I cannot find pre-made taco salad bowls anywhere. I’ve checked every grocery store within 200 miles of our house. Ok, well, maybe 5 miles but still, they’re nowhere to be found! A quick Google search and I came upon a video from Food Wishes that is the best (BEST!) step-by-step approach to making your own salad bowls at home! So I did it too and they were fantastic. Perfectly crunchy, not oily and just the right size for our taco salad dinner (using my slow cooker taco meat)!
I used 8″ tortillas when making homemade taco salad bowls. They fit perfectly around 4″ ramekins to get their shape. If you’re after a bigger salad bowl, you’ll obviously need bigger tortillas. And bigger ramekins. You can’t fit a 10″ or 12″ tortilla around a 4″ ramekin, so plan ahead!
Oh, and only flour tortillas will do for this approach.
I’ve made homemade breakfast sausage from scratch before. I picked up a few pork shoulders, trimmed them, ground them (twice) and added seasonings. But I don’t always have the time (or energy, really) to do all that work. That’s when my quick fix homemade breakfast sausage comes in handy.
I use a great seasoning mix from A.C. Legg’s that I picked up on Amazon. It has just the right blend of spices without having too much sage or black pepper. I cook the quick fix homemade breakfast sausage as soon as I make it. I crumble it and freeze it in batches so I can make breakfast cups for Anita’s breakfasts during the week. You can also form it into patties. I also love smoking breakfast sausage for a fantastically different flavor.
Place the pork into your mixer bowl and place into the freezer for 15 minutes.
Add 1 tablespoon of the seasoning mix.
Place onto mixer using the bread hook and mix for 5-10 minutes.
If this is your first time making the sausage I recommend that you take a small handful of the mixed sausage and cook it in a skillet. Taste it after it cools (while cooling place the uncooked meat mixture into the freezer in case you need to mix more). If you need to, add more seasoning and mix well.
Freeze or cook the sausage. You can also form it into patties if you wish.
I received an email the other day from our local Fresh Market saying they had cases of Hatch chiles available for order. Well, I thought, that’s something new for me, so I’ll do it. I’ve never prepared or cooked fresh Hatch chiles, I’ve just used the canned ones you get in the supermarket. My plan was to roast them all, and I did. I also got to find out how big a case of Hatch chiles is: 18 pounds. Over 150 peppers. Yep, over 150 peppers. I fired up my largest charcoal grill and got to work. Batch after batch, I roasted the Hatch chiles until lightly charred. My plan was to only use a few of the roasted chiles immediately, so most went into bags and then the freezer for use later. After I got a system down roasting them was actually very easy. And boy, did it ever smell fantastic on the desk.
I froze the chiles whole without removing stems, membranes or seeds. I found that they clean up quite easily when thawed and maybe (maybe) have more flavor that way. Plus, with 150+ peppers, I was definitely not up to cleaning that many peppers in one evening. Roasting them was enough of a chore!
Perhaps I should get one of those big chile roasters you see in serious pepper-roasting folk’s yards…. Hmmmm…. A new toy!
Want to surprise everyone at your next picnic or get-together? Bring a jar of grilled pickles. Everyone will want to know how you did it. You don’t have to admit how easy it is. The pickles do get a little char flavor, but not much. They still taste like, well, dill pickles, but with just slightly less crunch. The grilled red onions do add a nice light onion flavor. These jarred grilled pickles are good for 5 days. And don’t feel like you have to grill only spears. Sliced pickles or even whole pickles can be grilled just as well. If you don’t want to grill the pickles but still want a hint of grilled flavor, just grill some red onion and then add that to a jar of pickles and refrigerate overnight.
I’m always on a search for ways to add more cooking capacity to my Char-Broil Big Easy. I started with my homemade Wingin’ator 3000, which works great but you do have to make it yourself. Then Char-Broil came out with a cooking rack that gave you 5 cooking levels. Sadly, the rack wasn’t available for sale for long. A reader of Life’s A Tomato mentioned something to me the other day that should’ve occurred to me long ago: you can use two of the Char-Broil Bunk Bed Baskets at once, giving you 3 cooking levels! Doh! It’s as easy as it looks. Grab the basket that comes with your Big Easy and just lower two bunk bed baskets down into it, securing it with the handles on the sides. You’ll need to offset the two baskets by 90 degrees, otherwise the handles from the lower basket will interfere with the top basket. You can kind of see that in the picture on the right, above.
You’ll get about 3″ of cooking room on each level, plenty for wings or drumsticks. You can fit up to 6 chicken breasts on too, if they aren’t too huge. All in all, it’s a win-win!
The nice thing about this approach is that all of the baskets are dishwasher-safe, readily available, and easy to use. You don’t get quite as much cooking room as with a Wingin’ator 3000 or the (now unavailable) cooking rack, but 3 levels is plenty for a good cookout!
