Loaded Baked Potato Salad

If you’re looking for a classic side dish with a new attitude – this is the one for you!  Potato Salad is a classic side for any BBQ, but this takes it up a notch and is well worth making.  We take all of those delicious flavors you get in a steakhouse baked potato and combine them into a flavor exploding potato salad!  I never end up having leftovers with this, no matter how much I make.  Ever…  It has bacon and bacon wins…always.  ON TO THE POTATO SALAD!

Loaded Baked Potato Salad

Ingredients:

  • 5 Yellow Potatoes
  • 1/2 lb Bacon
  • 1 Cup Shredded Cheddar Cheese
  • 2 Cups Sour Cream
  • 1 Cup Mayonnaise
  • 1 1/2 Cup Chopped Celery
  • Diced half of a Large Red Onion
  • 1 tspn Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1 tspn Sugar
  • 1 tsnp Salt
  • 1 tspn Pepper
  • 1 tspn Garlic Powder

Directions:

Cut your potatoes into bite size pieces.  I like to use yellow/gold potatoes in this recipe because they have a nice soft and creamy texture.  That is what we’re looking for here!

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Bring a pot of water to a boil and toss in your potatoes.  Let them cook until they are just fork tender, strain them, and let them cool down to room temperature.

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BACON!  Get that bacon sizzling and fill your home with that smoky and artery clogging aroma!

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A moment of silence…  Now cut it to bits like you’ve lost all sense!

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Now lets combine all of these ingredients and devour it!

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I like to refrigerate it for a few hours to let the flavors combine, but it is absolutely acceptable to smear it into your face right away!

Well, here you have it:  The best potato salad around.  You’ll never buy that slop from the store again once you give this tasty morsel a try!  Creamy, cheesy, crunchy, and the perfect addition to a burger or anything!

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Fresh Herb Vinaigrette Pork Filet Mignon

After building my raised garden this year, I’ve been (impatiently) waiting to start using my fresh veggies and herbs!  There is just nothing like garden fresh!  N-O-T-H-I-N-G!  I had the opportunity to try something new while incorporating some of my garden children (Plants, people…  No cannibalism here.  Not until the zombie apocalypse).  Speaking of – what is your favorite zombie movie?  I’m still partial to the 1978 version of…wait…we’re getting off track.  Back to the pork…

If you’re looking for a way to keep your pork tender, flavorful, and juicy…this is the one.  After pulling this off, nobody will be asking “Where’s the beef?”.  This marinade is so packed with amazing flavor, your pork will soak it up and become a bacon wrapped dream come true.  You’ll wonder why you ever ate Aunt Mildred’s dried out pork chops.  We never did like her much, did we?  ON WITH THE FOOD!

Fresh Herb Vinaigrette Pork Filet Mignon

Ingredients:

8 Pork Filet Mignons

3 tblspn Dijon Mustard

1/2 Cup Olive Oil

1/2 Cup Water

The Juice of 1 Lemon

1 tblspn Chopped Rosemary

1 tblspn Chopped Licorice Basil (you can also use regular Basil)

1 tblspn Chopped Garlic

1 tspn Fresh Cracked Black Pepper

1 tspn Salt

1 tspn Red Pepper (optional)

Fresh Rosemary and Licorice Basil from my garden:

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Directions:

Grab a mixing bowl and add your olive oil, Dijon mustard, lemon juice, rosemary, basil, garlic, salt, and red pepper.  The red pepper is to give a little heat on the back end.  It isn’t necessary…if your soul is weak.  If you do not have licorice basil, regular basil will do just fine.  Licorice basil has more of an anise flavor present.  It compliments the vinaigrette the way you do your wife when she walks out in that favorite dress of hers…that she only wears once…and then needs to buy a new one.

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Whisk thoroughly until the vinaigrette comes together and emulsifies.  You will now add in your water and whisk again to combine.  It is not common in a vinaigrette to add water, though some chefs do add small amounts at times to thin it out and help level the strong flavors.  In this case, we are doing it to thin out our vinaigrette and help it easily cover our pork.

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Put your pork cuts into a Ziploc bag, pour in your marinade, remove as much air as possible and seal your bag.  Place in the fridge and marinade for at least 4 hours.

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Setup your grill for direct heat.  Make sure to leave a spot open that we can move the pork filets to that will not be directly over your heat source.  As always, I’m using charcoal.

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Once your coals are ready, put those beautiful chops directly over your heat!  We want a medium to medium high heat.  Place the back of your hand over your heat – If it takes 3 – 5 seconds until it becomes too hot and you have to remove your hand, then our heat level is on point!

