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Easy spicy homemade BBQ sauce

There’s a zillion great BBQ sauces out there, but there’s something about homemade that makes it a little bit better. Many sauces are made with the same basic main ingredients and a few tweaks of spices or seasoning. This is a great sauce to get you started. This is enough sauce to coat two racks of ribs and have 1/2 cup or so left over if you want to make a little bit with real heat after you have the regular batch done . Sauce should be applied near the end of the cook or smoke, just long enough to caramelize. Too long or too hot and it will burn.

What you will need:

  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 cup black strap molasses
  • Juice of 3 limes or 6 tbsp lime juice
  • 1 can (5-ish ounces, the little one) of V8 juice
  • 2 tbsp minced garlic
  • For heat: 3-4 minced jalapenos without or seeds, 1 habanero for more heat,  or 1 tbsp tonguespank smoky bourbon spice.
  • 2-3 tbsp worcestershire sauce.


Just mix it all together in a little sauce pan. Heat it up to it just starts to boil, then let simmer 20-30 minutes. Let it cool and it will get that classic BBQ Sauce thickness!



Spicy smoked pork loin

For a faster but good smoked dinner, a 3 lb pork loin will get to 160 in about 3 hours.
You can marinade overnight or first thing in the morning, start smoking by 3, and have dinner ready about 630.
For the marinade:

  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup apple or pear juice
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon powdered ginger
  • If you like heat: 1 teaspoon Smoky Bourbon seasoning


Marinade the loin at least 6 hours in a big ziplock back. Once ready, place on the smoker for 3 hours at 225.
Hickory smoke will do just fine.

Once internal temp has reached 160, go ahead and take it out to rest for 15-30 minutes.

Serve with some baked baby red potatoes and applesauce!



Easy roasted baby red potatoes

Roasted little red tomatoes are a fast and easy side that goes with lots of meats, BBQ dishes and it’s easy for the kids to help out.

You need:

  • 3lbs little red baby potatoes.
  • 1/4 to 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  •  1 tsp Lawry’s Seasoned Salt

If you are BBQing, save about a tablespoon of whatever dry rub you are using on your meat for the potatoes too.
Set it aside before you start rubbing it onto the meat and contaminate it with raw meat goo.
If you like heat like our family, we use 1/2 tsp of re-ground’s smoky bourbon spice too.

Preheat the oven to 375.
Have the kids wash 3 lbs of little red potatoes.
Then cut them in half and place in a large bowl. Sprinkle your dry seasonings and olive oil all over the potatoes.


Mix them with a big mixing spoon until all the olive oil and seasoning is distributed all over the spuds.



Now place them cut side down on a cookie sheet on the bottom rack of your oven. They usually take 20-30 minutes to cook.
After 20 minutes, poke them with a toothpick to see if they are soft enough. Once done, take out and enjoy.




How to make DIY cheap electric bbq or smoker controller

Spring is here and time to get out the Terra Cotta smoker, but I wanted some sort of automatic control for the temperature. With this nifty little electronic monitor and controller you can make your dumb smoker a smart smoker and keep the temperature exactly where you want it. It will work with any plug-in electric smoker or BBQ. You cut up an extension cord, place this controller inline to the smoker power, set it and forget it! Here’s the shopping list:

Extension cord

Hammond 1591ESBK ABS Project Box Black

DN300A temperature controller

I chose the DN300A from  Thermomart because it has a F range from -22 to 575. There are other similar controllers on the market that top out at 212  the but I wanted the extra range just in case I’m cooking hotter and faster. The only drawback are the leads to the sensor which you have to keep from melting, so keep them off the actual smoker. Some thermo-insulation should do to prevent accidents with that. I will try and find a thermo-resistant sensor later. The hardest part about the programming the unit is understanding to directions provided by someone that doesn’t speak native English. The unit uses a built-in relay to cycle power to the smoker based on the minimum and maximum values you enter. (Save an hour of frustration by setting it to H for Heat, from C for cool, first). Once setup you can apply power to your heating element based on the temperature of the probe!

