smoker apple crisp

Outdoor cooking is becoming super popular.  I have joined the excitement and have a new vertical smoker.  Cooking with a smoker has many options, including direct and indirect cooking.  To become more familiar with the process, I purchased a great cookbook titled, “Secrets to Smoking,” by Bill Gillespie.

Everything that I needed to know before using my smoker for the first time was included in this book.  I learned about the different types of woods, chips, types of charcoal to use, and general operation of any smoker.  There is skill to controlling the temperature, adjusting the vents, monitoring the air flow and most of all cooking on several levels of a smoker at once. Smokers can be fueled by electricity, pellets, or charcoal.

I chose a charcoal smoker and used this apple crisp recipe to learn how to keep the temperature moderated, while working the technique of “low and slow” cooking. I adapted the recipe from Bill’s cookbook. changing and adding a few ingredients.

I also learned that if you are “looking”, you are “not cooking.”  This recipe was a huge success and took one and one half hours to cook at 225 degrees on the upper level of my new smoker.  There is a trust that develops with the first recipe cooked.  As I said, I was not peeking, but trusted that my dish would be done by monitoring the temperature of the smoker.

I am now committed to using the smoker this whole summer for a variety of different types of dishes. Here is a great recipe to try if you are a seasoned smoker or if this is your first time.

I peeled, cored and sliced 3 large Granny Smith apples and placed in a pan suitable for cooking on a grill.  Then, I added and mixed these ingredients into a bowl–3/4 cup packed brown sugar, 1/2 cup all-purpose flour, 1/2 cup rolled oats, 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon, 3/4 teaspoon nutmeg, 1/2 cup sliced almonds, and 1/3 cup unsalted butter which had been softened.

Place the topping over the apples in the baking pan.  After bringing the smoker up to 225 degrees, place the pan on the top cooking grate and allow to cook on its’ own for 1 and 1 1/2 hours.

I filled the water pan once prior to cooking and allowed the smoker to come up to temperature.  The water was totally used when the dish was complete. I used both sets of vents to keep the temperature even throughout the cooking process.  This was not a challenge at all, and the outcome was delicious. Serve while hot with whipped cream or ice cream. Oh–so yummy and cooked outdoors!

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.

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