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:

Get an A-Maze Mug! c[_]


Hey, we talked about it before… No one, not two, but three times.

It’s finally here! Get an A-Maze Mug from Ci3! How cool is that? Each mug comes with a dry-erase marker so you can solve the maze, both in a nifty box covered in mazes!

A-MAZE MUG by Ci3 & AiXeLsyD13
A-MAZE MUG by Ci3 & AiXeLsyD13

More cool maze-related merch coming soon. What else would you like to see? Socks? Masks? T-shirts? Books? Puzzles? Mirrors? Tiles?

I haven’t ever done anything to make my mazes available for any kind of sale, so this is exciting to me. What do you think?

I am eternally grateful to Mike Copen for the nudge and the opportunity. It’s so cool for artists, designers, entrepreneurs, & creative types to support each other.

Of course, I think they’d make great gifts for friends, family, teachers, co-workers, or even anyone that may be hard to buy for. Who doesn’t like a nice warm beverage? Solving the maze with the dry erase marker is a good opportunity to kind of zone out in a zen-like state, to help you regain focus to start the day or even decompress at the end of a long day! I know that’s the drive behind drawing them.

These would be great for coffee, tea, hot cocoa, warm apple cider, ramen, or one of my soup recipes.

Please, share the link if you’re so inclined. I’d like to see how far these can go. Thanks in advance if you plan on making a purchase!

So, I made broccoli cheese soup for the first time. 🥦🧀🥣


I’ve made a few different soups before, but never really tackled one with a creamy base. I like my soups pretty simple. I probably used more ingredients here than I needed to. Generally at this point with soups or chili, I just throw a bunch of stuff in a pot and see what happens. I read a few different recipes at the top of a Google search, and went from there. I am really bad at measuring stuff. I just throw in an eyeballed amount.

AiXeLsyD13's Broccoli Cheese Soup
AiXeLsyD13’s Broccoli Cheese Soup | This was my first attempt. It wasn’t bad!

Tools you’ll definitely need:

  • Stock pot
  • Cheese grater
  • Spoon
  • Spatula

Ingredients:

  • 1½ sticks of butter
  • ¾ cup of flour
  • ½ cup of shredded carrots
  • ¼ cup of diced celery
  • ½ Spanish onion
  • 1 Tbsp. minced garlic
  • ½ tsp. ground mustard
  • ½ tsp. paprika
  • ½ tsp. onion powder
  • ½ tsp. garlic powder
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 32 oz. box of chicken stock
  • 32 oz. box of chicken stock
  • 32 oz. box of vegetable broth
  • 2 bundles of fresh broccoli (chopped up into spoon-sized pieces)
  • ¼ cup of bacon pieces
  • 7 oz. block of extra sharp cheddar cheese (grated)
  • 7 oz. block of white cheddar cheese (grated)
  • ½ cup of parmesan cheese
  • 1 lb. block of Velveeta (cut onto small chunks)
  • 2 cup bag of shredded “mac & cheese blend” cheese
  • 1 cup instant mashed potato flakes

Method:

  1. Melt butter on medium heat in the bottom of your stock pot, add celery, carrots, onions, & sautée for a bit.
  2. Mix spices with the flour, add to pot to make a roux and let it get a nice color brown.
  3. Add minced garlic at the end… sometimes it burns easily.
  4. Add 3 boxes of stock, then the buttermilk while it’s still cool to prevent curdling.
  5. Add broccoli & bacon pieces, bring to a boil, simmer for about 15 to 20 minutes.
  6. Turn heat to low, stir in all that cheese.
  7. Add mashed potato flakes to thicken. (I think I poured in a bit more buttermilk in here too.)

Notes:

  • Obviously, you can use your preferred onions, cheeses, stock, etc. You could use heavy cream instead of buttermilk.
  • I would say next time I will make more roux & use one less box of broth for a thicker soup. Maybe a bullion cube would add flavor without the liquid? I could cook it longer to get it thicker too. I like a ridiculously thick soup.
  • I like to use beer in ham soup, I bet it would go great here. Maybe I could sub that & a bullion cube for a box of broth next time?
  • I read that the bagged pre-shredded cheese doesn’t melt as easily, but it seemed to incorporate just as well as the rest of the stuff.

So, that’s it. I would be very interested in your suggestions, tips, tricks, & “secrets” in the comments. Have you tried this recipe? Did you put your spin on it? Let me know in the comments.

I thought about putting this in a bread bowl, but I opted to make my take on ham & cheese oven sandwiches. Maybe I’ll get into baking next time, or just buy some bread bowls pre-made.