Step 1: Cut a hole in the end of your project box for your controller. Remove the orange clips used to hold the unit in place and give it a test fit. 71x29mm does fine:

Cut another hole in the opposite end to run both ends of the extension cord through.

Here’s how the wiring goes together for the controller. I ran the wiring through the larger controller hole then slid them all back into place once connected. remove the little cover on the rear of the controller and make the connections.

Slide everything all back into place. Picture shows the rear controller cover back in place.

Secure the little sensor wires with the wire tie downs so you don’t accidentally pull them out. A couple loops tied with a zip tie should to it.
Slide the little orange clips back onto the controller body to hold the unit into the project box.

Button up the bottom of the controller box and get ready to program!
I placed my sensor bulb  in the little gap in the ends of my smoker gasket. I’m leaving the sensor for the other thermometer to see how close/accurate they two are. Once I find a heat resistant one for the DN300 Ill replace them both.

So far the DN300A has a lot of good features:

  • You can calibrate the temperature 9 degrees each direction to make sure it’s where it needs to be.
  • It has too hot and too cold audible alarms.
  • Has a 0-999 minute timer.
  • Switch between C/F
  • High temperature limit of 572F
  • Adjustable hysteresis from 1-30 degrees.
  • Fast response from the sensor.
  • Total cost, about $50

I have been testing it out on the terra cotta and brinkman electric smoker all day and it’s cycling power perfectly to keep the temps perfect for smoking!
I used some spare nomex strip to make a protective sleeve for the sensor wires. Punch a hole in the middle of the strip, then remove the sticky side and fold it together to cover the first few inches of the wires. The brinkman I’m testing this on has a little gap around the top lid so it fits right in and doesn’t expose the wires to direct heat and keeps the leads from melting on the metal.
bbq4  bbq3
This SHOULD work perfectly for a charcoal smoker  by powering a little fan to blow into the charcoal. I will make up and test a charcoal version next using a 12V wall wart to run a little computer case fan to add flow to the charcoal to raise their temperature too. It should have the same good results.

Tonguespanked Wasabi Sake salmon

The Wasabi Sake is my new favorite seasoning for fish. If you haven’t gotten a sample or joined in their kickstarter at, I highly recommend it.

The recipe is pretty easy and is essentially two  parts: frying the fish, and the sauce.

Get the sauce ready:

  • 1 tablespoon Tonguespank Wasabi Sake spice
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/3 cup  chicken broth. Use canned, or make some with 1/3 tablespoon chicken bullion and 1/3 cup water.
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons sugar

The fish fry:

  • 4 4 ounce salmon fillets
  • 2/3 cup Panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
  • 1 large egg white
  • 2-3 tablespoons coconut oil. Any other frying oil will work if you don’t have any, it just won’t be as awesome.

The frying process is pretty easy:

  1. Put the egg white and Panko in separate flat plates or containers. Oil in the pan, get it medium hot.
  2. Coat both sides of the salmon in egg white
  3. Place the salmon in the Panko, coat both sides
  4. Fry about 3 minutes per side on medium heat.
  5. About a minute into the second side, dribble that sauce all over the fish.




Tonguespank liquor & pepper seasonings review

The fine folks at were kind enough to provide some extremely manly booze-infused spices for me to try out. If you haven’t heard of them, they are a Chicago-based bottler of awesome, using Kickstarter to help fund their expansion.

If you have heard about of or wanted to know what kickstarting is about, check out their kickstarter page at Tonguespank Kickstarter.

Kickstarters are companies that use word-of-mouth to get funds to help get their products launched. The crowd-sourcing movement was accidentally started by  prog-rock keyboardist Mark Kelly of Marillion who floated an idea to their fans of pre-paying for their music after parting ways with their label. Tonguespank hits the nail on the head of kickstarting by offering excellent incentives, community and feeling like you are part of something special and exciting. (Mark Kellys Ted talk on crowdsourcing here).

Tonguespank isn’t out pushing the umpteen-hundredth  iphone case or speculating about some indie film project on kickstarter. They are making something you can tell they love, their supporters love, and I now love. So, on with the review:

Booze, spices? Yes please! I love to cook with pepper heat and their selection of spices spans from a rich smoky blend to a Moruga Scorpion blend that will please the hottest chili-head.


