BBQ Patty Melt with Smoked Cheddar and Caramelized Onions

BBQ Patty Melt with Smoked Cheddar and Caramelized Onions

Stubbs Patty Melt

The next time you’ve got a craving for a juicy burger, give it a BBQ flavored twist and take it up another notch by ditching the boring old bun and making it a pressed patty melt.

To set it apart from the standard patty melt, I gave it a BBQ-inspired makeover my mixing ground beef and pork along with Stubb’s Original Bar-B-Q Sauce in the patty mix. I also put Stubb’s Bar-B-Q sauce on top of the cooked patties in the sandwich and added sweet caramelized onions and savory smoked Cheddar. This patty melt is like a barbecue sandwich, burger, and gooey grilled cheese all in one! Just like Texas BBQ tradition, serve it with pickles tucked into the patty melt or on the side.

Great for any time of the year, this can be made on your stove top, as no grill is needed to create this quick and easy comfort food classic.

Check out the recipe on Stubb’s Legendary Bar-B-Q’s website!

Asian Style Noodles with Roast Pork and Peanut Sauce

Asian Style Noodles with Roast Pork and Peanut Sauce

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Tired of takeout or bland freezer food for those busy weeknight dinners? Here’s a quick, easy and exotic meal idea that’s a breeze to prepare and sure to please everyone at your dinner table.

For this Asian-inspired dish, I used Stubb’s Pork Marinade as the base for marinating a pork tenderloin. The flavors of lemongrass, chilies, and lime in Stubb’s Pork Marinade make the perfect flavor base for an Asian-style dish. With the addition of a little extra garlic, ginger and fresh lime juice, I marinated pork tenderloin for a few hours, then seared and roasted it to give it a nice browned crust. Noodles in a zesty peanut sauce make a great accompaniment to the pork and can be quickly whipped up while the pork is cooking.

Besides the marinating time, this meal can be prepared and on the table in about thirty minutes or less. Better yet, you may already have some of the ingredients on-hand, like peanut butter and soy sauce, and the rest of the ingredients can be easily found at your grocery store. Don’t have any Asian noodles? No problem. Standard spaghetti or fettuccine pasta make great substitutions. And if peanuts pose an allergy issue, simply substitute almond butter and almonds for the peanut products.

Try these Asian-style noodles with roast pork tenderloin and peanut sauce tonight and you may never have to dig out those takeout menus again.

Check out the recipe on Stubb’s Legendary Bar-B-Q’s website!

Fiesta Layer Dip, Stubb’s Style

Fiesta Layer Dip, Stubb’s Style
Stubb's Fiesta Layer Dip

Stubb’s Fiesta Layer Dip

Now that summer is here, it means we’ve got plenty of reasons to celebrate — Father’s Day, 4th of July, Labor Day, pool parties, backyard barbecues, you name it. But what’s the most important part of a great summer party? The food, of course! Here’s a fun, festive and easy-to-prepare snack for summertime entertaining.

Mexican layer dip seems to be a staple at many parties during these warmer months. Why have one dip when you can have multiple in one big bite, right? Well here’s a twist on the original where Mexican layer dip gets an injection of Texas barbecue flavor, thanks to Stubb’s Legendary Bar-B-Q sauce and rub.

For this recipe, I blended Stubb’s Spicy Bar-B-Q Sauce with some black beans, onion, garlic, and cilantro for a smoky and slightly spicy kick to the dish. To take it up another notch, I mixed Stubb’s Pork Rub into the sour cream layer — it features chili pepper, paprika, and lime, and is a perfect complement to the other flavors in the dish. The result is a Tex-Mex barbecue makeover that’s sure to have you and your guests wishing you’d made a second batch. The black bean dip and spiced sour cream are even great on their own as solo dips if you’re in need of quick-fix appetizers.

Try this out for your next fiesta and you’ll surely be asked to make it again.

Check out the recipe on Stubb’s Legendary Bar-B-Q’s website!

Easy and Exotic: Quick(er) Chicken Tikka Masala

Easy and Exotic: Quick(er) Chicken Tikka Masala

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Craving something exotic for dinner but don’t feel like ordering takeout? Then look no further than this easy-to-prepare version of Chicken Tikka Masala. This creamy, spiced Indian comfort food is worth the effort to make and much more rewarding (and healthier) than ordering takeout.

This adaptation of the favorited Indian dish, just needs one pan to be cooked in as, instead of broiling the yogurt- and spice-marinated chicken tikka beforehand, it is cooked in the same pan that the masala “gravy” sauce is prepared. Aside from the chicken needing at least thirty minutes to marinate, the sauce only takes about fifteen minutes to whip up. Best of all, this tikka is a little lighter than the original because I swapped the heavy cream out for the yogurt marinade that’s stirred in at the end to thicken the sauce. As for the accompanying basmati rice, my suggestion is to get it started cooking while the chicken marinates, before the sauce is started — or just cheat and buy a brand that you can quickly cook in the microwave here (I won’t judge).