🥦🧀🥣

If you liked this recipe, maybe check out these ones:

Easy, Quick, and Delicious – Grilled Chicken Noodle Soup 🥣


The wife & daughter are under the weather so I offered to make some home made chicken-noodle soup. Not much is more of a classic and traditional comfort than chicken-noodle soup, right? Around here, the stuff like Eat ‘n Park serves is a comfort-food staple. I love those style noodles. I make soups slightly differently every time, but this seemed to come together quickly and it was very flavorful. I’d definitely do it this way again.

I posted photos to Facebook & Instagram, & thought I’d share the recipe here too. I like to have leftover soup. Here’s what I posted on social media, maybe slightly edited;

This was the cheater method, but these frozen noodles are awesome. I made A LOT of soup. Ha ha. This could easily be halved.

I started with grilling chicken tenders on the panini grill, added a pretty good amount of “rotisserie chicken” spices. Two competing name brands happened to be in the spice rack, so that’s what I used.

I sautéed some shredded carrots, half a Spanish onion, and some celery stalks in a few pats of butter on the bottom of the stock pot.

Then I added some minced garlic (yes, the stuff from a jar soaked in olive oil because I am lazy), & some fresh parsley from the garden. I didn’t measure any of it.

I also used poultry seasoning, onion powder, garlic powder, white & black pepper, salt, & a shake of cayenne.

I de-glazed a bit with some chicken stock, then added the rest… 2 boxes of chicken stock, 1 box vegetable broth, 1 box low-sodium chicken broth (because vegetable broth usually has a much higher sodium content), 1 box bone broth. I ended up with 3 different name brands… just to get the mix of slightly different liquids.

I have used chicken bullion cubes in the past to save all kinds of money and use beer in my ham soups all the time.

I brought all that to a boil.

I added 2 bags of the frozen Reames egg noodles, the grilled chicken (that I cut up while it was boiling), and brought it back to a boil, simmered for about 20 minutes as per the directions on the noodles.

This almost overflowed my stock pot, but stirring kept it from boil over. Ha ha.

I have used regular dry noodles or Amish noodles, and even home-made noodles… but the Reaves ones really do taste fantastic and require zero work. Ha ha.

I like the taste of the grilled chicken in the soup. I left it just long enough to get grill lines. I have made it from scratch, using rotisserie chicken, made my own broth from a roasted chicken… I’d put this up against any of those methods and it’s super quick.

(Not-even-remotely-a-)Pro tip… For lunch the next day, all the noodles had soaked up all the liquid. Gonna put some chicken bullion cubes in some water in the stock pot, then add the soup to re-heat. It’s honestly good as-is re-heated in a bowl in the microwave.

If you make this, or your own version, tell me what you think in the comments! What are your favorite shortcuts for making tasty chicken noodle soup?

Someday I may try to make this (probably cut in half) in the pressure cooker, if I can get over how it wronged me on chili.

🥣🥣🥣

Stuff you need:

  • Countertop grill
  • Stock pot (and a stove, too I guess.)
  • Tongs
  • Spatula
  • Large Spoon

Ingredients:

  • (2) small packs of chicken breast tenders
  • Extra Virgil Olive Oil (I keep some it in a spray bottle and use it to coat the grill)
  • Rotisserie Chicken Seasoning (or your favorite Season-Salt or Mrs. Dash’s or whatever) – I don’t measure, I just shake it on.
  • (3) pats of butter
  • (1) cup (ish) shredded carrots
  • (1) cup (ish) chopped celery
  • (½) Spanish onion (I think they’re sweeter than sweet onions, but you’re cooking, so use your favorite onion.)
  • (1) tsp. minced garlic (the lil’ stuff from jar, or be difficult & use fresh)
  • Fresh parsley – A small unmeasured & finely chopped bit, I pulled mine from the garden.
  • (2) 24 oz. bags of frozen egg noodles
  • (2) 32 oz. cartons chicken stock
  • (1) 32 oz. carton vegetable broth
  • (1) 32 oz. carton low-sodium chicken broth
  • (1) 32. oz. carton chicken bone broth
  • Spices, I don’t measure any of these… I just shake it in:
    • Salt
    • Black pepper
    • White pepper
    • Poultry seasoning
    • Cayenne
    • Onion powder
    • Garlic Powder

Method:

  1. You just skipped down to the recipe, didn’t you?
  2. I already told you how to make it up top.
  3. Now, you have to go back up & read it.
  4. Or you can click the window closed & go away.
  5. But then, you’ll never know, will you?
  6. You’ll never know how delicious and easy this is.

White Trash ’Taters


I have heard them called many things.  Funeral potatoes, cheesy potatoes, picnic potatoes.  I like our name best.  No idea where the recipe came from originally.  I have been coming here to look for recipes and I noticed I hadn’t posted it here.  I posted it on a blog I never really kept up with.

I made these for Christmas in lieu of spending all the time it takes to make my decadent cheesy scalloped potatoes.

