation reported an annual average of 10,200 home fires involving barbecues, grills, and hibachis per year. This figure included 4,500 structure fires and 5,700 unclassified fires. These fires caused ten civilian deaths, 160 civilian injuries, and $123 million in direct property damage on average.

Just because it’s outside doesn’t mean we should let up on what we know about safety inside.

Keep Your Food Safe in Your Home or Away from It

  1. Buy cold food as you’re heading to the checkout stand. Raw meat may contain bacteria, and it’s essential that it be kept separate from other grocery items to avoid cross-contamination.
  2. Consider bringing using an insulated cooler with ice packs to hold your perishables.
  3. Separate raw meat in plastic bags, whether Zip-Loc bags or the vegetable-style ones offered at the grocery store, as this keeps the juices from contaminating other foods.
  4. If your food is in a bowl, consider filling foil trays with ice and place the containers into them. Cover the ice with Saran wrap to keep everything as dry as possible. Everything should stay nice and cool and lower the risk of spoilage.
  5. In warm weather, be vigilant about refrigerating perishable foods within one to two hours.

How to Keep the Kids a Part of the Fun

Just as you were able to build memorable summer BBQ events, consider incorporating a few of these fun and unique ideas into your next get-together. If you have any thoughts, please share in the comments! We’ll update this article as we go.

  1. Use cookie cutters on a tray of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to make them into fun shapes. Have the kids do it themselves, so that they feel a part of the festivities.
  2. For a great finger food dish, put apples, pears, strawberries, and pineapple and in another bowl grilled veggies, both in containers of crushed ice.
  3. Grill some meatballs and skewers with the grown-up food.
  4. Hot Dog Man: make a slit down the middle of one end for the legs. Make slits for the arms. Throw it on the grill with the other food. You can dot eyes mouth and down the center like buttons on a shirt.
  5. Buy a beach bucket and Frisbee from your local dollar store. Fill the bucket with finger food and use the shovel as a serving tool. After you’re done playing with the Frisbee, clean it up, and use it as a plate for food!

Grill-Friendly Quesadillas


  • Large flour tortillas
  • Grated cheese: mild cheddar, sharp cheddar, or Monterey Jack
  • If using a skillet, olive oil or butter
  • Optional: sliced black olives, sliced mushrooms, green onions, diced fresh tomatoes, cooked chicken or steak pieces, avocado, lettuce, apple cider vinegar, salt


  1. Heat a large skillet on medium-high heat. Add a 1/2 teaspoon of oil and spread it around the bottom of the pan with a spatula. Or, if you only have the grill and no skillet, throw it on the grill.
  2. Flip the tortilla several times, 10 seconds between flips.
  3. Sprinkle grated cheese in a thin layer after air pockets form. Add your additional ingredients too: diced cooked chicken, green onion, sliced mushrooms, olives, tomatoes, etc. Don’t layer too thickly; thin is best.
  4. Allow the cheese to melt and brown the tortilla. If the quesadilla begins to smoke, remove from the heat.
  5. Use a spatula to fold the quesadilla over once the cheese is melted.
  6. If not browned at this point, turn the heat high and flip over every 10 seconds or so until it gets brown.
  7. Remove quesadilla from heat and cut into wedges.
  8. Serve with the lettuce, salsa, sour cream, and guacamole.