Whether you’ve had some experince dabbling in Indian cuisine or if you’ve no clue what garam masala is, this recipe can be easily prepared in under an hour and you can find most or all of the ingredients at your grocery store.
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Risotto Remix: Farro gives a classic Italian dish a whole grain twist

Risotto Remix: Farro gives a classic Italian dish a whole grain twist

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I’m sure most of you have had or at least heard of risotto before — a creamy, classic Italian dish made with short-grain, arborio rice that’s a veritable blank canvas as it can be made with about a million different accompanying herbs, vegetables, proteins, etc. Well, I’ve recently come upon risotto in a slightly different form and I must admit that I’m quite smitten with it. What’s the difference in the recipe? Farro! Formally known as “farrotto” in Italian, it is made exactly like risotto except that the farro grain replaces the arborio rice. It cooks up just like arborio, creating a tender and creamy risotto-like consistency with a slightly nutty flavor, and, bonus: it has significantly more health benefits.

Farro is a grain that comes from emmer, a species of wheat and has been around since ancient Roman times — it was a staple of the Roman diet and was even used as currency at times. It has been grown in Tuscany for centuries and is always cultivated traditionally, without the use of pesticides. Besides being great because it’s a whole grain, farro’s other health perks include being high in fiber, B vitamins, and both simple and complex carbs.
This grain has quite a tough outer layer, or “hull”, and comes in three different forms: whole (hull intact), semi-pearled (semi-hulled), and pearled (hulled). While the semi-pearled and pearled versions are quicker-cooking, they do not have quite as much fiber and nutrients as the “whole” type of farro because said nutrients are mostly contained in the hull.

As I mentioned above, this super grain can easily be utilized in place of arborio rice for risotto. It cooks up to be creamy, but with a nice al dente bite to it — the farro’s starches are slowly released with the low and slow cooking, with each addition of cooking liquid. Farro can also be used in soups, grain salads, and it makes a great substitute for oatmeal in the morning.

This particular recipe for farrotto, below, is a very versatile vegetarian dish which can easily be made vegan by omitting the butter and cheese, and it also makes a great side dish pairing with beef, chicken, pork or seafood. I kept this particular recipe fairly simple, and it can also double as a good basic recipe for standard arborio rice-based risotto.

The next time you’re at the grocery store, head for the grains or bulk aisle, grab some farro, pick up some onion and herbs, and try this dish on for size. I guarantee that you’ll fall in love with it too.
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Ch-ch-ch-chia! Cherry-Coconut Chia Seed Pudding with Pistachios

Ch-ch-ch-chia! Cherry-Coconut Chia Seed Pudding with Pistachios

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Remember that animal-shaped terracotta pottery from the ’80s that you had to smear wet seeds on which would later sprout “hair” (grass)? Who knew that you could, A. actually eat those slimy seeds, and B. over 20 years later they’d be revealed as a healthy addition to your diet? Yep, I’m referring to the Chia Pet and those little chia seeds that adorned them.

Formally known as Salvia hispanica, the flowering chia plant is native to Mexico. Its seeds have been cultivated for food since the age of the Aztecs, being as important a crop to them as maize (corn). When soaked in a liquid, chia seeds puff up — absorbing about 12 times their weight — and form a gelatinous outer shell (chia “gel”). Aztec warriors would use them as a portable food staple during battles, supposedly being able to be sustained for a whole day after consuming just one tablespoon of chia gel.

What is it about the chia seed that’s got the health food community going ga-ga for them, you ask? They’ve got a ton of nutrients packed into their tiny shells: the USDA claims that one ounce of chia seeds contains 9 grams of fat, 11 grams of dietary fiber, 4 grams of protein, and provide 18% of the recommended daily intake of calcium. They’re chock full of antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids (read: the good fats), too.
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Not-so-mellow mushrooms: Sherry-Braised Wild Mushroom Salad with Pecorino and Hazelnuts

Not-so-mellow mushrooms: Sherry-Braised Wild Mushroom Salad with Pecorino and Hazelnuts

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Though it’s an oxymoron, a warm salad is the perfect starter or main course for your table any time of the year, and I have just the recipe for you: sherry-braised mushrooms sautéed with shallots, thyme, and garlic, tossed with mixed greens, toasted hazelnuts and shaved Pecorino cheese.

Mushrooms are a great alternative to meat in a salad as they’re savory and hearty, pairing well with a variety of vinegars, nuts and cheeses. Many varieties of mushrooms are widely available in the winter and early spring months, which is why this is the perfect time to go foraging for tasty fungi at your local grocery store.