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Cook about 4 to 5 minutes a side making sure to get some nice grill marks.  After cooking on each side, move your chops away from the heat source, close your grill, and finish cooking.  Our grill is now acting as our oven to finish the cooking process.  This ensures we do not dry the outside out before the inside is done cooking.

Let them cook another 6 minutes or so.  Grab your meat thermometer and make sure you have reached a temperature of 140 degrees.  Remove your chops and let them rest for about 5 minutes.  The cooking process will continue and they’ll reach around 145 degrees.  This will give you a nice medium pork filet.  Stop drying out your pork!  However, if you like it done a bit more; go a few more degrees…it’ll still be juicy!

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This filet gets the smoky flavor from the bacon, the tang from the Dijon, the light citrus from the lemon, and the freshness from those amazing herbs and garlic!

Well – there it is!  You are now the Pete Sampras of Pork!  Hungry?

Grilled Mini Meatloaf Stuffed Tomato

This is a perfect recipe if you’ve got garden tomatoes and ground beef you need to use and would like to turn it into something creative and epic for your guests!

Grilled Mini Meatloaf Stuffed Tomato

Ingredients:

  • 1lb Ground Chuck
  • 1/2 Cup Shredded Mozzarella
  • About 6 Tomatoes
  • 1 Egg
  • 1/2 Cup Bread Crumbs
  • 1/4 Cup Diced Onion
  • 1/4 Cup Diced Celery
  • 1-2 tspn Salt
  • 1 tspn Pepper
  • 1 tspn Garlic Powder
  • 6 Strips of Bacon
  • 1/3 Cup A1 Sauce
  • 1 tblspn BBQ Sauce

Directions:

Combine your A1 and BBQ Sauce to create a sauce.

Combine beef, cheese, egg, bread crumbs, onion, celery, salt, pepper, and garlic.

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Take the tops off of your tomatoes and hollow them out with a knife and spoon.

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Stuff each tomato with your delicious magical meat mixture.

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Wrap each tomato with 1 slice of bacon.  You are now popular.

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Setup your grill for classic indirect heat.  If using charcoal, setup your coals on one side of the grill, leaving the opposite end clear.  If using propane, only light the burners on one side or one half of your grill, depending on the size.  Throw your wood chip box or foil smoke on the grates directly over the coals.  If you’re not familiar with using wood chips on your grill, click HERE to find out how.  It’s very easy!

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Let your grill heat up to and maintain a 350 degree temperature.  Place your tomatoes opposite the heat, ensuring they are not directly over any coals or flames.  Look at that! – Now keep your grill lid closed!

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After about 30 minutes, open your grill and check your tomatoes.  If the bacon is brown and the meatloaf is firming up, you’re ready to move forward.

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Take your sauce mixture and coat your tomatoes thoroughly.  Close your grill and cook for another 3-5 minutes.

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Remove from the grill and enjoy!

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Cheese Stuffed Bacon Log – Not for the feint of heart…

If you’ve got company coming who love bacon, cheese, and are throwing all cares to the wayside – you’re going to please them with this pork grenade!

Cheese Stuffed Bacon Log:

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb Bacon
  • A Half Pork Loin
  • 2 Cups of Mozzarella Cheese
  • Your favorite rub
  • BBQ Sauce

Directions:

Grab a sharp knife and remove any excess fat and silver skin from the loin.  Removing the silver skin in this step is VERY important, as it is very chewy and we want this log to go down smooth!

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Once your log is clean of fat and silver skin, we’re going to take it to a WHOLE.  NOTHER.  LEVEL!  Butterfly your loin open by taking your knife and cutting about one inch up from the bottom of the loin, continually cutting deeper while rolling the loin back.  This will roll it out and allow us to stuff it!

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Coat the top with a heavy layer of your favorite sweet and smoky BBQ rub.  You can find my recipe HERE!

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Add your 2 cups of Mozzarella.  Do you see where this is going?!

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Roll your loin back up and coat it with your rub.  It smells AMAZING!

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Wrap your log with bacon, ensuring to completely cover it.  The bacon fat should stick to itself, making toothpicks unnecessary.

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Add a little more rub!

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Setup your grill for classic indirect heat.  If using charcoal, setup your coals on one side of the grill, leaving the opposite end clear.  If using propane, only light the burners on one side or one half of your grill, depending on the size.  Of course I throw on a smoke pack for that added flavor.  If you’re not familiar with using wood chips on your grill, click HERE to find out how.  It’s very easy!

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Let your grill heat up to and maintain a 350 degree temperature.  Place your Bacon Log opposite the heat, ensuring it is not directly over any coals or flames.

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Close your grill and let that smoke and heat roll over your Bacon Log!

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After about an 50 minutes, coat your Bacon Log in your favorite BBQ Sauce.

