INGREDIENTS:

2-3 large russet potatoes, thinly sliced with peel left on
1/2 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced and broken into rings
3 jalapeno peppers, seeded and finely diced (optional)
4-5 pieces thick cut bacon, chopped into small pieces
8 oz. grated cheddar cheese
4-5 tablespoons sour cream
2-3 green onions, chopped, reserve for garnish
kosher salt
pepper

INSTRUCTIONS:

To prepare on a grill or smoker, heat to a medium-high heat. (Note: I prepped inside on my stove and then moved the mixture to the grill/smoker for cooking)

Heat a cast iron skillet on medium high heat and add the bacon; cook, stirring often, until crispy. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon to a paper towel lined plate. Set aside to use at the finish of the cook time.

Add the potatoes, onions and diced jalapenos to the pan. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Stir to coat the mixture in the bacon fat. Move the cast iron skillet to the grill. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the potatoes are tender. This will take up to about 35 minutes depending on how thickly you sliced your potatoes.

Sprinkle with the cheddar cheese and cook until the cheese starts to melt. Sprinkle the top with bacon. Remove from heat and let rest about 10 minutes. Dot the top with sour cream and chopped green onions to serve.


This has a wonderful smoky taste when cooked on the grill or smoker alongside your meat entree.

I love the taste of interesting spice blends that take something as basic as a pork chop and turn it into something truly memorable. The bronzed seasoning is something that can be made as you need it, or you can make up a larger batch and keep it sealed in a Mason jar in your pantry. It’s great for pork, chicken and fish.

INGREDIENTS:

4 center cut pork chops (You can use bone in or boneless, regular cut or thick cut, according to your preference. It will make a difference in how long you’ll need to cook the chops.)
Olive oil

BRONZED SEASONING:

1 teaspoon each: garlic powder, kosher salt and paprika
1/2 teaspoon each: onion powder, ground cumin, chili powder and pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Heat your grill or smoker to 225 degrees using a mild wood or wood pellet such as apple, maple or pecan.

Brush the chops on each side with olive oil and liberally sprinkle with the bronzed seasoning.

Place the chops on the smoker and cook until the internal temperature reads 145 degrees F. This should take approximately 60-90 minutes, depending on the thickness of your pork chops.

Remove the pork chops from the smoker. Place them on a platter and tent with foil. Rest for 5-10 minutes before serving.

Watch these closely so you don’t overcook and dry out the pork. It’s important to have a reliable meat thermometer as part of your kitchen tool kit.

In case I haven’t mentioned it, peaches are my favorite. And peach pie, warm out of the oven is second only to homemade peach ice cream as my favorite summer dessert.

INGREDIENTS:

About 7 medium ripe peaches, peeled and sliced
1 cup sugar (depending on the sweetness of the peaches, you may need a smidgen more or less)
3 tablespoons tapioca (again, if the peaches are pretty juicy, 3 tablespoons is about right – use a bit less if the peaches are less juicy)
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 stick butter
1 egg white beaten
1 Tablespoon sugar for garnish

Crust a 2 crust pie (use your favorite pie crust recipe or Already Pie Crusts can be your new best friend)

INSTRUCTIONS:

Add the tapioca, sugar, nutmeg and almond extract to the peaches. Let sit for about 5 minutes until juice starts to form. Place bottom pie crust in a deep dish pie plate. Fill crust with the peach mixture. Cut the butter into pats and place on top of peaches. Add top crust.

Moving around the edge, tuck the edge of the top pie crust under the edge of the bottom crust, sealing well. Crimp to make decorative edges. Cut three slices across the top of the pie for venting the steam. Beat the egg white until slightly foamy. Brush on top of pie crust with a pastry brush. Sprinkle sugar across top.

Bake in a 425 degree oven for about 30-40 minutes or until crust is golden brown. Let cool until it reaches a serving temperature.

