So Long, Ole Pal

  • We’ll always remember your succulent Texas-style beef brisket.
  • You gave us the best eastern Carolina pulled pork BBQ.
  • You provided our Thanksgiving turkey when the whole family was here one year.
  • You brought us together for outdoor Sunday football around the TV and the fire pit.
  • You slow cooked the Pacific salmon to smoky perfection.
  • You entertained Bill for hours on end.
  • You gave us many happy times with good food.
  • Most of all, you made our back yard hospitable.

We moved in our house 15 years ago and went to a yard sale down the street on our first Saturday here. Bill bought a smoker for $20 from the Smith’s who were downsizing. The smoker was neither fancy nor pretty, not like the newfangled ones. Worse yet, there were no instructions!

Ole Pal

Ole Pal

Last Sunday, the old smoker gave up the ghost. It goes to show you, some things in life aren’t costly or flashy, they just do the job until they can’t do it any more. Bill learned how to get the most out of the old thing with the right wood, regulated heat, spicy rubs, a little research, and a lot of patience.

Bill is looking for the next yard sale. The rest of us are waiting for the next meal.

Bill’s Texas-Style Beef Brisket

The succulent taste comes from the rub and the combination of mesquite and cherry wood chips. Smoking meats, poultry and fish takes practice, but we always had plenty of folks willing to taste test.

6-8 pound beef brisket, rinsed with water and blotted dry with paper towels

For the dry rub, combine:

  • 3 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon sugar

Mix together spices and rub on meat. Refrigerate overnight. Soak wood chips overnight (You can use mesquite, cherry, oak, or hickory chips. Buy them at Home Depot or Lowes or get from wood in your own back yard.)

Prepare smoker with wood (sometimes combined with charcoal) and cook brisket for 6-8 hours, the longer the better. Slice thinly when done. Serve with your favorite Texas-style BBQ sauce, corn, rolls, slaw, and beans.

Get Yourself a Good Book

Bill recommends The Barbecue Bible by Steven Raichlen. Unless you have a mentor or some good instructions with a brand-new smoker, you will have to do research. But, even then, practice, practice, practice. It’s worth it!

How to Hold a Man Cave Party

This topic was pitched to me by the eHow™ website. I knew this type of party had to include food, so I decided on a build-your-own burrito bar. Watch this short video and see how to hold a man cave party. One thing not mentioned in the video is dessert. My man suggested a box of Hostess Cupcakes. “Why?” I asked? He replied, “Because I never get them!”


Man Cave = Fan Cave = Fam Cave…whatever you call it, have fun!

Here is the white chicken chile recipe referenced in the video.

White Chicken Chile – The Framework

Chile is one of those soups that can be made to your taste by varying the amount of beans, meat, tomatoes, peppers, and seasonings .Here is a recipe to start with, then make it your own. Mine comes out different each time.


  • 1-1/2 pounds chicken breasts, boneless, cut into bite-size pieces
  • 1 yellow pepper, chopped
  • I green pepper, chopped
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 6 tablespoons oil
  • 3 cans white Northern beans, do not drain
  • 3 cans tomatoes (I either use Muir Glen Diced Fire Roasted Tomatoes or Del Monte Zest Chili-Style tomatoes, or both)
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder, adjust for seasonings
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin, adjust to taste
  • 3 tablespoons fresh cilantro
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  • Sauté onions and peppers in 3 tablespoons of olive oil unless soft. Transfer to stew pot.
  • Sauté chicken in 3 tablespoons of oil until cooked through. Add to pepper and onions.
  • Add the beans, tomatoes, cilantro and seasonings. Simmer on low.
  • Taste periodically and adjust for seasoning.

Can make ahead. As with all soups, it’s better the second day. Freezes well. Serve with sour cream, cheddar cheese, and tortilla chips. Yields about 8 servings.

Click here for other Barbara Kelley eHow™ videos on party themes.

Celebrate Home Magazine — Spring Issue in Bloom!

The spring 2013 issue of Celebrate Home Magazine is now available for digital download in the links below. Click on either of the links below to download your FREE pdf copy of this issue.

This issue is jam-packed (and there’s even a jam-making feature!), so download today and get started reading.

On the cover: What says “spring” more than colorful tulips? Cindy Dyer, art director, was photographing this bed of flowers and was standing on the edge of the wall when this little girl, clad in a princess skirt with sparkly shoes, came running around the corner. Cindy snapped this one shot and the little princess was gone. Serendipity!

“Buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jacks”… and grouper?

Take me out to the ball game, take me out to the park! Last week was the last week of the Grapefruit League’s spring training. Between February 22 and March 30, more than 1.6 million fans attended Major League Baseball’s annual off-seasons spring training in Florida at various locations throughout the Sunshine State.

