Thursday, June 28, 2012

Kinnikinnick Gluten Free Buns - Taste Like Real Bread

Kinnikinnick Gluten Free Buns

Shaina offered to send me some gluten free breads and buns made by Kinnikinnick. My crowd doesn't eat gluten free or have any special food restrictions, but some other family members do. I thought it would be worth a try to see if I could find some specialty items that usually just get skipped here. After all, I do like for my guests to get to eat and things they can have.

We have actually tried some gluten free breads, but they did not have good texture or taste very good. I must say that I'd be hard pressed to make baked goods without gluten (wheat), so I know it's a challenge.

I didn't mention that these were gluten free burger buns before putting them out.

The Kinnikinnick buns aren't quite as thick and fluffy as the ones with wheat, but the texture was excellent and flavor very good. Good enough that no one had any problems with the buns. That is "passing with flying colors," because I have a tough crowd, and they do say what they think. I've always told them to do so, since I do this blog and don't want to stear folks wrong.

You'll pay more for gluten free in general, but you'll actually get very good bread and buns with Kimmikinnick. I'd have no problem with this as our daily bread but don't need to pay extra unless entertaining someone who needs gluten free. In that case, I'm glad to have found an option that actually is excellent.

I wasn't sure I'd ever find gluten free bread that I could serve to the bread eaters, but this one even passed that test. So, it's really stand out in the area of gluten free. That's a lot more than I can say for those healthy chicken patties I grilled which were pretty bad.

If you are looking for really good gluten free breads for lunch or buns for cook outs, then Kimmikinnick is where I finally found gluten free breads that pass the texture and taste test even for the regular bread eaters.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

McCormick Grillerhood - Best and True Rule for Grilling

 Barbecue Master Grilling on a Beautiful Summer Day
I’m heating up my grill this summer with McCormick and Grillerhood. You can too. It’s easy to sign up and be part of the “hood” and have a blast while getting new tips and ideas that will take your grilling from “just okay” to awesome.

Ready for the Grillerhood Challenge?

The challenge here at the height of the grilling season is to share and put together the “best ever” list of tips for grilling. Yes. That is a challenge, but you can win prizes for your ideas on grilling, and you can help create a pool of information that can pass down to others and share the grilling love.

McCormick asked me what I’d share as my top three grilling tips. I had to give that some serious thought. There are many tips that I could give, but when push came to shove, these were my top ones:

McCormick True Rules of Grilling from the Barbecue Master

1. Grilling is about fun. So, do it your way. Gas, charcoal, pellet, or electric . . . it’s all fine if it works for you and your crowd. You can grill great food no matter what method you decide is best at your home.

2. It doesn’t have to take all day to rock the grill. Smoked sausages in a grill wok with flavorful rubs and seasonings takes only minutes, and they wow the crowd. So, have some easy recipes in your grilling file, so you can grill on the fly and still impress.

3.  You don’t have to spend a fortune to have a grill out and your family and friends over. It doesn’t have to be steak or lobster. You can flavor up burgers or flank steak or even vegetables (very healthy) and have an amazing barbecue without taking out a loan.

Boiling it down to three top grilling tips was hard, and I know that there are lots of other great tips out there. You are likely just biting your tongue and wanting to say what you think makes grilling good and fun. Really, I am sitting here thinking of about a thousand other ideas. With every cook out we learn something new that will help the next person.

Don't Miss Out on All the Fun - You Can Be in the Grillerhood Too

 Share your tips and help me pick the very best one to share with the Grillerhood.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Schwan's Grill Pack - Excellent Quality and Yummy

Two Grill Wok Night with Schwan's BBQ Foods

Brandi contacted me on behalf of Schwan's Foods to see if I'd do a honest taste test and review. What she didn't know was that I graduated with a guy who drove a Schwan's truck and remebered that the company had some great foods. Of course, that was a LONG time back, so you just never know how a company fares over the years. In any case, I was game to try out Schwan's again to see.

First, I was surprised at how many foods Schwan's has geared toward grillers now. They even include the directions for grilling. Before, you could, of course, put their foods on the grill, but you'd have to figure out frozen/unfrozen on the grill and times and things like that.

Schwan's sent a big box which came by UPS, so I don't think we have a truck out on our route now. I know I've not seen one here in years - since my high school friend opened up a landscaping business.

I called the boys in to see what they'd like to try out. The beefs tips caught their eyes, and the youngest loves asparagus (though usually the mushy canned type - go figure).

