Cooking Stories

Smokey & Fruity Baked Beans

July 10, 2011
by Curt

First off, let me explain a couple of things while you’re looking at this first picture of the beans before they went onto the smoker!

For the “Fruity” part of this recipe. You can use any kind of fruit you prefer for the canned pie filling, but my personal suggestions would be either apple, or peach.

You’ll also want to chop up the pieces of fruit so that they are more finely diced, rather than whole or sliced pieces. Otherwise, in my opinion, they are over-powering. But then, you can experiment with this yourself. Who knows, you might find the large chunks of fruit to be absolutely delicious!

For the rub, I like it sweet and not hot, so I use my favorite rub called “Honey Rub”. This is where you can add the heat if that’s what you and the family and friends like, and add in a spicy pepper type rub.

For the pan, I use one of those cheap disposable aluminum baking pans that you can get for 4 for a dollar at the local Dollar store. But you can use cast iron, or anything that works for ya!


2 Large 28 oz cans of Baked Beans (I use Bush’s Vegetarian)
1 cup canned pie filling
1/3 cup barbeque sauce (I like Sweet Baby Ray’s)
1 Tablespoon of your favorite rub (I use Honey Rub by Butcher BBQ)
1/2 red bell pepper (seeded and chopped)
1/2 red onion (chopped)
6 strips bacon (cut into 1″ pieces)


In a skillet, fry up the bacon pieces until they’re cooked to your liking. Remove the bacon from the pan with a slotted spoon, and drain on paper towels. (We’re trying to keep this as fat free as possible).

Now combine all the ingredients into the baking pan of your choice.

If you haven’t already gotten the smoker going, you’ll want to do that now. I use hickory wood for this baked beans recipe. I typically smoke these at a maintained temperature of 250 degrees. At this temperature, they will take about 1 to 1 1/2 hours to get bubbling hot, and marry all the flavors.

Serves 6 to 8

Tip: If you’re also smoking meat for the dinner, and you have two levels of racks in your smoker, place the pan of beans underneath the meat to catch the drippings for some delicious added flavor. (I know, so much for keeping it low fat!)

Check this out. This is what they looked like just before I removed them from the smoker. Mmmmm Mmmmmmmmmmmm!!

Smokin’ Hickory Meatloaf

July 9, 2011
by Curt

This recipe is delicious as it is, but we’re going to make it SMOKIN’!!

Okay, here we go. Let’s start with the recipe.


  • 1-1/2 pounds lean ground beef
  • 3/4 cup crushed Nacho Cheese Flavored Dorito Chips
  • 3/4 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup tomato sauce
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • your favorite rub


This is where we take a turn from the traditional meatloaf, or was that when we put the Doritos in it?

By the way, the Doritos idea was from my buddy, Glen, from work. The Dorito flavor even over-powers the smoke taste. Awesome!

Mix all of the ingredients together in a bowl, except for your favorite rub. In a pan appropriate for the smoker, form a rectangular shaped loaf that is 1 1/2 inches high.

Note: Looking at the picture at the top of the page, you’ll see I used a cheap (4 for a dollar type) aluminum pan that has ribs in the bottom of it. This way, the loaf still has support, but gives a place for the juices to run off and keep it from getting soggy!

Take your favorite rub, and lightly sprinkle it over the top of the loaf.

Note: I used my favorite sweet rub called “Honey Rub”. Made by Butcher BBQ. I don’t like heat, so I can’t tell you how a peppery rub will work out for you.

If you haven’t already gotten your smoker going, do that now. I use hickory wood for smoking this meatloaf recipe. Once it’s up to a temperature of 250 degrees, put the meatloaf into the smoker. Maintain a temperature of 250 degrees. At this temperature, it should be done in 1 1/4 hours.

Note: For you pink meat lovers, it should be to an internal temperature of 160 degrees F in 1 hour. I take mine out at an internal temperature of 175 degrees F to make sure it’s thoroughly cooked. This takes 1 1/4 hour.

Easily serves 6 Smokin’ Meatloaf lovers!

And here’s a shot of what it looked like just before I took it out of the smoker.

Honey Lime Grilled Shrimp

July 5, 2011
by Curt

Here is a recipe I put together. I’ve seen a number of glaze recipes for shrimp, but they all have ingredients that I don’t like, or are missing ingredients I would like included. So, I put my own together, and tried it out. Of course, there was some tweaking of proportions along the way, and here is the finished recipe.

Let me tell you, there are some recipes on the internet that just plain don’t work. They either have these ridiculous proportions that don’t add up, or the instructions don’t make any sense. Or leave parts to the imagination to say the least.

This recipe is guaranteed tested and guaranteed absolutely delicious! In fact, you see the during and after pictures. You can’t taste them, but they sure do look mighty scrumptious!

