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What do you cook at the beach?

We're headed off to the beach soon for a week of sun and surf. We'll be sharing the house with another family and there will be 12 of us. About a third of the folks don't like seafood (crazy right?), and some are picky eaters who don't like "fancy" food. I typically will stop at the farmers market on my way there and pick up lots of corn, tomatoes, zucchini, squash, etc. I plan to buy some fresh shrimp and crabs and have a simple boil-like meal of southern shrimp (if you haven't had these they're amazing - new orlean's style peel n' eats), crabs, corn-on-the-cob and grilled chicken and veggies. Someone usually does a lasagna, maybe some chicken divan another night.

What are your go-to dishes at the beach? And what ingredients & kitchen tools do you always pack to take along? Feel free to post recipes! ;-)

Southern "Barbecue" Shrimp recipe here: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo...

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  1. And if possible, to make the bbq shrimp even better, get them head on and cook them whole.

    1. I like to pack as light as possible for the beach, and it's usually just me and 3 or 4 friends. I will usually take my mini round Weber grill, tongs, and things that can be pre-prepped and don't require a lot of accoutrements like sausages, marinated chicken or fish, etc. One of my favorites is to take a cooked crab marinated in olive oil and vinegar with some herbs and throw it on the grill to heat up. Pre-sliced eggplant, portabello mushroom, corn, etc, all in simple oil/vinegar/herb/spice marinades. Or smaller veggies on bamboo skewers. I play with the combinations. The beach is just about the only place I use a marinade, though.

      Once I pre-prepared a bunch of personal pizzas to grill them. That was fun, but it was too hard to carry them out there because of the quantity of things to keep separated and cool. Anything that you have to cut after cooking is ruled out for me, since I would have to bring a knife and a cutting board, then something to put it in afterward that wouldn't be touching anything else since it would be messy, etc.

      It sounds like your beach trips are a little more infrequent and special than mine though, as I live about 30 mins away from a number of beaches. My trips to the beach are usually just for the day or a few hours and we don't have a house near enough to bring things that require much refrigeration and lugging a packed cooler across 300-400 yards of sand is really annoying!

      1. My sister rents a house at the beach every year in August and one thing that works well for a group is fajitas (steak and/or chicken). You can cook the steak and/or chicken and peppers and put out all the fixin's (tortillas, lettuce, tomato, guacamole, sour cream, etc) for everyone to assemble the way they like it.

        Another one is the same concept but more of a greek/mediterranean theme. Tzatziki, hummus, pita, etc. with steak and/or chicken.

        And the leftovers make for good lunches during the week.

        2 Replies
        1. re: valerie

          When we RV we park at beaches. I do fajitas a lot, so easy to prep ahead by marinating your choice of protein and vegetables in ziploc bags. I even freeze them, then use them as ice blocks in the cooler, until I can pack them in the freezer. Also do bul gogi or kalbi on the grill a lot, which is sesame marinated boneless beef short ribs. Very easy and tasty. We also take some seasoned steaks, chicken cutlets in white wine vinegar, oil & herbs, and of course, premade hamburgers and packs of hot dogs for the kids.

          Don't forget to pack some mac & cheese, cans of soup, pasta, cereals, & some baking potatoes for easy meals. I also bring premade corn bread and brownies, or some other sweet usually,and of course, stuff for s'mores.

          1. re: valerie

            Fajitas and gyros are great ideas!

          2. i like to bring slow cookers or crock pots (i know despite the heat) to these types of vacations, just because they're great to set in the morning and forget til you're coming back exhausted at the end of the day... even throwing in some chili or sloppy joes or a roast, then grilling up some veggies to go with and some salad...

            i may make some polenta ahead of time, to slice and grill or broil or pan-crisp on the spot with some ragu.

            a tuna and chicken option casserole

            stratas that can soak all day before baking

            enchiladas that also benefit from soaking a bit

            a waffle iron for breakfast for dinner (eggs, waffles, hash browns, etc.) or can be used to cook other things like paninis or chicken or eggplant parm

            3 Replies
            1. re: Emme

              Can I come to the beach with you? :)

              I did see that the house we are renting has a slow-cooker so we will keep that in mind. We shamefully admit that we still enjoy our mother's sloppy joes (or as we call them - hamburg bbq). I like the idea of putting the bbq or chili in the crockpot and letting people eat when they are so moved. The beach is all about casual for us.

              1. re: lynnlato

                can i come with *you* if i am willing to do the cooking? ;-)

                1. re: Emme

                  Only if you let me help you in the kitchen! I'd be perfectly happy to sit on the beach, under an umbrella, and read a few cookbooks/mags or finish Pepin's The Apprentice finally... and then head into the kitchen and just spend hours dreaming up things and cooking and... sipping wine, of course. :-)

            2. What I would do is to bring a lot of already cooked frozen food such as pulled pork, ribs, sloppy joes, spaghetti sauce, chili, shredded beef or beef for French Dip, lasagna, ribs, etc. that can be reheated with a minimal of effort. Then get foods that can be grilled like steaks, hotdogs, chicken, pork chops, etc.

