Container Gardening

Container planting

Container Gardening

My wonderful and very talented wife of 36 years was the genius behind the whole idea of naming this blog Gardens and Grills because a number of years ago when we were both a little more active she loved to putter in the garden while I puttered at the grill making snacks and stuff for her break time. Unfortunately she got sick and had to stop working in the garden because she simply couldn’t handle it however I am happy to say that she has gotten very much better and is now back at it.

Now not being a flower/plant guy I have no idea, with the exception of the cactus, what any of these plants are I do however know that they were all purchased separately and planted in the container and the end result is my wife’s handiwork which is also a really awesome display of her artistic talents and showcases that even a small container can look beautiful.

The weather in my part of the universe has gotten a little crappy the last few days so I will have to wait for it to improve before I can display some more of her projects so until then  enjoy your own garden whatever type it may be.

Until next time……

                             Happy Gardening 

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Texas Chili Stuffed Shells

Texas Chili Stuffred Shells

Texas Chili Stuffed Shells

  • Servings: 6 - 8
  • Difficulty: Easy
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As some of you may or may not know I am an Eclectic cook because I just love different  types of cuisines and the flavours they bring to the table so the whole idea of Fusion cooking is very intriguing because you can blend your favourite recipes, ingredients, countries into one cohesive dish and blow the minds of your dinner guests….. all without breaking a sweat.

This is my version of Fusion because I have combined a very classic Texas dish, Chili, with an even more classic Italian dish, Jumbo Pasta Shells.

Here’s how we do this one.

Shopping list:

  • 1 package Jumbo Shells
  • 2 pounds ground Beef
  • 1 1/2 cups grated Cheese
  • 3/4 cup chopped Green Onions
  • 1 large Sweet Onion – rough chopped
  • 2 Cubanelle peppers – diced
  • 2 Poblano peppers – diced
  • Garlic cloves – fine chop
  • 3 tablespoons Canola Oil
  • 3 tablespoons Smoked Paprika
  • 2 tablespoons Chili powder
  • 2 tablespoons Chipotle powder
  • 2 tablespoons Ancho Chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground Cumin
  • 1 tablespoon Oregano
  • 1 1/2 cups Chicken stock
  • 3 cups Crushed Tomatoes
  • Salt and Pepper to taste 
  • Garnish with Sour Cream.

Putting it all together:

  1. In a large pot heat the oil and brown the ground beef. Drain off the grease.
  2. Add the  beef back to the pot, add the remaining ingredients, except the shells, stir well. Bring to a boil then reduce the heat and simmer for 45 mins to 1 hour.
  3. Cook the shells as per the box instructions.
  4. Drain the shells and let cool so they are easier to handle.
  5. While the shells are cooling heat the oven to 375°.
  6. Ladle a thin layer of chili on the bottom of an 11 x 15 casserole dish. Stuff the shells with a small amount of chili and fill the casserole dish with the stuffed shells. Top with shredded cheese and green onions and place in the oven until the cheese has melted. Garnish with a dollop of sour cream.
  7. Enjoy.

There you have it another “Simple but tasty recipe for the grilling season and beyond.”

Until next time……..

                            Bon Appetit

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Potsticker Noodle Bowls

Potsticker Noodle Bowl

Potsticker Noodle Bowls

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

Potstickers, Pierogies, Gyoza, or simply Dumplings all have one thing in common…… they are pieces of dough stuffed with very tasty fillings and then fried to perfection. Serve them with an awesome dipping sauce and you have a fantastic meal or even a simple appetizer and since my dough making skills are less than stellar I sought out a different way of bringing those awesome flavours together in a dish and so we have Potsticker Noodle Bowls.

Here’s how we do this one.

Shopping list:

  • 8 ounces Rice noodles
  • 2 tablespoons Canola oil
  • 1 1/2 pounds ground Pork
  • 2 Eggs
  • 14 ounce bag Coleslaw
  • 7 green Onions – rough chopped
  • 2 Garlic cloves – minced
  • 1/2 cup Low Sodium Soya sauce
  • 1/4 cup Chicken broth
  • 2 teaspoons Rice vinegar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Sambal
  • 2 teaspoons Fish sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh grated Ginger
  • White pepper to taste

Putting it all together:

  1. Prepare the noodles according to the package instructions.
  2. In a non reactive bowl mix together the soy sauce, chicken broth, rice vinegar, sambal, fish sauce, and ginger and set aside.
  3. In an other non reactive bowl whisk together the eggs and set aside.
  4. Heat the oil in a wok or large skillet and add the pork and the white pepper and stir fry until cooked through.
  5. Add coleslaw and green onions and continue to cook until the coleslaw starts to wilt. Add garlic and stir fry for 30 seconds.
  6. Make a well in the center of the wok or skillet, add eggs and scramble. Toss with the stir fry to combine.
  7. Drain the noodles and add to the wok stir frying for 1 minute.
  8. Add sauce and continue to stir fry until the noodles are tender.
  9. Plate and enjoy.

