Smoked Ice Cubes with Bloody Marys

All I have to say is….YUM!!! I love a good bloody mary every now and again, but adding these smoked ice cubes put these over the top! They were absolutely delicious. The subtle smoke flavor was so good and wasn’t overbearing at all!

Now I don’t want to limit the possibilities of these ice cubes in just bloody marys! You could essentially use these smoked ice cubes or water in any drink or food that you would like to add that little extra smoke flavor, Be Creative! I know our wheels are always turning!

This recipe is so simple, so let’s dive right in! Prep the night before and add water to a two gallon ziploc bag and freeze overnight! We did add a tsp. of liquid smoke to add a little extra pizazz!

Frozen Water

After your water is frozen, set your grill at 150 degrees. Also, grab a pan and rack to set your ice on. This will allow it to melt into the pan. This is going to be a slow process of about 3 hours. This allows the smoke to really set into the water. Low and slow folks!

Grill Prep!

Once your grill is ready to go, remove the ice from the bag and place onto the rack inside the grill. Allow the ice to completely melt. If you are wanting a stronger smoke flavor, you can add a little liquid smoke prior to refreezing into ice cube trays. We added ours ahead of time knowing we wanted a little more! Trying it after will help you judge if you need more. We absolutely loved it!

Slow and Steady wins the race!
Final Melted Product

My dad used his creative side and froze his ice cubes into pumpkins and vampire teeth, unfortunately I didn’t get a good picture of that BUT I made sure to take a picture of my delicious bloody mary. I also asked my dad to up his game for my garnishments to my drink. Sliders, Jerky, Pickles, Olives, Bacon, Chicken Wings….the list goes on and on!

We used the Tabasco Bloody Mary Mix for making our drinks. As a dealer, my dad definitely has access to some GREAT stuff! It says that it is extra spicy, but coming from someone who can’t handle TO much spice, this was just right! The smoked ice cubes complimented this mix wonderfully!

Final Product!

Like I said…I’m expecting more garnishments next time (you hear that dad?) However, salting the rim with Lawrys seasoned salt and adding the smoked cubes was a big hit! Give it a try for yourself! Maybe you have a drink that you think it would taste delicious in. We would love to hear from you and try them for ourselves!

Don’t have a Green Mountain Grill yet or are thinking you would like one? Check them out for black friday, great deals on some great grills going on now!

Bacon Wrapped Smokies

September is in full swing around here. The annual CyHawk game came and went…Iowa pulled off the W but it wasn’t pretty. The World’s Greatest County Fair blew through town. I got all of my must have food items PLUS I tried this years blue ribbon winner…Steak Tip Meal. Dad whipped up a pork butt to share with his tractor pulling friends (yes, that recipe is coming…).

Before we know it, winter will be here but that wont slow us down when it comes to grilling. I’m so excited to share this easy recipe with all of you to share with your family and friends during those exciting football games.

Large Packet of Smokies and 1lb of bacon

You will find this recipe very easy to do! Your biggest time consuming part is wrapping smokies in bacon. Cut your bacon strips into thirds and wrap each smokie with one small strip of bacon, securing with a toothpick. Some wraps will require two toothpicks. We break our toothpicks so they are smaller and go further.

Your smokies should look just like this!

After your smokies are all wrapped, add them to a pan or dish that is grill safe. My dad uses a cast iron pot for his grill. Once added to your dish, add 2 cups of brown sugar. This is what creates the flavor and texture of these delightful smokies.

Lastly, cook your smokies with the brown sugar at 350 degrees on your Green Mountain Grill (or oven). You will keep cooking until the bacon is done and the brown sugar is carmelized on the smokies. This process will roughly take about an hour.

Bam! Enjoy!

You’re done! Now its time to enjoy and share with all of your friends as appetizers or game day pleasers! We hope you enjoy this recipe and look forward to all the other goodies we have coming your direction! Let us know how this recipe went for you!

