Thursday, August 11, 2011

Charlie's Pool Room

Okay friends, my grilling has been kind of mundane as of dogs, burgers, chicken.  So far now, I will write about my other food experiences.

Vinnie and I had the opportunity to go to Charlie's Pool Room in Alpha, NJ last weekend on our way to the Poconos to visit with my in-laws.

Please, please go here if you ever have a chance.  Or make the chance, even!  You can read my Yelp review if you want.  I loved talking with John, the front of the house guy.  We talked about hot dogs, bakery bread and the internet.  He credits the internet and guys like Holly for saving the brothers' business.  Meeting these 2 men was as much a part of the experience as eating the hotdogs.  It is not a fancy place and there is only one table.  But anything different would not be Charlie's Pool Room.

John told me as he handed me my bag of dogs, " Pull them straight out and when eating them, straight in."  The key to their hotdogs is the secret sauce, passed down to them from their grandmother.  I had a mealie: the Hungarian secret sauce, chopped raw onions and slices of hot pepper.   The perfect proportions of sauce to dog and steamed bun combined with the knowingly placed onions and peppers added up to a most delicious bite, down to the last one.  When I opened my pack of 2 mealies, I could not even take a picture before I started to eat one, as you can see in the picture.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

BBQ goodness

Oh my goodness.  I was down in Durham, NC this past week to visit my friends Michelle and Jason and their baby Porter.  I was able to get some awesome BBQ and Jason, who is a great cook, made some amazing brisket with homemade bbq sauce and baked beans.  Seriously, it was so delicious.  And it gave me some more inspiration to get back to that grill.  Plus, I am really trying to eat healthier and grilling is such a great option for that.  I hope to post something soon!

eta the link to my Yelp reviews for our trip!

Friday, July 8, 2011


Crazy loud thunderstorms have stopped my grilling plans for tonight.  I am making sausage and peppers and I am not sure that grilling would have improved them that much more.  I like my sausage super well done and doing it in the oven is simple and delicious.  If I change my mind about grilling in the rain I will let you know.

Later that night....It is a good thing I had not started all my grill prep because I needed to do a an errand for someone as a favor and I did not get home until after 7pm and I would have been too hungry to start dinner.  I should have taken a picture because, man oh man alive were those onions and peppers amazing.  With very little prep and time spent actually cooking, I made sausage and peppers and onions over spaghetti with a fresh salad with green leaf lettuce, grape tomatoes and strawberries.  Now if only I had thought to make dessert...

edited to add:
I had leftovers for lunch and snapped a quick picture of it.  Check out how nice and caramelized those Vidalia onions are.  Their sweetness complemented the hot italian sausage nicely.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Leftover grilled chicken = my favorite salad ever

One of my favorite salads ever is a barbecue grilled chicken over greens with veggies and ranch dressing.  Cheesecake Factory and California Pizza Kitchen both make amazing, if not high in fat and money, versions.  Since I had leftover chicken from last night, I decided to take a break from the pb&j monotony.  I happened to have a little bit (read: only enough for one person) of green leaf lettuce, grape tomatoes, leftover corn and ranch dressing.

I started making it in a bowl and realized that when I get a salad at a restaurant, it often comes on a plate.  I think, mentally, if I fill a dinner plate with salad I will feel more like I am eating a real meal, not just salad.  So the bowl went away and the dinner plate came out.  I added the greens, tomatoes, corn and chicken and threw on a few croutons.  I drizzled a little bit of bbq sauce and then ranch dressing on top of the salad.  It looked beautiful and not much different than ones I have had in a restaurant except maybe half the size.  They always throw more ingredients in, but I am not sure that makes it tastier.  Well, maybe some black beans would have improved it a little.  By the end of my salad, I was satisfied and there was barely any dressing on my plate.  I am so used to having pools of dressing sitting in the bowl or plate when I am finished that I was a little surprised.  But you know what?  It tasted better and crisper without all that extra dressing weighing the lettuce down.  I think next time I will nix the croutons with this salad.