There you have it another “Simple but tasty recipe for the grilling season and beyond.”

Until next time…….

                            Bon Appetit

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Mashed Potato Cakes

 

Mashed Potato Cakes ii

Mashed Potato Cakes

  • Servings: 5
  • Difficulty: Easy
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Way back when I was first learning to cook I tossed a lot of leftovers because I didn’t know what to do with them but thankfully over the years I have evolved as a cook and now I come up with different and interesting ways of using leftovers.

This recipe is a very simple way of using leftover Mashed Potatoes and it can be used with so many different dishes including….. Breakfast. I mean really, what’s better than Toast, Eggs and a crispy Mashed Potato Cake to start your day?

Cooks note: When I make mashed potatoes I make them with pepper, granulated garlic, parsley, butter and milk (the cooking water already has salt in it) that way I don’t need to worry about seasoning the potato cakes when I make them. 

Here’s how we do this one.

Shopping list:

  • 4 cups Mashed Potatoes
  • 1 bunch Scallions – chopped
  • 2 cups shredded Italian style cheese
  • All Purpose Flour for dredging
  • Vegetable oil for frying 

Putting it all together:

  1. In a non reactive bowl combine the first three ingredients.
  2. Form into patties.
  3. Dredge in the all purpose flour making sure to shake off the excess.
  4. Heat about 2 inches of oil in a large fry pan.
  5. Fry the patties in batches until golden brown and remove to a paper towel to drain.
  6. You can serve as is or top with sour cream and chopped scallions.

There you have it another “Simple bust tasty recipe for the grilling season and beyond.”

Until next time……..

                           Bon Appetit 

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Steak Oscar

Steak Oscar

Steak Oscar

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: Easy
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This is one of those dishes that may seem a bit intimidating especially when you consider that Bearnaise is the sauce used to elevate it but it is actually very simple and the Bearnaise is really not that hard to make.

Cooks note: I used strip loins for this because I happened to find them on sale but any decent steak cut will do.

Here’s how we do this one.

Shopping list:

  • 4 Strip Loin steaks
  • 1 bag 31 – 40 Shrimp – tail off
  • 12 -15 Asparagus spears
  • 3 tablespoons minced Shallots
  • 2 large Egg Yolks
  • 2 sticks plus 2 tablespoons unsalted Butter
  • 2 tablespoons White  Wine Vinegar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons Lemon Juice
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh chopped Tarragon
  • 2 teaspoons Old Bay® seasoning
  • 2 teaspoons Granulated Garlic
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Putting it all together:

Bearnaise Sauce:

  1. Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add shallots and a pinch of salt and pepper; stir to coat. Stir in vinegar, reduce heat to medium-low, and cook until vinegar is evaporated, 3-4 minutes. Reduce heat to low and continue cooking shallots, stirring frequently, until tender and translucent, about 5 minutes longer. Transfer shallot reduction to a small bowl and let cool completely.
  2. Meanwhile, fill a blender with hot water to warm it; set aside. Melt remaining 1 cup butter in a small saucepan over medium heat until butter is foamy. Transfer butter to a measuring cup.
  3. Drain blender and dry well. Combine egg yolks, lemon juice, and 1 tablespoon water in warm, dry blender. Purée mixture until smooth. Remove lid insert. With blender running, slowly pour in hot butter in a thin stream of droplets, discarding milk solids at bottom of measuring cup. Continue blending until a smooth, creamy sauce forms, 2-3 minutes. Pour sauce into a medium bowl. Stir in shallot reduction and tarragon and season to taste with salt, pepper, and more lemon juice, if desired. This can be made 1 hour ahead of time. Cover and let sit at room temperature.

