The Outdoor Lifestyle Blog

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Desserts you can make in your outdoor kitchen

Posted by Michael Dougherty on Apr 18, 2018 10:28:15 AM

In previous posts, we’ve covered s’mores and other treats you can make over an open fire. Your outdoor fire place or fire pit isn’t the only part of your outdoor kitchen capable of making delicious treats!

Here’s a beginner’s guide to preparing desserts in your outdoor kitchen:

Desserts on the grill

Let’s start with the simplest option: grilling whole or sliced fruit, which can bring out a number of complex caramel flavors. Serve grilled fruit warm with a side of vanilla ice cream for an irresistible treat. Here are some easy recipes to get started on:

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Topics: Cooking Tips

Selecting the right finish for your outdoor kitchen

Posted by Michael Dougherty on Apr 12, 2018 11:52:47 AM

In previous posts, we’ve covered how to choose the right appliances for your outdoor kitchen and the pros and cons of different countertop surfaces. This week we’re going to look at another aspect of outdoor kitchen design: the finish you choose for the other surfaces of your kitchen.

Below is a list of popular finishes for your kitchen’s façade and backsplash, with some notes about caring for each:

Stucco

Stucco—a textured application of cement plaster—is a durable, heat-resistant finish that won’t mold, making it ideal for outdoor kitchens. It’s attractive (and a bit understated), lasts for decades, and is relatively low-cost. If your home already has a stucco façade, applying the same to your outdoor kitchen can create a pleasing, seamless transition from indoor to outdoor living areas.

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Topics: Kitchens

Landscaping Around Your Outdoor Kitchen

Posted by Michael Dougherty on Apr 5, 2018 7:26:17 AM

Once you have your beautiful outdoor kitchen installed and ready for the next outdoor celebration, you might be wondering what else you can do to upgrade your backyard. Perhaps you just have a bland patch of lawn to work with and you’re looking for ways to provide more character.

Here are a few ideas for your next backyard project, from the simplest to most complex:

Climbing vines

If your outdoor kitchen includes a pergola, you can add a little more character to the support beams with morning glories, jasmine, or other height-loving vines. They can add a bit of natural whimsy, and it’s fun to watch their progress through the season.

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Topics: Outdoor Lifestyle

Seating ideas for your outdoor kitchen

Posted by Michael Dougherty on Mar 29, 2018 6:26:02 AM

Once you have your dream outdoor kitchen designed and built in your backyard, and have perfected your outdoor cooking skills, it’s time to get your family and friends in on the action.

One of the first logistical issues you’ll face, after figuring out the menu, is to determine where everyone will sit. Some outdoor kitchen owners like to cook outside and just bring the food in to the dining room—but we’re of the opinion that everyone will want to enjoy San Jose’s beautiful weather as they eat.

Here are some outdoor seating options for your backyard kitchen.

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Topics: Outdoor Lifestyle

Best practices for caring for a gas fire pit

Posted by Michael Dougherty on Mar 22, 2018 11:06:26 AM

In a previous post, we covered cleaning and maintenance for a backyard fire pit—but much of the emphasis was on cleaning up the ash and residue left from wood fires.

If you have a fire pit that’s fueled by natural gas or propane, maintenance is already a lot easier since you don’t have to deal with the same amount of clean-up. There are still a few key things you can do to keep your fire pit (or fire table) in great working order for years to come.

Here are a few best practices to make into a habit:

Never burn anything besides gas

Don’t let children throw paper, leaves, or other foreign objects into the flames. These could quickly flare up and escape into your yard or toward your house. Also, don’t add anything to your fire pit (such as fire glass) unless it is recommended by your contractor or the manufacturer.

Cooking in your gas fire place is not likely a safe activity, unless the manufacturer specified that your unit is designed to do such.

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Topics: Fire Pits, Fire Tables, & Fireplaces

Deciding on a custom pergola style

Posted by Michael Dougherty on Mar 15, 2018 1:26:56 PM

So you’ve decided that your backyard just won’t be complete without a custom pergola. Perhaps you’re most interested in the comfortable shade it can provide as you cook and entertain outdoors, or you love the visual interest it will provide for your landscape.

You’ve also decided that a pre-fabricated model just isn’t for you, and that you want something customized for your yard—or integrated into a new outdoor kitchen. Maybe you’re planning to do a full DIY job, or maybe you’d like to get a professional to help you design, build, and/or install it.

In a previous post, we discussed the materials for building a pergola, and the pros and cons of each. In most cases, wooden pergolas will give you the most flexibility for creating your own design.

Here are a few ideas for where you might go from here:

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Topics: Pergolas

Caring for Outdoor Granite Countertops

Posted by Michael Dougherty on Mar 9, 2018 8:18:10 AM

Granite is one of the most popular materials for outdoor kitchen countertops, and it’s easy to see why. It’s beautiful, durable, and comes in a near-endless variety of natural colors.

But to keep your granite countertops looking great, you’ll need to take a few proactive measures. Here’s how to care for your outdoor kitchen’s granite countertops.

Best practices

Granite is stone, but that doesn’t make it invincible. To avoid staining and abrasions, get into the following habits:

  • Always use a cutting board when chopping or dicing foods.
  • Avoid scraping stoneware or other rough materials along the surface.
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Topics: Kitchens

Can I put a fire pit on my deck?

Posted by Michael Dougherty on Mar 2, 2018 8:03:23 AM

In a previous post, we answered the question Can I put an outdoor kitchen on my deck? The answer to that was basically maybe, depending on your deck!

This week we’ll be looking at whether you can safely install a fire pit on your deck.

We’re going to say at the outset that it’s much better to have your fire pit solidly situated on the ground or on a cement patio. But we understand that in especially small backyards, you may not have many options. So is it OK to place a fire pit on a deck if that’s your only choice?

Let’s take a look at the factors to consider before installing a fire pit on your deck:

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Topics: Fire Pits, Fire Tables, & Fireplaces

Mix up your grill game with these tasty alternative burgers

Posted by Michael Dougherty on Feb 22, 2018 7:39:33 AM

Here at Unlimited Outdoor Kitchen, we’re big fans of the perfectly grilled beef hamburger. But if you or one of your cookout guests is trying to avoid red meat, don’t despair—there are plenty of other tasty burger options for you to grill up!

We’re going to skip the obvious swaps like store-bought turkey or veggie burgers (which can be plenty delicious on their own), and offer some more creative, homemade options.  

Even if you’re still solidly on Team Beef, you’ll want give these alternative burgers a try, just to spice things up a bit!

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Topics: Cooking Tips

What material should I use for my backyard pergola?

Posted by Michael Dougherty on Feb 15, 2018 11:09:28 AM

A backyard pergola can be a great addition to your backyard, beautifying your landscape and creating a small oasis for relaxing that’s protected from the sun and rain.

If you’re still brainstorming about the kind of pergola that will be perfect for your yard, one of the decisions you’ll have to make early on is the material it will be constructed out of.

The most common building materials for pergolas are wood, metal (such as steel or aluminum), or an artificial substance such as vinyl or fiberglass.

If you’re still undecided on which route to take, consider the following aspects of each:

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Topics: Pergolas