Chocolate-Chili Rubbed Brisket Sliders with Chocolate BBQ Sauce #Choctoberfest

The other product I received from Caveman Coffee Co to try out was their Sabertooth Roast Coffee. (You can check out what I made with their Cacao Butter in yesterday’s post.) Again, the product was complimentary, but all opinions are my own.


Today, I wanted to go savory. Because if you can swing having chocolate for dinner, you totally should. I started with a chocolate bbq sauce. It’s is spicy with a touch of sweetness and the chocolate gives it a nice smooth, thick texture.


Then, I made a chocolate-chili spice rub and used it to crust a brisket. After slow cooking the brisket, I shredded it and served it on sliders, topped with the bbq sauce. They were delicious.

Chocolate Chili Rubbed Brisket Sliders with Chocolate BBQ Sauce
(adapted from this and this, both from Saveur)
Makes 18 sliders

For the bbq sauce:

2 Tbsp. butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 small yellow onion, minced
1/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 1/2 cups ketchup
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup brewed Sabertooth Roast Coffee
2 Tbsp. honey
2 Tbsp. cider vinegar
2 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
2 tsp. dry mustard
2 tsp. chili powder
2 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. black pepper
Pinch of cayenne

In a saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the garlic and onions and cook for about 5 minutes, until soft. Stir in remaining ingredients and cook for about 3 minutes, stirring occasionally, until thickened.

For the chocolate-chili rub:

1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup brown sugar
3 Tbsp. chili powder
2 Tbsp. kosher salt
2 Tbsp. onion powder
1 Tbsp. garlic powder
1 Tbsp. oregano
1 Tbsp. dried mustard
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. allspice

Whisk all ingredients together in a bowl.

To make the brisket:

Chocolate BBQ Sauce
Chocolate-Chili Rub
2-3 lb. beef brisket
18 slider rolls

In a slow cooker, add 1 cup of bbq sauce to coat the bottom of the crock. Rub the brisket generously with several tablespoons of chocolate-chili rub. Place the brisket in the slow cooker and cook on low for 8 hours. Remove and shred. Serve on rolls, topped with additional bbq sauce.


Cheeseburger Burritos

I swear that every time I plan to grill out, it rains. Or at least it feels that way lately. I can’t remember the last time we’ve had so much rain!

It’s meant a few hiccups our meal plans. I was dreaming of burgers on the grill one night, but grilling in the pouring rain had zero appeal – so they became burger burritos instead. It wasn’t the juicy, grilled burger I was daydreaming about, but it was a good enough approximation for a rainy night – and Jake LOVED them.


Cheeseburger Burritos
(from Meals, Heels and Cocktails)
Serves 6

1 1/2 lbs. ground beef
1/2 cup mustard
1/2 cup ketchup
1/2 cup chopped dill pickle
1 cup chopped tomato
1 cup shredded cheddar
2 cups shredded lettuce
6 large tortillas

In a large skillet over medium heat, brown the ground beef and drain the grease. Stir in the mustard, ketchup relish and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Stir in tomato and cheese.

Divide mixture between tortillas. Divide lettuce between tortillas. Roll up and serve.

Shake Shack-Style Sliders

A Shake Shack opened in our town last year and it’s been… dangerous. It’s probably the easiest and tastiest to-go burger around. And then add a milkshake? Yeah, bad news to have that in your backyard.

I was craving some last week when I remembered Sarah had blogged a copy-cat version a few years back. When I looked at the recipe, I was skeptical they’d be really that simple – but they are. These hit the nail on the head and totally cured my craving.

Now I’m trying to decide if it’s more dangerous to have a Shake Shack so close or to know I can make them at home so easily.


Shake Shack-Style Sliders
(slightly adapted from A Taste of Home Cooking)
Makes 8 Sliders

1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 1/2 tsp. ketchup
1 1/2 tsp. yellow mustard
2 slices kosher dill pickle, finely chopped
1/8 tsp. garlic powder
1/8 tsp. paprika
Pinch cayenne pepper
1 1/4 lbs. ground sirloin
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 Tbsp. butter, softened
8 slider rolls, preferably potato
8  leaves lettuce, tops of leaves only
8 slices ripe Roma tomatoes
8 slices yellow American cheese

In a small bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, ketchup, yellow mustard, chopped pickle, garlic powder, paprika and cayenne. Set aside.

Split rolls and butter cut-side lightly. Broil until lightly toasted. After toasting, top with 1/2 – 1 tsp. of sauce, a slice of lettuce and a slice of tomato. Set the prepped buns on parchment paper.

Divide the ground sirloin into eight equal parts and form into patties. Season with salt and pepper and place seasoned-side down in a cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Press down and season again. Cook for about three minutes, until the bottoms have a nice crust and then flip, top with cheese and cover until cheese melts.

Transfer the cooked burgers to the prepped buns and wrap in parchment for a minute to let the juices absorb. (This is what really makes the burgers – don’t skip it!) Unwrap and serve immediately.

