Friday, October 29, 2010

Barbecue Grilled Wok Shrimp with Vegetables

I was not planning on grilling shrimp tonight, but when I stopped by Harris Teeter, they had a sale on shrimp. I could not resist. I walked a few isles and then there I was at the seafood counter buying shrimp to grill - of course.

Sometimes I bacon wrap and kabob grilled shrimp, but after a long week at work, I thought I'd go with vegetables and shrimp in the grill wok. Really now, it does not get much easier.

I did marinate the shrimp and vegetables separate, because these were medium shrimp - about 2 inches heads off. So, I knew the veggies would need a little more grill time.

For both the shrimp and the vegetables (green peppers and mushrooms), I used the olive oil my son brought back from Europe on his summer trip. On the shrimp, I used Garlic Gold nuggets for flavor. On the veggies, I went with Cajun Cowboy grilling seasoning. You could, of course, do many combinations or use the same marinade on all the foods.

With the smaller shrimp, I let the whole mini mushrooms and green peppers grill a bit - around 5 minutes. Then I added the shrimp. At this size, they'd go around 5 minutes. But, the lid would not quite fit over the grill wok with the City Grill tailgater. Close. But no cigar, so it ran more around 10 minutes. The key is to have the shrimp the pretty orange color you see - no grey which means they are not done.

Don't over cook seafood though, or it's tough and rubbery and just not good. Watch close. Seafood grills real fast. Don't get caught up in the ballgame and forget, or you have a pretty gross dinner to serve.

Here you can see what the grilled shrimp look like when they are ready. I did have the barbecue grill wok filled pretty full, so I did stir a couple of times. You can also use grill gloves and just shake the grill wok.

When I took the grill wok off, I put it on a cookie sheet. Wok grilled meals can be a little drippy. I carried the wok inside on the cookie sheet and then poured the grilled foods into my bowl here which I got in Greece when I lived there.

Everyone went wild for the grilled shrimp meal tonight, although my son still is not going to go for the green peppers. That's OK. More for me.

I heated my grilled meal up with @SweetLifeSauce (Twitter name there) or just visit the Sweet Life Sauce page online where they have a lot of cool barbecue and kitchen flavor products. They sent me some samples to see what I thought.

I did not add BooDream's Cajun Rocket Fuel hot sauce to the marinade, because my younger son does not like hot foods. Also, I was not sure just how hot this sauce might be. I take it easy the first time, so I do not end up with food too hot for the family to eat (though all the rest of us are hot food fans).

The Cajun Rocket Fuel went on the side of my plate, and I dipped my grilled shrimp and veggies. Yes. This is hot sauce. It's around the heat level of Texas Pete but not as big on the bitter kick. I found it quite hot but pleasant. But, I would not splash it on liberally. It is, after all, called Rocket Fuel. Yaroom! I say thumbs up, but if you do not like heat, get you some ketchup or something, because this is hot stuff.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Grilled Chicken on the Char Broil Bistro - Fast Food at Home

Tonight we had fast food, and it was on the Char Broil Patio Bistro. Food Lion had some thin cut boneless chicken, and I know that can be quicker than waiting in line at the drive through plus healthier and tastes better too.

The Bistro grill is electric, so I just heated it up and then went in and got the chicken ready. It heats up hot and fast.

Regular old chicken does not have a whole lot of taste. Sorry chicken folks. Love chicken, but I doctor it up. That really is the nice thing about boneless chicken is that you can do that and get all different flavors.

Tonight I used Cowboy Cajun Rub. It's kind of like a seasoning salt but not salt. It's spicy but not burn you up hot. My mild son can handle it, but it still has a beautiful kick. My step dad brought it back when he went out to Wyoming to his home state earlier this year.

Some of us are saucy here (and others not as much). I sauced some of the grilled chicken with Bob Evans Wildfire. Again, that may sound super hot. It's not. It's a good flavor kick but fine for all but the most timid.

These boneless chicken pieces were very thin cut, so it only took about a couple of minutes on each side to knock them out. Then we had them on buns like burgers but better for our diets especially since the doctor does not like my tri levels.

Get more info on grilling boneless chicken recipes and stuff at my Yes You Can Grill site. I have more ideas there - my basic go to boneless chicken recipe. It's similar, but I did a dry rub here and then sauced. No marinade. This is the super fast food version of chicken on a grill, and YES it was delicious.

There are so many things you can do on grills that are super easy. I do some gourmet dishes as well, but I'll always have quick and easy grilled dishes too, because some days you just don't feel like standing there a long time and having to check and double check.

Monday, October 25, 2010

How to Grill Bacon and YES It is Delicious

Yes. You can grill bacon. It is not rocket science, and grilled or smoked bacon is fabulous.

Tara asked me if I'd like to try out Burgers' Smokehouse steak bacon. That's basically a thick cut which is what you really need if you want to grill or smoke bacon on the grates. I'm always game to try out new products as long as companies are fine with with honest and sometimes not so glowing opinions.