If you’re concerned with the peaches turning brown, you can add a little Fruit Fresh to keep them looking pretty. Our pie never lasts long enough to worry about it…

If ever there was a meal that defined my childhood, my Mom’s spaghetti would be at the top of the list, followed closely by my Granny Hamilton’s fried chicken (the topic of a future blog post). This was not the Italian Mama cook all day spaghetti sauce. It was the working Mom raising 5 kids and helping take care of a farm variety of spaghetti, and it was AMAZING. It was even better when served with slices of Colby Cheese on the side. It’s the way my Dad always ate it and the rest of us decided it was a great idea!

My Mom was always able to take what she had on hand, fit it into the time she had available to prepare it, and make us feel like we were the luckiest family ever to sit down at a table. And, there was always, ALWAYS, room for one more person. Yes, our house really did feel like the Waltons except we had chairs instead of benches.

So, this is her family staple spaghetti sauce that I have evolved into something that fits me. It is also the sauce I use for my lasagna which my kids would probably say is MY meal that defined their childhood. I hope you enjoy it as much as I have for nearly sixty years now. Pssst…the secret ingredient really is love. Although in all of the rest of Mom’s recipes, it’s bacon grease. Just sayin’…

INGREDIENTS:

48 fluid ounces tomato juice (I use two large cans of crushed tomatoes in my version and those work fine, too)
2 pounds ground beef
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
2 envelopes Lawry’s Spaghetti Sauce Mix (I also use McCormick’s Thick and Zesty Spaghetti Sauce Mix in my version for a little extra spice and thickness)
4 tsp. A-1 Steak Sauce (Has to be A-1, it just doesn’t taste the same if you use anything else)
4 tsp. Worcestershire Sauce
1/4 cup ketchup
salt to taste

INSTRUCTIONS:

Brown the ground beef with the onion, salting to taste. Drain off fat. In a large Dutch oven blend the tomato juice or crushed tomatoes, spaghetti sauce mix, A-1 sauce, Worcestershire sauce and ketchup. Mix well and make sure there are no lumps of dry sauce mix. Add the ground beef and onions. Simmer for at least 30 minutes on low.

This recipe is a baseline to start with. As with almost all family recipes, every cook alters the amounts or the ingredients to suit the tastes of their family or to accommodate any special dietary needs.

You can make this ahead and refrigerate for use within 2-3 days. In fact, this is one of those recipes that actually tastes better the next day, as the flavors have had time to marry. It is also freezer friendly.

If ever there was a recipe that immediately made me think of my Mom, this is the one. It was probably my favorite meal as a child (and as an adult). Thanks Mom!

If you want to impress your grandchildren, this is the way to do it. Banana split ingredients…whipped cream, chocolate syrup, sprinkles and cherries on top. Mission accomplished! I used this recipe from Delish to create this great no-bake summer dessert.

INGREDIENTS FOR THE CRUST:
Cooking spray
2 c. crushed graham crackers
1/2 c. (1 stick) melted butter
2 tbsp. sugar
Pinch kosher salt

FOR THE LASAGNA:
1 1/2 blocks cream cheese or 12 oz., softened
1/4 c. sugar
2 (8-oz.) tubs Cool Whip
3 bananas, thinly sliced into rounds
1 (20-oz.) can crushed pineapple, well drained
1 lb. strawberries, finely chopped
1/2 c. chopped pecans
Chocolate syrup, for drizzling
Rainbow sprinkles, for topping
Maraschino cherries, for topping

MAKE CRUST
Grease a 9×13-inch baking dish with cooking spray. In a medium bowl, stir together graham crackers, melted butter, sugar, and salt. Press into baking dish and refrigerate until set, 15 minutes.

MAKE LASAGNA
In a large bowl using a hand mixer, beat cream cheese and sugar until light and fluffy, then fold in 1 tub Cool Whip. Spread mixture evenly onto crust. 

Top cream layer with even layers of banana, pineapple, and strawberries. Top with remaining Cool Whip and sprinkle with walnuts. 

Refrigerate at least 4 hours or up to overnight. 

Drizzle with chocolate syrup and top with sprinkles and maraschino cherries before serving.

