Cooking Stuff From the Garden 🌶🥒


So, today I felt like cooking. We recently came back from a weekend at a cabin and a week at camp. We had a bunch of new stuff ready in the garden, and some stuff past ready.

Here are three quick recipes that I posted on Instagram. The Poblano peppers, banana peppers, straightneck squash, and snap beans were grown in our garden.

🥓🧀🌶🍄🍝🥒🌱

Bacon-Wrapped Poblano Peppers

Well, that turned out well. Got some poblano from the garden this week. I mixed some bacon bits, minced garlic, shredded cheddar cheese, and steak seasoning into some cream cheese, cut the peppers in half, stuffed with the peppers with the mixture, sprinkled more cheddar on top, wrapped with bacon, & baked on a sheet pan at 375° for 40 min.

Turned out pretty good if I do say so myself!

Snap Beans with Mushrooms & French Fried Onions

Some fresh snap beans from the garden. Steamed, then tossed in with some sautéed mushrooms, French fried onions, minced garlic, a pinch or 2 of flour & fresh cooked bacon pieces. (Used the leftovers from the peppers.)

Straightneck Squash Parmesan

Had some straightneck squash that grew a bit too big while we were at camp. I had it in my head to prepare it sort of like eggplant parmesean & fried zucchini. I didn’t want the stacked lasagna version, I wanted something with a bit of crunch.

I sliced then up, dredged in flour/cornstarch, egg/buttermilk. & coated in regular & panko breadcrumbs with a bit of parmesan “shake cheese” mixed in. I seasoned each step with Italian seasoning, garlic powder, & black pepper.

I baked them for about 25 or 30 min. on 400°, then topped with provolone & mozzarella slices & a bit more parmesan. They went back in for 10 min.

Served with bowtie pasta & covered in our favorite slightly doctored sauce.

Added the needed flavor to the overgrown squash and I actually preferred the consistency to eggplant.

🥒🧀🌶🥓🧄🍄🌱🍝

All in all, I was really pleased with the results, and I think the family was too.

Do you have some good recipes, tips, & tricks for these garden ingredients?

What do you like to grow and cook?

Smokin’ Spare Ribs 🍖 (3·2·1 Style)


So, recently I got a smoker attachment for my Char-Griller grill as a gift for Father’s Day. I tried it out today and the results we fantastic. I hit up the Google machine and some non-BBQ-ing Facebook groups for advice, tips, & tricks. (I imagine that they are as intense as guitar groups and I am just not ready yet.) I kept getting advice on the 3-2-1 method of smoking ribs. There are many variations of that technique. I think it went well. I tracked my progress with the #AiXeLsyDBBQ hashtag. Maybe I’ll do some more next time.

The quick and dirty of this method is…

  1. Get your coals to 225°-ish. (I used a chimney to avoid lighter fluid and it was awesome.) I added some wood chunks in the chimney, and on top once I spread on the coals. I did not soak the wood, but I may next time. Control the temp with your vents. Open a bit warms it up, closed cools it off… all because of airflow.
  2. Remove the silverskin, and put a nice rub on the ribs. I used one from the section of Walmart by all the grilling stuff.
  3. Put the ribs in the grill part if you have an attachment, or not on the heat for 3 hours.
  4. Pull the ribs out, wrap in heavy duty grilling foil, add some apple cider, apple juice, vinegar, pop, or whatever. I added some Straub. Unfortunately I made 2 racks and used the whole bottle, so I drank one myself.
  5. Put them in for 2 hours, smoking really isn’t necessary at this point if your wanna save your chunks or chips.
  6. Pull them out and unwrap them. I should have saved the drippings for the barbecue sauce on the side, but I did not. Shame on me. Do that.
  7. Sauce those ribs up. Liberally. Like, and obscene amount.
  8. Put them back on for 1 hour. (3-2-1… get it? Guys! They said the thing!)
  9. Always check with a thermometer for done-ness. They should be pretty damn done at this point, arguably overdone.
  10. EAT.

I know fall-off-the-bone isn’t competition style. A bone did pull right out of one rack, but the meat was in tact, not falling completely apart. I know the foil wrapping bit is then steaming not smoking… but, rules are made to be broken and a healthy dose of anarchy warms my little punk rock heart.

