Smashburger Sampler Austin

Food Porn of the Day: Burgers on Burgers

Smashburger Sampler Austin

I was invited to the pre-opening tasting of the new Smashburger here in Austin. I’m not much for burgers (unless they’re really exceptional) or “fast casual” type restaurants in general, but I’d heard a fair amount about the Colorado-based chain and decided to check it out. I will say the burgers (ground beef, chicken breast, and black bean) were much higher quality than your average chain burger, but they were still greasy, decadent, meaty… burgers. They held nothing back at the tasting event; the pic above is only part of what I was given to sample. I only ate a bite or so of each, otherwise I think my stomach would have exploded.

Salt Block Root Beer Steak

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You’re probably wondering what a salt block root beer steak is, and you’d be right to, because well..until now, that has definitely not been a thing.

Here’s what happened: I had two exciting new products burning a whole in my kitchen, waiting to be used.

1) My still unused Christmas present: a Himalayan pink salt block from the Meadow. Salt blocks allow you to cook foods at 600-degree temperatures, while the salt rapidly sears proteins, caramelizes sugar, and yes, adds a wee bit of salty deliciousness. By the way, this is how beautiful it looks before you get into the nitty gritty of grilling on it:

salt block

2) A bottle of McCormick Root Beer Concentrate that came my way as part of McCormick’s Flavor of Together program, a yearlong initiative to share 1.25 million stories about how flavor both unites and defines people across the globe.

So, what exactly is root beer concentrate? Well, it’s kind of like vanilla extract, except instead of vanilla it adds a dash of root beer flavor to whatever you’re cooking.

In 1889, Willoughby M. McCormick went door to door selling one of McCormick & Company’s first products, Root Beer Extract. From there, the product quickly rose in popularity and led to a trending sensation of root beer floats and root beer home brewing in the early 1900s. In 2014, McCormick marks its 125th anniversary by celebrating the role flavor plays in all of our lives, inspiring flavorful conversation, and giving back to communities around the world. They asked me to come up with my own Root Beer Concentrate recipe…and clearly I was not going to make a plain old root beer float.

I’ve glazed meat in coke before, so I figured, why not root beer meat?

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100 Ways to Use Beer in Food #16: Chili

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100 ways to use beer in food is BACK and better than ever. As Winter Storm Janus trapped the fiancé and I indoors for TWO days straight, we had the typically rare opportunity to cook a meal together. Thinking about what meats we had in the freezer, we finally came to using the ground beef to make CHILI.

Why did Chili come to mind first? Well, I had this bottle of Billy’s Chilies that ML and her BF brought over for me. Billy’s Chilies is a BEER flavored with Serrano, Habanero, Jalapeno, Anaheim, and Fresno chili peppers. Yup…I’ve been saving this for the right time, and with frigid temperatures and going out to brush off 4 inches of snow from the cars every few hours, some extra heat was needed in the chili.

ML warned us that some antacids would be needed before and after indulging in the suds. She was right. I took a small taste to see if it would complement the flavors in our chili. YOWZA. Screw beer…you can taste the chilies in liquid form—start to finish. Of course there is a hint of wheat malts, but this was the perfect brew for chili.

I’ve had some spicy chili, but usually it’s been the kind that burns your tongue until it’s numb and you can’t even taste the chili. This had a different feeling. First off, the beer really changed the flavor in a big way. Chili powder definitely adds a spicy flavor, but the peppers included in the beer really came through the chili. The chili had a big KICK to it that continued throughout, even after you were done with the chili. This stuff is perfect for a cold winter day…when you have to brush the damn snow off your cars several times a day. Trust me: this will warm you up.

Billy’s Chilies Chili

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Butternut Bison Blue Cheese Chili

Butternut Blue Cheese Bison Chili

Butternut Bison Blue Cheese Chili

Welp, it’s chili weather. Chili is basically the best fall/winter dinner ever. It’s easy to throw together, super cozy, and you can really feel good about it because it’s chock full of fiber and protein (and SPICE!) Also because it makes me feel like I’m watching football, even if I’m not. (What, is that weird?)

I usually make my chipotle sweet potato chili but I was in the mood to mix it up this week. I had some butternut squash to use up and figured it’d be a great chili ingredient, along with your requisite beans and meat (in this case, ground bison—it has a sweet, meaty taste with tons of protein and it’s way leaner than ground beef. Thanks, bison!).

To keep things interesting, I decided to top this one with a sprinkle of gorgonzola crumbles and Louisiana hot sauce—blue cheese and butternut squash is lovely together, and obviously hot wings have taught us that blue cheese and hot sauce are also a match made in heaven. I’m pretty proud of this flavor combination, y’all!

Butternut Blue Cheese Bison Chili

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Top 10 Ways to Use Butternut Squash

‘Tis the season. NO—not to be jolly and sing Christmas carols. We still have a good month left of fall enjoyment. That means to leave the Christmas decorations in the basement, put down the Christmas songs CD, and bring on the fall foods and drinks. Butternut squash has become a food staple of the fall season. But there is only so much Butternut Squash Soup that you can eat. SO…for the next month, try some of these. You’re welcome.

10. Butternut Squash Chantrelle and Brie Pizza

butternut-squash-chantrelle-and-brie-pizza

Pizza pizza! Girlfriend and I tried making this ourselves and it came out pretty well. Any variation would be delicious, but I saw this version and I think the brie would make the perfect pairing with the butternut squash. All it needs now is some short ribs…

Recipe: Heather Christo

9. Butternut Squash Muffins

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Pumpkin muffins are delicious, but what about butternut squash? I could see these muffins being eaten as snacks, dessert, or even with a savory breakfast. Maybe some butterscotch chips in these?

Recipe: WendyInKK

8. Butternut Squash Stuffed Shells

ButternutSquashStuffedShellsFifteenSpatulas

When I first saw this recipe, I thought the shells would be stuffed with some kind of butternut squash mixture. Instead, it is the traditional stuffed shells, but the sauce is a savory butternut mixture. Looking for a quick meal on a cold night? Try these out.

Recipe: Fifteen Spatulas

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Korean Empanada Night

Woo-hoo for wintry weather! As much as we all love pumpkin beers, food-wise fall really just seems like a tease until slow cooker season officially arrives. With the temps plummeting this week, I think it’s time to kick it off.

Empanadas

While pulled pork is usually my slow cooker weapon of choice, this week I decided to branch out and go for beef, inspired by Campbell’s Korean BBQ Slow Cooker Sauce. First off: wow, Korean food has really arrived in the mainstream, huh? You’ve come a long way, kimchi. Two: I know this is bordering on cheating, but what I appreciate about this sauce is that it’s actually made out of real food, rather than mostly additives. So you’ve got your peppers, garlic and all your savory spices in the bag, you just pour it over a rump roast and go to work. Seven hours later, you’ve got tender strands of Korean-style BBQ beef.

If you’re a normal person, you just throw that over some white rice and call it a night. Clearly, I had to do something more blog-worthy.

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A Different Benedict

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When I heard that Brooklyn’s legendary Junior’s restaurant was releasing new a cookbook, you know I was all up on this. I mean, this is the place that invented the “something different” sandwich: two giant potato latkes holding up a bevy of beef brisket.

That monstrosity/amazingness isn’t included in Junior’s Home Cooking, but they do have another spin for how to combine breakfast beef and carbs. The Junior’s “different benedict” offers up eggs and hollandaise over corned beef hash. Yes.

A Different Benedict

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