Pork Burnt Ends

Do you ever feel like you are constantly at a loss for what to make? Maybe you are having some friends over and want to try something “different.” I’m so excited to share with all of you as our blog grows, all the different recipes that we have tried, made modifications to and all the never ending things you can do with your grill.

There are so many different recipes for burnt ends out there but this is how dad makes them and let me tell you….they were tasty! Don’t be afraid to try new things, trust me, we’ve had our fair share of flops. So, enough chit chat, let’s get on with it!

1.5 pounds of Side Pork, taken from a 5 pound slab

Dad took approximately 1.5 pounds of side pork from a 5 pound total slab. Doesn’t it just look fabulous?! Then he proceeded to cut the meat into 1 inch strips, this is one of his first modifications. By keeping the meat in the strips versus cutting immediately into squares helps to keep the moisture within the meat.

1 inch strips with Sizzle

After cutting the strips, he placed the meat into pan and applied Green Mountain sizzle rub. What is sizzle? It is asked for by name in our household! One of our kids actually requests for a majority of his food to have sizzle put on it. He would eat it with EVERYTHING! You can apply as much or as little as you would like, remember, this is your creation. I will warn you though, it will make you sneeze! Sizzle can be purchased through your Green Mountain Dealer…Local folks, you’re in luck! It has great flavor with just enough kick (I’m not a huge spicy person).

Sizzle
Wrap in Saran Wrap and refrigerate overnight

By wrapping your side pork and refrigerating overnight, this allows for the meat to sweat which creates moisture and therefore the meat becomes more tender.

Grilling Progression

After refrigerating overnight, it’s time to grill! Set your Green Mountain to 375 degrees and cook the side pork for approximately one and a half hours.

Cut into 1 inch squares

After the meat has cooked, remove and then cut the 1 inch strips into 1 inch squares. This will make them nice and bite size.

Did you know Klair is a Tabasco Dealer too?

After the meat is cut, replace into a pan or grill worthy dish. Apply the Tabasco BBQ sauce, stir and replace on the grill to heat. Although this sauce says it’s spicy, it very much is not. Dad is our local Tabasco dealer, he has some great items that you are unable to get in the store. Make sure to check him out!

Messy Face, Kid approved!

After they are warmed on the grill…it’s time to Enjoy! We ate these as an appetizer and they were gone within minutes! My kids absolutely devoured them. They are easy to make and great to eat. We hope that you try this recipe out and let us know what twist you added to yours. You will find the recipe all together below. Enjoy!

Our Favorite Late Summer Blooming Plants

Summer is quickly winding down but that doesn’t mean your gorgeous backyard has to! There are so many neat plants that will give you wonderful color through the end of summer and into fall. Today, we are going to bring our top favorite plants, within our yard, for late summer blooming!

Cone Flowers

Our cone flowers have absolutely exploded over the years and offer so many different colors in our landscaping. An excellent group of plants with native genes. These long season blooming plants come in colors of Red, Yellow, Orange, Purple, White and all shades in between. Most cone flowers will reseed to add to your bounty. An excellent butterfly plant and the remaining seed heads in the fall are great for birds!

Turtlehead

Turtlehead is a top notch native plant that is excellent for a wide range of sites. We have it in a location that once was full shade but after a tree was removed, it now sits in full sun. This plant continues to thrive and is also very tolerant of wetter locations. Add it next to a downspout and watch it explode with life. Blooms often start in late August and continue on through September.

I have always been in love with Hibiscus plants, whether they are tropical or not! The bonus to this plant is that these gorgeous flowers come back every single year. They are oversize, vibrant and stunning! The deep purple color is perfect for welcoming fall! Be patient with these plants in the spring, they are slow to wake up. We have two in our landscape. One came up June 10 and the other did not come up until June 20. They love warm summer days and enjoy some good moisture.

Most people would not think of a Lilac for late summer blooming, but that is what makes Bloomerang so great. It will bloom in the spring with other lilacs. Then it re-blooms from the end of July to September in our yard. It is amazing to have the hint of lilac in the air in August. I also really like the structure of this plant. If you cut it back after the initial bloom in the spring, it will give you slightly arching branches on the late summer bloom. I feel it gives it a similar look to butterfly bushes but is much hardier for us.

