cooking, family, food, grilling

Smoked whole chicken – JuJuBQ

The taste of last week’s Frickin Chicken Shack smoked wings lingers. Talk of those smokey appendages still fresh.

With no space for a return trip on the calendar, we turned to JuJuBQ. For Mother’s Day this year, this20140711-085911-32351188.jpg joined the “kitchen” repertoire. And I’m so glad she did. My new favorite gadget.

I brined the chicken, a first for me.
1 gallon water
1/2 c salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 tsp garlic powder
5 pound brined for 4 hours. A little longer than I wanted, but hubby and I did a lunch date. More on that in another post.

Some people remove the backbone for more even cooking and/or faster cooking. Rather than remove the bone, I pushed down on the bird to break the bone and flatten it somewhat. Probably against BBQ etiquette, but I was 2 hours late putting the bird on.

After a good dry towel session, the clucker was ready for a massage. The Heffer Dust made and sold by a student was empty. I tried to replicate the seasoning from memory. His magic, family secret recipe is far superior. My mediocre rub was a dump and mix fest. Miss E and I tasted and adjusted. No measuring. Just salt, brown sugar, garlic powder, onion powder, chili powder, black pepper, and paprika. Not a bad first rub.

I smoked the bird to 160, about 3 hours. The last 30 minutes I put on a slight smattering of BBQ sauce (totally not needed). The fledgling results were AMAZING! Juicy, succulent, and from my smoker!

From the local farmer’s market, we had a pound of green and yellow wax beans. Marinated in EVOO, lemon juice, and a bit of rub for an hour, I finished them on the smoker grates. After 30 minutes, the beans were veggie candy to the hubs and I. Like the Cheshire Cat, we looked at each other and telepathically listed other veggies to smoke.

JuJuBQ is prepped and ready for the next smoke session. Salmon? Brisket? Potatoes? Cabbage? Corn? Fruit?!




aldi, camping, education, family, food, grilling, parenting, pulled pork

I agree with many of the author’s moments!  Seriously, I would love to fold laundry and have a matched set every time.  Or the clean house?  Who doesn’t want that?!  Lobster?  Yes please!   Cozy in front of the fireplace?  Now would work as it is currently 28 degrees!  Brr.

My Jelly Belly Moments…

my daughter’s good morning hug, so sweet and full of love

having the kids do something the first time asked

being proud when we can drop everything and get our family of 5 out the door in under 20 minutes for impromptu outings and adventures

catching the light bulb moments when teaching

turning the radio on to the perfect song for the moment

my husband holding my hand

shopping at Aldi, no more coupons!

watching E twirl and sing the night away

friends that warm my heart, fill my soul with laughter, and even if it has been months since last meeting, pick up where you left off

camp fires, traveling the back roads, and everything in between

hanging out with gentle, imaginative M

small town living

a glass of wine and my husband’s company

tasty pulled pork and creamy, tangy cole slaw

family adventures whether in the back woods, along the beach, or out on the road

seeing the world through little R’s mischievous eyes

eating, cooking, grilling, and talking about food

Saturday morning family snuggles

decorating for the holidays, any holiday

clean sheets

So this is such a small bag of my jellies, my mind is filling with more as I type. What are some of your Jelly Belly moments?

Raising 5 Kids With Disabilities and Remaining Sane Blog


Having been on a diet for forever, I was starved for something sweet. I admit that I used to eat a lot of “comfort food”, so finding a way I could still do this and not gain weight has been a challenge.  Fortunately,  I came up with secret of packing little bags of Jelly Bellies, these great little jelly beans that really taste like what they say they taste like. My favorites are licorice, cotton candy, and, (of course for anyone who KNOWS me,) buttered popcorn.  I purchase only my favorite flavors, and package about 20 of them into little bags. Then, throughout the day when I need a little boost, I eat a few, and I am happy.