Though I didn’t go out and dig them up in my backyard, I’m using the term “wild mushrooms” with this dish because species of edible mushrooms that are either cultivated or harvested wild can be used in it. Examples of cultivated (or farmed) mushrooms include shiitake, Portobello, cremini, oyster, trumpet, etc.; mushrooms that are most commonly harvested wild (foraged) include truffle, matsutake, chanterelle, hedgehog, and, of course, the psilocybin-containing hallucinogenic ones (which I wouldn’t advise using in this recipe). Unless you’re a seasoned mushroom hunter, your safest bet is probably to buy them at the grocery store.

The key to this salad is adding the freshly sautéed mushrooms straight from the pan to the salad greens and tossing them together seconds before serving. The greens will wilt a few minutes after the hot mushrooms are added, so you don’t want them to wilt too soon before they’re eaten — they won’t taste bad, but a soggy pile of salad just isn’t pretty to look at.

Enjoy this salad as a main or first course, and pair it with a zesty Sauvignon Blanc or a medium-bodied Pinot Noir.
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Soup for Dummies: Warm up with this easy-to-make curried cauliflower-apple soup

Soup for Dummies: Warm up with this easy-to-make curried cauliflower-apple soup

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When the temperatures start to take a nose dive and it’s finally time to dig out the sweaters, I have one thing on my mind (besides keeping warm): soup! Synonymous with warmth and comfort, no wonder it’s such a popular dish this time of year.

The best part about soup is that it’s so darn easy to make. Seriously. You throw everything into a pot, bring it to a boil, lower it to a simmer, then let it ride for anywhere from 20 minutes to a few hours (depending on what you put in it).

With most soup recipes, especially those that need to simmer for a long period of time, a lid is required during cooking to prevent the liquid from evaporating (or else you’ll just have a pot of soggy vegetables). Also, you’ll notice that soup is always cooked in a pot or saucepan with high sides instead of in a sauté pan with low sides. Why? The high sides prevent some of the moisture from leaving the pot and evaporating, while pans with low sides are designed to help wick moisture away — which is why they are great for making pan sauces and reductions.

Curried Cauliflower and Apple Soup is a creamy, dreamy dish using currently abundant seasonal produce. Cauliflower is a great base for a pureed soup because, when blended, it acquires a creamed consistency; hence no cream (or the added calorie count) is needed. The Madras curry gives the recipe an Eastern twist and a pop of flavor, but feel free to omit it or change it up with your favorite curry blend.

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May the odds be ever in your favor: The Hunger Games’ sweet and savory Lamb Stew with Dried Plums Over Wild Rice

May the odds be ever in your favor: The Hunger Games’ sweet and savory Lamb Stew with Dried Plums Over Wild Rice
Katniss' favorite meal of lamb stew with dried plums and wild rice.

Katniss’ favorite meal of lamb stew with dried plums and wild rice.

If you’ve ever read The Hunger Games trilogy, you’ve probably noted that the most memorable dish in said texts is Katniss’ memorable meal of lamb stew with dried plums over wild rice. Her first taste of it in book one is at the games training center in the Capitol, and she is later rewarded with more of it later on during her time inside the game arena (it pops up in the following books quite a few times as well).

To create this dish, I used my favorite Irish Guinness beef stew as the base recipe: swapped out the beef for lamb, traded the Guinness for red wine, and threw in some dried plums (a.k.a.: prunes). Otherwise, the base is simply, onions, carrots, potatoes, fresh herbs and tomato paste — all items that can be easily found at your local grocery store.

This rustic lamb stew is incredibly easy to make and is the perfect dish to serve over these next few chilly months. The lamb is tender and slightly sweet, further enhanced by the herbaceous rosemary and sweet prunes. If lamb is too pricey for your budget, simply use beef or pork stew meat in its place. This can be simmered on the stove top for about 45 minutes, or cooked low and slow in a slow cooker over the course of a few hours. It is great served on its own, but to keep with the original inspiration for the dish, it’s even better served over wild rice (though I prefer a wild rice blend as wild rice can be rather chewy and rather costly).

Put yourself in Katniss’ shoes and volunteer yourself as tribute for cooking up this heartwarming meal. And may the odds be ever in your favor.

(P.S.: Happy New Year!)
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Chicken with Fresh Peas Braised in Sparkling Wine: A simple dish that’s packed full of flavor

Chicken with Fresh Peas Braised in Sparkling Wine: A simple dish that’s packed full of flavor
Marks & Spencer

Image credit: Delish.com

As most of you faithful readers know, I love cooking with booze. Using beer, wine or spirits is a great way to infuse flavor and amp up a dish. Whether it’s used for deglazing in a simple pan sauce or for a low and slow braise, alcohol can add a myraid of flavors to a dish (as long as you’re not using bottom shelf swill).

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Image credit: Marks & Spencer

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