Healthier Backyard Recipes

Healthier Summer Cookouts

With Jennifer A. Daskevich – Founder of Sandwich America


Summer is upon us and it’s time to fire up the grill!  We wanted to create a healthier backyard cookout.  That meant we would avoid some of the usual suspects and create a menu that was both appealing and delicious but also nutritious.

Our menu included:

  • Citrus Grilled Shrimp Skewers with Pineapple Pico de Gallo
  • Grilled Aussie Grassfed Ribeye with Chimichurri
  • Aussie Grassfed Goat Cheese Stuffed Burgers with Fig Jam & Spinach
  • Pasta Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette
  • Oven Roasted Potato Salad with Herb Vinaigrette
  • Grilled Vegetables with Balsamic Glaze and Basil
  • Strawberry Shortcake Skewers with Chocolate Drizzle
  • Grapecicles

Aussie Grassfed beef is a great alternative for cookout.  It is naturally lean and full of nutrients including omega three fatty acids and your dad’s doctor won’t mind if he fills up on grassfed.  There are just a few things to be aware of when cooking grassfed so it cooks up perfect every time.

Tips for Cooking Grassfed Beef

  1. Bring your grassfed beef up to room temperature before cooking. This allows for a well-seared exterior and warmed interior without having to use excessive time to cook (and dry out your meat).
  2. Grassfed beef requires less cooking time due to its high protein and low-fat content. 30% less cooking time is a good rule of thumb.
  3. Do not over-handle ground meat – use high searing temperatures and only flip your burgers once to reduce losing those flavorful juices.
  4. Do not overcook your grassfed beef – aim for medium-rare for best results.
  5. Remove the meat from the grill between 125F-130F. This will give you a medium rare to medium finished temperature (130-140F) once the meat rests.
  6. Allow meat to rest before cutting – 5-10 minutes will allow the meat to relax and absorb additional juices that you would lose by cutting the meat too soon.






Grilled Aussie Grassfed Ribeye’s with Chimichurri


Bring the steak to room temperature.  Season with kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper, or your favorite steak rub.  We like one with a little kick of heat in it from some cayenne or red pepper flakes.


Grill to medium rare.  Let rest for 10 minutes.  Slice against the grain on the bias.  Put on a big platter and top with chimichurri.  (Chimichurri is an Argentinian condiment with fresh, tart, and spicy flavor notes – it goes great with a perfectly grilled steak).  Here is a recipe from a real Argentinian grandmother.




I cup fresh parsley

5 cloves garlic

½ cup EVOO

¼ cup red wine vinegar

2 tablespoons warm water

¼ cup chopped red onion

1 teaspoon kosher salt

¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes


Mix parsley and garlic in a food processor.  Remove to a bowl and add remaining ingredients.  Stir and adjust to taste by adding more red pepper flakes if desired.



Goat Cheese Stuffed Aussie Grassfed Burgers with Fig Jam, Fresh Spinach tossed in Balsamic Vinaigrette on Whole Wheat Buns


  • 1 ½ pounds Aussie Grassfed Ground Beef
  • Kosher Salt
  • Fresh Cracked Pepper
  • 8 tablespoons Crumbled Goat Cheese
  • 4 Tablespoons Fig Jam (Recipe Below)
  • 2 Cups Fresh Baby Spinach
  • Balsamic Vinaigrette
  • 4 Whole Wheat Buns
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil


Lightly mix the beef with kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper.  Divide into 6 ounce portions and divide each portion into equal parts.  Flatten out each half.   Place 1 tablespoon goat cheese in the center of one half and place the second half on top.  Gently form into a patty and seal.


Brush the inside of the buns with olive oil and grill.  Cook the burgers to medium rare.


Dress the spinach in balsamic vinaigrette.  Place spinach on the bottom bun and top with burger.  Spread fig jam on burger.  Crumble on 1 tablespoon of goat cheese and add top bun.


Fig Jam Recipe


This recipe is so quick and simple you won’t believe the delicious results you get.


6 ounces (about 22 whole) dried Mission figs, stems removed and chopped into small pieces
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
Juice from one lemon (about 3 tablespoons)
1/2 teaspoon balsamic vinegar


In a medium saucepan combine figs, sugar, water, and lemon juice and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for about 7 minutes, until the liquid thickened.  Remove from heat and stir in the balsamic vinegar.  Let mixture cool (at least 10 minutes).  Transfer to a food processor and puree until smooth.  Sore in an airtight container in the fridge.  Will keep up to two weeks in the fridge but it is unlikely to last that long.