Schwan's Beef Tips for Kabobs

The Schwan's beef sirloin steak tips came boxed for kabobs including the kabob sticks and directions. I could have made some beautiful kabobs, but I must confess to finding it tedious to string kabobs and turn them all the time to ensure even grilling. My solution to that is what I call deconstructed kabobs. You can call me a genius or lazy - either works.

What I did was season the kabobs with some Steak Splash out of Canada (can use Italian dressing or any favorite marinade) and with lemon pepper as you can see below.

Schwan's Beef Tips - Seasoned Up

The meat looked beautiful. It was bright red and had some marbling but not any fat blobs. No trim up needed. These are just right out of the Schwan's box.

I sprayed a little non-stick spray in my wok grilling basket and poured in the beef tips. They made a nice sizzle and colored up well. After around 8 minutes, I added the onions and green peppers. Beef really needs more grill time than those vegetables, so I start the meat and then add when the meat is about 1/4 to 1/2 done (depending on the heat on my grill).

Beef Tips Sizzling Away on the Grill with Green Peppers and Onions

Then, it was time for the Schwan's asparagus spears, but again they are easier to handle in a grill wok. I got a second wok for Christmas, so I woked the asparagus right beside the meat and covered the entire PK grill.

The aspargus went in frozen (and my Facebook friends thought I had fresh asparagus - should I tell them it's frozen?). I brushed it with some Garlic Gold (olive oil - my favorite) and just grilled until it had some grilled color. This took around 10 minutes - a little less than on the box directions (but my fire was pretty hot by this time).

It All Comes Down to the Taste - How Did Schwan's Do?

I was very impressed with the Schwan's grilling foods (and we still have some to test out and share).

First, the food was packed well and looked good. Brownie points for that. But, I've had some products sent that did look great but did not taste that great.

The meat (and our fresh veggies) which I ate with a knife and fork and the boys made into wraps with burrito wraps was moist and very flavorful. Some tips are kind of tough and fatty. Not these. In fact, I'd say the Schwan's are as good of beef tips as I've grilled out. Tasted like good restaurant quality. No leftovers though. Bummer on that. The boys put a hurting on the beef. Thumbs up - for sure on the kabob pack (even if I did not kabob them).

As far as the asparagus, I lived on a farm with a fresh bed. So, I spent a couple of summers eating tons of asparagus but not anytime recently. It's kind of hard to find around here. I'd never thought to get frozen asparagus and wasn't sure what I'd think of that.

If I'd not grilled the asparagus myself, someone could have pulled these off on me as fresh. The color was perfect, and the flavor was spot on. As I said, my grilling friends on FB thought I'd picked up fresh asparagus. It's grilled the same, so either one is fine (as I found with this pack). I'd not hesitate to buy Schwan's asparagus again. It really was excellent.

If you live in a Schwan's area, ask your Schwan's guy or girl about the grilling products. They really are high quality, and the directions for success are right on the box if you need them, or you can think outside the box as I did here.

Great dinner and Schwan's goes on my recommend list.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Barbecue Master Road Trips to Missouri to Meet the Winter Grillers at Roaring River Resort

Roaring River Resort in Cassville, Misouri

Last week I went up to Roaring River Resort in Cassville, Missouri. The owners, Lon and Syndi, had invited the Winter Grillers up for a first annual gathering of the grillers – or the chance to meet our imaginary grilling buddies. We joked about that, because we’ve all been friends but online for several years.

Winter Grillin was a group at a web site, but the group branched off to a private space on Facebook Winter Grillin a while back for more features and options. I’m part of the early and tight group and was likely one of the first to sign up in 2009. One of the members left a message on my blog saying I might enjoy the space, and I sure have.

Winter Grillin does involve a lot of talk about grilling and barbecue, but we also grew to know each other on a personal level. The group was “there” when my son rescued a fellow teen from drowning, and I didn’t know if either boy made it out of the river for 20 minutes. They’ve seen my boys get Eagle Scout and graduate high school and now the oldest one graduating from college (and along on this journey to Missouri). I won’t share everyone else’s business, but we’ve all been there for the good and bad times for years now.

Syndi and Lon - Couldn't Ask for Nicer People

Lon has always been like the heartbeat of the group, coming up with fun ideas that helped us all bond. He set up a mailing trade off, and we mailed his pet penguin, Burr, around from member to member and included barbecue gifts and other fun things to the next person along the mailing trip.

Lon and Syndi came up for the idea to have a meet up, and they offered space to everyone at Roaring River Resort. That’s a long way from here, but I was determined to put that on my calendar. I first planned to fly, but my older son said he could drive out with me, so we decided to make it a road trip.

