Backyard Pizza Oven

With the growing interest in expanding the indoors outside with added living space, it is no wonder why cooking outdoors has become even more popular.  I recently used a wonderful product called the Pizza Que pizza kit for Kettle grills. Most kettle grills can accommodate this expansion which turns the grill into an amazing pizza oven.  The temperature of my oven reached over 700 degrees in less than 30 minutes and kept that temperature for one hour, without any other assistance.  At that point, we wanted the oven to cool down, so it could have stayed hotter even longer!

Since our pizza cooked in less than eight minutes, we could have made at least 7 more pizzas in rapid succession during that time period.  The result was an excellent tasting pizza which was equal to any wood fired pizza I have sampled at any restaurant.  And, all of this in my own backyard for a fraction of the cost.

This was a really fun time as well, and could be turned into a super fun pizza party for friends and other guests.  I used my favorite frozen pizza crust, with my technique of using corn meal on the pizza paddle for ease in transfer into the oven and out. A mix of flour and corn meal could also be used.  Too much corn meal will start to smoke or burn if left in the hot oven for too long.

 

Midway through the cooking time, I rotated the pizza as recommended with the included stainless steel paddle with ease.  The crust was already almost done at that point, so the pizza easily moved on the ceramic pizza stone.

The kit assembled in less than 30 minutes and also comes with a thermometer which determines when the pizza should begin cooking. The oven must be up to temperature to achieve the best and fastest results. I followed the directions that came with the kit and had outstanding success. Thanks to the Charcoal Companion again for another great product.

The kit is sold on amazon.com, Home Depot, Wal-Mart, and online at pizzacraft.com

 

Actually Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

Wednesday was National Grilled Cheese Day.  I don’t really remember that day from past years, but thought I would celebrate this year with actually preparing grilled cheese sandwiches–Not just made indoors on a grill, but made outdoors on a charcoal grill.

The feat was totally easy since I have a new grilled cheese basket by The Charcoal Companion.  This non-stick basket is perfect for any type of grilled sandwich on an open grill.  The rosewood handle is especially nice and the basket clip keeps the tool together for easy turning.  I was able to fit three smaller sandwiches with plenty of cheddar cheese for each sandwich into the basket. The sandwiches are held together nicely without any worries of losing a sandwich into the charcoal.

It took only minutes before the cheese was melty, gooey and so delicious!  The actual outdoor charcoal flavor adds that extra special taste that cannot be achieved indoors. The basket is the perfect size and really could be used to grill flat vegetables as well.

I plan to be using my grills so much more this year as I have come to appreciate all types of outdoor grilling and various foods that can be easily made on the grill today with the proper tools. Grilled cheese is also perfect for tailgating season.  There is just something about cooking food outdoors that makes it taste extra special!

Baskets can be found at Wal-Mart, World Market, many specialty cooking stores and even online at The Home Depot or bbqguys.com.

Grilled Romaine

Grilled vegetables are so popular right now in all the restaurants.  I especially love grilled romaine.  The tender leaves are transformed into a tasty dish that is very easy to prepare with the new porcelain-coated grill plate from the Companion Group. This Charcoal Companion product was featured at the International Home and Housewares show recently in Chicago.

The plate is just the perfect size to use and it allows for tender lettuce leaves to sear perfectly without any direct grill contact.  The plate could even be used to serve any type of grilled vegetable or even smoky flavored nachos.  The coating is absolutely stick-resistant and so easy to use and clean after using.

I absolutely love this new product and had to share some photos with you as I recently used with my charcoal grill.  Even though it was a bit chilly outside, I was able to prepare this salad easily and efficiently.

After grilling, I added a few sliced cherry tomatoes, ground pepper and shaved Parmesan cheese to the top of the salad.  It was super delicious.

Fancy potatoes

With many entertaining occasions coming up, it is always fun to incorporate new techniques in serving everyday foods.  In this instance, an everyday baked potato becomes something much more visually attractive.  And, as a benefit, the cooking time is greatly reduced.  Thanks to the Companion Group from California, an easy tool makes a more difficult task quite simple.  I have made Hasselback or Hedgehog potato in the past, but a new tool makes the precise cutting technique much easier, resulting in a more attractive outcome for the potatoes.

