Category Archives: Basics

Easy Over The Top Smoked Chili !

There’s not much more manly than chili, and smoked food. Smoked chili may be the manliest chili ever! You’;ll need a 5 quart Dutch oven and a smoker for this. Youtube video of this being made at:

Concept is simple: Smoke our chili base and meat in a smoker then mix it all up at the end: Here’s the two basic part recipe:

Chili base:
2 large onions, diced
3-4 cloves minced garlic or 3 tbsp pre-minced garlic
3 large bell peppers de-seeded and diced.
2 tbsp chili powder
1 tbsp cumin
1 can (15.5 oz) red kidney beans( rinse and drained)
1 can (28 oz) crushed tomatoes
1 can (28 oz) petite diced tomatoes

For the “meatloaf”
2 -3 pounds 80/20 ground beef. (your preference on fat %)
1 tbsp Wash your sister (Worcestershire) sauce
1 tbsp kosher salt
1 tsp fresh cracked pepper
1 tsp Montreal steak seasoning

Heat up some olive oil and get the onions, peppers and garlic going until the onions are transparent, then add the rest of the chili base ingredients. Mix it all up and set aside.

Mix up the meatloaf ingredients and make a flat round meatloaf no wider than your Dutch Oven.

Get your smoker going to about 225-250 with some mesquite chips and place the loaf over the chili in the smoker.

Should take about 4  hours to smoke until the ground beef is 165 internal.

Take the loaf out and mince it up to the size you want for your chili. I chop mine into about 3/4 inch chunks. You should have an awesome smoke ring from that meat soaking up all that smoke and the chili should be sucking up that smoke the whole time too.  Mix it all up and enjoy!


Spicy Cast Iron Cottage Pie

I’ve been on a one-pan cast iron kick lately. This is a slightly spicy cottage pie, but you can leave the spicy stuff out and just use a generic Italian spice blend.

Recipe is for a 12″ cast iron pan.

  • 3 lbs russet spuds
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 stick of butter
  • 2 cups peas and carrots
  • Fine chopped onion
  • 2lbs 93% lean ground cow
  • 3 Tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 Tablespoons minced garlic
  • 3 Tablespoons all purpose flour.
  • 2 Tablespoons Garlic Grappa Spice blend, or generic Italian spice blend.
  • 1 Cup broth (chicken or beef)
  • 3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce.


  1. 1/4 then boil the spuds in pot with 1 tablespoon salt, then simmer til soft ( 8-10-  minutes)
  2. Drain then place back in pan, mash til smooth.
  3. Whisk in milk, 1/4 stick of butter & egg, salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.


  1. Heat 12″ cast iron pan over medium heat
  2. Melt in the leftover 1/4 stick of butter
  3. Add carrots, peas and onions, dash of salt, cook til soft ( 5 minutes)
  4. Add ground beef, cook til browned. Break it up as you go.
  5. Add tomato paste, garlic and spices and cook for a minute.
  6. Mix in flour, cook another minute or so
  7. Add Worcestershire sauce and broth, stir well.
  8. Season to taste
  9. Simmer and mix until filling thickens up where you like it, 10-12 minutes.

Start your broiler.

  • Layer the spuds onto the filling with wide spoon or one of those rubber spatulas.
  • Make a design into the top, something with ridges.
  • Broil 5-6 inches from the broiler until the ridges crisp up.
  • Let it cool and firm up 10-15 minutes.

Devour with 5-6 of your friends. Or, package into individual lunch containers for the week if you have no friends.




Smoky creamy poblano chowder!

I pulled these great poblanos and bell peppers form my garden and smoked them right up for this chowder. Smoky creamy spicy poblano soup will warm you right up on a cold fall or winter day.  The ratio of ingredients is what is i mportant in this recipe, so you can scale it up and down as you see fit.

  • 2 cups white diced onion
  • 6 poblano or bell peppers
  • 2 cups corn kernels
  • chicken broth
  • half and half or heavy cream
  • 2-3 cups chicken broth
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • Salt & Pepper to taste

First get the peppers smoked. I used my little electric smoker setup for about 2 hours at low (140-150 degrees) heat until they got all wrinkly. This is for a quadruple sized batch of chowder. The whole house smells of smoked peppers making this great chowder! You can cheat and broil them in the broiler if you dont have time to smoke them. 3-4 minutes per side in the broiler should do it, just get them all wrinkly and turn them so they don’t burn.