              2 Replies
              1. re: John E.

                This is what I do when we go to our "driving" beach vacation to the jersey shore. I'd much rather do the work at home before my vacation!

                1. re: John E.

                  John - my menu sounds almost exactly like yours. Spaghetti Sauce (DH makes up large batches and I freeze it). I cook a pot roast with potatoes and carrots and just warm it up for a meal then do the french dip. Pick up some local veggies and make the fajitas. And the pulled pork! Must be great minds that think alike!

                2. Go to The Barefoot Contessa site and get the recipe for her Kitchen Clambake. It is our family favorite Deck Dinner. It takes very little time to prepare and it is so delicious.

                  1. I am currently at a beach house in the carribean with a party of 11 including a vegetarian, two picky kids, a diabetic grandpop and the rest who'll eat anything. We just try to have at least four things at every meal so everyone is "covered". One night we did a poached salmon, roast chicken, roasted potatoes, and a generous salad. Another time we did roasted veggies, a black bean and corn and cilantro salad (very popular), a rice dish, and roasted chicken pieces. Another time was coconut shrimp (the "vegetarian" does eat shrimp), salad, potatoes, and pasta. As long as there's a selection of things, no one has cause for complaint :) I am firmly of the camp that says you "make do"; so we had some leftover chilled shrimp and I made "cocktail sauce" with ketchup plus the red pepper flakes/cayenne/black pepper we found in the pantry and the lemons we had in the refrigerator. No one complained!

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: DGresh

                      Your "vegetarian" is actually a pescetarian.

                      1. re: John E.

                        that's why I put it in quotes. This "vegetarian" is my neice. My daughter, not with us on this trip, is a (real) vegetarian, so I know what it means. This vegetarian actually calls herself a vegan, while she eats (some limited kinds of) fish and cheese (but not milk). Please don't get me started :)

                        1. re: DGresh

                          I just learned the term and definition in recent months, so I wasn't really being a smart alec. Good luck to you. (I had a teenager that stopped eating meat for a while, funny thing is, he still ate pepperoni pizza).

                          1. re: John E.

                            I asked my niece why some fish were "ok" and the reason was "I like them too much to stop eating them"-- sort of like your pepperoni pizza!

                    2. I always make a huge batch of fried chicken to be eaten cold on the first night. Along with huge batches of potato/pasta/mac/grain/whatever salads to last the week and people can grab as they go. I also prep veg for sandwiches and crudités, again I love that people can grab as they want or I can whip up whatever in a moment. Precooked chunks of sausage are also a winner, the kids love to roast these and veg over the fire and have a few things to dip them into. The sausage and veg are also great for a quick stir fry/soup/sandwich/beans and rice. I also bring proteins marinated and cut or skewered as needed, anything to make it quick, clean and delicious! I love cooking and often feel like a short order cook. But I want it to be my vacation too and of course I don't want to worry about it. With everything prepped I can cook like I like with out the hassle and that is fun for me.

                      Also I like to have pre-prepped snacks like the crudités some granola bars or baked oatmeal bars for those who wake up early or just anytime. Maybe nuts, fruits, cheese and crackers, things to put on crostini or pittas, chips and dip and impromptu popcorn making. And I can't forget dessert. I bring smore making stuff of course ;-> but I also bring bars or cookies or cupcakes etc., my kids like to roast anything over the fire. I usually like baking with the kids, then I'll bring something to make like strawberry short cake or a pineapple upside down cake. Grilling fruit is also fun for them and of course dip anything in chocolate. What I've found with most kids is they like to make it look pretty according to them, so we always play with that. Shell centerpieces rock!

                      Wishing you and yours a wondrous beach adventure, where the livins easy. M

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: just_M

                        Wowza! Thanks just M - you are prepared beach goer indeed! Can I swing by your beach house for a visit too?

                        I've baked several dozen chocolate chip & peanut butter chip cookies and the requisite zucchini nut bread. All are frozen and ready to go. Raided trader joes for some cheeses and crackers and I have ring bologna from the Italian deli "back home" frozen and ready too. We'll swing by the farmers market as we head out Saturday and load up on tomaters, sweet corn, zucchini, yellow squash, peppers, onions & garlic, and whatever else catches our eye!

                      2. I always bring decent olive oil, cutting board, a good knife and a few basic herbs and spices. Sometimes I'll bring a big sauté pan.

                        I think casual when I think of beach house suppers. Kabobs would be great. Serve with rice pilaf and a Greek salad. A make your own taco bar can also be fun.

                        Italian sausage with peppers and onions is another great option. Get some grinder rolls or Italian bread to do it sandwich style. Serve with a tomato and mozzarella salad.