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Tag Archives: barbecue

Barbecue Bacon Mango Pizza

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The sun is barely risen. I’m lying in bed and I can feel sweet warm breath rhythmically hitting my face. I slowly open my eyes and find myself nose to nose with Lucas, my three-year-old, who climbs into bed with me each morning. I put my arms around him, then close my eyes and pretend to be asleep. He plays with one of my earrings, trying to remove the small silver leaf from my ear. After a moment, he abandons the earring and begins running his tiny fingers over my eyebrows. Behind me, I can feel my five-year-old, Liam, trying to braid my excessively long hair. Lucas becomes bored with my eyebrows and begins trying to forcefully push my eyelids open. I roll over to face my Liam. Liam pushes his nose closer to mine and whispers, I love you, Mommy. I kiss his nose. The baby begins to peep through the monitor, wordlessly begging to join the family snuggle time. My husband rolls out of bed to grab the baby. Once in our bedroom, our sweet baby James crawls over his brothers to get on top of me. He puts his wide open mouth onto my cheek. I think it’s a kiss. A very sloppy kiss. Then he tries to jam his finger into my mouth to touch my teeth. I rouse myself then, to bring the boys downstairs for breakfast before my little amateur dentist gets too aggressive.

I’ve come to realize that I belong to my children as much as they belong to me. We belong to each other. It’s a thoroughly symbiotic relationship.

More than anything, I want my family to feel loved in the same way they so generously give their love to me. And one of the ways that I show my love is through fresh and delicious food, carefully crafted into delicious meals we can enjoy as a family, like this barbecue bacon mango pizza. This pizza is inspired by one of the recipes provided by The National Mango Board in a booklet they sent along with a shipment of beautiful ripe mangos. It instantly reminded me of a sweet and savory Hawaiian pizza, only substituting the ham for bacon and the pineapple for mango. Genius. Only I took that idea a little further by coming up with a homemade mango barbecue sauce, rather than slathering on something store-bought.

Though unplanned, the preparation of this pizza became a family affair. Small noses came running at the scent of bacon. Small hands stole said bacon. Small mouths gobbled up an entire mango before I had a moment to protest. We dubbed the afternoon Mangofest. There were tears when the last of the mango had been devoured, but smiles returned once this pizza was presented. Definitely a family pleaser! Best yet, the recipe for the barbecue sauce will make more than you need for the pizza…perfect for grilled mango barbecue chicken breasts the next day!!

Barbecue Bacon Mango Pizza

Ingredients

For the mango barbecue sauce

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 small red onion, chopped
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons garlic, minced
  • 1 (15-ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh mango puree (2 medium mangos should do the trick)
  • 4 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (plus more, if desired)
  • Salt (optional), as desired

For the pizza

  • 1 12″ pizza crust
  • 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 mango, chopped*
  • 6-8 slices bacon, cooked and chopped
  • 3/4 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • Fresh parsley, chopped

* Click HERE to see my photo guide on how to chop a mango.

Directions

To prepare the mango barbecue sauce: Heat the olive oil in a large pan over medium/medium-low heat. Add the onion and cook for 5-7 minutes until tender and translucent. Add the garlic and cook for another minute or two. Add all other barbecue sauce ingredients and stir to combine. Bring to a very gentle simmer, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for about 25 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent burning. Allow the sauce to cool, then use a food processor or blender to puree until smooth. Taste the sauce and adjust seasoning as desired. Refrigerate until using.*

To prepare the pizza: Heat the oil in a small pan over medium/medium-low heat. Add the onion. Cook for about 15 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent burning, until the onions are tender, sweet, and lightly golden. Spread a thin layer of the sauce (approximately 1/2 cup) over the pizza crust. Scatter most of the bacon, mango, and onions over the sauce. Top with the shredded cheese. Scatter the remaining bacon, mango, onions, and parsley on top. Bake in a 400 degrees oven for about 12-15 minutes, until hot and melty.

*The barbecue sauce recipe will produce more sauce than is necessary for the pizza. You can use the sauce as you might use any barbecue sauce on grilled chicken, ribs, shrimp… It would also freeze nicely for later use.

