Category Archives: BBQ

Latin Pork Kebab Bowl

Latin Pork Kebab Bowl

I have a serious obsession with kebabs lately. There’s just something about eating meat off a stick in the summertime. I can’t get enough!

I particularly love meals that have lots of different flavors, colors, and textures, so this Latin Pork Kebab Bowl is right up my alley.

Just picture it: you, some pork, a bowl of awesomeness, two or six margaritas….. paradise, I tell you.


Looking at this picture I’m realizing that it looks like I borrowed some under-ripe tomatoes from the neighborhood Taco Bell….but, I didn’t. I swear. Those are actually chunks of papaya!

Papaya and avocado are one of my most favorite food pairings of all time. The smooth, creaminess of the avocado just perfectly balances the tang of the papaya. Together, they melt into smooshed-delicious-awesomeness in your mouth.


This creation put good use to the leftover pinto beans and white rice in my fridge. You can, of course, prepare fresh rice and beans but you know how I like to speed things up whenever possible.

What can I say? I get REALLY hungry after work. The husband calls it hangry – I’m so hungry, I’m just angry! You wouldn’t like me when I’m hangry.

Anyway, so here’s how you make this bowl of YUM:

Makes: 4 servings


  • marinade

    • Juice of three limes
    • 3 Tbs. grape seed oil
    • 2 tsp. brown sugar
    • 1 tsp. cumin
    • 1 large clove garlic, minced
    • Pinch cayenne pepper
    • Kosher salt
  • kabobs

    • 1 lb. pork tenderloin, trimmed and cut into 1-inch cubes
    • Bamboo skewers
  • bowl

    • 2 c. cooked rice
    • 1 1/2 c. cooked pinto or black beans (or just use one can, rinsed and drained)
    • 1 small avocado, diced
    • 1 cup papaya, diced
    • Juice from half a lime
    • 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
    • 1/4 cup red onion, chopped
    • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. To make the marinade, combine the juice of three limes, grape seed oil, brown sugar, cumin, minced garlic, cayenne pepper, and a dash of salt in a resealable plastic zipper bag. Add the cubed pork, toss to coat, and refrigerate for at least an hour, but up to four hours.
  2. Meanwhile, soak your bamboo skewers in water for at least thirty minutes. Maybe have a beer.
  3. Cook your rice if you don’t have any leftovers to use: in a heavy bottomed pan, bring to a boil 1 cup dry rice, 2 cups water, a teaspoon of oil and a dash of salt. Continue boiling until water has reduced to just barely skimming the surface of the rice. Turn the heat to low, and simmer, covered, for fifteen minutes or until all water is absorbed.
  4. Add the juice from half a lime to a medium sized bowl and add your red onion. Set aside.
  5. Fifteen minutes before your pork is done marinading, preheat your grill to medium-high.
  6. Once marinaded, thread pork cubes onto your pre-soaked skewers and place them on the grill. Cook for about 8 minutes, turning once or twice, until cooked to an internal temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove from grill and let rest for three-five minutes.
  7. Meanwhile, add your papaya and avocado to the boil containing your lime juice and red onion and toss to coat. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  8. Set out four bowls and to each one place a quarter of each of your components in the following order: rice, beans, papaya/avocado mixture, cilantro, and, finally, top with pork kebabs.


Nom nom nom nom nom.

Don’t mind me, just chowing down over here.

What are your favorite foods to eat off of a stick? What else should I do with the massive amount of leftover papaya I have?

Nutrition (per serving):

446 calories, 17 g. fat, 20 g. protein, 56 g. carbs, 11 g. fiber. WW PointsPlus: 11

Related Links:

Caribbean Pork and Clementine Kebabs – from Healthy. Delicious.

Mango Pork Kebabs – from Pots and Plots

Papaya & Avocado Salad – from The Leftover Queen


“Soy-Soda” Chicken

“Soy-Soda” Chicken

While at the grocery store last week I found myself hanging out in the beverage aisle contemplating the wonderful varieties of organic tonic water, kombucha, and stevia-sweetened sodas. One of the great things about living in Portland is the easy access to a wide variety of grocery items – everything from Asian supermarkets and International Farmer’s Markets to all-organic and locally-sourced supermarkets.

I was perusing some of these incredible options at a Market of Choice store and a bottle of Mango Jarritos caught my eye. Now, I’ve seen Jarritos plenty of times and ordered the pineapple variety at one or ten taco carts over the years, but I wasn’t sure I’d ever tried the mango. Mango is hands-down my favorite fruit, and one of my favorite ingredients to work with in the kitchen. Last week I made a mango cake with alternating layers of mango curd and mango cream-cheese frosting (although it was my first time frosting a cake and it was way too ugly for publication!), and I’ve had a fresh mango for breakfast almost every morning this past week.