White Trash ’Taters Recipe

  • 2 lb. bag of Ore Ida frozen hash browns (cubes)
  • 2 cans cream of chicken soup
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1 stick oleo/butter
  • 3 tbsp. Onion (optional)
  • 1 bag sour cream & onion potato chips.

Pre-heat oven to 350°. Grease 9” x 13” pan.

Mix all ingredients except potatoes in large bowl. Put frozen potatoes into pan, break clumps if necessary. Stir in cheese mixture, mix well.

Crush sour cream & onion potato chips and sprinkle over top of pan.

Cover with aluminum foil, bake for 1 hour at 350°, remove foil & bake for 10-15 min. longer.

Substitutions/Variations: I don’t use onions in mine… but I have bought the potatoes “southwest style” with green peppers. Also, if you don’t like cream of chicken… cream of mushroom or celery or potato or just about anything will do. I usually double the sour cream called for above, and use I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter instead of butter or oleo. Also… in place of the chips I have seen corn flakes or Ritz crackers. Once you get it down, you can adapt it any way you like.

Do you make this?  Do you change it up?  I have used shredded gouda in addition to the sharp cheddar and it is awesome.  I usually end up doubling this for some reason.  I want to try BBQ chips on top one of these days.

Ham n’ Bean n’ Tater Stew


This is one of my favorites.  My grandma made it a lot when I was growing up.  I have my own variation.

Ham, Green Bean, & Potato Soup on a Spoon

Ham, Green Bean, & Potato Soup

 

Mine includes beer. Grandma made it every once in a while with cabbage. I suppose you could add carrots and/or onions. Maybe garbanzi beans too?  Becky the awesome cook at camp makes it with noodle-style dumplings (I did try it that way once too), and some people make it wholly and horribly incorrectly with a creamy soup base.  I have no idea why you would do that to this meal.

I don’t know what to call this.  We always just called it “ham, beans, and potatoes” which is somewhat cumbersome… and could be about 4,000,000,000 other soups.  In fact, I don’t even know if this is a soup or a stew.  Both?  Neither?  What is the difference, anyway?

A lot of the time this would be made with leftover ham from Christmas, Easter, or whenever.  When the hankering strikes now, I go to ham steaks with the little bone in.  I don’t have a strict recipe, it’s more of a method.

This time, I put some Ham broth base (which can be a pain in the rear to find in the store sometimes) made slightly weaker than the directions, one cube each of chicken & beef bullion, a bottle of Yuengling Traditional Lager (I have used Straub American Amber for this too), and water in the pot and started it to boil on high.  (Perhaps obviously if I had a leftover ham, I would start by boiling the bone and make the broth from that, add bullion if/as needed.)  I also popped in some minched garlic, onion powder, and season-all, salt, and black pepper.

Then I cubed up 2 ham steaks, added them to the mix,.

Then I washed n’ cut up a not quite a 5 lb. bag of russet potatoes, and added that to the mix.  (I have used Yukon Gold before and they’re delicious, but they seem to break down to starch easier.)

Then, I cheated and popped open 2 bags of microwave/steam ready fresh green beans, rinsed, then snapped/chopped, and added them to the mix.  When i came to a boil, I popped it down to 8 on the burner dial, and let it boil for 20 minutes.

Then, I let it simmer on 2 for another 20 minutes, then I put it on low until dinner time.

Ham n' Bean n; Tater Stew

Ham n’ Bean n; Tater Stew

We served it with fresh baked buttered bread form the local grocery store.  The kids seemed to actually eat dinner this evening too, and they’re rather picky lately.  Sometimes I make it the night before, this is the kind of stuff that’s always better the next day.  I’m not sure if it’s Irish, German, American, or all of the above.

Do you make something like this?  Post your variation(s) in the comments below.

 

 

How do you make your meatloaf?


I posted the text below in two different Aldi fan boards on Facebook. I thought I’d also share here.  Text slightly altered, spelling mistakes corrected.  I feel like I make meatloaf different every time. How do you do yours?

 

🛒🍴🥩

 

Full disclosure, most of this was not from Aldi, but it all could have been. It all was cooked in the oven at 400°.

Meatloaf, Baked Potatoes, Brussels Sprouts, Carrots

The meatloaf went in first, for an hour and a half. The potatoes went right on the rack at the one hour and 15 minute mark, and the brussels sprouts and carrots went in at the hour mark. Maybe 55 min.? I did crank it to 425° at that point but in hindshight didn’t need to. I flipped the potatoes when the veggies went in, and at the 15 min. mark I put sauce on top of the meatloaves and stirred the sprouts n’ carrots.

The potatoes were just washed, poked, rubbed in EVOO & spices.

The sprouts & carrots where just cut up, drizzled with EVOO, salt, pepper, & bacon crumbles.