I can tell you that doing thick cut bacon like Burger's Smokehouse bacon is easier on a gas grill or a smoker like my Traeger. I did some on the Traeger, and that was low maintenance. I, however, was wanting to get some Kingsford Charcoal flavor, so this week I did part of my pack of Burgers' Smokehouse Bacon on the Portable Kitchen PK charcoal grill.

If you look close, you can see that I offset the charcoal. That just means that I had charcoal on one end of the PK and not on the other.

Bacon has a lot of fat which will make flares and high heat on charcoal. I sure did not want to burn up some high quality bacon, so I had high heat on one side and low heat on the other. The cast aluminum holds heat well, so even on the indirect side, I'm getting some good heat but no flares.

I had some chicken going with Bold and Mild barbecue sauce made by Melanie Yunk. Chicken is not going to flare up much, and these barbecue chicken strips are yummy and so easy to grill. So, I was just moving the food around as I grilled and making sure I did not burn anything up.

Whew boy. This is some primo bacon from Burgers' Smokehouse. I've always been a "thin cut" girl on bacon, because I like it crisp. This bacon grilled up fabulous, so I am now turned on to thick or steak cut as they call it bacon. It did crisp up but in a different kind of way with a really nice texture. The taste was great both ways I've grilled it so far, but even though charcaol took more work, that was my favorite. The Kingsford gave the gourmet bacon even more kick.

You can visit Burgers' Smokehouse in person if you go to California, Missouri. No. I'm not kidding. The city is California, but the state is Missouri. You can also visit them online and order, and you can chat with the company at @baconsteakcuts on Twitter.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Grilled Grapples - Apples that Taste Like Grapes on the Weber Kettle

I saw the Grapples down at Harris Teeter, and they were calling my name. The package said that they looked like apples but tasted like grapes. Hum. Now that sounds interesting, and I love to try out new foods.

First I came home and sliced and ate a Grapple and then told the boys I had some Crapples. Scratching heads all round. Oops. That would be Grapples. They decided to try some after I convinced them that I did not actaully buy Crapples.

Sure enough. The apples were just like eating apples but with a grape taste. Wondering how this could be, I got my reading glasses out and discovered that the grape flavor was both natural and artificial, so I can't say how grappie these would be without help from modern science and also have no idea how they got flavor inside the apple without damaging the peelings. We will just leave that as magic.

Today the grill was cranked up for some cheeseburgers for my birthday. The guys did the meal and even cleaned up after. I think I will have birthdays more often.

In any case, I decided to grill some Grapple slices. You could, or course, do just the same with apples. Just use firm ones - baking apples - like Granny Smith apples etc.

I melted 3 tablespoons of butter with 1 tablespoon of honey and around 1/4 teaspoon of lemon juice (enough for 2 or 3 apples or Grapples). Then I put the Grapples in a zip lock baggie with the sauce cooled a bit and shook the Grapple slices up to coat them. Then, on the grill they went. Just a few minutes per side or until carmelized and with some grill marks if you like.

Here's our grilled Grapples, and they were tasty. The grape flavor with charcoal was quite different, but I liked it. The coating was sweet enough to contrast with the slight grape flavor twang.

Grapples ran $5.99 for four and with them being flavored up artifically, I'd say they'll be more of a fad thing. They do taste good though. So, I may buy and grill more Grapples or not. It was a fun afternoon grilling project though. Plus quick.

Lexington NC Barbecue Festival 2010 - Pigging Out with Pork Lovers

I headed off to the Lexington, North Carolina Barbecue Festival yesterday. It was sunny and in the 70s, so the crowds were thick even at 9 a.m. which is usually a little slower. And, the crowds got thicker from there. I'd have to guess that this is the biggest barbecue festival year since they began the 27 years ago.

The barbecue tents are always super busy. I've read they buy 40 to 50 thousand buns for the chopped pork that is served with slaw as sandwiches - classic North Carolina barbecue. But, the fried food booth was hopping this year as they offered all kinds of strange fried stuff like Oreos, Snickers candy bars, bacon and even butter on a stick and batter deep fried.

Here's deep fried butter. It's a third of a stick of butter. And, I'm just not up to that. Some of my friends got it and said it was great. I'll just take their words for that. I had the bacon on a stick with maple syrup. That was real good - kind of like pancakes with bacon.

Every year they have a great sand art sculpture at the Lexington Barbecue Festival, but I've never seen the artists working on it. This year the sculpture was in progress in front of the Arts Council of Lexington, and the process was really amazing.

Besides Jimmy and my son Eli, I also hung out with Brownkw and SirPorkaLot. If those names sound strange, that's because those are Twitter handles. Yes. I had my first Tweet Up. That's when you meet up with buddies you've made on Twitter. I hang out over at Twitter and talk to a bunch of Twitter peeps. I'm cyndiallison there - no spaces.

We all had barbecue sandwiches of course. What would our barbecue friends think if we went to a barbecue festival and did not have barbecue? And, some of the guys got the curly tail fries which are good too.

I must confess that I got a fried apple pie before I ate lunch. The line for the apple pie booth gets wicked long as the day goes along, so I decided the apples would make it okay for breakfast. I counted it as fruit and did not think about the homemade deep fried wrap.

