Smoked Bacon Mac-and-Cheese

Oh my goodness. I’ve had my share of mac-and-cheese and then some. I’ve even grilled it. But nothing has ever come close to this smoked bacon mac-and-cheese. Yeah, it’s creamy ooey gooey cheesy like any proper mac-and-cheese should be. And it has bacon, glorious bacon. And it’s smoked. Yes, smoked. Not a lot of smokiness, not too much to overwhelm, but the exact perfect amount. This is just crazy good eats.

If you’re in the mood to make this smoked bacon mac-and-cheese even more over-the-top, add a few good handfuls of leftover smoked pulled pork. It’s a fantastic way to use up pulled pork if by chance you have some on hand. Me, I’d already eaten all of my smoked pork, and I was very, very happy with this dish without it.

Smoked Bacon Mac-and-Cheese
Author: 
Recipe type: Side
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 10-14 servings
 
You'll need a 9x13" deep disposable aluminum pan.
Ingredients
  • 1 (16 ounce) box elbow noodles
  • Your favorite BBQ rub
  • 1 pound bacon
  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon dried mustard
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 cups cheddar cheese, grated
  • 5 cups half and half
  • 9 x 13 x 3 (or so) deep foil pan
  • 3 cups shredded cheese mix (I used a Mexican cheese blend), divided
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. Fire up your smoker for 225 F. Use whatever wood you like, but I would recommend a lighter fruit wood such as cherry or peach.
  3. Line a large baking sheet with foil. You might need two baking sheets if they aren't large enough to hold all of the bacon.
  4. Add bacon to baking sheet and sprinkle with the BBQ rub.
  5. Bake for 20 minutes, flip, sprinkle with more rub and return to the oven for another 10 minutes until cooked but not overly crispy. Remove from oven and transfer bacon to a paper-towel lined plate. Crumble the bacon once cooled.
  6. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and add the pasta. Cook 8-9 minutes until al dente. Drain and rinse with cold water. Transfer to a large bowl.
  7. Add butter to a medium saucepan over medium eat. Once melted whisk in the flour, mustard, salt, paprika and black pepper. Whisk for 2 minutes.
  8. Slowly whisk in the half and half. Keep whisking for about 10 minutes until the sauce thickens.
  9. Remove from heat and stir in the 4 cups of cheddar cheese. Pour over the noodles and stir gently to combine.
  10. Place half of the noodle and cheese mixture into the aluminum pan.
  11. Sprinkle with 1 1/2 cups of the cheese mix and more of the rub.
  12. Add remaining noodles and sprinkle with the remaining cheese mix.
  13. Add more rub and all of the crumbled bacon.
  14. Place on the smoker and smoke for 2-3 hours depending on how smokey you want it.
  15. Remove and let rest at least 30 minutes (good luck with waiting that long!) before slicing and serving.

Slow Cooker Copycat Snapple Tea

It’s summer. That means iced tea for me, and in particular, Snapple. This copycat of the fantastic bottled version hits the spot on a hot day for sure. Just toss a few ingredients into your slow cooker and in a few hours you get great tasting tea. I prefer peach- or lemon-flavored tea, but you can use any flavor you’d like.
For lower calorie, lower carb tea use artificial sweetener and any one of the sugar-free fruit flavors of Torani syrup. I’ve found that some syrup flavors can be hard to find locally but thankfully, shipping isn’t bad so I ordered a few bottles online. You don’t have to worry about the syrups expiring either, so don’t be afraid to try several different flavors in your teas.

Slow Cooker Copycat Snapple Tea
Author: 
Recipe type: Drinks
Cuisine: American
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 3 quarts
 
Ingredients
  • 3 quarts water
  • 4 family-sized tea bags (I used Luzianne decaf)
  • 1 cup sugar (or sweetener)
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon (bottled is ok)
  • 1/4 cup peach Torani syrup (you can use any flavor you like)
Instructions
  1. Add all ingredients to a slow cooker.
  2. Cook on low 3 hours.
  3. Serve cold or over ice.

Citrus Herb Marinaded Chicken on the Char-Broil Big Easy

Weber has a line of marinade mixes that you add juice to that are really, really good. And they’re perfect for flavoring chicken before cooking it on the Char-Broil Big Easy. I picked up a package of each and used them to marinate my favorite, split chicken breasts. The Citrus Herb marinade is mixed with orange juice to produce wonderfully seasoned chicken. A hint of garlic and herbs and a hint of sweetness, it’s a nice, light refreshing marinade.

