Watch “🍀 Swingset Shenanigans – Sat. 2017/08/06 🎪” on YouTube


I think I made this a draft, & forgot to post it…  I got some video of the kids having a blast on the Swingset, and played around with the YouTube video editor before it disappears.

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How yinz make your chili? 🌶 [Chili à la AiXeLsyD “Recipes”] 🌶


Yinz like chili?  I do.  I haven’t made any for a long time.  I may need to change that.  I stole this (& modified it) from my never-used Cookpendium blog.  My writing has hopefully improved since then.  Maybe not.  I like a tamer chili that would appeal to a wide variety of people to add heat as they like.  I like it thick enough to make a spoon stand.  I can take or leave the beans, and I reject your debatable elitist visions of chili or what it ought to be.

I ought to try and make a new batch using only stuff I buy at Aldi.

How do you make yours?


[Originally from a post at (the now defunct) PittsburghBeat.com, here’s a few consolidated chili recipe/methods…]

Recipe 1:

I’ve never made chili before, and in researching, I came across 50 billion recipes. So, this morning I made my own in the crock pot…

  • 2 cans of condensed tomato soup
  • 1 can of tomato paste
  • 1 packet of chili mix
  • about ½ cup of water
  • 1 tsp. of beef bullion
  • 1 can light red kidney beans
  • however much ground meat was leftover from last night
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 1 tsp. black pepper
  • a dash of cayenne pepper
  • a dash of paprika
  • a dash of garlic

…and I slapped it into the crock pot on low for 8 hours.

Hope it tastes good when I get home. I’ve got shredded cheddar cheese for the top of it, & Super-Pretzels to go along with it. They always served pretzels & chili in my elementary school cafeteria so they belong together in my warped mind.

Most of them use tomato paste, soup, sauce, juice, or diced tomatoes as a base… I even saw one that called for Spicy hot V8… and I think my mom always used soup. Tomato paste is usually bitter, so I figured the tomato soup would counteract it. All of the spices should be rockin’. I like my chili thick.

Oh yeah, about 1/2 the ground meat was cooked w/ some seasoning salt & A1.


Recipe 2:

Here’s what basically went into my chili. I’ll probably eventually make a blog about it with a narrative so I can remember what I did this time for next time… to see what I wanna change or what I wanna do again.

I ended up only using the one can of diced tomatoes (the one with jalapeños) and still kind’ve overflowed the pot by a small amount. So, next time I may cut out one can of tomato soup or a can of beans. Also, I want to try garbanzo beans in my next batch… and I’ve heard chocolate powder goes good in chili some times… so I wanna try that one day too.

I also tossed in 2 slices of Velveeta ripped apart, a dash of spicy brown mustard, and a drop or 2 of A1 Cracked Peppercorn Steak Sauce.

I think the meat that I used was too fatty or I didn’t drain enough fat (…even though I got a about ⅔ of a regular sized plastic cup full of fat out of it). I had to skim some excess grease off of the top when I popped it open this morning.

I’ll let you know the general consensus after it’s been consumed.

[Edit:  It was good.]


Recipe 3:

I must have pinned this at some point, too.  Someone re-pinned it here…

I think it was a joke about Pepto because this chili killed my guts, even served over mashed potatoes.


Share your chili recipes with me in the comment section below.  Don’t be a jag and sit on your secret ingredient(s).  Is it cocoa powder?  Chocolate bars?  Corn?  Zucchini?  Cinnamon?  Potatoes?  Steak?  Instant potato flakes?  Cornmeal?  Chupacabra?

How do you serve it?  In a bowl?  Over baked or mashed potatoes, rice,or spaghetti?  With soft pretzels or cornbread?  With tortilla chips or crackers?

How do you cook it?  Crock pot?  Dutch oven?  Stove top?  Over a campfire?

Do you like the Hormel canned stuff or the stuff from Wendy’s?  Who makes your favorite?

Spill it!

So, we built a swing set…


It was a fun family project.  We told the kids that birthdays & Easter would be light as we were putting a lot into the swingset.  I’m not sure they understood or cared.  Our moms helped with the purchase, too.  Bethany & I looked online at 6,487,932 swing sets, and narrowed it down to 15 or so in our price range.  I made a spreadsheet to compare them, because OCD or something.  Looking at the roadside swing sets at those places that also sell sheds and rocking chairs, we got a similar product for about ⅓ or ¼ of the price, albeit with no installation.