It has dawned on me that my life is full of little jelly belly moments, not in relation to the real jelly bean, but as a reaction to little events that…

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camping, cooking, family, grilling

Inside out campout

Perfect plans need improvising.  Due to the low temps and perpetual downpour, we moved our School’s Out campout indoors.  We picnic dined on a blanket in front of a roaring fire.  No grilled pizza tonight, Vitales filled in perfectly.  Played an intense Nerf war session.  Followed all of it with indoor banana boats, our son’s specialty.

Banana Boats

a whole banana

chocolate pieces or chocolate chips (break up a chocolate bar)

mini or whole marshmallows (if large, cut into smaller pieces)

Slice the banana down the middle long ways.  Sprinkle in mini marshmallows and chocolate pieces.

If enjoying a wood fire or using a grill, place banana boats in foil and wrap loosely.  Cook near the heat for 1-2 minutes, open and enjoying with graham cracker sticks.

Inside out camping?  Simply place foil boat in fireplace.  In our case, little chef insisted on microwaving the boats, without foil of course.  It takes about 50 seconds with large marshmallows.


As you can see, little chef went a little overboard on the marshmallows.  😉

food, grilling

Grill Master

I am mama grill master, hear me roar.  Okay hear me shut the door as I speed in and out of the house, wrangle 3 kids, tongs in hand, and try not to spill my drink.

Warmer weather brings a few of my favorite things; outside play without bulky layers, long sunny days, camping endeavors, and the smell of BBQ.  Porky heaven crusted with BBQ and grilling char is my kryponite.  Weak in the knees, drooling mouth, and soft gasps of pleasure, yes grilled pork is my summer time affair.

A few years ago my amazing husband honored my BBQ obsession with a trophy grill…4 burners, an external side burner, and built-in rotisserie.    Ahh, just talking about all of its glorious details has me contemplating what to grill up tonight.  My grilling passion multiplied after a night out at the Food Dance grilling class.  My friend Chris, also a grilling enthusiast, and I lounged on the Food Dance roof top, lazily sipping on cold beer, and took in the aromas and teachings of our evenings’ grill master.  As the sun set and the cool settled in, we dined on the grill”s bounty; brine chicken, refreshing melon salad, and grilled halloumi.  The enticing aromas cascaded down and around Kalamazoo luring other grilling nuts to sign up.  What a great marketing tool, free smells!

So tonight, I grilled up our family favorite, pork steaks and corn on the cob.  If you are a grilling newbie and looking for a grilling friendly option, try pork steak.  It is flavorful, easy to grill, and an inexpensive porky cut.  If you have not experienced grilled corn, think buttery popcorn, but sweet and succulent.  Yeah, it’s that good.

What’s on your grill?

food, grilling

Saying Goodbye to Soup Days

Last weeks’ attempt at using the healing powers of homemade chicken noodle soup was a bust.  The yuckies still invaded our home with ear infections out the, well, ear.  This week, I switched gears and processed up Kitchen Sink Gazpacho.  Another epic failure!  This morning my husband woke up with rumblies in the tumbly!  Oy vey!  This weather season of hot, cold; snow, rain is wrecking havoc on my healing soups arsenal.

So with a heavy heart, I will mark the end of Winter by putting away my soup recipe box.  Farewell Old Man Winter, it has been, blah, cold, and marred with too many pediatrician trips.  Take with you the runny noses, sniffle ringtones, bouts of rumbly, and just stay away!

Our household will leap into Spring with Grilled Spinach Pesto Pizza.  Take that Old Man!  Our evenings are now 70s, the perfect temperature for grilling out on the back deck, lingering over lemonade, and listening to the babbling brook.

Time to haul out the BBQ, fill up the tank, and get out the tongs.  It’s my favorite season, grilling time!

Grilled Spinach Pesto Pizza

1 tube pizza dough (Aldi)

1/3 cup pesto (I made Spinach almond pesto or use a pesto of your choice)

1 cup mozzarella cheese

toppings of choice (I used grilled peppers, sautéed mushrooms, and left over chicken.)

Here is my grilling recipe/lesson standby.  Check it out!  How to Grill Pizza