Cheeseburger Pizza

When I was pregnant with Jake, all I wanted to eat was pizza. I tried to shake it up by making as many different pizza-flavored dishes as I could find, but I’m pretty sure Mark was sick of pizza after first trimester.

This pregnancy, burgers have been the big hit. I joked with Mark early in the pregnancy that maybe it was a girl this time since I was craving something different – but I didn’t really expect to be right!

This pizza was one of my I’m-trying-to-pass-this-off-as-not-burgers-again meals. It was a huge hit here – and one we’ll make again even after the burger cravings are gone!


Cheeseburger Pizza
(adapted from The Girl Who Ate Everything)
Serves 4-6

1/2 lb. ground beef
1/3 cup diced red onion
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 lb. pizza dough
1/2 cup ketchup
1/4 cup prepared mustard
1 Tbsp. mayonnaise
1 Tbsp. dill relish
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
Dill pickle slices for topping

Preheat the oven to 400F degrees.
In a medium skillet, brown the ground beef and onion. Drain the grease and stir in the Worcestershire.
Roll out the pizza dough and bake for 8 minutes. While baking, whisk together the ketchup, mustard, mayonnaise and relish.
Once pre-baked, remove the crust from the oven, spread the sauce over evenly, top with the ground beef, cheese and pickle slices. Return to the oven for an additional 6-10 minutes, until cheese is melted and the crust is golden-brown.

Taco Spaghetti

I love kids television. I would totally pick the Disney Channel or Nickelodeon over most adult shows any day. I know what you’re thinking, what does that have to do with anything?

Well, a few years ago I binge-watched iCarly and one of their meals of choice was spaghetti tacos. Which was obviously supposed to be a show joke but since the show was so popular, it became a real thing. I’ve had it in the back of my head that maybe, possibly, at some point I’d try them… just to see.

And then I ran across this recipe and I immediately knew this would be a much better take on the iconic iCarly meal. I’m always a fan of one-pot meals and this one didn’t disappoint!


Taco Spaghetti
{from Ready, Set, Eat)
Serves 4

1 lb. ground beef
1 pkg. taco seasoning mix
1 can diced tomatoes with green chilies
2 1/2 cups water
8 oz. spaghetti, broken in half
Sour cream, for serving
Avocado, for serving

In a large skillet over medium-high heat, brown the ground beef. Add taco seasoning, tomatoes and water. Stir to combine. Stir in the spaghetti. Bring to a boil then cover, reduce heat and cook for 10 minutes.

Serve topped with sour cream and avocado.

Italian Stuffed Flank Steak

I’m kind of in denial that June is already here. My husband and I are both turning thirty this month. Next month we’ll be celebrating our sixth anniversary and Jake’s first birthday. I mean, how is that really possible? Add to that two planned trips, out of town friends coming for a week, 4th of July and our calendar is filling up really, really fast. I’m already getting anxious that the summer is going to get away from me.

The only way I’m combatting my anxiety, so far, is by starting early. We’ve had the baby pool set up for a few weeks and I’m plowing through my folder of grilling recipes. We’ve already made my beloved grilled pizza a few times so it was time to move onto another favorite – meat on sticks.

Beef, prosciutto, provolone and Italian spices all wrapped up and grilled – how could this not be a winner?


Italian Stuffed Flank Steak
(from The Chunky Chef)
Serves 4

4 cloves of garlic, pressed
1 small shallot, minced
2 Tbsp. fresh parsley, minced
1 tsp. fresh sage, minced
1 tsp. fresh basil, minced
2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 lbs. flank steak
4 oz. deli-sliced prosciutto
4 oz. deli-sliced provolone cheese

In a small bowl, whisk together the first six ingredients.

Butterfly the steak and pound out thin. Top with herb mixture, prosciutto and provolone. Roll up, hold together with toothpicks and cut into pinwheels.

Grill over medium-high heat for 8-10 minutes, turning halfway, until steak reaches desired doneness.

Steak Chili

Friday is the official first day of spring and it’s actually starting to feel like spring here. This winter was pretty brutal with the below-freezing temperatures and ice storms, so I’m relishing the fact that most afternoons it’s warm enough for walking outside.

We are still getting a few cold days, though – my Mother-in-law texted a few days ago she was getting snow! – so I’ve been using them to cook a few more wintery dishes that I know I won’t want to make in a few weeks. (Bring on grilling weather!)

We usually make chili with ground beef, so the chunks of beef in this one were a nice change of pace. It packs a nice flavor punch for the minimal number of ingredients and is definitely something I’ll break out again next winter!