Installation is expensive, and now we know why.  Ha ha.  Everyone who knew we were getting one gave warning, so we weren’t surprised, but it was an interesting task.

It came in 3 boxes from Walmart.com, and we did in-store pickup because I measured & it all fit nicely in the family vehicle.

Yay, #swingset!

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It took two weekend days with one week night in between to get it done, but the first weekend day was slowed by the kids “helping,” a move-the-tools-in-because-it-looks-like-rain delay, and maybe even a “let’s undo that part because I put it on backwards” moment.  The week night was hindered by the fact that as soon as I attached the ladder & sliding board, the kids needed to test it out.

Bethany & I enjoyed the kids helping.  We do the Home Depot Kids Workshops so both kids are comfortable with a hammer & a screwdriver, and we have done some other stuff at home like carpet removal and hanging curtain rods where they have actually helped.

Hard at work!

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Had some "helpers" today, ha ha.

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My mom even got video of the little man showing off his ratchet skills;

We have been at the house for a few years now, but the project this year is another step to getting the back yard to where we want it, and next year we’ll work on the front.  Having some trees removed recently & moving our garden really opened up some space in the back yard.  I’d like to put in a fire ring, and a toy car race-track play area.  I actually proposed removing the Bean House to make room for the latter, but I was vetoed by a 2yo boy saying “Unh-uh, Daddy.  Hoooome.  Hooome.  Daddy, unh-uh.”  I really hope the beans take off this year.  I have some sprouts popping up already.  I have some squash around it too. I don’t think the soil is all that great there though.

I even recently built this Pinterest inspired potting bench…

Back to the swing set, we even got a few extra add-ons from Amazon, like the steering wheel, telescope, telephone, and some handles.  I think I want to replace the kitchen area tarp walls with some chalkboard-painted wood… and eventually when the canopy fades or dry-rots, I’d like to replace it with some type of solid roof.

"There's so much room for activities!" @CedarSummitPlay #Laurentian #PlaySet #Swingset

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At any rate, I encourage you to tackle a project as a family.  I encourage you to get kids outdoors.  I encourage you to not be afraid to give young kids some tools with a bit of guidance and a lot of supervision.  I encourage you to get them into building, gardening, cooking, and the business of imagination.  I encourage you to try projects yourself, and don’t be afraid to involve the whole family.  It’s amazing how much you can learn through Google, YouTube, and a maybe a few tries.

I think the kids like it…

Hamburgers vs. Meatballs vs. Meatloaf?


This thought came to mind while making hamburgers for the holiday.  I remembered the commercials for ranch burgers & I had a packet of the ranch dressing mix, so I looked up their recipe.  It contained breadcrumbs.  I always thought breadcrumbs belong in meatballs or meatloaf, but not hamburgers.  Then there’s egg.  I put it in meatloaf but not in meatballs or hamburger.  They’re all almost the exact same thing… but then they’re all completely different.

I generally always throw them all together without a recipe.  They’re easy to do that way.  I guess everyone has their own way to do things.  I make them all the same sometimes, but sometimes I add something different for fun.

I’m just wondering how other people do things?

I’d love some feedback in the comments below.  I’ll share how I generally do things.  These aren’t really recipes, and I don’t measure much, but this is typically what goes in each:

Hamburgers

Meatballs

  • Ground Beef (Sometimes Turkey)
  • Crushed Croutons (Whatever we have for the salad if we’re having one, or a nice mix of spices or whatever.)
  • Parmesan/Romano “shake” cheese
  • Kraft Roasted Red Pepper Italian Dressing (It spices them well, keeps them nice & moist!)
  • Black Pepper

Meatloaf

  • Ground Beef
  • Egg
  • Bread or crushed crackers.  (I like the bread ripped up more than the crackers.)
  • A1, Ketchup, Mustard, or BBQ sauce… or a combo of all of them.
  • Season All
  • Black Pepper

(Click here for a crazy meatloaf recipe.)

Of course sometimes I add garlic, or onion powder, or something crazy.  That’s the fun if it though, isn’t it?  So, what goes in your meatballs, hamburgers, or meatloaf?

Raw Ground beef

Raw Ground beef (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Nine Can Vegetable Soup


This is an incredibly easy & delicious dinner or lunch.

