Tag Archives: char-broil

Queen for 1.5 days

Living high off the hog

It’s good to be Queen, even for a day and a half. Here I am in “my” $1.8 million home in the luxurious planned community of Serenbe, just outside Atlanta. Please note that I have all the essentials of the good life. Wine, Vaseline, cigarettes and a bag of Char-Broil goodies. One of my roomies, Julie Reinhardt, snapped the photo.

“Our” pool and pool house

We are two of eight Char-Broil All-Star Bloggers invited to Serenbe to commune with the company executives, cook next to a picturesque lake, enjoy cocktails and fabulous dinners at the Inn at Serenbe and just basically have a good time. It’s a hard-knock life.

So this is one of those times when it’s good that “there’s no room at the inn.” After a long and arduous ride in a limousine fully equipped with a bar, which we took advantage of, we were regretfully forced to bivouac at a four-bedroom luxury home with pool, cabana, waterfall and our very own golf cart to toddle around the property on.

Serenbe is set up like a collection of English villages surrounded by lush forests, farmland and meadows. It is beyond beautiful. After we put away our meager belongings, we jump in the golf cart for a brisk ride down a country road to dinner at the Inn. Our other roomie, Danielle Dimovski, is the

Chicken with a red pepper jelly glaze

driver. Actually, brisk is an understatement. For the next day and a half Julie and I hold on for all we’re worth as Danielle lurches along the road at top golf cart speed. Thank goodness we’d been drinking.

Is it possible for anything to be too perfect? I think not. The Inn is a picturesque former farmhouse. Many of the menu items are grown on Serenbe’s organic farms. We have more cocktails. We feast on organic chicken glazed with Serenbe’s own pepper jelly, sitting jauntily on a cloud of mashed potatoes with green beans from the garden. I am immediately so so very happy that a year ago I picked up the phone to hear a stranger say, “We’d like you to blog for Char-Broil.” Barry Martin, I love you man.

Well, the whole 1.5 days is just a dream and a half. Breakfast at the Inn – French toast with strawberries from the farm and crispy bacon. Lunch? The Char-Broil folks present about 15 pounds of various cuts of chicken, steak, sausages and fish to us so we can play on the bevy of grills they’ve set up at the Lake Pavilion. We do not even have to dirty our dainty digits turning the grills on. They are already lit. Then a tour of the HGTV Dream Home at Serenbe, which is sponsored by Char-Broil, and more cocktails. Dinner? Oh, yes, we have not eaten nearly enough. The frogs chirp as we enjoy a late night glass of wine in the courtyard of our $1.8 million house overlooking the pool. We wonder if anyone would notice if we simply do not leave. Ever.

It is exactly one week later as I write this, sitting in my garage because we don’t smoke in the house anymore. I am back to being a serf. In about two hours I will be a day laborer at the Community Resource Center, unloading donations from a major retailer. Where is my golf cart? Where are the drinks by the pool? Where in the hell is my organic salad and steak with horseradish cream? It was good to be the Queen.


Filed under breakfast, Uncategorized


Despite a language barrier, Danielle and I work well as a team using hand signals

We had an hour, but it is 20 minutes now until judging and the chicken is raw. And then there is the peanut butter issue.

In our basket at the Char-Broil version of Chopped are the mystery ingredients: a whole chicken, a fennel bulb, a stick of butter, bacon, a wedge of blue cheese, a pineapple and a horrifying jar of chunky peanut butter. We have to use all of them in our dish. The Char-Broil people, who have kindly invited the All-Star Bloggers to a resort outside Atlanta, have thoughtfully provided us with a nifty “kitchen” consisting of two disposable cutting boards, a half sheet pan, a moderately sharp knife, and four miniscule bowls.

Fear the Diva

But I have the ace card in my corner. My teammate is Danielle Dimovski, the reigning world pork champion better known as Diva Q. I am totally set here. This is going to be a walk in the park. “I know exactly what we’re going to do,” says Danielle as she hacks away at the pineapple. “We’re going to make beer-can chicken but we’re going to use the pineapple as the beer can. We can totally do this in an hour.” I have a slightly difficult time understanding her. Danielle is from Canada and she uses words like “aboat” (about) and “hoose” (house). Then again I use words like “haid” (head) and “bidness” (business). We have a slight language barrier, but we’ll work through that.