The sprinkles and the maraschino cherries are NOT optional when cooking for grandchildren. In fact, you need to use extra cherries because somehow a few always disappear between the making and the serving of the dessert.

Today we had our first annual, appropriately social distanced, Father’s Day BBQ Cook-off. My husband, sons Bobby and Allen, and sister Sue competed to win the BBQ Champ Golden Apron. My husband won the competition with this recipe which is truly awesome. He used the recipe from HowToBBQRight YouTube BBQ personality, Malcolm Reed.

INGREDIENTS:

8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
4 jalapeno peppers, cut in half lengthwise, seeds and veins removed
8 slices high quality bacon (you can use regular or thick sliced, according to your taste and preference)
1 package cream cheese
All purpose seasoning (combination of kosher salt, black pepper and granulated garlic powder)
Your favorite BBQ rub for chicken (we use Mistler’s Rub for this)
1 stick butter
BBQ sauce of your choice (we use Sweet Baby Ray’s Sweet and Spicy)

INSTRUCTIONS:

Preheat your grill smoker 275 degrees. Use mild wood or wood pellets for this. Mark used a competition blend of pecan, apple and cherry.

Prep the chicken thighs. Lay the chicken thighs flat on a sheet pan, interior cut side up. Sprinkle lightly with all purpose seasoning. Fill each jalapeno half with a healthy amount of cream cheese. Lay cream cheese side up on each chicken thigh. Sprinkle the cream cheese with BBQ rub. Turn the jalapenos over so the cream cheese is next to the chicken. Wrap the chicken around the jalapeno and then wrap each thigh with a slice of bacon. Place in a pan so that the chicken thighs fit snugly together, or use a mini loaf pan to give each chicken thigh its own space. Top each with a pat of butter.

Place on the smoker and cook at 275 degrees for about 1 hour. Remove pan from smoker and place chicken on a rack and sprinkle with a light coating of the rub. Place back in the smoker until the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 165 degrees. Remove from smoker and brush with BBQ sauce. Return to smoker for another 5-7 minutes to set the sauce.

In our second version of a sheet pan supper on our RekTec Smoker/Grill, we experimented with turning our traditional Low Country Shrimp Boil into an easy one dish supper. The amounts on these recipes are to be used as a basic guide only – the beauty is that you can increase or decrease amounts, add or delete ingredients to suit your family’s tastes.

INGREDIENTS:

1 pound baby gold potatoes
About 4 ears corn, cut into about 3 pieces per ear
1/4 cup butter, melted
4 cloves garlic, minced
Old Bay Seasoning to taste (I sprinkled it liberally over the ingredients)
1-2 pounds shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 package smoked sausage, sliced in about 1/2 inch pieces
About 2 tablespoons, chopped fresh parsley

INSTRUCTIONS:

Heat the smoker to 400 degrees. Parboil the potatoes until just tender, about 10 minutes. Add corn and cook another 4-5 minutes. Drain.

Mix together the melted butter, garlic, parsley.

Place the potatoes, corn and sausage in the bottom of an aluminum foil pan (I use a 9X13). Sprinkle liberally with Old Bay Seasoning.

Place on grill for about 20 minutes. Add the shrimp and mix with the rest of ingredients. Cook for an additional 25 minutes. Watch closely to ensure the shrimp doesn’t get over done. Needs to cook just until the shrimp are pink.

We usually double the recipe when we cook on the weekends and save one pan for an easy meal during the work week. Reheat in a 350 degree oven for about 25 minutes or until just heated through.

My husband recently got a new Rec Tec Grill/Smoker and he and I have been experimenting with new recipes. Here is a healthy and easy sheet pan meal that can become any variation you want. The key is to use the ingredients you love and to cut the vegetables to appropriate sizes to ensure they all are done at about the same time. A little experimentation may be required as you test different combinations.

