Now that I have eaten #AllTheThings this past month leading up to Christmas, I’m planning a lighter menu for New Year’s Eve. A whole side of salmon is a showy (and amazingly simple) celebratory meal that will make waves with your family and friends ringing in 2017. Wow your crowd with my recipe for Slow-Baked Raspberry Dill Salmon, it’s just as delicious as it is dazzling. Slow is the way to go!
I enjoyed a one-of-a-kind, sorta-strange experience as only Austin can host at the Taco Takedown that was held this past weekend near the be-hip-or-go-home scene at SXSW (South by Southwest). I’ve been in quite a few cook-offs including the iconic Pillsbury Bake Off in Vegas with $1 Million prize (obviously I didn’t win), the Crisco Cook Off in Nashville as part of the Country Music Festival, and even many times in my home-town Hatch Green Chile Cook Off where I hold bragging rights as the 1st, 2nd and 3rd place winner.
The right to battle it off as a finalist in most of these showdowns required each recipe to make it through some sort of qualifying round, being made and examined in a test kitchen by professional chefs and pre-judged on factors like presentation, fit within a certain category, creativity, convenience, taste and so on. Typically, pages of rules, do’s and don’ts, and lists of disqualifications were also involved. However, not at the Taco Takedown – basically all the info I was given was just show up with your best taco. So, of course I started over analyzing and guessing at the non-existent details. And, in the end I decided to fly by the seat of my pants. I wondered what kind of taco would win – surely in Austin, a freaky taco would beat a traditional taco any day.
That’s why I wrapped all my loves, as strange as the combo might sound, in one tortilla – viola, a Beef Brisket Taco with Spicy Watermelon BBQ Sauce (and Pickled Rind Relish) recipe was born. Well, I guessed wrong because a Crispy Chicken with Avocado Taco dished up by Evin at Food Good, Laundry Bad took top honors. As partial as I was to my wacky yet wonderful watermelon beef taco, I have to admit, the winner was really, super-ultra-deluxe good – and it was fried, how could I compete with that?! But, I got to go home with the beefy man-hunk taco model — so, really, I was the WINNER!
It’s no secret that I’m a fan of meaty beef, and summer-sweet watermelon and a surprise of spiciness, these are a few of my favorite things (is there a song here . . )? I knew these flavors would mingle together for a memorable taco –as they did. I didn’t want to smoke the brisket, so I had four massive slow-cookers breaking down the beef into the perfect tenderness for fork shredding. But, holy-moly, it took a long time to shred 27 pounds of brisket! The BBQ sauce was a not-too-vinegary, not-to-tomatoey sauce sweetened with watermelon just and spiced up with Sriracha. Probably the most unique thing going on was the pickled watermelon rind that was diced up in the salsa. A true southerner uses ALL parts of the watermelon. And, of course, I topped it all off with some salty, crumbly queso fresco cheese.
Use this Spicy Watermelon Barbecue Sauce on beef — but also on chicken, baked beans, fish, sausage, pork and more. I’ve also used it as a salad dressing!
Because you’re probably not cooking for a 250 person crowd, I’ve scaled down the recipe for you to feed about 8 and maybe some leftovers!
What’s the craziest thing you’ve wrapped in a tortilla and called a taco? Please share in the comments!
The BIG GAME will be here in a little over a week and my guys have been uncharacteristically fussing about the football-watching party preparations. I have some football players, past and present in my house! What television should we watch – in the game room or downstairs closer to the kitchen? Should we play games like ‘squares’ or have a bean bag toss? And, most importantly, what will everyone eat?!
It’s not JUST going to be (root) beer, Buffalo wings and burgers. It’s impossible to be a healthy food and fitness blogger and not bring a little sumptin’ sensible to the shindig. But I’m not talking about a sad little tray of carrot and celery sticks, instead imagine a nutritious array of nibbles that is as exciting and epic as the BIG GAME itself – a HEALTHY SNACK STADIUM!
I created this masterpiece of munch-worthy goodness for Litehouse Foods – they challenged me to put a healthy spin on the increasingly popular and pin-worthy food displays made for football-watching gatherings. The stands are packed with fruit and veggies and the field is covered in healthy salsas and dips made from Greek yogurt. Guests even get an all-access pass to refuel at a sandwich-making station and dig into sidelines loaded up with whole-grain chips and football-decorated eggs!
Go over and visit Living Litehouse for additional photos and details on how to make this Healthy Snack Stadium (including how to assemble the framework and making pretzel rod goal posts) that will have your guests eating like champions.
While the Patriots and Seahawks rumble on the Super Bowl gridiron, I’ll be serving up even more healthy appetizers alongside my Snackadium. Here are a few ideas for healthy snacks that will make you an MVP on game day, any day and every day!
Cilantro Lime Guacamole – Simple, smooth and just so darn good that I have been known to eat the whole bowl at one sitting! A perfect dip for chips or healthier options like carrot, jicama, or zucchini sticks and to use as a spread on your sandwich. If you have leftover guacamole (yeah, right!) or just want to make extra in advance, check out my blog post on How to Freeze Guacamole.
Nutty Slow Cooker Snack Mix – Snack mix is a perennial party favorite, my recipe uses a slow cooker (really!) to make the process stress-free and super tasty. I like to add lots of nuts to my snack mix for healthy fats and extra protein. A sure bet!
Football Deviled Eggs – Are these the cutest eggs ever? And, the good news is you will not go to hell for incorporating them into a healthy diet – eggs are a great source of protein and essential vitamins. I’ve used Greek yogurt instead of the traditional mayo for a slimming swap-a-roo!