Steak, Shrimp and Asparagus:

  1. Preheat your grill to 375°.
  2. Season the steaks with salt and pepper and set aside.
  3. Prep the Asparagus by cutting off the woody, fibrous ends.
  4. Melt 1 teaspoon of butter in a saute pan and add the granulated garlic and Old Bay® mixing well. Add the shrimp and saute until pink.
  5. Put the steaks on the grill for 6 to 8 minutes a side for medium,
  6. Steam the asparagus for 5 minutes.
  7. Plate the steak and top with the asparagus, shrimp and warmed Bearnaise.
  8. Enjoy.

There you have it another “Simple but tasty recipe for the grilling season and beyond.”

Until next time……

                           Bon Appetit

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Fish Sandwich

 

Fish sandwich

Fish Sandwich

  • Servings: 2-4
  • Difficulty: Easy
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Fish is one of those versatile ingredients that is so under utilized in my house and it shouldn’t be simply because it not only tastes good but is good for you and there are endless ways to prepare it.

This recipe is great for a quick and easy lunch and when complimented by a nice salad it hits all the right notes.

Cooks note: I use Basa (Vietnamese Catfish) because it is a firm white flesh fish that holds up well to various applications and is inexpensive but feel free to use whatever fish you like.

Here’s how we do this one.

Shopping list:

  • 4 Basa filets
  • 2 Eggs
  • sliced Tomatoes
  • Mayonnaise
  • 1 cup All Purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup Cornstarch
  • 3 teaspoons Old Bay® seasoning
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground Pepper
  • 4 soft Kaiser rolls
  • Canola Oil for frying

Putting it all together:

  1. In a non reactive bowl mix the flour, cornstarch, salt, pepper and Old Bay®.
  2. In a separate bowl mix the eggs together.
  3. Heat 2 inches of oil in a large deep pan.
  4. Dredge the fish in the flour, egg and flour and cook in the oil until golden brown on both sides.
  5. Remove the fish to drain on a paper towel.
  6. Split the kaisers and lightly toast the inside.
  7. Spread mayonnaise on the bottom bun topped with a tomato slice and the fish.
  8. Enjoy.

There you have it another “Simple but tasty recipe for the grilling season and beyond.”

Until next time…….

                            Bon Appetit 

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Pork and Pancetta Pasta

Pork and Pancetta Pasta

Pork and Pancetta Pasta

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

Pasta is a staple of traditional Italian cuisine with the first reference dating to 1154 in Sicily so it’s no wonder there are more ways to prepare it than one can shake a stick at but what I have found over the years is that Italian restaurants really only do a tomato sauce or cream sauce with the pasta dishes they put out all the while ignoring other ways of serving it. So with that in mind I decided to do this pasta dish “naked” ( no not me… the pasta) meaning I didn’t use a sauce and it was a huge hit.

Here’s how we do this one.

Shopping list:

  • 2 tablespoons Canola Oil
  • 1 large package Compliments™ All Natural Fettucini
  • 2 pounds boneless Pork Loin – cut into bite sized pieces.
  • 12 ounces diced  Pancetta
  • 3 large Shallots – diced
  • 1 large Yellow pepper – diced
  • 1 large Red pepper – diced
  • 2 cups Baby Spinach
  • 3 Garlic cloves – fine dice
  • 2 Shallots – diced
  • 2 medium Tomatoes – diced
  • 2 teaspoons dried Basil
  • 2 teaspoons dried Oregano
  • Salt and Pepper to taste 

Putting it all together:

  1. Heat the oil in a large pan and saute the Pancetta until just brown.
  2. Remove the pancetta with a slotted spoon and add the pork to the same pan and brown all over.
  3. Add back the pancetta and remaining ingredients, cover and simmer until the pork is tender.
  4. While the pork is simmering bring a pot of salted water to a boil and add the fettuccine. Cook for about 5 minutes.
  5. Drain the pasta, plate and top with the pork and pancetta.

Cooks note: Fresh pasta cooks incredibly fast so keep an eye on it otherwise it will go mushy. 

There you have it another “Simple bust tasty recipe for the grilling season and beyond.”

Until next time…….