We parked our seats in the seats at Space Coast Stadium in sunny Viera, Florida, where our Washington Nationals train. The training facility is intimate – so much so that you can hang out and chat with General Manager Mike Rizzo (yes, Bill did!) and ask players for autographs as they come out of the training facility (yes, Patrick did!).

While my husband and son were having their own fun I was studying the ballpark concession menus. There were the usual hot dogs, brats, hamburgers, pizza, etc. But, only in Florida would a grilled blackened grouper sandwich be on the menu. How could I resist? For only $9 I got a fresh piece of grilled grouper on a bun with hot fries.

Take me out to the ballgame…anytime and anywhere! Go Nats!

Get Your Game On!

Try this Buffalo Wing-It Dip. It’s a crowd pleaser in time for Super Bowl Sunday. To get the recipe and other game-day foods go to Celebrate Home Magazine. The Wing-It Dip is on page 36.

Download Celebrate Home Magazine for free.

Photo by Cindy Dyer.

What Food Would You Put in a Time Capsule?

Hands down, we must include Chex Party Mix. I know there is nothing groundbreaking about Chex Mix but what happened right before the NFL playoff games is telling. My friend Margaret enjoys lining up her snacks for the big games, so she often mixes up a batch of homemade Chex Mix.

Our 13-year-old son says: “Chex Mix? She makes it? Don’t you just buy it in a bag?”

He was deeply baffled. Oh, how sad our children don’t know the pleasures of a good old-fashioned Chex Mix hot from the oven all spiced up with as much Worscestshire as you like. Sure, you can buy all kinds of delicious Chex Mix in a bag—original flavor or many varieties some of which are all gooed up with chocolate, peanut butter, cheese, and other flavors.

To prove my point that it could be done, I gathered the ingredients, made up a batch and the kids went nuts (pun intended) over the warm and crispy snack fresh out of the oven. I added oyster crackers, adjusted the nuts to our liking and even added a little extra Worcestershire. The Chex Party Mix is long gone but now I am left with boxes of Chex cereals lining my pantry shelf.

Guess what I’ll be making for the Super Bowl? And one final note: there are now directions on the cereal box for making the popular mix in the microwave. Don’t go there folks. Hold on to tradition. 

The Original Chex® Party Mix

Click here for nutritional information and more recipes for Chex Party Mix.

  • 3 cups Corn Chex® cereal
  • 3 cups Rice Chex® cereal
  • 3 cups Wheat Chex® cereal
  • 1 cup bite-sized pretzels
  • 1 cup garlic flavor bite-size bagel chips or regular-size bagel chips, broken into one-inch pieces
  • 6 tablespoons butter or margarine
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons seasoned salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder

Heat oven to 250 degrees. In ungreased large roasting pan, melt butter in oven. Stir in seasonings. Gradually stir in remaining ingredients until evenly coated. Bake one hour, stirring every 15 minutes. Spread on paper towels to cool, about 15 minutes. Stir in airtight container.

Elevate Your Dog

Elevated hot dog photo by Cindy Dyer.

The ubiquitous hot dog has its place almost any time and anywhere. It’s tailgate season and even if your tailgate is at home, make these always-popular chili dogs. They’re easy and they don’t take you far away from the big screen and roaring crowd. Make the chili ahead. Grill a quality hot dog like Hebrew National all-beef dogs and toast your buns right on the same grill where you grilled the hot dogs.  (A sturdy vessel is needed to hold all that chili you’ll put on the dogs.) Serve them with hot dog chili (my recipe here), some store-bought cheese sauce, mustard and chopped onions. Add some easy sides, various chips will do, and get back to the game.

  • 1 onion chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh red pepper, finely grated
  • 2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 pounds ground beef
  • 16-ounce can of tomato sauce
  • 3/4 cup beef broth
  • 2 Tablespoon brown sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons chili powder
  • Salt to taste

Fry chopped onions over high heat, stirring often, until they begin to brown. Add the red peppers and ground beef ground beef, stir well. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the beef is browned.

Add the tomato sauce, brown sugar, chili powder and beef broth. Simmer for at least 30 minutes. Taste for seasonings, add salt and more chili powder if needed. Can prepare ahead of time and reheat. Freezes well. If the sauce begins to get dry, just add more beef broth.

Hints: Chili powder is a blend of spices typically used in Mexican-style dishes – cumin, chili pepper, oregano, salt, garlic. If you don’t have chili powder, season with these various spices to your taste. I recommend Better than Bouillon® beef base. It’s organic and really good.


After eating my chili dogs, our 12-year-old son says , “Mom, why don’t you just buy Hormel® chili without beans in a can? That’s what we do at Connor’s house and it’s really good!”

Like I said, elevate your dog and do it your way on your own schedule. If you make it they will come, and that’s hospitality!