Once all wrinkly, place them in a brown paper bag for about ten minutes. Once they sweat for 10 minutes, peel off the skin and slice or chop the meat for the chowder.
Brown the onions in butter then add all of the solid ingredients to the pot.


Now add enough chicken stock to come up 3/4 the way up your solid ingredients, then add half and half or heavy cream ( If you like it really thick) and simmer. Salt and pepper to taste!


Ten great men’s Christmas cooking gift ideas

People keep asking me what I want and what they should get for their newly-cooking men for Christmas. Here’s a fast list of some mandatory basics all the way up to some nice expensive stuff.

Cast Iron Pan: Your dad cooked on one, your gran-pappy cooked on one when he wasn’t chasing Germans across France. Cast iron pans hold and distribute heat better than anything. You get it seasoned right and they are also super easy to clean. If you don’t have one yet you are wrong. I have a 10″, 8″ and 4″(just for making good egg sandwiches).


A Decent Knife set. I don’t recommend going all gung-ho for a thousand dollar knife set as your first set. Your first knife set should be like your first guitar, gun or wife. Try one out that is decent and the more you use it and try it out the more you will find its shortcomings and benefits. Then when you get your next one, you know what to look for and keep it around a long time.


Plastic PCB Cutting boards. Get a few of these and stop using your new fancy knives to cut right on your wife’s fancy-ass new granite counter tops and destrying your knives. Get ones with little troughs around the edge to keep all that tomato juice and blood off of the counters. One for meats, one for vegetables at least.


Mandolin. No, NOT the kind of mandolin for unwashed renaissance-fair-minstrel-wannabees. A nice sturdy kitchen mandolin for making nice uniform sliced things faster than you can with your ginsu knives.


Instant read thermometer. Is it done yet? Is it done yet?  Is it done yet?  Is it done yet?  Is it done yet?  Is it done yet?


Tonguespank Liquor-infused HOT spices. These are my favorite hot spices and I use them on everything. Check their site out for lots of other super Christmas gifts like Liquor infusion kits and spicy salts!


Stainless mixing bowls.  Metal ones won’t melt or warp when you accidentally run them in a hot dishwasher load.


Non stick BBQ grill mats. These are awesome. You have seen them on TV, and I love them. First of all they keep small veggies and kabobs from falling through the grate on your BBQ and you can grill right on top of them and nothing sticks to them. They even leave grill marks on your steak!


White oak barrel whisky making kit. That single dude with the tattoos and piercings next door that just moved here from Portland makes beer? So what, make whiskey like a man.


Bamboo Cutting board workbench. This is on my personal wish list. Little containers to store your cut veggies, a little area to scrape your garbage bits into and it fits on a small counter. This would be great for  small apartment kitchen chef.


Crock pot sweet and spicy baby back ribs

If you aren’t quite up to setting up the smoker all day, a fast crock pot of baby back ribs is a great way to cook up a mess of ribs fast for a picnic or dinner.

This recipe will do 2 full racks of baby back ribs. Here is what you will need:

First and foremost: remove the membrane from the back of the racks.

Then dry rub with a good rib rub, cover with plastic wrap or foil, and let marinade in that rub overnight in the fridge.


Place in halves into the crock pot, meat side out, for 4-5 hours. I prefer to start on high for an hour or an hour and a half, then warm for the rest. When you get done with the high part, there will be a nice amount of fluid int he bottom that will continue to soak into the meat. I will also flip them over about halfway through.


When  you are about 30 to 45 minutes form serving, the meat will be nearly falling off the bone. Apply a generous amount of sauce to them and let them cook on high with the lid off the rest of the time.
I don’t like to cook it until it falls off the bone because I like a little bite to them and if they fall apart when you are serving them or taking them out of the pot, it ruins the rib-on-the-bone fun!


Slice them up and enjoy!



Easy roasted baby red potatoes

Roasted little red tomatoes are a fast and easy side that goes with lots of meats, BBQ dishes and it’s easy for the kids to help out.

You need:

  • 3lbs little red baby potatoes.
  • 1/4 to 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  •  1 tsp Lawry’s Seasoned Salt

If you are BBQing, save about a tablespoon of whatever dry rub you are using on your meat for the potatoes too.
Set it aside before you start rubbing it onto the meat and contaminate it with raw meat goo.
If you like heat like our family, we use 1/2 tsp of re-ground’s smoky bourbon spice too.