Took the Scenic Route - Glad We Gassed Up on the Highway
Goole maps sent us by the scenic route. I think we went five hours without seeing a motel . . . when we were looking for one (Well . . . we did see one with three police cars - which did not look safe at all). The map route also indicated 14 hours, and it was more like 17 or 18, so I think Google does not factor in bathroom, gas, and food breaks.

That’s okay though, because I got to spend a lot of time with my son who will likely move off to work and have a family, and a mother/son trip would not be likely to happen again anytime soon.

Barbecue Master and Son Road Trip - What Fun
We arrived at Roaring River Resort which reminded me of earlier days. The feel is small town friendly and retro in a good way. After chain motels where we were just a room key number, it was delightful to arrive at a place that felt like visiting relatives (the ones we like). Everything was super clean, and Lon and Syndi treated everyone like family rather than just faceless drones.

My son and I had a kitchenette room, so we could prep for grilling. They have standard rooms, the kitchenette rooms, cabins, and RV spaces. The prices are very reasonable. I had to look those up, but we sure paid more for generic motel rooms with basically just beds.

My Winter Grillin' Buddies - Even Better In Real Life Than Online

I didn’t know what it would be like meeting my Winter Grillin’ friends in person, but it was even better than I could have hoped for. They were like their personalities online – but even bigger, bolder, and warmer.

Grilled Trout - Cassville, Missouri

Lon, Syndi, Greg, and Debbie (Greg and Debbie live closer) rocked the grills the first night with fresh trout. This was after Lon had us put together grills in a speed contest. My son got stuck in last place, because I just had to take photos and was not much help. I don’t think he wants me for a partner if he goes again (-:

Raul Can Rock the Grill and the Music

After we ate, Raul entertained us. He’d brought his guitar. We all knew he played with Soul Driver, but we didn’t know how good he was in person. Very impressive. There’s nothing like live music after a great grilled meal.

The next day, Lon and Syndi took us all out on the pontoon boat. That was a blast, and I must say that the Ozarks are absolutely beautiful. Syndi taught me the dock trick (which I won’t explain). And, they showed us this great spot where you could climb up the cliff with a rope and jump in the lake.

Really Now. It Did Not Look This High From Down Below.

I thought cliff diving would be grand fun, so even though I’d not thought to wear my swimming suit, I jumped in, scaled the cliff by rope, and then chickened out when I saw how far it was to the water (looked like a mile from up high). Greg was glad I did not jump, so he made sure I got down the rope without killing myself.

Caleb Takes the Plunge Off the Cliff in the Ozark Mountains
My son, of course, did jump from the cliff. Ah. To be young.

Greg and Marv Getting the Smoked Ribs Ready to Hit the Plates
We had a rib off after the boat ride. Marv does competition barbecue, so he headed that up in Lon’s really cool pig shaped smoker. We had several rubs and some sauce on the ribs. I did my Dizzy Pig rub with Nephew’s Cherry Potle sauce.

Oh Yes - Chrystal Nailed Her Tri Tip
Chrystal grilled up a tri tip while the ribs were smoking. I’d never had that before, and I was hooked from the first bite. That was too tender and juicy to even describe. I also loved her Mom’s cowboy beans which was a recipe handed down in the family. Those were some fabulous beans. She emailed the recipe afterwards (thanks).

Chrystal's Mom's Cowboy Beans - Family Recipe
I took on appetizers, because I’m known for home grilling and easy recipes that taste great but don’t take a lot of time and work. Everyone seemed to enjoy the sausages in the wok and cheese grilled on the grates on my PK grill which I hauled from North Carolina. There were no leftovers, and Syndi hit the grilled cheese after I left, so I think that was a hit. I think she will need her very own grill now.

We all traded our barbecue secrets and carried in grilling gifts to share around. We ended up overloading Raul’s suitcase, since he flew in. I’m glad I drove even if it was a long haul, but I had to repack twice, since a pick up truck won’t hold as much as I thought.

Winter Grillin' Crew at Roaring River Resort in Missouri
That was my wild, wonderful summer adventure – a trip to Roaring River Resort to hang out with my online grilling and barbecue buddies. I was excited about going, and it turned out to be even more fun than I had even hoped. The Winter Grillers are the best  . . . online and in person.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Prescott Frost Grass Fed Beef on my Grill - Healthier and Tastier

Prescott Frost Steak Grilled - Grass Fed Organic Meat

Prescott Frost offered to send out some grass fed beef products to see what I thought. They had no way of knowing that I grew up eating a lot of grass fed beef, because my Poppaw would have a cow or two every year for meat for the year. Since my Poppaw has passed, I end up with grocery beef now, and I sure miss grass fed.