I would definitely do the ribs like this again. I may try a homemade sauce. This was pretty basic store-brand stuff from Shop ‘n Save with some dry mustard, brown sugar, garlic powder, onion powder, and black pepper, and Straub American Amber Lager. I may try different chips, or a smoker box, or to soak the wood. I even read some people eschew charcoal in favor of all wood once the fire is going.

I also threw on some baked potatoes, turkey legs, grilled veggies, and sauce on the attached burner.

Can’t wait to try out a turkey, pork loin, brisket, and whatever else I haven’t thought of. Mac n’ cheese? Jalapeño poppers? Meatloaf? Bacon?

What do you do in the smoker? What are your go to foods? Got any tips & tricks worth sharing? Do you click the tongs twice or three times? Before, during, or after?

Any excuse to drink beer and play with fire all day is a good excuse to me. Plus, the family was awed by my hereto unknown skills with smoked meats.

What music are you playing while you’re grilling or smoking?

This is the full adventure as told via Instagram:

Vegetable Garden 2021 🌱 II: The Wrath of Fawn


Damn deer ate my tomatoes.

Think they’ll come back from this, or is it just best to replace?

Also, we planted some swiss chard from my daughter’s school science class, some snap beans, some yellow onions, and garlic. We also had 1 volunteer squash pop up in the yard, and 4 back by the compost pile. Not really sure what they are. I have had some WEIRD hybrid stuff in the past. When you grow multiple varieties they can cross-pollinate and the seeds can make some wacky stuff. They could be that wacky stuff or just pumpkins, butternut squash, acorn squash or zucchini.

Gorillas in the Mint

Check out the original blog from this year for a nice embedded chart.

Revised Garden Map & Harvest Dates:

Follow my instagram for all the latest stuff, and some other plants around the yard.

Vegetable Garden 2021 🌱


This year, I had some big help in the garden! These two have been gardening since they could walk, and I think they’re enjoying it and really getting the hang of it.

The kids have their own YouTube channel now, with a little hep from some old guy that blogs occasionally. Check out their gardening how-to:

I also made a map, and decided to make a chart of the suggested harvest dates on the tags just to see how accurate they are. I have been gardening since I can remember, and don’t know if I ever paid attention to that. We just picked stuff whenever it appeared & ripened.

Garden Map & Harvest Dates 2021

We made sure to get all the tags & try to document it all. The kids are loving math & science, so why not incorporate it into the garden? We can see if the harvest dates noted on the tags are anywhere near when the plants are actually ready.

I’m excited to see how it turns out! And, yeah, we got some more jalapeño since they liked it last year… and this time we’re trying some poblano too!

Whoa, Instagram is a trip down memory lane with these kids and gardening!

Chili (AiXeLsyD13 Style) 🌶


Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. round steak, cut into cubes
  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • ½ package of bacon pieces
  • 1 10.75 oz. can condensed tomato soup
  • 1 14.5 oz. can petite diced tomatoes with sweet onions
  • 1 12 oz. can tomato paste
  • 1 6 oz. can tomato paste
  • 1 8 oz. can tomato sauce
  • 1 15 5 oz. can kidney beans
  • 1 15.5 oz. can black beans
  • 1 fresh jalapeño, diced
  • 1 fresh orange bell pepper, diced
  • 1 fresh sweet banana pepper, diced
  • 1 12 oz. bottle of Straub Amber
  • 1 pack of chili spice mix
  • 2 tsp. minced garlic
  • Onion powder, garlic powder, steak seasoning, seasoned-salt, cumin, paprika, cayenne, black pepper, white pepper

I wanted to try 2 things, the Ninja Foodi pressure-cooker function & steak in the chili. The steak was successful, the pressure-cooking was not so much.

I cut up the steak and sautéed with a tiny bit of EVOO in a pan on the stove on high then medium-high, added about half of each chopped up fresh pepper, the ground beef, and about a tablespoon of minced garlic. This is where I added all of the dry spices at the end. I don’t measure. I also used some Straub to deglaze the pan. This mix was delicious.

I added the rest of the ingredients into the Foodi after draining & rinsing both cans of beans… including the unused peppers, garlic, and beer.

It got up to pressure then insisted I “ADD WTR.” I reluctantly added a cup of water and a beef bullion cube. I like chili thick enough to eat with a fork.

It got up to pressure again and insisted “ADD WTR.”