My Grandma always made the best fried apple pies, so I always look forward to the fried pie booth at the barbecue festival. The fried pies are fabulous. I can't say they are as good as Grandma's, because you just can't say that. They are real close though.

This year they had some fake pork rinds. They are made of whole wheat pasta that they heat to just the right temperature to puff. They really do taste like pork rinds. Could have fooled me, and I've eaten those for years. In any case, we found something healthy at the barbecue festival at "What a Chip."

I also made a new friend at the Barbecue Festival. Here I am with Mr. Pink Pig.

All in all, this was one of the best years ever for the Lexington, NC Barbecue Festival. They had more local booths this time and also some barbecue sauces. The last couple of years had been rainy, and things were slower with fewer things to see and do. This year it was really hopping or maybe I should say oinking in Lexington.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Barbecue Pork Loin with Bacon Weave and Nephews Pumpkin BBQ Sauce

Nephews Pumpkin BBQ Sauce - Yes It is Zippy

Tonight I smoked a pork loin on the Traeger with Nephews pumpkin barbecue sauce. Yes. I did say pumpkin bbq sauce.

Dylan is a home state boy (Raleigh - go NC State). We are buddies on Twitter, and he sent me out some of his barbeuce sauces to try. With it Halloween this weekend, the pumpkin barbecue sauce, of course, caught my eye and imagination.

I had to think on the flavors a bit. The pumpkin barbeuce has pumpkin - well duh of course - and also ghost peppers so some heat. Actually quite a bit of heat. Yes. I did have to taste a spoon of the sauce, and it was fab-u-licious.

Down at the Food Lion, they had pork loins on sale (like half price - yay), and I got to thinking that might be a good match there.

I figured I needed to balance sweet and heat on this one, so here's what I did:

1. I got around 3/4 cup brown sugar with a half loin and sprinkled in a little cinnamon (like 1/2 tsp) and a tad of nutmeg (like 1/4 tsp) and garlic (like 1/4 tsp). Then I rubbed that on the loin. It's not thick. Just a little sugar rub all over and some spots not really looking all covered. Light on rub.

2. I added a bacan weave. I put slices across the narrow way and then did like in and out long ways. It takes a while but is not hard once you get going. Tuck in on the bottom side and serve with the pretty side up - for a hint there.

3. Before I used a turner to put this on the smoker (bottom weave side down), I did sprinkle on some lemon pepper which I love. I went easy on that too. Just a quick dash.

4. I smoked low at around 300 to 350 degress F for about an hour and a half (and turned pretty weave side up around one hour). Temp was 140 F then at 1 1/2 hr, so I sauced with the Nephews Pumpkin BBQ sauce. You could use other sauces, but you won't get this same unique treat.

USDA suggest pork cooked to 160 F. So, I did sauce at 140. Then I waited about 15 minutes or so and checked. I pulled the loin between 150 and 155 F, because I know it continues to cook some once off the smoker, and I do not want bone dry pork. That's just ick.

I let my Nephhews Pumpkin BBQ sauce loin sit there for 20 minutes or so with some aluminum foil also called tin foil in the South loose over the loin. That let the flavors meld and also gave all my peeps time to get back home. We run on a crazy time schedule around here.

This Nephews BBQ Pumpkin sauce pork loin was a home run. The combo of sweet and heat and with a mild loin and flavorful bacon just was spot on. The barbecue smoked loin was thumbs up all round. It was a little kicky (heat) for my mild son, but he just pulled off some of the bacon and sauce to cool his plate down. The medium and hot lovers were in hog heaven. Yeah. It was THAT good. That pumpkin barbecue sauce was amazing, and this recipe showcased it just right.

Monday, October 04, 2010

My Favorite Mustard BBQ Sauce Sam Dog Now on the Market

Sam Dog BBQ Sauce on Chicken

A while back I was telling readers about Sam Dog BBQ sauce. Greg had sent me a home canned jar of his families mustard based barbecue sauce to see what I thought.

North Carolina is vinegar based barbecue sauce country, and I like lots of different sauces. Mustard is down in South Carolina, and I had always liked it okay. But, I'd never had one that knocked my socks off.

Sam Dog Mustard BBQ sauce made a believer out of me though. That is some heap good stuff. It's got that musturd twang, but it's more balanced and complex than other mustard sauces I've tried. Sam Dog has a little sweet flavor plus a nice quiet back bite. It's my top pick yellow mustard barbecue sauce.

I noticed on Twitter yesterday that Greg was rolling out his barbecue sauce. It takes a while to get all that paperwork done and approved. And, today Jeff shot me an email to tell me Same Dog is up and ready. He's on the market, so you can buy Sam Dog BBQ sauce now and see for yourself at Jeff's store.

You heard it first here probably, since Greg sent out a family jar (thanks!) (-: Sam Dog Yellow Dog barbecue sauce is a thumbs up, and now everyone else can check it out too.

Congratulations to Greg and to his family. It takes a huge amount of time and work to develop a great barbecue sauce and then even more time to jump through all the hoops to get it bottled. I'm glad folks do it though, because some of my all time favorite sauces are the small label ones. You can simply taste the heart in the ones that come right from the kitchen.