Saturday, July 27, 2013

Blaze 21 Grill Grate Cleaning Brush Review - Nice Quality Grill Brush

Ugh! Dirty Grill Grates are No Fun

I love to grill, but cleaning grates is not such a good time. Since I use a lot of marinades and sauces, I end up doing a lot of grill cleaning.

Finding good grill grate brushes has been a challenge. Some don't last more than one of two cleanings, and that gets expensive.

John Fazio, owner of Flameria which is a new barbecue tool company, sent an email and asked if I'd like to try out his grill brush - Blaze 21 now at Amazon. I like working with new companies. They often have some of the very best stuff. I'd told him I'd be glad to give it a try, so he sent me out a free brush.

Blaze 21 Grill Brush

When the package arrived, my O Grill needed cleaned up as you can see. So, I opened up the package and got to work.

I heated the grill first, since we were ready to grill immediately. Sometimes I pull them cold and use Goo Gone grill cleaner. That works well too.

The handle on the Blaze is 21 inches long, so that made it easy to use on a heated grill. It was very sturdy and took the ick right off. With the groves here, I turned the brush sideways and got between the grooves too. That was a good idea to have the bristles up the sides as well.

Much Cleaner Grill Grate

As you can see, the Blaze 21 grill brush worked very well. There are a few spots I could touch up. I only cleaned about three minutes here, so if I wasn't in a hurry to get a meal on, I could have this grate looking brand new with this grill brush.

I can't say how this (or any other grill cleaning brush) will hold up long term. I can say that the Blaze 21 bristles did not mash down like some I've used. And, I was brushing hard to get this grate ready for some grilled chicken. It is definitely better in terms of quality than most I've tried.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Grilled Chicken with Herdez Mexican Cooking Sauce Tomatillo Verde

Dinner - Grilled Chicken with Herdez Tomatillo Verde

Herdez contacted me to see if I'd like to sample their line. I've not seen it, but a couple of my Facebook BBQ buddies said it's the max. My griller friends never steer me wrong, so I got the samples and then thought about what I'd grill up.

The Herdez sauces are Mexican cooking sauces so would more traditionally be used for indoor cooking, but you really can use almost anything I can think of outside on the grill that you can inside. And, it's more fun cooking outdoors.

Tomatillo Verde, Lime, and Cilantro Marinade

Herdez has a range of Mexcian cooking sauces, but my son really loves tomatillos. I thought I'd toss it with chicken strips (fast food grilling) and add a little lime and cilantro.

I let the chicken sit for about 20 minutes on the counter, and boy was it smelling good while I was cooking up a pot of white rice.

 Herdez Chicken Hot Off the Grill

I grilled the chicken strips (here's how to grill chicken strips). They came out really pretty. Though you can't see much as far as the green color, you got the flavor kick was really nice.

We all loved the chicken right off the grill but did add more of the tomatillo verde sauce at the table. It was so yummy, we wanted more flavor than just lightly on the outside although the marinade set the stage for the chicken to taste especially good. The cooking sauce just had such a nice taste - faint heat but not a lot. It's hotter if you add more for dipping.

If you're not familiar with Herdez, here's the jar to look for. I'm going to check here and see if I can find Herdez. The Tomatillo Verde was a thumbs up all round on the grilled chicken, and I already have several other ideas of things I'd like to try out with this yummy cooking sauce.

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Grilled Loaded Nachos with El Restaurante Nacho Chips

El Restaurante Nacho Chips

Courtney with Tim's Cascade Snacks sent me a free bag of nacho chips to try out. I test out products from time to time, and since the whole family loves Mexican food, this seemed like a good bet.

The idea with these new nacho chips was to have chips like you'd get at an authentic Mexican restaurant. I know they are better out than what we usually get in a bag, so I was hoping . . .

Grilled Loaded Nachos with El Restaurante Nacho Chips

We decided to go with loaded nacho chips on the grill which is a quick and easy dish and very tasty too.

How To Make Grilled Nacho Chips

First I put the chips down and added around a pound of cooked and drained ground hamburger mixed with a pack of taco seasoning.

The guys put on some of their favorite toppings, and then we added cheese. In this case, it's basic cheddar cheese.