You may be wondering: What's the difference between big business beef and the smaller, organic produced meat?

The best comparison I can make would be with apples. If you've had different apple varieties rather than just the very few common ones at most stores, then you'll know that apples have a huge range of flavors. The same thing is true of beef. When cows are pastured naturally on a small farm, then the flavor is just a little different farm to farm.

I do find that grass fed has less fat (which I like), but it can still be marbled well enough to have a juicy steak. You can see the Prescott Frost steak I grilled for dinner above and that it is certainly not dry at all. It was juicy and just as flavorful and yummy as it looks.

Grass Fed Beef Meatballs Ready to Go on the Grill

In my sample pack, Prescott Farms included some ground beef. With all the talk about pink slime these day at the big chain grocery stores, it was nice to get real meat that came from a specific farm and not ground whatever from all over creation laced with pink slime.

The company notes that their grass fed ground beef has 10 x the beta-carotene versus mass produced beef and also 3 x the Vitamin E and Omega-3 fatty acids (good for reducing blood pressure and brain function). I'm not set up to test all that, but I like for my food to be healthy.

I can speak to how the grass fed meat grilled up and the flavor.

First, I thought about grilling traditional burgers, but the ground beef looked so nice that I wanted to do something a little fancier. I rolled the ground beef into meatballs and put them in a mini muffin pan and then added a light apricot sauce on top.

 Meatballs on the Grill with Prescott Farms Grass Fed Beef

The meatballs grilled up beautifully and tasted just as great as they looked too. I just popped them out of the pan with a slotted spoon and served them with salad, potatoes, and bread. Really delicious meal.

Prescott Frost also has healthy hot dogs. They don't have gluten or nitrates. No chemicals, hormones, or preseratives. That's hard to find in a hot dog. They are the crisp snap type that just taste better than the floppy ones that often taste more like bologna.

An interesting note I'd make is that Prescott Frost is the great grandson of the famous poet Robert Frost. His farm is a family farm, and he supports sustainable farming that is good for animals, people, and the planet. His products taste great as well (and reminds me of Poppaw's beef), so this gets a thumbs up.  

Win Grilling Gear and McCormick Grill Mates Prize Pack - Ends 6-25-2012

Win This Neat Grill Mates Prize Pack Provided By McCormick

I'm part of the Grillerhood this summer, and you can join the fun on Facebook where all the coolest grillers are hanging out and sharing grilling tips, recipes, and secrets. Just click over and see what the buzz is about at FB Grillerhood.

I could tell you about all the great information you'll find and about the HUGE prize one lucky person will win at the end of the summer compliments of McCormick . . . but it's more fun to explore.

As an added bonus, you can win the prize pack you see above. Just visit and "like" the Grillerhood and then leave me a comment telling me something cool you found on your visit. Also, give me some way to get in touch if you're the lucky winner of the McCormick grill apron, gear, and seasoning prize. (I don't keep or collect your data. I just send the winning entry over, so the prize can be mailed out.)

This grilling prize contest runs through June 25, 2012, so be sure to enter while you're thinking about it. And, you can enter once per day too. Just share something new each time you visit.

All entries get a slip in the hat, and one of my sons will draw the winning name on the 26th of June.

Yes. Simple as that! And, you will be sizzling on the grill this summer like I am with my snazzy new apron, tools, and new seasonings which I'm using to whip up some great grilled recipes.

Cyndi Smoking Up Some Good Grub with McCormick Gear and Grill Mates

Friday, June 08, 2012

Barbecue Master Joins McCormick Grillerhood - And You Can Too!

Join the Fun with McCormick Grillerhood Summer Grill Mates
Want to join the cool grilling crowd this summer? Then, you need to hook up with the McCormick Grilllerhood. Yes. You might not be on my block, but we all break bad no matter where we fire up our grills. So, let’s make it official. High five (and don’t forget the grill glove).

I’ve been using McCormick seasoning for years. Really, who hasn’t? Now, they are out of the gate with Grill Mates. They must be mind readers. Their products have always been great for grilling if not designed with that in mind. You would not be able to count the number of steaks that have come off my grills with McCormick’s lemon pepper. Now, McCormick has products just with all the grilling crowd in mind, so that, of course, caught my eye down at the local grocery store.