There are screaming hot Char-Broil TRU-Infrared grills set up around the Lake Pavilion at Serenbe, an insanely gorgeous planned community. Danielle slams that chicken onto the pineapple spike, rubs on some spices and citrus juice (the bloggers have a common “pantry” of additional ingredients we can use),  slaps the whole thing authoritatively on the grill and slams the lid shut.

If you’ve ever watched Chopped, the Food Network Show where four chefs are given mystery baskets of insanely inappropriate ingredients, you will understand that Danielle and I had to take a few minutes to ponder the butter, blue cheese, bacon, fennel and peanut butter.

Bacon? Obviously, no problem. We cook it on a grill pan. Fennel? Shave it and briefly kiss it with some grill marks. Alrighty then. We’re left with the butter, blue cheese and peanut butter. Yummy, yum, yum.

I am slightly reticent to offer suggestions to the world pork champion, but I wonder if we can’t use the peanut butter with some barbecue sauce to make a dipping sauce for the chicken. Why the hell not? We throw the peanut butter, barbecue sauce, a bit of lemon juice and a bit of Worcestershire into one of our pygmy bowls.  We throw in some bacon grease and butter. It looks like baked beans. But it tastes good.

It is now 20 minutes before turn in. Danielle lifts the lid of the grill. The chicken is…raw. Plan B. Plan B! This woman is a rock star. She takes the knife and dissects that chicken right on the grill! Two chicken breasts off the bird and onto the grill. I retreat to make a vinaigrette for the fennel.

Grilled chicken with fennel slaw and our almost-award-winning pineapple and bacon bites

I am going to cut to the chase.We made a grilled chicken breast over grilled fennel slaw in a citrus vinaigrette topped with blue cheese and bacon crumbles. But the single thing that makes our dish is this: We took some of the pineapple, cut into spears, and grilled it. Then we topped it with our peanut butter barbecue sauce concoction and then we put a strip of bacon on top. Sweet and salty on top of sweet and salty. They were over the top. The chicken and the fennel, not so much. Danielle and I knew this. Even though we don’t speak the same language we are realists.

We got honorable mention, based solely on our pineapple bacon bites. The winner was a New York

Christo modest in victory

City chef, Christo Gonzales, who made a chicken breast stuffed with fennel, bacon and blue cheese with a peanut butter and citrus jus. What a show off. Oh, I’m sorry. That’s not ladylike. But we’re not bitter. We applauded Christo, took a bite of his chicken and conceded we were outdone.

I will say this. After the competition, we had quite a few pineapple bacon bites left. And one by one, our fellow bloggers slowly sauntered over to our station and ate them all. I’m just sayin’.


Filed under cheese, chicken, pork, salads, sides, Uncategorized, veggies

Country sausage and chow-chow flatbread

So I think most of you know that I’m a Char-Broil blogger, representing the South. Yes, all of the South. So when I come up with recipes for them I want to represent, you know? I’m pretty proud of this one. It uses chow-chow! I figure at least three-fourths of the nation has never heard of chow-chow.

As usual, this recipe started out as a “blind hog and acorn” moment (as in “every blind hog finds an acorn now and again”). Over Christmas, Noah had friends over and I decided to make a pizza at the spur of the moment but I didn’t have any sauce. So I used some red pepper and onion relish I got as a present. Damn, it was good. So that launched me on a mission to find other unusual pizza toppings, which led me to chow-chow.

I call it a flatbread because that sounds more sophisticated, but who’s kidding who here. It’s a pizza in a different shape. Make it round if you want. For the locals, I buy my pizza dough at the Publix or Trader Joe’s, the sausage should be Tennessee Pride. The chow-chow is from the Kroger and I get the hot variety. I can report that this was a huge hit because I got exactly two pieces of it. I came home from work the next day and the rest of it was gone. Gone. If I were doing a Super Bowl party, which I’m not because my beloved Titans are all at their tropical vacation homes right now, this is what I’d make.