Here’s the rundown:

  • Smoky Bourbon
  • Wasabi Sake
  • Garlic Grappa. (Ya I had to look Grappa up too)
  • Scorpion Bourbon.

I put the Wasabi Sake and Garlic Grappa on some chicken tenderloins like a rub and let them soak it in overnight.


I mixed 1 teaspoon of each into 1/4 pound of 80/20 burger meat and let it stand with some salt and pepper for a couple hours. Grill 5 minutes per side.

This is the only pic I could get of the chickens. The Wasabi Sake is my favorite one for chicken. They looked and smelled so good they went straight from the grill to fork, to ravenous mouths. The Garlic Grappa blackened up a little cajun-style and tasted great.
The aroma while cooking was divine. The Garlic Grappa burger was of course, great.  I threw some Tillamook pepperjack cheese and an egg over that Scorpion Bourbon patty and it was ready to go! The scorpion spice actually comes on fast and  makes an excellent hot-pepper patty.

So if you want to get in and get some great spices, get the tonguespankers!


Crock pot marinara sauce

Making marinara sauce usually requires a long simmer at the end. I’m too lazy to stand watching marinara sauce and found a crock pot will pretty well instead! First get your crockpot fired up on high, we’re going to use it to get our onions and peppers started. If you are lazy like me, use crock pot liners so you don’t have to scrub your crock pot when you are done.

Crock Pot Liners

The garden has been putting up a lot of tomatoes and peppers. I made about 7 quarts of this great sauce but the recipe will be cooked in one crockpot. Multiply the ingredients and multi-pot if you have enough to do so.

First, fire your crockpot on high while you dice your peppers and onions. Here’s the ingredient list:

  • 1 medium onion
  • ½ bell pepper
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 6-8 medium tomatoes
  • 12 oz tomato paste
  • 2 tbs brown sugar
  • 2 tbs dry basil
  • 1 tsp dry oregano
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp black pepper
  • 1/8 tsp ground red pepper
  • 3 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 beef bullion

Once your peppers and onions are diced up, put them and the olive oil in the crock pot while it is heating up and cook them soft.
Quarter the tomatoes and use a food processor to chop them just enough to have what looks like really thick salsa. If you like your sauce thinner, give them a couple more bumps in the processor.

Once all your tomatoes are ready and the onions and peppers are soft, put it all in the pot, mix well, cook high for an hour and check your seasoning, then low 6-7 hours.

A lot of people like some meat in their marinara as it’s usually gong to be used for pasts, but we are canning our extra sauce. You can put 1/2-1 lb ground beef or sausage in the pot and cook it right along with everything. I fried mine up after the crock-pottery was done, mixed it in and it turned out to be an excellent sauce on pasta


Great local Utah smoky mac and cheese

The only thing my kids order when we go out is mac and cheese. Figured I could use the great local Seahive cheese I got in my local food challenge bundle and try it out.

  • 16 oz macaroni, spiral or shell pasta.
  • 1/4 cup margarine
  • 2  cups milk
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 2 cups grated cheddar
  • 6 oz ( about 2 cups) grated Seahive cheese. (One 6 oz wedge)
  • 1 teaspoon salt, white pepper, chili powder
  • 1-2 drops liquid smoke
  • 1 Heaping tablespoon chopped onion.
  • 1-2 cups panko or breadcrumbs.

First have your pasta made. After draining, place it back in the pot you boiled it in. Preheat the oven to 400.

With a sauce pan, fry cook up the onions in the margarine until all soft, then mix in the flour with a whisk.

Mix in the milk slowly and bring it hot enough to melt the cheese, constantly whisking the milk as it heats so it doesn’t burn. Mix in all the spices while you bring up the heat.

Once  hot enough to melt all that cheese, fold in all your cheese and mix until the mixture is creamy and thick. Some fine diced ham or bacon in the mixture at this point would not be awful.

Put the sauce in with the pasta, mix well then place into a casserole dish.

Sprinkle a thin layer of Panko or breadcrumbs over the dish and back for 20-30 minute son 400 until the crumbs are nice and toasted. Enjoy!