                            Bon Appetit

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Smoked Chicken Wings

Smoked Chicken Wings

Smoked Chicken Wings

  • Servings: 2-4
  • Difficulty: Easy
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When I retired from my career I decided I wanted to cook professionally and so I eventually found myself in a Chicken Wing joint as a line cook where I was responsible for cooking wings and a conservative estimate shows I cooked around 50 Tons of chicken wings in the 2 1/2 years I was there. Needless to say I really have a dislike for chicken wings and I don’t eat them. So how then, you may ask, did I come to do this recipe? I simply asked my wife and daughter what they wanted for Mother’s Day dinner and the first thing I heard was CHICKEN WINGS…. so here we are.

Of course I had to add my own spin to it and that also allows me to use my smoker.

Cooks note: The directions for cooking the wings are based on using a Smoker that has an offset fire box and uses charcoal and wood. For other types of smokers, electric or propane, follow the manufacturers instructions. 

Here’s how we do this one.

Shopping list:

  • 4 pounds Chicken wings – 2 lbs Flats 2 pounds Drumsticks
  • 3 tablespoons Canola Oil
  • 2 tablespoons Smoked Paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground Cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground Coriander
  • 2 tablespoons Granulated Garlic
  • 2 tablespoons Granulated Onion
  • 1 teaspoon Season Salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground Pepper
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon Ancho Chili powder
  • 2 tablespoons Brown sugar
  • Wood chips for smoking – Hickory or Apple

Putting it all together:

  1. In a large bowl soak the wood chips for 30 minutes.
  2. Heat your smoker to 225°
  3. Toss the wings in the Canola oil and then in the dry rub.
  4. Place the wings in the smoker and add a handful or two of the soaked wood chips to the charcoal.
  5. Turn the wings half way through the cooking process and add more wood chips to the charcoal.
  6. The wings are finished when the internal temperature reaches 165°.

There you have it another “Simple but tasty recipe for the grilling season and beyond”.

Until next time………

                           Bon Appetit

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Coffee Rubbed Striploin

Coffee Rubbed Striploin

Coffee Rubbed Striploin

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

Sunday dinners with family are a time to gather together and enjoy good drink , good conversation and really good food which is why I chose this recipe for this family gathering.

The secret to any good recipe lies in the ingredients and for this one the ingredients in the dry rub make the difference.

Here’s how we do this one.

Shopping list: 

  •  4 Striploin steaks 
  • 2 tablespoons Ancho chili powder
  • 2 tablespoons finely ground Coffee beans
  • 5 tablespoons Brown Sugar
  • 2 tablespoons Smoked Paprika
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried Oregano
  • 2 teaspoons ground black Pepper
  • 2 teaspoons ground Coriander
  • 2 teaspoons ground Ginger
  • 1 tablespoon Kosher Salt

Putting it all together:

  1. Preheat the bbq to 450°
  2. In a medium non reactive bowl mix all the dry ingredients together.
  3. Thoroughly rub the steaks with the dry rub and place on the bbq for 9 minutes a side.
  4. Enjoy

There you have it another “Simple but tasty recipe for the grilling season and beyond.”

Until next time…….

                           Bon Appetit 

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BBQ’D Sweet and Sour Chicken

BBQ'd chicken

BBQ'D Sweet and Sour Chicken

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

Learning to cook for me has been a long but fascinating journey and I am happy to say that I am still learning which means that cooking still holds my interest and still has mysteries to figure out.

One of the mysteries it has taken me a while to figure out is how to BBQ chicken without burning the hell out of it and quite simply the solution to the “mystery” is to simply par boil the chicken to reduce the amount of grease the skin will produce thereby reducing the flair ups and the burnt chicken.

Here’s how we do this one.

Shopping list:

  • 4 Chicken legs
  • 4 Boneless Skinless Chicken Thighs
  • 1/2 cup Rice Vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons Soy sauce
  • 1/3 cup Honey
  • 1/4 cup Ketchup
  • 3 tablespoons Granulate Garlic

Putting it all together:

  1. Par boil the chicken legs in a large pot for 7 minutes.
  2. Remove the legs to a sheet pan and dispose of the water.
  3. Heat the BBQ to 400° and place the legs bone side down for 10 minutes then turn over for another 10.
  4. While the chicken is cooking mix all the other ingredients together in a sauce pan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 6 minutes or until thickened.
  5. Brush the chicken with the sauce and turn over once the sauce has “glazed” the chicken and repeat.
  6. Remove and enjoy.

There you have it another “Simple but tasty recipe for the grilling season and beyond.”

Until next time………

                            Bon Appetit 

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