I know we have said this before in our previous post but Hydrangeas are one of my absolute favorites. The gorgeous white color is now slowing changing over to shades of pinks and reds. We now have 13 different varieties in our landscape, ranging in size from 2’x2′ to 8’x6′

They make for the perfect summer blooming plant and help transition into fall. I can’t wait to cut more of these gorgeous stems and add them to my home and winter spruce tip pots.

Baby Joe and Little Joe Joe Pyeweed are wonderful native plants. Our’s reach heights of 5-6′ tall and wide. They are a pollinator favorite. We often see several species of butterflies and bees working these gorgeous plants over in the late summer. With its large habit and sturdy stems it creates an informal barrier between yard space.

We can’t wait for our transition into fall and we hope that you can bring some of these wonderful plants into your yard. Just because school is back in session, doesn’t mean your backyard nights have to end! We would love to hear from you with questions or comments about your backyard living space!

Why every backyard needs a Pellet Grill!

Oh No…I forgot about dinner!

As busy working parents, this has not been the first or the last time I will ever say that! You feel me….burnt pizza, burnt grilled cheese or in Bob’s case…the grill is on fire.

Thankfully, with the ease of our Green Mountain pellet grill, that’s no longer a worry. Pellet grills allow you to have the “set it and forget it” mentality. Pellets create moisture to prevent your food from becoming dried out. So if you run late or are busy playing ball, you don’t have to worry about ruining your dinner.

mmmm, baby back ribs

Do you like a little smokey taste to your food?

If so, you’re in luck! The nice thing about pellet grills is that you can do quick meals for those busy ball nights or “low and slow” for that added smokey flavor. Now, Im not one who LOVES a lot of smoke taste (although there are some who do) but it adds just enough flavor to satisfy my taste buds.

Make sure to look for that nice smoke ring when you cut into your meat and witness all that your days patience has accomplished! It’s also a great way to create Jerky! Everyone loves a good batch of beef jerky or deer jerky or goose jerky…ok ill stop!

Excuse me, but is it hot in here?

New Green Mountain Daniel Boone Prime Grill with Stainless Steel Hood

Heating up my house is the LAST thing that I want to do on a warm summer night. Between kids coming in and out of the house (over and over and over again), sunlight beaming in and just being plain hot, the last thing I want to do is add to it by warming up my oven. Anyone who knows me knows I like to be cold!

Even though my kids are great eaters and love to have meat off the grill…they are kids. They want cheesy, noodle filled creations. BONUS, pellet grills can create that too!

Pellet grills use indirect heat and fans to create a convection type oven. I create my casseroles as normal, turn the grill up to the oven temp (350 degrees or 375 degrees), then bake as normal! Same gooey greatness, added smoke taste and without the added heat to your home!

Sorry, but the maid is out for the day…

That darn maid of mine…she never seems to come around near enough 😉 (that’s because she doesn’t exist). No worries, pellet grills, specifically green mountain grills are super easy to maintain. No excessive clean up that you may experience with charcoal grills. Use a simple grate cleaner and occasionally vacuum out the fire pot and you’re set! Simple, right?

I wish to keep my eyebrows, thank you…

Noah (11) holding a handful of pellets

Number one reason that I NEVER used to grill on our gas grill…I was afraid it was going to explode. The thought of all that gas flowing through there and then adding fire was enough to make me not even go near it. I could never remember, lid open or was it lid closed? So, we would have to wait until 6:30 at night before we could begin supper when Bob got home.

Now, Im a grilling fool! Pellet grills are so easy to start that my kids can do it (they do get hot over time, so be careful!). Pellet grills use hardwood, kill dried wood that never touches the floor and is held together with their natural lignin (no glues). Cooking over hardwood gives you great taste, versatility and consistency. Yes, charcoal does taste great but can be difficult to maintain your heat in order to achieve your desired BBQ meat!