The meatloaf was 3 lbs. of 85/15, an egg, french fried onions, club crackers, spices, ketchup, A-1 (the Aldi stuff works too, I have used it in the past), a squeeze of spicy brown mustard, minced garlic, spices (I just grab stuff off the rack & go), shredded cheese, and bacon crumbles.

I broke it into two loaves, cooked in a glass dish on top of two slices of bread each. It absorbs the grease & prevents burning on the bottom.

The sauce/glaze was mostly ketchup, some A-1, a dash of mustard, plus some cheese and bacon crumbles.

Probably not a meal for the health-conscious.😁

I think I do meatloaf slightly different every time. I have used marinara and Parmesan, put hard boiled eggs whole in the middle, wrapped in a bacon weave, added mushrooms & onions, used ranch or french onion soup packets, chunks of bread, added milk, & more.

I know it’s one both kids will eat unless I get too crazy.

How do you do your meatloaf?

 

🔥 Gimme Your Mountain Pie Recipes! 🔥 🌳🌲🏕️🌳


So, do you like mountain pies? I sure do.

Typical mountain pie preparation, assembly, & cooking at church camp.

Typical mountain pie preparation, assembly, & cooking at church camp.

This is a horrible blurry photo of a mountain pie, but look at those crimped edges!We used to make them every time we went camping when I was a kid, and we camped quite often. Nothing beats cooking a mountain pie over the hot coals of an aging campfire. We generally make pizza ones, and we have made Reuben ones, and you have your standard pie-filling from a can/powdered sugar on top ones… but other than that I haven’t gotten too crazy. One time I did make a baked bean one. I mean, why not? Also, once we put leftover nine-can vegetable soup in an electric sandwich maker that we got on clearance from Kmart for $5. So, that is sort of similar to making a mountain pie. I mean, it would have made a good one.

It's a bit crispy, but I assure you it was delicious.

Look at those crimped edges!

You gotta use a cast iron pie iron though, not those goofy aluminum ones. I have melted many an aluminum pie iron. I make those coals blacksmith hot. Also, you need one that seals the edges. The ones that don’t make a seal are just sandwich-heater-uppers and that’s bogus. I know they also make round ones where you can cook an egg and make an Egg McMuffin-ish type of sandwich.

My wife & I counsel for church camp every summer, and my camp always makes mountain pies… a tradition my family brought to our camp group when I was younger. Usually my friend Laurel & I end up being the cooks, over a fire in a pavilion fireplace that rivals the fury of Mount Doom of Mordor.

Some of the campers have made cool ones with Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. I need to try that. (Side note: have you ever had a campfire banana? Do it!) An old preacher friend of ours enjoys one filled with butter & powdered sugar. I bet it’s like a donut.

#MountainPieMadness

Moutain Pielander? THERE CAN ONLY BE ONE! #MountainPieMadness

So, what are your go-to mountain pie recipes?  I hear some people also call them hobo pies, pudgy pies, campfire pies, jaffle pies, and other crazy stuff.  They have to rank up there right behind hot dogs and s’mores as the #1 campfire food.  I have thought a cheesesteak one would be delicious, maybe an Italian Sub on, maybe a burger melt/’Frisco burger kind of thing, maybe one with baked beans and a sliced hot dog would be the ultimate campfire mashup?  You could go with a classic grilled cheese.

Share your tried-and-true recipes and your zany ideas in the comments!

Sloppy Joes (Cheap Quick Manwich Copy Cat Recipe)


I already blogged about the yinzer Sloppy Joe made with chipped ham.  This is the more traditional one.  It’s less barbecue-y than the BBQ pork n’ slaw sandwich I blogged about though.

Who is Joe anyway, and why was he sloppy? Maybe Wikipedia knows.

My wife’s grandma had a recipe for “Barbecued Beef” that looks and tastes a lot like Manwich (or the knock-off brands):

Sloppy Joe "Barbecue Beef" Manwich CopyCat Recipe

My daughter could eat it every day, but we just make the sauce without the peppers & onions.  Also, we usually skip the Worcester sauce, but I have subbed in a bit of A1.  Here’s how I would do it…

Then mix this all together & add it…

  • ¾ Cup of (Heinz) Ketchup
  • 2 Tablespoons of Butter (Butter, not “buttery spread” or oil that’s whipped to make it look like butter.)
  • 2 Tablespoons Brown Sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons Mustard (I use whatever we have… usually honey mustard.)
  • 1 Tablespoon A1 (optional)
  • Salt or season-salt to taste (optional)

This is best on the super-cheap hamburger buns… not those awesome homemade deli roll kind.  It really does taste like Manwich & it’s all stuff you probably have on hand.  It’s an easy crowd-pleaser, and its a double-whammy if you pair it with Mac n’ Cheese or ‘Tater Tots.

Try my meatball sub if you get a sale on ground beef.  Why are you still reading?  Go make this!