It occurred to me that I should find a way to utilize this mango soda in my meal plan for the week, so I accepted the challenge and grabbed the little guy off the shelf. I completely lost my mind and decided to marinate some chicken thighs in a mixture of soy sauce, fish sauce, spices, and an entire 12  oz. bottle of the mango soda. I figured that it would either be awesome or disgusting, and I was willing to take that chance.

As I’m posting this recipe now, you’ve probably already figured out that this recipe was AWESOME. I’ve dubbed it the “soy-soda chicken” and it is definitely going on the regular rotation at our house!


This chicken smelled so good I only ended up with just a few quick photos because I couldn’t wait any longer to dig in.

I made some jasmine rice and tossed it with cilantro and lime to accompany the chicken, and also marinated some onion slices in rice vinegar, fish sauce, sugar, and red pepper flakes to add a bit of bite and texture to the dish.

soysoda6The husband ate THREE whole pieces of chicken in under ten minutes and did all but lick his plate. I think he regretted this chicken-binge shortly after, as we went to see World War Z just a few minutes after dinner and even I had to loosen my belt at the theater to get comfortable. Okay, that’s a lie. I wasn’t wearing a belt, I was wearing jeans so really I just unbuttoned them. Classy!

World War Z was really good by the way, in case you were wondering. Don’t pretend like you weren’t. I had no idea it was about zombies until fifteen minutes into the movie (ever since we got the DVR I feel like I never see movie previews anymore!).

Right, back to the chicken. This was so incredible easy – just whip up the marinade, throw your chicken in and leave it in the fridge overnight. When you’re ready to eat, put some rice on and heat up your grill. Whatever you do, DON’T think you’re going to be all “waste-not, want-not” and reduce your leftover marinade into an awesome sauce, because the carbonation in there will explode all over your kitchen and make your world sticky as all heck. I ended up making a simple sauce of soy sauce, water, mirin (sweet rice wine), fish sauce, and red pepper flakes. Stir a teaspoon of corn starch into a little cold water and throw that in, too. Bring it to a boil, reduce it to a simmer, and let it thicken up. Mmm, saltiness.

Here’s the recipe:

Makes: 4 servings, 2 thighs each


  • 8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 1 12-oz. bottle of Mango Soda (Jarritos brand works great)
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp. fish sauce
  • 1 Tbsp. garlic powder
  • 1 Tbsp. ground coriander
  • 2 tsp. pure chili powder


  1. In a large bowl, combine the soda, soy sauce, fish sauce, garlic powder, coriander, and chili powder.
  2. Add the chicken thighs and toss to coat. Make sure each piece of chicken is submerged, cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight.
  3. Remove chicken from the fridge at least 30 minutes prior to cooking.
  4. Pre-heat your grill to medium-high heat (I set mine to 375 degrees). When hot, place your chicken thighs on the grill and close the lid.
  5. Let them cook for 8-10 minutes or until cooked through, turning once.
  6. Remove from grill and let rest for 3-5 minutes. Serve with rice tossed with cilantro and lime and/or marinated onions.


Nutrition (per serving, chicken only):

222 calories, 6 g. fat, 30 g. protein, 12 g. carbs, 2 g. fiber. WW PointsPlus: 5

Thai Beef Skewers & Fava Beans

Thai Beef Skewers & Fava Beans

While I was walking around at the Farmer’s Market a little pint sized carton of something green caught my attention and begged to be taken home. They were labeled as Fava Beans, and while I knew I had heard of them, I have never seen nor tried these huge green pods.


They were so bright green I just couldn’t help myself. I have a problem with bright green objects. Left to my own devices, everything in my kitchen and closet would be BRIGHT green. My fiesta ware is bright green. My stand mixer is bright green. My mom even knew to choose bright green when picking out my awesome new immersion blender! I can’t help myself… I just LOVE it.

favas2So beautiful! Once we got home I had to look up Fava Beans to figure out what I was supposed to do to them – and I’m really glad I took the time to do a bit of googling. I was planning on just sauteeing them in butter, assuming they were just like regular legumes on steroids, but it turns out they require a bit of work. Once you open the pod you’ll find little light-green pea-like thingies (that’s a technical term), which then have to be peeled to reveal the darker green fava beans. That’s right, these babies have to be peeled TWICE. Everything I read on the google told me that I needed to boil them then dunk them in a cold water bath and peel them one by one, but I am way too lazy for that and the husband was getting hungry.