So the next time you are in the market for a new grill, give pellet grills a thought! Not only will you not regret the decision, you are also helping support a small business owner with Green Mountain…like my dad 😉

We would love to hear from you! Comment below with your pellet grill tips, recipes or topics you would love to hear about! Also, share us with your friends so we can continue to grow!

5 Reasons to plant Panicle Hydrangeas in your landscaping.

1). They are absolutely stunning!

‘White Diamonds’ Hydrangea

It doesn’t take a set of glasses to see just how gorgeous these plants are. Being able to choose many different varieties with different flower shapes and colors is what makes these hydrangeas so gorgeous! Nonstop color from July to the end of September.

2). Great for pollinators…

‘White Diamonds’ Hydrangea

We all have them and some may be a little nervous around them, but they are super important. Not only to produce the wonderful honey that we all love to eat but also for the production and growth of our plants. At any given time, you could look out on our hydrangea bush and notice numerous different kinds of insects. They are all after one thing….pollen.

That pollen strongly benefits them as they bring it back home to create, reproduce and live but it also benefits our plants. They bring that pollen to other plants to help them reproduce, create seeds and to grow. Without them, our ecosystem will be hurting. So even though they buzz right past your head as your sitting on your patio enjoying a summer night drink, consider planting plants that help keep our ecosystem flourishing.

3). Adds variety of shape and structure to your landscaping.

Panicle hydrangeas come in all shapes and size. From the little ‘Bobo’ Hydrangea that is 3’x3′ to the ‘Quickfire’ hydrangea that is 8’x8′. Taller varieties help create enclosures for your backyard living space. Each plant will have some of its own unique features. All of the plants will come out white and fade off to various shades of pink and red.

4). Use to decorate your home and outside pots…

‘Vanilla Strawberry’ and ‘Pinky Winky’ Hydrangea

I LOVE to cut my hydrangeas and bring fresh flowers into the home. Not only do I love them fresh, I love them dried. It’s amazing how well these flowers will dry with little to no effort. I enjoy taking a variety of them all and placing them in a large vase allowing them to dry. I keep them through the winter as decoration and then simply dispose of them back into my landscaping in the spring! Some people like to hang their hydrangeas upside down until they dry, but I have found that to be necessary.

I will also cut several to use within my front door pots to add some rustic flair to my spruce tip pots. Surprisingly, even with the inches upon inches of snow we get…they still manage to maintain their shape and dried beauty.

5). Easy maintenance

Even those of you that are notorious for sending your plants into an early “retirement…” I have full confidence that these hydrangeas would be perfect for you and your home. Initially, some maintenance is required to help them set good roots and to return for the following season but after that, minimal maintenance is required. Just give them a spot with 4 hours of sunlight or more and a good multipurpose fertilizer. For further information on how to begin planting and care of new plants, look for our upcoming blog posts.

Hello, We’re New Here!

Hello and welcome to our Blog! I want to explain what we are doing here. I’ll go first…My name is Katie and I’m generally a very creative person. I love to redecorate, repurpose, scrapbook and create memories. I have a busy schedule with 4 growing kids and working full-time as a nurse. I wanted to have another creative outlet. So, I’m working with two of the most important men in my life to give you Backyard Blooms & BBQ.

Now, it’s my husband’s turn. Bob is PART of the brains behind this blog. He doesn’t get ALL the credit thought ;). We live in small town Iowa and he is one of the local plant guys. He LOVES plants…I mean LOVES them. He is 260 pounds and 6’2″ but he turns to mush over roses. He is a wealth of knowledge about everything plants and I wanted to share all of that with you.

Last but certainly not least, is my dad Klair. Dad has been a grill master all of my life. Even in the dead of Iowa winter…we be grilling! Over the last couple of years, he has become an authorized Green Mountain grill dealer and BBQ judge. Traveling around occasionally to eat delicious BBQ and give his rating. Not only is he a wonderful cook on the grill, he knows all the ins and outs of them. He’s also a great mechanic as well.

Together we are here to help give you the best backyard living and dining experience by sharing our passions with all of you. We hope you enjoy our blog as we grow!