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Beef Skewers in an Asian-style Cherry Barbecue Sauce

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It’s grilling season and I’m giddy with excitement!! I’m a charcoal grill girl at heart. I love the back-to-basics feel of it all, grilling over hot charcoals, lit with a simple piece of newspaper, a match and a chimney starter. No aftertaste of lighter fluid; just delicious, smokey grilled flavor.

The problem is that most days, I cook before my husband is home from work, which means that I’m on my own to tend to the exposed grill flames, while simultaneously entertaining our three very active little men. The process of preparing a charcoal grill takes a good chunk of time, all of which I spend wound up like a bundle of nerves, as the kids run chaotically around the yard and I repeatedly yell for them to stay away from the grill, which of course, seems to draw them even closer to the grill like mosquitos to a bug zapping light. It’s a fiasco, which induces a lot more stress than grilling joy. The end result is that we rarely use the charcoal grill.

I’ve been eyeing gas grills for a couple of years now. I hemmed and hawed over buying one last year. I came very close at one point. This year, I actually did buy one. And we’ve used it more in the past two weeks than we used the charcoal grill all of last year. There is definitely something to be said about the ease and convenience of a gas grill. In the past two weeks alone, we’ve grilled burgers and cedar-plank salmon and sausages and marinated chicken breasts and ribeye steaks and hot dogs for the kiddies. And these kebabs.

I made these kebabs last weekend. My sister and brother-in-law were in town and we were entertaining a small group of friends. Kebabs seemed like the perfect main course. I made shrimp kebabs skewered with sweet red peppers and pineapple, which I marinated in a bit of coconut milk, olive oil, lime juice, chile powder, shallots, and cayenne pepper. And these sweet and spicy beef skewers, coated in a fresh Asian-inspired barbecue sauce, sweetened with ripe cherries and a touch of honey. I’m head over heels in love with this versatile barbecue sauce and have big plans for slathering it on chicken, pork, shrimp, and salmon this year. It’s going to be a great grilling season, for sure!

Beef Skewers in an Asian-style Cherry Barbecue Sauce

Ingredients

For the sauce:

  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 1/2 red onion, finely diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
  • 15 fresh cherries, pitted and halved
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar (or red wine vinegar)
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 teaspoons chile paste
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground mustard
  • 1/4 cup water
  • Salt and cayenne pepper, to taste

For the kebabs:

  • 2 pounds beef sirloin, cut into 1 1/2″ cubes
  • 1 red onion, cut into large chunks
  • 3 sweet peppers (red, orange, yellow, and/or green), cut into large chunks

Directions

To prepare the sauce: Heat the oil in a pan over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic. Cook for 3-5 minutes, stirring frequently, until the onion is tender. Add the cherries. Continue cooking for another 5-7 minutes. Reduce the heat. Add the tomato paste, vinegar, honey, chile paste, and ground mustard. Stir to combine. Allow the mixture to cool slightly, then puree the mixture until smooth using a blender, food processor, or immersion blender. Add the water to slightly thin out the sauce. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and cayenne pepper, as desired.

To prepare the kebabs: Toss the chunks of beef with about 3/4 of the sauce. (Save the rest for brushing the kebabs during cooking.) Allow the beef to marinade in the sauce for a few hours or overnight. Soak wooden skewers in water for at least 30-45 minutes (which will prevent them from burning on the grill). Place the meat, peppers, and onions on the skewers in an alternating pattern. Preheat your grill to medium heat. Grill the kebabs for a few minutes on each side, until the meat is cooked to your desired doneness. Towards the end of the cooking time, brush the kebabs with the reserved sauce.

Independence Day Menu Ideas

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It’s almost time to celebrate America’s birthday; America’s number one holiday for backyard barbecues and launching brightly colored explosives into the sky.

Many of us will spend the day with friends and family, gathered around a hot grill, enjoying good summer food and cheering to independence. Check out these ideas for making your Independence Day menu extra delicious! (Click on the titles for a link to each recipe.)

And if you’re wondering how to make that tasty American flag cake pictured above, click here for a step-by-step guide.

Grilled Ribeye and Corn on the Cob with Chipotle Butter – Including lots of tips for grilling a delicious, juicy steak!

The Mona Lisa Burger – A juicy beef patty with gorgonzola, roasted garlic aioli, olives, prosciutto, onions, and sun-dried tomatoes

Grilled Honey-Garlic Baby Lamb Chops– A simple and elegant grilled alternative to burgers!

