I get offers for free stuff just about every day.  Most of the time I just say no thank you – I don’t need to try your new straw, or artificial sweetener that you only need to use a drop to sweeten a whole batch of muffins. 

But I stopped in my tracks when I saw that Pit Barrel asked if I wanted to try out their vertical smoker.  Um, yes please!

Tony and I tried to smoke meat a few times, but it never went very well.  We had a cheap one from Home Depot that cost all of about $30.  The first time Tony added so much wood to the smoker that all you could taste was the smoke and the meat was almost inedible.  The second time we decided to smoke a brisket.  In case you don’t know, brisket from a butcher is very pricey – like $50-$60.  Our thought process was to cook it low and slow and slice it for sandwiches, etc.

It started out fine – we had the coals holding at about 225 degrees, but we’d walk away, come out 30 minutes later and the temperature was up to 400, we’d try to cool it down, then the coals went out.  It was basically a disaster.

Hannah’s fried and her son were coming over for Sunday Dinner, and they both love meat.  I bought this 64 ounce (after cutting out the bone after it was cooked) bone in ribeye at Sam’s Club for $30.  You might be thinking “holy shit, that’s a lot of money!” and it is, but when you think about it, you couldn’t buy that steak in a restaurant for less than $120.  I made scalloped potatoes on the side and a canned corn/carrot side dish, and when you break it down, dinner was about $7 a person.  Last time I checked you can’t buy McDonald’s or Jimmy John’s for that.

The premise with the barrel smoker is that the coals are at the bottom and the meat is at the top.  It comes with accessories so that you can hang whole pieces of meat like roasts and whole chickens and it cooks almost like a convection oven.  I was doing a reverse sear on the ribeye, which means I cooked the beef away from the heat, and then finished it off on my stove in my cast iron skillet for the last three minutes a side to get a nice crust.

I decided that I didn’t need to flip the beef, but next time I will flip it half way through – don’t get me wrong, the beef was so tender you didn’t even need a knife to cut it, but one side had a bit bigger smoke ring than the other.

There are venting holes at the top and bottom, but the top hole was perfect for my meat thermometer.  I knew I wanted to pull the beef off at 115 degrees knowing I was going to finish it off on the cast iron skillet.

Here is how the beef looked at 115 degrees. Um, it may be 8 in the morning right now as I type this, but my mouth is watering just looking at this picture.

Using a meat thermometer has really upped my grilling game.  I don’t know how I tried to cook without one.  I can’t tell you how many times Tony and I made whole chickens on the grill, seemed like it cooked for a couple hours, only to cut into it and have it raw on the inside.

The problem people make with beef is that they pull the beef off at the temperature they want – say 125 for medium rare.  But they don’t take into consideration the residual heat that will continue to cook the beef as it rests.  So it’s perfect when you pull it, but then as it rests it will hit 135 or 140 which is more medium on its way to medium well.  

This is a remote thermometer, only cost about $20 and you can set it for a specific temperature and be inside your kitchen and can keep an eye on it, and it will alarm when it hits the targeted temperature.  Basically full proof!

Once I brought the meat in, I cut the bone out and seared the beef for 3 minutes a side over medium-high heat, then let it rest 15 minutes before slicing.

Hannah and Jacob LOVE a good bonfire, and turns out their friend does too!  She kept feeding the fire and her son loved it too.  I have an acre lot so there is plenty of shit to burn and she said “can I come over every Sunday?  We’ll have all this shit burned up by the fall!”

This isn’t the best picture, but can you see how on the top of the beef the smoke ring is a bit bigger?  That was the side that was facing down on the grill.  Since I’ve never used this grill before, there will be some learning curves, but Jacob and I are super stoked to make a whole grilled chicken next weekend.

I follow Hey Grill Hey and have gotten lots of grilling tips from her.  You can check out her blog here, and her YouTube videos here.

My dinner was 16 points including a glass of wine, which turned out perfect because I slept in so only had brunch before dinner.


I got my hair cut finally!  Now I can really see the grey hair, but turns out Hannah can dye it for me if I want.  It’s a good length, although I think my bangs are still a bit long, but I’ll see how I feel this week styling it.  Er, washing and blow drying it, since that’s all I do with my hair. šŸ˜›

Since it was nice outside the dogs have been loving being outside again.  Roman is addicted to the frisbee, and you know he’s tired when he lets me hold him like this.  This was obviously before I got my hair cut. šŸ˜€

If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll know that I was up 2.4 for the last three weeks since my last weigh in at Weight Watchers.  I’ve been thinking about it, and I’ve realized I haven’t really put in the effort I should have – kind of just going through the motions, so I decided to give freestyle another chance.

Saturday was a perfect example of working the program.  I had really low blood sugar in the afternoon and after eating a banana and some watermelon, it wasn’t coming back up fast enough for me, so I measured and weighed out 1 ounce of yogurt covered raisins.  It wasn’t until after I was feeling better that I looked it up and realized that was 6 points.  Now that I am back to 23 points for the day, that left me with only 3 points for dinner.  I made a wonton soup using Trader Joe’s cilantro wontons and chicken broth with spinach and carrots and it was a delicious and filling 2 point dinner.


I am on my own this week with walking at lunch – my cough is nearly gone thank goodness.  It’s still the worst when I first wake up, but hopefully I’ll kick that to the curb this week.  My sister is on her way to the Bahamas for vacation this week to celebrate her and her husband’s anniversary and our 50th birthday – she’ll be back by then – we are both taking next Monday off for our birthday, so that will be fun.

What was the highlight of your weekend?  

*While I received the Pit Barrel Smoker for free, all opinions are my own.