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Let the Log cook another 10-15 minutes or so and then use your meat thermometer to see where you’re at.  We’re looking for an internal temp of 140 degrees.  Once you’ve hit 140, pull that beauty off the grill and let it rest for 10 – 15 minutes.

Serve and ENJOY!

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Bacon Wrapped Jalapeno Poppers!

Smoky bacon and creamy filled hot peppers go together like Peanut Butter and Jelly…or a Wendy’s Frost and Fries…  Hey – It’s a Midwest thing!

If you’re looking for a good way to SPICE UP your next BBQ – you definitely should check this out!

Bacon Wrapped Jalapeno Poppers

Ingredients:

  • Jalapenos
  • Cream Cheese
  • Bacon

Directions:

Set your pepper down so it lays flat on your cutting board.  About halfway down the pepper, cut up toward the stem, making sure to NOT cut the stem off.  We just want to cut into the side so we can clean it out and stuff it without having to worry about our stuffing falling out.

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Take a smaller knife and carefully cut out the seeds and ribs.  We need space for that cream cheese, son!

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Grab some cream cheese and stuff these bad boys like you mean it!  However – be careful to not break the pepper open.  You don’t want your friends to quit liking you – right?

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Take one slice of bacon and wrap your jalapeno.  If you’re using a regular fatty piece of bacon, a toothpick normally isn’t necessary, as the bacon fat holds like glue.  In this specific example, I used thick and meaty bacon which doesn’t hold as well – hence the toothpick.

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Setup your grill for indirect heat.  If you’re using a charcoal grill – setup the coals on one side of the grill.  If you are using gas – turn your burners on on only one side.  Let your grill heat up to a temperature of 350 degrees.  I throw a smoke pack on over the coals to get some of that extra smoky flavor!  If you are unfamiliar with how to do this, check out my Tips and Tricks section for a quick walkthrough!  EASY!

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Place your Poppers on the end of the grill opposite the hot coals/heat source.  Shut your grill lid.  Your grill will now act as a smoky oven of glory.  Let it work its’ magic!

After about 45 minutes, your poppers will be done and the bacon will be brown and crispy!

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Serve and enjoy!

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Inception Balls – Food Within Food…

This is another HUGE crowd favorite at our weekly cookout.  With anywhere  from 15 – 30 guests on average, you cannot please everyone…or can you?
These are a great finger food that will keep everyone wondering “What was this magical experience?  What’s happening to me?”.  They are always the first item to go…and I always get requests for more.  Follow me, and you’ll get the same!

Inception Balls:

Ingredients:

1lb Ground Chuck

3 Mozzarella Sticks – cut into 16 bite sized pieces

16 Small White Button Mushrooms – Stemmed and hollowed out with a spoon, removing the gills.

16 Strips of Bacon

Garlic & Herb Cream Cheese

BBQ Sauce

Salt

Pepper

Garlic Powder

Instructions:

Preparing your balls

Take about an ounce of meat and sprinkle it with a little Salt, Pepper, and Garlic.  Take your bite sized mozzarella and wrap the meat around it, forming a meatball and leaving the cheese inside the center.  Create all 16 balls and set aside.

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Grab your stemmed and hollowed out mushroom caps and spoon in some cream cheese into the center.  Do this for all 16 mushroom caps.  Be liberal…but not TOO liberal.  We want to be able to set our meatball down into this pocket.  However, you are the Isaac Newton of your Inception Balls!

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Grab your meatballs and set them into your cream cheese filled mushrooms.  They should sit right up.

Grab your 16 slices of bacon and cut them in half.  Grab one half slice and wrap it around your Inception Ball from under the mushroom to over the top of the meatball, making sure for the two ends to create a seam on top.  Turn 90 degrees, grab another slice of bacon, and wrap it around the other exposed side, making sure that our bacon is covering all of the mushroom and meat.

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Cooking

Setup your grill for indirect heat.  If you are using charcoal (what I use and prefer), setup your coals on one side of the grill.  If you are using propane, turn on the burners for just one side or one half of your grill, depending on the size.  Let your grill heat up to and maintain a temperature of about 350 degrees.

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Set your inception balls on the opposite side of the grill, so no direct heat is under them.  If you put these over direct heat, you have disgraced us all!

Keep your grill closed!

Let your Inception Balls cook for about 45 minutes.  Open your grill and glaze each Inception Ball with your favorite BBQ Sauce.  Close the grill and cook for an additional 5-10 minutes.

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Pull them off the grill and let them set for a few minutes before serving.  These will be molten lava on the inside if you eat them right off the grill.

Now – sit back and enjoy the praise!  VOILA!

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