Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Winter got you down? Think GRILLING!

Here in Wilkes it's snowing again. We're looking at another inch tonight. Now if you live in Minnesota or Denmark that may be nothing, but an inch of snow closes down everything here. Businesses will shut down. Schools will shutter. There will be panicked buying at the grocery stores. Mass hysteria!


Problem is, I love snow. It's pretty. It makes the ground crunchy and shiny. The world looks new. The roads are quiet.

I like snow. I like snow. (trying to convince myself) I like snow. (I have to drive to work in this in the morning) I like snow. (The kids will be home watching cartoons and drinking cocoa and I will be at work tomorrow). I like snow, right?

Sigh. I miss Spring. Let's face it. Winter has me down. Football season is over. Sure there's the playoffs but I'm a Dolphins fan and a Panthers fan. Football season is VERY over for me.

No playoffs.

I'm a Nascar Fan too. No races near here until March. My point is, there will be no tailgating until Spring. (The Carolina Hurricanes are too far away to tailgate at too). As tragedies go, this ranks fairly low on the needs-a-telethon-meter, but I do miss tailgating. Why? I miss my grill.

There are alternatives to grilling in Winter.

(1) Grill with Charcoal.

I hate to admit it here, but I buck the trend, I use gas. Here's why. Phyllis and I like to say we are prepared for any cooking emergency. This is why we have two portable grills. They are small, fast to set up and light, provide good control, quick heat up and quick cool down. They fit in the back of the van with no problem. We can be set up and cooking in 15 minutes. We can be cooled down, cleaned up and put away in 20 minutes or less. The problem in Winter is that propane does not like to flow as temperatures drop under 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Now if I use charcoal, I can't start my cooking as fast and I can't stop it as quickly. I rarely grill at home, so this presents issues.

I won one of these from Budweiser last year!

(2) Use a stovetop indoor grill

This is a fair option, but still not quite the same. If you do use one, there are a couple of rules I recommend you follow:
  • Do use a cast iron grill pan
  • Season it well (see Lodge's instructions)
  • DO NOT use a cast iron grill pan if you have a glass top stove.
  • Keep your kitchen well ventilated, you will make your pan very hot to sear your food, therefore you will produce smoke.
(3) CHEAT!

Become good friends with the people that own the local BBQ restaurants in town an learn how they make their sauces. Find sales at the local hardware store on last year's models that didn't sell. (Most chains are getting geared up for spring RIGHT NOW and want to get rid of EVERYTHING that's left). Take a vacation to the beach, in Florida or points south and bring your grill.

Sadly though, we are still left with what to do with today. We have snow. The kids are home watching Sponge Bob, and I'm at work. I love my kids, but I want revenge...

Hot Chili Chocolate

Don't call Social Services on me, this is not as bad as you think. Chili pepper, Vanilla Bean, and Chocolate all hit the same receptors on your tongue, therefore the flavors will enhance each other.


  • 1 2/3 cups milk
  • 1/2 vanilla bean
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 5 ounces good-quality semi-sweet chocolate, coarsely chopped


  1. Split the vanilla bean, lengthwise.
  2. In a saucepan, heat milk to simmering with vanilla bean and infuse for 10 minutes
  3. Over double boiler, melt semi-sweet chocolate. Whisk in heavy cream, cayenne pepper, and cinnamon.
  4. When chocolate is smooth, remove vanilla bean from milk and scrape into chocolate.
  5. Slowly pour milk into chocolate.

Now to satisfy the grill master in you that's been hibernating all winter

Quick Grilled Italian Hoagie


  • 1 pound Italian sausage
  • 1 green pepper, sliced
  • 1 onion, chopped coarsely
  • 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 1/2 pound provolone cheese
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
  • Olive Oil
  • 1 loaf crusty Italian Bread


  1. Cut up sausage into 1 to 2 inch pieces. Slice chicken into 1 to 2 inch pieces.
  2. Put oven on broil.
  3. Heat your cast iron grill pan to "thermo-nuclear" (or hot as you can, but my stove goes all the way to 11)
  4. Slice your Italian bread in half, brush with olive oil and toast on grill pan. You are looking to toast lightly, not to blacken so watch this step carefully! When toasted, set aside.
  5. Add additional oil to pan then add sausage and chicken. Allow it to get some grill marks before moving and turning.
  6. Add cut up onions and peppers and continue to cook sausage and chicken until cooked through, about 12 minutes total. If the onions and peppers still have crunch, that's ok.
  7. Remove from pan, place on Italian bread.
  8. Shake olive oil, red wine vinegar, Parmesan cheese, and oregano over meat and vegetables.
  9. Cover with provolone and place under broiler for 5 minutes or until cheese begins to bubble.

Well I hoped you liked today's blog. It was a little less sappy than yesterday's I think.

A little bit of business before we finish up though. The "Bribe" give-away is still going on. I still have a couple more spots. If you favorite me and let me know about, preferably in the comments, by the end of this week I will get you a handmade item (of my choosing).

My Intern tells me a lot of you have "stumbled" over here. Welcome, stay! Have some pie. Coffee?

Finally, I have mentioned before this is a work in progress, your comments are welcome. If you have any feedback, even corrections, please let me know.

Until next time world, I wish you Peace, Love, and Hollandaise Sauce!

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