Preheat the oven to 375.
Have the kids wash 3 lbs of little red potatoes.
Then cut them in half and place in a large bowl. Sprinkle your dry seasonings and olive oil all over the potatoes.


Mix them with a big mixing spoon until all the olive oil and seasoning is distributed all over the spuds.



Now place them cut side down on a cookie sheet on the bottom rack of your oven. They usually take 20-30 minutes to cook.
After 20 minutes, poke them with a toothpick to see if they are soft enough. Once done, take out and enjoy.




Fresh summer corn squash kebabs

Kebabs are not brain surgery but there are a couple of things you can do to make your kebabs better. I’m using great local corn, zucchini, summer squash and beef for this batch.

How many of each do you need? I’m not always exact with my meals.
Just line up how ever many squash, peppers, ears of corn and cubed beef you have and that’s the length of kebabs you will have.
I figure one foot of raw food for each adult. That’s about 2 bobs each.

I like to make a simple seasoning of  1/2 tbsp each of  salt, pepper, cumin and cayenne pepper for mine. If you have a bunch of random rubs, seasonings and mixed flavor spices getting old in the spice rack, try those too.

You’ll need these:

Start the skewers soaking in water an hour or two before cooking then make the kids clean and slice up all those veggies.

Some cubed stew meat ( Or cubed regular steak), I like to soak mine in Teriyaki marinade a few hours before grilling.

The key to cooking kebabs right is making sure all the pieces on one kebab are about the same size. This way wider pieces don’t suspend the smaller pieces off of the grill. I use little biscuit cutters to make the larger pieces right for the bobs and feed the trimmed parts to the rabbits, throw them in a soup, compost, whatever.  Also if you are going to skewer  corn, get a little awl or phillips screwdriver (wash well first!) and punch the skewer-holes with that first or you will just break all your skewers trying to put corn on them.

Ready to go! Dust with seasoning and get on the heat!

I prefer to use a grill over the gas stove or wrap the bobs in foil with some more sauce in the BBQ.  Grilling on a cast iron grill on medium heat is my favorite method. Only takes 4-5 minutes on each of 4 sides and they turn out great!

If you want to use a BBQ, I suggest not cooking on the open grill as all the good juice drips off. Wrap them in foil in the BBQ and the fluid will help steam the corn too.


Great chicken fajitas with cilantro lime sauce

So the first haul from the garden and farmer’s market is in and I decided fajitas were the best way to use them. I had to buy the cilantro from a grocery store along with the limes though. Garlic and green onions form the farmer’s market and the rest was backyard local!


My previous readers (both of them) have noticed I’m not that big on exact measurements for everything. With fajitas, it’s fine. Here’s the general list that will feed 6-7 hungry people:

  • 5 bell peppers
  • 4 big chicken breasts, sliced fajita size.
  • 2  cloves chopped garlic
  • Little tortillas
  • 2 limes
  • 1 medium onion
  • 2-3 green onions ( for condiments)
  • 1  tomato ( for condiments)
  • 2 packs Fajita seasoning

The sauce:

  • 16 oz sour cream
  • 4-5 lime’s worth of lime juice
  • tablespoon kosher salt
  • 2-3 jalapenos, de-seeded, or add whatever peppers you can handle. I like heat so I’ve added 3.
  • 2 mint leaves
  • 2 fine diced garlic cloves.

Use a chopper/grinder to get all that blended up all smooth. Pipe what you can into a squeeze bottle to make it easy to get and save the rest for spooning right into the fajitas. If your sauce it too thick you can just snip the end of your bottle off a little to help it out.
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Next are the fajitas. Chop all the veggies into slices and get them into a hot skillet with some olive oil. I like to give the veggies a head start them cook it all with the lid on a big skillet. Should only take ten minutes tops on medium-high to get all that chicken cooked and the veggies done. Stir it up once in a while to it doesn’t stick. Squeeze a couple lime’s worth of juice in there too.
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I realize I didn’t cut the chicken small enough for traditional fajitas but they are still delicious. Get the rest of your sauce, sliced green onions and tomatoes ready and you throw them on some tortillas and enjoy.
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