Grilled vegetables and chicken

It was while I was grilling this dinner last night that I was inspired to blog my grilling journey.

For the record, I am currently using commercial seasonings and barbecue sauces but making my own is what I really want to do.  My plan is to cook using the bottled, pre-made sauces so that I can get an idea of what qualities I want or like in a sauce.  Then I can start experimenting.  Besides, they are delicious!!

I started by slicing thick chicken breasts into thinner filets and trimming all the yucky parts.  That part about preparing food has always grossed me out but I am trying to just get over it.  I put all the pieces into a zippable plastic bag with maybe a half bottle of barbecue sauce.  I put it in the fridge for about 30 minutes.

I grabbed the yellow and green squash (in season in NJ right now, so farm-fresh) and after washing them I sliced them down the entire length into thinnish slices.  I sprinkled a little kosher salt on them before bringing them out to the grill.

I brushed the length with olive oil and put them on a hot grill.  I flipped a few times (using tongs) and kept thicker slices on a bit longer.  Some of the thinner slices lost some seeds to the cause when sticking to the grill.  The reason I flipped a few times was because after grilling both sides I realized that the 2nd side was dome more to my liking, so back on they went.
I ended up letting get way more grilled than this, but you can see how I sliced them.

When the veggies were done, the chicken went on.  I put them on the grill and turned the heat on all 3 burners to 3/4.  I have to be honest, I don't time my meat.  I am not sure why, since I always use a timer when I am cooking in the oven.  I just look at it after a few minutes and see if I can turn it over easily.  If not, then I let it sit a few minutes longer so I don't lose half my chicken to the grill grates. won't rotate and it made the picture all fuzzy.

After the chicken was finished we all trouped inside to eat our meal.  The complete meal was: grilled chicken with barbecue sauce, grilled summer squash and crunchy coleslaw salad.  This recipe is courtesy of my Aunt Cathy and I think it is insanely delicious and summery.  It was so good.  I know it was my own food an all, but wow...the chicken was moist and flavorful, the squash's natural sweetness was brought out by the grill and the crunchy coleslaw was a perfect accompaniment.

When I have time later I will post the crunchy coleslaw will be the hit of your next summer get together!

Welcome to Girls Can Grill, or GCG as Vinnie put it

Anyone who knows me knows that I love food.  I love almost every part about it...buying it, cooking, baking and always eating it.  I watch Food Network and Cooking channel and read books about food and restaurants.  This year I had decided I was going to build garden beds and even grow my own food.  But then I scheduled to hand surgeries, pretty much back to back right in the beginning and crucial part of growing season.  The one thing that I was never really into doing was grilling.  You see, I grew up in a household of male grillers.  My dad is The Griller and I have 3 fire-loving brothers who would join him or fill in as needed.  Even when I was out on my own, I cooked and baked with regularity but frankly, I was afraid of the grill.

I didn't know how it operated.  I was slightly afraid of the flames.  I was really afraid if I had to light it myself with a match.  I had seen my brother singe his hairline and eyebrows enough times to know that it was a true possibility.  Call me vain, but I just don't want to lose my eyelashes, eyebrows or any speck of hair!

The summer that Lilly was born I started to use the grill once in a while.  I know that Vinnie thought (and might still think) that the grill is his domain.  And he can and does grill really delicious food for us.    But I was curious to see if I could be as good a griller as I am a baker or cook.  I know I am not making restaurant food, but I think I am pretty good and my food tastes pretty delicious.  The first 2 summers were okay and I stuck to pretty basic burgers and dogs and the occasional london broil.  Last summer Vinnie bought a Weber and oh my, did that make all the difference in the world.

This blog might become more about food in general, rather than just grilling, but it is summer after all and grilling is the name of the game in the summertime.  So, I hope you enjoy reading about my grilling journey.  Comment, give suggestions, comment again!