Tips on Grillin’ and Chillin’ – Having Summer Fun at ARTAVIA™

When the temperature is as hot as an oven, the last place most people want to be is near a real oven, cooking dinner in the kitchen. Summertime in the Houston area can be scorching but many of the residents of ARTAVIA™, a master planned community near Conroe, have a better idea. They cook and entertain friends and family outside, on the patio. 

It’s “grillin’ and chillin’” time, and that means it’s a good time to offer tips on how to make this activity a great family memory.  Having the natural aesthetic of tall pine trees, lush, green lawns and beautiful patios make this a feast for the eyes and ears, as well as the taste buds.

Choosing a Grill

Cooking outside can be as simple or elaborate as the grill-master desires. Some homeowners enjoy the process of grilling so much that they create an outside entertainment area, complete with built-in grill, fireplace, pizza oven, refrigerator, prep area, seating area and a big-screen entertainment nook. This type of layout adds a great deal of usable square footage to the home and, in fact, adds another large, functional “room” to the house.

Regardless of all the “whistles and bells” in the grilling area, the only appliance that is required for all outside cooking areas is the grill itself. There are thousands of grills, priced from less than a hundred to thousands of dollars, available from big-box stores (e.g. Home Depot, Lowes) and from barbecue/grilling specialty stores. A little online research, along with thinking about frequency of the outside cooking, family size and cooking expertise, will enable any grill-master to decide the type of appliance that is appropriate for his or her use. This is a good resource for starting this research.

Recently, outside cooks have discovered and fallen in love with a grill known as a kamado-style smoker. According to this article, “Kamado cookers, which are those egg-shaped, ceramic, wood-burning grills that you may have seen or at least heard of, impart a delicious smoky flavor to everything they cook. They can run low and slow for hours at smoker temperatures and sear at high heat levels that go well beyond the capabilities of a gas grill. That’s hot enough to create true steakhouse steaks and real wood-fired pizza like a pro griller.”

There are many popular kamado grills, available in a wide range of prices. These include: 

Kamado Joe
Big Green Egg

What’s Cookin’ on the Grill?

Usually, people who cook the family meals know what everyone enjoys eating and they tend to cook these same dishes on an outside grill. However, it may be surprising how different chicken, fish or any other food tastes when it is prepared over hot charcoal and smoke. New variations of existing foods that are grilled might be a fun change for the family meal. 

Here are a few tried-and-true grilling recipes that are simple to execute and might offer a completely different response for those picky eaters.

The Secret Sauce

Most serious outdoor cooks make their sauce with a simple base (such as ketchup) or an off-the-shelf barbecue sauce and then dress it up. Brad Montgomery, a member of the Houston-based “Brickhouse Cookers” grilling team, has a recipe that helps his team win many competitions:

“I usually start with a good, balanced neutral BBQ sauce like “Head Country” or “War Pig” and dress it up,” he said. “For ribs, I’ll combine “FUBAR” sauce from War Pig with a pineapple habanero jelly to use as a glaze for the last hour of the cook. For chicken, I’ll mix Head Country sauce with black cherry preserves and a little bourbon. I’ve made my own sauce, but if you find a good neutral sauce, and customize it, it will usually turn out pretty good. It’s what most of the competition cooks do. Regarding beef, if you need sauce, you’re doing it wrong.”

Chicken Breasts

One of the most popular meats to grill is chicken. Why? It’s inexpensive and DELISH. Click here for a simple, and tasty way to make mouthwatering grilled chicken breasts.


A traditional favorite is grilled hamburgers. They are an outdoor cooking staple. Here’s an excellent way to prepare them.


They may take a while to cook properly, but when they are done, ribs are magnificent. Here’s how to get perfect grilled ribs.


Whether it’s shrimp, catfish, redfish, flounder or any other species, grilled seafood is quick to prepare and light on the palate. Click here to catch a great meal.


One of the easiest meats to grill – steak – is all too often the toughest, especially when that first bite is taken. World famous Food Network chef Bobby Flay knows that “less is more” when grilling steaks. He uses boneless rib-eye or New York strip steaks (about 12 ounces each) or filet mignons (8 to 10 ounces each), trimmed, 2 tablespoons of canola or extra-virgin olive oil, Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper. That’s it. Click here to learn Flay’s grilling technique. 


No outdoor meal is complete without some perfectly grilled vegetables. Here’s how the real grill-masters do it. 

Libations Are in Order

No summer cookout is complete without a cold beverage. Here are five drink ideas, some of which can be mixed with or without alcohol, and they are guaranteed to make that dinner from the grill taste even better.

Strawberry-Lemonade Punch

The non-alcohol version is definitely “kid friendly” and the adult version has rum or vodka

Dogwood Punch

Perfect for a hot summer day.

Raspberry and Lemon Rose’ Sparkler

Whether it’s July 4th or a good way to celebrate Tuesday, the rose’ makes this one sparkle!

Blackberry Jam Cocktails

This one has a little kick when mixed with a gin base.

Grapefruit Ranch Water

Made with homemade jalapeno-infused tequila. Wow!

The Sights, Sounds and Aroma of Home

Consumer research is showing a remarkable change in the entertainment patterns of families. Instead of going out to eat, to movies, sporting events and the like, more families have discovered just how much fun it is to “play” at home. This is especially true for outside entertaining.

The homeowners in ARTAVIA™ are surrounded by a natural panoply of colors, the sounds of laughter and the aroma of a well-cooked meal on the grill. This is what living should be.  

If you are ready for a rich life in a colorful community, click here for more information on ARTAVIA™, just north of Houston in Conroe.

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