Steak Chili
(from Damn Delicious)
Serves 6

1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 1/2 lbs. stew meat, cut into 3/4-inch cubes
Slat and pepper, to taste
1 red onion, diced
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 jalapenos, minced
1 14 oz. can diced tomatoes
1 8 oz. can tomato sauce
2 Tbsp. chili powder
2 15 oz. cans kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1-2 cups water
Shredded Monterey Jack cheese, for serving

In a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat, heat olive oil until shimmering. Season meat with salt and pepper and add tohot pot. Cook for about 2 minutes, turning so that all sides brown. Add in onion, garlic andjalapenos and cook 2-3 minutes, until fragrant. Add in the diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, chili powder, kidney beans and enough water so that everything is covered. Stir well to combine.

Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to low, cover and let simmer for 1 1/2 – 2 hours. Serve topped with shredded cheese.

Taco Stuffed Shells

This was another freezer meal I prepped before Jake was born. I’ve made it a few times before but never got a bloggable picture before this. If it’s surprising to you that the best picture of this dish came while I was carrying around a baby, it’s surprising to me too.

This is a real people-pleaser meal – a fusion of tacos and pasta, how can you not love it? If you’re looking for a meal to bring to a friend, this is a great one.

For the freezer, I covered and froze after the taco sauce. I bagged the cheese separately and froze that so I’d have one less thing to do on a busy night. Also, the picture shows a half batch – I prefer to freeze in portions that are easier for two people so we’re not drowning in leftovers!


Taco Stuffed Shells
(from Blog Chef)
Serves 4-6

1 lb. ground beef
1 package taco seasoning
4 oz. cream cheese
20-24 large pasta shells
1 cup salsa
1 cup taco sauce
1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
1 cup Monterey jack cheese, shredded
1 ½ cups tortilla chips, crushed
Green onions, black olives and sour cream, for serving, optional

In a frying pan, brown the ground beef and prepare as taco meat according to directions on the seasoning packet. When finished, stir in cream cheese until melted and combined. Remove from heat and set aside.

While the meat cooks, cook shells according to package directions. Preheat oven to 350F degrees.

Pour the salsa into the bottom of a baking dish. Fill each shell with the taco meat mixture and lay on top of salsa. Cover shells with taco sauce. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes.

Uncover and top with cheeses and tortilla chips. Bake for an additional 15 minutes.

Top with green onions, black olives and sour cream, if desired, and serve.

Burgers with Brie, Caramelized Onions, Arugula and Hampton Creek’s Just Mayo Garlic Mayo (+ Win a Hampton Creek Just Mayo Prize Pack!)

A few weeks ago, the folks at Hampton Creek contacted me about trying out some of their Just Mayo products. A company that’s trying to make sustainable, healthy, affordable food? I was totally on board.

They sent three mayos to try – regular, garlic and sriracha. I’ve been incorporating all three into dishes the last few weeks and I can honestly say I’m impressed. The mayo is eggless, so it’s allergy-friendly and it tastes really good.

These burgers went on the menu so I had an excuse to try the garlic mayo. So delicious! The flavors really go together well here for an awesome, easy burger.

Interested in trying some Just Mayo yourself? The nice folks at Hampton Creek sent along a set of Just Mayo products for a lucky reader. Want to win? Leave a comment below letting me know how you’d like to use the mayo. I’ll pick one comment at random to receive three bottles of Just Mayo in original, garlic and sriracha flavors. You have until midnight eastern time on September 14, 2014. Open to US residents only.



Burgers with Brie, Caramelized Onions, Arugula and Garlic Mayo
(adapted slightly from Handle the Heat)
Serves 2

1/2 lb. ground chuck
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 slices Brie cheese
1/4 cup caramelized onions
1/2 cup arugula
2 Tbsp. garlic mayo
2 burger buns

Heat the grill to medium heat.

Divide the meat in half and form into 2 patties. Season both sides with salt and pepper. Grill for 10 minutes, turning halfway, to desired doneness. Top with the cheese and remove from the grill immediately. Tent with foil and let rest for 5 minutes.

Serve the burgers on buns topped with caramelized onions, arugula and garlic mayo.

Grilled London Broil with Chimichurri

We have a lot of parsley in the garden. A lot. This was the first recipe I ran across that used up a chunk of it – and london broil was on sale! – so it went on the menu. Grilled steak is a summertime favorite so this was a nice way to shake up our normal routine without being too different.

We’re also currently over-run with basil and dill – any suggestions on ways to use them up?


Grilled London Broil with Chimichurri
(from Cooking Light)
Serves 2

1/2 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
2 tsp. olive oil
1 1/2 tsp. fresh oregano leaves
1 tsp. sherry vinegar
Pinch of crushed red pepper
1 clove garlic
1 green onion, chopped
1/2 lb. london broil
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper

In a food processor, combine the parsley, oil, oregano, vinegar, red pepper, garlic and green onion. Process until finely shopped. Rub 1 Tbsp. of the parsley mixture over the steak and let stand for fifteen minutes.

Sprinkle steak with salt and pepper and grill over medium heat, covered, 4 minutes per side or until it is cooked to your liking. Let stand for 10 minutes before slicing against the grain.

Serve with remaining parsley mixture.