Since the Big Easy cooks at a high temperature you do have to watch that your chicken doesn’t char. One way to help prevent that is to not use marinades containing substances that might burn, like sugar or honey. The other is to rinse the chicken before cooking. Now, you’re going to lose a bit of flavor doing that, but if like me you’re going to remove the skin before eating, it really doesn’t make that big of a difference.

Weber makes all sorts of great flavored Just Add Juice marinades. Collect them all!

Citrus Herb Marinaded Chicken on the Char-Broil Big Easy
Author: 
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: American
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2 Servings
 
Note: I prefer to rinse the marinade off the outside of the chicken since it will tend to burn. The meat has already absorbed the flavors of the marinade.
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Place the chicken into a resealable bag or container.
  2. Add marinade to taste. Toss to coat.
  3. Seal and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, turning occasionally.
  4. Fire up your Big Easy.
  5. Transfer the chicken to the Big Easy basket.
  6. Cook for approximately 20 minutes per pound or until it reaches 165 F as checked in several places.
  7. Remove and let rest 10 minutes before serving.

Bread Machine Jalapeno Cheese Bread

I’ve been inspired lately by my bread making expertise. Ok, not really. But I have been really happy with how great my last few loaves have turned out. I make the dough in my bread machine, then roll it out, shape it, and let it rise again. Finally, into the oven and done! I’ve proven to myself too many times before that I should not make dough by hand. I let the bread machine do it. Like this jalapeno cheese bread. Not too spicy, and not too cheesy, but just right and the perfect texture for sandwiches.

I think you could substitute just about anything for the jalapenos and the cheese. Chopped roasted poblanos and pepper jack cheese would make for a great combination. As would diced green chiles (drained very well first) and Monterey jack cheese. The options are pretty much endless. Just don’t use any ingredients that are extremely moist.

Bread Machine Jalapeno Cheese Bread
Author: 
Recipe type: Bread
Cuisine: American
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 1 loaf
 
Ingredients
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/2 cup cheddar cheese, diced (I used shredded)
  • 3 medium jalapenos, seeded, diced
  • 3 cups bread flour
  • 1/2 tablespoon active dry yeast
Instructions
  1. Place ingredients into your bread machine in the order listed.
  2. Select the dough cycle and let the machine do its job.
  3. Lightly flour a work surface and add the dough. Punch down to flatten.
  4. Use a rolling pin to shape the dough into a rectangle the width of your bread pan. Lightly oil the bread pan.
  5. Roll the dough up into a tight log. Seal the seam and ends tightly and transfer to your bread pan.
  6. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and place in a warm place to rise, doubling in size, about one hour.
  7. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  8. Bake bread for 30 minutes or until the bread has a nice crust on it.
  9. Remove to a wire rack to cook slightly before slicing and serving.

Proper Pub Fried Chicken using the Vortex

Tom Kerridge is a Michelin-starred pub chef in England. Yes, pub chef. That’s why I knew that his recipe for proper pub fried chicken would be something special, something incredible. And, oh me, was it ever. The seasonings give every single bite the most fantastic flavor. Tender, moist. And crunchy skin? Oh yes. You could deep fry it, but I cooked this chicken over charcoal using the Vortex and no oil. Yep, no oil (except for like a tablespoon to help crunch up the skin at the very end).
I have to admit something. I made a change to Chef Kerridge’s original recipe. Please don’t hate me, but I added hot sauce to the buttermilk brine. I could not help myself. I ALWAYS add hot sauce to my buttermilk when using it for chicken. Not a whole lot, just a little bit to add a slight kick and offset the sourness. You don’t have to do it, and you don’t have to tell anyone if you do.

Proper Pub Fried Chicken using the Vortex
Author: 
Recipe type: Main
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 3-4 servings
 