I was planning on putting together some Thai Beef Skewers (I’m obsessed with kebabs lately), so I figured that since I would already have the grill going I could save some effort by cooking these big guys alongside the meat. I tossed them in some delicious lime-Riesling grapeseed oil and honey-ginger vinegar from this seriously addictive and paycheck-sucking store called (surprise) “Oil & Vinegar.” I guess it’s a franchise because they have locations all over the country – beware, EVERYTHING they have in that place is delicious. You could always use whatever types of oil and vinegar you have on hand, and perhaps add some herbs or spices to mix things up. As long as you have a mix of something fatty and something acidic, these will turn out just fine. I also sprinkled on some sea salt which was an awesome idea (if I may say so myself), because we ended up eating these with our hands like edamame so the delicious salt and flavors go transferred from our fingers right to our tastebuds. Yum.

I marinated the beef skewers in oil, soy sauce, lime juice, garlic, ginger, sugar, and pepper. The beef hung out in the fridge for 30 minutes while I prepped the grill and fava beans, then everything went on to the BBQ all at once. I kept the fava beans in a cast iron skillet so they didn’t get sacrificed to the BBQ gods, as so frequently happens in my life.

favas4The fava beans steamed themselves in their own little big pods and got some nice color on the outside. I kept the grill lid closed to make sure the precious steam didn’t sneak out too much.

favas7I served these up in little bowls along side the beef skewers and it was hard to say which component was the star of this dinner and a show. I adored the fava beans and thought it was a hoot to get my hands all messy while we watched Hell’s Kitchen.


The husband completely freaked out about the beef skewers. No joke, I made seven skewers and he ate FIVE of them. Which left me with two. Which was fine because I consumed about 80% of the fava beans.

favas6I can’t even describe to you how tender and delicious this was. Of course, it was cold by the time I ate mine because I was too busy trying to force my iPhone to take a decent picture in bad lighting, but that’s the price I pay sometimes. Even cold, this beef was AWESOME. I sliced it thin and weaved it on to the bamboo skewers so it cooked in a flash and had tons of flavor. I’ll admit, I was a little concerned that the beef wouldn’t turn out that great, considering it had been sitting in my freezer for a looooong time, but the marinade worked its magic and made it oh-so-tender.

favas3Of course, there’s not much in my world that doesn’t taste better with a little sweet chili sauce, so I made sure we had lovely little side dishes of that sweet, sticky goodness.

This was so delicious, I really can’t wait to make it again. Did I mention that the husband ate FIVE whole skewers? I hope he doesn’t read this.

Right, well here’s the recipe:

Makes: 3-4 servings (6-8 kebabs)


[for the Thai beef skewers]

  • 1 1/2 lbs. beef sirloin, fat trimmed and sliced into 1/4-inch thick strips
  • Bamboo Skewers
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, peeled and minced
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

[for the fava beans]

  • 4 cups fava beans (or however many you can get your hands on)
  • 2 Tbsp. oil (or enough to lightly coat the beans)
  • 1 Tbsp. vinegar (or lime juice)
  • Sea salt to taste


  1. Mix together the oil, soy sauce, lime juice, minced garlic, minced ginger, sugar, and pepper in a large bowl. Add the sliced beef and refrigerate, covered, for at least 30 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, pre-heat your grill to medium-high heat and place a cast iron skillet on the grates for the fava beans.
  3. Toss the fava beans with oil and vinegar and sprinkle with sea salt. Once the cast iron skillet is hot, add the fava beans and cook with the grill lid closed for five-ten minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, skewer your beef and try to keep as much surface area exposed as possible (don’t squish the beef onto the skewers, you want the sugar in the marinade to come into contact with your grill and caramelize).
  5. Cook the beef for 8-10 minutes with the lid closed, turning once. When you turn the meat, give the fava beans a little stir to ensure they brown evenly.
  6. Remove everything from the grill and serve the skewers with sweet chili sauce. Make sure to bring a bowl for discarded fava bean pods, and don’t forget to lick your fingers as you go.


Nutrition (1/4th of recipe):

452 calories, 20 g. fat, 28 g. protein, 28 g. carbs, 1 g. fiber. WW PointsPlus: 12

Father’s Day Kansas City Rib Kit

Father’s Day Kansas City Rib Kit

This year for Father’s Day I wanted to get a little creative and make something for my dad that he would actually use. I’ve been getting into grilling and smoking lately and thought it would be fun to make him a little Kansas City Rib Kit.


I made Kansas City Rib Rub (in the tall mason jar), Kansas City Rib Sauce (in the squeeze bottle) and some old fashioned Barbecue “Shake” (in the shaker) to sprinkle on fries, potatoes, corn, or just about anything that needs some flavor.

I ordered the containers on Amazon, but you could find these at most home or grocery stores.

Here are the recipes!