Honey Lime Grilled Shrimp


  • 1 pound large raw shrimp, peeled (approximately 20)
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 tablespoons Soy Sauce
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoons ground ginger
  • metal skewers


  1. In a small saucepan, combine lime juice, honey, Soy Sauce, oil, garlic powder and ground ginger. Mix this thoroughly, and bring this to a simmer over low/medium heat. Once it starts to simmer, remove from heat, and let cool.
  2. Pour off most of the glaze into a separate bowl large enough to hold all the shrimp. Put the rest in a small container for brushing later. You’ll only need enough to brush each side once. Put the shrimp into the bowl, and thoroughly coat the shrimp. Set this aside for 10 to 20 minutes.
  3. Skewer the shrimp. I find it’s much easier and more efficient to skewer each shrimp in 2 places, through the tail and the head end.
  4. Place them on a medium hot grill. Brush each side one more time with the left over glaze. I personally use a skewer rack, but you can certainly place them directly on the grill. You will want to keep a grill glove handy for the metal skewers. Of course, you can use water soaked wooden skewers if you prefer.
  5. Important Note:
  6. You only need to cook these about 2 minutes on each side. When the shrimp no longer look translucent, remove them from the grill, because they’re done! Shrimp can become overcooked in a hurry, so you don’t want to leave them on longer, thinking this will insure them being completely cooked.
  7. Pull them off the skewers as I did in the picture below, or serve them on the skewers.
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Sweet & Mesquite Baby Back Ribs

July 4, 2011
by Curt

I just made 2 racks of baby back ribs yesterday, and tested out my newly tweaked, and I might add; PERFECTED, sweet marinade. Follow the link to see all the details on the marinade I used.

Now for the details of the cook. First off, the night before the cook, I removed the membrane from the back side of the ribs, and then cut the racks in half. Then I mixed up the marinade, and completely covered the ribs in a tupperware container, sealed it, and put it into the refrigerator overnight.

The next morning, after 11 hours in the marinade, I removed the ribs and drained off the marinade. I then rubbed all surfaces of the ribs with my favorite honey powder based rub. I have used a number of rubs, and have experimented with my own mixtures, but I keep finding myself using this one when I want a sweet rub. After rubbing the ribs thoroughly and generously, I put them back into the container, (after washing it), and put them back into the refrigerator.

2 hours later, I removed the container from the refrigerator and set it on the kitchen counter to start warming up a bit. I then went outside to get the smoker ready. Which means; get the chair out, the table and thermometers needed, and any other things like tongs and pot holders.

Now I start the fire. I have finally documented my personal method for starting my fire in my vertical smoker. Follow the link to read my method. This method has been tweaked after many cooks, and keeps my fire cooking at 225 to 250 degrees F  for 8 to 10 hours with little to no fuss.

There are a lot of different woods that will compliment baby back ribs nicely, but I chose to use all mesquite for this cook. For those that didn’t follow the link to my fire starting method, that’s a mixture of charcoal briquettes, and mesquite chunks.

Okay, all this preparation and fire starting took about 45 minutes, so the meat was on the counter that long. Long enough to warm up some, but not too long to sit on the counter above the 40 degree danger zone. Time to put it in the smoker.

Important Note: Always bring up the temperature of your smoker to your desired cooking temperature before putting the meat in the smoker!

I put the ribs directly on the grill, which is about 15″ above my fire. Close the lid, and watch the temperature. This first half hour or so is about the only time I have to make adjustments. I have 4 different vents I can plug and unplug in the top of my smoker to get the temperature where I want it to stay.

I should mention, I never once opened the smoker for the first 3 hours of smoking. Typically, with a large roast, or a whole chicken, I would have a remote digital thermometer in place and constantly monitoring the internal temperature of the meat after about 1 hour in the smoker. But with ribs, considering the fact they are not very thick, and the close proximity of bones, this would not be very accurate or dependable.

So, after 3 1/2 hours, I removed the lid of the smoker and probed different areas of the ribs with an instant read digital thermometer. It was reading an average of 180 degrees. This was very close to being done, but not quite there yet. A half hour later, I checked it again, and was getting 190 degrees. PERFECT!

I also checked the tenderness by picking up a rack with the tongs at one end of the rack. When you give it a good bounce while holding just one end, it should slightly tear apart at the weak point between two bones.

I removed the ribs. And of course, I immediately pulled one rib off and ate it. WOW! WOW! WOW!!! The sweet marinade is a definite keeper!

I then put them into a sealable container, closed the container, and brought them into the house. I let them sit like that on the counter for about a half an hour.

And then I put them on a plate and took pictures for all of you to see!