Ingredients
  • 6-8 pieces of chicken (I prefer bone-in, skin-in thighs)
  • 2 1/4 (or more) cups buttermilk
  • Hot sauce, to taste (optional)
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons smoked paprika
  • 2 tablespoons paprika
  • 4 teaspoons Kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons dried basil
  • 2 teaspoons chile powder
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons dried marjoram
  • 2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground dried oregano
  • 2 teaspoons ground dried sage
  • 2 teaspoons ground white pepper
  • Vegetable oil, for brushing
Instructions
  1. Place chicken into a large resealable container.
  2. Add enough buttermilk to cover the chicken. Add hot sauce, if using.
  3. Seal and shake gently to coat the chicken and combine the hot sauce. Refrigerate overnight.
  4. Fire up your Vortex. Fill completely with coals. You'll need at least a 22" charcoal grill.
  5. Combine all dry ingredients and pour into a pie pan or alternatively, place in a large resealable bag.
  6. Working in batches, remove chicken from the buttermilk. Shake off excess and roll in the coating. Alternatively, add the chicken to the bag, seal and shake to coat.
  7. Place chicken around the edges of your grill. Cover and cook 30-45 minutes or until the chicken has reached 160 F as measured in several locations.
  8. Lightly brush the chicken with the oil and cook another 5 minutes or until the chicken reaches 165 F as measured in several locations.

Delta Slaw

This Delta slaw is by far my favorite go-to slaw. Although I sometimes eat it as a side, it most often finds it’s way onto pulled pork or Sloppy Joe sandwiches, or on hot dogs. Despite being a vinegar-based slaw it has a nice sweetness to it. It also contains celery seed (and a good bit of it too), which is also one of my favorite flavors. I love everything about this slaw.

Depending on how I’m serving my Delta slaw (as in, how quickly I’m going to devour it), I often keep the slaw ingredients separate from the dressing until just before serving. That was the slaw doesn’t get too soggy, which will happen after three or more days in the fridge. Keeping the parts separate means I can easily get a full work week’s worth of slaw out of a batch!

Delta Slaw
Author: 
Recipe type: Side
Cuisine: American
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8 servings
 
Ingredients
  • 1 (32-ounce) bag cole slaw mix (with carrots)
  • 1 red or green bell pepper, sliced thin
  • 1 medium onion, sliced thin
  • 2 teaspoons Kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon white pepper
  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup sugar (or Splenda)
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard powder
  • 2 teaspoons celery seeds
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup green onions, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
Instructions
  1. Combine the slaw mix, bell pepper and onion in a large resealable container. Toss with the salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.
  2. Meanwhile, combine the vinegar, sugar, mustard powder, and celery seeds in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Stir until the sugar is dissolved and remove from the heat and let cool until the cabbage mixture has been in the fridge for 1 hour.
  3. Remove cabbage from fridge and pour sauce over it. Add the oil, green onions, and parsley and toss to combine.
  4. Cover and return to refrigerator for 2-3 hours before serving.

Hawaiian Pork Burger

This Hawaiian pork burger is exactly why we should be eating more pork burgers. Packed with flavor and finished with great toppings, every bite was a treat. I could’ve opted to grill the pineapple, but I love the taste of fresh pineapple just as it is. That sweet flavor along with the tangy BBQ sauce really went along well with the slightly herby patties.
Hawaiian Pork BurgersI’d make these Hawaiian pork burgers again. And again. I do recommend using a BBQ sauce with a slight smoky flavor. And a little spiciness wouldn’t hurt either since you’ve got that wonderfully sweet pineapple slice to contrast it.

Hawaiian Pork Burger
Author: 
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: American
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4 servings
 
Ingredients
  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 1/4 cup minced green onion, green parts only
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
  • Pinch freshly ground black pepper
  • Vegetable oil
  • 4 pineapple rings
  • 1/4 cup BBQ sauce
  • 4 burger buns
  • 4 green leaf lettuce leaves
  • 4 slices smoked ham sandwich meat
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl combine the pork, green onion, ginger, allspice, and pepper.
  2. Form into 4 equally-sized patties. Place on wax paper and refrigerate for up 2 hours.
  3. Fire up your grill. Clean the grates well.
  4. Lightly oil the outsides of the patties. Not much, just a bit so they don't stick.
  5. Grill the patties on one side for 5 minutes.
  6. Flip and continue cooking until done, reaching at least 145 F internally. I took mine to 160 F because some folks still aren't used to pink pork even though it's fine to consume.
  7. Optionally, brush the patties with BBQ sauce and grill the pineapple rings. I find grilled pineapple rings to be prone to falling apart unless cooked on a griddle, so I usually skip grilling them.
  8. Remove the patties and let rest for 5 minutes.
  9. Meanwhile, toast your buns if desired.
  10. Assemble the burgers by brushing BBQ sauce on the inside of the buns.
  11. Top the bottom bun with the ham, followed by the lettuce and pineapple.
  12. Add the pork burger and serve.