Well, the name’s misleading.  Sometimes it’s not exactly nine cans.  I’ll give you the recipe as it was given to me…

Nine Can Vegetable Soup

  • 2 cans Hormel chili, any variety
  • 1 can vegetable soup
  • 1 can green beans
  • 1 can sliced new potatoes
  • 1 can mixed vegetables
  • 1 can corn
  • 2 cans diced tomatoes (for extra kick, use a can of tomatoes with green chiles in place of one can of diced tomatoes).

Optional: 1lb ground meat*

Dump the entire contents of every can into the crockpot – liquid and

all.

*Brown turkey or beef and drain and add to veggies in crockpot. Heat on low all day, or on high for less than 2 hours.

Well, sometimes I do it like this…

  1. Hormel Chili with Beans
  2. Hormel Chili with No Beans
  3. Campbell’s Beef With Barley & Vegetables Soup
  4. Campbell’s Vegetable Beef Soup
  5. Cut Green & Wax Beans
  6. Diced New Potatoes
  7. Succotash (Corn & Lima Beans)
  8. Mixed Vegetables with Potatoes
  9. Diced Tomatoes with Basil, Garlic, & Oregano
  10. Petit Diced Tomatoes
Nine Can Vegetable Soup

I didn’t take this picture, or make this soup. This is pretty much what it looks like though. (athomewithkim.com)

Sometimes I add other stuff.  I think I’ve put in Garbanzo Beans, Mexicorn, or

the diced tomatoes with jalapeño or chili peppers, and even plain old navy or black beans.  Sometimes I dump some of the liquid of the cans out.  I like thick soup.

I’ve used ground beef & ground turkey… both work really well.  I’m sure a vegetarian version of this would be easy to make. (Hormel makes a vegetarian chili, you can get vegetarian vegetable soup from Campbell’s, & the ground tofu, seitan, or tempeh would work well… or you could just add more beans or vegetables.)

I just put it into the crock pot on low all day.  Dinner’s ready when you get home!

I like to have it with homemade bread, or over biscuits like a pot pie.  If you’re camping and have a mountain pie iron or if you have en electric sandwich maker that seals the edges you can add some flour to thicken it up or strain it a little to make incredible filling.

I also like the tiny saltine crackers.

A any rate, we make some & it lasts a while… as a main dish, or a side with sandwiches.  It freezes & re-heats easily.

Do you make something like this?

What are some good soup recipes or easy crock-pot recipes?

Turkey Noodle Soup


So, I made some really easy turkey noodle soup yesterday.  It turned out to be pretty delicious, and I lucked out because a lot of the ingredients were on sale.

Turkey Noodle Soup!

My cell phone takes absolutely terrible photos, but trust me... this was delicious.

In the morning, I popped 2 turkey breast cutlets into the crock pot, piled on top of chopped baby-cut carrots & celery.  I added some a cup of water with a chicken bullion cube… and piled on some spices; Poultry Seasoning, Season All, black pepper, garlic, sage, and parsley.  I should have probably added an onion, but I forgot.

8 hours later, I boiled some wide noodles in 2 cans of turkey broth, 2 cans of vegetable broth, and 2 cans of low sodium chicken broth.  When the noodles were cooked, I chopped up the turkey boobs, and dumped the contents from the crock pot into the boiling pot of noodles for the soup… I added a little more water, another bullion cube, and simmered for a while.

Result?  Rather effortless yet delicious soup.

I found myself wondering if the broth & noodles would have cooked well in the crock pot.  Will noodles cook well without the boiling & just the saturation?  Would they eventually fall apart if over-cooked?

I’ve also done something similar with a rotisserie chicken… I’ll sauté the carrots, celery, & maybe garlic & onion with some butter in the soup pot, then add chicken and/or vegetable broth, boil the noodles, & add chicken.

How do you make chicken or turkey noodle soup?

How do you make your other favorite kinds of soup?

Have any secret ingredients? 

I generally put in cayenne or something else hot… but I’ve been told to cool it with the spices for a while thanks to G.E.R.D. lately.  Sometimes I add beer to soups… just because I can.  I dunno if it’d go well in chicken or turkey noodle though?

Your favorite pizza sucks, my favorite pizza rules! (Part 2)


So, last time I blogged about pizza, I covered some of my favorites: Aiello’s, SLICE, & A’Pizza Badamo.  This time I’ll blog about other area big-hitters.