We’re taking a break from carving pumpkins this year. First up was our candy corn covered pumpkin, which came out great. Then we made this fantastic looking owl pumpkin. It’s quite easy to make, taking maybe 15 minutes from start to finish.
Hand-draw two circles for the eyes and an upside-down triangle for the beak.
Cut out the eyes and beak.
Working a few seeds at a time, glue the sunflower seeds around the eye holes, beginning with the outer circle first. Then add the inner circle, overlapping slightly with the outer row.
Cut each craft stick to be about 1 1/2" long and stick into the pumpkin for the ears and two feet. Leave about 3/4"of the stick protruding from the pumpkin for the ears and 1/2" for the feet.
Hot glue sunflower seeds onto the craft stick pieces. For the ears, glue 4 seeds at 45 degree angles, then one last seed at the top, making a point. For the feet, glue 2 seeds at 45 degree angles, then one last seed at the tip.
Place light on the base of the pumpkin and lower the pumpkin down onto it.
Anita and I always come up with at least one pumpkin each Halloween. Sometimes we carve them. Sometimes we paint them (chalkboard paint works great and it gives kids something to write on). One year we had a self-serve pumpkin that was awesome. And this year… candy corn covered Halloween pumpkin! It’s awesome!
Oh, yes, it does take a while to make this pumpkin. We used a pretty big pumpkin, and it took about 2 hours for the two of us to complete, however we only had one glue gun. With two we could’ve cut the time in half I’m sure. It was worth the time, though. And yes, we did the back too!
We kept our pumpkin hidden inside until Halloween because I’m quite sure the squirrels or raccoons or something would come along and eat all the candy off of it!
I’m always on the lookout for vintage grills, and in particular, ones that have never been used. A lot of these grills were given as gifts and end up in attics, garages, or the backs of closets for years and years. I run across them at antique malls, eBay, or Craigslist on occasion. Like this Miss “Barbee-Q” grill.
I picked up this Miss “Barbee-Q” grill for around $20. Never used, in a box that showed just a bit of wear. One thing is for sure, I’ll use it just like I use every grill I own (that is, regularly). This grill makes the perfect little patio grill. I loaded it up with a small chimney full of lit charcoal, and put on some nice all-beef dinner dogs. They came out great.I can see using this Miss “Barbee-Q” grill at a park when we go out for a picnic. It’s small, light, and easy to clean. I’m not sure I’d use it in our “rec” room as the box suggests, though, but it’d work just fine in a fireplace with the chimney flue open (of course).
I picked up this never-used old vintage 1977 Li’l smoker BBQ grill in the original box off eBay a while back. I finally got it all together (there were a few stripped bolts that I needed to replace) and fired it up yesterday for the inaugural burn. The grill has latches that close up the entire unit, making it highly portable. It’s only about 2′ tall, and is light as a feather.
The smoker has two levels, and can be used for direct heat grilling or slow smoking, with a pan below for charcoal and one above for water (or any heat sink like sand).
I decided to just load it up with some charcoal and let it burn for a while to get rid of the ‘new’. Then I threw two sirloin filets on for a quick lunch.
Heat control was a little non-existent (I’m spoiled by the adjustments I can make on my Weber charcoal grills), but everything came out fine. I’m not sure I’d put a real expensive cut of meat on it without some more experience under my belt, but it’ll do just fine for sausages, hot dogs, or burgers for now.
And hey, check out the original flyer! Ya gotta love the 70s!
The Li’l Smoker is a fun old grill. It’s a welcomed addition to my growing collection of vintage small grills.
We were down at the Persimmon Festival in Mitchell, Indiana a while back, waiting on the parade to start when my youngest nephew asked if I wanted to go “up town” and hit some of the antique stores. “Sure”, I said, and off we went. Well, wouldn’t you know that the first antique store we walked into had this little old Coca Cola portable grill sitting in the back. I wasn’t going to get it, but my nephew convinced me that I should get it and that if I didn’t, I would regret it. So, I bought it.
I fired it up a few days ago. It worked like a charm. It’s about the same cooking area as my Weber Smokey Joe, one of my favorite grills. Perfect for a picnic or lunch for 1 or 2. It’s portable, and light. A bit too light in that the metal is pretty thin, so I don’t expect it to last a lifetime. It had been used a few times, which surprised me. A lot of times people get these kinds of collectibles and never use them. If you ever see me buy a grill and not use it (which reminds me…. I haven’t used the 1960s fireplace grill I found), slap me. Gently, but still slap me.
Turns out this grill is actually part of a picnic set put out by Coca Cola (I have not found out the year yet) that also included a small cooler and grill tool set. So, I’m on a mission now to get the rest of the set. Who knows, maybe I’ll find it at the next antique mall we visit.