I caught McCormick’s eye too, and they contacted me about being a member of the Grillerhood. I’ll chalk that up to all my fans and readers. Thanks for putting me up high on Goggle with all the visits and comments. In any case, I’m an official griller with McCormick this summer and get a stipend and the apron, chef hat, and glove along with some samples (that will be in a giveaway coming up soon – so look for that and win some great summer grilling gear and seasoning).

Be Watching for My Upcoming Giveaway (June 2012). You Could Win This Apron Stuffed Full of McCormick Goodies.

First, go check out all the great grilling products they have at McCormickYes. They came out of the gate with all cylinders firing. You’re sure to find something here that you’ll love.

Then, you can join in the fun at Facebook where McCormick has a Grill Mates FB page that is already hopping. You can sign up for the Grillerhood and even compete to be the mayor of the hood with a barbecue trip to New York City for the winner. You know that would be a blast, and I’d love to be in on that. I’ll be waiting to hear all the details from the mayor – when he or she is named.

The name of the game is fun and sharing, so what are you waiting for?

OK. I’ll share a tip here. You don’t have to make burgers just for the bun. You can use a muffin pan (either a dedicated pan that you don’t mind getting smoked up or the throwaway kind) and make what I’ll call meatballs or mini meatloaves. If you can’t have bread or are cutting the calories or can’t have gluten, then these may be just what you want to toss on your grill. We love them, and this crowd can eat anything (not toxic).

Grilled Grill Mates Mini Meatloaf Recipe
  • 1 pound lean ground beef (since you’re using a pan and don’t want the meat real greasy)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 Tablespoon McCormick Grill Mates Molasses Bacon seasoning
  • A few splashes of Worcestershire sauce (around ½ teaspoon)
  • Ketchup or Barbecue Sauce (your favorite type - just enough to slather a bit on top of each McCormick's meatballs)
Join the Grillerhood Outside the Bun with Grill Mates Meatloaf on The Grill 

Directions: Just mix all of the ingredients together. It’s better to do it by hand, so the meat does not get packed too tightly. Divide into 6 equal sized balls for a regular sized muffin pan or 12 for the minis. Slather a little ketchup or barbecue sauce on top of each meatball. Place in grill on low medium meat for around 40 minutes for large meatloaves and 20 minutes for the minis. Grill temperatures vary, so do check on the time.

YUM! Eating Good in the Grillerhood This Evening. See why you need to join up and learn to rock the grill this summer with McCormick and all the friends, fans, and family sharing ideas, tips, and recipes.

Saturday, June 02, 2012

CLR Grease Magnet - Makes Cleaning Grills Easier

Cyndi Cleaning PK Grill with CLR Grease Magnet - Garage Strength

Today I was grill cleaning, because I am going on a road trip. Nothing is worse than a dirty grill at home than a dirty one in the back of the truck that will not impress when you get to your destination. The guys tell me no one notices anyway (kind of like when I paint my toenails), but . . . really now . . . who wants to eat food off something that looks icky?

Paris sent me two free bottles of CLR Grease Magnet. She wanted to know if I'd like to try it out. I use CLR in the bathroom and kitchen here, since we have hard water. It's about the only thing that puts a dint in the white desposits that build up - even coming out of the shower head. So, I thought CLR for the grill would likely be a good product. I was hoping so anyway.

I've about wiped out a whole bottle just washing grates and drip pans and little things like that. It really does make clean up easier. With small grill items like I mentioned or with the grill wok, I soak the item down with CLR and let it rest a bit. Then, I wash it in the kitchen sink also with Dawn liquid which is all I ever use. The plumber told me to use that after my pipes kept getting stopped up. No major problems since I started doing that.

PK Grill Ready to Hit the Road and Looking Sharp

CLR did a great job on cleaning up my grill. It does cut the grease as intended. If you let a quarter of an inch of barbecue sauce and gunk build up on the grates or inside, then you need a knife or a hammer and chisel. Nothing is going to fix a real mess except some elbow grease and time. CLR helps on nasty grills and grates too, but it's best used shortly after a cook out. It may seem like a bother to clean up, but it's so nice the next time you're ready to grill, and it's clean and ready to go.

I recommend CLR Grease Magnet for grill clean ups. It's also advertised to pull grease up out of cement (if you let your grill drip on the drive) and asphalt, stone, granite. I've been busy cleaning grills, so I don't know about the floor clean up and other items, but I may give a squirt of two if I find something else greasy around here.

Here is what CLR looks like. If you're like me, a photo helps in finding products at the store.