The guys again added some toppings. You can kind of see the dividing line between the son who loves hot and spicy peppers and the one who goes for black olives.

I put the pan in the grill and put the lid down. I checked every few minutes, since these get done super fast. It can take less than five minutes if the grill is pretty hot. When the cheese is melted, the nachos are done. Just that easy.

Grilled Nacho Chips Ready to Eat

Our El Restaurante nachos were ready, and we had homemade guacamole, salsa, and sour cream on the side. We also had a few chips left for dipping in our condiments.

 Dinner at Our House with Grilled El Restaurante Nachos and a Hand Tossed Salad

The El Restaurante Tortilla Chips were absolutely fabulous. They are the best nacho chips I've had even comparing to ones made at Mexican restaurants. They have a nice full 100% corn flavor, and the sea salt is just perfect on the nacho chips. These chips are all natural with no preservatives, no added colors, and no trans fats, so that's an extra bonus.

We don't have these chips locally yet, but I'll look for them. They are sold in Washington, Oregon, California, Hawaii, Alaska, Idaho, Utah, Montana, Nevada, Arizona, and Texas right now. I did look them up and found that they can be purchased soon online in the restaurant style or the rounds at Tim's Cascade Snacks.

If you see a bag of these tortilla chips, be sure to pick up a bag. I'm sure you'll be impressed. They got all thumbs up here, and the guys hate we're out now.

Monday, July 01, 2013

McCormick 4th of July Red, White and Blue Grilled Beans with Apple Wood Smoke

4th of July Red, White and Blue McCormick Beans Smoked with Apple Wood
I decided to test drive a new patriotic side dish for the 4th of July. We usually go pretty traditional with hamburgers and hot dogs for the 4th of July, but I like to serve up something unique and special on the side for the big summer holiday.

This year I decided I wanted to make red, white and blue beans. Let me warn you that blue beans are a challenge, and I actually used back beans. I suspect there’s a farmer somewhere with heirloom blue beans, but I don’t know where to find her. You still get the general 4th of July color theme even with the black beans, since they are dark and balance nicely with the white and reds.

McCormick Montreal Steak Sauce

I also wanted to showcase the new McCormick Montreal SteakSauce. After having a little taste, I thought the sauce, which has a really beautiful flavor, would really pop nicely in the bean dish.

I gathered up my ingredients for my Red, White and Blue Beans which included the following:

  • 1 can red kidney beans
  • 1 can white Navy beans
  • 1 can black beans
  •      *Note: All beans were in the 14-15 ounce sized cans, and I drained the beans.
  • 1 can undrained petite diced tomatoes (14.5 ounces)
  • 1 pound of cooked meat (I used smoke pulled pork, but hamburger or sausage cooked and the grease drained off also works in this dish)
  • 1 small onion diced fine
  • 2/3 cup McCormick Montreal Steak Sauce
Directions for McCormick 4th of July Beans:

Put all the ingredients in a grill pan (the toss away size 13x9x2 works well) and stir until evenly mixed. Place on any type of grill over medium heat for 20 to 30 minutes or until hot and bubbly.
Consider adding some smoke flavor which is a great new trend this year as noted on the McCormick Flavor Trends page. No matter how you grill, you can add a little wood either in the fire or in a homemade aluminum foil cup to put on the gas grill grate beside the food. In this case, the guys voted for apple wood to pump up the flavors for the beans.


 Mix Red, White and Blue McCormick Beans Right in the Pan - Super Simple

The Proof was in the Empty Pan . . .

My Red, White and Blue (black) Beans were a hit. We had a family gathering last night with a dozen of us with a whole table full of food (as always), and the beans went fast.

The Red, White, and Blue bean dish looks really pretty, and the flavor is spot on. The Montreal Steak Sauce gives the recipe the special “something” I was hoping for.

If you want a really yummy side dish for the 4th of July (or even a main dish since it has meat), then you can’t go wrong with Red, White and Blue beans.

For other great ideas for the 4th of July, be sure to check out the McCormick Grilling Flavor Forecast where you’ll find new and creative ideas ranging from grilled fruit drinks to 5-minute marinades dishes. You can also get lots of new and creative ideas at the McCormick Grill Mates Facebook page which builds on the great company information along with lots of new ideas from creative fans.

