Category Archives: Cooking

Garden Fresh Carrots

One of my personal goals of gardening each year is to produce fruits and vegetables for my smoothies (carrots, apples, bananas, spinach/kale, blueberries & strawberries). I haven’t had any luck getting them all to harvest at the same time, but maybe one day. This fall our garden at the Barn at the Chastain Park Conservancy has featured smoothie ingredients carrots and kale. We had a big snow a couple of weeks ago and decided to get these beauties out of the ground. This bunch of carrots came out red, orange & yellow.

Garden Carrots-1

Thanks,

Carson Matthews

My First Crock-Pot Pork Shoulder

Years ago I bought a crock pot with ideas of all the wonderful recipes I would create. Well I pulled it out a couple of weeks ago and have used it once with solid results. With the thunder snow accumulation projections up to 7 inches in Atlanta I wanted to cook up my first pork shoulder. I grew up in Macon GA and my best friend’s family owned a BBQ restaurant. I won’t go into all of the details, just visit Fincher’s BBQ on Houston Avenue, you’ll figure it out. Anyway I have a problem where things don’t get done because I’m waiting on them to be perfect. I know Jake isn’t going to give me his recipe, and I love Sweet Baby Ray’s sauce, so I decided to go for it.

I went to Sprouts and picked up a pork shoulder. The recipe I found on Chowhound was pretty simple, apply a rub, add chicken broth, and cook for 9 hours in the crock pot.

 

I turned on the Crock-Pot at midnight, excited to see what would become of it by morning. At 4:30 I was awoken to “what in the world is going on in the kitchen?” It was the dankest smell in the world, like a wet blanket of pork belly filling every crevice in our house. I got up and decided to move the crock-pot to the garage for the second 4.5 hours. Once it was done I took it outside to see how it turned out.

The first thing you will notice outside is that there is zero snow. Nope, nada, just the remnants of the freezing rain and sleet that we got throughout the night. Ben called it the ultimate disappointment. We move on… Just as the recipe read, the pork  was literally falling off of the bone. It was perfect!

We ended up getting out of town and heading up to Cartersville, GA to visit with family and get our hands on some snow. That worked out just fine since I had 4 lbs of pulled pork. On the stove I combined the pulled pork and Sweet Baby Ray’s BBQ Sauce, mixed up some cole slaw, and we were in business with some BBQ sandwiches.

pork-shoulder-1

pork-shoulder-2

My favorite way to enjoy BBQ.

I hope to try out some different recipes, and will most likely do it next time on the Big Green Egg. Stick around and see how it turns out.

 

Carson Matthews

Tomatoes and Green Beans

Over the past couple of days I have noticed some of the green beans getting pretty big in the garden. This morning I picked a couple of handfuls of beans and two pretty red tomatoes. Tomorrow night I believe we will be having green beans, tomatoes with basil and a cucumber for dinner!

Tomatoes and Pole Beans (1 of 1)

Stay tuned for more harvesting.

Carson Matthews

Chocolate Chip Cookies for Santa

Having the ultimate sweet tooth I am always a fan of making cookies for Santa Claus.  Today the boys and I made some Ghirardelli chocolate chip cookies. We made them from the box which was a little more involved than pre-made dough, but not so much that it would take 20 ingredients and half a day.  Here are some pictures of my little chefs:

Ghirardelli Cookies for Santa Claus

Ghirardelli Cookies for Santa Claus

Ghirardelli Cookies for Santa Claus

Ghirardelli Cookies for Santa Claus

Lemon Basil Chicken on the Big Green Egg

Yesterday I was searching for a way to use some of the basil that I needed to harvest from our garden.  When I searched for a low fat basil chicken recipe, the first three results pointed to a Lemon Basil Chicken recipe on a blog called Eat Yourself Skinny.  Here is the link to the recipe: http://www.eat-yourself-skinny.com/2011/03/lemon-basil-chicken.html.

I followed the recipe just as it is, but instead made it on the big green egg using the plate setter and cast iron grate.  Let me tell you that chicken was superb, juicy like no other I assume due to the brining.  Anyway it’s a simple recipe using household items plus some basil and a lemon.  I also used some basil to top some tomatoes.  mm good!

Lemon Basil Chicken

Fruit and Vegetable Smoothie Recipe

Fruit and Vegetable SmoothieOver the past year I have been drinking some sort of smoothie just about every day for lunch or dinner.  The smoothies have evolved from heavy fruit with orange juice and a lot of spinach to tons of vegetables and a variety of fruit.  The evolution had a lot to do with the blenders I was using.  I started off with a Ninja bullet which did the trick pretty well as long as you didn’t mind chewing your smoothie.  My next blender was another Ninja Professional Series which I thought was going to prevent me from having to spend $400+ on a Vitamix.  The blender was fine but did nothing better than it’s predecessor.  This year I caved in and bought a Vitamix at the Cook’s Warehouse.  People have been raving about them forever, literally they have been around for a really long time.

It’s really clear why everyone loves them, there is no comparison.  Before I was limited to soft fruits and even then I was chewing seeds and skin.  With the Vitamix there is none of that and the ingredient list is out of site!