Googling solutions seemed to lean to the fact that it could be overheating, stuff could be burning on the pan, or a few other suggestions. A real life friend confirmed the burning thing via Facebook. It eventually got to a boiling point after the second pressure-up, but again demanded “ADD WTR.” No, Foodi. I like thick chili! NO ADD WTR! NO ADD WTR! I put it on the saute setting and let it boil down for a bit.

I think the stove top would have been the same amount of time. The flavors were great. Would they had been enhanced with proper pressurized cooking? Will the Foodi learn to say “STR SHT” when that’s what it really means?

Next time I will put the liquid on the bottom maybe? Also, no water/bullion cube… and I may eliminate the small can of tomato paste & sauce. The meat & pepper mix itself before other stuff was delicious. I could add the tomatoes, & soup, & beans right there and have a fine meal to be seved with rice or mashed potatoes.

Maybe I will go back to the slow-cooker. You can’t deny how awesome that is. My recipe is always changing.

One of these days I’m gonna try cocoa powder. I have seen stuff calling for brown sugar (which I love in spaghetti sauce), but no thanks in chili. I have also had cinnamon in chili, an that’s totally not my thing, but I get it if you dig it.

I had mine with some tortilla strips, shredded sharp cheddar cheese, and a dollop of sour cream. We had some pretzel breadsticks on the side too. They serves soft pretzels with chili at my elementary school, so they will always belong together for me. This would have also been great over mashed potatoes or on a baked potato, rice, or even pasta.

IG CHILI

How do you do chili (or chili con carne)? Beans? No beans? Over pasta? Over potatoes or rice? Any musts for the side like peanut butter, corn bread, sweet corn cake, rolls, cinnamon rolls, tortilla chips or strips, etc.?

Do you use cheese or sour cream? Do you like it hot? Do you cut the heat with anything?

Do you have a preferred cooking method?

Any tips on pressure-cooker (or Ninja Foodi) chili?

Teh Facebooks on Chili

Kids, Gardening, & Jalapeños. 👨‍👩‍👧‍👦🌱🌶️


The kids like to garden. They helped plant once again this year, and have been great at watering, upkeep, & harvesting. They really did most of the planting work this year, and are learning about how to keep weeds out and when to pick ripe peppers. (They’re already pretty good at tomatoes.)

Molly & Ian try a jalapeño from the garden! 🌶️

This year, by accident, I picked up a jalapeño plant when shopping at Home Depot. I meant to get 2 each of yellow bell peppers, orange bell peppers, and red bell peppers. I came home with a jalapeno and only one yellow pepper. We also planted some sweet banana peppers.

When I brought it home, Ian was determined to plant it & try some. He was true to his word! Molly & Ian did both try it! I put the video up on YouTube and IGTV.

Decide for yourself if you think they liked it:

I haven’t ever grown hot peppers despite all my years growing tomato, pepper, & a slew of other stuff.

I asked on various social media platforms on how to tell if your jalapeno is ripe and I got a handful of differentiating opinions. I got…

  • When they turn red. (Was told they turn black before they are red.)
  • When they start to get little brown lines/wrinkles.
  • At around 3″ long.
  • At around 6″ to 8″ long.
  • Look at the photo on the plant tag.
  • bury match heads to make them hotter.

So, how do you tell when they’re ripe?


Share your hot pepper ripeness tips & any other tricks below on the comments.

Have an recipes to share too?  I would like to hear your thoughts on gardening, jalapeno peppers, or the video below!

This has been a fun gardening journey.  It is exciting to see them learn about composting, growing food, and then trying it & even cooking with it.  We have had plenty of beautiful snap beans, sweet banana peppers, & a few varieties of cherry tomatoes so far.

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Much #latergram. #GardeningForKids

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#Jalapeño!🌶

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#SweetBananaPeppers!

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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!

Those Other Stuffed Peppers


So, tonight for dinner I made a new (to me) one.  The wife has made it several times and it’s always a hit with the kids.  I think her original recipe was entitled Santa Fe Stuffed Peppers.  This takes out a bit of the spice and she’s not a huge fan of black beans (which I would have included).  Everything here came from Aldi, except the slices of white American cheese.  We just had that on hand, and no shredded cheese.  It worked well.