CHICKEN AND SMOKED SAUSAGE VERSION

INGREDIENTS:

About 10 chicken tenders
1 package of smoked sausage (I used Eckrich Turkey Sausage)
1 head cauliflower
1 head broccoli
1 pound sliced mushrooms
1 pound asparagus
2 medium yellow onions
1 green bell pepper
1 red bell pepper
8 cloves of garlic, peeled
1 pound baby gold potatoes, cut into quarters or smaller
2-4 Tablespoons all purpose seasoning (see below)
Olive oil

Clean and chop vegetables into bite size pieces in a very large mixing bowl. Cut the smoked sausage and the chicken tenders into bite size pieces. Add to the vegetables. Add enough olive oil to the mixture to liberally coat and add the seasoning, tossing to mix well.

Heat your grill to 400 degrees. Separate the mixture into two disposable aluminum pans (these were 9 x 13). Cook for approximately 45 minutes -1 hour. Check at this point to assess if the chicken and the potatoes are done. If needed, cook an additional 15-30 minutes. Remember, chicken should be at least 165 degrees internal temp.

ALL PURPOSE SEASONING
We mix this in batches and keep on hand. It’s a great all round seasoning.

4 parts kosher salt
2 parts granulated garlic
1 part ground black pepper

Mix well and store in an airtight container.

This recipe can be done using a number of different combinations of meat and vegetables, depending on what’s in season, what’s on hand, and what your family prefers. It’s a great way to use up the bits and dabs from your fridge.

For many years, we would travel to Denver to visit my husband’s family. One of the highlights during that time would be a family outing to the iconic White Fence Farm. There we would have a home style dinner of fried chicken and the trimmings. Among our favorite “starters” served was the creamy kidney bean salad and the corn fritters. White Fence Farm is no longer open, but our craving for that salad persists. I went out searching for a copycat recipe that would feed the need to re-experience those meals. I found such a recipe at The HerBeeVore.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 4 (14.5 ounce) Cans dark red kidney beans drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 yellow onion finely diced (about 1/4 cup)
  • 6 stalks celery finely diced
  • 1/2 red bell pepper finely diced
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise 
  • 1/4 cup sweet relish
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon seasoning salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • Crushed Red Pepper Flakes to taste (this is optional-I leave it out when I make it)

DIRECTIONS:

  • Drain and rinse kidney beans. Put them in a very large mixing bowl.
  • Add the onion, celery, bell pepper and stir to combine. Add the mayonnaise, relish, onion powder, seasoning salt, black pepper, and Red Pepper Flakes if used. Stir all ingredients together, and taste. Adjust seasoning if needed.
  • Cover bowl, and refrigerate 4 hours before serving, or preferably overnight.
  • Store in an airtight container. Leftovers will keep for 3-4 days.

Recipe note: I double the amount of dressing I use for the salad. I think it is a little truer to the original recipe to have a bit more dressing.

Pecan pie has never been my favorite, but my Dad loved it and I have a granddaughter who is CRAZY for pecans. She requested that Grammy teach her to make one – and so I did. This version is a doctored up version of some basic recipes I’ve used in the past. To make it “fancy”, I baked it in a non-stick 11 inch tart pan.

Your favorite pie crust recipe
About 2 cups pecan halves
3 large eggs, beaten
3 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled
1/2 cup dark corn syrup
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped (or use chips)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line pie plate or tart pan with pie crust. Arrange the pecans, covering the bottom of the crust. In a mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs and melted butter. Add the corn syrup, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon and chocolate until ingredients are well combined. Pour the mixture carefully into the pie shell to cover the pecans.

Place the pie pan on a baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes in 375 degree oven. After 10 minutes, lower the temp to 350 degrees and continue baking an additional 25 minutes. Pie is done when the middle is set (pie is done when a knife, inserted into the filling in the middle of the pie, comes out clean).

Cool on a wire rack. Serve with whipped cream if desired.


I top this with cinnamon whipped cream: 2 cups heavy whipping cream, 3 tablespoons powdered sugar and 1 teaspoon cinnamon. Whip until soft peaks form. Refrigerate for up to 3 days.