Kansas City Rib Rub

Makes: 1 cup


  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup paprika
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne


1. Mix it all together and put it in a container!

Kansas City Rib Sauce

Makes: 2 cups


  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup vinegar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons paprika
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne


1. Heat oil in a saucepan. Add garlic and sauté until brown. Add remaining ingredients and reduce heat. Simmer for 15 minutes until thickened.

Barbecue “Shake”

Makes: 1 & 3/4 cup (about 28 oz.)


  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup paprika
  • 1/4 cup garlic powder
  • 1/4 cup celery salt
  • 1/8 cup cayenne pepper


1. Mix it all together and put it in a container!


You can do this whole project start to finish in under 30 minutes if you are short on time. I purchased my spices in bulk which really helped cut costs as bottled spices can be incredibly expensive!

The sun is shining in Portland and my dad is on his way over here now. We’re going to fire up the grill and play some croquet in my front yard.

Have  a lovely Father’s Day Weekend!

No-Name Thai Burger


Smoky, sweet, and savory with just the right amount of heat.


Have you ever seen that show “Bob’s Burgers”? The husband and I love it and always crack up at the creative names they come up with to name their” Burger of the Day.”

Some of our favorites:

She’s a Super Leek Burger (comes with braised leeks)
We’re Here, We’re Gruyere, Get Used to It Burger
These Collards Don’t Run Burger
Chorizo Your Own Adventure Burger

And, of course, the blog’s namesake: The “If Looks Could Kale” Burger.

So of course once I served up this (delicious) burger to the husband he had to ask what I was going to call it.

Me: “Uh, the Thai Burger?”

Nice. Real creative.

Here’s the recipe for the yet-to-be-named burger. Try it and help me think of a clever name – post it in the comments!

Makes: 4 Burgers


[For the patties]

  • 1 LB lean ground beef
  • 1/4 cup grated carrots
  • 1 Tbsp. minced fresh ginger
  • 1 Tbsp. minced garlic
  • 1 Tbsp. chopped cilantro
  • 1 Tbsp. peanut sauce (you can make your own authentic Thai peanut sauce, or you can use store bought)
  • 2 tsp. Sriracha
  • 1 tsp. fish sauce
  • 1 tsp. reduced sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tsp. sesame oil

[For the burger]

  • 4 whole-wheat hamburger buns
  • 4 lettuce leaves
  • 4 pineapple rings (search Amazon for “Pineapple Corer” and prepare to be amazed)
  • 1/2 onion, sliced into thick rings, keeping the sections together
  • Additional peanut sauce for garnish
  • Additional cilantro for garnish
  • 4 Tbsp. Sriracha Mayo (combine mayonnaise, Sriracha, and some sweet chili sauce in a bowl)


  1. Start by making the patties. In a large bowl, combine the ground beef, carrots, ginger, garlic, cilantro, peanut sauce, Sriracha, fish sauce, soy sauce, and sesame oil until just combined. Avoid overworking the meat or it can become dry.
  2. Divide the meat into four portions and work them into hamburger patties.
  3. Fire up your grill! I used our pellet grill and they came out fantastic.
  4. Place a cast iron or other BBQ-safe piece of cookware on the grill and place the intact onion rings in with a bit of oil (grapeseed works best as it has a very high smoke point) and some salt & pepper.
  5. Slice your pineapple into rings. If you are using canned pineapple, try to find the kind packed in natural juices instead of syrup.
  6. Once your grill is hot (I set our pellet grill to 400 degrees Fahrenheit), place the patties on the grate and close the lid. After 5-7 minutes, flip the patties. The patties should have grill marks on them and feel a little firm. If they are still floppy when you try to turn them it may be too soon. Once flipped, they will need another 5-7 minutes on the other side until they are done.
  7. Meanwhile, Flip the onion rings in the cast iron skillet to get the opposite sides nice and golden.
  8. Place the pineapple rings directly on to the grill grate. After 2-3 minutes, give them a flip. They are done when both sides have beautiful brown grill marks.
  9. Place both sides of your buns, interior side down, on your grill. Check them closely as they go from not done to burnt pretty quickly.
  10. Grab yourself a big platter and take everything off the grill.
  11. Assemble your burgers: Bottom bun, Sriracha mayo, lettuce, burger patty, onion, pineapple, peanut sauce, cilantro, top bun.
  12. Serve with an easy cucumber and onion salad or just have a couple beers.
  13. This is also delicious without the bun if you are watching your carbs – just wrap everything up in a big piece of lettuce and dig in!

Nutrition (per burger):

469 calories, 21 g. fat, 32 g. protein, 41 g. carbs, 6 g. fiber. WW PointsPlus: 12