Beto's Pizza on UrbanspoonBeto’s is another place nearby that is just excellent.  They’re the place that you’ve probably heard of that doesn’t cook the cheese & other toppings.  You’ll probably either love it or hate it.  I dig it, the wife does not.  The only thing I’d change is the consistency of the sauce… I’m not a fan of chunks of tomatoes in pizza sauce, but the flavor is excellent.  They don’t get all fancy with toppings here either, just simple, straightforward pizza with cheese that’s melting as you eat it.  I think my favorite way to eat it is just as plain cheese pizza.  Why mess up such a beautiful combination?

Molly's Pizza on UrbanspoonMolly’s Pizza is close by too.  They have some great pizza, and some really crazy specialty pies like the Ranchero Steak Pizza and the Pierogi Pizza.  I personally like to get a pizza with zucchini on top.  Excellent stuff!  It’s hard to pick a favorite around here.

Fiori's Pizzaria on UrbanspoonFoiri’s is a south hills institution.  Sorry, I don’t get it.  Is it good pizza?  Most definitely.  Is it overrated?  In my humble opinion, yes.  Maybe I’m biased because you can get deathfish as a topping there.  At any rate, if you’re in the area and a pizza aficionado, it’s worth checking out before you decide that Slice is the best place around.

Il Pizzaiolo on UrbanspoonIl Pizzaiolo isn’t your regular Pittsburgh pizza shop.  They’re fancy.  They have great pies in a steep Neapolitan tradition.  As they say themselves…

…the restaurant has become a vibrant gathering place for lovers of Neapolitan pizza, pasta and Italian wine. Nearly everything on the menu is hand-made. And if it’s not made in-house, it’s imported from the best artisans, cheese-makers and salumeria in the world. Mozzarella di Bufala comes direct from Naples every Thursday and the pizzas are baked at 1000˚ in a handcrafted, wood-fired brick oven for less than 90 seconds. This, along with perfectly leavened dough, San Marzano tomatoes and extra virgin olive oil, produces the most authentic Neapolitan pizza possible.

So obviously, this is no Pizza Hut.  They make incredible gourmet pies.  Unfortunately it’s entirely not what I’m craving when I “just want a pizza”.  This is where you want to go when you’d like a nice evening out to enjoy some of the lightest most delicious pizza you’ve ever eaten.

Italian Village Pizza (Canonsburg/McMurray) on UrbanspoonItalian Village Pizza is all over the place.  Both by location and quality.  They used to have a killer A1 Steak Sub at the one on Rte. 51, but I don’t think they have that any more.  The last one I frequented was the one in McMurray, but I only ever got the pizza once or twice.  The steak & Italian subs are incredible, but the sauce was just too bitter for me.  It tasted like straight tomato paste with some basil thrown in.  Some people love it, but it just wasn’t my thing.

Here I’d also like to try to address this thing…

VinceNt’s vs. Vincent’s

I’m still not sure what the exact dispute is… if there’s still a dispute, and if there are only two Vincent’s involved in this saga.  Can anyone fill me in on this?  I’ve heard several amalgamated stories over the years.  Some credible news even.  First, you’ve got to get your head around the locations…

There’s Vincent’s Pizza ParkOne on 30 in Irwin/North Huntingdon, one on Ardmore Blvd., and one in Holiday Park (the one I used to frequent).  And there’s Vincent’s “of Greentree” …oddly enough in Greentree, Southpointe, and the West End.  (There also seems to be a Vincent’s Pizza Pub on Mt. Washington – I’m unsure if they’re related to any of the others.)

I haven’t been to Vincent’s Pizza Park in Holiday Park in a long long time, but I remember it as the greasiest pizza I have ever had.  It was good, but greasy.  Some people like that.  I’m not the biggest fan of grease, but I remember they had a nice thick crust & a flavorful sauce.

I don’t think I’ve ever been to the Vincent’s in Greentree, but the one in Southpointe has great steak subs, garlic buns, and pretty good pizza.  Their “like it” percentage on Urbanspoon is pretty low though.  No idea what’s up there.

Vincent's Pizza Park on Urbanspoon Vincent's of Southpointe on Urbanspoon

Which Vincent’s is your favorite?  Which Vincent’s location is the best & the original?  (I think it’s Vincent’s in Forest Hills)

Please, chime in on any of these locations, any from my previous pizza post, or any that I may have missed.  I may dive into pizza chains next.  Pizza is always a subject of hot debate (and it goes well with beer).

Radical!

Radical!