The Hangover Burger (aka The Heart Attack on a Bun) – Beef patty with bacon, chili, and spicy cheese sauce, topped with a slightly runny fried egg. Heavenly delicious!

Greek-style Lamb Burger with Tzatziki Sauce– My husband’s most favorite dish in the whole world, hands down.

Turkey Burger with Fresh Tomato Salsa– Slightly cheesy and perfectly delicious!

Barbecue Beef Chili – Pulled barbecue beef meets spicy chili in this super-satisfying dish. Totally worth the time it takes to put together. Make a huge batch and freeze the leftovers!

Baked Potato Salad – A flavorful potato salad alternative for those with an aversion to mayonnaise (like myself)!

Mediterranean Cous Cous – Simple and flavorful side dish which can be made ahead and served chilled.

Tomato-Cucumber Salad– Fresh summer tomatoes and crisp cucumber in a tangy vinaigrette.

Barley and Bean Salad – Bursting with nutrition and bright flavors!

Grilled Fingerling Potatoes– Throw them in a foil packet and pop them on the grill. Sprinkle with a bit of gorgonzola, if desired!

Dinosaur Barbecue Macaroni Salad – The only macaroni salad I’ve ever loved!

Orzo with Salmon and Cucumber A fresh and satisfying side dish or main course on a hot summer day!

Tomato and Mozzarella Caprese Classic and delicious!

Fresh Ginger Lemonade– A hint of infused ginger root with freshly squeezed lemons gives this lemonade that extra something special!

Mixed Berry Mousse– Pair it with a layer of vanilla bean panna cotta for an extra special treat!

Grilled Honey Garlic Baby Lamb Chops

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It’s grilling season. Even my four year old seems to sense it. He awoke on Saturday morning with his mind set on grilling hot dogs. It was undoubtedly a perfect weekend for grilling, but I’m not much of a hot dog eater…unless, of course, it’s a Nathan’s hot dog and I’m sitting at a Yankees game with a beer in my other hand. I suggested that we grill steaks instead. But his heart was set on hot dogs. I know, Mommy, he said, always ready with a solution. Hot dogs are for the ‘mans’ and steaks are for the ladies! I like the way this kid thinks! We agreed to grill that evening.

What we would grill quickly changed once I’d arrived at the grocery store. As I stood staring at the wide selection of succulent steaks, I was seduced by a rack of lamb. It whispered to me, just as I was examining the ribeyes. Before I knew it, I was stepping away from the steaks and placing a rack of lamb into my cart. Buh-bye, ribeyes. Hello, lamb.

Lamb chops gave me the perfect opportunity to try out an idea I’d mentally bookmarked. One of our local pizza joints serves the most delicious char-grilled wings. They offer them in a number of tasty varieties, including Buffalo hot, volcanic, mild, barbecue, teriyaki and rosemary parmesan. But, the honey garlic wings are easily my favorite. There’s something about the way that honey caramelizes on the grill which makes my mouth water. It’s char-grilled magic. I’ve been itching to throw something on the grill, slathered with a honey garlic sauce. Grilled baby lamb chops were my perfect opportunity! This preparation would also be delicious on grilled chicken or pork.

Grilled Honey Garlic Baby Lamb Chops

Ingredients

  • 8 baby lamb chops, bones frenched*
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 2 teaspoons garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
*One side of a rack of lamb is made up of 8 lamb ribs. Simply cut between the bones to get 8 lamb chops.

Directions

Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook for about 3 minutes. Turn the heat to low. Add the soy sauce, honey, parsley, and crushed red pepper. Stir to combine. Allow to cook for 2-3 minutes. Set aside to cool.

Trim the lamb of any excess fat or silver skin. Sprinkle each lamb chop with a bit of salt. Divide the sauce into two portions. Set one half aside at room temperature. Use the other half of the sauce to brush one side of each chop. Refrigerate the chops for about an hour.

Heat the grill to medium-high heat. Rub the grill with olive oil to prevent sticking. Place the lamb chops on the grill, brushed side down. Cook for 2-4 minutes. While cooking, brush the other side with the remaining half of the honey-garlic sauce. Then, flip the lamb chops and cook for another 2-4 minutes, until they’ve reached an internal temperature of at least 145 degrees. They will cook quickly, so don’t wander too far from the grill.