Grilled Balsamic Vegetables


Pick a variety of vegetables – here we chose eggplant, squash, zucchini, asparagus, and red onions.  Cut the eggplant, squash, and zucchini length wise.  Salt eggplant and allow to sit for 30 minutes to draw out the liquid (and bitterness).  Remove woody part of asparagus by snapping the bottom until it breaks naturally.  Cut the onions in slices.  Whisk together ¼ cup olive oil with ½ tablespoon kosher salt, ½ tablespoon fresh cracked pepper, and 1 tablespoon red pepper flakes.  Place veggies in a bowl and coat with olive oil.  Grill, flipping once.  Arrange on a large white platter, drizzle with balsamic glaze (you can find it in dressing aisle of grocery store) and sprinkle with fresh basil.


Oven Roasted Potato Salad with Fresh Herb Chimichurri and Shaved Manchego (2nd place in America’s Best Potato Salad Recipe Contest 2014)


For Potato Salad:


6 slices thick cut bacon

2 pounds fingerling potatoes or new potatoes cut in half

3 large shallots peeled and cut into thin rings

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon kosher salt

½ teaspoon fresh ground pepper

½ cup red cherry tomatoes halved

½ cup baby yellow cherry tomatoes halved

2 tablespoons shaved Manchego cheese


For Fresh Herb Chimichurri Dressing:


5 medium cloves garlic

¼ cup fresh basil

¼ cup fresh cilantro + additional for garnish

¼ cup fresh parsley

½ cup extra virgin olive oil

½ cup red wine vinegar

2 tablespoons water

1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt

1 ½ teaspoons red pepper flakes


Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Cook bacon til crispy.  Remove to paper towel lined plate and mix the rendered bacon fat with the olive oil.    Line a cookie sheet with foil.  Toss potatoes and shallots with olive oil, kosher salt, and fresh ground pepper.  Spread out on cookie sheet putting cut side of potatoes down and roast for 20-30 minutes (depending on size of potatoes) until cooked through and crispy on the bottom (if potatoes are very small be sure not to overcook – potatoes should not get mushy)




Place basil, cilantro, parsley and garlic in a food process and pulse until they are finely chopped.  Transfer to a bowl.  Whisk in oil, vinegar, water, kosher salt, and red pepper flakes until completely blended.  Set aside.


When potatoes are cooked allow to cool slightly.  Place in large bowl and spoon in enough chimichurri to coat the potatoes.  Toss in tomatoes.  Add additional dressing if necessary.  Transfer to serving bowl and sprinkle on shaved Manchego and minced cilantro.



Strawberry Shortcake Skewers


A little sweet is always good after a meal and these are perfect to satisfy that sweet tooth but not over indulge.  Store bought angel food cake works perfect for this sweet bite.  Remove greens from strawberry.  Cut strawberry in half across the wide part of the strawberry.  Cut the angel food cake into squares.  Thread the bottom half of the strawberry onto the skewer, then the cake square, then the top part of the strawberry.  Put on a platter alternating the direction off the skewers.  When ready to serve, drizzle with chocolate.





These taste like mini popcicles.  All you need is 3-4 inch skewers and red and green grapes.  Thread 4 grapes onto each skewer.  Place in a freezer proof bag and freeze overnight.  Put on the table in a bowl of ice.  Nice and refreshing on a warm summer day.



About the Guest Chef.
In addition to her multiple TV appearances, include her winning role in FYI’s Original Series World Food Championships, Jennifer competes and wins major competitions regularly.  Jennifer is the 2013/2014 World Sandwich Champion, the 2015 Chevron Game Day Chef of the Year, and the 2016 Gnarly Head Grilling Nation Ribs Contest, amongst many wins.  For more about Jennifer visit and and follow her on Instagram and twitter @sandwichamerica and @alittlegourmet


Next time you are in the Orlando area, visit her at her at Coastal Grill and, a highly rated restaurant minutes from Disney which features fresh flavors and dishes inspired by beaches around the world.  Coastal Grill and Bar is inside Regal Oaks Resort at 5780 Golden Hawk Way, Kissimmee, FL 34746.  407-997-1607.


Let’s Hoagie!!  Share your favorite sandwich with us @sandwichamerica. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others and keep the conversation on topic and civil. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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