How to Lighten up Your Tailgate

I'm VERY into sports if being 'into sports' can mean being very into making the food that comes with watching sports or tailgating. Getting the food right for a sporting event can be a sport unto itself, and one I take as seriously as everyone seems to be taking the game.

As much as I love a many-layered dip and wings, I also always like to have a light, bright option to offset some of the heavier food people might expect. But you want something hearty enough that it won't wilt during a long afternoon - and it's especially great if it's quick to make. And it's an extra bonus if vegetarians feel like they have a main course option that doesn't alienate meat eaters who are just looking for flavor.

Sometimes a lot of ingredients are right in front of our eyes, and that's what I love about this pickled beet and lentil salad with tahini lemon dressing. You can easily buy the sesame goodness of tahini at any grocery store; find canned lentils to save yourself a cooking step; and I use Aunt Nellies pickled beets to add acidity and depth without the long process of roasting and pickling the beets yourself. So what you end up with is a surprising and filling vegetable dish that requires no cooking. The sesame and lemon of the dressing match perfectly with the earthy beets and you have a dish that will make you the tailgate hero with little to no work. Find a sport that can give you that kind of outcome!

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The Easiest One Pan Meal Imaginable

Few people can make healthy food seem extremely fun, but Ellie Krieger has that effect. Through her many books and cooking shows she always gives the impression that you can have your cake, eat it too and somehow find a way to make it as good for you as possible.

But her new book takes it to a new level because not only is she giving recipes that are healthy, but she’s saving you time and energy in the kitchen. Whole in One is all about cooking with one pot and making your life as easy as possible. If you cant do it in one pot there are no cheats her - she has figured out how to make it work.

We had Ellie in the kitchen to chat about the new book and make her herbed lentil skillet with spinach, tomatoes and ricotta. I’m not even going to pretend like I didn’t subsequently make this dish every night for a week - it was the perfect type of dish for real life. It was easy, quick, minimal clean-up and most importantly delicious.

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A Cocktail to Move You From Summer to Fall

We are starting to get into that time of year where summer sunshine departs and the cool weather starts the change the tone of the day. But for those of us who try to hold onto that brightness a little longer, there’s nothing better than a cocktail to keep us going.

We went to Jungle Bird, a tropical cocktail bar to try and find a drink that is stiff enough for the fall but still retains the breezy air of warmer weather. And we think we’ve found it in their signature cocktail. It’s only 4 ingredients so it’s easy, it works great as a punch if you need something for a group, and it strikes a great note any time of year.

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Yes, You Can Make a Poke Bowl At Home

Few things have entered into the vernacular as quickly as poke. The Japanese fish-based rice bowls have gone from under-the-radar to everywhere in the span of a few years. And it’s easy to see why - they are like the love child of sushi and healthy grain bowls. What could make for a better lunch option?

But they have felt elusive as a meal to make at home. Maybe it’s the raw seafood or the seemingly difficult-to-aquire ingredients, but it has remained an item to purchase rather than assemble in your kitchen. But we got the pros from poke spot Chikarashi to upend our notions. With ingredients that can be assembled ahead or easily purchased, a poke bowl can be a quick option to throw together.

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Blondies Can Get Even Better

I’m not sure much is better than a blondie. It’s basically just a giant sugar carb chewy delight. But Nicole Rucker changed the game with her recipe that adds fruit into the mix. A little bit of extra sweetness from a different source makes them even brighter.

We got Nicole’s recipe via her new book Dappled: Baking Recipes for Fruit Lovers, which is exactly what it sounds like. If you love dessert and you love adding fruit into your desserts, then you are in luck. I almost audibly gasped when I saw it, since I am a major fruit dessert kind of gal (I think Bring It! had almost as many fruit desserts as not, and I’m not sorry about it).

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The Cacio e Pepe Twist That Changes the Whole Game

There is nothing more classic than cacio e pepe - but can even this perfect combination of spaghetti, cheese and fresh pepper be improved upon?

Raquel Pelzel makes a pretty excellent case in her new book Umami Bomb. The book is all about utilizing umami, that famed extra category of flavor that brings a savory richness to any food, to make vegetarian food even more satisfying. Two of the ingredients she highlights are miso paste and nutritional yeast, and they are used in great effect in this recipe. It’s hard to imagine deepening the flavors of the original, but this take on cacio e pepe just bumps everything up a notch for an unforgettable version.

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Up Your Cocktail Game With This Easy Trick

For a party I am always looking for the intersection of easy and ‘looks impressive’. You want to make guests feel like you’ve gone the extra mile but you also don’t want to be running around worrying the whole time.

So I loved the idea of flavoring your own liquor in advance to make it cocktail-ready. You look impressive with very little work and you have something a little different for people to get excited about. Instead of mixing ingredients the day-of you’ve already infused your ingredients together. It’s the perfect combo.

We got the details from Chris Joseph of Wild Roots - which makes their own infused spirits if you want to remove a step - and he gave us the details on two potential liquors you can infuse.

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You Can Actually Make English Muffins at Home

There are few things more satisfying to me than a warm English muffin slathered with butter. What’s not to like!?

But it never occurred to me that I actually make them at home. English muffins felt like something impossible or the realm of true bakers. But then Gertie’s Head Baker Savannah Turley came by and turned my entire English-muffin-loving world upside down. You really just need time and a good amount of yeast. The rest is simpler than you can imagine.

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