The slicing rack has a wooden base which cradles the potato and allows for a secure nest for slicing through the equally spaced stainless steel guides.  The rack prevents the accidental slicing through the entire potato.  Potatoes can be traditionally baked in the oven or wrapped and baked on the grill.

I baked my large Idaho baking potato at 400 degrees for 45 to 50 minutes.  Potatoes can be spread with butter, margarine, olive oil and salted before baking, or left plain. Typically a large potato would take 1 to 1 1/2 hours to bake thoroughly, so this is a great time saver.  The crispy skin with the creamy potato center is just delicious.

Potatoes can be served with a choice of toppings.  This amazing new tool can be found online at The Companion Group website or at amazon.com

barbecue tools for the kitchen

 


These are the months for summer barbecue.  I love to cook outdoors, and although I don’t have an outdoor kitchen, I enjoy my small grills.  I use both a charcoal grill and an electric grill for cooking outdoors, and recently was mailed a set of silicone basting brushes to try out and review on my blog.  This set is from Yumms! accessories for today’s kitchen.

The set of two brushes are made from high quality silicone with plastic handles.  The silicone is food grade and approved by the FDA and happens to also be BPA free.  They are heat safe up to 446 degrees F and can even be cleaned in the dishwasher.

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I tested one of the brushes recently when grilling marinated chicken thighs and the application was outstanding.  No more wooden basting brushes for me!  These brushes are non-stick and very flexible which makes it easy to apply barbecue sauces and marinades easily.

The circular brush will be great for applying egg washes for pie crusts or greasing muffin tins.  Another great product from the Yumms! brand.

For more information, please follow this link:  http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=bl_dp_s_web_2972638011?ie=UTF8&field-brandtextbin=Yumms%21&node=2972638011

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grilled zucchini

Most of my grilled vegetable posts have been recipes made with a variety of mixed vegetables.  And, when I usually grill zucchini, I have sliced the vegetable into circles to accompany the other vegetables in the dish–following the rule that equal sized ingredients cook evenly.

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Recently, I have been grilling strips of zucchini with great success.  I would have to say that the most difficult part of this recipe comes when slicing the zucchini into even portions.  Using a mandoline cutting tool is the best method, though ribbons of zucchini would burn on the grill.  It is important to have just the right strip size of the zucchini, about 1/4 inch thick.

This past week, I seasoned the zucchini with olive oil, dill weed, salt, pepper, parsley flakes and a mixed herb blend.  I prepare the zucchini in a bowl and then add to the grill already seasoned.

This is a perfect quick side dish to accompany any barbecue dinner.

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BBQ grill mats are the answer to easy outdoor meals

Grilling season is back.  Some of my best meals seem to be those made with fresh ingredients that come off of the grill during the warmer months of the year.  We use both a charcoal grill and an electric patio grill for cooking, and have found many recipes work perfectly on both types of grilling surfaces.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Over the past five years, I have published many grilling recipes on this blog.  I plan to add to those this year, as I spend more time in my garden and cook with my freshly grown ingredients.  Recently, I was asked to review a set of two BBQ grilling mats made by Yumms!  These mats arrived in a flat package which allows for immediate use right out of the box.  No waiting for the grill mats to flatten on the grates.

I noticed immediately that the non-stick surface had a nice texture and will prevent food from sticking.  I also like that the mats are very sturdy and will hold food easily without dropping it through the grill’s grating. The mats can be cut to size for any recipe, and can be cleaned easily in the dishwasher.  They are also hand wash friendly.

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The mats can be used up to 450 degrees and are FDA approved.  By using grill mats, a variety of recipes that could not typically be made on a grill, without having specialty pans, are easily prepared.  Everything from eggs and toast to grilled sliced vegetables or grilled pineapple rings and melted chocolate for dipping.

I am looking forward to experimenting in the coming weeks.  For more information on the Yumms! BBQ grill mats, please follow this link:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00THPZ1MG/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1