So, please and thank you, hop on over to the Char-Broil site and take a look-see. If you want to comment, please do it on the Char-Broil site. They might send me another grill.


Filed under cheese, pizza, pork, snacks

Meat stadium

Well, I just had to smile at this. Barry Martin, my amigo at Char-Broil, e-mailed me about his staff building a meat stadium for the Super Bowl. This is not something I would ever attempt as merely consuming the cocktail weenie football players would send me into a coma. However, I admire the creativity and silliness of the whole thing and was very gratified to see at the end of this video that the staff actually ate the thing. And it looked good. If you’re having massive amounts of friends over for a Super Bowl party, you might want to attempt the meat stadium.

As for me, I will be at the concession stand getting another glass of Chardonnay.

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Filed under beef, casseroles, cheese, Uncategorized

Swedish meatballs

That boy is gone again. Back to college. He did not even look back as he drove down the driveway. He did not even wave one last time. He will not remember to text me when he gets there and I will watch the clock relentlessly to assess what time he should get there, give it another 45 minutes and then call him.

I think I’ll have a drink. Be right back.

There now. Just a wee glass of Cabernet. It’s five o’clock somewhere. Not here. But somewhere. I will get to the Swedish meatballs in a moment. After I wallow a bit more. Such an unattractive trait, wallowing. Parting is such sweet sorrow.

I think I’ll play a little World of Warcraft. I started playing this stupid game because of my boy, so we could communicate while he was away. He stopped (wisely) and I am now addicted to my Night Elf Mage and Dwarf Death Knight. Yes, you all had better watch your p’s and q’s or I’ll send Denholm the Death Knight after you. He’s heavily armed, even if he only reaches your knees. A little gratuitous violence and looting will make me feel better. Did I tell you that Noah once rang up an $800 phone bill calling his friends from World of Warcraft? He said he didn’t realize long distance costs money.

Okay. The wine is mellowing things out a bit. Blurring the edges.  Meatballs. Let’s speak of meatballs. He ate all of them. Noah ate all of them. Actually, that’s not true. He ate all but four of them, which I took to work. Resentment. Maybe if I work up just a little resentment. Over meatballs. How pathetic.

Seriously, I was on a comfort food kick over the holidays and remembered how much I adore Swedish meatballs. With the lingonberry jelly, of course. The recipe I used is from the Food Network Magazine, which published an approximate match to the famous Swedish meatballs at IKEA. Of course, we in backwater Nashville do not have an IKEA so I have no idea why they would be famous for meatballs when they sell furniture. But apparently they are. Here’s the link.

The meatballs and the New Year’s Day pork loin sliders were by far Noah’s favorites over the holidays. The meatballs are seriously addictive. He wanted more to take back to school, but I ran out of time after I made the potato salad, tuna salad, pesto pasta, and meatloaf that he also requested. Maybe I’ll make some now. And send him a photo. Ha, ha. I have Swedish meatballs and you don’t. That’s so immature.

Stop it. I think I’ll go play WoW now. Get into a dungeon group with three anonymous 14-year-olds and just rip it. And watch the clock.



Filed under beef, casseroles, pork, Uncategorized

Mini pork sandwiches and black-eyed pea salsa

If you’re from the South, you know the drill. You now officially have six days to plan your good luck New Year’s Day meal. It must include some kind of pig so you’ll live high off the hog, some greens for money and black-eyed peas for luck. This year I spread the luck quotient around by posting my pork sandwiches with spinach spread and black-eyed pea salsa to the rest of the country on the Char-Broil blog. So please, ya’ll, hop on over there and get your shopping list started!

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Filed under pork, sides

Grilled pork tenderloin with red pepper jelly glaze

It is not too cold to grill outside. You don’t have to stand out there for hours on end, for goodness sake. Just run out, start the grill, throw the meat on and run back inside. Or take a drink with you to fortify yourself. You will want to make the effort for the pork tenderloin with red pepper jelly glaze. The recipe is over on the Char-Broil site, where I am a featured blogger. Go take a look. C’mon. Go ahead. Yes, that means right now.

And if you want to comment – and please do! – if you make the comment over there it will impress the Char-Broil Gods and maybe I will get another free grill. Just sayin’.

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