Here was my smoothie before the Vitamix:

2 Cups of Frozen Strawberries
1 Cup of Frozen Blueberries
1 Banana
Two handfuls of Fresh Spinach
Orange Juice and Water
Or Watermelon for Juice

Here is my smoothie recipe today with the Vitamix:

1 Cup of Frozen Strawberries
1 Cup of Frozen Blueberries
1 Cup of Grapes
1 Banana
Two handfuls of Fresh Spinach OR Kale (previously not an option)
Orange Juice and Water
1/2 of a Beet and Foliage (previously not an option)
1 Carat (previously not an option)
1 Whole Apple (previously not an option)
1 Tablespoon of Chia Seeds (previously not an option)

Fruit and Vegetable Smoothie

Lose It Smoothie Ingredient List
Lose It Smoothie Ingredient List

This makes a 32 ounce smoothie with 381 calories and endless health benefits.  Over the past year I lost 40 lbs and 4 pant sizes drinking this smoothie, exercising several times a week (running around Chastain Park 3 +/- miles) and eating relatively healthy meals at other times.  The “eating relatively healthy meals” was not and has not been consistent, but the smoothie has been, and I have maintained the weight I am at for 6 months.  I say this because often times I eat what my kids are eating, whether it’s at the concession stand or Chick-fil-a.  So far I have found that if I am consistent with the smoothie and exercise, I can eat whatever for dinner and they offset each other.

So for those of you out there looking for a healthy smoothie recipe, this is the real deal and tastes great!

See you around,

Carson Matthews

New Big Green Egg Table

Several years ago Martha gave me a Big Green Egg for Fathers Day.  I felt unworthy then and still do now, but it’s a really amazing tool, and until this point has lived in a “nest” with fold down arms.  For my 40th birthday Martha sort of gave me a new Big Green Egg table for it to live in.  The reason I said sort of was because I had to call the guy and order it, go pick it up, and stain/seal it before I could use it.

A buddy of hers gave her a link on craigslist of a company in Auburn Ga that makes these unfinished cypress tables for the Big Green Egg.  I pulled it up, found the one I liked on their website www.CypressGrillTables.com, and placed my order around 8:30 on a Thursday morning.  It took me about 45 minutes from Buckhead to drive to their shop which is located off of Highway 316 on the way to Athens.  I got there at 10:30, loaded up the table, in and out in five minutes or less.

Here is a picture of the unfinished table in my man room ready to get stained:

Big Green Egg Table Unfinished

Minwax Wood Finish

To get it finished I went to Ace Hardware on Roswell Road as they are all knowledgeable in the Big Green Egg arena.  They pointed out everything I would need to go from what I had, to the finished product.  I decided that I wanted it to be a darker color to offset the beating it will take over it’s lifetime, burn marks, dents, scratches etc.  I used MINWAX Wood Finish (Special Walnut 224) which gave it a nice rich brown color.  I applied one coat of that and let it dry overnight.

MINWAX Helmsman Spar Urethane

After the stain dried I put on the first coat of the sealer which is MINWAX Helmsman Spar Urethane.  It is a clear semi-gloss water based sealant.  Now this had to be applied 3 times all over the table which took a few days to get through.  The can actually says 4 coats are needed for exterior use but I went with the guys recommendation at Ace and did three.

The final touch was to go to Lowes and buy some robe hooks that might go on your bathroom door.  They are an oil rubbed bronze and look great with the table.

Big Green Egg Table Hooks  Big Green Egg Table Hooks  Big Green Egg Table Hooks

Here are a few pictures of how it turned out.  I could not be any happier with the results.

Big Green Egg Table Finished

Big Green Egg Table Finished-2

Big Green Egg Table Finished-2-2

Thanks for reading.

Carson Matthews

My First Beer Can Chicken

Tonight I made a beer can chicken for the first time on the Big Green Egg.  I’ve been on a grilling hiatus since December 31st.  For some reason that I’m not aware of I have been taking a break…  Glad to be back.  I used several BGE toys for the first time including the sittin’ chicken, iGrill and some of my new tools that I got for Christmas.  It was pretty easy; I simply rubbed the chicken with lemon pepper from the Fresh Market, filled the sittin’ chicken with a beer, put the chicken on top and stuffed the neck with some quartered onions.  I cooked it on the Big Green Egg for about an hour and a half at 375 give or take.

Beer Can Chicken on Big Green Egg

The iGrill was awesome and totally eliminated the need to open the egg while it was cooking.  My phone went off when the temperature was 170 degrees and we were done.  It was simple and the taste was amazing.  I was not expecting the boys to eat it, but they devoured it!  When we were done at the table they both went to the counter and picked the chicken apart until it was gone.  The chicken cost $7.94 at the Fresh Market… now that’s money well spent.

Beer Can Chicken on Big Green Egg

 This was a very simple recipe as I didn’t want to get too involved the first time through, but the flavor was right on with so little effort.  There are more extravagant rubs that will probably make it even better, and you have to think a different beer could enhance the flavor as well.  We shall see.

Kindergarten Gingerbread Houses

Yesterday I was invited to go to Ben’s school to help build Gingerbread Houses and to photograph the Holiday party.  The kids did an excellent job building houses, and here are some of the ones that I got pictures of.  Some of the fun holiday ingredients included candy corns, m&m’s, candy canes, gum drops and square pretzels for windows and fencing!