Our 3 year old daughter wolfed down about a pepper and a half worth of filling, skipping the outer pepper for some reason.  (She would possibly eat it all, or just the reverse tomorrow.)  She said that we should have it every night for dinner.  I noted that she really likes these, and her mom’s homemade Manwich-like sloppy joes, and that we should start a food truck that specializes in ground meat and call it “Ground Around Town.”  She said we have to paint it pink.  I asked if she wanted to cook or wash dishes.  She chose cooking.

Out of all the stuff you think kids might be picky about, they gobble this up.  (3 yo & 18mo).  I like these better than the more traditional meatball w/ rice stuffed in a green pepper & covered in spaghetti sauce or tomato soup.  For some reason, I can dig the rice & ground meat mixed… but I do not like rice in meatballs.  The red, yellow, & orange peppers are very sweet too.  I like them more than the green ones.  Also, if you mention that you like your peppers stuffed with sausage, you can just close this tab and move on.

These were really easy to make…

All I did was…

Cook the rice & set it aside.  I used the liquid from the can of tomatoes & a beef bullion cube in the water.

Cut the tops off of the peppers, pull out seeds & weird white stuff off of the inside.  (Bethany parboils them first, I didn’t.  I liked them a bit crunchier.)

Brown the ground beef, season to taste.  I added onion powder, garlic powder, & seasoned-salt.  (We have also used ground turkey for this.  It’s delicious.)

Mix the fire-roasted diced tomatoes into the ground meat after draining the fat off.

Mix the rice & beef/tomatoes together.

Put the peppers in a glass baking dish.  Pack the peppers with the tasty rice & beef goodness.  Two didn’t stand up well on their own, so I made little foil stands.

I cooked them in a preheated oven at 375° for 20 minutes, then added the slices of cheese for 5 minutes.

Like I said, Bethany parboils the peppers so they’re a bit softer, so she cooks it at 325° for 20-25 minutes.

Next time, if I make this, I may cook the rice in tomato paste or other tomato flavoring, and add the black beans.  Not sure what the kids would think.  Maybe a little bit of heat would be nice too?  This reminds me of Spanish rice in a pepper.

 

 

Do you make anything similar?  Do you do stuffed peppers a different way?  Do you stuff acorn squash like this?  Do you do different seasonings?  Make ’em meatless?  (Toasted garbanzo beans & black beans might be really good in this!)  Let me know in the comments!

BBQ Pork & Slaw Sandwiches


Thought I’d share…

Made these with the wife today, and they were delicious.

Pulled Pork:

  • Pork Roast
  • Bottle of Beer
  • an apple
  • an onion

Dump the roast and beer into the crock pot over top of the sliced apple and onion. Set it on low for 8 hours. Pull out to rest for a bit, then shred with a fork.

ColeSlaw dressing adapted from Primanti Bros. copycat recipe:

  • bag of shredded cabbage & carrots
  • ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
  • ¼ cup distilled white vinegar
  • 5 tablespoons white sugar
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable or canola oil
  • salt and pepper, & Season All to taste.

Mix dressing together, pour over shredded rabbit food, cover & let chill for a bit in the ‘fridge.

The sandwich:

  • bakery buns (ours were from the big bird)
  • Sliced Meunster (or another white cheese like Brick, Swiss, or Provolone)
  • your favorite BBQ Sauce
  • ⬆that shredded pork
  • ⬆that cole slaw mixture

Build a damn sandwich. Do I really need to explain how to do that?

Trust me, this is delicious.

image

New BBQ Joints?


Pittsbugh BBQ Co. - Brisket Sandwich

Good BBQ helps to grow healthy sideburns.

Well, you probably know I like barbecue.  I’m a big fan, and I’m always willing to try out new places.  Well, new places that don’t have shrimp or other deathfish on the menu.  I’ve scoped out the web sites three places I haven’t tried… perhaps they’re rather new?  Can anyone tell me if they’ve been to any of these places & what they think?  (Or if they have any stuff on site that’s not listed on the online menu?)

Perhaps, like movie nights, I can organize a Pittsburgh (& surrounding area) BBQ tour?  Would anyone be interested?

I’d like to check out the following BBQ restaurants…

Of course we’d have to hit my favorites… Brentwood Express Rowdy BBQ, Pittsburgh Barbecue Co., & Clem’s Cafe!

Were else are the deathfish-free BBQ joints in in & around the ‘Burgh?

A wing tour has been suggested, but 95% of the places that fry wings also fry deathfish, so I’ll stick with Gooski’s.