*Please note that I’m a paid ambassador for McCormick this summer and that I got the steak sauce for free. As always I do give my honest thoughts and opinions.

Farmer's Garden Vlasic Pickles - When You Crave Home Canned Flavor

Vlasic Farmer's Garden Dill and Zesty Garlic Pickles and Veggies
Nicole emailed to see if I'd like free sample bottles of the new Vlasic pickles. As most readers know I test out products when I have time and then let everyone know my honest thoughts (which can be a gamble). Since I'm on summer break, some pickles seemed like a good idea.
There are two new Vlasic offerings out in the Farmer's Garden line. One is a dill version so a rather classic style pickle while the second is a garlic flavored mixture. Although these would be billed as pickles, they also have other home vegetables mixed in like red peppers and carrots.
Both come in a home canning style jar which reminded me of Grandma and Mom's pickles. They always made various types of pickles with an old pickle crock. My sister backed up and sat in the crock once, and she got stuck. We were all kids so could not get her pulled out, so Mom had to come pry her out of the pickle crock.
I love the looks of the wide mouth jars, but I must say I have some problems getting really wide lids twisted off the first time. My sister (the same one who sat in our pickles) bought me a gizmo that helps on that, so I was able to get the jar open without help (other than from the blue gizmo).
The dill pickles were strips and had a nice zing and were good and crisp. The flavor was nice and did remind me of homemade pickles.
I'm a garlic fan, so the thick cut rounds that they bill as zesty hit the spot. I am thinking about making some potato salad and cubing some. I suspect that would make really good potato salad with that extra garlic note.
My favorites were the vegetables - the peppers and carrots. I've never been a huge fan of cucumbers, although I like pickles now and then and with sandwiches or in recipes like salads. I really, really loved the mixed vegetables, and I hope Vlasic will consider doing a jar with all pickled mixed vegetables some day. I already know I'm going to be a pig and pick out the peppers and carrots. The guys will humor me, because that means they get more pickles.
While we were enjoying these really yummy pickles, my son came up with a grilled sandwich that called for pickles. I'd have to say it's one of the best sandwiches I've ever eaten, and the pickles really made the sandwich stand out. I call it Eli's pulled pork club sandwich, but some of my friends told me it's a Cuban inspired sandwich. In any case, here is the sandwich, and you can also check out the Pork Club Sandwich recipe too if you want a really great sandwich with Vlasic pickles.
Loved the Vlasic Pickles Which Really Rocked Our Pulled Pork, Ham, and Cheese Grilled Sandwich

How to Make a Pulled Pork Club Sandwich with Ham, Cheese, and Pickles

Pulled Pork Club Sandwich (photo by Eli Wittum)

With a small family now, we have a lot of pork when we smoke a pork butt (the upper part of the shoulder). With several pounds of meat, I must confess we often get burned out before we finish it all.

My son was watching his favorite news channel for the weather when he saw Chef Danny making up sandwiches. Chef Danny is an indoor cook, but Eli thought he could do something similar outside with some chopped pork in the refrigerator.

Putting Together a Pork Club Sandwich

Eli got aluminum foil and made packs for each sandwich.

Above you can see that he has slathered bagels with spicy mustard and put pulled pork on the bottom bun and provolone cheese (his favorite) on top.

Add the Ham and Pickles

Eli then added thin sliced ham and a Vlasic Country Style pickle to finish off the smoked pork club sandwich.

He put the sandwich together and wrapped each in aluminum foil (or tin foil as we say in the South) and put the packs on our tailgate gas grill for around 8 to 10 minutes. Everything is cooked, so the sandwiches just need to be heated through with the cheese nice and melty.

Dinner is Ready - And We've Got a Whole New Spin on Our Pulled Pork

I can't begin to say how delicious these sandwiches tasted. The balance of the smoked pork, ham, cheese and pickles was just spot on. The little kick of mustard was also just right with this combination.

If you have extra pulled or chopped pork and want something different after a day or two of straight up pork sandwiches on a white bread bun, then I can tell that this is a wonderful way to dress up the pork leftovers and have something that tastes totally different and absolutely fabulous.