Serves 2

Tomato-Cucumber Salad

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One of the benefit’s of making yesterday’s Pulled Pork and Peach Pizza is that you’ll end up with a mound of leftover pork…perfect for a few pulled pork sandwiches.

I can’t think about pulled pork without thinking of Dinosaur Bar B Que, our local barbecue biker bar. It’s definitely a place we like to bring visiting friends. Really delicious, authentic barbecue is the name of their game. It was even voted America’s best barbecue on ABC’s Good Morning America in 2009 and it will be featured in an upcoming episode of Travel Channel’s Man v. Food with Adam Richman.

Dinosaur Bar B Que’s smoked pulled pork puts mine to shame. It’s so very good. You can never go wrong with the Big Ass Pork Plate. Excuse my language, please. I blush a little every time I order it. Dinosaur’s Big Ass Pork Plate comes with a huge mound of pork, a chunk of their Honey Hush Corn Bread and two of their many delicious side dishes. One of my favorite side dishes is their Tomato-Cucumber Salad. It’s always a nice fresh balance to the pile of meat on the other end of the platter.

So, with my dinner of leftover pulled pork, I’m mixing up my take on this classic summer side dish. Simple, summer-fresh flavors are always a win in my book.

Tomato-Cucumber Salad

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/8 cup olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon mustard
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/4 red onion, diced fine
  • 1 pound rom tomatoes
  • 1 large, seedless cucumber

Directions

Depending on the size of the tomatoes, cut them into fourths or eighths. Remove the seeds. Cut the cucumber in half lengthwise, then in half lengthwise again, to form four long quarters. Slice the cucumbers into small fan-shaped pieces. Combine the vinegar, oil, garlic, mustard, sugar, salt and pepper. Whisk to combine. Pour the dressing over the tomatoes, cucumbers, and red onions. Toss to combine.

If possible, make the salad a few hours before eating to allow the veggies to get comfy in the dressing.

If you’re feeling saucy, a batch of my Sweet Honey Corn Bread would work beautifully with this meal! Click here for that recipe.

Baked Potato Salad

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I’ve mentioned my aversion to mayonnaise before. I have no good explanation for it. I think it’s something about the slimy texture. Maybe it’s the smell. It’s hard to say. I don’t avoid it completely, but I use it judiciously and when I do use it, it absolutely has to be Hellman’s. You’re welcome for the free endorsement, Hellman’s. Traditional summer salads pose an issue for me, since so many are laden with mayonnaise. Add that to my paranoia about food safety and refrigeration and my heart starts to race. I panic a bit during summer parties when presented with salad upon gloppy, mayonnaisey salad. Did they use Hellman’s?? How long has it been sitting out?? Is there anything else to eat?? My brother-in-law is as disturbed by mustard as I am by mayonnaise. Strange. I mean, what’s so gross about mustard?? But then again, I’m the one who just wrote a paragraph on my feelings about mayonnaise. So, I suppose that I am clearly the weirdo amongst us.

My distaste for mayonnaise is what brings us to today’s recipe; a non-mayonnaise alternative to potato salad which will delight your taste buds. It’s a potato salad inspired by a loaded baked potato. Think fork-tender chunks of red potato, blended together with sour cream, cheddar cheese, bits of bacon, and chopped green onions. Not a glop of mayonnaise in sight!

Baked Potato Salad

Ingredients

  • 3 pounds Red Potatoes, cut into bite sized pieces
  • 1 cup Sour Cream
  • 1 cup Bacon, crumbled
  • 1 cup Green Onions, chopped
  • 1 cup Cheddar Cheese, shredded
  • 1 Tbsp Mustard
  • Salt and Pepper

Directions

Place chopped potatoes in a pot. Fill the pot with water until it just covers the potatoes. Add a bit of salt to the water. Bring to a boil and simmer for about 8-10 minutes, until potatoes are fork-tender. Drain in a colander. Rinse with cold water in order to stop the cooking and slightly cool the potatoes. In a large bowl, combine the potatoes with the sour cream, mustard, cheese, bacon and onions. Season with salt and lots of coarse-ground black pepper. Refrigerate until completely cooled. Keep refrigerated until ready to serve.

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